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Posts Tagged ‘Psychology’

The 52-week guide to becoming an entrepreneur – Week 18

October 13th, 2013 No comments

IMG_2663This is the eighteenth post in my epic journey going from lawyer to entrepreneur.  You can read the previous entry here, and next week’s entry here.

You know what?  Sometimes you just have to throw a bunch of shit at the wall and see what sticks.

For the past two months, I’ve been resigned to the fact that I travel on Mondays and Fridays, twice a month.  That means that booking recurring appointments on Monday and Friday is generally a bad idea, because I will have to reschedule at least two of them every week.

For the most part, I prefer to have things that are recurring and consistent.  I believe in the value of ritual and routine.  There is comfort in routine.  It means that you don’t have to figure out what you’ll be doing at a certain time.  It means that I don’t have to waste time scheduling each month.  I can just schedule once, and be done with it.

Routine is great for coaching as well.  Many clients need help creating routines for themselves, and having a regularly occurring appointment with their coach provides some structure within which they can operate and be accountable.

In order to accommodate my travel, I’ve booked everything into Tuesday , Wednesday and Thursday, which has made for impossibly busy days.  Those days suck.  They’re tiring, I don’t look forward to them, and I am drained by the end of them.  It’s not the game that I’m up to playing.  It’s not why I went into this business.

Up until this point, I’ve been stuck, because there was no other option.  I travel on Monday and Friday, and I don’t want to work in the evenings, so what else was I to do?  I was doomed to have three days a week that were exhausting and no fun.

Whoa is me!

These past two weeks, instead of remaining a victim, I’ve been experimenting.  What if I only ever schedule my travel in the afternoon on Mondays?  If I did that, it would open up two slots every Friday (of course, it might mean that this writing doesn’t get updated until Sunday, but you’ll live with that, right?).

Sure, I get in to town later, and that might mean I’ll have less time to get settled in the evenings, but maybe that would be a reasonable trade-off for some extra space in the middle of the week.

What if, instead of dogmatically insisting that I don’t want to work in the evenings (and then end up spending those evenings vegetating because of the day I’ve had), I release my grip a little bit and allowed a coaching appointment that went from 6 to 7PM?  Sure, it will cut down on some of the things I could do during the week, but it would also open up an hour-long break in the middle of my day when I can go to the gym, play video games, relax, read, or do anything else.

It’s kind of funny, because whenever someone wants to step into the next big thing in their lives, they typically focus on what they would have to give up in order to do so.  As a coach, what I see is that they are already limiting what they want to create in their lives.  Who says you have to give those things up?  Why not play the game where you get what is next for you and get to keep the things you already value?

Up to this point, I’ve been resistant to taking on any of these things, because I’ve held on to my story that it wasn’t possible.  It was impossible for me to work in the evening, because I wouldn’t enjoy it, I didn’t want to, and it would wreck my precious evenings.  But maybe my evenings will actually be more precious when my days are a little more spacious.

Maybe some of this will work and I’ll have a new perspective.  Or, maybe it will be a disaster.  Maybe I’ll hate working my evenings and it really does end up meaning that I miss out on too much stuff.  Either way, it’s positive, because I’m trying something new.

Sometimes, you just have to throw stuff against the wall and see what sticks.

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The 52-week guide to becoming an entrepreneur – Week 12

August 30th, 2013 No comments

IMG_2576This is the twelfth post in my epic journey of going from lawyer to entrepreneur.  You can read the previous entry here, and next week’s entry here.

This week has had a few cancellations in my schedule, and let me tell you, that bonus spare time has been A-MAZE-ING.  The lesson this week is all about creating spaciousness.

When I have spaciousness, in my schedule, in my social life, in my spare time – then I’ve got spontaneity, freedom and, mostly importantly, creativity.

First, I’ve currently created my schedule so that I work Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.  That’s not too bad – having Monday and Friday wide open is one way to create space.  But, there’s not a lot of spaciousness on those three days.

What I notice is that by the end of those days, I am draaaaaaawn out.  There’s not a lot of me left.  Up until this point, I’ve been staunchly opposed to working evenings.  I don’t want to work them.  But, now that I’m exploring outside of what is predictable, maybe I’ll find myself a little more nourished and sourced if I include breaks inside my days.

People want to help me and provide a lot of support, which is great.  And, like every entrepreneur probably experiences, I have a desire to work through the problem on my own.  I notice my resistance to people suggesting resources and places I could look, even after all of the work I’ve done with my own coach and on myself as part of my training.  Our survival mechanisms are insidious things…

My job, as a coach and someone that is growing and pushing outside of my comfort zone, is to open up and allow that support.  It’s another way to create spaciousness.  What if I didn’t have to figure out everything on my own?  I know, I know – if you’re an entrepreneur and you just read that, you probably want to tear my “Entrepreneur 4 Life” badge off my shirt, throw it on the ground and stomp on it.

But here’s the thing I’ve learned these last three months: the key to being an entrepreneur is not doing it all on your own; it’s asking for, receiving and allowing support.  Doing it on your own is a bankrupt idea.  It’s the tainted version of the american dream that people buy in to because it seems courageous and allows them to operate without delving outside of their comfort zone.  There is something infinitely more powerful when someone is actually willing to get outside of their own ego and humbly ask for support.

Stoic statues make great monuments, but we don’t identify with them.  We identify with humans.  Fallible humans, working to overcome our limitations and create something outside of what is predictable.

So… what was I talking about?

Oh yah.  Spaciousness.

How does that look for me?  I don’t know yet exactly – and I have a feeling it will stay that way until I allow the support being offered.

