This morning I am heading sola to a small town on Lake Michigan to be in a beautiful and temperate spot, play some golf, meet a client in person, and spend some time with one of the MVPs of my life, Jim Dethmer. Jim is one of my first coaches, a co-author of the 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership, a former colleague, a teacher, a friend. He is a bright force in the universe, inviting me and anyone he meets to look honestly inward in service of creating more presence and love in our lives and in the world.
Much of who I am today is associated with my blessed connection to this man.
As I sat in O’Hare awaiting my flight to Traverse City, I did some voicemail cleanup. I noticed a voicemail from Jim from mid-2016. I looked at his name on that list, and I couldn’t remember why I had saved the message. I imagine he has called me three times total since we met. Perhaps I wanted to preserve a sample of his voice or just the reminder of him on the scrolling list? I listened to the message. I will not share it in its entirety, but here is how it started:
Sue, this is Jim. So I’m calling you because I just had multiple appreciations of you lately and thought it was time to express them rather than just have them and express them telepathically. I’m just loving what you are doing in the world.
What followed were reflections of how this man, who I believe has had many chances to know me, saw me. He mentioned impact, zeal, creativity, radiance, and power. For reasons not worth elucidating, hearing this today was a timely reminder of who I am.
I know that if I were more enlightened, his stories about me and my stories about myself would not matter. But I think I am not, and they do.
What resonated most upon hearing his message was the head slap of awareness that everything I “do” in the world and everything I “am” in a day or a week or this lifetime is inextricably linked to the rich and deep landscape of my emotions. I would not be X or do Y without the undergirding of emotional flow.
I feel…constantly. Tears run down my face at concerts, sporting events, and airport gates with no relationship to sadness. “How can the weather and the sound quality and the sky and the skyscraper views in Millennium Park mix with the orchestra so perfectly?” “How can Springsteen bring so much muscular energy in hour three of a live show?” “How have I never looked at a cross-section of a half-eaten raspberry to notice the contrast between the yellow seeds and the red flesh?” “How can I delight in this person this much in this exact moment in time?”
Many times a week at work, I invite people to pause to feel their feelings. I usually do this in the seconds after I feel something in a room or a coaching session or a chat with a friend. Today I realized that I still want to poke myself on this. To invite myself to pause and give myself full permission to feel. I am zealous, I am creative, and in some ways, I am powerful. All of that depends on and matters far less than the waves of awe, fear, longing, sadness, anticipation, and delight that form my foundation for launching, moving, coaching, connecting, pushing, revealing, and goofing off.
If you are near me and notice that feelings are around, I would love for you to cozy up right next to me (on a bench or on a zoom) and offer presence and space for what is almost always a very quick, if unexpected, ride.
I hope you have people in your life who see AND feel you. I hope they tell you they do, and I hope they offer detailed reflections on what they see. I hope you have people in your life whom you see and feel. I hope you tell them, in whatever way you do, that you do. I hope you see and feel yourself. Perhaps today or right now, if you’re willing, take a break from the action — from optimizing, learning, selling, performing, judging, arguing, proving, or moving the ball — to check in with your heart.