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Sprint or Marathon? Some Tips for the Winding Road

When running a sprint, you need both an initial burst of power and sustained speed. You can blow out with everything you’ve got, and pour it on all the way. But if you try to do that with a marathon, you’ll burn up everything you have in the first hour and will be left without the juice to make it to the finish line.

So it is with life. More of a marathon than a sprint, right?

You’re in it to finish, with a bit of glory, a narrative of flourishing, and your trophy (re: legacy) at the end. A legacy of love – accomplishment – purpose. So it’s time to leave behind the mentality of sprinters, and embrace the mindset of a marathoner.

You don’t go straight from 0-50, from the couch to the race. Preparing for a marathon is to  think of your goals as a kind of graceful step ladder– you put your foot You don’t go straight from 0-50, from the couch to the raceon the first step, and find the second, and move at a thoughtful pace — feel comfortable, then move on. Prepare, warm up, practice, measure — it’s a gradual process. Do you expect yourself to be perfect straight out of the gate? To be able to ‘do it all’ immediately?

To continue the metaphor, let’s consider the strategies that marathoners use..

Link with others who will encourage you when the going gets tough.

Pace yourself.

Be aware of your limits and plan accordingly.

Practice gradually upping your tempo to increase your capacity, slowly over time.

Make sure you take time to Rest and Recover.

I think our expectations of ourselves is to push, pour it on, and go at life like it is a sprint. When the reality is, that kind of tactic will cost you the race.

Change your outlook, and you can cross the finish line with your resilient spirit flying high.

 

The Pebble in your Shoe is Having a Rock Party

“Want to go to a Rock Party?” was my Dad’s joke every spring. Being a farmer, as soon as the fields were dry enough to plow and plant, meant he spent long days outdoors preparing the fields. Over the winter, the freezing and thawing of the soil would push the rocks to the surface, and they would need to be cleared to create ideal growing conditions. The naïve would answer ‘yes’ to Dad’s question and end up following a tractor and wagon all day, throwing rocks onto the wagon. If you were smart, you jumped into the driver’s seat first.

Recently, in a blog post, I shared a story about two of my heroes, the artists Christo and his wife Jean- Claude. When Christo turned 80 he said, “I’m 80. I want to do something really hard.” As I’ve gotten older, I’ve looked to my elders to show me the way. That post was all about challenging mountains to climb, and the small and large courageous acts it takes to scale them. But what if you’re having difficulty scaling the mountain?

Muhammad Ali was so clever with language that he inspired fans and non-fans alike. He said, “It isn’t the mountain ahead to climb that wears you out: it’s the pebble in your shoe.”

Sometimes your particular ‘mountain’ and the problematic ‘pebble’ are not so obvious.

Here are six “shapes’ that pebble could take:

  1. Your mindset — Your underlying belief system is in conflict with your desires. Examples: “If I succeed my world will change dramatically” “I can’t have financial abundance AND healthy strong relationships” “I’ll lose control of my life if I take on a leadership role.”
  2. You have conflicting values.  “Professional ambition and kindness can’t co-exist” “Marketing myself feels like selling out” ” The needs of my family and personal achievement is a competition”
  3. You have conflicting ambitions. Are too many choices muddying the waters? Causing confusion — so you end up doing nothing?
  4. You are not all in. (Caused by: see above) To follow through on goals, you have to be 100% on board with your new goal. 70/30 will not cut it.
  5. You have a limiting narrative. “I have to take care of my family first — and their needs are never ending.” “I can’t ask for that much money, they will never pay it.” “I can’t say no, I can’t handle the consequences.”
  6. You are experiencing overwhelm. Too many things on your to do list? No clear plan on doing any of them?

By eliminating these ‘stones’ you clear the path to achievement. Want to go to a Rock Party?

Are You Ready?

Last week I shared three Hero stories, about people who have pushed themselves through that icky place called ‘discomfort’ and resisted the lure of that soft couch to stay safe. I shared a little bit of my own struggle around keeping a low profile. Which is my place of comfort. It’s about VISIBILITY.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve looked to my elders to show me the way. I really admire the artist Christo and his partner (wife) Jean-Claude. Christo (Jean-Claude passed away 10 years ago) create massive, temporary artworks that build community, create exalted experiences and start conversations. They take years, sometimes decades to come to be. Mainly because they work with a consortium of governments, politicians, citizens, and public and private landowners to get consensus and permission to create his temporary public works.

