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.

Ready to Take Action?

(For the last several weeks, I have been sharing some tips gleaned from many years of working with people who are motivated to grow through challenge. Week One was Getting to Yes. Week Two, answered the question “You’ve Said Yes, Now What?” Today, the last in this series is all about Action.)

Jen had gotten this far. Years of frustration collided and she knew she had had enough. She had to do something different. Time for a change.

She worked to define what that meant. But how to make that happen? I’ll share the strategies that Jen and I employed to move her from passion into purpose. I think they might work for you too.

Do something. Now. And Later.  

Jen and I had done research together, and she was now clear on what she wanted. I then coached her through a series of questions to help clear her mind as to what next steps she should take.

What three steps can you take to make this desire a reality right now?  When I asked Jen this question, she looked into space for a few moments, and then, bingo! She knew what to do first! Small steps or large, it is good to get right into it, plant your feet firmly in the doing. This energizes you and builds momentum. Finish those three steps, and then ask yourself, what’s the next best thing to do? Then do it.

What strengths or resources could you tap into to overcome any obstacles that might arise? Roadblocks will arise, it is inevitable. You will be stopped by them, unless you’ve already identified what strengths and resources you could call on to get you through. For Jen, she called on the resource of coaching to get things to happen faster. What resources do youhave to call upon? Make a list of your resources and strengths. It helps to affirm your positive attributes when things get hard.

What is your confidence level on a scale of 1-10 that you will accomplish your goals? This is key. Is your confidence below a 10? What would it take to get to a 10? If you don’t have confidence in yourself in regards to this project, have confidence in your potential.)

As your Coach, my job is to ask a lot of questions. They’re not questions to satisfy my own curiosity, but questions to help you build understanding and grow into your own spectacular potential. So here’s my next question. What’s next for you?

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Through, Out and Up!

“How wonderful that you are a ladder for others.” (Lady Rosamond, Downton Abbey). I was working, with the television going in the background. When I heard those words, that sentence took on a pulse.


An unromantic metaphor, the ladder. Useful, efficient, practical. Providing a ladder for others. Climbing the ladder yourself?Copy of Copy of Copy of Deborah Campbell + Coachdeborahcampbellcoach@gmail.com

A quick google search expanded the picture. Ladders have histories, inventors and dozens of designs specific to each peculiar task. Three legged ladders for fruit tree picking. Hook and chain ladders for emergency rescue. Christmastree ladders for divers climbing back on ship with flippers on their feet. Even a fish ladder, an after thought created to help fish maintain their travels up river to spawn regardless of the interruption of man made dams and mills.

“Mistakes are merely steps up the ladder.” Emil Zatopek

If you could be intentional about conjuring up your own scalable structure, what would it look like? The one you build for yourself? The one you build for others?

You may be afraid of heights, but if you keep your eyes only on the next step, you’ll arrive at a higher destination.

There are times when people in general experience dramatically challenging episodes of ‘life’ — a loved one is sick, job turnover, relationship blow up. Let me stretch this metaphor a bit more, and ask you — what kind of ladder can you design that would lift you (or that volunteer opportunity you care about), through, out and up? Play with me here. You are the inventor of this symbolic ladder. As designer and builder, what features do you want? What will yours look like?

To get you started try this

 

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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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Send yourself a little Chocolat’

“One taste is all it takes…..”  Chocolat’, a classic movie, follows Juliette Binoche as she opens a chocolate shop in a conservative town full of bitter, sad and lonely people. Juliette stirs a little kindness and nurture into the chocolate pot, and soon, everyone is changed. You know the human value of kindness towards others. Now, flip the mirror. How compassionate are you toward yourself? Are you kinder to strangers?

Are you one of those people who avoids the notion altogether? This is a dangerous idea.

-If compassion doesn't include yourself it is incomplete.-

Compassion shown to yourself makes a difference in whether you survive and thrive. Studies prove that it’s not what you face in life, but how you relate to yourself when the going gets tough. (Do you think of yourself as your own ally or as deficient?) This perception determines your ability to cope successfully. Do you expect yourself to do it all, and then beat yourself up when you fall short? I’m betting you do.

Aaron told himself to stay strong, maintain being a ‘tough guy’ during his divorce. He believed that hiding his feelings and not admitting to how much pain he was in, was what would get him through. But instead, it kept him stuck, feeling miserable, and angry. He saw compassion for himself as a weakness.

Is your reluctance to extend kindness to yourself based on the premise that it will make you weak? Do you resist thoughtfulness toward yourself because you feel it will undermine motivation to push forward?

