Mid-Week Live Coaching: Ernest
Everyone gets distracted. In this episode, Adam Quiney is joined by executive coach Ernest Barbaric for a mid-week live coaching session where Ernest talks about himself and his state of being. Adam starts off with a lot of information gathering to piece together Ernest’s coaching request as he learns how to be a client. Adam and Ernest dive into the creation of practices to help Ernest tackle some of his distractions. Tune in and get to know how Ernest steps out of the box entirely and embraces forgiveness.
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Mid-Week Live Coaching: Ernest
Welcome to this episode. We’re doing some live coaching and I am coaching Ernest Barbaric. He is a coach, a former entrepreneur himself, I believe. This is an interesting coaching conversation because in the first part of it, we’re doing a lot of information gathering. It’s not super clear what he wants. We don’t know what the coaching request is. As part of the nature of coaching in a long-term relationship, one of the things that happen is as a client, you learn how to be a client and how to create a coaching request but most of the time, especially when we’re starting in fresh with someone in this format, they don’t have that experience.
We are doing a little more information gathering than we would otherwise. You’ll notice there’s a point where I stop us and say, “It feels like we’re at the thing,” which is the way Ernest is relating to himself and how he spends his time with his daughter. The other thing that is worth noting is that towards the end as we start to create practices, there are two different places we’re creating practices. The first one is a practice of forgiving himself just for how he’s being like letting it be okay. Did he get distracted that he gets something on his phone? He looks at his phone, then what happens because he’s making his time with his daughter so significant, he makes it wrong. That he got distracted and then he’s all wrapped around the axle, trying to right his wrong because of the way he showed up.
However, that practice of forgiveness might give him a bit of spaciousness there. The other thing worth noting is that’s still inside this box, that this context and framework he’s created is wrong to get distracted. By creating forgiveness, he’s still operating a bit inside that box. We also want to make sure that we’re giving him some practices to have him start to step outside of the box entirely. If there was no right or wrong to being distracted, like if that wasn’t even inside of this story about it being right or wrong thing, then there’d be nothing to forgive in the first place.
That’s where we want to support someone getting to, is rather than what’s the best I can do inside of this box I’ve created based on my story about something. Instead, we want to help someone have the freedom of completely changing, transforming their entire relationship to that thing. Ernest was able to hold it, feed, create a new thing like getting distracted is part of life. That’s what happens. Every creature in the world gets distracted, then he wouldn’t even have to forgive himself. There’d be nothing to forgive. You can move through it a lot better, a lot faster, etc. Just notice that as we’re going, notice what shows up for you, and I hope you enjoy this conversation. Ernest, let’s get you on here.
A lot is the short version. It’s been a bit of a turbulent transition in terms of moving provinces with our kid, and all house hunting, and all those different things, but I’m happy to be here and I’m happy that I’m here with you as well.
You guys chose the worst time to do all of what you’re doing.
There have been so many certain different instances that led us to here to literally where we are right now that I have never experienced something like that before so it was the best time.
I could see that too. There’s not a lot to do during COVID, then there’s a lot to do, then there’s also not a lot to do. It’s not like we’re going out to parties and have all these social obligations, so maybe it’s a great time to start looking for houses and stuff like that.
It was an interesting fast transition. In April 2020, we decided to come, and then in July, we’re here. It was the decision and then getting the house ready for sale and lining up all that stuff, and then we’re in a place. It happened very quickly.
Let’s dive in. I’ll probably take some notes as you go. If you see me looking down that’s what for, what are we going to excavate? What are we going to look at?
I was originally in that pre-session questionnaire I filled out that it was in regards to relationships. How I still have my business and the things that I want to build and still also have my relationship with my daughter because she’s not in preschool. She’s with us full-time, and I’m taking most of their parenting duties at this particular point in time. The second thing that came up was not necessarily out of that, but in the days since then, we’re thinking about this idea of transition. The move is a significant part of that, but there is a lot of transition that’s been happening for me in the last 1.5 years. It was pretty intense and some time before that, and so now we’re in the flow.
There’s been a lot of upheaval, it sounds like. A significant transition. Is that where you find yourself?