 

The 52-week guide to becoming an entrepreneur – Week 4

July 5th, 2013 No comments

IMG_2436 - Version 2This is the fourth post in my epic journey of going from lawyer to entrepreneur.  You can read the previous entry here, and next week’s entry here.

This week’s lesson was that it is way more fun to focus on giving rather than getting.

A huge part of my business is that it expands on the basis of referrals.  There’s no substitute for word of mouth.  I could put up advertising, but people that find their way to working with coaches rarely do so through billboards or ads in the phonebook.  They ask their friends, they ask their co-workers, and they get recommendations.

I can ask people for those, and I do, because it’s important to share who we are, what we do, and what support people can provide us.  But at the end of the day, asking people for something is way less fun than just providing them with a service.

When I shift my focus to being of service, it makes everything else lighter and easier.  It’s hard to ask for things.  That doesn’t means that we shouldn’t – but I can acknowledge the fact that it’s not my favourite thing to do.

Giving a service to someone is a gift.  It’s fun giving gifts.  They don’t have to accept it, but it feels good either way.  I also don’t have to be attached to someone accepting or rejecting a gift.  Sure, I’m surprised when someone isn’t interested, but that’s all it needs to be.

The challenge I face is the story playing on repeat in my head.  It goes something like this:

  • “You didn’t do enough today.  You should have done more.”
  • “Who cares if you coached five people today and wrote a blog post?  Your inbox isn’t empty.  You should have that empty before you end your day.”
  • “Why are you taking a break to play video games?  You should be working more.”

In some ways, my boss is an epic dick.

As you can imagine, the real challenge for me is accepting that that is just a story.  I’m doing more than enough, but you can see how that story would conflict with focusing on giving instead of getting.

Being of service means giving to people without any expectation of return.  It means providing a service to people with the understanding that that alone will build my brand, reputation, and credibility.  For someone like me that is so results driven, there is a direct conflict with the fact that you do not receive anything immediate when you give to people.

And so that’s what I’ve been grappling with this week.  Getting really comfortable with that story. Realizing that it’s been the thing that has gotten me to where I am, and allowed me to do things like graduate from law school and coach training at the same time, and build a coaching practice while working as a lawyer.

That way of being has helped me do a lot.  It’s just starting to get in the way of what’s next, because if I let that voice take over, my job stops being fun, there’s no longer room for mid-day bocce games, and I start to dump my own performance pressure onto everyone around me.

No one wins that game.

 

The 52-week guide to becoming an entrepreneur – Week 3

June 28th, 2013 No comments

IMG_2394 - Version 2This is the third post in my epic journey of going from lawyer to entrepreneur.  You can read the previous entry here, and next week’s entry here.

This week’s lessons were that I am precious, as is my time, and support is abundant, provided I ask for it.

Two weeks ago, I spoke with my friend Lisa Peake.  She has been a mentor and an encouraging ear ever since I first reached out to her after seeing her post something about coaching on Skype.

Having just started my transition (or finished, if you like), Lisa gave me a piece of advice: “You’ll probably look at your schedule and think to yourself ‘How can I book my time?’.  Don’t.  Instead, relate to it as precious.  Where and to whom do you want to give your precious time?”.

This is great advice.  I promptly ignored it.  This is probably familiar right?  You give great advice to your friends all the time, and if only they would follow it, the bulk of their problems would be solved.

I reached out to everyone.  Made coffee dates all over the place.  Asked people if they wanted some free coaching (many people said no – I find this astonishing).

By the end of my third week, my schedule was packed, and I had days that started at 8:30AM and ended at 8:30PM.

How did this happen?  I thought that I had decided to focus on one thing specifically so that I could create the life I wanted – not work even more hours than previous.

It happened because I have not been holding my time as precious.  What I notice is that I’ve been relating to my time as though it will become precious once I’ve done enough.  “Time can be precious when I don’t have to build my business.”  If we go even deeper, I just distinguished with a colleague that I’m not holding myself as precious.  Like I can take it all on myself, and then save myself once the world is handled.

It’s insidious, this stuff.  Working with my coach, I set aside two hour blocks of time every day that were dedicated “free time”.  Nothing is to be scheduled during those blocks.  I can spend them doing work, if I choose, but the point is that there is some spontaneity and freedom built into my day.

I also realized that planning more than four “hard” appointments in my calendar would probably be too much, so I committed to booking a maximum of four appointments (coaching or otherwise) in a given day.

I immediately broke this commitment.  Why?  I know why it is important.  Why would I break that commitment so quickly?

Because I’m holding on to that same old fear.  I’m scared that I’m not doing enough and that I will fail as a result.

Guys.  Let me say it again.  It’s insidious, this stuff.  That’s how slippery it is.  This is the nature of our resistance.  This is why a coach needs a coach, just as much as anyone else.

On the flip side, I’ve experienced the inspiration and joy that connecting with other people brings me.  This morning I had an inspiring call with Robby Slaughter, a coach in Austin, Texas today, simply connecting with him and discussing our work.  Until this morning, we knew each other only from one blog post.  I linked to him, he wrote back to me, and we connected via phone.  I have consistently been present to how gracious and generous people are with their time, when you simply reach out and ask for it.  Connecting with people like Robby and Lisa makes a world of difference.  It means that I don’t have to win alone.

So, again, this week’s lessons are that I am precious, and if I actually want to create the life I truly want, I must start relating to myself that way.  Second, there is an abundance of support available, and all that I need to do is ask for and allow it.  Connect with people, and trust myself as a gift.

Want to play?  I really want to create an impact with my writing.  You can support that by following this blog and our Evergrowth Blog, and sharing it with people.  Retweet my posts, share them on Google+ and Facebook, e-mail posts to people, and tell people about what I’m up to.  Even if you only do it once, you have helped me on my journey.

