Why am I here?
Another growing cycle. A period of questioning, understanding, reflecting, integrating, moving onward. This is how I am – and have been – looking at my life. Interestingly, every time I forget, something happens and I am being reminded that the learning journey never ends, and yet another cycle begins.
I have been in the computer industry for over ten years. While I was very good at what I did, for most of that time, I was unhappy, unfulfilled, and somehow new that something is missing. Yet, had no language to articulate what this missing part was. Every time I changed a company, or started a new project, there would be some sense of excitement. An opportunity to learn something new, take a new challenge. The excitement would last for a while, and then the same questions would slowly come back. What am I doing here? Is there a meaning to what I am doing? It always felt that there has to be more than that to my life. Teaching computer courses, even on a part-time basis, was more satisfying, yet even that was not enough. And, not recognizing the issues that bothered me, I would often bring the frustrations home.
Eventually, I decided to become self-employed. The secret to happiness, I thought, was to become my own boss. Become a freelancer (which is a word I loved, as a lover of photography who was subscribed to National Geographic, where all the photographers were freelancers). When I finally did, life seemed to improve. I had a choice of contracts, specifically in the areas of my technical expertise, more control over my life, and more freedom. It was better financially too, and I was enjoying the average of two to three months off of work every year. However, when the novelty of the self-employment wore off, I was surprised to find myself back with the same questions. Why am I here? What is the big picture meaning of my life? There simply has to be more to life. I was still unhappy at what I was doing for a living.
Over ten years of the same cycle.
During this time, I was going through yet another growing cycle (do they ever end?) and finally started taking a serious look at my life. Learning to “dig deeper” into my core essence and getting in touch with my feelings and emotions. Early in 1998 I went through a series of personal development seminars, which had an immense impact on this last year and a half of my life. I started to realize that I am a truly wonderful person, who has a lot of gifts to share with those around me. I learned that we all have our unique gifts, that I can achieve anything I want because I have all I need – to have as much happiness as I want to create for myself. And I learned that crying in public is, in fact, a wonderful and liberating experience. One of these gifts, which I actually had for the longest time, was my ability to inspire people and help them see their gifts too. As I trained to co-facilitate and lead those seminars, I realized that another growing cycle was starting…
In these seminars I met a few wonderful people, who very quickly became close and supporting friends. They know me in my high and low moments, and still loved me. What a gift to have these people in my life!
Then, in the beginning of 1999, a small event happened that really changed my life. Hhmmm… maybe it isn’t small after all. As I was going swimming at the local community center, I picked up a copy of a free monthly magazine, “Personal Success,” which I have never read before. When I briefly browsed through, a little ad on the last page caught my attention. The ad was talking about Personal Coaching and a college here in Vancouver that was teaching these courses. As I read the description, I was quite astonished to find out that there is actually a profession, where people do what I have been doing for a long time, and get paid for it. I did some research on “this whole coaching thing,” and found a few more schools that offered similar courses. After agonizing over the choice of school, spending time with friends and listening to their thoughts and suggestions, I was as confused as before. What made it clear was a long and peaceful bike ride, which helped me get focused and decide on the first school I saw, Rhodes Career College here in Vancouver.
From there, through a series of synchronicities, followed by focused actions, I left the world of technology and enrolled in the Personal Coaching program. It has been an amazing learning experience. I have learned about myself a lot more than I could have possibly imagined. I met yet more incredible people, who are very close and dear to me now. On the Edge was a group of coaches who stayed in close contact after the course and embarked on lots of interesting explorations together. We continued supporting each other, brainstormed and developed workshops, did community projects, became mentors to other new coaches, while having lots of fun in the process.
My Personal and Professional Coaching practice continued and expanded for several years, and together with it, my own inner work and learning. Working with people, one-on-one or in a group setting is an extremely rewarding experience, and I loved being a co-creator and a collaborator along other peoples’ journeys. Yet, life never stops…
It certainly does not stop for me, and, once the journey has started, there is really no end point to it. No destination to reach. Around the end of year 2002 I felt that the transition winds are gathering on the horizon. I knew that I have accomplished what I wanted and needed to create, and was ready for the next phase. Next challenge. Another growth period. Only I wasn’t really sure what it will be, other than – it has to be bigger than a “one man show.” Since cycling and traveling have always been a passion of mine, I decided on a time-out, in the form of a solo cycling and backpacking trip to Chile and Argentina. I left in November of 2002 and came back in January of 2003, for a total of 9 weeks of a journey, an adventure, a quest, and a personal challenge [read the trip journals here].
Shortly after the trip, I started a Masters degree in Leadership and Training at Royal Roads University in Victoria. The program is about organizational change, leadership, and learning as a way of being – all fit perfectly into the direction my life is evolving. It really is interesting how the Universe unfolds its magic – I went traveling to South America, and while being there, fate – or synchronicity – played its trick again by sending me an email. Here I am, in a small Internet cafe in the middle of nowhere in Chile, reading about Ubuntu and realizing that my life is changing again. Ubuntu is a social philosophy of South Africa, and can be described as a way of being human, of belonging to the community around us, of relating to the world through the “I am because we are” metaphor. Finally, I knew – or thought I knew – why am I here, on this planet, and what my Life Work is. This is key part of the reason I am taking the degree at Royal Roads University – furthering my learning about creating collaborative communities within organizational landscapes.
Then, in winter and spring of 2005, two things happened that have shifted me once again, starting another phase of growth, evolution, and learning. Through my studies at Royal Roads University, and specifically during my research into Communities of Practice, I have realized that simply creating communities is not enough. The focus shifted from “build it and they will come” to “build it, and will they stay?” In order to exist and remain sustainable over time, a community – any community – needs a reason for existence, a cause, a purpose. The second thing was a book that jumped on my lap and refused to let go until I read it. “The Web of Life” by Fritjof Capra brought a lot of clarity into what I have been learning and thinking about – that on all levels, from micro to macro, everything in this world is interconnected and interdependent. He also used an expression which is of paramount importance to me: “ecological literacy.” Becoming ecologically literate means being an active participant in the web of life, in alignment with the laws of nature which have operated here for a very long time.
This is the current shift of my life and my vocation. I am learning to integrate these principles and ideas into my life and into my work. And I am furthering my education in this area through Bainbridge Graduate Institute, where I am taking a Certificate in Sustainable Business program.
This phase of the journey ends in 2005, yet the journey continues…