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This Guy Was Everywhere

It was move in day at a large college. A terribly hot and muggy day. A man dressed in rugged jeans and a faded t-shirt was everywhere. Unloading boxes, bringing luggage up four floors, unpacking trunks, guiding traffic, problem solving. No one knew who he was, but he was smoothing the way for the students who were both excited and nervous.

Later that evening in the Welcome Ceremony in the Great Hall, these same students were surprised to see the same man, at the podium wearing a suit and tie. He introduced himself as the College President. What?  The students were taken aback.

The message? As President, this man was accessible, cares about people from top to bottom,  and demonstrates an interest in removing barriers between himself and his constituents, the students. He understood moving day was stressful, and the students and their families might feel anxious and exhausted. This takes boldness of action combined with a lack of pretension, and true empathy.

What is true leadership? A leader is someone with many good qualities, but a great leader inspires others. We seldom think of humility as a leadership quality. And yet, the most inspirational leaders have a quiet strength that identifies them as a person of integrity. I don’t know about you, but that’s the kind of leadership model I aspire to. One of openness. An eagerness to learn more. And gently, without fanfare, walks the talk.
Ready to make your next leadership move? What will it be?

 

 

Thank you Dr. Fair for telling this story and inspiring this article!

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What Happens in the Space Between Yes and No

Stories: True or False?

Every single person on this planet, interprets the world from their own learned perspective. Actual circumstances are far less important than how you interpret them. Some researchers believe that external events are responsible for as little as 10 percent of our feelings and well being. It is our internal, emotional codebook that informs our thinking and actions. This is why ‘Re-framing’ is so important in coaching. The stories we tell ourselves are what influence our mood and behavior.

So, what does this mean for you. Maybe a reference point?

Actual circumstances are fall less important than what you believe about them.

Janet was a middle aged woman. She had a very interesting life. In addition to being a wife and Mom, she was an amazing gardener. She was having fun. For awhile now she had been experimenting with making delicious chutneys, jams and homemade ketchup with her garden produce, with several more recipes she was still tinkering with. Last summer she began selling her jars at the Farmer’s Market. They were a hit! So much so, that Janet had been approached by Mark, a local entrepreneur who wanted to help Janet sell her products in regional specialty markets. Janet’s next move? She withdrew from the Farmer’s Market and quit selling. But after making this decision she got depressed. She blamed Mark.

As you can guess, Janet changed course because of the invitation to grow her business. Janet had not thought of herself as a business, until Mark identified her as such. In her mind, having your own business meant being overwhelmed, neglecting your family and constant financial headaches. The opposite of fun. This was the anecdotal evidence she had gathered and kept as truth. And she did not want that!

And why did she get depressed? She really loved developing recipes, sharing her products, growing customer relationships and making money. Her sadness was mourning the loss of this. And to her way of thinking, Mark had brought that about.

If Janet decided to try again, and tested her assumptions, she could reframe the story she told herself. The dialogue might go something like this.

Is it really true that I HAVE to be overwhelmed? Or could I do business differently?
Is it necessary for me to neglect my family? Or are there ways to integrate my family life into my business life?
Do I have to accept as gospel that turning my hobby into a business will be constant financial headaches? Or could I have a balanced strategic plan.

If you feel yourself stalling, circling or avoiding, check in with these questions:

  • What is the story I am telling myself about this?
  • Is this story true?
  • What is the ‘Re-frame’?

He Stared at the List. Then, an Awakening

Action: Energy + Momentum = Results

I was meeting with a client last Wednesday who is working on a change in career direction. This guy (I’ll call him Kyle) is very goals driven. As we have worked together, Kyle has researched, interviewed authorities, and collected data. He keeps a notebook of ideas with goals attached and a calendar with deadlines in the notebook. He looks at the notebook everyday. He had gotten to the stage of exploring 3 distinct career paths, and couldn’t decide. Which path should he explore?

Which path should he take?

