May 102011

The Sixth Suitcase

As we go through life, days turn into weeks and weeks into years. The journey takes us in one direction or another. Like most travelers, we carry suitcases with the possessions we need on our journey.

There are six suitcases that contain our essential possessions. We add contents to five of the six suitcases as we go through life. Yet the most important one is the sixth suitcase, which contains all the contents we need when we are born. This sixth suitcase is essential in order to effectively use the contents of the other five.

I am always looking for books that contain relevant coaching information and effective coaching tools. One such book is The Business Coaching Toolkit, by Stephen G. Fairley and Bill Zipp. One chapter in particular talks about our sixth suitcase.

The authors identify the five suitcases we pack as we travel through life. They are:

  1. The Work Suitcase, our achievements
  2. The School Suitcase, our education and training
  3. The Personality Suitcase, our temperament
  4. The Interests Suitcase, our tastes and hobbies
  5. The Values Suitcase, our character

However, without the sixth suitcase we can’t effectively use the contents of the other five. If we don’t understand what’s in your sixth suitcase we will base our ambitions only on the first five. As a result, all our efforts may end in frustration.

When we unpack our sixth suitcase, we’ll find that it contains all the natural gifts and talents we were born with. It is the unique mix of innate strengths in each of us that allows us to excel at certain things in life. It is the unique individual who is able to remain calm and lead in a crisis. It is the musician who composes music in his head without having to write it down, and yet the result is a masterpiece. Or it could be the business owner who feels the intuition about doing something that others consider risky, but risks it anyway and successfully brings a product to market.

Our first five suitcases are filled as we go through life. While we start life with our sixth suitcase already full; and it is up to us to unlock its potential and power. It is up to us to use the natural talents in our sixth suitcase and align them with what we do in our daily life. Many times they are so instinctive that we don’t realize we have them. This results in trying to fix our weaknesses instead of building on our strengths, and leads to frustration and unfulfilled dreams.

Another reason why we should unpack that suitcase is because when we don’t have balance in our life, we are out of alignment. When a tire is out of alignment, it wears unevenly, causing it to wear out faster than normal. When we go to work unbalanced and out of alignment, we don’t do those things that come natural to us, so we tend to wear out as well. When we do not use our true talents, we are drained of energy and creativity, sometimes becoming demoralized. We are better at what we do when we use our natural talents and come to work energized and motivated.

A coach is trained to help clients unlock their sixth suitcase. Using their strengths as a foundation, I help them transition their management style and leadership skills to develop into higher performance individuals and teams.

If you or someone you know could use some help in unpacking the sixth suitcase, I can help. Contact me so I can coach them back into balance.

Check your alignment to see if you are wearing well, and take care.


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