I've been advising and coaching a variety of people for years, from tweens to seniors, from every economic and educational background. There are three things that stand out in my mind as being major aspects of personal and professional development: Being able to tell your story, practicing creativity, and curiosity.
Morgan came into my life when she was a pre-teen and our boys were tiny. It was her family that took care of our older son the day and night I was at the hospital when our younger son was born. She has always had the sense of humor of an adult; a funny, sarcastic, somewhat English-style-dark-humor adult. I'm sure that's a big part of why we connected from the moment we met. As she grew up, she spent a lot of time at our house, helping with the boys, babysitting, and helping me with housework, keeping me company. She even took a few road trips with me so I wouldn't have to travel alone with the two little boys. We often laughed so hard we would cry. I had to pull over once in the middle of Nowhere, Why?oming because I was laughing so hard my stomach cramped and I had trouble breathing.
As Morgan moved through those difficult stages of adolescence and young adulthood, she remained consistent in her ability to share stories, even when her self confidence was limited. Her creative sense of humor is a big part of what makes people want to be around her. This is the woman who was able to make me laugh out loud shortly after my father died. And whenever she is afraid, she faces the fear and pushes through it because she's curious about what will happen when she takes the plunge. And I think she doesn't want to live with regret, the question "what if I don't do this?" is the one that pushes her through her hesitation.
While I like to think I've been a significant positive influence in her life, I know she has had as much, if not more of a positive impact on mine. When she asked me for advice through all aspects of life, from mean girls in middle school, to registering for classes in college, she not only listened to what I said, she asked the right questions and followed through when she said she would. She made it clear that when she asked for advice she would really listen when it was given, like accepting a gift. I learned how to present criticism more carefully; I learned to be more sensitive in my actions. I learned how to offer guidance without judgment.
My relationship with Morgan, and many years of providing guidance in the form of "don't do this, because when I did it..." for my sister, are the reasons I found coaching to be a big part of my career. By advising these two creative, curious storytellers, I was able to learn a lot about myself and what makes a successful person - no matter how you define success. They're the reason I came to the conclusion that to be successful in life, you need these three components: Storytelling skills, creativity, and curiosity.
When we tell a good story, we connect with people on a level deeper than just sharing a basic conversation. Stories are what bring people together under the umbrella of humanity. We share vulnerability, humor, and intelligence through our vocabulary, facial expressions and body language.
When we are being creative, we open ourselves to a different set of possibilities. Creativity actually changes the way our brains solve problems.
And when we are curious, we push ourselves to step out of comfort zones and into the unknown.
When I think of the people I respect and admire most, those are the common traits. Truly, I've never met someone with all three of those that wasn't also compassionate and considerate. Coincidence? I don't think so.