(But if you do it twice, you’ve helped me twice as much as that jerk that only did it once).

The 52-week guide to becoming an entrepreneur – Week 2

June 21st, 2013 2 comments

IMG_2367 - Version 2This is the second post in my epic journey of going from lawyer to entrepreneur.  You can read the previous entry here, and next week’s entry here.

The big lesson for this week has been to slow down in order to make more time.  This is not new or exciting advice (but that’s fine, because you’re coming for the photos of my shoes, socks and pants right?).  But it is good advice.

On Wednesday I found myself in a lull.  You know those kinds of days – they’re the ones where you don’t really want to do very much.  You want to play around or do something mindless.  Maybe you want to spend the whole day on YouTube, Facebook, etc.

I had three coaching sessions booked for that day, a session with my own coach, and had planned out a bunch of other stuff to do.  And when I sat down, you know what happened?  I didn’t want to do sweet fuck-all.

Two of my sessions cancelled, so my day had a lot less hard items in it (an item that has a scheduled time, as opposed to something to do that can be fit in anywhere), but no less soft items.

I got my exercise in for the day and then sat down.  I knew that I “should” go and do some business development, but I didn’t want to.  And I couldn’t make myself.

The surprising thing wasn’t that I didn’t want to do things – it was that I didn’t want to do them and I couldn’t make myself.  I had brought with me an assumption that, once working for myself, I would be one-hundred percent engaged one-hundred percent of the time.

But that wasn’t the case.  I was shocked; and until I could be with this, I was going to damn well beat myself up for the fact that I didn’t want to work.  Beating myself up, surprisingly, didn’t help either.  I just sat there playing video games getting annoyed with myself.

The lesson in this is that I am not a robot, and neither are you.  In the past, I have worked with people that want to optimize their organization so as to be more efficient, but once we really start digging, it turns out that what lies underneath all of that is an inability to trust the way we are.

I couldn’t trust that I would continue to work on my business if I really just went along with my current desire to relax.  Here’s the punchline: I actually want a life where it’s okay for me to spend a few hours during the day playing video games – and I’m actively fighting that.  Kind of self-defeating right?

Instead of becoming more efficient, or creating more structure to “keep me in line”, the real work to do for me, is to actually allow myself to be with everything that is showing up.  If I’m feeling lethargic and low on energy, go with it!  Ride the wave.

The more we resist something, the more it gets held in place.  And so of course, the longer I sat there playing video games frustrated with myself, the more I wanted to just frigging relax.  Since I wasn’t allowing myself to relax, that urge wasn’t going away.

Sometimes, you just need to take a break.  Sometimes, that happens right in the middle of your work day. When I was working for other people, there were structures in place to ensure that I took those breaks: they would come up to my desk with an ice cold beer and say “Here, drink this” (yes, I would actively resist that too, to an extent).

Now?  Now there’s no one other than myself to tell me “It’s okay to take a break and not work very hard right now – you need it”.

By actually slowing down and getting off the “doing train”, I would really create more time.  By allowing myself the space to relax, I would stop actively resisting what I really needed, and the natural cycle could flow through me much faster and more efficiently.  Slowing down really will create more time.

So that’s this week’s lesson – again, going back to the foundation of doing vs. being.  It’s not at all about what I’m doing.  It’s about how I’m being as I do it.  You can grind yourself to dust trying to work as hard as possible so as to create the millions of dollars and success that will allow you to relax, but it’s an illusion.  Until you change that way of being, you won’t experience the peace, tranquility and relaxation that you really want.  The only way to create that is to do it right here, right now.

About support…

April 8th, 2013 No comments

So here’s the thing.  I learned pretty early on that support sucks.

On my soccer team, I was our sweeper.  I was good at it, because I was really fast, and I could deal with almost anyone that came into my zone.  The sweeper’s role is to act as the last defendant before the goalie.  Because the goalie has such a large area of net to cover, the sweeper really needs to take away any ability of the opposing forward to get within range to score a goal.

I took all of that and made it into an incredible amount of pressure.  Because the goalie had such a massive area to defend, it was really on me to stop the opposing team.  And if I didn’t, and the opposing team scored, it was really symbolic of a failure on my part.

The concept of team eventually grew to mean added pressure, without any benefit.  It wasn’t like the forwards or the mid-fielders were there to stop people once they’d reached me.  It was me against the world.

And, because of how I’d created it, it wasn’t like the goalie was really allowed to share in my loss either.  He didn’t stop the goal, but how could he – he had such a huge net to deal with.

I had two other defenders on my team as well, but they weren’t the sweeper.  Sure, they could hamper the other team, but they didn’t really have the responsibility that I did.  They weren’t sweeping!  That was my job.  My duty.

No.  Any failure for the team in the form of a goal being scored against us represented a failure of myself.

This was the point when I created team as burden.

At home, we had chores.

After dinner, my brother and I either had to do dishes, or clear the table.  Obviously clearing the table was the better job, because it was faster, and you were done before the guy that got stuck doing dishes.

Although after-dinner chores were miles better than having to bring in firewood (you either had to wear uncomfortable gloves or risk getting painful splinters), they still sucked.  In general, they were something to deal with and put behind you as soon as possible.

Now and then, I would feel charitable and want to make my parents really impressed with who I was.  I would volunteer to help out with the dishes, even though it wasn’t my job.  You may not be able to appreciate the magnanimity of this action, but suffice to say that it was only one peg below the sum total of Robin Hood’s life.  I was being generous.

The shitty thing was that instead of being thankful, I had the flaws in my dishwashing technique pointed out.

Back came the dishes.

“Hey, it’s great that you’re helping, but you still need to do a good job”.