We’re now in transition. I feel there was this period of time when it was a lot of trying to figure out. The way that I’ve described it to the coach that I was working with was, I felt like the ship that’s in a fog in the middle of an ocean. It has everything you could possibly need but has no idea where to go. It’s tethered somewhere. They could be lost at seahat’s the metaphor that I’ve used a few times, but I feel like a lot of that has been unmoored. There have been a lot of things that we’ve had to let go of to make this move happen, to change the direction of my business. There was a lot of letting go and that those anchors have been let go of, and now we’re moving. We made a transition to here, and now I’m displaced of like, “What do I want to create now? What’s does life look like from this point forward? What does that look like for the next ten years?” I feel like it’s all been building up to this. That’s where I’m at. Where does it go? What are we doing?
It’s almost like everything’s led up to this. Now you have this like, “Now what?”
There’s also the, now what, but there’s also this tension between, I still have to be a parent to my daughter almost full-time, and I have all these wants and needs that I want to build my business. I want to write, I want to interview people, and I’m unable to do all of the things.
I’m clear on where you are, and there’s a lot of things we could look at it, is there something in particular for us to look at like I want to make this happen. I can’t quite figure out how or what would we aim towards in this conversation?
It’s a good question because there’s a lot to untangle. To pull it back, so there is this place of transition, and eventually, my daughter might go back to school, so I’m looking at two-time horizons. For the next month, how do I reconcile being mostly dad? Then the next month after September, how do I then build up this new thing? Where does it feel like it has more energy? More tension is the dad versus businessperson and then this part here is perhaps a little less tense because I have a vision of where I want to go.
What is the tension that you’re describing?
The tension is it’s difficult. Having your kid or kids full-time with you with no school and that stuff, you’re locked in together as a family unit. Especially with COVID, it’s not just there’s no school, but you’re also in COVID, so you’re caged together. It’s difficult. You’re tending to, in our case, a five-year-old that requires your attention almost full-time. At the same time, there’s very little space for me, so that’s been difficult. I react, and then I feel guilty about it. That has been a part, so I recognize that she’s going to go to school, and when she starts going to school, we’ll never have this time again. At the same time, I’m having a tough time letting go of the work because I feel it’s a calling, so that’s the tension.
How do you want it to be? It sounds like we’re talking this next time?
We’ll see what happens with the virus. It might come back. I’m very cognizant of that as well. I would like it to be more flowy. I feel like there’s a lot of pressure that I put on myself for certain things. That’s been a pattern for forever, so I think that maybe to release all of that somehow, or to even make a decision to say that the difficult part is that there are opportunities that come my way. I want to do this. I know that I can’t, so that’s the hard part. It’s right there, but you just can’t get it.
Is it that you want to let go of these opportunities or pursue these opportunities but also honor the work as a dad or is it something different?
I would love to have the capacity to do both. Maybe capacity isn’t the right word, but the ability to do both. That’s the stretch because you’re holding onto these two things, just barely hanging on navigating through life. I still don’t know what things are going to look like. Maybe school will be canceled. I don’t know in which case it’s okay. Then we’re back in this space. It feels like an ability to maybe go after some of these opportunities that I have in front of me would be like, “That fills me up. At the same time, I need to dedicate as a dad.” I said a lot of things. Hopefully, that makes sense.
Let me share what I heard. It sounds like first, you said like, “Who knows what happens in the future?” That’s tough, but even though COVID makes it seem especially pronounced, we never know what’s going to happen in the future. We can be committed to what we’re committed to, and the future will do what the future does and be like, “This is what’s going to happen.” You’re like, “Got it. That’s going on,” but I heard there are opportunities that you’d like to pursue. There’s time with your daughter and then you feel like it sounds you’re back and forth. You are in some tension in between those two things.
It’s like that Van Damme’s thing that he did with the Volvo trucks, the split across two trucks. That’s what it feels like.
What are these opportunities? What’s happening there?
There are opportunities that I’m lining up for in terms of work. It’s to work with leaders and leadership teams, and to write and to interview. There’s a lot of these things that have been pent up and waiting for an opportunity to do them. Realistically is to not have the time to. Those are some of the opportunities that are on the horizon.
Are we talking like writing proposals or what is it that you don’t have time to do?
For example, I have a podcast that I kicked off, so I’d love to get back into that. I loved interviewing people for that. Innovative leaders are who I’m connecting with, supporting them. I have an opportunity to connect with a couple of different innovation networks I want to support that kind of work. That’s what fires me up, and then the writing part of it would be to write the articles. I’ve done a lot of writing, and I haven’t in a while. All of that is just waiting in the wings.
