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?

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

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 

Do you think “Not good enough”? and “I need to fix my flaws”?

Does your barbell have “not good enough’ on one end, and ‘fix my flaws’ on the other?

There’s body building. Then there’s this…

Sometimes we get caught up with forcing ourselves to get stronger in weak areas. Noble and worthwhile ambitions. But you will never be passionate here, and it won’t hold your focus. By investing in your strengths, this can be a powerful source for success.

It must be the educator and designer in me, but I love creating learning tools. Here is an easy three step process to concentrate on your most powerful areas. You can use this knowledge to elevate your success.

 

A little homework:

 

  1. Grab yourself an iced tea, relax in your lawn chair in the back yard and make a list. Take stock of your strengths. Answer these questions:
  • “In what areas of life do I feel naturally strong?”
  • “What am I already good at?”
  • “Given that this is a strength, what’s the next level of development with that?”

 

  1. Next, make a list of two to three goals, and the resources that are available to you right now.

 

  1. Then, weave these two lists together, do this in narrative form. This is positively reinforcing what you already have, instead of focusing on what you don’t have, or are striving to get.

 

Sarah’s Example:

Strengths:

  • I make rapid, easy connections with people
  • I have a large network
  • I have infectious positivity
  • I have great communication skills

 

Goals                                                                        

  1. Develop a part time marketing biz;

     With an eye toward taking it full time

  1. Develop a wider network, outside local area
  2. Health goals – start a regular work out routine

Resources

  1. Connections within Professional Business Community
  2. Use national platform I’m already a part of
  3. Connect within network with a health goal partner or workout buddy

 

Her Narrative

I view my strengths as being my soft skills – because I genuinely like people and am an extrovert, I make rapid, easy connections. Because of this, I have a large network. I have been blessed with infectious positivity, and tend to view the world as a friendly place.

 

Because my goal is to develop a part time marketing business, I will need to use my large network of people to begin getting the word out and start creating clients. I know I’ll have to throw the net wider if I’m going to make it a full time business. I realize now I could take on a leadership role with the state chapter of the professional business community that I am now a member of locally. My connections there will be great resources.

 

I realize now that my strengths as a people person might help with my health goals too. I will commit to connect with people who can support me with diet and regular exercise. A personal trainer or workout buddy?

 

P.S.  If you are curious about what your strengths might be, the University of Pennsylvania has a survey you can take. You’ll need to register. ( Look for QUESTIONNAIRES. They offer many surveys, the strengths survey is called VIA Survey of Character Strengths. There is also a shorter version available, Brief Strengths test.) https://www.authentichappiness.sas.upenn.edu/

Onward and Upward!

 

 

 

 

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!

Like what I do? Go ahead and share it. And thanks!

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.


 

“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