And, although there was what appeared to be gratitude and thanks in that statement, it was irrelevant, because it was magically erased by the power of the word “but” (the only word that can make people forget things better than “sorry”).

That was when I created supporting other people to mean that you could expect a lack of gratitude and more work than you signed up for.

Getting supported on things like homework really just meant more work too.  I knew that if I asked for help with my homework, it would really mean having to do my work differently than I wanted to, or that I would have to do it “better”.  It was simpler just to do it myself.

Did you ever have to do group projects at school?

I did too.  They inevitably meant that I was the one that cared the most about our grades, and that if I didn’t bust my ass, I would be the one losing out (since no one else seemed to care).

So it was here that I created asking or being supported simply meant that I would be no better off and would likely have to do more work to support the people that were supposed to be supporting me.

Here’s the deal:

This is no longer supporting me.

In fact, it is completely bankrupt.

I am taking on things in my life that are far beyond what I have taken on before.  I cannot make good on the commitments that I am up to without support.  I can go on believing my old stories about support, and in fact, if I want to, it won’t be hard for me to find evidence that proves that I’m correct.

I won’t need to look hard to find proof that in asking for support, I’m actually creating more work for myself.  I’ve honed my vision to see exactly that.  It’s predictable and it’s what I’ve been seeking evidence for ever since I first got helped with my homework.

I don’t want to do that anymore.  I want to create something new.

Last month, I posted a link to these Fluevog shoes on Facebook, and I asked for support in helping me get them.

composite

All I needed was to have two people observing our group of participants at Accomplishment Coaching.  It’s kind of weird, because this is a huge opportunity to see some people really working through some serious stuff.  It’s pretty inspiring.

And while I got some positive feedback, and a few likes on Facebook, I didn’t actually get a lot of support beyond that.

And it’s okay, because it’s okay that support doesn’t show up the way I want it to.

But now I’m asking for more support.  I’m asking that you actually share my link, and that you make a little more effort than simply clicking that “like” button.

I’m not asking for money – just that you think of someone you know that might be interested, and pass this along to them.

Here’s what I’m playing for this time:

  1. an entirely new way of looking at support;
  2. being and providing support for the growth of my wife and her team;
  3. a huge breakthrough for me around being supported;
  4. getting supported in a career that is way outside what is comfortable for me; and, most importantly
  5. these shoes, which are much better than the crappy black ones that I didn’t get because I didn’t meet my goal:

IMG_2214

 

So, my request is simple:

  • check in and see if you know anyone living in Seattle, and put them in touch with me via e-mail;
  • if you’ve been considering heading down to Seattle (these beautiful shoes were purchased there at Nordstrom Rack on the cheap), let me know and maybe we can coordinate; and
  • pass this post along to anyone you know that is either struggling with some of their own stuff, interested in creating a change in their life, or have mentioned coaching as a career at some point.

Asking for support this way is embarrassing for me.  I create stories that it means I’m inferior, or not good enough to the task.  I create stories that it’s going to be more trouble than it’s worth, and that people will judge me for it.  I have interpretations that you will think that it’s pathetic that I’ve chosen a career path that actually embraces asking for support, instead of taking it all on myself.

And that’s fine too.  It’s okay that I have these stories.

I’m just up to something bigger.  I promise that every time you see me wearing these shoes, you will smile knowing that you were part of the team that created them.

Overwhelm Cycle

July 14th, 2012 1 comment

For display today is my overwhelm cycle.  This is the cycle through which I generally move when I’m working on something.  The purpose of posting and gaining awareness of a cycle like this is that it enables us to become more aware of where we’re at, and to choose points to break out of our default.

No judgment here, no right or wrong – it’s simply another thing to be with.

A toast…

March 26th, 2012 No comments

A toast to the graduating class of UVic Law, 2012.  It’s hard to believe that it’s been three years since I returned to school.  Hard to believe that only two years ago I was overwhelmed with the amount of reading that I needed to do to stay on top of everything.  What a contrast that makes with this year, having bought zero textbooks and done very little reading, I am imbued with the confidence that I will still do well on my finals.  What a difference time can make.

The end is bittersweet.  I have made friendships these three years that will last a lifetime (and I will declare right here that I am committed to ensuring that they do).  These three years have been trying, but the hottest fire forges the strongest steel, and that is analogous to the kind of relationships you develop throughout education like this.  Sadly, and perhaps beautifully, all things must come to an end.  That is part of growth.  If things don’t end, it impacts our ability to move forward.

Our graduation formal was this past weekend, at the Union Club in Victoria.  In the month leading up to the event, our graduating class nominated and then voted on a faculty member and two students to represent our class by speaking.  When I was told by a good friend that she had nominated me I was touched.  Then a few more people told me the same thing.  I went from being touched to a little nervous.  What if these people actually voted for me?  I waffled between really wanting to speak, and being nervous about what I would say, and how I would prepare my speech. What do you say to such an inspiring group of people?

Then, a week or so ago, my friend Darcy and I found out that we had been voted to speak.  I was (and still am) deeply humbled and honoured.  What an incredible privilege!  How the hell would I live up to it?!  I knew that the answer to that question was to simply speak from the heart.

The themes I wanted to speak to were: connection, inspiration, opportunity and acceptance.  Beyond that, I had a loose quote that I knew I wanted to incorporate, and went from there.  I wrote the speech in a few hours in the morning before going to class. Once written, I didn’t do too much editing.  A little cursory stuff here and there, but for the most part, the words rang true when I sat down to write them, and they didn’t require too much tweaking.

