April 18, 2022

What were you doing when you were 10 years old?

That question came to me from a dear friend and colleague, Krista Moore. Krista is a phenomenal coach and teacher, and she challenged me to think about this question as part of my reflection before making the transition from someone who had a day job plus a side hustle to someone who was full-time committed to running my own business. It made me stop and consider what brought me joy, and it helped me discover what I was great at and passionate about.

Krista’s question also helped me frame goal-setting for my first year in business. And it helped me reboot those goals at the end of my first year to more clearly honor the things that brought me joy.

How was this question so helpful? To fully explain, we need to jump back in time. Here’s what I remember LOVING to do as a 10-year-old girl.

I loved walking in the woods. I was so sensitive to the smells and so curious to learn about the flowers, trees, bugs, birds and other living things. I was fortunate that my grandmother loved to do the same and took the time to go to the woods with me. I remember her teaching me about plants and having me help find “log dirt” – what we would now call compost from rotting logs. We carried a shovel and coal buckets to the woods and brought the log dirt back to sprinkle around the flowers in her amazing garden. I remember so clearly being in touch with myself, my body, my senses and my spirit as I learned and helped. This is how I became a gardener! It’s also how I became a budding naturalist, loving to learn about the flora and fauna around me. This passion and curiosity has helped me to stay connected to the natural world – and to that time as a 10-year-old in the woods.

About this time, I also realized that I truly loved reading, and I began to think that I might become a writer one day. I didn’t know any writers personally, but I sure did know who wrote the books I loved. In fifth grade, I was asked by my teacher to do a research paper on the US space program. I researched and wrote about each mission, beginning with the Gemini space missions through the Apollo moon landing (which happened when I was 7) and later Apollo flights. I learned so much about space, science and writing – and I LOVED it. Looking back, I can see that this was the first research paper I ever wrote, and the experience helped me fall in love with science.

Finally, if you talk to my best friend, who is five days younger than me, she will tell you that when we played “house” and other imaginary games, I always said I was going to medical school and would be a doctor. I don’t remember exactly how and when that plan first emerged, but by the time I was 10, I was already trying on the idea of becoming a physician, and it was pretty clear that it fit.

How does this all come together to inform the nearly 60-year-old woman I am today? (Woah, that sentence is hard to see on my screen). Well, here goes.

I believe that my primary role on the planet is to be a healing presence in whatever I do. I have a deep background in science and the social sciences, particularly involving how people are motivated and behave on their own and in groups. That science-loving kid of my past went on to soak up every ounce of learning she could.

My career in medicine has morphed into a career as an executive coach, which I also consider to be a healing role. Bringing this kind of presence to those around me is a privilege, but I can only do it well if I also attend to my own healing and well-being. Perhaps it’s no surprise that my adult self has come to realize that the best ways I have to manage my anxiety are to walk, particularly in the woods, and to work in my garden. Just like I did with my grandma all those years ago.

Something else that may come as a surprise to some of you would be no surprise at all to my 10-year-old self. I have started writing my first book (more about that over the coming year)!

I was pretty stoked when I looked back at my 10-year-old self and saw the ways I am bringing her forward to make me the very best version of me that I can be.

Sharon at 10

The author at age 10.

I’m so grateful to Krista for asking me this question, and for being part of the exploration. When I told her that I was going to write this post and asked to share links to her speaking and videos about this idea, she was so supportive. She also challenged me to be courageous enough to find and share a picture of myself at 10 years old. With much trepidation, I asked my mom to help me, and we found the fourth-grade school picture you see here. It was the ONLY year in my life where I had long hair and a ponytail! But more importantly, it was a time when the passions of my life were taking root.

So now, I’ll challenge you to find the picture of your 10-year-old self, and to remember what you loved to do at that time in your life. Then bring that person forward to teach your present-day self how to find joy and passion in what you do.

Share any comments or thoughts below – what did you love to do when you were 10 years old?

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