I saw his notebook as a very ‘brain centric’ tool. Kyle definitely had that part covered. My work as a coach is to coach the whole person, head and heart. It was time to check in with Kyle’s heart. Which career direction did he feel the most passion and interest for? As we explored this conversation for a while, he realized that he was most excited for one path! (I saw his eyes light up). We found out that he had resisted that choice because:

1. It was the scariest. The learning curve was longer and the outcome unknown. The other two options would have been easy. Kyle already knew how to do them. And bingo, that was the reason they were on the list!

2. Secondly, he was waiting for ‘other people’ to give him permission to proceed. After contacting a training and certification organization, he had received little direction, and that had not been helpful. Prompting Kyle to hang out in limbo and WAIT.

As a coach, I know any action will yield energy, momentum and a result. I encouraged him to get right into action. He had the power within himself to begin. He didn’t need to wait. He decided to jump in.

Kyle called me later to say he was excited AND nervous. Perfect!


P.S. Like what I do? One of the biggest compliments you can give is to share my work with friends! Feel free to forward articles and links to your people; I promise to take good care of them. Thank you for supporting me in any way that feels good.

Are You Holding Back?

You’re successful. You’ve worked hard, been rewarded for your hard work, met challenges and sought out greater opportunities. And then, some new ‘thing’ just rises up and stumps you.

Sunshine was spilling through the window, but Sarah ‘s mood was perplexed. She was an ambitious professional. Hardworking. With many successes to testify to this hard work. But today, her normally positive attitude was hard to sustain.  She had set some new goals for herself, but just couldn’t get excited about them.

As we talked about her new plans, it became clear that she was holding something back. A part of her wasn’t ‘all in’ and she didn’t know why.

After some deeper conversations, where I probed and asked lots of questions, Sarah began to realize that there was some icky unfinished business related to what she was trying to do. As we talked, she began to understand that emotions around events in the past (which she thought were in the past) were interfering with her passion to fully embrace what she was trying to do in the present. 

Together, we developed some homework assignments, aimed at examining fully what was going on. Greater understanding leads to empowered action. Released from the entangled morass of undealt with emotions, she felt renewed energy. And in our next coaching session, Sarah saw a way to make something positive from it, to clear away the unfinished business. Funny how this happens, but she felt excited about what she wanted to do right now.

If you feel like you’re holding back, ask yourself, “What is interfering with my enthusiasm for what I want?” It’s a great question to get you started.


 

Opportunity Knocked. She Wanted to Run In the Opposite Direction

Daria was stuck in a big decision. She was waffling about a job offer she’d gotten in Seattle. Her initial reaction 2 days ago had been one of excitement. The job was a good match, for a company on her A list. And Seattle? She loved the city! But something had happened in the two days since she had been offered the job. A mental paralysis had settled in. And she was now swimming in a funk of indecision. With a yes or no deadline looming, she called me and we met over coffee to discuss what had happened.

How do you go from over the moon excitement to the basement of doom in two days? Worry. Daria started to list all the ways this was going to be hard. She would have to find a place to live. She would have to learn a new job. She would have to build new friendships. Learn a new city. Start all over. This was freaking her out, and the anticipatory worry had overwhelmed her.

“Daria, all of these things are true. It will be hard. Moving to the other side of the country won’t be easy. But one thing I know about you is you learn quickly, are resourceful, and have great energy. Do you think all of these worries will still be true in six months?” Daria looked at me, and slowly shook her head, no. “Will you have learned the city by then?” “Well, yes.” “Will you have learned your new job?” “I’ll be on the way.” With each question, I could see her mood shift. Lighten.

Daria had gotten stuck in the space where she realized the magnitude of the undertaking. Where things were going to be hard work. But she had not moved through the process. She had forgotten to stay connected to her dream,and to her strengths. It’s like staring at your feet when you’re trying to stand tall and walk, it’s impossible to do. You have to lift your eyes and look at the distant horizon. Where will you be in six months if you say yes to a new opportunity? If I know you, you’re not afraid of the hard work of growing into your potential.