Before I share what I spoke with you, I would like to thank every member of my cohort for doing me this incredible honour.  It is touching and inspiring to have been able to meet and work with such a humbling group of people.  In selecting me, my graduating class taught me more about myself and my perceptions than I could have imagined.  Did you know that for most of my life I’ve walked around assuming that most people like me in a superficial manner, but don’t care to get to know me on a deeper level?  Moments like these act as a beacon shining on the darker recesses of our ego.

So thank you.  Thank you for helping me check those assumptions.  Thank you for challenging me.  Thank you for creating a space for acceptance, growth and vulnerability.

Without further ado, here is what I spoke this past weekend:

To UVic Law’s 2012 Graduating Class

 

We each started this journey for different reasons.  Some of us want to change the world.  Some of us want to get rich.  Some of us just want a job.  During these three short years, those expectations have been tested.  Poked at.  Prodded.  Challenged.  The way that we thought things would work out may not have turned out to be true.  Our own ambitions and desires may have changed.  Maybe through disillusionment, maybe through new opportunities, but always because of new insight.

If there is one thing that law school has made abundantly clear, it’s that life does not turn out the way it should.

Some people ask, “Where is the proof that life will not turn out the way that it ‘should’?. The proof exists in our lives to date.  If you died at this moment, how would you feel about your life?  There is no doubt about the outcome.  You would be satisfied in some ways and dissatisfied in others.  There would still be one piece missing.  What if you had died ten years ago?  The particulars might change, but there would still be no doubt about the outcome.  You would still be able to distinguish areas that were satisfactory and others that were not.

Now look ahead, ten, twenty, or fifty years from now – to the end of your life.  There is still no doubt about the outcome.  You would still be satisfied in some ways and dissatisfied in others.  When you consider the enormity of what it means to “make life work out the way it ‘should,’ ” can you plausibly argue that you would be any closer in the future than you have been in the past?  Life does not work out the way it ‘should’ work out, nor does it turn out the way it ‘shouldn’t’.  It works out the way it does work out.  And this will remain true at the moment of our deaths, just as it remains true during all other moments.  Life turns out the way it does.

I’m telling you this not to depress and rain on the rest of our lives, but rather to encourage all of us to embrace the embarrassment of riches that life provides us with.  There is no gift that we can give ourselves greater than that of perspective.  What may initially appear to be a failure, can be seen in new light as an opportunity.  The universe is abundant, and so too are the opportunities and choices that we are provided with each day in our lives.  Every missed deadline, an opportunity to see where we can improve our own processes.  Every week of stress, an opportunity to see whether or not we are pursuing what really matters.  Every breakdown an opportunity to have a breakthrough.  Every goodbye, an opportunity to reflect on what we’ve gained in knowing each other.

Life is beautiful.  Beautiful and elegant because of its fragility.  How tenuous and tempestuous the moments it creates are.  It is not on us to control the universe, only to be maximally authentic, to be our very best selves, in the face of whatever it has in store for us.  To ask from those around us what we want, and to commit to achieving that.

On that note, I invite all of us to reflect on how we wish to remember these past three years.  A lot of hoops to jump through?  Yup, definitely.  Tedious at times?  No doubt.  But also, an opportunity to connect, and create new friendships.  The opportunity to challenge the way we think, and to better ourselves by broadening our perspectives.

Part of what makes life beautiful is that it ends.  And so too, do these three years we have shared together.  Is there any logic, any rationale as to why this particular group of people have come together to graduate at this time?  There is not.  We are simply here, because that is how life has turned out.  It is on each of us to make of this moment, and these three years, whatever we wish.  It can be something we look back on as tedious and tiresome, or a beautiful gift, created by the universe without reason, and with the only obligation being that we allow ourselves to see it as the opportunity it has been.

So go forward from this moment, committed to embrace the opportunities that you are presented with.  Committed not to expect from life that it works out as it should, but that it will work out as it does.  Committed to live our lives, and be who we are, regardless of what the universe presents to us.

The Transformation – Part 2 of 12 (February)

February 11th, 2012 No comments

Alright.  This post is part 2 of 12 in my series about the current set of training that I am undergoing in my career as a life and career coach.  If you want to get caught up, part 1 is available here.

I went over to Vancouver on Friday night, at the end of the school week.  I’d just finished up a phone interview with GenoLogics in which it seemed they were looking for someone more technical than my skillset currently provided for.  Not a particularly empowering experience.  But that was okay, because I was excited about this weekend’s training.

I packed my stuff, kissed Bay goodbye, and headed out to the ferry.  I finished up part 1 of this series on the ferry ride over, drove in to town, and walked up to Quizno’s to get dinner.  I ended the night chatting with some friends and then got to bed.  Getting up at 4:30AM means getting to bed early too.

Then I hit a snag…

Omens

I woke up at 4:30, tired, but excited about the coming two days.  In fact, I was practically buzzing with energy – my passion was sitting close to the surface.  I walked out of the bedroom and marched with authority to the shower.  My thoughts went like this:

“Man, I am so excited.  Let’s plan the morning out.  Eat breakfast, get in the car, drive with good music down the quiet roads to the border…”

“F*CK!!” (sorry if the language is offensive.  It’s authentic to how I felt)

I had forgotten my passport.

I HAD FORGOTTEN MY PASSPORT!

I had forgotten my passport..

What would you do in a situation like this?  Here’s what I did.

At first I checked to make sure this was the case.  I already knew it was.  I could remember exactly the process I used to pack.  I had absolutely neglected to put my passport in my bag (it hadn’t even occurred to me).

Okay, first things first – I still had to shower, no matter what.  As I got ready to do that, I gave myself five minutes to be angry, sad, furious, whatever with myself.  Beat myself up if I wanted, regret that I was going to miss some of my training, whatever.

