What Is It to Really Want What You Really Need?

Recently, I saw a wonderful cartoon in The New Yorker magazine (May 26, 2014) that immediately caught my professional eye as a life coach.  In it a beautiful, long-legged butterfly is standing on a tiny chair in a small office on the branch of a tree.  On a couple of twigs behind it are miniature framed diplomas, no doubt attesting to the butterfly’s professional excellence.  In front of the butterfly is a small caterpillar stretched out on a couch, head up, listening raptly to the butterfly expounding as it waves its forelegs.

What is the punchline, what is the butterfly saying?  “The thing is, you have to really want to change.”      

So here we have two realities.  First, it’s absolutely true that to benefit from coaching and be able to make powerful changes you must want to make those changes.  It’s unlikely that you will be find yourself making a rewarding career or other change in your life if you don’t have a strong desire, a clear vision, and the pro-activity to go forward and do so.

On the other hand, does a caterpillar “want” to change into a butterfly?  Isn’t it just a drive, a need, a blind instinct, that begins its cocooning process and that transforms it, finally, into a winged creature of beauty and light?

What is our drive, as human beings, to create transformative changes in our lives, in ourselves?  As with caterpillars, there is an inward thrust as well as an outer one in making powerful changes.  While we are more likely to change our conditions rather than our forms, there is still a deep need within that almost everyone feels at some point in their lives that comes forward as a deep desire to change something in our lives or in ourselves.  

In my book, Success with Soul-- Loving Your Livelihood, Living in Balance, I mention how most clients come for coaching because they want to make changes that matter in how they work and the overall quality of their lives.  Because, in our work together, we go deeply into their true desires, they are free to go more deeply into themselves, into the cocoon where they connect with the need of their spirit-- and then move forward towards their dream from this inner awareness:

What I often notice in the first place with coaching clients wanting to make career or other life changes, is a natural wish to make a quick leap as soon as possible from an unsatisfying place to the start of a new job, a new relationship, a new plan for the future.  Once we begin exploring what they’re really wanting from their lives, however, they begin to notice that their initial goals seem limited-- a way of getting from here to there without noticing the context of their whole lives....

To find this wholeness requires giving yourself to the process of feeling the inner heat of transformation in the alchemists’ sealed vessel.  William Bridges, author of the seminal book, Transitions: Making Sense of Life’s Changes, calls this taking time from your daily life to empty out and go into what is calling you from within....

This is what Karen Kimsey-House, co-founder of the Coaches Training Institute (CTI), calls “transformative change” or “change that occurs at the level of identity or being.”  When you go through the inner experience of transitioning from an outgrown way of working, relating, or creating, to one that opens your possibilities and your heart, you begin to understand the meaning and power of “transformation.”  

What is it, then, to really want what you really need?  Perhaps it is what performance artist Kim Rosen writes about our very human alchemical power to meld need and desire:

in impossible darkness
the sheer
of wings.

  (from “In Impossible Darkness”)