Approaching challenges is like dancing on Jello

Interesting concept, isn’t it?

Life really is full of challenges that we can approach with an “Oh no! Not again!” mentality or one we can approach is as if each challenge is a dance and pulling all of them in your life together is a little like dancing on Jello. I like this term because it signifies that challenges could be considered one of the joys in life; you know, like fun!  Never knowing which way I’m going to put my foot down has me actually think through what is important so that I’m certain I choose a sure footing.

For example in me coaching someone; that person’s experience of life is not my experience of life therefore I have no pat questions, instead we dance in the conversation so that my coachee can explore what is getting in the way of dreams and aspirations and visions for what’s possible in life; and therefore choosing the challenges that initially looked too big but actually are approachable by learning to dance on Jello.

Oh yes, I do plan for the challenges that I’ve taken on such as hosting a weekly radio show which is a still very new for me. Even choosing the subjects or the guests to come on to the show is a dance. What is important to my listeners? What conversations will open doors for them in their lives that they have not previously noticed are closed?

Choosing guests to come on the show is a dance because I’m not interested in having just anybody come and share coaching.  I am committed to having guests that share based in being solid examples of what is moving the “emerging” profession of coaching forward. They are the movers and the shakers; I am really only interested in those guest who see what’s possible in the challenges and dance into that possibility with aliveness and vision and assurance all based in their commitment to their coachees and clients around the world.

Why would my listeners want a mundane or ordinary-hashed-out subject or someone who “struggles” or has conversations for “scarcity” as examples for how life can be? What insights would that be for the radio listeners who are exploring their lives; who are investigating coaching and who coaches are and why they are looking to hire a coach?

It’s those guests or subject matter of the show, where examples of ordinary people step out, take chances in life, who are making a difference based in possibility, for the rest of us to realize that yes, we can dance too.

Besides, choosing to approach my challenges as if I am dancing on Jello is really fun!

 

Listen to previous recordings of “Design Your Life, Coaching for New Choices”  www.voiceamerica.com/show/1979/design-your-life

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When we automatically make ourselves right and others wrong

Don’t ask me why this is so but ask me how you can begin to observe how you yourself are a part of all of it.

If we begin to question why this is so, we go down the rabbit hole of attempting to understand. We could make up fabulous stories that might answer why, but to understand is not to take action. To understand is to answer the question “why?”  That in itself is not wrong; but neither is it right.

The power lies in beginning to notice how we are “thrown” to do it. To be thrown is to follow a path without diversion; much like a ball thrown across the room in a direction where the path is not diverted unless it comes into contact with something to alter its course.

Throw:

  • To put (suddenly or forcefully) into a given condition, position, or activity (thefreedictionary.com)
  • To put in a particular position or condition (merriam-webster.com)
  • An act or instance of throwing or casting; cast; fling (dictionary.reference.com)

You get the idea, right? …or wrong?

To alter the course of making ourselves right and others wrong takes “coming into contact with something” (a declaration?) to alter the course of our conversations. It takes beginning to notice when we automatically come up with an excuse or a retort or a reason or anger or fear or…

To alter the course of making others wrong may be the beginning of creating a fresh or new relationship with someone; your spouse, or your parents, or your boss, or your co-worker, or the cop who stopped you or…

To alter the course of making ourselves right may be the beginning of creating a brand new relationship with ourselves. To begin to be authentic with who were are being for ourselves. To begin to live from integrity.

To alter the course of that automatic right/wrong conversation, we may begin to recognize “what’s so.”  What the truth is of who we are being for ourselves in this moment in time. That “this is it” and where we are in our lives right now begins with the choice we make right now.

That to alter the course of being “thrown” on that automatic path of right and wrong along with all the other automatic right and wrong conversationalists, may just provide us the opportunity to begin afresh to design a new story worth living into.

The first step to shifting from a way of being that is not working is to begin to observe our own conversations of “automatically making ourselves right and others wrong.”

The second step is to stop ourselves in the middle of it.

The third is to stop ourselves before it happens.

The fourth step is to remember that we used to speak from those automatic and often detrimental to living joyfully conversations of “I am right and you are wrong.”

