Posts Tagged ‘Leadership’

Speaking from the Heart – Part 8

April 3rd, 2014 1 comment

Time to put myself out there again.  My intent here is to actually own my own stuff as it shows up — not to be melodramatic about it.  I believe that we all experience these sensations from time to time.  It’s okay to have them, and the more we share and allow them, the more they can flow through us.  So here’s where I find myself today.

I’m bouncing in and out of fear like a pinball machine. I’m in breakdown (so I do declare) and realize I have been here for about three weeks, if not longer.

I need reassurance that I can actually achieve the big goals I’ve set for myself, and have a story that that reassurance ultimately needs to come from within — so what’s the point of even asking for reassurance?

My teammate, Brian, in San Diego, reflected to me that just because I’m on a journey to generate that trust and reassurance from within doesn’t mean that I don’t need some externally to support me as I move forward.

My coaching practice is full, and I’ve never felt more like my client game is in breakdown. I judge myself as not being a powerful enough coach for at least a month now. And, I can own that when I do, I quickly pave over the feeling by finding the things that I’m doing wrong. I set up complimentary sessions with new people, but those people aren’t really interested in powerfully moving their lives forward. They’re tourists — curious about what I do, but not so much in creating breakthroughs in their lives.

I can see the pattern, and yet don’t seem willing to choose something else.

I’m practicing slowing down, and it makes me want to run faster than ever before. “There’s more to do, I’m not doing enough, hurry up and get new clients you useless piece of shit, why the fuck can’t you generate anything, augh!” is how my inner voice rages away.  It’s an all-out war inside my head; a battle between peace and tranquility and my judgments and stories.

I’m sad. I’m sad that I am not experiencing joy. I’m sad that every bit of success feels fleeting.

My projects sit derelict, like half-constructed model airplanes sitting in my room as a child, and my metaphors feel like melodramatic facebook posts.

I’m embarrassed to share this with you — not because I’m having these thoughts, feelings, body sensations, etc. — that’s natural.  I’m embarrassed because I can see that I’m currently unwilling to let go of them.

You know what’s funny?  It’s the judgment about being unwilling to let go that is keeping me stuck.  What I can see is that if I simple let myself be where I’m at, things would start to slide forward.  As long as I hang on to the judgment about where I am and who I am being, nothing can shift.

I guess what I want to enroll *you* in is actually noticing where you do the same thing yourself.  Where do you find yourself in a certain place, and then rather than empower wherever you happen to be, judge and resent yourself for it?

Don’t bother sharing it with me though, I’m going to be over here kicking my own ass for where I’m currently at.


The 52-week guide to becoming an entrepreneur – Week 39 & 40

March 21st, 2014 No comments

IMG_2849 - Version 2This is the thirty-ninth and fortieth post in my epic journey going from lawyer to entrepreneur.  You can read the previous entry here, and next week’s entry here.

This is the second time I’m doubling up weeks, on account of the theme for this past week: getting support.

I’ve been up against a lot lately, it seems.  I’ve wanted to take on bigger things and have increased the scope of my projects accordingly.  If you’re not scared by the goals that you’re taking on, you need to make them bigger.  As a coach, I have to live by that mantra.  I have to model the work.  And I have been — and my projects and goals have been scaring me.  So much so that they’ve led to overwhelm.

See, here’s the thing.  If someone isn’t taking on a project big enough to scare and sit outside of what they know they’re reliable to produce, it won’t require any transformation on their part to get there.  Life isn’t simply about accomplishing goals, it’s about continually growing and stretching.  Developing ourselves, physically, emotionally and spiritually.  Big projects allow for that.  They require that, in order to achieve them, we have to change how how we’re being in the world.

I’ve been overwhelmed with everything I’m taking on, unsure of how to handle it.  All of my defaults are working, and they’ve left me filling my time up in ever increasing increments so as to get everything done (ostensibly to achieve my goals).  

When time gets stark for me, I look to become more efficient.  

“How can I get even more done?”, I wonder to myself.

It almost never crosses my mind that the real way forward is to seek support.  In fact, I actively resist support when I need it most.  Instead of reaching out to people and asking for help, I tell myself that that will just require more time, and dammit, I don’t have any of that.

This time though, this time I did something outside of my pattern: I asked for support!

I asked for support from my teammates, my coaches, my mentors and my friends.

And you know what?  It made a huge difference!

