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  )

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.

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.

Princess Knocked Me Out

I had so much to learn……..

A summer spent bagging groceries at McNeilly’s Market earned my half of a Welsh Pony/Quarter horse mix named Princess. She was beautiful and a dream come true for me the summer I turned twelve. She had just arrived, and was grazing in a small corral when I decided I would grab an apple and give her a special treat. I climbed over the fence and ran toward her, coming from behind. Wrong move. I got soundly kicked, and lay flattened, unable to breathe, the wind knocked out of me.

It was a long time before I had the courage to go near that horse. I now understood Princess was an animal to be feared.

Personal upheaval can feel like that. One of my clients is going through a contentious divorce, and another works for a large company that is being acquired by another large company. The similarities here are that both clients feel a loss of control about a future that is constantly changing and unknowable. How do you navigate these choppy waters? How do you cross the field without getting trampled by the bull?

Develop your strengths and understand yourself within the situation. By working on these two things, major change feels less like upheaval and more like evolution

 

At twelve, I had so much to learn. About horses, and everything else. The beginning of my 4b807df6-7b93-4682-a81c-98860d91aaeaunderstanding came when my Dad noticed I hadn’t taken our horse out for a ride yet. “You’ve got to ride her Deb. I know you’re afraid. By now you’ve learned never to come up to a horse from behind. You were right though, let her get to know you by bringing her treats. Then saddle her up and take her out, no excuses. Or else you’ll always be afraid. And you don’t want that.” Know your strengths, understand yourself and the situation. I pulled on my big girl boots, found my courage, and went for the ride of my life.

Are You 1. Brilliant or 2. A Fraud. A Multiple Choice Question

Sitting carefully in the formal living room, I surveyed the richly furnished surroundings. This was living room # 2, completely decorated in several variations on the color white. I was feeling like I didn’t belong.

I was at a committee meeting, one I was asked to be on, working with academics, engineers, and other highly educated people. The thoughts that were zooming around my head were deadly. “They are going to find out I’m not as smart as they think I am.” “They are sure to see how unsophisticated I am.” “ I’m just flat out unworthy to be here.” “I’m a fraud.” Truth be told? That same narrative tape begins its reel in my head every time I’m in a new situation. After working with hundreds of clients, I know that this phenomenon is just about universal. And what I also know, there is a way to make that disagreeable scenario disappear. You can stop it cold. Screenshot 2015-09-30 14.05.15

I recently read this story. Every year, students in the incoming class at Stanford Business School are asked, “How many of you feel that you are the one mistake that the admissions committee made?” And every year, about two-thirds of the students raise their hands.

Now this is curious, because getting into a top-notch program is not easy. A high GPA, excellent scores on the GMAT and strong letters of recommendation from prominent professors and professionals are necessary. High achievers who succeed academically on tests and grueling internships are in that classroom. Yet, despite this, the majority of students who achieve their goal of admission to this program seriously doubt they deserve to be there.

Screenshot 2015-09-30 13.56.07The story isn’t limited to students. Research done on every level of successful professional comes up with the same number. 70% of all high achieving people describe feeling unqualified, like a fraud, in spite of many significant achievements. This behavior has many names — fraud factor, impostor phenomenon. First described by psychologists Suzanne Imes, PhD, and Pauline Rose Clance, PhD, in the 1970s. Defined as “a collection of feelings of inadequacy that persist even in face of information that indicates that the opposite is true. It is experienced internally as chronic self-doubt, and feelings of intellectual fraudulence.” Feel familiar?

It goes something like this: “I’m here, sure, but they’re going to find out I’m (Fill in the blank)” “ I’m here just by dumb luck” “ I’m not smart, in fact, I’m really stupid. Didn’t I just do something stupid yesterday?” “ If they knew of my other imperfections, they wouldn’t have invited me here.” I could go on….

