A while back I hired a new coach, presumably to help me navigate the multiple transitions I’d made, and to get clarity of my vision moving forward. Several times, I hung up with my business coach feeling – to be blunt – a little peeved. I found myself pushing back on his tough questions because, a) they forced me to face some of my habits that might be counterproductive to my goals and b) I didn’t feel like changing those habits and wasn’t totally convinced that I could. So our conversations were at times tense, and yet beneath it all, I felt a little tug saying, “Hey, you need this. No coach has ever quite challenged you like this. Don’t run from the challenge.” So I didn’t. Despite my defenses going up, I stuck with it. I was intrigued by the questions and my strong response. What was going on?

To go to the next level, you must get bigger. That means stretching beyond your comfort zone. And that is uncomfortable. Growing usually means growing pains. When a question or opportunity leaves you resisting, defensive and uncomfortable, it is often an indication that there is something there that you need to explore. Rather than run from it, press in. Your boss gives you feedback that hit a nerve? Someone makes a valid observation that left you feeling defensive? Has your journey to a goal stretched you more than expected and left you questioning your own abilities? All are likely to cause resistance.

Breakthroughs happen when you do the hard work of looking honestly at yourself, your habits and the patterns of fear that can get you stuck. Whether it’s exploring why you feel guilty about stuff you didn’t do wrong, or notice how the overachiever in you is really just craving approval and acceptance, “doing the work” requires courage, time and honesty. Take criticism and learn from it. Get better, not bitter. Push through it. That’s how you have a breakthrough.

My breakthrough came – a major shift in how I saw my mission. And that breakthrough gave me the insight I needed to see what my next season would look like. It was the vision I’d been seeking. And finally, thankfully, my eyes were open to it. But without the hard work of pressing in rather than giving up when I met resistance, I’d still be waiting on my breakthrough.

My Challenge To You:

Ask yourself the hard questions and answer them. Find the grain of truth in criticism. Stretch!

Power Question:

Where are you resisting? What are you defensive about? What is the real issue beneath the resistance? What message is your resistance offering you?

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