Each one of my favorite teachers has a different personality, a different delivery style – and even though many of them have some of the same messages they’ve taught me.. And many of them are interwoven with each other.. each of my favorite teachers give me something slightly different and unique from all the others.
Interconnectedness Between My Favorite Teachers
For example, the first favorite teacher I told you about was Brooke- she was introduced to Life Coaching by Martha Beck through seeing her on Oprah (and I believe Brooke got her life coach training from Martha). And remember, Oprah is one of my favorite teachers who I talked about on July’s First Friday episode.
The Favorite Teacher I want to tell you about today may be considered the Mother of Life Coaching. Dr. Martha Beck is a best-selling author, speaker, podcaster and coach.
I can’t remember exactly, but I think I was first introduced to Martha through another favorite teacher who I haven’t mentioned to you yet, Jenny Blake. When I heard Martha and Jenny’s discussion on Jenny’s podcast, I wanted to know more about Martha- so I looked her up.. And I found her amazing books!
Masterful Use of Metaphors
Maybe one thing that subconsciously attracted me to Martha is her masterful use of metaphors – you know I can’t resist a well-constructed metaphor, right?
One of Martha’s books is called “Finding your Own North Star” – don’t you love the idea of a beautiful, sparkly, shiny, extraterrestrial body being a guide for you? And the title implies that not everyone has the same North Star – and that it’s something to discover.. It hasn’t always been visible or obvious.
This is exactly what I needed at that time of my life. I did want guidance and navigation – but I didn’t think I wanted it from someone else, from some external authority – well, maybe I did a little, but I was also very resistant to that, for good reason!
My Own North Star
Martha gives me the feeling that she gets it, she understands where I’m coming from, where I am.. And she knows I’m trying to get somewhere.. And lovingly and patiently and gently points out to me where I’m trying to go. My Own North Star.
And she knows I can get there – and her belief is so strong, yet gentle and loving.. that I believe it too.
It’s a different energy than I get from Brooke, or Jess, or Aileen or Jen – the other favorite teachers I’ve told you about.I really got interested in Martha’s work, after I had already been learning from Brooke and Jess and Aileen – during a time that I thought I was lost and wandering.
I knew I wanted something, but I didn’t know what I wanted.
Martha’s book “Finding your own North Star” was a loving, gentle, encouraging voice for me during that time. She introduced me to so many ideas and concepts that, even though I didn’t know it at the time, were foundational to me in transforming into who I am today and who I’m working towards becoming.
Social Self and the Essential Self
The most transformational concept that I learned from Martha was the idea of the Social Self and the Essential Self.
Your social self is the version of you, the parts of your personality, that are socialized into you through your family, your school, your community, your culture, the media you consume.The social self is helpful for some elements of living your everyday life – but relying on the social self for too much can be detrimental.
It’s the idea of trying to please everyone, so you end up pleasing no-one, especially not yourself. The social self might be bland and generic. There’s no spark and a lot of doing things you don’t want to do. LIving in your social self can disconnect you from your essential self.
What is your Essential Self? It’s the complete, un-edited, essence of you. It’s who you were as a child. It’s who you are based on your genetic make-up. It’s your true-est of true nature – who you were born to be. It’s that spark that may be missing from the Social Self.
Tension between the Social and the Essential Selves
When I heard Martha describe these 2 selves, and understood how I had been on social self autopilot for so long, and how I wasn’t really in touch with my essential self and couldn’t recognize it or follow it, so much opened up for me. So much made sense that didn’t make sense before.
And maybe as you’re hearing this now, maybe you can recognize how the tension between the social self and the essential self can create so much resistance. Maybe you’ve been feeling some of that resistance for yourself.
If you want to learn more about understanding the differences between the social self and essential self, I highly recommend you check out Martha’s North Star books.
Metaphor of a Butterfly’s Transformation
Another super-helpful, super-reassuring concept Martha shared with me is the metaphor of a butterfly coming from a chrysalis- not just transforming from a caterpillar.
I’m sure I had heard the word “chrysalis” when I was a kid or in a science class at some point, but as an adult, I had completely forgotten about it until hearing Martha describe how a butterfly doesn’t just transform directly from a caterpillar, that first, it breaks down into a cellular substance.. And from that unrecognizable state, the adult butterfly finally emerges.
Martha has made a corresponding analogy for transformation, matching our human psychological transformation to a butterfly’s physiological transformation. It means that the first phase of dissolving is completely natural and expected. It shows that we shouldn’t expect reforming and full flight before going through the break down and the creating processes. It takes so much of the stress and doubt off of going through a psychological transformation.
Hearing about that process and seeing the parallels between my own human psychological metamorphosis and something simple and beautiful that we can observe in nature was so reaffirming and comforting. And interesting too.. Who knew, right?
Writing Like a Turtle
A 3rd concept I learned and loved from Martha, is technique of writing (like a turtle?), which I started using after noticing some resistance about writing content for my podcast.
When I first started thinking about and planning the episodes, I was so excited to write and edit, everything just flowed out of me and it felt fun and effortless.
Then, as the launch date got closer, I switched from creative content creation to technical self-education – I had to figure out how to record, edit, and host the episodes – this was all new to me, and not intuitive and not easy and effortless for me.
I dealt with frustration and resistance over those weeks.. And I made it through! But, one of the sacrifices I made as I was learning and experiencing those new skills was that I dropped my daily content writing habit.. And then it was SO HARD to start it again.
