What is a co-incidence and how would we describe it? How should we reflect and make meaning of a co-incidence? What do we mean by our ‘legacy’? And how might there be a connection between legacy and co-incidence? What examples are there? Which are the questions we should be asking ourselves?
What is a co-incidence and how would you describe it?
A wise man, Mike Imber left a legacy in many of the things he said. I can clearly remember his saying: ‘A co-incidence is a miracle where G_d wishes to remain anonymous’. Mike was Jewish and in honour of his memory I have written G_d in the way he most probably would have written the word. His message can be significant and lead to reflection regardless of our religious beliefs and how we might interpret the notion of a god or Universal higher power or connectedness.
How should we reflect and make meaning of a co-incidence?
Often, after experiencing a ‘co-incidence’ I have reflected and been in awe of the meaning I have derived. Planning positive action flowing from the meaning, implementing and sustaining that behaviour are often the difficult parts. These are the hurdles that often trip us. So being conscious of Kolb’s Experiential Learning Cycle helps us to realise the importance of following through in order to maximise our learning.
So what are some of the learnings through reflecting on the co-incidences in my life? To me, each has been a miracle and I need to recognise and optimise the opportunities stemming from each.
What do we mean by our ‘legacy’?
This beautiful poem by Phepelani Zondi who describes himself as a Personal Development Speaker and Inspirational Poet gives thought for reflection:
Will the Universe cry?
Will the stars say of you; “One of us has fallen”?
Will the ground you touched be proud of the mark you made?
Will your legacy continue to echo in the hearts of men?
Will your deeds be louder than the words spoken of you?
How many minds would you have fed?
How many candles would you have lit?
How may knots would you have untied?
How many miracles would you have performed?
How many smiles would you have created?
When you die!
When you die, will you continue to live forever?
When I invited Phephelani to provide the background to this poem he responded:
‘One day I was jogging in the morning when I passed by a school. They had just cemented their driveway. In that half-dry cemented driveway were the words, "Nosipho was here - 2013". I then asked myself what inspired this Nosipho pupil to inscribe her name on the cement. I realized that Nosipho wanted to make a mark, to leave a legacy, to leave behind something that she can be remembered with. She wanted people to know that "she was here".
Don't we all want to make a mark in this world? Don't we all as humans have a desire, a yearning to outlive ourselves and leave behind a legacy for generations to come? Don't we all want people to know that "we were here?" Don't we all want to make a name for ourselves?
Brenda, that was what inspired my poem called "Legacy". I began to ask myself how I can continue to live, even long after I am gone. I began to ask myself on how I can make people know that "I was here"’.
How might there be a connection between legacy and co-incidence?
Many of the clients who come to me for coaching are concerned about the legacy they may or may not leave. This sometimes relates to their death and in other cases to a transition in their lives. For example, they may be retiring as CEO and be concerned as to the legacy they are leaving in the firms they have helped to develop and grow during the time in which they were formally engaged in business, firms or organisations. What mark might they leave in the cement?
Some of us are not sure what that legacy should be. And this becomes even more difficult if we are not sure what our purpose is. We have a purpose, mission, vision, values etc. for our businesses, but often neglect to do the same for ourselves. So if we are not sure what our purpose is (and how many people are sure?), it could be difficult to work on our legacy. I believe purpose and legacy should be aligned in some way.
So where does co-incidence come into all of this? By reflecting on these ‘miracles’ we can help ourselves to become unstuck. We’d go through the normal cycle of making sure we are as clear as possible as to what happened. We then go into reflection and consider what meaning we can create out of the experience. Next we look at what action we can plan that will build on to the experience.
Example of what building on co-incidences can do
I believe that part of my purpose is helping others to achieve potential. An element is in networking, connecting people with people, people with information and people with opportunities. Let’s use the above poem as an example of the co-incidences that followed each other enabling me to arrive at the point where I was able to share Phephelani’s poem with you, thus connecting you, the reader with Phephelani and his message. (This story is quite long, so you may wish to stop reading here and skip to the questions at the end.)
I’m always fascinated when the Universe connects like-minded people and meeting with Phephelani was one of these co-incidences. When I notice this happening, I like to trace the golden thread backwards to gain greater appreciation of how the tapestry of life is being woven. This example gives evidence of how leaving ourselves open to recognise and optimise opportunities can have exciting consequences. Here is part of my tapestry relevant to meeting Phephelani through Carol:
In 2010 I started a mystery journey when I decided that I needed a ‘proper qualification’ in coaching. I was accredited in various fields and felt competent for my speaking career, training, assessing and PR. Yet, often I was asked to ‘coach’ individuals and although I knew that I was mentoring more than coaching (because skills transfer was involved), I felt as though I needed some formal qualification and accreditation in this field.