These thoughts hold you back from fully enjoying life. From completely embracing success. The impostor phenomenon appears when you are embarking on a new endeavor outside your ‘zone of comfort’. I think it is a trick from our psyche to keep us safe, in a way. A primitive warning signal that we are about to do something different and we should be wary. But this warning signal triggers shame and vulnerability too.

Take heart. There are ways to change the story going on in your head.

1. Recognize that just about everyone have these feelings. You are not alone.

2. Give yourself credit for stepping outside your comfort zone to try something new. Credit also, for all of your past achievements.

3. Allow yourself to be imperfect.

4. Understand that this is some part of your unconscious, trying to keep you safe. Acknowledge this. Then give yourself permission to go ahead anyway.

5, Another permission granted: Give yourself permission to congratulate yourself fully for growing and developing, Step into a new and more abundant reality. Because you really are wonderful, and the world needs to have that!

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What’s On the Other Side of That Door?

Are you ready?

Screenshot 2015-10-28 19.42.00

The door bell rings. You open it unto the darkness. The figure on the other side of the door is a question mark.

A spirit, a ghost, or a bum? Or is it benevolent? A queen, a wizard, a clown? It’s All Hallows Eve, Halloween.

Born out of an ancient Celtic holiday (Samhain), Halloween has continued a centuries old evolution, built upon layers of cultural meaning. The elements of darkness, mystery, traversing the roads in search of sweet treats and disguises designed to try on a different personae have been there from the beginning. A celebration of the abundance and plenty of autumn against the back drop of the empty gardens of winter, the slipping of the day into the night, Halloween appears as we enter the dark part of the year. Like Persephone being pulled into the Underworld, themes of darkness and light, mystery and transformation are tied together.

Traditions are only kept going if they serve an important function. Halloween has evolved and spread because it has a purpose. It gives us a way to play out our dreams, fears and fantasies. Our dual nature. Our modern version is playful and fun. Costume parties, pumpkin carving and kids who dress up and trick or treat. Wishing you an abundance of treats.

“Traditions are only kept going if they serve an important function.”

It is the same with behavior. The behavior that elevates your life is positive, but the behavior that you see as negative also serves a purpose. Are you ready to find out what purpose it serves, and what you can do to live an exceptional life? Then let’s have a conversation. You’ll leave feeling good, loving yourself and ready to take action!  Get access here

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This can’t be what abundance looks like

“I will love the light for it shows me the way; yet I will love the darkness for it shows me the stars.” Augustine (Og) Mandino

“Crap, the timing couldn’t be worse!”
That’s me talking. To my friend Monique.

I was dramatically sharing about events unfolding in July. It was dawning on me that I had major upheaval on my calendar, all of it invited by me, although not all of it within my control. Family, travel, moving, business expansion, major reorganization. All of it poised and scheduled to happen in the same two-week period in July. Screenshot 2015-07-01 20.39.04

As I was spilling ’the timing couldn’t be worse’ to my patient friend, I next blurted out, “I guess this is what abundance looks like!” Darn. Truth, Told.

Had I really expected that my life would unfold perfectly and exponentially? If I do this, then I do that, then my blessings multiply very neatly and orderly. Yes, I guess I had expected that. But this life is messier, AND more abundant than even my imagination could cook up. After the “I guess this is what abundance looks like” revelation, I more calmly realized that this was ALL GOOD.

There are few absolutes. Every blessing can have a dark side. Every negative can yield a positive. It depends on your perspective. I’m really good at helping my clients look at their strengths. We build bridges over what to them look like valleys of despair. While my present circumstance in no way describes a story of hardship, I had slipped into ‘negative thinking’. And that mindset had caused me stress for a full week. Then I flipped the story in my head. “I love the darkness for it shows me the stars.” Do you have a story that could use a different perspective? One that is causing you stress? I’ll bet you can tally up an affirmative side to your problem. That’s where you can begin to build something more useful to you than stress. Tweak this formula:

Your challenge (acknowledge here): _________________
Silver lining: (Think, then make a list) ________________
In this silver lining list, where do you see opportunity? _________________________
Plant your feet there.