Then I committed to shifting.  This was what was.  To speak in more abstract terms, this is what the universe has presented me with.  What was I going to do with it?

When something happens, it happens.  There’s nothing we can do to change it, only to be fluid in the moment.  We can’t control the universe, only be present to what we’re given.  So how was I going to be fluid?

As I dressed for the day, I went through my options in my head:

  1. Catch the ferry back, drive home, get my passport, drive back, catch the ferry, drive down to Seattle.  Arrive at around 4PM.
  2. Catch the ferry back, get Bay to meet me at the Clipper, and potentially catch it down to Seattle.  Get a hotel room for another night.  Possibly not even an option.
  3. Catch the ferry back, get Bay to meet me at the floatplane terminal, and catch a floatplane down to Seattle.  Get a hotel room for another night.  Arrive at around 11:30AM.

Option #1 was simply far too late.  Option #2 was not an actual option as the Clipper sucks to catch from Victoria (awkward hours).  That left option #3.

At this point, I had two choices: Be disempowered by the decision, or empowered.  Was I going to be a victim, at effect with what had happened, or would I be a leader, at cause to what had happened?

I chose to lead.  I looked at the positives.  I had ridden the floatplanes before – they were beautiful.  I’d be able to take some really great pictures (which I did).  And it would give me a chance to stay over in Seattle another night and hang out with my team for longer.  And at least I wasn’t spending four hours driving.

So, with my attitude shifted and my perspective framed in the positive, I headed back, met up with Bay and then flew down.  Bay was phenomenally supportive and I’m incredibly grateful for her support.  She met me at the floatplane terminal with my passport after having gotten only 4 hours of sleep.  What a woman!

The rest of the weekend

I arrived and excitedly greeted my team members.  It had been a month since we’d seen each other and it seemed like such a long time.  Going through a transformational process like this, and getting to see people you are working with in such a distinguished light really builds a strong bond.  We hugged, said hi, and then sat down.

I arrived just in time to leave for lunch.  We chose people to go for lunch with, based on who we currently were the least connected with.  The new girl chose me, since I had just arrived.  Fine with me!

At lunch, I felt awkward.  I was having a hard time getting a good conversation going, and when I feel like I can’t connect with someone, I start to babble like an idiot.  It’s not that I’m a bad conversationalist – in fact I’m great.  It’s just that I end up speaking a lot, in order to fill the silences.  The moments where conversation die down really start to terrify me.

One of the great things I learned this weekend was about my judgments.  More specifically, that they are about me, not the person I’m judging.  We often have a tendency to notice something, and judge the other person.  Everyone is their own person, doing their own thing.  They are responsible for their own actions and thoughts, and we can’t change them.

The judgment is actually an opportunity to learn something about yourself.  Where is that judgment coming from?  Why do you feel that way?  What is it about this person that is triggering you?

I spoke up and noted how I felt at lunch, and requested some coaching on it.  The team took turns working with me, and I was really surprised to find out that what lay underneath all of this was that when people don’t respond to me in a way that generally would indicate they like me (ie, by making conversation with me, laughing with me, holding eye contact, etc.), I start to feel deeply inadequate.

Wow!  This was a big realization, and it all flowed out from the starting point of noting how I felt when someone was really quiet and not connected with me.  (and I was judging her for that too, to be fair).

Judgments often provide us with an opportunity to discover a place where we have either over- or under-learned something.  If I judge someone for checking out a girl, that might be an indication that I’ve overlearned being polite.  Sure, it’s great to be respectful of people around you, but at some point, you need to engage with people.  There’s a difference between being lecherous and noticing someone attractive.

I judge people that are poorly put together and look like they don’t put effort into their appearance.  But what does that say about me?  Probably that I am overly concerned with appearance, and that I could learn a little bit about relaxing from this person.

When you first read this, you may be tempted to shout (mentally) “But it’s not about me, it’s about them!”  With time (less so, if you engage in coaching), we got to the bottom of it.  Take note and be present to the fact that you are the one being triggered.  That other person is simply being who they are.  The judgment comes from within you.  You are the one responsible for it.  Don’t offload that responsibility onto someone else.

Breakthroughs, breakdowns and commitment

One of the epiphanies that I had this weekend was related to the relationship between breakthroughs, breakdowns and commitment.

Breakthroughs are what we all want.  They’re the exciting (and scary) part of growth.  They’re the point where we experience our epiphany and move beyond the existing structures that we have in place to something new.  It feels great when you have that breakthrough moment.  You know that things will be different going forward.  Of course, you’ll eventually normalize this new place, and will then begin seeking the next breakthrough, but that’s okay – that’s what this game is all about.

Breakdowns must proceed breakthroughs.  You can’t have a breakthrough without one.  In order to achieve  new areas of growth, we need to push beyond where we are comfortable.  Doing so will naturally trigger our self-defences, and will require a moment of having them break down around us before we can fully immerse ourselves in that area of unknown and experience our growth.

Where does commitment fit into this?  Well, you can’t have a breakdown without having commitment.  If you are not committed to the change you are seeking, it will become easy to turn back when you are faced with a moment of breakdown.  Breakdowns are scary – they require you to remain outside of your comfort zone and just be.  To sit with that feeling of discomfort.  Without a commitment to back this up, we will naturally retreat back to what we know.

Here is one of the great powers of working with a coach.  Not only are you working on your stuff, and creating breakdowns and subsequent breakthroughs with great velocity, but you also have accountability and commitment built in to the process.  Coaching isn’t cheap, nor should it be.  It’s an investment in ourselves.  The price is a good thing, given the kind of work that we’re doing.  When you’re getting something for free, your commitment to its success is not going to be significant (if present at all).  When you are paying a decent amount of money to create the change you want, you’re going to be invested in and committed to it.