While considering that, circumstances changed and we had an unscheduled stay at a B&B in the Stellenbosch area. There I was introduced to Lenford Gerber who had recently gained a coaching qualification. On reading my books, he encouraged me to consider becoming a coach. I was intrigued and followed up on the course he had done. That led me to explore further and because Shaney, the person I spoke to on the phone was so encouraging, I enrolled for the Coaching to Excellence (CTE) short course at the Centre for Coaching, Graduate School of Business, University of Cape Town. I thought doing that introductory course would be enough. But it wasn’t. While I had considered that a piece of paper, a minor qualification would quench my thirst for knowledge, it didn’t. That course served to show me how little I knew and how an Integral style of coaching suited me.
I then enrolled for the 6-month Associate Coaching Course (ACC) at the Centre for Coaching. By the end of that intense course, I was ‘hooked’. I had gone through enormous personal growth, the methods worked, my clients were making remarkable progress and there was no turning back. I applied for the one-year Professional Coaching Course (PCC) and was accepted. My involvement there brought major positive changes in my life. And although I found the course extremely difficult, my whole ‘way of being’ had shifted and I was able to work at a deeper level with clients and they too were enjoying major shifts in their lives. For the next two years I really enjoyed mentoring the ACC coaching students for the Centre for Coaching and right now am still giving feedback on the last group, an Australian group that I mentored during 2014.
However while mentoring that group, I realised that I, Brenda from Pietermaritzburg, was mentoring these awesome Australians most of whom already had coaching qualifications – for example, a Master’s degrees in coaching from Sydney University! Although I seemed to be doing a good job, I felt ill-equipped and decided that I really needed to study further. While enrolling for a different course at the Stellenbosch Business School I interacted with wonderful people who persuaded me to apply for their Master's degree centered around coaching.
A distance course would not have inspired me and I was delighted to find that the Stellenbosch University M Phil in Management Coaching had a strong leadership component. Until a few days before the course started this year, I hadn’t been accepted because the course was full. I spoke to Dr Salome van Coller-Peter and she too was encouraging. Another co-incidence gained me a place 6 days before the course started in February 2015 and I am currently engaged in that course at present.
My first assignment in March involved Evidence Based Coaching. Another ‘miracle’ occurred when I was in Sydney and happened to mention my topic to a wonderful, supportive friend, Joe Fischer who by chance knew Professor Anthony Grant at Sydney University who had coined the term ‘Evidence Based Coaching’. Through Joe, I was so grateful to be invited to meet with Anthony Grant, a leader in his field and inspiring person. We had an enjoyable meeting at his office and his recommendations and writings have continued to inspire me and lead me to explore further.
So at this point in this long story (I apologise) the coaching thread and different co-incidences have already connected me with three universities – UCT, Stellenbosch and now Sydney University. And this is where the fourth University enters the scene.
Socially I have been an acquaintance of Carol Mitchell in Pietermaritzburg for many years, but in May after she co-ordinated a magnificent concert for a mutual friend, I obtained her cell-phone number and phoned to tell her what a wonderful job she had done. As I spoke to her, I remembered that she was a lecturer in the Psychology department at the UKZN’s Pietermaritzburg University. I asked her if she knew of anyone who could perhaps coach me as we needed to be coached 20 hours as part of our Stellenbosch course.
She offered to help me cope with my academic challenges and has inspired and supported me in so many ways. Knowing of my interest in Positive Psychology, a topic I’d been introduced to in our first Module at Stellenbosch, she invited me to a Positive Psychology workshop for the Masters Students at the Pietermaritzburg University whom she supervises. I was delighted to be able to participate. And that is how I met Phepelani Zondi, the facilitator.
I know this has been a long story but we have travelled a circle. The purpose was to show how series of co-incidences (also known as miracles) have been identified in this particular case as playing a part in the evolving tapestry of my life. There are so many facets so thank you to all of those who have added texture, colour, shapes and depth connecting in some way to the ‘golden thread’ running through this magnificent creation. You may remain silent, anonymous in orchestrating the symphony of my life, yet your voice is heard. Your legacy is there.
Which are the questions we should be asking ourselves?
My questions for you are:
- What co-incidences have occurred in your life recently?
- How have you reflected on them?
- What insights have you had?
- In which ways have you created meaning from those insights?
- How can you experiment with new behaviours resulting from these insights?
- How have you implemented these new behaviours?
- What are you doing to recognise ways in which you can work towards the legacy you wish to leave?
- How deeply have you thought about your purpose?
It is my belief that there is a golden thread running through the rich tapestry of our lives. This connects us with people, information and opportunities. We need to be ‘open’ to the miracles around us. That can help us become clearer about our purpose. And thus it is easier for us to work towards a legacy.
For more information on leadership development and coaching please contact Brenda at firstname.lastname@example.org or +27 33 342 5432.