As I'm writing this afternoon, I'm half-reading Tennyson's "Ulysses," half-watching the New Orleans Saints play the San Diego Chargers at Wembley (on tv!) , and wholly reflecting on what to write to my lovely past, present, and future coaching clients that will inspire them amidst the daily gloom and barrage of economic news and headlines. (And no, I'm not an Enneagram type 7, to those of you who may be speculating about my apparent multi-tasking)!

One of my current coaching clients works (worked) at Lehmans and many, indeed most, others are directly or indirectly affected by the implications of the current climate. The pervasive negative news and commentary is contagious and we all need to keep our own thoughts and focus positive in order to turn it around. While fear is the prevalent feeling for many at the moment, I've been reflecting that actually the opposite of fear is faith, and that's what we are called on to cultivate now.

So what's the connection between American football, Tennyson, and the economic climate? Let's start with the New Orleans football team, the aptly named Saints. Their triumphant return to the previously battered New Orleans stadium, the place of refuge for many during the city's floods and itself a symbol of the devastation of the city, signalled a resurgence of hope and faith in the city's spirit and its future. When the band played "When The Saints Go Marching In" at the beginning of the game, apparently the pride of the New Orleans people attending and watching was palpable, and the broken spirit of New Orleans began to revitalize and heal, emerging stronger than before.

Tennyson's "Ulysses" tells a similar story, though a sea voyage rather than flood is the opportunity for the hero's journey. As those of you who read the September issue of this newsletter will know, in every issue I'm choosing a piece of literature to reflect on for wisdom and inspiration. In this issue it's Tennyson's stirring well-known poem, "Ulysses." The poem is about a middle-aged hero, back from his odyssey, burnt-out, disorientated, tired and weary, but determined to embark on a new heroic journey and not give in to disappointment and loss. You can read the full poem on this link:

Many of you may be familiar with the poem, and especially the famous last lines:

"Come, my friends,
'Tis not too late to seek a newer world
Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho'
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are,
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield."

Amidst all the fear, of financial loss and job loss and other changes too that we all face inevitably through our lives, we need to remember who we are in our essence, who we have the potential to be, and use the crisis as an exciting opportunity to be the hero of our own life.

My coaching client Lisa from Lehmans is responding to her job loss as a call to adventure, an exciting springboard from which to charge forward and discover her true vocation, something that will reflect who she really is, that will be illuminated by her values. Adversity therefore creates a real opportunity to find deep fulfilment in a work that rewards beyond the material and reflects her at her best. (She actually started working with me a few months before Lehmans collapsed with a view to discovering and creating her true vocation and was happily already on her journey with a head-start.) At the moment we're considering what her values, strengths, and personality type suggest about inspiring work paths outside banking, and anything and everything is still possible. I'll keep you posted, but we're both excited to see what lies ahead at the end of this particular journey. Lisa has kindly given me permission to include her story here and is happy to give readers an update on her progress in due course!

Joseph Campbell, one of my favourite writers, once said that "the privilege of a lifetime is being who you are." That brings us back to Tennyson's wonderful line "that which we are, we are." In order to be fully who we are, to discover our depths and potential and then to live it, we are usually called on an adventure or quest. This could be a sea voyage like that of Ulysses, or Bilbo Baggins' semi-reluctant quest with the wizard Gandalf and the dwarves to find and kill the dragon and seize the treasure (I'm currently reading "The Hobbit" to Christopher, my 10 year-old son), or it could be exploring your own new worlds like my lovely Lehmans client is now doing. Or you in your own adventure, whatever it may be. As Campbell writes, "We must be willing to get rid of the life we've planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us. The heroic life is living the individual adventure."

The hero's journey in Campbell's account involves leaving our familiar existence after a call to adventure, crossing the threshold, venturing out into the unknown, our sea journey, and going through tests, trials, initiations, facing danger as we discover our prize or treasure, whether it's finding wisdom, waking the sleeping princess or our own metaphorical inner sleeping princess, or finding an elixir for the restoration of society, like the New Orleans Saints, and bringing back our precious elixir to humanity in order to renew it.

We have an opportunity for alchemical soul-making right now, individually and collectively, a chance to transform a superficial, unconscious life based on material security and the performance of our stock portfolios to a life lit-up with the full range of magical possibilities in our potential, waiting to be discovered, a life illuminated by cultivating our intelligence and our soul.

Joseph Campbell differentiates between the ego and the self: "The ego is you as you think of yourself. You in relation to all the commitments of your life, as you understand them. The self is the whole range of possibilities that you've never even thought of. And you're stuck with your past when you're stuck with your ego. Because if all you know about yourself is what you've found out about yourself, well that already happened. The self is a whole field of potentialities waiting to come through"

Whatever your own call to adventure looks like, whether it's a wizard knocking at your door, an inner call to transcend the joyless hamster-wheel of draining routine, or a redundancy package, why not embrace faith rather than fear, seize the chance to "seek a newer world," connect with your own heroic heart like Ulysses, uncover what's waiting to come through in you, and be the hero or heroine of your own life?

Whatever you really want, don't postpone it. Life is precious! Take the first step today to start making your dreams come true by visiting and signing up for our free monthly strategies on creating "Your New Life: Inspiration for Personal and Professional Fulfillment".
©Dr Nicola Bunting, 2009

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Nicola Bunting is a top international personal and professional coach, with the Master Certified Coach credential from the International Coach Federation (ICF), one of only 1% of coaches in the world to reach this level of certification. Working with successful professionals in Europe and the USA, either as a personal or executive coach, Dr. Bunting specialises in helping ambitious individuals dramatically accelerate their success and fulfillment. With individual, group, and corporate coaching programmes on offer, Dr. Bunting's coaching company, La Vita Nuova (the New Life!), can design a coaching plan to help you achieve beyond your expectations.