Friday, January 12, 2024

Q&A with Nick Shaw



Nick Shaw is the author of the new book My Teacher, My Son: Lessons on Life, Loss, and Love. He wrote it after the death of his young son William. Shaw is also the co-founder of Mirrorbox Leadership Lab, an executive coaching and leadership development consulting firm. 


Q: First of all, I'm so sorry for the loss of your son...Why did you decide to write this book?


A: When my son William died, I had visceral need to make meaning out of something that seemed so random and so senseless. For me that meaning making process meant learning from our family’s tragedy. 


This instinct caused me to take a hard look at who I was as a person and question some long held beliefs that had limited me for much of my life. 


Through meditation and reflection, many lessons began to emerge that have provided me with a set of guiding principles for how I aspire to live my life.  


When you lose a child you come face to face with how fragile life really is and the fact that we all really only have one chance to live our lives. As such, I think it is important that we all are more intentional about how we chose to live our lives. 


As an executive coach, I noticed a striking parallel between my struggles and those of many of my clients. Many people I worked with were grappling with their own limiting beliefs and fears, leading to lives lived on autopilot, devoid of true fulfillment.


Recognizing the potential to impact others positively, I was inspired to share my journey and the wisdom gained from it with the world.

Q: How was the book’s title chosen, and what does it signify for you?


A: As I began to grieve the loss of my son, William, I reflected a lot on the impact that he had on me. It was in that moment that I realized that William had been teaching me since the day he was born. 


That is when the phrase My Teacher, My Son came to me. I actually had it tattooed on my left inner forearm several months after William died. What it made it me realize is that if we are open to it our kids can be amazing teachers. 


My Teacher, My Son doesn’t only apply to William, it also applies to my other two sons, Kai and Bodhi, as both of them have taught me many things in their own right.

Q: What impact did it have on you to write the book?


A: For me writing this allowed me to process my grief in a way that felt authentic to who I was. I tend to be less outwardly emotive and initially writing poetry and eventually the book gave me a medium to express what I was feeling. 


The process of editing the book too was quite powerful. The earlier drafts of the book had less depth. With each round of editing, I opened up further and allowed myself to be more vulnerable with what I shared in the book. It was an amazingly freeing experience.

Q: What do you hope readers take away from the book?


A: I hope that my readers use the book as a prompt to pause and reflect on their own lives and if necessary, make different choices about how they live their lives.  


Q: What are you working on now?


A: I am currently working on continuing to spread the word about my book through different platforms and speaking engagements. I have also recently co-founded my own leadership development and executive coaching company called Mirrorbox Leadership Lab. 


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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