At one point I was talking with, and getting coached by, a colleague and coach I have deep admiration for.  As I shared with her what I was up to and what I was struggling with, she listened, and then said to me:

“Well, Adam, I’m going to use your own quote against you.  You said that goals big enough to scare you actually enable you to transform…  And it just seems like you’re resisting all of the transformation that is available to you here”.

Oh.  Well that would make a lot of sense.

A bunch of my teammates reached out to me offering support.  Contrary to what I assumed, time became available.  I got coached, listened to, and held.  It was easy and simple, and it didn’t leave me frustrated, just heard.

It certainly isn’t the first time I’ve said it, but entrepreneurialism is a funny gig.  We’re drawn to it because we’re lone wolves that want to make our mark on the world, and do it our way.  We don’t want to be beholden to someone else’s rules, or vision that is too small — we want to be able to create the vision that we have.

While that is admirable and a spirit that you should never let go of, it’s important to recognize that it can be a hook too.  Everyone needs support and to be supported.  No one is an island, and anyone that thinks they can do it all on their own is almost certainly going to be limited by their own blindspot.

Get supported.

And on those days when it feels like you simply can’t get supported?  Get supported twice as much.

The 52-week guide to becoming an entrepreneur – Week 38

March 7th, 2014 No comments

photo - Version 2This is the thirty-eighth post in my epic journey going from lawyer to entrepreneur.  You can read the previous entry here, and next week’s entry here.

(No, my sense of style hasn’t gone out the window — I’ve just been suffering with a cold as of late).

Sometimes, all it takes is a good run.

That’s this week’s theme.  With all the demands constantly besieging you as an entrepreneur, it’s easy to lose sight of the vision you started with.  If you’re not careful, your days can deteriorate into a battle simply to get yourself to inbox zero, address every damn thing coming your way, and get through this day (as well as the next one, and the one after that, and oh god they never end!)

The funny thing is that as an entrepreneur, your job IS to maintain the vision.  That’s what enrolls people to follow your leadership.  The vision is what inspires people to take up the mantle behind you, and to pursue your dream, even through the fear and the tribulations that are inherent in the work.

And, that being said, it’s still really easy to fall into the trap of forgetting this fact.  Today, someone cancelled on a lunch that I had set up, only minutes before I left my house to make the appointment.  It left me thinking “Oh geez, things are never going to work out”.  And when I get confronted with that story, I do what I always, predictably, do: I get attached and focused on doing.

Who else can I contact?  I better get in touch with thirty people to ensure we don’t fall into the abyss of failure.  Maybe I should reduce my rates.  I should probably say yes to all those other things too.  Maybe I should start looking for jobs as a lawyer again.

So.  Much.  Mental.  Chatter!

It goes and it goes and it goes, and my survival mechanism really just wants to grab a hold of it and get me doing stuff, because at least when I’m doing stuff, I’m moving forward.

But sometimes, all you really need is a good run.  The thing that I’m most likely to deny myself when I’m in the throes of it all (well being and space) is often the best medicine.  It’s funny how, as entrepreneurs, we deny the very thing that got us in to the work in the first place: our freedom.

The opportunity to be ourselves is what draws us to entrepreneurial work — and predictably, that’s the very thing we start to shut down and deem impossible (or worse yet, that there isn’t enough time for).

So when things get tough, remember: sometimes all it takes is a good run.

The 52-week guide to becoming an entrepreneur – Week 36

February 25th, 2014 No comments

IMG_2818 - Version 2This is the thirty-sixth post in my epic journey going from lawyer to entrepreneur.  You can read the previous entry here, and next week’s entry here.

What an unusual week – no big ups or downs.  Nothing terrifying.  No moments of waking up in fright and remembering what I hadn’t done.  Just opportunities to slow down and enjoy what was showing up.

Two times I’ve graduated from a post-secondary education, and both times, the same phenomenon has occurred.  I’ve gotten to the end of the week, sat up on the weekend, and felt guilty for not working on something.  There’s a sense that you should be doing something and that it’s wrong that I wasn’t.

Almost every student has experienced this process.  The shift from a pattern of always trying to play catch-up to trying to remember that it’s okay to relax.

What I realize is that being an entrepreneur is a lot like making this journey, back and forth, over and over, on a much more frequent basis.  Underneath it all, we are constantly working to develop the ability to simply be with whatever uncertainty shows up.

Lately, that’s meant recognizing when my fear shows up and just leaning right in to it.  I got really embarrassed last week, and after allowing myself to feel that way, I became present to the fact that embarrassment, rather than being something to avoid, is actually a sign that I’m taking on something outside of my comfort zone.  If it wasn’t embarrassed, I’d probably already be good at it, or already comfortable with what I was experiencing.