Further, you’re supported throughout that breakdown.  A coach stands for you, even when you are unable to stand yourself.  Your coach is there to hold the place for you that you have affirmed you are striving for.

Powerful change is challenging.  Most of us assume that we will simply be able to push through whatever barriers stand in our way when we want something enough.  In actuality, the kind of changes that we’re talking about are deep and fundamental, and get into the sticky areas where our context and self-defence mechanisms get in our own way.

The stuff that gets in the way of our growth and development at these points is the same stuff that always gets in our way (not enough time, not enough money, too many other things I have to do, my partner wouldn’t let me do that, my kids need me, etc.). These reasons genuinely seem real and valid to us, especially when we’re at the verge of major breakthroughs.

A coach’s job is to keep you open to the realm of possibility.  Sure, money is something that needs to be considered, but it doesn’t mean you don’t have options.  How might you make that money available?.  Your spouse won’t be okay with this change?  Why not?  Can you talk to them about it?  What’s really in the way?  You don’t have time to make these changes?  What kind of game are we playing for here?  This is what you’ve identified matters most – what is taking up your time that is more valuable than that?

Commitment becomes easiest to break when we’re on the verge of a breakdown – that’s when our self-defences are running highest.  That’s the point where it becomes easiest to turn away from the breakthrough we are aiming for and retreat back to what is comfortable.

Closing out the weekend

I can feel a shift starting to take place.  The process that I’m going through requires a fairly substantial change in my thinking.  Coming from a place of simply being present to who I am, rather than acting automatically and predictably, is a bit of a departure from what I’m used to.

As a kid I would even go as far as strategizing and planning out my conversations on the phone and in person.  As you can imagine, this didn’t leave a lot of room for simply being present and going with the flow.  Switching from this approach to one that is based around simply putting myself into the world, openly and authentically..  Well, it’s taking time and effort.

But as I said, I can feel a shift.  I’m starting to get this, and things are starting to click for me.  Little by little, and with the support of my coach, I’m beginning to step into my own role in this existence, and I’m alive with the possibility!

Interested?

That’s all for now, but I will certainly continue on with this series as the months go forward.

I am looking for clients.  Specifically I’m looking to work with brilliant polymaths aged mid-20s to late-30s.  That is to say, people that are successful in a variety of areas, and recognize that they can shine brightly.  These people are wondering “I’ve achieved success… why is it so boring?  Isn’t there something more?”, “I know I’m capable of brilliance – why haven’t I taken off yet?” or maybe even where all of their time has gone.

If this sounds like you, or you know someone that might be interested in talking with me, please let me know.  I want to work with you and your friends!

Thank you for your continued support and reading.  I have definitely embarked on a challenging and unique journey, and I can’t be successful without your help.  Take care of yourself and stay tuned!

The Transformation – Part 1 of 12 (January)

February 3rd, 2012 No comments

This post is a month overdue.  As part of my career choice, I have started a one year long coach training program in Seattle through a group called Accomplishment Coaching.  As part of my ongoing attempt to connect and share, it only dawned on me tonight that this would be a great thing to blog about.

I’m currently on the ferry over to Vancouver, preparing to drive down to Seattle tomorrow morning to attend the second weekend of training.  I’ll blog about that process on my way home.  Tonight I’ll be writing about last month’s session, and how it went.

The Background

I’ll start by setting the context.  Almost a year ago now, I began taking on clients and attended some training through Erickson Coaching Federation.  Although I was not able, at the time, to attend the entire course, I drew a good deal from the intensive four days of training, and it set me on the ground and provided me with a lot of tools to use in my practice.

However, as I’ve grown as a coach and worked with a larger and more diverse group of clients, I’ve noticed situations where a critical moment or breakthrough was close for the client, but I did not have the tools and approaches to guide them through that (this is a big part of what you are hiring me to do – guide and empower you to achieve your critical breakthroughs with grace and efficiency).

It became clear to me that I was ready for more training, and I was eager to start as soon as possible.  Initially I planned to return to Erickson and complete my training there.  However, in the meantime, I needed to do something.  I began networking and met with a coach, Halle, here in Victoria.  She had attended training through Accomplishment Coaching, and it immediately became clear in our first conversation that she had access to insight that I wanted (and wanted to be able to provide to my clients).

Halle didn’t just talk about how to clear up exactly what the client wanted, but also described understanding what lay beneath that, and the process of shifting people’s assumptions and foundations – their context.  Sure, completing that project at work that’s been sitting on your desk for a year feels great, but what if what you actually want, but have not yet been clear on (or able to admit), is to shift to a whole new position (or career even)?

Changing the underlying context creates powerful shifts in people that are lasting and deeply meaningful.  Even though I didn’t understand the process or approach, I knew as soon as I heard it described that this was the kind of coach I wanted to be for my clients.  Someone who can generate powerful change and empower them to thrive.

The lead-up

The decision to attend Accomplishment Coaching was challenging for both Bay and I.  I understood what I wanted to do, but we needed to figure out a way to make it work financially, and within the set of stuff that we each had on our plates.  Going to Seattle is a lot more complicated than simply taking a ferry over to Vancouver!

After much planning and deliberation, we concluded that we could make it work, and committed to the decision.  Halle also played a large role in supporting me reaching this decision without pushing me into it.

With the decision made and committed to, it was simply a matter of waiting until I headed down.

Saturday

I got up at 4:30AM (!) and drove down to Seattle from Vancouver.  That is ludicrously early, but once you’ve committed to it, it’s quite a nice peaceful drive, and there’s something special about being awake and doing something in both the late hours of the night and the early hours of the morning.

