If the question is, “how can I be more present – meaningfully and deeply present – in my relationships, in my work and in my aspirations?” the answer can be found in your dinosaur tail.
At the Hudson Institute’s Advanced Coaching Conference last week, coach and author Doug Silsbee shared a metaphor that has immediate and powerful relevance in my life. Maybe it’s because I just turned 40 or because I am finally beginning to own both my earned and inherited gifts but the image of the dinosaur tail landed hard and well.
He asked us to imagine that we each have a long and powerful tail in which resides our lineage – I am the son of clergy and of teachers, the descendant of admirals – our experience, our competence, our learning and our achievements. Attached to us as it is, residing in us as it does, it is with us all the time. And, in the form of a tail, if we are mindful of its presence, it swings behind us with assuredness, stabilizing us and allowing us to be more present, available and generous.
I spent so much of the last decade of my life looking for what I did not have, for what wasn’t there, instead of capitalizing on what was present and available. I was not ready to trust myself because I viewed my life through the lens of comparison and deficit rather than the lens of acceptance and generosity.
Now that I feel that tail swinging behind me, I am shifting. I stand in front of a room, I sit across from a client, confident in what I have to offer but no longer tied to a vision of perfect, a vision of failure that is consuming and debilitating. There is freedom in the tail; recognition and trust that each new circumstance is an opportunity for all of me – lineage, experience, competence – to be present, to be generous.
© 2010 David Berry