Will you take a first step with me?

 

Come listen to my newest radio show Tuesdays at 8:00 AM Pacific for 13 weeks beginning 27 September 2011.  http://tiny.cc/i0hq8

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What is working in life?

Given the extensive news presented in everyday life, what tends to show up for me is what is “not working” in life. In a riddled world with conversations about terrorists, and what’s wrong, and who did what to whom, and what doesn’t work, and how horrible the economy is, what I’m not noticing is what is working.

For instance, moving into my 40 year home 10 years ago, I wondered about the beauty of the location in which it is situated. As time has gone by, I now notice the age of the home especially the kitchen. I’ve caught myself thinking how dreary and how worn and how outdated it is even with the patches of newer materials. Where I have forgotten to look from is that the view out of my kitchen window is of beautiful green grass with a row of rose bushes that have constantly born fragrant and lively blooms for me with such little attention needed. What I have forgotten is the feel of the cool breezes blowing up the nearby valley and which maybe 95% of the warmer months are able to make me glad that I don’t have to live in an air conditioned environment. What I’ve forgotten are the birds who twitter and joyfully sing and are in constant motion talking to each other, working with each other, and hen pecking each other. What I’ve forgotten are the ruby throated and the emerald backed hummingbirds who

It’s easy to look from “what’s wrong” when we are inside of the rampant conversations; pretty much like a fish to water, not noticing the water he is swimming in.  However, if there is ever any hope that it will be anything other than the way it is, we may wish to take time to pause, take a breath, and look around at what does work in our world.  After all, it’s said, “hope is not a plan.”

So I’ve begun to walk into my kitchen and begin to look around me for what does work. There is a refrigerator to keep my food cooled, there is a sink to keep my dishes clean, there is a window for me to gaze out on nature, and there is a kitchen in my home in which I can choose to create what comes out of it.

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Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely…

A wonderful quote came to me by an anonymous author, and it goes like this…

“Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well- preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming, “WOW!! What a ride!”

The quote reminds me to ask myself how I am living my own life.

I have not sent out a Laser Coaching Tip! since June because I had the opportunity to spend time with my 84-year-old father as he transited through the worst part of a serious illness.

My dad and I didn’t get along in my younger years; he wasn’t the best father I thought he “should” be. The vein of conversation I had about him was along the lines of, “if he had only helped me with my career choices, or if he had only attended all the father-daughter opportunities that were available to us, or if he hadn’t traveled for work so much, or if he wasn’t so gruff in his communications with me” and so on, “then my life would have been perfect.”

It wasn’t until I was able to notice that what was missing was my own commitment to be responsible for what I think that I began to have a fulfilling relationship with anyone else.

Yes, what I actually *thought* about my father (and others) led me to assume that it was his responsibility for me to be happy. With coaching at age 30, I began to observe my undermining internal conversations, and then I finally began to discover what my father had contributed to me. My 7 siblings and I always had clothes to wear, good healthy meals on our table, the experience of traveling the world and life in another country, and an education in good schools. This led me to the realization that I can take on anything and be as successful as I commit to be.

By learning to shift my way of thinking, in this case with my dad, I’ve been privileged to learn who my father has been in life.

He was born months after his 5 siblings and his parents immigrated to New York from Hungary in 1921. At 18, he joined the Army-Air Corps and became a fighter pilot, flying sorties on D-Day. During WWII, his plane crashed into a barn, and he broke his back. That didn’t stop him; he got out of the hospital after having metal rods and clips placed along his backbone to keep his spine straight and went on to fly in Korea and Vietnam. In the early 60′s, before the world knew it existed, my dad was a test pilot for the highly secretive long range strategic reconnaissance titanium plane called the SR-71, also known as the “Blackbird.” He professes to have taken it to heights of 93,000 feet and to Mach 3.2. He shared with me that he flew “everything in the air” from 1940 to 1970, retiring from the Air Force after 30 years.

He took up skiing at age 60, and it was extremely difficult to catch him on the slopes. I could go on for pages! What I know is that my dad has contributed to me mostly by living the true meaning of “skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming, “WOW!! What a ride!”

