Bumper Sticker Wisdom (#803)

I was speaking with a coaching client this week who was very concerned about what she described as her inability to “access God’s wisdom” while working through a variety of challenges in her business and her personal life. As we explored things more deeply, she explained that in her best moments, she felt very connected to a higher intelligence, but that it seemed like whenever she “really needed it”, that connection was unavailable to her.

She told me that she had a bumper sticker on her car that read “God is my Co-Pilot”, and how she always turned to a higher power for support. Most of the time, she felt incredibly supported. But in times of real need and crisis, she struggled to feel that connection or hear the guidance.

So we talked about the nature of thought, and how when we get caught up in the machinations of the intellect it becomes considerably more difficult to hear the whispers of a deeper intelligence.

I shared the story of a comedian who had called me in for “emergency coaching” before his first really big gig in front of thousands of people. While I know he was hoping for some state management tools around confidence and charisma, what wound up resolving the situation for him was when he noticed that his own thoughts about it being a “really big gig” were the only things standing in the way of his natural confidence and charisma.

We then went on to talk about the difference between trying to use guidance to fulfill your personal goals, and allowing yourself to be guided to fulfill your role in the unfolding of life. While the conversation got a bit “floaty”, there was a nice feeling in the room and we both enjoyed exploring the difference between chasing after the whims and desires of the personality and being guided by the inspiration of the soul.

It reminded me of one of my favorite stories about Abraham Lincoln, first recounted in a sermon delivered at his funeral and no doubt distorted in the retelling over the years.

During the height of the civil war, when things were looking bleak for the Union, one of Lincoln’s generals concluded a battle planning meeting by saying “Let us hope that God is on our side!”

Lincoln apparently responded with great feeling, “No, General – let us hope that we are on God’s side.”

Which points to some fundamental question about the nature of the human experience:

  • What is our role and responsibility in how our life turns out?
  • Does our free will mean that we’re responsible for what happens to us, or does it only extend as far as our responses and reactions to what happens?
  • How much influence do we actually have over life?

These are questions for the ages, and the way we answer them will be one of the primary determinants of the quality of our lives. And while I have no great claim to the “right” answers, I did suggest to my client that she might consider getting a new bumper sticker, one that read:

With all my love,

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