One thing he has said, is that he and Jean Claude have had to have courage.  On his 80th birthday, he said, “For my 80th birthday, I want to do something really hard.” So he created “Floating Pier”. I know some people who travelled to the ‘Floating Pier”, traversing a lake in Italy. They said it was an otherworldly experience.

Well, that is my mantra now. I want to keep meeting the next challenge, the next ‘hard thing’ — leave my place of low profile to embrace visibility. My own ‘hard things’, are smaller in scale than Christo’s, but they are my own personal version of courageous acts. What are the tough challenges that you’re ready to take on? That will make you stretch, and will take courage from you?

(If you missed last week’s post, you can read it here  )

Is Your Hero Hiding?

I grew up in a culture that revered humility. Doing good anonymously. Anyone who called attention to themselves with pride in their work was spoken of with scorn. The message was clear. Don’t draw attention to yourself. Do good, but keep a low profile.

But the paradox is, you can’t do your good work in the world unless people know. So I have worked on my discomfort around sharing my own accomplishments. And I encourage others to get comfortable there too. Which leads me to this…. Three stories. Of women who weren’t afraid of change. Who instinctively knew that change — upsetting the status quo, was exactly the thing to do. They were not afraid of hard work. Or the disappointment that might come with venturing out there into new territory. In our work together we had moments though, when it was hard for each of them to acknowledge their strengths, to feel good about their special skills, to confidently talk about their value in a job interview —  and to ask for more money. They grew into being confident in those areas.

Three Hero Stories

Kate was running a successful local business. Although it paid the bills, she knew it wasn’t a career. But because it paid the bills, she put up with it, for a while. There came a point when she knew the clock was ticking, and it was time to do a 360. After we worked together for a while, she uncovered her true passion, her life’s work, and with guidance began taking actions toward her dream. Today she is working in a job she loves, in a vibrant city that ‘feeds her’ and she is even taking on leadership roles. She answered the call to leave comfort behind for awhile, and seek adventure (because that’s what heroes do).

Megan had mad skills, but was working in a job that was not challenging. When she talked with me she described her role as ‘being a piece of the machinery’. After we dove in, she saw the shape of her desire, and it was not doing the work she thought she was supposed to do. We coupled that with her strengths, and she began designing her next career move. Megan is ambitious, and has already landed the first job up her career ladder. For her, the hero’s journey is just beginning, and she knows what will sustain her along the way.

Emily might call herself a ‘failure to launch’ statistic. After she graduated from college, she moved back to her hometown when no dream job offer came calling. She began working in the first job that came her way back home, and before she knew it she was very good at her job — AND miserable. Her dreams were being submerged, they looked farther and farther away. She was afraid they just might disappear. Within six weeks of our work together, Emily had connected her dreams to real actions, then actions into opportunities. After wrapping up her life here in the midwest, she’s enjoying success and happiness in Seattle.

All three of these women worked very hard. They were willing to say yes, and to be coached. They invested in themselves. I asked them tough questions, gave them assignments to explore deeper. I asked them to do things outside their comfort zones like asking for more money when job offers came in. They continued to show up and follow through. They kept going. Answering the call to adventure and going forward with perseverance is what hero’s all have in common.

Empowering people and connecting you to your dreams and desires is what coaching is all about. Helping you become the hero of your own story.

Can you be your own hero?

What are you waiting for?

Who Is Your Hero? (Hint: It Could Be You)

My MFA Project

My work as an artist in graduate school began exploring the role of woman as hero in Homer’s epic “The Odyssey”. Penelope, wife of Odysseus, is the one that stays behind while her husband is off fighting in the Trojan Wars, then he wanders the world, adventuring, trying to get back home. Meanwhile, she keeps the home fires burning, she raises their son from boyhood to manhood, she defends their kingdom from usurpers with cunning and wit and she takes care of her people. I wanted to hear her voice and recognize her as a woman empowered. A true hero, I found her story as relevant today as it was in the 8th century B.C.

The work I do now in coaching uses different processes but my purpose is the same. I help my clients find their voice, access their strength and build their kingdoms, empowered. They do meet ‘monsters’ along the way — time stealers, soul killers, crushing responsibilities, serpentine messages from society, lack of confidence in their own capabilities. But they learn to access their strength and do the work, because they are motivated by purpose. It is work I am passionate about. I help them be their own hero.

Who is your hero?

Need a Career Makeover?

Get a fresh start this January — the symbolic month of doors, of stepping on the threshold from the old into the new. The year is so full of possibilities!  I always enjoy creating something new in January. How about you?

