Happy Inchoate Year!

Happy Inchoate Year ???    Inchoate is such a funny word. It means not yet fully developed, just begun. It can also mean the amorphous nature or messiness of something in its initial stages. 2015 is all of these things  — a year ripe with possibilities. What will it be for you?

Wishing you a perpetual flow of joy filled moments ~
Work that you enjoy ~
Satisfying relationships ~
And juicy anticipation of good things to come!

Sending much love,

Deborah

Sandwich Diplomacy

Standing in Integrity: Part 1: Sandwich Diplomacy

Joe, my smart son in law, loves Zingerman’s Sandwiches. Zingerman’s Deli has what seems like hundreds of choices to pick from, so it is difficult to decide what to love when you’re hungry. I might continue to think about Zingerman’s (I do love their pickles), but I’m writing an article about Sandwich Diplomacy, and these aren’t the kind of sandwiches I’m
talking about.                                                                                                            ( Melina & Joe>>>)

I also love working with people, and entering into a ‘thinking partnership’ with my clients. Many of them struggle with asking for what they want. I’m guessing this comes up for you, too? Yes?  I know you are a nice person. You like making other people happy. And in order to do that, you don’t rock the boat. Maybe you give in when you don’t want to. Maybe you say, “Whatever you would like to do is okay with me”. Sound familiar? Asking for what you want turns out to be really hard. (There are many reasons for this). But, there comes a time when you decide you’re ready to leave the ‘passive’ voice behind, and take a more active role in your own life. And you can begin, with small steps in small moments, to initiate larger changes. For people who find asking for what you want intimidating, a good tool to use is Sandwich Diplomacy.

What the heck is that, you say? Here is my definition:
Sandwich: To insert between two other things.
Diplomacy: Skill in managing negotiations, handling people, etc., so that there is little or no ill will, tact.

So here’s how it works for the purposes of asking for what you want. By using two positive statements sandwiched around a more difficult ‘asking’ statement, you have an easier time stating your needs.The bonus is, the other party also has an easier time hearing what you have to say. What, say you? Here are a couple of examples.

As a volunteer who wants to say no:
“This committee is doing amazing work, and the gala you are talking about sounds like a winner. My schedule is packed right now, and I won’t be able to contribute. The beauty of your mission is, others will get behind you.”

See what I mean? Two positive statements sandwiched between the asking statement. A little more palatable for those of us who have difficulty saying what we want.

Two more examples:                                

As an employee who wants to make a request:
“Because our company values education and training, I’m requesting funds to go to a conference in Atlanta. This department has a strong tradition of innovation and development, and I want to be a part of that.”

As a friend or family member who wants to set some boundaries:
“I love coming home after a long day of work, and spending time catching up with you. I would like you to clean up the kitchen before I get here. Then we can make a cup of coffee and sit down and relax together.”

Are you, at this point, saying, yeah, right! I ‘ll ask, but what if they say no?” Fear, that the answer may not be what we want it to be, keeps us small and prevents us from asking in the first place. But, go ahead and try it on for size. If they push back, then you have valuable information. Did they not hear you? Repeat the phrase. If they did hear you, and they begin to argue, repeat the phrase. If they did hear you, and still say no, then you know where you stand. You can make the next move, make a different choice, make a plan to leave, etc…..

Begin taking steps to stand tall, right now, using Sandwich Diplomacy. And it’s  not crunchy peanut butter spread thick between two slices of Zingerman’s Chocolate Cherry bread that I’m talking about. Although that’s fabulous too.

I’d love to know your experience using this tool, so please share!

Safety + Risk = A Well Seasoned Life

“A ship is safe in harbor. But that’s not what ships are for.” William G. T. Shedd

In dry dock, a ship is refurbished, updated, and repaired. Rust is blasted away, or rotting wood cut out and replaced with fresh strong panels. Several coats of marine grade paint are applied, another step in helping the boat remain seaworthy. Supplies are replenished. Safety gear checked. All these things are vital to the purpose of the ship. But, they are not what the ship is about. Screenshot 2014-09-18 22.04.05

What is a ship’s purpose? To sail out into the world to fulfill it’s mission. There are times when you need to pull into dry dock, make some adjustments. Revisit the navigation charts after strong winds have pulled you off course. Fix the damage done by vicious storms, or anchor in the bay just because you want a new coat of paint and a rest. The theme is the same. These things are important, but they are not what you are about. You are about fulfilling your purpose.

“A ship is safe in harbor. But that’s not what ships are for.” William G. T. Shedd

Harbors are safe. Free of demands, free of risk. Once we leave the harbor, the waters are unpredictable. We might be tempted to stay safely anchored firmly to the dock. Do you really want to be chained to an anchor? Risk and change are a way of life. Just try standing still in the rapidly moving stream of life. It is ultimately much more dangerous than swimming toward a more promising future.

A few thoughts on pushing fear aside to move toward change (risk).

– Stock your tool kit. What do you need to begin? Number 1 is a good support structure. Thinking you can or have to do everything yourself will make the risk overwhelming.

– Develop a positive attitude about yourself. You have already survived many ups and downs in your life, right? You’re smart. You’re adaptable. You’re good at facing challenges. Engrave this on your mirror.

– Embrace the process. Remain open to the knowledge that it won’t all be smooth sailing. Flexibility in your expectations is your watch word.

Be willing to let difficult moments, failures and perceived failures be your teacher. Can you do that? Can you untie the ropes and venture out? What do you need to pack to make your boat seaworthy so you can take the plunge? Spice, variety and adventure make for a well seasoned life.

Bon Voyage,Screenshot 2014-09-22 10.15.48

Deborah

 

Wobble, Fall, Get Up, Fall, Get Up, SMILE

Have you ever spent time watching a toddler move?

