Something to ask yourself.

As I’ve written about before, I work with an executive coach (meaning, I am coached in my professional life by someone who has the training and experience to help me in that way). We meet, by Zoom, every other week or so. We’ve been working together long enough now, she and I, that we have a history, a relationship that has developed over time.

Like me, she has the weird elephant memory. Like me, she is obsessive about writing notes and keeping her journals and planners so she can use them for reference. Like me, she uses both her memory and her notes to bring context to our discussions, referencing past conversations and experiences when helpful.

I was reminded today, through another activity, of the one question my coach asks regularly – a question that has helped me, even if it’s sometimes been uncomfortable in the process.

The question is usually preceded by my telling her about a situation I’m dealing with. At some point in the story, she’ll say, “This seems like familiar territory.” And then she’ll refer to her notes, flipping through pages until she finds the one she wants. She’ll remind me about a past discussion, something remarkably similar, in one way or another, to the situation at hand.

Then she’ll ask: “So how’s it going this time?”

It’s a variation of the question so often posed by therapists or other guides: “How’s that working out for you?” The difference is subtle, but maybe important.

For a flash, when she asks me this question, I think to myself: GODAMMIT! I DID IT AGAIN!!

But then, partly because of the way she’s asked the question, but mostly because of our long relationship, I start to think beyond the repeating pattern, stretching to consider what is or isn’t different in the current moment from ones that were similar, in the past.

This question has been heavy on my mind today for many reasons, but particularly as I’ve listened to the 9/11 remembrances and reflections, retellings of now-familiar stories. And I’ve wondered, since yesterday (as you’ve likely read), how it’s all going this time, on this 20 year mark. Have we progressed, or regressed, or just gotten stuck?

How is it going this time?

And, maybe more importantly, how’s that working out for us?

This post is 33/56 in a self-directed challenge to write (or at least post) something (SOMETHING) every day – a birthday gift to me from me, because writing gives me a place to put the clutter that lives in my head.


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