When I arrived at our class, I smiled and said hello to all of the people milling about in the lobby.  A consecutive group runs on the same weekend, but began in June, rather than January like us.  I introduced myself to a group and started chatting with them.

I must admit that I was approaching this weekend with some arrogance.  I had already undertaken training, had paying clients, and was actively coaching and doing introductory sessions with anyone that was interested.  I felt like I already knew a lot of what was going to happen.  Put differently, I think I may have lost sight of the reason that I signed up for this program (or at least the significance and impact that this approach to coaching can have).

We went through some basic stuff to start off, and then took turns getting to know each other individually on a fairly fundamental level.  Ultimately the aim was to see someone for who they truly were, without any of themselves getting in the way.  Not only that, but how were we each getting in the way of ourselves?

Does some of this raise your scientific hackles?  It did for me too.  But that’s okay.  I believe in this, and I’m hoping that by reading about my own journey, you will soften and be able to see beyond that automatic reaction.

My turn

At this point, you’re probably wondering the same thing that I was wondering: What was I doing to get in my own way?  I spent a lot of time on growth and improving myself.  What was I doing that was to my own detriment?  What would everyone see in me?

It’s kind of funny: sitting their watching the other volunteers go through this process (often involving plenty of tears), you end up strategizing.  “Well, what if they say this?  Well I’ve already done that, and I think I’m okay with it, so I’m okay”, etc.  Talking with the rest of my team afterwards, we realized we were all doing this.

I put up my hand and got up to go next.  What the heck was it going to be?

The answer?

My inability to expose vulnerability.  Let me say it again in big letters:

My inability to expose vulnerability

 

When you read this, it will just look like I’ve used a larger font.  It may impact on you a little bit better that way, but otherwise, it’s just larger letters.  But when you’re confronted with your own mechanisms, it is astounding how deeply it resonates with you.

First and foremost, because you are generally terrible at identifying and seeing it.  We construct these mechanisms at a very early age.  It’s how we protect our ego from harm, and get through the world.  It’s the means by which we avoid being hurt.  Not physically hurt, but emotionally and spiritually.

Second, because it’s been a part of you for so long, hearing it stated clearly for you resonates on an incredibly deep level.  Of COURSE that’s what I do.  It’s been that way ever since I moved schools and didn’t know anyone.  I saw kids in junior high school exposed and vulnerable, and getting made fun of as a result.  If I was able to lock that out, people couldn’t get at me.  I could be brilliant, creative and funny, but only when I was able to have control over the situation.  If I lost control, it would become possible for vulnerability to be exposed, and then who knows how much I could be hurt.

Once you’re triggered, you kind of just sit there thinking about all of the places where this contraption has been present.

  • Awkward pause in the conversation?  Break eye contact.
  • Walking to the bus and there are two acquaintances I know from school but am not really friends with them?  Adjust walking speed so that I don’t have to talk to them.
  • Want to chat with someone but don’t know them too well?  Talk to them over e-mail or IM
  • Worried about not fitting in?  Wear headphones and be engrossed in whatever I’m doing.  I can even convince myself that I’m not upset no one ever sits beside me at school.

Cleaning up the mess

As an ontological coach, what I am trained to do is see people for who they truly are, in their purest state of being.  No self-defence mechanism firing, no concern about judgment, no fears, no suffering, etc.  What are the set of qualities that you bring to the table when you are able to be yourself, unfettered and unhindered?  And how can we bring that more to the forefront while working on the projects that you identify as being important?

I ended with new resolve to work on myself.  This was a huge moment of awareness and I did not want it to slip away.  I went for a beer with some teammates and we chatted about our own stuff.

One of the great ironies of being exposed to your own stuff is that you look at everyone else and think “Gee, I wish I had that issue, that would be so easy to address”.  Which makes perfect sense, because it’s not yours.  If it was, it would be much harder to deal with.  I suspect many of my teammates thought “Gee, just expose some vulnerability?  The key is just unlocking it from the inside?  That must be nice” – just like I was doing when I heard their contraptions brought forward.

Since then

Since completing this, I’ve been working weekly with my coach to move forward.  I’ve taken some really big steps.  First, let me share my own essence with you, so that you have an understanding of where I’m coming from.  I am:

  • Connection
  • Wit
  • Presence
  • Passion
  • Brilliance

(Sounds pretty cool right?).

As often as possible, I’ve been making an effort to act from this place of being, rather than doing what comes automatically out of my self-defence.  First day going back to school, I walked up to the bus stop and made an effort to smile to everyone I could.  And then I saw two people from second year at the bus stop.  I nodded to them and they nodded back – I had actually met one of them, Ben, before when I volunteered at the Fernwood Legal Aid Clinic, but I don’t think he recognized me.

I felt like, acting from a place of connection, I should be talking to them – connecting with them, dammit!  But those defences were firing strong.  So I didn’t.  Then our bus came, and we got on.  I followed them to the back, sat down beside them, and said “Ben right?”.  From there we just talked.

If this seems small and trivial to you, you probably don’t share the same anxieties and self-defences with me.  For me, this was a major victory, and incredibly empowering.  I was acting from a place of being, rather than doing something automatic (shut them out, put in the headphones, and believe that I was happy to be engaged with myself).

This month has been a consistent thread of events like this one I’ve just described.  It’s challenging, but recognizing that I am connection has been transformative.  I have what I need to not only act in accordance with my essence, but also to handle the potential of being hurt.  And let me tell you, acting in alignment with your essence is pretty damn empowering.

This should set the stage for what will happen over the coming year.  I’m excited to share it with you, and to continue to grow in this manner.  If reading this has inspired you, please, make the effort to connect yourself and get in touch with me or leave a comment.