I sat down at Espresso Royalle Cafe, my favorite coffee place, and began to sketch out ideas for a special program. I pulled together all my coaching resources from a lifetime as an educator, program director, creative and coach. This is what I love! It’s what gets my heart pumping. Designing services that will empower people to fulfill their dreams.

The people I work with want more than the status quo. They want a life that is meaningful, challenging and fun. And their work has to fulfill that promise too. That’s why I’m launching my new program. If you know anyone who could benefit from a Career Makeover, here it is!

Career Makeover

  • Need help designing a career path?
  • Don’t know if it’s time to find a new job?
  • Thinking it’s time to advance in your profession, but don’t know what to do first?
  • You’re contemplating starting a business, and need a thinking partner?
  • You want more than a job, you want a calling?

Being there can feel overwhelming, stressful, confusing. Coaching gets you clarity, because we work with a clear strategy. With my Career Makeover Program you get coaching sessions, and a menu of tools, exercises and assignments, all proven to get you all the way to your goal. Coaching provides you with accountability, you are in action, accelerating. Best of all, you get confidence in yourself and in your decisions.

Need to know more? Get that here.

Ready to book a free consultation? Schedule here

Your Mind – Set to Dial Up or Down?

Last Tuesday, I was enjoying coffee with a friend as she described 2 business owners, members of her Master Mind Group, who owned the same kind of businesses-Home Health Care Agencies. She was wondering aloud why one of them was successful and the other was not.

The Home Health Care industry is the type of business that is never closed – clients have needs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The people they serve need frequent contact. But not only that, the providers they hire to do the hands on work also have their own challenges — cars that break down on the way to work, sick children that keep them home, etc… But missing work can’t be an option.

These two business owners did constant problem solving. One rolled up his sleeves and met his challenges, open to creatively figure out solutions. The other one became overwhelmed with client needs, angry with his employees, complaining about the system, and eventually closed his doors. Same business, different outcome. What specifically was different? The two business owners had a different approach. And it stemmed from their unique mindset.

What is mindset? Here is my definition, “A fixed mental attitude or disposition that pre-determines a person’s responses to and interpretations of situations.”

Do you see problems and react to them? Or do you see challenges and respond to them?

What Are Your Results Telling You?

Connie said she wanted to explore new career options. She had long felt undervalued at work, unchallenged. She felt as though she was treading water. She said her boss was unwilling to help her reach her potential. But she was paid well, and couldn’t risk rocking the boat, so hadn’t budged on exploring further. Yet, this was what weighed on her mind when she woke up in the middle of the night.

Cole was a devoted family man, he would tell you every chance he got. Yet his behavior showed a man who put in long hours at work, and had little time to be the man he said he wanted to be. man-aloneHe believed this was what his career demanded of him. The years were ticking by with no shift in the balance while he longed for his life to change.

Shelly knew she was talented. She had an unsatisfied appetite for learning. She wondered what might have happened if she had continued her education, and felt bitterness about the obstacles that had kept her from reaching her true potential. If only things had been different.

All you need to do is look at the results to see what they are committed to.

It may surprise you to know that Connie, Cole and Shelly are committed to staying in their cycle of stuck. The sad thing is, they are unaware of this. If they understood what really is holding them back, they would be empowered to instigate change. But all three of them thought it was outside forces that kept them stuck. The real reason? The beliefs they held on to.

Are you stuck in a job you have been complaining about? In a relationship that isn’t satisfying? Are you still in debt despite having taken on another job to put money in the bank? Guess what. You have something deeper going on, more than what you think. There is a complex disconnect between what you say, and what you do. To understand and change this disconnect, first you have to uncover your unconscious mindset, revealing the ‘why’ behind your behavior. When you do this, you can let go of what is holding you back, and begin doing what you say you want to do.

Mindset and unconscious beliefs are powerful forces. When Connie, Cole and Shelly dig a little deeper, they can begin to peel back the layers and reveal the real purpose behind their behavior. Understanding that will give them the tools to make empowered choices. This awareness will free them to lead happier,  fulfilled lives. That’s what I want for them,

and for YOU.

Sending Love,

Deborah 

She rolled down the window, and let it go…

The Tyranny of the Couch

Carolyn was driving along a quiet stretch of highway, daydreaming, when an intriguing idea formed in her consciousness. The idea was exciting. Tempting at first. But then made her anxious. Nope. She opened her window and let it go.