It sounds like you want to be interviewing people. You want to be writing more. Those are the two things I heard there.
Interviewing people, writing more, coaching, working with leadership teams. If I have an opportunity to run to some event, that would be another thing to do, making connections. That activity is held back by the reality of the situation.
What would you say it is that holds you back? I know we’ve talked about your daughter, but that’s nebulous, but what in particular about that is holding you back?
It’s not that she holds me back. It’s the time because realistically, during the day from the time we wake up to the time that we fall asleep, my wife and I are starting to juggle the responsibilities. She has a job that she’s working remotely. I’m playing Mr. Dad for most of the day, which is awesome. I love it at the same time in the back of my mind, there’s this like, “I should be doing this. I should be doing that,” and I can’t, so there’s that. That guilt cuts both ways.
You feel guilty for not pursuing writing, not doing enough in your career, and then also guilty for not doing enough.
For not being fully present, that’s the thing that I dislike about that the most.
I get these as feelings. Readers, we’ve gotten clear on where Ernest is. We’re clear on what he wants to be. That’s becoming a little more clear and we’re working with these three things. Where is he? Where does he want to be? What’s the gap? The thrust of the conversation we’re in is like, “What’s the thing in the way I don’t have enough time and not feeling fully present.” You’ve probably heard me if you’ve ever watched or listened to these before. These four things in different coaching. Where are they? Where do they want to be? What’s the gap? Once we have those three things, we coach to close the gap, and it’s not always linear when we’re pulling those things out.
Sometimes it’ll be clear. Here’s where I am. Here’s where I want to go. Here’s the gap, but often, it’s more like you start to explore the gap, and then you get curious. If that wasn’t there, what would you get? I could have me like, “I got it.” That’s more of where they want to be. As you explore that more, it starts to become a little more clear about exactly what’s in the way. That’s what we’re doing here with Ernest. I get that sense of not being fully present. I’m curious, I don’t know about you, but I know for me, at least as far as feeling like I’ve done enough, that’s an impossible game. Maybe three times every month, I’ve got a day where I did everything, I did good.
For the most part, if you were to ask me based on how I feel about what I created, I’m a pretty driven guy, and I’m going to be like, “I didn’t create enough. There was more I should have done.” If you were to ask, “He write so much, and he’s crazy, and he’s always producing content, and I don’t understand how he does that.” There’s a bit of a disconnect there between my feeling and what I produce and how other people experienced that. What I’m curious about is if we set aside that feeling of not being fully present and the guilt, which I completely get. I’m not saying it’s not there, but I’m curious what is your commitment in terms of what you do or your output or what you create with your daughter? What is it your committed to?
Tell me more about that. I’m not 100% clear.
What part is not clear?
What do you mean by what am I committed to? Are you thinking about what I might be overcommitted to?
Our commitment is like this is what I’m committed to doing regardless of how I feel. For example, every morning, I’m committed to writing for an hour. What are you committed to as far as your daughter’s concerned?
I’m committed to being there when basically for the day. After breakfast, I’m with her until my wife has done her work. That is a commitment that I’m there.
Give me the times. We’re just going to get silly.
8:30 to 3:00, let’s say.
From 8:30 AM to 3:00 PM, you’re committed to being in relationship with your daughter, and then? Please continue.
There’s also a gray area before and after. From 3:30 to 7:00, there’s also this area where I’m still in it but I’m not 100% the only parent. It depends on day-to-day too. That’s what I mean by gray. Sometimes my wife will work until 5:00, and so it’s just a flex.
If we were to keep bringing us back to that lens of what you’re committed to, how would you speak that through this lens? What’s the commitment there?
The commitment that I would like to have is the one that I’m fully present for at that time, from 7:00 to 3:30. We were talking about the gray one.
We’ve got 8:30 to 3:00, which is you’re committed to being with your daughter. You’re there with her. Ideally, you have mind control over yourself. All you are focused on is her and none of the other stuff, hopefully. From 3:30 to 7:00, what’s the commitment?
It’s loose. I don’t have a clear commitment. I have an opportunity to maybe go out for a little bit to do some errands. It’s a little bit more flexible from that perspective. There isn’t a clear commitment.
I’m willing to bet that there is some commitment underneath that. It might not be as hard. It might not be as like from 8:30 to 3:00 or from 3:00 to 7:00. I’m here with 100%. I want to invite you to get clear, what am I committed to in that space?