So in a lot of ways, it’s a bit confusing.  We’re learning how to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.  That almost doesn’t make sense.

I think a lot of us approach this from the belief that once we’ve developed enough, we stop feeling uncomfortable, but that’s not true.  Discomfort is there as a sign that I’m taking on something different or new.  As long as you’re alive, you’re capable of feeling discomfort.

As an entrepreneur or anyone else stepping in to possibility, it’s important to recognize that fear and discomfort is going to show up.  If it hasn’t, it’s time to take another step.

The funny thing is that sometimes it’s as difficult to learn how to embrace the calm, as it is the storm.

Ah!  There’s the lesson for this week.

To really love your life and your work as an entrepreneur, you have to learn how to love the calm as much as the storm.  Entrepreneurship is no different than life.  After every storm there is a calm, and after ever calm, there is a storm.  Trust that it will all work out, and learn to love each part of it.

Speaking from the Heart – Part 5

February 19th, 2014 No comments

Working on relationships is hard.

Over a year ago now, I distinguished that the way I tend to do relationships is 150%.  I show up with a ton of energy and drive, pushing at the other person and with a ton of criticism and judgment about myself, themselves, and everyone else in the mix.

That kind of structure doesn’t allow a lot of room for the other person’s process.  It also creates situations where people feel disempowered or like it doesn’t matter what they do.

“Adam’s going to barge in here anyway, so what’s the point?”

Bay and I have been working on the intimacy in our relationship for years.  It’s something actively work on, except when we don’t.  Intimacy is terrifying for me.  It’s way easier to meet my own needs, and keep myself totally safe and precious.  If I don’t open up, I don’t have to be vulnerable, and that keeps me nice and safe.

It also keeps me perfectly stuck where I am.

I hate awkwardness.  I don’t know why but I’ve avoided it like the plague for as long as I can remember.  Filling every single minute in conversation (to the detriment of any connection that might be created with the other person) was way better than a single minute of silence.

Again, 150% in a relationship, even when it is simply about conversation.

This pattern would show up everywhere – I could never be around girls in school because it was so painfully vulnerable and awkward.  Maybe if I was high or drunk it would be possible, I thought to myself – but that didn’t help either, it just caused me to retreat even further into myself.

What I realize is that creating anything really worthy of who we are requires vulnerability.

A friend of mine once said that you can’t force vulnerability, only set the table for it to come.  But I don’t believe that’s the case – there’s always an opportunity to drop in to your heart and share more than you currently are.

That’s the path of growth.

I don’t relish sharing this stuff, because it’s scary, and it’s vulnerable.  But the fact is, sharing it is what releases it’s hold on me.  Opening up the kimono and sharing all of me is what lets people in.

Welcome in.

The 52-week guide to becoming an entrepreneur – Week 35

February 14th, 2014 No comments

IMG_2812 - Version 2This is the thirty-fifth post in my epic journey going from lawyer to entrepreneur.  You can read the previous entry here, and next week’s entry here.

I’ve been taking Aikido classes.  Aikido is described as more like a physical philosophy and way of living, than a martial art.  In fact, many people in the martial arts community feel that Aikido is a poor choice of martial art if your desire is to defend yourself.

After my first class, I went home and started googling everything I could.

“Is Aikido a good martial art?”

“Is Aikido worth doing?”

“Is Aikido a work out?”

No more than four hours earlier, the Sensei had asked me what drew me to Aikido, and I answered (honestly) that I loved the philosophy behind it, and was also looking for a spiritual practice as well as something physical to do.

Notice that none of my questions reflect that reason for taking Aikido.

I think that entrepreneurship, and taking on your life in general, are reflected by this way of being I exhibited before and after my first day of training in this new martial art.

I was clear on my vision and reason for joining.  And then, almost immediately after getting my first taste, I had shifted my focus to something more immediate and short-term.  Physical exercise and self-defense.

Self-defense?  Really?  I’ve never been in a fight, and never intend to.  Notwithstanding the fact that sometimes trouble just finds you, why would I suddenly be concerned that my pursuit would aid me in something I seek to avoid at all costs?

It is exactly the same process entrepreneurs move through.  I start doing the work because I crave freedom, putting my mark into the world, and living out my purpose.  I want to create inspiration everywhere, and being a coach, working independently of the restrictions of a company, is one of the ways I can do that.

