Man’s Search for Meaning
Viktor Frankl survived Auschwitz, Theresienstadt, Kaufering and Turkheim.
In 1946 he wrote “Man’s Search for Meaning” in nine days.
Part one is a description of his experiences as a prisoner and slave.
Part two is an elaboration of the psychotherapy he developed: logotherapy, the therapy of meaning.
I can only read the first part for a maximum of three minutes a day, early in the morning. I need the rest of the day to process the horrors I read and find some peace before going to bed.
The second part I can gobble down like a hungry baby thrush. I find it uplifting, inspiring, and encouraging. I feel excited to realize how much Positive Psychology, Acceptance & Commitment Therapy, and Stephen Covey owe Frankl’s work. I feel delighted to see the similarities between his teachings and those of my favorite Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh.
I keep reflecting on Frankl’s quote of Nietzsche:
“He who has a why to live for can bear with almost any how.”
I feel humbled to realize that Frankl came to see meaning as the driving force of life after he lost his position at a famous hospital in Vienne, his wife and their baby, his mother, his father, his brother, and all other immediate family members.
I also feel humbled to reflect on Frankl’s view that our lives are not the puppets of pathology described by Freud. We are not about resolving childhood issues. We are not determined by our conditioning or conditions. Our main purpose is not to have instant sexual gratification.
Our lives are first and foremost a search for meaning.
The question is not what we can ask of life, but what life is asking of us. If we suffer, are we worthy of our suffering? If we are happy, are we worthy of our happiness?
I am inspired to ask myself: How can I transcend my situation and contribute to others and the causes I care about?
Some of my clients work on exactly these questions. They have a vision of a world with equity, social and economic justice, understanding, empathy, and peace. They support people with mental health challenges, foster kids, the homeless, inmates, immigrants, future generations, the environment.
And they struggle with shrinking funding, daunting demand for their services, conflict among their staff, turnover, emergencies.
They keep on working. They show up strong for their team, they push through, no matter how overwhelmed, stressed out, frustrated, or stuck they feel.
I am grateful that I have a way to contribute to their lives, work, and purpose. My clients tell me that coaching offers them a place of reflection in the rush of the day.
An opportunity to reorient to self-care and self-compassion; to celebrate the growth they went through.
Or to find a place to talk freely through their issues without being expected to choose what is expected of them, instead of what they value.
And maybe most importantly, we work on understanding and accepting that maybe today, they did enough. That they are not solely responsible for the outcomes. That they can rest.
In coaching with me you can:
Learn tools to resolve conflict way faster
Nourish empathy to inspire key stakeholders
See the similarities between a bougainvillea and your needs
Learn from a vegan who gets the best dish in the steakhouse
Master failure applause
Accept your limitations and use Santa Claus to ask for what you want
Since last week was International Coaching Week, I offer a free session to anyone who signs up for six coaching sessions before May 31. So that is $600 for seven sessions.
If you see it as a cost, it is. If you see it as an investment in your effectiveness, creating the right results faster, it is not.
Talk to me if you want to see how coaching can help you be a more effective leader.
You already know enough?
Go ahead and sign up here.
This is what some of my clients have shared about working with me:
“Some of the things that we did together I found very powerful, emotionally powerful. Elly always had creative and engaging exercises that helped me process challenges on emotional and cognitive levels.”
Niko Hilgerdt, Pedagogical Leader, Austin Waldorf School, Austin
“I’m earning more with a lot less stress, in less time and with more satisfaction. I feel really satisfied and fulfilled. I feel like I’m making a positive impact on not just the students at my school, but teachers around the area, the larger area of Austin and beyond.”
Eric Mann, Math and Computer Science Teacher, Longview School, Austin
“I think Elly role-models the way to be present to other people. So if I were going to be with someone else, how I might hear them deeply or listen more closely to what was going on in someone’s life. To maybe hear beyond the words. Maybe just be present to feeling what might be going on for the other person. So it not only helped me, but it helped me think about how I wanted to be with other people.”
Jen Collins, Associate Professor, Texas Tech University, Health Sciences Center
“Elly’s genuineness in accepting all of my troubles, detail by detail, is felt. But the true wonder of being a collaborator with Elly goes straight to her core beliefs: she is an example that love and empathy will always save the day.”
Conor Jensen, Website Manager, Texas Bar Books, Austin