He actually thought worry was productive

As I sat across the cafe table from Mark, I could see anxiety lines on his forehead. I noticed he had his coffee cup in a death grip, when he began catching me up on the last two weeks of progress toward his goal of starting a business. From my side of the table, it sounded like he was right on track. We had made a checklist, and he was right on target with that. He had plenty of financial reserves to provide a nice cushion. What could be wrong?

From Mark’s perspective, his worry was productive. He kept painting ‘what if’ scenarios. I quickly saw that he had shifted his focus from ‘enthusiastic anticipation’ to ‘what might go wrong’. Watching the circling drain, he was sure things were going to go wrong, and then, his plans would be down the toilet. He was absorbed in trying to prevent trouble, when there was no evidence of trouble. It was all about his focus.

Been here? Energetically moving toward what you want ( a new goal, a loving relationship, a new venture, a healthy lifestyle program) You’re diligently carrying on, when, it all begins to look like a nightmare. Where did all the good feelings go? The excitement? Like Mark, worry, doom and gloom move in to threaten your world? And you stop. How do you move through sluggish pea soup to get back to your original intention?

What happened to Mark is called “Failure Impact Predictions”, and when that happens, stress skyrockets. Mark’s mind shifted from happy to wary, as a method of protecting himself from disappointment. (He was unaware of this pattern).  But at what cost!

What I did with Mark, and what you can do when this happens to you, is to shift your focus. To do that, ask yourself these questions (and write down the answers) :

  1. Remind yourself about what progress you HAVE made.
  2. What kind of energy do you have for this goal? What would increase the energy?
  3. What resources can you tap into to move ahead?
  4. Who could help you with this goal
  5. Accomplishing the new goal will bring change. How can you support this change?

Awareness, and reconnecting to his goal made a difference in Mark’s outlook. His fingers relaxed around that coffee cup. The sparkle came back into his eyes. Relief!

We Create Our Own Reality

Autumn, glorious season. Gorgeous colors, harvest tables, cool crisp air. Autumn, all shifting shadows, early darkness, shedding trees. When life might be disheartening. When your heart might go thud. Autumn, the paradoxical season.

It helps to look up. To notice the beautiful full moon. To breathe in the air that smells like crimson leaves. To ease someone’s burden. To make a new decision. To grab onto new, fresh, energy.

To look for opportunity in the cracks.

As songwriter genius Leonard Cohen penned, “There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.”

Reality sometimes thrusts unwelcome craters into your plans. But the experience itself, you create.as-songwriter-genius-leonard-cohen-penned-there-is-a-crack-in-everything-thats-how-the-light-gets-in Your joy. Your sorrows. Your ups. Your downs. And everything in between. The choices you made that have led you to the spot you are standing in right now. In that way, you have complete control. What will you do next? Take action? Make a renewed commitment? Make some new music?

Wisdom from India.Arie.

“Shadows make you whole.

A life without pain is a wolf in sheep’s clothing

If you listen to its lessons, you’ll find the gold

You cannot touch the sky from inside yourself

Life’s going to hurt but it’s made to be felt

A bird cannot fly until it breaks the shell

There’s no such thing as perfect. We’re all doing the best that we can.

We have a choice to live ….. or be truly alive!

You’ll be stuck on the ground until you 

finally

break

the shell.”

(Paraphrased lyrics from Break the Shell, by India.Arie)

Because you created your life thus far, you have everything you need within you to create the love filled life of your dreams right now. Take the next step. What will that be? Look for opportunity in the cracks.

Learning to Run, Fall AND LAUGH

Learning to run, fall AND LAUGH

Forgive me. I am obsessed with some beautiful people  (my little sweethearts). I just learned an important lesson from one of them (the one that can’t talk yet, but has plenty to say). My daughter sent me a video of our sweetie taking her first steps. I watched it over and over (here’s where the obsession set in) I couldn’t get enough. She lives 625 miles away, so you see why I’ve watched the video 47 times already. Here’s what she taught me…….

