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When you lean in, you risk being hit

When my friend Benjamin Croft invited me to apply to be mentored personally by Marshall Goldsmith – one of the top coaches on the planet – I was at first excited, then humbled, then afraid and then I had to push myself to get past all the voices in my head to just say yes and apply.

Marshall’s acknowledgements are legendary:

  • INC Magazine: “America’s #1 executive coach”
  • Thinkers50: “World’s most influential leadership thinker”
  • BusinessWeek: “Fifty great American leaders”
  • The Times: “15 Greatest Business Thinkers in the World”

I could go on. At length!

The Marshall Goldsmith 100 Coaches Project is where Marshall picks 100 coaches and teaches them all he knows. I have a personal internal commitment to never stop learning, so I knew immediately I wanted to be in the room where it happened.

When I asked Ben for some more information I was seriously in awe of the names of the people who’d already applied. Coaches such as David Peterson (head of coaching at Google), Carol Kauffman (founder of the Executive Institute of Coaching at Harvard Medical School) and Whitney Johnson (a Thinkers50 Management Thinker).

My wife, Monique said, “You’re amazing too. Don’t be intimidated. Of course you should apply.”

But that’s her job, right?

On my side I was seriously intimidated.

The voices in my head were loud on this one.

“You are not enough.”

“Who are you?”

“They are amazing.”

I had to really force myself to sit down and write that application. I had to let go of any need to be humble and really talk about my impact and that of my clients.

I let myself be immersed in it. To move someone you have to allow yourself be moved. And I was. I really went for it.

And then I heard…

Nothing.

And then I finally heard…

After all that, I wasn’t picked.

It turned out that 12,000 coaches applied and 25 people were chosen.

They are an incredible group of people. And I am thrilled that the lovely Michael Bungay Stanier, author of the great book The Coaching Habit is amongst them.

But it was tough to see the list.

I felt sad. I felt rejected. I felt frustrated.

This morning I got back from my 7th ever boxing class with my trainer. I’ve been learning to punch but during the last few sessions he has been teaching me to duck and roll.

It’s a technique where you avoid an opponent’s punches.

This morning I ducked and immediately pulled back.

My trainer said, “What are you doing?”

I said, “I’m leaning back so I don’t get hit!”

(I thought that would be obvious!)

Now he laughed at me and replied, “You’ve have to risk being hit. It’s like life. Sometimes you get hit. But don’t hold back. You might get hit. That’s life. You have to roll with the punches.”

5am wisdom from my boxing coach. Lean in. Don’t hold back.

Well the year isn’t quite over and I am still doing my best to lean in.

Like being hit by my trainer, sometimes it hurts.

And like this morning’s boxing lesson, I pick myself up and try again.

Love. Rich

P.S. If you want to dive in deeper:

1. Here’s Michael’s excellent article on what happened when he went along to Marshall’s 100 Coaches project.

2. My friend Marisa Peer gave an incredible talk on the power of the words “I am enough.”

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