After returning home she quickly was knee deep in work. Some weeks later, coming home from work late one night, the idea popped up again, and held her attention. She pushed it away. It didn’t seem do-able. And, if she followed through, it would definitely mess with her orderly life. For what? Following her idea into territory with no guarantees. She couldn’t have it. She pushed it away again.

(I’ve talked to lots of ‘Carolyn’s’ with this dilemma. Good people. With great ideas — but following closely behind are the questions, the doubt, the possible impact and upheaval. Work, time and energy.)

The couch is so cozy, I think I’ll stay right here, thank you very much. THE idea — to end something– leave an uninspiring job or dying relationship. Or fresh beginnings– a new adventure, a new career, look for a new romance, take a year off to pursue a dream … the variables are endless. The common denominator, something new is calling you.

How do you know when to listen?

1. It’s an idea that resonates. Does your heart expand when you think about it? Do you feel a sense of relief? Check in closely with how you feel.

2. The idea is persistent. It keeps appearing in one way or another.

3. It is precisely the thing that might shake up ‘your orderly life’. It makes you a bit anxious, somewhat afraid, leads you to doubt yourself. All of this is necessary TO GET YOUR ATTENTION.

Carolyn was not a lazy person (she worried that she was). What was going on for her was an internal narrative that didn’t align with who she really was. She was in conflict with herself, and not completely aware of it. Will she be lured to the comfort of the couch and stay put? Or will she do the work necessary to create a bigger, better version of her life story.

Come on adventurers, put your boots on and let’s go!

A Question to Be Lived Into

Questions. The juicier the better

“……… be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”           — Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

 

Asking the right questions.

 

Coaching is a partnership between equals, with the coach asking questions aimed at opening up thinking and opportunities for greater growth for the other. Rilke charges us to love the questions, and to live into them.

 

Asking questions to grow understanding has a long history. In 4th century BCE, Socrates was known as the gadfly of Athens. Gadflies bite the horse, provoking the horse to action.  Socrates approach — asking questions to stimulate critical thinking and to draw out ideas and underlying presumptions. Annoying the powers that be and disrupting the status quo.

 

Chavrusa is a 1st century CE Aramaic word meaning friendship. In contemporary meaning it is a rabbinic study partner. “A chavrusa helps the student sharpen his reasoning powers, develop his thoughts into words. This type of learning imparts precision and clarity into ideas that would otherwise remain vague. A back and forth, question and answer, question and answer.“ (Wikipedia)

 

Good teachers have a toolkit of great questions. Asking the right questions can “motivate learning and fuel curiosity, foster intellectual development and stimulate thinking.” (Brandon Cline, Chicago Center for Teaching, University of Chicago)

 

 

In coaching, the fundamental purpose in asking powerful questions is to move the coachee forward. Discovery is the foundational intention. A core guiding principle of coaching  —  “People are Inquisitive: Wonder, curiosity and inquiry are the source of all learning.” Like Rilke, Socrates, the Chavrusa, and any good leader, the question is a guide to opening up perception.

 

A powerful question is one free of a judgemental voice. For instance, the question, “Why did I fail” implies you are a failure, which is destructive and fundamentally not true.  It stops learning and growth. A more beneficial and constructive question would be: “What blocked me or got in my way there?” Or “How can I move forward now?”

 

Here is one vigorous question to ask yourself today:

 

“Who is in charge of my life? Me or other people?”

 

This is not a simple question with a definitive answer. This is a question to sit with. And like the gadfly, spur you to action. A question to be lived into.

“Deborah challenges me

to identify barriers and confront obstacles so I am more productive and aligned with my deepest goals. Her insights along my journey are invaluable.”

Rosemary Collins, Business Owner

“Deborah is an energetic, engaging and skillful listener.

“Deborah is an energetic, engaging and skillful listener who is always fully present when we meet. She challenges me to confront obstacles and identify barriers in my practice so that I am more productive and aligned with my deepest goals. Her insights along my journey are invaluable.” ”

Amy | Project Manager at the University of Michigan and Professional Artist

“Deborah listens carefully to my short-term and long-term goals

and sets a course of strategy including time-tables to carry out my plans and keep it within a structure and focus.”

Nancy Wolfe | Educator, Professional Artist

“She challenges me to recognize my worth

I love Debbie! She is kind, insightful and honest. She challenges me to recognize my worth, identify obstacles and pursue my goals. She treats me as if I am already the person I hope to be. She is a rare find and a joy!”

Heather Suffron, Business Owner and aspiring ESL Specialist