She’s never walked before, and yet is delighted to be learning something new. She’s not worried about the mechanics of the job, or the fact that she doesn’t know everything. She just goes!

She’s not afraid, she doesn’t hang back. She’s not thinking, ‘what if I fall and get hurt? The threat of risk does not deter her.

So she’s walking, unsteady, like babies walk, rocking left to right, making it across the room. Then, she trips and falls. She falls, and laughs. She lets out a little giggle. She falls without shame. Without embarrassment. 

That’s the kind of spirit I want to have. To embrace new experiences with delight. To let go of anxiety and just go. To not hang back because of ‘risk’. To take chances and fail without shame. Are you with me?

But wait. Do you know too much of life to go with enthusiasm? Have you accepted that there is a choice between childish innocence and adult sense? You’ve learned to be cautious, to question, to put excitement on the shelf in the garage. Well, I’m here to tell you that happiness and bravery are part of your DNA. You might have to move a few things around to find it, but you’ve got it. Try it on again. Let yourself set a new course, learn a new skill, fall in love, start a business, quit your job, travel to the Galapagos. Say yes and go.

“It Was Like I Was Wearing a Mask.”

“I’m a very positive person, but this whole concept of having to always be nice, always smiling, always happy, that’s not real. It was like I was wearing a mask. I was becoming this perfectly chiselled sculpture, and that was bad. That took a long time to understand.” — Alicia Keys

Caroline was a young talented woman. She loved her job, had huge responsibilities at work and was paid well. The work energized her, and she constantly pushed herself to learn more, do more. To take classes, trainings and certifications to rise in her profession. That area of her life was right on track. The thing that kept her awake at night was her personal life. She was in a serious long term relationship. She was having second thoughts, a vague uneasiness. Her doubts about the relationship caused her to doubt herself. “What was her problem!”, she kept asking herself.  Her hesitation had now turned into sleepless nights and gnawing anxiety.

Mark was a bright guy in his 50’s. He had made a lot of money working long hours as a tech designer. His passion was for photography (his zest for tech work had long ago disappeared). He said he wanted to figure out a way to sell his photography, to see if he could turn his hobby into a career. He had been saying this now for two years, and had done nothing about it. He was at a loss as to why he couldn’t move ahead.

Just retired, Lauren had been preparing herself for a smooth transition to doing what she loved. All plans were in place to rent space in a commercial kitchen and bake her famous cupcakes to sell at the Farmers Market. This was to be Lauren’s second act, one she was excited about. Just as she was checking out commercial kitchens to rent, her parents moved back from living for many years in a vacation/retirement village in South Carolina. Now they demanded Lauren’s time, and played on her sympathies as a daughter to get her to care for them. She felt torn, resentful and guilty. All of these emotions morphed into extreme sadness about the loss of her dream. Family trumps self, right?

Carole, Mark and Lauren couldn’t trust their own instincts. They were letting the ’noise’ of what they thought they ‘should do’ get in the way of  what they wanted to do. Staying stuck in limbo was making each of them miserable. These three thought there was something wrong with them, and they felt overwhelmed by what, exactly could they do about it?

I’m happy to say, they did not stay stuck in anxiety, overwhelm and sadness. We worked together in a strategic way, and began to create a road map so they all could thrive.

First we systematically uncovered the truth about what was holding them in a painful place. Then, they brought what they desired into focus. They gave themselves permission to say yes to having what they wanted.

Second, we moved all the faulty thinking out of the way, and created a new, more powerful and honest, way of thinking.

Third we made a step by step plan to move through challenges toward their ideal future.

I’m thrilled to say, they all did this courageous work. You can too. Caroline, Mark and Lauren learned to trust their instincts. Let go of the mask of inauthenticity. Become your brilliant self.