He’s still recovering, and yet with my willingness to have given up who I thought he should be, I know if he is to pass away before I do, I will have truly earned the privilege of being loved by him.

What if…

We were to learn to consistently shift our thinking to what’s right about or what works in our lives?

Consider that…

We will always be able to turn our mistakes and predicaments into opportunities for growth and relatedness.

Observation/Exercise:
In the next month, begin to observe how much your old ways of thinking about others have shaped how you are with them; the conversations, the actions you take on, the thoughts of who they *are* in life.

Next, begin to look from the perspective that you may really not know them as they are today, only who you determined they were years or even months ago.

Notice what begins to happen in your interactions with them. Is there room for discovery? Joyfulness? Compassion?

And, as always, do let me know what you find out practicing this exercise.

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Are You Fully Self-Expressed or Are You Like a Trained Flea?

Did you know that we, as human beings, are a little bit like trained fleas?

Do you know about trained fleas? Here is what was discovered…taking an ordinary jar and placing a bunch of fleas into it, it was found that the fleas would wildly begin to jump in all directions, including out of the jar, no matter how high the sides of the jar. Try it someday if you are curious enough or just begin to observe yourself in your own life as a bit of a trained flea.

This could be likened to how we experience the world as children…with a “YAY!!! LET’S LIVE OUR LIVES FULLY!!! OUCH, I FELL DOWN AND IT HURT BUT SO WHAT? WHAT’S NEXT??!!” Remember those days full of vitality, joy and full self-expression?

Back to the jar of fleas; if one takes a lid and puts it on top of the jar, the fleas will continue to jump up against the lid until they realize that there is something in the way of their full self-expression of jumping. Perhaps their little heads begin to hurt, and they actually start to scale back slowly until they begin to regularly jump to just below the level of the lid.

At this point, it was found that one could remove the lid of the jar and the fleas would still only jump to those few millimeters below where the lid had been. The fleas were now trained and would not jump out of the jar.

What if…

Looking back into our own lives, we ask ourselves where we have been trained. Where might we have scaled back for the fear of hurting our ‘heads’ on a lid? This may be a situation that was real or imagined. Perhaps the lesson was well worth learning such as touching a hot stove was a bad mistake.

However, where might a lid might have been placed on your full self-expression that was for the convenience of another and not specifically for you. For example, rather than focus on what would happen to you, a caretaker was more fearful of what could happen. Or perhaps we made a mistake in one situation and automatically trained ourselves that we could never attempt that type of situation again.

We might begin to ask ourselves, where have we suppressed our own and others’ full self- expression such that we have become trained fleas in our lives and accepted “this is the way it is” regardless of a different time, a different place, a different situation…?

Consider that…

We may not even realize the extent of how we are similar to trained fleas. When an opportunity presents itself to us, we may automatically answer with an “I could never do that,” or “I don’t like those,” or “Oh, that’s not for me,” or even an answer such as “Are you kidding?” Consider how we may be so automatic that we are not even aware of having been trained. What would happen if with each opportunity we stopped our automatic way-of-being and really put some thought into what was being presented to us before we responded?

Observation/Exercise

The holidays are approaching quickly and many of us will have the opportunity to share time with family. This is perfect fertile territory for beginning to observe ourselves as the observer in our automatic ‘trained fleas’ way-of-being in life.

The first step to altering a way-of-being is to learn to observe you in your own life. In the next month, begin to observe your conversations to yourself and to others, and how your automatic ‘trained flea” ways of responding show up in your thoughts or conversations.

If you don’t catch yourself in the middle of it, look back on the conversations or moods that you have noticed were not the most beneficial to your full self-expression.

What happened? How were you stopped or suppressed? Where did you stop yourself? What stopped you? Was something said by someone else that triggered your suppression? When was the first time in your life that you noticed a similar situation? How old were you? What were you doing? Did someone say something to you? How is it similar to today? How is it not similar? Based on your age today, how long have you been living from a suppressed way-of-being rather than living into your full self-expression?
In taking on the exercise, where might you have now gained freedom to be fully self-expressed where you may not have been before? Do let me know what you find out practicing this exercise.

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