Do We Always Have Choices?

By Natalie Irons
Associate Director of Instructional Coaching, UCLA Center X

Summer fun, adventure, and the heat (maybe) are now well in the past and the days have begun to shorten. As this transition of the seasons is upon us, what might be changing for you in your work?

Last week a former coach shared they are moving back into an on-site coach role. Someone else emailed me to say they were now a
principal at their site. My own role has developed into facilitating both in-person and online training and professional development focused on coaching that transforms thinking, feeling, and doing for both educational and healthcare systems.

Regardless of your role, what you do every day matters because you are a model for everyone with whom you interact. That might sound like a heavy responsibility — to be someone to everyone. Yet, when a person is aligned with their values, beliefs, and identity, their behaviors follow. Then the ‘work’ becomes how you live, and therefore, how you think, feel, and behave. When I was asked in a coaching conversation, “What is in your heart?” I knew I had to think about my values and beliefs in my work, as well as with my friends and family. I had to explore what was within me. The question has been a guiding one since the beginning of the pandemic; a reminder that “life is not happening to me” (emphasis mine), as adrienne maree brown puts it in Emergent Strategy.

My life work is developing all the time, as a coach, a teacher, a presenter, a facilitator, and even as a parent. I am all the experiences I have had which I bring to my work. And so, when I am not intentional, I lose my grounding of where I want to be. Brown writes, “We are learning to be in the actual moment, to recognize where we have a choice…In a terrifying twist, it turns we always have it.” Ahh, so we do. We always have a choice.

As you reflect upon the work you do, what are your choices to be intentional? How do you stay aligned with your purpose? Who do you know yourself to be when you are fully in the present moment?