In that case, in terms of what’s underneath that, what’s the subconscious commitment because there are some times where mom will be like, she’ll come in, and she’s like, “Now you go and do stuff.” Sometimes I’m bolting out of the door or into writing or whatever that is. I also want to be conscious of the fact that we do create space for each other, and so we are making it work, which has been fantastic, and I want to recognize that too. She’s been such an incredible help. Without her, I wouldn’t be here. The commitment from that time, what I have troubles letting go of during that time is also this being with my family. I want to be with them, so now that we’re all together, let’s say I want to be here, and I don’t want to be off doing something else that separately. It wouldn’t be subconscious, but that’s the layer underneath.
Your commitment from 3:30 to 7:00 is to spend time with your family?
I feel like this is our time to be together. Let’s do stuff, and we’ll have dinner and all that stuff.
Be with family. When do you go to bed?
It depends on the day. Sometimes it’s 9:00, and sometimes it’s 10:00.
I’m sure there are many parents reading that are like, “This guy got a one-hour window and that’s nothing.” It’s like 4:00 in the morning. I fall asleep.
It varies by the day and circumstances. Sometimes we’ve had a long day, and I’m done by the time we finished dinner, and she’s sleeping. I don’t have any mental capacity to perform anything. It’s just like, “We’re done.”
It sounds like there’s maybe 2 to 3-hour window from 7:00 PM. Is it when your daughter goes to bed?
There’s a two-hour window. Let’s say.
What do you notice first of all about what you’re committed to?
I’m noticing that it’s the trouble with letting go. For example, I would have the ability to do something for 1 to 3 hours, but I don’t because I want to be with family. Underneath of that, there’s this sense of guilt where if I wasn’t present during the day and I was checking my phone. I was organizing a house hunter or whatever else, or I was trying to reply to client emails, then that I feel like I didn’t serve my purpose during that time. Therefore, from the time my wife comes home and is available to the time she falls asleep, I feel like I have to continue contributing.
There’s a real debt of presence that gets accumulated. What is the story about that? What’s your story about your time with your daughter? I’m hearing that a fair bit.
The way that I see it is that it’s my responsibility as a parent to be with her. I’m also very cognizant of the fact that this specific age, until they go to kindergarten, you have this time, and you’ll never have it again. Once they start going to school, it completely changes the entire makeup of everything. It’s this like loss of that time coming in September that we’ll never get back. That’s a big driver for me in terms of where I put my efforts. Knowing that, being in the moment and I’m like, “I should reply to that email, I should write this out, or I need to check out this house.” When that’s happening, it’s creating these little accumulations of debts of presence. By the time the evening rolls around, “I shouldn’t have done that.” I need to now re-engage in and be more present, be extra present.
It’s like I was on my phone, and I don’t know to what extent your calculation is, but you seem like a guy who’s pretty dialed in on himself. I was on the phone for give or take an hour. Therefore, I need to make up for it this time from here. To hear you describe it sounds that time is scarce, and there’s a duty and you’re going to lose this time. It’s almost like I got this image of the hourglass and watching the sands drip out of it. From that, it sounds like you get significant about it. It’s not just time with your daughter. This time matters. There’s a real significance around it.
There is not a reserve for it. It’s not a year ago when we would have had an extra year. This is it.
Just going to speak to everyone else. It feels at this point, we found the thing to look at. We’ve been talking for probably a half-hour to whatever, and it feels like we’ve gotten down to the nugget that’s at play furnace. I don’t even know that. That’s my sense, so it’s worth noticing so much of coaching when we have to create the breakthrough for them that’s going to change everything and give them. The silver bullet that will change their life forever. Now, it gets in the way of our ability to be in that exploration. There’s this time with your daughter, and it’s significant and scarce like there’s a duty, and it’s not like a duty you begrudge, but it’s still a bit of like, “I got to do this. I got to make the most of this.” What is your experience from that relationship to it?
What is my experience from that relationship from the relationship of duty?
The whole relationship is my time with my daughter during this time is precious, scarce. I’m going to lose it. It’s significant. There’s this real duty to make the most of it. I’m curious. I could imagine that from relating to it that way, you might have a particular experience as a result of that relating to it.
