Updated: May 14, 2021
by Janae Hunderman, Marty Thompson, and Ann Zimmerman
“Synchronicity is an inexplicable and profoundly meaningful coincidence that stirs the soul and offers a glimpse of one’s destiny.”
— Phil Cousineau
Like many major cultural events, March 11, 2020 may become a day we look back on and ask, “Where were you when the World Health Organization declared a worldwide pandemic?” The three authors of this article met virtually for the first time on that exact date, and the synchronicity of the timing intrigued us.
Have you ever experienced a coincidence that felt important and wondered what meaning it might hold?
Experiencing profound synchronicity provides an opportunity to gain a greater sense of purpose and meaning in life. The synchronicity of our meeting on day one of the pandemic was like a spark. Two things happened simultaneously that felt meaningful, causing us to take notice: “Wake up! There are lessons for you!”
In this article, we share how we came to recognize synchronicity in our lives, what we learned from it, how it helped us, and how it could help you.
Our Stories of Synchronicity
On March 11, 2020, we had our first Zoom meeting for a six-month advanced training program with five other coaches located across the continent. Soon after, the three of us decided to go through an additional seven-week coaching program together. We’ve met weekly since then and become intimately close, even though we’ve never met in person. As we celebrated our first anniversary together, we also marked the one-year anniversary of the pandemic. As coaches, we’ve learned to tune into and trust our intuition, and it told us this was more than mere chance. So, we set out to explore the question: “What might it mean?”
Synchronicity. It wakes me up, throws open the windows, and lets a bright light shine on what is important. When both our coaching training and the pandemic landed on the same day, I noticed. Life suddenly burgeoned with importance; career decisions, relationships, community, and my intrinsic need to support others became more meaningful. Synchronicity asked me to play big.
What exactly changed with the pandemic-training coincidence? The pandemic made me realize my privilege and question my contribution to the greater good; the training created a community of coaches who supported me to confront my inner critic and take action. Prior to the worldwide transition, I was looking for growth in my day job, being interviewed for a remote university job, tentative in my coaching business, and had been hired as a part-time window salesperson. Three months later, I had created a dream job developing career preparation programs for local high schools, and my coaching business blossomed on the side. Stagnant feelings were refreshed with two roles that match my passion, talent, and desire to make a positive impact in our virus-torn world. So what changed when the pandemic shined a light on my purpose, and the training gave me the self-trust to follow it? Everything changed.
It may sound as if I threw open the window of my small, quarantine apartment last spring, suddenly inspired to shift how I show up in the world. Ta-da! But not quite. It started with slowing down and learning to recognize my inner critic’s constant voice, which was telling me I wasn’t good enough in countless ways. My coach then asked me to dream big about my ability to contribute and to lean into my self-trust rather than self-judgment. It turns out, I could sell gorgeous, high-quality windows as a job, or I could create beautiful windows of opportunity for others as a way to express my purpose. I’m choosing purpose, aware that the more aligned I become, the more I can support others to do the same. When synchronicity throws open the windows and lets the light shine on what’s important to you, what will you choose?
Deepak Chopra said that one characteristic of a synchronistic experience is that there’s an intention involved. On March 11, 2020, my intention was to grow as a coach alongside seven other amazing coaches. The pandemic multiplied that growth and took it in unexpected directions. I recognized my white privilege as I never had before. I stopped dipping my toe in the water and made a serious commitment to my ongoing anti-racism education. It’s the hardest work I’ve ever done, and I realized it’s essential to being the coach and person I want to be.
In an article in The Atlantic, about the mental effects of the ongoing pandemic, Ellen Cushing wrote, “I have experienced the pandemic from a position of obscene privilege… And yet, I feel like I have spent the past year being pushed through a pasta extruder.” Her words poked at something deep in my gut. I got curious. More synchronicity at work? After some self-coaching and a conversation with my coach friends, I realized that I’d been experiencing an undercurrent of shame over my place of privilege. In acknowledging this, I centered myself over the real problem that needs to be solved: racism, not my anguished feelings. This was a tough lesson that momentarily took the air out of me.