Your best friend comes to you and shares how overwhelmed she is. She is having trouble coping with everything she has to do.  Would you say, “What’s wrong with you? You loser. Suck it up and get busy!”

You wouldn’t talk to a friend like that. But you might talk to yourself that way. The pain caused by self judgement is significant. “I’m not good enough. I’m not smart enough. I’m not ________ enough.” Studies now prove that self compassion is a far more effective method for personal motivation than self punishment.

In our work together, I help my clients learn how to move from self judgement to self acceptance. And that is the beginning of tremendous growth and accomplishment.

What does self compassion look like?

Self compassion is caring for yourself and accepting your feelings, struggles and pain.

Acknowledge that (this moment, challenge, transition) is hard. Don’t push it away, but ‘be’ with that. Say “This is hard. I’m doing the best I can.” Then, stick with me here, close your eyes and send yourself love. (If you’re feeling awkward, that’s resistance. Try it anyway.) Imagine a shower of love pouring down. Some call this grace. Let this good feeling flow through you. Self compassion builds your capacity for love, wisdom, courage and generosity toward yourself and for others. It’s not weakness or laziness to send some kindness to yourself. It is smart.

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(This article inspired by “The Five Myths of Self Compassion” by Kristin Neff, PhD. Published on the website Greater Good: The Science of a Meaningful Life. September 30, 2015.)
Chocolat’ is a 2000 movie directed by Lasse Halltrom, starring Juliette Binoche, Johnny Depp, Judi Dench and Alfred Molina.

Your Vacation Begins Here

 “Run out onto the dock and look up at the tree to the north!”, some strangers called to us from their boat on Pine Lake. We did as we were told. We were astounded to see a huge bald eagle surveying the lake and forest. A beautiful moment in a beautiful getaway weekend. Do you have plans this summer for vacation? A few days away enjoying the company of family or friends? Lying on the beach for a week? Spending a month in the north woods hiking?

A recent article in the ‘Science of Us’ column in New York Magazine outlined a philosophy I adopted years ago, inspired by my friend Michelle Snyder. She once said, “I’ve decided to put my money into creating experiences, not into things.” I began by letting go of ’stuff’, becoming more aware of what I bought, and being deliberate about where I did put my money. One of those ‘deliberately important experiences’ was vacation and travel.

We all know the relaxation value of vacations. Getting away, leaving all the demands of daily life behind — housework, paying bills, mowing the lawn, going to work. A chance to re-charge. But there is another very important, hidden value to vacations too.

Dr. Amit Kumar does research on the relationship between money and happiness, specifically the distinction between experiential and material purchases (that is, money spent on doing—e.g., on vacations and concerts—versus money spent on having—e.g., on clothing and gadgets). As he described in the magazine article, he “investigates how experiential purchases promote enhanced anticipatory pleasure, provide hedonic benefits through utility derived from storytelling, and also have downstream consequences in terms of fostering social connectedness and prosocial behavior.”

In essence what Dr. Kumar says the research shows is that an experience, like that of a vacation, lasts much longer than the week bookended by weekends scheduled on your calendar. You anticipate and imagine beforehand, and then later on when you have returned you can reminisce and share stories with others. You get to re-live the landscape of your time away from it all because it is stored in your memory bank. Even if the vacation was a disaster, you still receive some benefits and pleasure from the re-telling around the office cooler, the social connectedness and prosocial behavior that Dr. Kumar was talking about. The whole spectrum of experience is richer than the purchase of an expensive gadget.

A vacation is not simply a concrete period of time of leisure, but rather something you will talk and think about  for years after the fact. Even though the vacation can seem fleeting —  vacations seem to come and go in a flash — you are creating a long term adventure that can last a lifetime. And the benefits can be satisfying even if the airline loses your luggage. Bon voyage!

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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

