Sustainability is about leveraging resources in a way that those resources will not expire.

Most of us are all too familiar with expiring resources. Our energy depletes, so we grab an energy shot. Our finances deplete, so we inch closer to our credit limit. Our trust depletes, so we feel the strain of relationships gone awry. Sometimes it seems that personal sustainability is a myth.

My kids and I were watching Iron Man a few weeks ago when my son asked, “When does Iron Man sleep?” Together we reasoned that the arc reactor in his chest meant that Tony Stark needed very little sleep. After all, the arc reactor is a virtually self-sustaining power source. Forget 5-hour energy shots, Iron Man has a much longer battery life than that. If only we all had self-sustaining resources.

While personal sustainability is a rare reality, self-sustainability is an outright myth. Our basic human design is such that each of us needs more than we can provide ourselves. We are sustained only by wise choices and meaningful relationships with those around us.

One of the reasons I appreciate coaching so much is that it fosters sustainability in those who are coached. Coaching promotes sustainability by:

  • allowing the client room to breath; to stop producing or performing for a while
  • pouring attention onto the client without any need for the client to return the conversational energy back to the coach
  • fostering creative solutions for taxing challenges in the life of the client, allowing the client to generate fresh resources in pursuit of his or her goals
  • promoting intentionality so that the client does not misappropriate time, energy, money, relationship – leveraging those valuable resources where they are most needed and best used
  • encouraging times of rest and recharging; helping the client see him- or herself as more than a producer or consumer but as a being who can simply be; affording the client opportunity to engage in their higher sense of purpose and being

As one of my coaching friends says, we coaches help others “go farther and faster without burning out.” Coaches may not be as compact, shiny, or technologically cool as an arc reactor, but we are real and we are endowed with the capability of helping others approach greater heights of personal sustainability.

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