And then things gets started, and something scary shows up, or even just a reason to take a different path, and we lose sight of all of that.

Part of the requirement of being successful, as an entrepreneur or anything else, is continually re-presencing ourselves to our vision and why we’re taking this on in the first place.  Don’t let yourself believe (like I did) that you want it enough right now that you won’t ever forget why, because you will.  You will forget, because you’re human.

This time, it was one of my teammates, Brian, that reminded me why I’m taking this on.

We need those support structures outside of ourselves, because sometimes, we’re just human, and we lose sight of what we’re up to.

Speaking from the heart – Part 4

February 13th, 2014 No comments

So Bay gave her notice at her job!

That is amazing.  It’s been a 7-year process, including a pitstop for an MBA, before she reached the point that she was able to pull the trigger and step courageously into what the future holds for her.

I’ve been moving in and out of fear and possibility.  So has she.

We’ve had some really weird jogs, where she starts out super empowered, and I’m struggling to see what’s possible beyond my concern that the pain in my tooth is now going to lead to our bankruptcy when we don’t have dental coverage.

Then, as Bay talks about what she sees for herself, I start to see things a little differently.

“Wait a sec, you could just buy dental coverage, dummy”.  Oh yeah, that’s right!  Then I start to get present to what is available to us.  The wide-open world.  Anything is possible.

Then Bay starts to hit some bumps, just after half-way through our run.  And then I’m up, and she’s down.

It’s wild, this ride!  I fluctuate in and out of possibility and terror almost on an hourly basis.  When I’m scared, I feel like a shitty husband because I’m not being supportive enough.  And when I’m excited, sometimes I feel like a shitty husband because I’m judging Bay for being in her process and having her own fear.

Oh dear.

There are so many things I want to create in the world, and so many people I want to inspire.  The words of Christopher [ McAuliffe, one of my coaches and mentors] keep ringing through my head:

“Adam, I don’t know anyone else more poised for success than you.  It’s ridiculous that you spend so much time worrying about it.  And because of the fact that you do, it has you playing tiddly-winks.  It’s a small game!”

First of all, tiddly-winks is a shitty game.

Second, the pattern I’m in with Bay, seeing possibility and then not, is a reflection of where I’m at in general.  Fluctuating in and out of being present to my vision and purpose on the planet, and then back looking at the fear I have of failing.

Is this how Gandhi or Mandela felt?  Did they ever question what they were up to?

Judgment: I’m arrogant for asking that question that way.

Anyhow, this is getting melodramatic, which isn’t my intent.  My intent is simply to open the kimono, and share what’s inside.  To let people in, and see if I die when I’m vulnerable (so far I have not).

One of my current practices: Notice where fear or embarrassment shows up.  Then step into those areas.

Here we go…

The 52-week guide to becoming an entrepreneur – Week 27

December 13th, 2013 No comments

IMG_2738This is the twenty-seventh post in my epic journey going from lawyer to entrepreneur.  You can read the previous entry here, and next week’s entry here.

This week’s theme has simply been love.  My coach reflected to me at the start of the call that I seemed like a man in love with his work and his life.  She’s right.  Sometimes, this work is so rewarding, I can barely contain my love and passion for it.  Seeing people take on their lives in a big way is thrilling.  It is the purpose for which I am on this planet.

You know what else comes with love?  Heartbreak.  All my life, I’d put together sophisticated mechanisms to ensure that I never had to face the downside of being in love.  I kept my girlfriends at a safe distance from my heart, ultimately leading to problems of intimacy — if you can’t let someone into your heart, how the heck are you going to have real intimacy with them?  I kept other people out, and jealously guarded the word love.  That word was reserved only for my girlfriend/wife, and my family.  And even then, my family got to hear it only in e-mails.

That stuff doesn’t work as a coach.  My job is to be intimately connected with my clients, and to really get their struggles, their pains, and see what they are truly capable of.  That last part can be heartbreaking.

The loss you experience when you lose someone precious is an indication of how much loved them.  When I see how much someone is capable of, and they are simply too scared to step in to it, that creates its own heartbreak.

It’s okay that people don’t step forward into their power and who they are.  There’s nothing wrong with hanging out in comfort.  The challenge is mine to own — once I’m acquainted with what someone is truly capable of as the full expression of themselves, it becomes immeasurably difficult to see them step back from that and go back to comfort and avoiding fear.