If you need help looking at your silver linings, I’m here.

With love,
Deborah

Planting Happiness in the Mud

“Last November, I had been moving that bag of tulip bulbs for weeks, shifting them here, setting them there. They were giving me the evil eye.”
In our coaching conversations, I like to begin our time together with clients sharing “What went well” in the last couple of weeks — ‘What are your wins, victories or good news’. A paper bag glowing with the evil eye? I couldn’t wait to hear how that was good news!

“I had brought that bag of bulbs home with me a month ago, and it was dawning on me that they were not going to get planted, and what a waste that would be. I’d feel badly about a project that didn’t happen. The flower bulbs would rot. Shame would set in.

It was a dark, cold November night when I decided that would not be the case. I parked my car in the yard, turned on the lights, and planted 100 tulip bulbs. I didn’t know what wild haphazard

Garden Before
Garden Before

flower garden was going to appear in the spring. I was muddy and exhausted, and felt a little crazy when I finished. But in the morning, I felt victorious. And now, it’s May, and I get to look at this!” We looked admiringly at the pictures again. I asked a coaching question, “What did you learn from this
experience?”

She said, “The thing that puts me off a thing, is thinking it has to be perfect. Perfect conditions, perfect timing, perfect me. What I learned is, just do it. It doesn’t have to be perfect. The ‘doing’ is enough. That, and delayed   gratification is wonderful,when it’s a long row of tulips in my yard.”

In sharing the story with me, I saw a shift in her, midway through the telling. She understood then, that this story was meaningful to her. It had a difference. An adventure and version of herself she doesn’t usually acknowledge. I think stories are powerful. The ones we tell to ourself and the ones we relate to others about ourself, they reveal our deepest beliefs.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

Garden After
Garden After

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A Cup of Coffee with a Side of Self Sabotage

It was painful to listen to………..
As I sat working and sipping my coffee in a cafe, I overheard two people nearby. It was obvious immediately that there was a job interview going on. (Yep, poor manners for that manager to interview someone in a public place.) The woman being interviewed was asked what she would be bringing to the job. When she was unable to answer this question, my heart sank. I wanted to slip a note to her, “Call me. I can help you get in touch with your strengths so you nail the next interview.” 
I don’t know anything about this woman’s situation. Why she was unprepared for this interview. What prevented her from seeing her value and sharing that with this employer. But I am acquainted with self sabotaging behavior. And from the next table, that’s what this sounded like.
Self sabotage occurs when our conscious mind and our subconscious mind are in a struggle with each other. We don’t really have two minds, but we do have different aspects of our one mind. They each have a role to play. That’s why when we move toward something we want, our behavior doesn’t always follow along…….

“The conscious mind determines the actions, the unconscious mind determines the reactions; and the reactions are just as important as the actions.” ~E. Stanley Jones

Neuroscientists and Psychologists argue about the distinctions of ‘conscious’ and ‘subconscious (unconscious) mind. This is my observation of human behavior over years of experience.
Our rational mind may say “I want to do x,y and z.”  So you begin to do x, y and z. However, x, y and z may be outside our comfort zone. All kinds of roadblocks begin to show up. This is our subconscious reacting to the ‘new’, saying, ‘Whoa! Danger! Slow Down! — or run in the other direction!” Whatever aspect of the ‘NEW’ triggers this response, the subconscious has a job to do. Keep the Status Quo. Security and safety. If you are making plans for change, but blocks keep appearing, the problem could be YOU. 
What to do? Awareness of our emotional life is key. Paying attention to how you are feeling as you step out into untried territory. So is acknowledging the roles of our conscious and subconscious mind that are in dynamic relationship with each other.  Asking yourself the questions, “What is this situation trying to tell me?” “Where do I feel fearful?” If you are curious about how all of this might relate to you, your hopes for change, and your blocks along the road, ask those questions here.
What I want for you is to keep going, to keep growing, to thrive!
Love,
Deborah

“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