Reflective: A Participation Essay

At this juncture there’s one thing for sure about some particular things within my own experience, I no longer believe what I once believed. And as I enter each reflective time and each contemplative stance, I find each belief challenged down to the bottom, either reaching a base revealing falseness or a ground of being with truth.

More than forty years since the conversation, and I’ve carried his statement with me through these years. It was after a community sunrise Easter service, and a few of us were delaying departure and talking. The exact topic evades memory. One of the participants was an elderly and wise African-American pastor. At the end of the conversation, he made the statement, “I don’t understand all I know about that.”

From my very origin I was given a strength to go deep into things of interest to better understand them. As I’ve noted before in my writing, this strength of understanding can be easily overused, becoming an equal limitation if I’m not paying careful attention to the required balance with other core strengths. This gift will continue to serve me well if I allow the protective questions; inquiries that ground me in truth.

To believe something is to hold a certain level of sureness about that something, or at least a hopeful view that there is some truth worthy of one’s energy. However, such sureness can often be completely formed on feelings; responses that may or may not be based on reality. To know something requires one to go further, more in the direction of real trust built on the foundation of both observation and experiential inquiry. We have to do the work. I’m not posturing believing against knowing or knowing against believing. More appropriately, I’m expanding on a flow of process and methodology, from believing to knowing. Beliefs determine how one behaves. Knowing grounds one. Both are important. My beliefs evolve and my knowing grows. And I don’t understand all I know about that.

Contemplation of the Work; to this Moment
In my Essay on Sustenance, I identified purpose as a sustaining force in my years thus far, and that I had entered a six month period of contemplating this work to which I’ve been led. I’m one month into such contemplation; openness to what has been and what is yet to be. One of the questions firing off this time is this: Over the past twenty years, how has my work, me, and me in the work, evolved? In addition, I must surely ask, What beliefs are being challenged in order to be grounded into a more real truth? Do I believe that my work has had an impact on the individuals with whom I love to work? Here’s what I know; I love what I do, and those for whom I do it, and I know I’m good at it. 

Yes, I love the individuals with whom I work, and I want to continue to be available along their journey into and with Trueness as they live and lead from their unique rhythm. So in this contemplative space, I must confidently live the questions.

This work somewhat quickly became different than originally envisioned. My vision was more in the sights of consulting. But I suspect the more I brought myself into it (Trueness), it became coaching; whether working one-on-one or with a group. From the beginning however, I was driven by a commitment to the individual, to the internal to external flow, and to the individual to collective flow. Along with this, and because of my commitment to the individual (not to mention the practicality of building a practice), I focused what I do on the individual leader. What this looked like was a brief statement, that in essence, answered the question, What do you do? My answer; I Build Confident Leaders. This was more than just a way of answering this kind of ‘dinner party’ question. For me it became the focus of my energy, my interest-to-energy connection; an energy that guided my choices and decisions as I did the work and allowed both process and methodology to evolve.

“All human occupations and professions must themselves be expressions of the universe and its mode of functioning. This is especially true of what came to be known as religion, for the term religion and the term universe are somewhat similar in their meaning. Both are derived from the Latin, and both have to do with turning back to unity. Religion, re-ligare, is a binding back to origin. Universe, or universa, is a turning back of the many to the one. Earlier peoples seem to have understood this.” –Thomas Berry

Reflecting on the work thus far, it becomes clear that there was something in my belief system that pushed/pulled me into this work. Was it purpose? For me, probably. I believed I had something unique, or at at a minimum something missing, for those individuals with whom I worked at the time. So, before I knew I would become a coach, I coached. In truth, all I did was encourage. And I don’t understand all I know about that.

Building Confident Leaders
This statement represents my purpose as a coach, what I do, and just may be where the center of all evolution (unfolding) may lie. Certainly this purposeful focus has served me well. It has held Trueness and practicality together for me, and has held me in the work. My Trueness has been held by the confident, as my voice of Love and its strength of Encouragement were put to work in the building. While at this moment, leaders seems to be the piece most in question as I move forward, it is the piece that provided practical, tangible focus, allowing the intangible portion of what it is that I do, and represent, to become real for the individual for whom I do it.

My process/methodology is impactful. I was blessedly reminded of this recently when, in one day, two coaching clients each spoke to the value experienced in our work together, the presence we’ve thus far shared. There was a time when such comments were received and acknowledged by a too-quick, Thank You. Thanks to much guidance from valued colleagues I now allow such unsolicited feedback to soak in deeply.

Do I still want to encourage? Yes. Can it be called by another name? Yes. It already also has that name: Love. Just by the nature of encouragement, confidence is honored. I do recognize here that confidence is built by action. So then, maybe it’s encouragement focused on the Trueness of the individual that facilitates action that is good and right for the person and those they impact by their unique presence.

“Now that we are no longer bound by the constraints of probability, we must face the fact that we have a responsibility to own what’s possible. Opportunity abounds. And that’s both a scary and empowering thought. The onus to create the future we want to see for ourselves and others is on us. We get to own the story we want to live and tell.” –Bernadette Jiwa

To know fully the reality of the freedom we possess in how we are in our life and living is at the same time encouraging and discouraging; as we see possibility and feel the missed opportunities. It may seem that work is the most important thing in my life and living. This is not true at all. Working, in a general sense in our society, consumes upwards of two thirds of one’s waking hours; if you add to the time in the tasks the commute to and from for so much of the population. Work is a place where we can discover the opportunity to ‘play out’ who we are, or where we sadly avoid being who we truly are. Besides all this, I write to you about work not because I want you be successful in some occupation, but rather I want you to know your Trueness in a calling; a way of being that is true wherever you are and with whatever you do.

Back to evolution, specifically as it applies to my own true unfolding. It seems, as I also consider process and methodology, that process and methodology have evolved as I have. More real than ever, who I am has become inextricably linked to what I do, ever wanted to do, had to do. And I don’t understand all I know about that.


Berry, Thomas. Evening Thoughts: Reflecting on Earth as Sacred Community. San Francisco: Sierra Club, 2006. (p. 114)

Jiwa, Bernadette. – Melbourne, Australia: Copyright © 2017 Bernadette Jiwa. (The Bounds of Possibility. Post from August 2, 2019)