Screen Shot 2013-05-23 at 3.51.28 PM

Pulling themselves up on the nearest thing they can grab, they lift themselves into position, then s-m-i-l-e. They toddle off, arms flung wide, their pace is fast – to stay upright. Then something, a bump in the sidewalk, a toy on the floor, pushes them slightly off kilter, then boom, down they go. And surprisingly, they pull themselves up and repeat the process. Curiosity and pure pleasure is what motivates them to take the bumps and bruises and keep moving.

I am so inspired by that. Their eyes light up, they let out joyful squeals, bounce up and out and RUN.  Have you experienced a few bumps and bruises and learned caution? Learned to fear risk? Developed patterns to avoid following your curiosity lest it lead you to failure or hurt?

I think this limits our capacity to live a full and rich life, overflowing with the wealth of experience open to us. Toddlers know this – the world is new and big and there to be experienced – falls, scraped knees, joy – arms flung open wide!

Is there an area in your life you would like to expand into? Do you want to stop tolerating the things that are holding you back, and embrace what could be? Let yourself say yes! Follow your natural curiosity for pleasure and delight yourself. Give yourself permission to feel joy.

Cutting Through the Fog

Screen Shot 2014-03-05 at 1.56.25 PM

 

One Monday morning, I was sitting at my desk. No work getting done. Clicking through the e-mail, letting myself get distracted. Chasing ideas, going down rabbit holes, opening up click-throughs that are a waste of time. 10:30, still no work done.

I spent a moment asking myself, “What is going on here?” I soon realized that the residue of a taxing weekend was getting in the way of productivity.

Our family had been carrying the heavy burden of caring for loved ones who are frequently in the hospital Critical Care unit. Days and nights spent in waiting rooms and sleeping in vinyl chairs next to hospital beds. Then limping back home to pick up the pieces of work and routine.

One thing I work with my clients around is self-care and balance. This particular Monday morning, I realized in a flash, that I hadn’t attended to my own balance, and that was why I had no energy to focus on work. I pulled out an exercise that I use with my clients and share in workshops, to re-frame and re-focus. If you ever have the “Walking Through Fog” experience, and would like to try this turn around technique, Get it HERE >>Focusing Exercises

A Poem for Your Pocket

Anything Can Happen
by Seamus Heaney

heaney

Anything can happen. You know how Jupiter

Will mostly wait for clouds to gather head

Before he hurls the lightening? Well, just now

He galloped his thunder cart and his horses

Across a clear blue sky. It shook the earth

And the clogged underearth, the River Styx,

The winding streams, the Atlantic shore itself.

Anything can happen, the tallest towers

Be overturned, those in high places daunted,

Those overlooked regarded. Stropped-beak Fortune

Swoops, making the air gasp, tearing the crest off one,

Setting it down bleeding on the next.

Ground gives. The heaven’s weight

Lifts up off Atlas like a kettle-lid.

Capstones shift, nothing resettles right.

Telluric ash and fire-spores boil away.

“Anything Can Happen” from District and Circle by Seamus Heaney. Copyright © 2006 by Seamus Heaney. Used by permission of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC. All rights reserved.

Is that Maple tree I see, really tipped with red?

Here it comes. Switching gears to autumn. Different rhythms. Different schedules. Even different food! (I feel a big pot of soup coming on) Do you feel it too?

Switching gears for me always means questions and making new decisions. Trying new things. Taking on new responsibilities. Shall I sign up for a new class? Or try Tai Chi? Board meetings, planning and launching new programs. I teach at a small private college, so fall means a new set of students. Summer means laid back, road trips up north, family reunions, family weddings.  (I even enjoyed a high school reunion this year!)

Screen Shot 2013-08-22 at 4.54.13 PMOur Family Reunion 2013

At times I can feel overwhelmed by all the busy activity of fall. I start to agitate against it and feel my equilibrium slip. Does this happen to you? In my younger days I wouldn’t recognize this slippage in time, and a cranky barb would kink up my outlook. I would begin to see only tasks, and responsibilities. Joy wouldn’t be on my ‘to do’ list.

Now, as the air gets that ‘fall’ cast to it, I pay attention. New schedules and opportunities are exciting. And If overwhelm is showing up, I make sure I add ‘fun’ to the mix. How do you handle switching gears?

Wobble, Fall, Get Up, Fall, Get Up, SMILE

To celebrate International Coaching Week, I am giving away Complimentary Coaching Sessions (over the phone or in person).

Free Strategy Session. Walk Away with an Action Plan. No Strings Attached!  Sign Up Here

Have you ever spent time watching a toddler move?

Screen Shot 2013-05-23 at 3.51.28 PM

Pulling themselves up on the nearest thing they can grab, they lift themselves into position, then s-m-i-l-e. They toddle off, arms flung wide, their pace is fast – to stay upright. Then something, a bump in the sidewalk, a toy on the floor, pushes them slightly off kilter, then boom, down they go. And surprisingly, they pull themselves up and repeat the process. Curiosity and pure pleasure is what motivates them to take the bumps and bruises and keep moving.

I am so inspired by that. Eyes light up, they let out joyful squeals, bounce up and out and RUN. We adults have experienced a few bumps and bruises and learned caution, learned to fear risk, developed patterns to avoid following our curiosity lest it lead us to failure or hurt. But I think this limits our capacity to live a full and rich life, overflowing with the wealth of experience open to us. Toddlers know this – the world is new and large and there to be experienced – falls, scraped knees, joy – arms flung open wide!

Is there an area in your life you would like to expand into? Stop tolerating the things that are holding you back, and embrace what could be. Let yourself say yes!