I mentioned guilt earlier. That’s one thing that happens there as a result. The other one is this I’m catching myself being distracted and mostly catching myself like we have to go. We’re in a particular point in time where we’re looking for houses, but we have to do this so we can have a place to live. There’s all of these have-to’s and then trying to hold it all together is the part that’s difficult and stressful. There’s also this level of knowing that I can’t hold physically impossible to hold on to all of those things, but I’m trying to.
You’re doing a great job trying, though. One of the things that I want to acknowledge you for, Ernest, is how much you care as a dad. This is from wanting to be a father and soak in fatherhood and get the most out of these precious moments with your children, your child. I’m just humbled by how much you care from that regard. I first want to acknowledge you for that. Do you get that about yourself? Are you present to that?
To some degree.
I want to reflect that to you. Your guilt probably is telling you, “You’re not doing enough. You’re not a good enough dad. “I’m sure that the world is backing that up too. Plenty of evidence to support that out there somewhere. I’m present to how much you care, and I’m also present to how this story, this relationship to that significance leads to like a lot of guilt. There’s not a lot of room for distraction, and it’s difficult and stressful. What do you think your daughter might be learning from seeing you model this?
I’m trying to visualize what this will look like from her eyes. The part of me that feeds the guilt is, “My dad isn’t present, my dad’s on his phone, but my dad is on his laptop. My dad is writing something.” That is the part that is reality in the back of my mind.
That’s purely the story of the guilt. Look at all the things dad’s not doing and what she’s learning his dad’s not present, but there’s a whole bunch of other stuff you’re doing too.
Camille takes her to the beach. We hiked up Mount Douglas. I want to do all the cool things with her, so she could get to have these amazing experiences. We’ll go swimming. We’ll look for twigs and trees and build stuff and chase each other and play soccer and all those kinds of things. Those are the kinds of memories that I would like her to have of this time. We just moved to this amazing place.
Just see if you can notice, one, how much Ernest cares, especially given as a function of how hard he is on himself. There’s not a lot of room for his humanity at play here. This is very severe. You do these hikes, you do this cool stuff.
We do all this stuff, and these are the kind of memories that I would like her to have of this time. I’m also aware of all the psychology reading, learning, and developing stuff that I’ve done is that those things are nice, but it’s these instances of criticism or harsh if something didn’t work quite right, that will determine their worldview, I’m super cognizant of that as well.
Let me give you a different way to look at it. Imagine that your daughter is getting to hike and swim and do all these things. She’s got a dad who cares a great deal about how he fathers her, regardless of what your guilt might tell you about that. At the same time, who her dad is being about it is about him as dad is guilty, feeling guilty, not much room for distraction, difficult, stressed. By watching how you be with yourself, what do you think she would learn, see, or be taught from that?
On a subconscious level, because she’s probably picking all of that stuff up anyway. It might make her feel the same thing where I guess if I think about it in a deeper level, it might make her feel guilty that she’s the cause of it.
Let me pause you because you’re looking in the right angle, but there’s a slightly different thing. Kids learn from what’s modeled. What do you think is being modeled for her?
I see these two sides. One is we get to do a bunch of cool, fun stuff that I want to do, then at the same time, my dad’s stressed out.
We can do a lot of cool stuff, and it’s going to be quite stressful.
Essentially, if you combine the two.
I’m also present to it’s never enough. Can you see that?
The never enough thing is I was even looking at my schedule. We already did a bunch of stuff before we hopped on the call. Everything is slices of five minutes availability between things. I got my license from BC, and the way that it worked out, I got home in time to hop on the call. It’s very busy.
You’re doing all of this stuff, and it’s never enough. Is there ever a point when you’ve been present enough with your daughter?
If there’ve been moments?
Gauge those moments.
I feel it.
Exactly. It’s a feeling, and you’ve probably noticed like me that your feelings are fucking fickle. It’s just like I get one day a month where I feel like, “I did enough,” but it’s not a reflection of the objective reality of my life or what I create or anything. It’s whatever’s going on in my internal chemistry. The feelings are like the weather. If your daughter was taking this lesson forward into the future, she’s like learning this is how it is to be a father and/or anywhere else for you. What would you want her to be learning in this? What’s the lesson?