Let’s work together. Begin here……..

Go for Intense and Brilliant Without Cracking

“As soon as I cross the bridge I can relax.” The bridge my Mom was talking about was the Mackinac Bridge, linking the lower peninsula with the lush wilderness of the upper peninsula  of Michigan. Forested, quiet and surrounded by the gorgeously vast Great Lakes.

My sweetheart and I went on a trip to the UP to celebrate our wedding anniversary. We love it there too. I’m grateful to our parents for sharing their love of this beautiful place. Crossing the bridge is an invitation to respond to the beauty, to fall into quiet and just look. Absorb.

Mackinac Bridge at night

We chose to get married in autumn because it is a season of abundance and meaning, different from the generosity of summer. Autumn is  reflective. The colors are intense and brilliant. The shadows are deep. The season is short  — on the verge and ripe.

Our first sighting of the bridge on our camping trips north as kids were cause for excitement. We competed to see it first. This weekend, traveling around the bend then up the hill, we saw it in the distance. We both exclaimed ‘there it is!’ Seeing that impressive structure was the cue to step across the threshold and relax.

“Be intense and brilliant without cracking.”

Finding time to relax is so important. You know this already. You know you can’t work full out for days on end without something cracking. Putting in long days and filling
Finding time to relax is so important. You know this already. You know you can’t work full out for days on end without something cracking. Putting in long days and filling up too short evenings with more work. On those days, do you then find it’s hard to get any good sleep? Do you feel edgy and out of sorts? Vacation is months away. RELAX needs to happen on a daily basis. One of my daily intentions is ’stillness nurtures peace.’ Planting opportunities for stillness and quiet in my calendar every day is important to me. How do you get “RELAX” into your daily schedule? If you’re hungry for help with this, read on for an extended conversation.


 

TIPS TO GET TO THE AAAHHH ZONE

 

Do you eat your lunch at your desk? Taking a lunch break away from your desk serves a larger purpose than just getting fuel into your body; it is a vital pause. Art Markman, PhD, author and Professor of Psychology at the University of Texas explains: “When you walk away from a problem and think about something else, your memory resets. The ideas that dominated your thinking recede from your thoughts. The memories that were inhibited before, gradually become more accessible. If your thoughts return to the problem after a pause, those other memories now have a chance to influence your thinking.”

 

Feeling overwhelmed or lacking creative fuel? A 2014 Stanford study says you could walk it out: changing the scenery can change your perspective, pump oxygen into you brain and muscles and give you a power boost. It’s the mini version of a vacation. A 10 minute walk can revive your spirits. If you can’t get outside, take a walk through the hallway, up the stairs, just move your body through any space available. There are lots of yoga poses that can be done from a sitting position, if that’s all you have.

 

Resting in the evening is a vitally important physical and mental resource that frequently gets shortchanged. Ariana Huffington has been making it one of her missions to change American attitudes about this for several years.

“I love the idea of rekindling the romance with sleep.” – Ariana Huffington

 

I agree. There is nothing smart about exhaustion. A commitment to rest and an evening routine are important.  Make it a priority to relax and restore yourself with enough sleep every evening. Set a bedtime for yourself (so you get 8+ hours of sleep), Turn off all digital devices to limit the barrage of information overload, and leave them out of the room (parents of teens can adapt this tip).  A hot bath or shower will wash away the workday ‘dynamic’ before you put on your jammies. Watching a screen to fall asleep is a no no. Read instead.

 

The cue is the cue. Seeing the bridge was our cue to relax. Leaving your desk for lunch is the cue for your brain to open the aperture wide. Moving your body, and breathing deeply is your body cue to disconnect from static and engage with the kinetic. Shutting down your smartphone and laptop is your cue to rest and restore in the evening away from digitized overstimulation. You will develop your own rituals of relaxation to cue your brain that something special is coming  –  to retreat into the ahhh zone.