Once the shame veil was lifted, I discovered that I’d become more resilient to shame. I went to my shelf and opened up a book I’d re-read early in the pandemic: Daring Greatly, by self-described “shame researcher” Brené Brown. I don’t empower others by disempowering myself. The more open and curious I am, the more empathy I have for myself and others. Telling my story to people I trust is an antidote to shame and a means to connect more deeply with them. Not everyone deserves to hear my story, and now that I’ve had time to process it, sharing is a way for me to be in service of others. We all experience shame, and a coach can only take others as far as she’s gone herself.
Are you ready to explore your story for the sake of moving closer to what you want for yourself and the world you live in?
“When you stop existing and you start truly living, each moment of the day comes alive with the wonder and synchronicity.” ― Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free
Steve’s quote reflects a journey I began on March 11, 2020, with seven fellow travelers who were very different from me, yet we all shared a singular passion for helping others. Before this journey, my worldview would best be described as narrow, non-inclusive, and composed of people who were like me, who shared my values and views. I allowed my spiritual beliefs to establish a barrier that kept me separated from the beautiful diversity surrounding me. As my worldview began to shift, I began to see my unique teammates’ deep passion and love for others which helped me release my past bias and gain a greater understanding of God’s grace.
Externally, with the assistance of a world changing every day, my entire being was becoming more aware of the beauty of all of humanity. This awareness outside myself is a journey that continues as I strip away the labels I placed on people different from me: labels that accused, condemned, or judged. I began setting aside my need to think black or white and sought out grey. Thinking grey as a way to honor fellow travelers, respecting both similarities and differences, opening new opportunities to explore and discover the rich uniqueness each of us brings to our planet.
In addition to enlightening me about the world outside myself, the changes occurring inside helped me discover hidden gems that forever changed me. By remembering the curious little boy that lives inside me, I am learning to slow down, value time, and be more present. I have learned the joy that comes from flying a kite with a five-year-old, being curious with a college student, and gaining new and powerful perspectives by looking for understanding, not just information. I want the hidden gems to become a way of life, not just a moment in time. Synchronicity helped start the journey.
How can synchronicity be the spark for you to be more curious, listen deeply, and explore new dimensions of yourself while serving others?
Themes of Our Collective Experiences
Writing this collaborative piece deepened our learning from the past year more than we anticipated. The word synchronicity itself comes from two Greek terms meaning “joined with” and “time.” As we’ve joined together to reflect on this time, we found common threads in our unique stories:
Janae acknowledged her inner critic and leaned into her self-trust, courage, and sense of purpose in order to create greater impact.
Ann confronted her shame and chose curiosity, empathy, and her own self-empowerment, which opened her up to better serve others.
Marty recognized his judgment and decided to make more space for beauty, get comfortable in the “grey” space in between, and embrace the present moment.
What we have in common is that we each acknowledged how our judgment of ourselves, others, or situations was limiting our abilities to serve others. With the support of our individual coaches and the intimate relationships of our group, we were fully seen and called out when we weren’t being honest with ourselves. We were held safely in our most painful moments and given the tough love that convinced us we could grow in our times of doubt. We became better coaches and better at honoring our true selves. When the world shifted and demanded more from those who were privileged enough to have something extra to offer, we were simultaneously offered a supportive environment that strengthened our abilities to contribute at new depths.
Waking up to the signs, patterns, and synchronicity in our lives sparks energy that creates room for self-discovery. If we commit to exploring with child-like curiosity, we’re often surprised by what we learn about ourselves. When our coaches and colleagues create a safe space and walk alongside us as our guides, our awareness deepens and we make conscious choices about where to go next.
As coaches, we help our clients uncover what can be difficult to discern on their own. Together, we’re on a journey of discovery that can be filled with joy, disappointment, and ultimately, healing.
Perhaps there’s synchronicity for you today because you’re reading this article. What can we help you see?
We are grateful to our individual coaches and our coach colleagues, who were an important part of our synchronistic journey. Our colleagues included Chris Dolezalek, Sarah Seyoung Lee, Chris Penner, Jow Perez, and Susan Wayne. Our coaches were Leonid Frolov, Jac McNeil, Rachel Tenenbaum, and Jesse Trout. We also appreciate comments on this article from Katie Adkins, Karoline Jarr, Jesse Trout, Mara Bear Vernon, and Tom Zimmerman.