Thomas J Leonard — the father of professional coaching and a mentor of mine — created a popular assessment called the Clean Sweep that provided an awareness checklist in four areas of life: your Environment, Health, Money, and Relationships.
The idea of the assessment is that by being aware and handling these areas of your life, the more ease and vitality you’ll experience.
You can download the assessment here.
I’ve worked with the instrument many times, mostly in my early career, and so many of the items on the lists are embedded in my mind.
One item I think of often falls in the Relationships section:
There is no one who I would dread or feel uncomfortable “running across”. (In the street, at an airport or party)
Through the years, this awareness has led me to make amends or tie up loose ends with many people. In doing so, there’s a feeling of closure. This closure brings peace of mind, similar to having a nagging hangnail heal. In the absence of the distraction, you regain lost energy and can focus your attention in more productive places.
I mention this because I completed a relationship last night.
Some brief background:
Years ago I ran afoul of good judgment and the law (let’s just say Michael Phelps and I have something in common and it ain’t gold medals). I needed an attorney and called an old family friend. He represented me in court and got me through the ordeal. Weeks and months passed, and I never got a bill in the mail from him.
I called him asking him to bill me, but he just laughed and would have none of it. I thanked him and sent a card expressing my gratitude, but that still did not feel like enough to me. I thought of different things I could do — perhaps send him a gift certificate to a restaurant or something — but in the end, I did nothing.
However, even though the years passed, my consciousness of this imbalance did not fade. Every so often, he would pop into my mind, and that feeling of incompletion would come over me. If I ran across him in an airport, I would have felt awkward for never properly showing my gratitude to him.
I had a recurring thought: I wished that I would see him and his wife in a restaurant some evening and I’d have the opportunity to pick up his tab. That would feel good. And right. A nice, simple gesture. However, this seemed unlikely as our paths do not cross socially. In fact, I had not seen him since we shook hands at the courthouse.
That changed last night. Karin and I went to a new restaurant for dinner. And everything unfolded as it had in my intention so many times. At the next table was my attorney friend and his wife. Their check was on the table just as we were getting our menus. I was able to pick up their tab quietly before they could protest. They appreciated the gesture. It was all over in about 5 minutes.
I write this to share my experience of finally handling this incompletion. In short, I felt a tremendous surge of energy — elation, relief, freedom. I was buzzing so much inside that I had trouble focusing on dinner afterwards. I sat in awe of how things unfolded so closely to my intention (absolutely wild) and so deeply grateful to have paid a karmic debt.
Keep in mind that I am sure my attorney-friend never felt like I owed him anything. The discomfort was on my end only. For years I had not respected my feelings and stepped over my personal sense of integrity. In doing so, I paid the price.
I did not realize how high the costs were until last night. In short, I do not remember ever feeling so good about giving someone a gift. The cost to me was a pittance in comparison to what it bought me: My freedom.
So, if there’s some situation in your life that feels incomplete, let me nudge you to handle it. In doing so, you’ll regain a piece of your true power. And that’s an awesome feeling, I promise you.