It’s the same thing that I would want for me that’s a sense of ease. That’s still an unfamiliar thing to me because everything that I’ve done was it was always a push. It was always, get after things, make it happen, and then next thing. I remembered in 2017, I did a TEDx Talk, and that was the biggest thing I never thought I would be able to do. I remember going into the back room, and I collapsed in my wife’s arms. There was this big moment that happened that it’s now it’s done that I was like, “Now what?” I don’t know what to do next. Later that day, I started a podcast conference. There is that, which is a pattern for me, and what would it be if it was easy? What if there was a sense of ease? I know people that have that software. I don’t have it yet.
First of all, it’s relatable. I got that. The training I got growing up was you better work hard. You better work hard at them. Working hard is important, and then that became when I noticed I was working hard, but still got told you better work hard, I guess I’m not working hard enough. That, over time, as I internalized, it just became, “You’re not enough.” What is there to do when you’re not enough? Work harder, be more, do more. That’s not necessarily your story how you came by, but there’s a familiarity, a similarity to those two things. Let’s check this out first. With your daughter, and when you’re feeling like you’re not enough present, one of the things you then know to do is double down on being present with her?
Yes. That’s one of them. I focus in on her and she might be doing something else. What are you feeling? What’s happening? What are you thinking about? She might be doing something else. If I were to put myself into her shoes, she might’ve been playing with something, and here’s dad.
We could probably find this pattern everywhere. If we were to look or a bunch of places at least, not enough, and then do more of whatever it is you’re not enough of. First of all, I want to acknowledge this isn’t necessarily even a bad thing. You are probably reliable in situations to work hard when that’s what’s called for. To find a way to knuckle down and to get more done, to work harder, to make things happen when other people would be like, “Whatever. It’s good enough.” Would that be fair?
“What are you talking about? There’s no such thing.” What do you think would be required from yourself to have a sense of ease without any of your circumstances changing? What I mean is you’re not doing anything different. You’re not being more present. You’re not checking your phone less. What do you think would be needed in order to have a sense of ease with just how things are?
What I heard from this and the thought that popped into my mind and was physically when I was thinking about the idea. Here’s me as a five-year-old playing and here’s my dad being extra present, wanting to have some validation of the extra presence that, “I now forgive you.” It’s a bit another letting go for me. That’s what I hear, but it is what it is, what happened happened, and by being extra present, that doesn’t help things. Adding that extra intensity doesn’t help things. It just creates more stress. It’s letting go in the moment of everything that happened before. Instead of letting go, I take all of this and flip it into the next moment. It’s that debt being reset in the moment and be okay with that.
What would you need to give yourself or what would you need, or what would support you in letting go in the moment?
How would I practice? That is the question that’s popping for me. How would I be able to do that? That image of literally trying to put myself into my daughter’s shoes or whoever else, my dad, my wife, clients, whatever. It’s my own sense of guilt and that debt that I then create this extra intensity from, and it’s unnecessary. How would I practice that? How would I let go of that debt in the moment? Business or whatever else.
I’m happy to let you go down that path. I want to make sure that because the question I’m asking is maybe half a step before that, which is, are you even clear on what you need? If you’re clear on what you need, to be able to let go of that, it might be great. How do you practice getting that?
It’s almost there but it’s not 100% clear. I’m getting into that mind space, and the thing that’s popping up for me is that I would want permission, validation, forgiveness from the person that I feel like I’ve wronged.
Who do you think that person is?
It could be my daughter, could a client, could be my wife, could be whoever I feel I didn’t bring 100% to. That sense of duty that you mentioned, I feel like that when I’m in it, I want to be 100%. If I brought 90%, that’s the debt, and then I feel that I owe them that, whoever that is.
Who’s the arbitrator of all of this? Sorry I have an assertion. I’m just going to label it as an assertion rather than ask a sneaky question. It occurs like you’re the arbitrator in all of this.
It’s like self-flagellation.
It sounds like what you’re saying is in order to let yourself off the hook, so to speak, you’d need to give yourself forgiveness, validation and permission to have done what you’ve done. They’ve shown up the way you’ve shown up.
The question that’s popping up in my mind is that enough for me to do that, or do I need the other person to give me that?
We know it’ll never be enough. I noticed though it doesn’t seem like your daughter’s complaining a lot about you not being present or anything like that. It doesn’t sound like wherever we go, Ernest is the constant. We can plug different people into this. It occurs maybe the place to start might be at the constant before we start to check with other people. There might be some forgiveness required, but I noticed that before you even get out there, there’s this internal flagellation going on, to use your word. How could you practice that? What would be some ways to practice forgiving yourself?