Aid for the Confounded

So you want to take some action, but with so many variables  piling up, even the most dedicated mathematician would throw in the chalk. Like a restaurant menu with 300 entrees, you have too many choices,  which makes choosing impossible — ironic isn’t it? Then you figure, every choice has a consequence. And when you start calculating that out?  You’re tangled into knots, you cry, and then you quit. Back where you began.
Being stuck feels awful. Stuck in a job? Stuck in a relationship that makes you unhappy? Stuck in boredom? Stuck in a cycle of soul sucking hyperactivity. Should I marry that guy? Should I retire? Should I take that job across the country? Should I get a divorce?
Stymied. Stumped. Stuck. But thinking about the alternatives gives you hives.Screenshot 2015-06-24 16.11.32
Surprise! This type of itch is a good thing. Because noticing the ick of stuck is the message you have been waiting for. When things get really uncomfortable, the energy begins to shift from inertia to response. There is a tipping point. And you are now leaning in the positive column. Don’t just think about it or worry about it. Make a plan for how you’re going to deal with it. Then do something about it. What to do? Here are a few ideas:
1. Dedicate some extra time to thinking and planning. Take yourself off on sabbatical for the weekend. Start making notes of all the possibilities. Remove all the ‘shoulds’. Include all the ‘wants’. Then zero in on the ideas that make your heart sing.
2. Get some coaching so you get a shortcut to the most effective strategies. (Of course I would suggest this. But I suggest it because my clients tell me it works. I’m here to be of service.)
3. Read some books written by folks who have ‘been there’ or have practical advice. There are lots of self help books with proven track records. Google your topic, see what comes up. Ask your friends for suggestions. Do a Facebook poll.
4. If it’s a relationship problem, seek a mediator or counselor (if all parties in the relationship are agreeable). If it’s a financial issue, enlist a financial advisor. There are great resources out there that are free too. Getting help before it becomes a crisis relieves a lot of stress.
5. If it’s a career decision you want to make, think about people you could reach out to in your circle who would be helpful. By talking with people you trust and have perspective, you can gather more information to help you make good decisions.
Any of these ideas are good. Just do something. Being so indecisive feels awful. Recognizing “this is me stuck”, is seeing the road sign. Let ‘stuck’ direct you to the first step. Now, get going.

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You Are Leaving a Mark

We were in a tight embrace, the three of us hugging, holding on tight. We were together to celebrate the upcoming birth of a new baby, and each of us were delighted to be together and share a beautiful moment.Screenshot 2015-06-10 11.11.03

We became friends on the job some years back. We were doing good work together, mentoring and supporting people with barriers to employment. The impact of that experience shaped us. We have gone on to different jobs, in greater capacities, but have continued with the aim of empowering others.

As I reflected on this, the image of a footprint came into my mind. We were each making an impact. With our support for one another, and with the love poured forth into our work and relationships, we were leaving an imprint on our communities of encouragement. You too are leaving a mark. What kind of mark is it?

Financial planners talk about building monetary legacies. This is a different kind of currency, a legacy of impact. What does creating a legacy of impact mean to you? With your own unique definition of what that might look like. Go ahead, start building on it. What’s the first step?

“Yesterday is a cancelled check. Today is cash on the line. Tomorrow is a promissory note.” — Hank Stram

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A RADICAL IDEA

-Where there is love, there is life-  --As you read these words, I’m wondering how they will make you feel. Curious? Mystified? Uncomfortable? Nauseated? I love a good juicy coaching question, and this one is sure to provoke some response.

“What would love do now?”

I’m sure you’ve noticed, there is a lot of strife in the world. Some of it in our own backyard. This friction is all caused by ‘other people’. These ‘other people’ could be family members, close friends, bosses, co – workers, neighbors, any member of your community that you have to interact with. Relationships can be fraught with tension, disappointment, sadness, angst. Someone in your circle has wounded you with a snide comment. Or your boss just unleashed a bucket of ugliness on you. Has your teenage child disappointed you? A neighbor who is an irritant? Relationships are a messy business and we all have been involved in some kind of strained relationship. What do you do when emotions run high?

Step outside the tense space for a few moments and hit the pause button. Draw an imaginary circle around yourself. Breathe. The inside of this circle contains you and your experience. Extend compassion toward yourself.

1. Ask the question, “What would love do now?” Love in this case is an action word, a verb, and the first course of action is to love yourself. Go ahead. Even if it feels weird.  Would loving yourself be finding a new job? Would love be telling you to get some help to cope with that teenager? Would love direct you to take a compassionate stand for yourself? Get a massage?

2. Then, secondly, the most radical part of this action “what would love do now” is directing that action toward the person contributing to this stress or tension. Release the need to engage with this tension. Love would ask you to see that person as separate from you. Outside the container of your own experience. They have their own personal perspective that directs their behavior. They are not ‘doing to you’, but acting out of their own experience of the world, separate from your experience. Love might ask you to have a sit down talk with your boss, empathic, non judgmental, asking for their point of view. Love might ask you to send a card to your sister simply stating your warm wishes to her. You get the picture.

3. Then, release these loving actions. Because people respond from their own experience, and you are not in control of that. They may accept what you say or do, or push it away. That is not your business or about you. But because you are separate, you don’t have a need to control their response. There is tremendous freedom in this.

So pause and ask yourself “What would love do now?” And begin with yourself.

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