I would put it on my calendar every day – 1 hour of content writing, and then I would delay it, reschedule it, ignore it, save it for later and never do it – you get the idea.. And then I was berating myself for not doing it and making up all sorts of stories about feeling rushed and not having my episodes ready
So I remembered Martha’s story about how she re-framed writing her dissertation and decided instead of putting 1 hour on my calendar, I would just write 20 minutes a day. So I tried it. Thinking about writing for just 20 minutes didn’t create any resistance for me. I would sit down at my desk, set my time and start writing, not concerned if I would finish it, if it would be enough, if it would be good- just knowing that 20 minutes of writing was helping me get closer to my goal. And then, my timer would go off and I would be right in the middle of a great idea and I’d just keep writing.
It worked perfectly! And I lost the resistance I had been holding on to for some reason about doing something that I really enjoyed.
She is so SMART
She has such a way with words, stories and metaphors. For example, I was looking for something else Martha had written, just googling around, and I found this heading in a list of 5 Pieces of Advice in Oprah’s magazine
“Once You Trust Yourself, You Can Trust Everyone”
without even reading the rest of the paragraph or knowing the full context of the quote, I was like “TRUE!” but wait, why?!?
It was so powerful.. And just so casually slipped into a list of cutely-titled pieces of advice with some adorable dog illustrations.
I had an immediate gut reaction to this statement.. And KNEW that I wanted to discover, and explore and figure it out- before reading more about what she had to say about it.I wanted to understand it for myself. I wanted to know the truth of it for myself from my own perspective first!
So, before I tell you my reasons why it’s so true, let me just repeat it to you again.. And give you a second.. So you can consider it for yourself. You can even pause this episode if you want more time to think about it.
“Once You Trust Yourself, You Can Trust Everyone”
Ok, what did you think about that statement? Did you get it? Is it just completely obvious and I’m making a big deal out of nothing? Or, are you now profoundly aware of something you weren’t quite dialed into a minute ago?
Here’s what I love about that quote: The only reason why we don’t or can’t trust anyone else, is we don’t or can’t trust ourselves. If you recognize the value and benefit of trusting others, much like unconditionally loving others, it shows that you have no expectations of them. They don’t have to be, or do, or have anything to make you happy, or to make you feel secure. You feel happy and secure because of yourself, because of your own thoughts- not because of anyone else.
Find Trust in Yourself
Once you find that trust in yourself, for yourself, knowing that you’ll always love yourself unconditionally, no matter what, you’ve always got your own back, you’ll never blame, or punish or berate yourself, you also know you can trust anyone else in any situation, as much as you want to because they don’t have to do or be anything else for you, except just be exactly who they are.
There may be some knee-jerk resistance coming up for some people when they hear or read this. For example, “are you supposed to trust someone who has hurt you? Do you have to trust someone who has repeatedly lied to you?”
I’m not suggesting you ignore your own boundaries, and I’m not suggesting you don’t follow through on consequences, or reactions, you’ve already decided on for yourself.
So, if someone has a boundary that she will get out of a situation if someone else is physically or mentally abusive towards her- she can trust the person to be who they are and act how they will act, and she can trust herself to leave if that person becomes abusive. She doesn’t have to expect that person to act or be different than they are.
Same with the example of someone who has lied to you in the past. You can choose to trust yourself, your instincts, your intuition when the person tells you something. That way, if they lie or don’t lie.. you’re not expecting them to change, you’ve already made the decision that you are trusting yourself. I could go on and on about all the lessons I’ve learned from Martha.
Thank You Card, Love Note and Fan Letter
Martha, Thank you for being an example of someone who is willing to “drop it” and start over. Because you shared your journey so publicly (and probably because I heard some commonalities in my own journey to yours), I sensed so much freedom and permission and liberty as I heard how you transformed yourself, in so many iterations, away from the product of your social self into your essential self.
Thank you so much for not only being a coach, but then sharing your coaching practices and techniques in your books and coach certification program. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve mentally referred back to your description of the Essential Self (and it’s contrast to the Social Self) as I think about how and why I’m thinking and doing what I’m doing.
My most favorite thing about you is how SMART you are. It is the most attractive quality of so many qualities you possess.. And I know you’re highly educated and were raised in an academic household.. But I really think your amazing intelligence is essential to who you are- it’s your essence, even if you had been raised on a farm in Africa or been born in time period prior to the industrial revolution, I just get the sense that your true gift (one of many) is your ability to take in, process, analyze and then re-deliver inputs, information and perspectives to all of us, either in your writing, your podcast, your coaching and even probably just in one-on-one conversations too.
What’s your Favorite Martha Fix?
And those were just a few of the lessons learned from Martha Beck- I hope you can tell from this episode how amazing she is and I hop you go find some of her work for yourself. I’d also love to know if you are already a Martha Fan – if so, what’s your favorite book of hers? Or where do you get your Martha fix?
Get the Companion Workbook
Want to get a curated list of other Martha resources for you to check in and dive deeper? It’s included in the companion workbook, along with many of the exercises and worksheets that go along with each of the other posts on this site – so no matter when you joined me, and no matter what you’re currently working on, if you download the companion workbook you should be able to follow along with most of the worksheets and exercises that I mention. Go get that pdf right now.