The gift that that heartbreak brings is the same gift that my work has brought me overall.  It is all an indication of how much joy I experience in my work, and how much I love the opportunity to coach the powerful leaders that I do.  If you want to be in love, you can’t protect yourself from the heartbreak.  You must open your arms wide and let everything in.  Let your heart fill to bursting, even if doing so means that it may later all be taken away.

Love and heartbreak are both the gifts that come with living a full life.  If you avoid one, you avoid the other.

The 52-week guide to becoming an entrepreneur – Week 26

December 6th, 2013 No comments

IMG_2720This is the twenty-sixth (halfway!) post in my epic journey going from lawyer to entrepreneur.  You can read the previous entry here, and next week’s entry here.

This week’s theme has really been about diving in and not letting fear stop us.  This entire journey is really based on that premise, but I’ve seen it reflected all over the place recently.

Clients come to me with many different reasons for wanting to work together.  More often than not, people don’t overcome the fear that they won’t be able to create a big enough difference to justify hiring a coach.

Other people get over the hump of investing in themselves, but then still hang out with their fears.  They show up each week with the same request, wanting to better understand why they are so scared and unwilling to take something on.

I think the biggest value I got from the first person I hired as a coach was when I went to them with the coaching request “I’d like to better understand why I’m so scared to coach my friends” (never mind that these days I simply won’t coach my friends).

His response was “Well, we can look into that, but is what you really want to actually coach them?  Because if so, that’s probably where we should focus our attention”.

Who cares why you’re scared of something?  As a coach, I certainly don’t.  What I care about is what you want to create.  Learning more about why we’re scared, while interesting, does nothing to move us forward.

If we want to move forward, we have to actually confront the fear.  We can get clear on what we’re actually avoiding, but that won’t change the fact that, if we want to grow, we have to stop avoiding that thing (or realize that it’s not really that significant in the first place).

I’ve succeeded in this venture beyond what I had even believed possible (achieving the goal I set for my practice in half the time I had declared) — and that is due to the simple fact that I have repeatedly been made present to my fears (thanks to my coach) and dived headfirst in to them.  If I was still practicing law part-time, I anticipate that my practice would be much less than half of what it currently is.

Whether you choose to work with a coach or not, you still have to confront your fears if you want to move forward.  A coach will make that far easier, and actually support you in doing so — but it doesn’t change the fact that you’ve got to do the work.

So quit waiting around. Have a conversation with me, get clear on what you’re avoiding, and dive in.

The 52-week guide to becoming an entrepreneur – Week 23

November 25th, 2013 1 comment

IMG_2710This is the twenty-third post in my epic journey going from lawyer to entrepreneur.  You can read the previous entry here, and next week’s entry here.

I’m not really sure what lesson I learned this week.  I think the big take away has been that you never really reach any real kind of destination as an entrepreneur – the scale just shifts.

I know a lot of people fantasize about how different their lives would be if they won the lottery, or get that new job they’ve been after, or change careers, or finally get the boyfriend they’ve been pining for.  But I also know that that isn’t true at all.  Things won’t be any different, because you won’t be any different.

As an entrepreneur, the things that overwhelm me out or that I cannot be with don’t change simply because I’ve started bringing in a certain amount of income.  Just because I’m making X amount of dollars a month doesn’t mean I’m any less concerned about money.  The only that that has really changed is the scale.

The funny thing is that stuff happens when you give yourself and the universe the space to allow it.  For me it’s so easy to get caught up in the sheer amount of doing that I can step right over the opportunities for peace and tranquility that I’m looking for.

I’m trying to create flexiliby and dynamism in my life, but locking that out by continually doing more and more stuff because I’m entertaining the fear that I will fail if I stop.

Yesterday I woke up in the middle of the shitpit.  Everything was wrong and I was frustrated and grumpy.  Rather than try to fix it, I just chose to be a stand for authenticity.  Whenever someone asked me how my day was doing, I shared with them what I was going through.  Not from a place of victimhood and complaint, but from a place of having it distinguished that I just woke up feeling shitty and grumpy.

It was amazing what it allowed.  Instead of resisting it, trying to pave over top of it, or doing to remedy the problem, I just let myself sit in it, and shared it when it was appropriate.  By the end of the day, I was feeling fantastic, and had accomplished more than any other day that week.

So I guess what I’m taking away this week is that the real work isn’t what you think it is.  It’s not working 12 hours a day and converting your blood, sweat and tears into widgets, product releases and dollar signs.  The real work is actually about creating space for you to not do those things.

Today, I stand for stillness and space.  Give yourself room to expand.