That’s still unfamiliar to me because I haven’t done it. That’s not the way that I operate. That’s an unknown, and I would like to figure that out.
Have you ever practiced forgiving? Would you forgive other people?
It depends. Yes and no. I’m pretty harsh. I have high expectations of others, and I have higher expectations of myself. That’s part of the driver. When I said I’d do 90% out of 100%, it’s the 10% that hurts.
It sounds like you don’t have a lot of practice for forgiveness.
No, I don’t.
I can give you some ways to practice. How do you think you might practice? I get it. You don’t have any experience of this. This a new thing, but what do you think might help you get a little more forgiveness permission in those moments when you catch this going on?
The first that’s coming to my mind is something that I’ve done with clients is I forgive myself for as a statement when I catch it. It comes down to forgiveness because this debt is based on guilt and all of these different feelings. For which, where the debt be forgiven, I guess the thing with that metaphor, it’s freeing.
Are you able to see that debt is made up?
It’s all me. It’s all self-imposed.
It sounds you don’t always relate to it that way. Sometimes you’re like, “No, I’m doing lasting harm to my daughter,” or something like that. Fathers who are absent do not have conversations like this one. That’s not the conversation they’re at. They’re not racked with guilt. They’re like, “I’m going to go have another beer. I don’t care.” Part of it might be seeing that’s created. I’m creating that look. It served you to create that up to this point in your life because from that, you’re reliable to go and do a bunch of stuff. It’s that it sounds even though you’re reliable to do a bunch of stuff, you’re not so stoked on the guilt that you always have to live with.
There’s been practice, this process that I’ve been going through for the last few years. I call it peeling back the layers of personality that I’ve slapped on top of myself for decades. In the peeling back and letting go, I’m getting closer back to myself. It’s going to be super esoteric and weird, and this is one of those layers that I didn’t even see. Forgiveness is the best way to describe it, and it’s still foreign to do that for myself. I’m okay with doing it for someone else, but to do it for myself is weird. It’s not unnatural, but it’s unknown.
If we call naturalness we’re used to doing, what’s natural for me is what I’m used to doing, then it would be natural. It’s not your default right now. I’m going to hold that on myself, and then you’re going to use it to do more off. It’s not even from this. It’s going to create bad things. Your daughter’s going to have a father very present, which I assert you are. She’s also going to learn, and it’s never enough. She’s going to learn the same thing, she’s going to be committed to being present or to playing or whatever, and it’s never going to be enough. That’s where she’s seen modeled. I heard you say like, “One thing I could do is just when I catch this, I forgive myself for this.”
Now you’ve mentioned, there’s also something else that you might have in your back pocket.
One of the things I would suggest is noticing this show-up. We’re all distracted these days in 2020 with phones and stuff, our attention span is worse. It’s not as in worse. It’s shorter than ever before. You’ve got a story that’s wrong, but I invite you to notice that story is made up. You have a bunch of evidence for it, and you probably came by it honestly. Meaning your parents probably trained you in it somehow. You’ve got evidence to back that story up, but it’s a creative story. As a practice, have you noticed that story as it shows up? The way you might do that is like you’re on your phone, you’re dealing with stuff, you hang up, you see your daughter playing on the beach, and you’re like, “Ernest,” you’re like, “That’s the story right at this moment. I’m making it wrong. I was distracted.”
In truth, there isn’t even anything to forgive yourself for. Forgiveness is still a little bit inside of the story that it’s wrong, what you did, but it’s a starting point. We want to get you out of that box entirely. I was distracted. For now, because you get so wound up around it, even breathing and like, “I forgive for myself for humanity,” the same way you would forgive your daughter for her humanity. You might get mad at her first, but you work yourself out because you care about her and you love her. She’s screaming, that’s annoying. It’s giving yourself the same grace, so that’s the inside of the box thing we’re working with. The other place I’m going to invite you to practice is starting to notice the box itself, “Here is that story again, and it’s wrong that I got distracted.” It’s not enough presence.
What’s coming up for me is to do some more research around forgiveness.
Ho’oponopono is one place to look at, the Hawaiian practice. Are you familiar with that one?
I am not, so that’s great.
It’s a four-step process. It’s, I’m sorry. Forgive me. I love you. I’m blanking on the name.
