Simplifying the Game of Life is what I have learned to do for myself.
It comes from having survived several changes – big hairy ones – and lived to tell the tale.
I have worked with people in hospitals as a radiographer and with people in Information Technology. As a radiographer you tell people where to sit, lie or stand and when to breathe. When you work with IT people and tell them what to do, you get a ‘Yeah right!’ sort of who-do-you-think-you-are look that subtly marks the point where your project goes off the rails.
It took me a long time to learn that the work in IT was not about the technology. It was about the people, the relationships. You get work done through people, so you’d better look after those relationships.
It was in IT where I felt the pain of seeing people being dropped in the deep end and being set up to fail. It was in IT where I realised my greatest satisfaction came from helping people; showing them ways to navigate the systems, environments, supporting them, and watching them grow. Two of my best ever compliments came from team members who thanked me for their successes long after they had moved on and were making a massive impact in their new jobs.
It was in IT that I learnt about Crucial Conversations, a skill set about having difficult and life changing conversations. It helped me rebuild my relationship with my son and motivated me to become a certified Crucial Conversations trainer.
It was the IT experience that led me to become a student again and study professional coaching at The Coaching Academy to become a fully qualified coach and expand my natural coaching ability.
You see, there is a golden thread that runs through my life:
It is what I most often hear from clients, family, friends and past colleagues and managers:
You get it.
You’re the only one I can talk to about this.
So, after all that and having survived, thrived and learnt from all my life experiences, I audaciously claim a PhD from the University of Life!
This magnificent tree is known by a great many names: Tree of life, King of trees, the upside down tree, monkey bread tree and bottle tree are some of the more well-known names.
It is revered in Africa for its otherworldly appearance, its highly nutritious fruit and many uses, including its use in spiritual and religious ceremonies. Many myths surround this tree that can grow thousands of years old and can hold vast amounts of water, up to 32 000 gallons, in its huge and imposing trunk.
As the tree ages, it develops hollows in its enormous trunk, providing shelter for animals and humans alike.
Provider of water, food and shelter; aptly called the Tree of Life and my inspiration for The Baobab Way.
It is a metaphor for the work we do together.
Like the tree provides shelter for animals and people, I provide a safe place and sanctuary where you can explore, prod and talk, including the things you did not know you wanted or needed to talk about. This is like feeding the inner you.
Super-food for the soul, just like the fruit of the tree is super-food for the body.
The work we do together builds resilience and confidence so you can BE in the world, strong like the trunk of the Baobab.
And just like there are many myths and legends surrounding the Baobab, your life is surrounded by your own ideas about life, yourself, the world and the rules you live your life by. We all have them. The question is, do they support you in what you want to do or is it time to turn them upside down?
The Philosophy of The Baobab Way
I’ve learnt that our thought system drives our reality. I’ve learned that all emotions fall either on the side of fear or the side of love. And I’ve learnt that operating from a place of love is infinitely more desirable than operating from a place of fear. I don’t profess to always get it right. I just know that when I have acted out of fear, I have discouraged and driven away exactly the results I wanted.
Most of what society teaches us is fear. Our parents, schools, TV, government, even religion. It takes great courage to contemplate that there may be a different way. Those who do have long been considered ‘weird’, ‘whacky’, misguided and not taken seriously. The world is changing though.
Like the roots of the Baobab, our thought system is the foundation for our lives. We feed ourselves thoughts of fear or thoughts of love and the results are evident in our lives.
Closely linked to your thought system, is your belief system. It is the layer underneath your thoughts. ‘Frozen thoughts’ if you like; rules you live your life by. They could be totally upside down, just like the branches of the Baobab that look like roots sticking up in the air. Your belief system is deeply influenced by your values. Values are those qualities that are important to you in the way you live and work. Qualities such as honesty, love, openness to name a few.
Your effect on the world, on those around you and also on yourself, is the vibe or energy you put out as a result of your thought and belief systems. I call it your energy system. This is how you interact with your life, yourself, your environment, others. You have an effect in the world. This is your energy. It is highly malleable. It depends on the thoughts you think and the foundation of your thinking. Like attracts like, so you get more of what you think about. Be careful now. If you think, ‘I don’t want more of XXX’, you are really thinking about XXX and you will get more XXX.
The Baobab integrates beautifully into its environment; whether it’s a few years or a few thousand years old. Its fruit is recognised as a superfood and it has many, many uses. As a living entity, I would say it lives a fulfilling life. No matter the abuse it gets – assegais in the trunk, elephants tearing at the bark of the trunk, fires inside its hollows – it continues to survive and thrive. Its strong trunk is evidence of its strong root system and its bare branches looking like roots sticking up in the air, reminds us that change is only possible if we’re willing to take a different view. It may seem upside down and counter intuitive, but that’s only because we’re not used to it; we’ve been taught differently. As we grow stronger in who we are and what we stand for, we build our inner strength and rely on our own innate wisdom rather than what the world teaches. Our strength then is an inside job and we’re not reliant on the whims of those outside ourselves for our happiness and security.