It’s something kindness, and I can’t remember what it is.
It’s loving-kindness. The first step asks you to say sorry. I’m sorry, please forgive me, thank you, I love you. You’d be doing this with yourself, not with your daughter. “I’m sorry for getting distracted on my phone. Please forgive me for my humanity.” Don’t get stuck in the forgiveness part. Also, make a practice of noticing the box you put yourself in.
The story. That’s the underlying “Oh, F,” that’s running all this stuff. I get it. It’s a layer below. I think it’s just one way to get access to it and then noticing where the story comes from. What does it mean? Eventually, that will be something that I would love to let go out as well.
All there is to do is to notice, “I got distracted. My commitment is to be as present as I can with my daughter, so I’m going to forgive myself if I need to, then I’m going to choose back from my commitment. I’m going to put my phone away.” Whereas right now, it becomes a burden, and then you got to double down.
I’ll go 100% to 99%, so there’s 1%, so you accumulate 15,000% at this time. That makes sense. I like that a lot. This gives me something great to work with. I can see it creating some ease.
Anything else you see you might practice coming from this.
This gives me some tools that I still want to learn more about. I can see a lot of things coming from it because it’s resetting in the moment and having the awareness to be able to reset. I wrote about Kalpas before. Are you familiar with Kalpas?
I can’t remember the exact thing.
It’s a Buddhist time system and combined with the idea that you’re constantly being reborn every second of every day, the universe is created every Kalpa. You have the ability to completely shift every one of those moments, but in order to completely refute the universe, I feel like you can’t carry the debt from the previous one. That’s the point that I would like to get to.
The last thing I think might be interesting is to notice the way you do forgiveness everywhere. At least for me, the word I would often use is completion as opposed to forgiveness, but they’re synonymous in this conversation. The way I would forgive people is the forgiveness would sound like, “It’s okay that they did that. It’s because they weren’t educated enough or they were stupid or whatever, but I forgive them for it. I forgive them for doing that thing that was wrong.” I’d bury and pave over the top of it so that I could operate pretty well. I was still holding that they did something wrong, which isn’t true forgiveness.
True forgiveness is getting ourselves to the point where we were not even holding that it was wrong or that it should have gone any different. That’s not saying we give them permission to keep doing it. We still assert boundaries and do all that stuff, but how I was holding it, it’s a very different place. You might get curious, how do I do forgiveness? What does that look like for me? You can start to see both how it gets put externally and how that’s done internally.
In my particular instance, whatever I do externally is ten times more intense internally.
That’s for all of us, which helps us have a little bit of compassion for people. We’re like, “This person does that out there while they’re doing it way more in here. I don’t have to be with it 24 hours a day. I to be able to then for the annoying hour once a day, they’re doing that constantly themselves.” That feels like a good place for us to wind down. How’s that feel for you?
It does. I feel complete.
I was just going to ask before I acknowledge you, anything else for you to be or feel like complete?
I feel complete. This was great.
May I acknowledge you, Ernest? You have to do for this. It’s not talk and receive what I have to say. I acknowledge you for the tremendous depth of your heart and how many fucks you give. I get you’re a man committed to excellence. I also get you’re committed to the part of the journey you’re on is a commitment to excellence merged with a nice, wide-open, fully expressed heart, like the one you have. Excellence and a stand for excellence from a closed heart can sometimes occur. Sometimes I was given that as a kid, and it can occur. Here’s how you’re not enough, Adam. I honor you, Ernest, for the hard work of like forgiveness and opening your heart back up so you can stand for our best art and also love all of us for the art that we created in the moment.
This was my best art right here and I can do better. That to me occurs like who you are as a man, as a coach, as a leader, as someone committed to the greatness in everyone, and loving, to finding your way back to loving them exactly as they’ve shown up in the moment. Thanks for being an incredible father and loving your daughter so much that you’ll flagellate yourself for her. It’s truly remarkable. Thanks for giving her the gift of having a sense of humor about, and also the awareness of, “Maybe sometimes I’m being a little overly creepily present with her and that could be annoying,” and holding that with some lightness. It’s beautiful work. Let’s do a quick debrief, and then we’ll finish up. Is there anything you’re present to? Anything where you’re I thought we were going to go there or we didn’t? What’s there for you?
Usually, when I’m in these conversations, I’m happy to go wherever. I don’t have an agenda. It’s happy to go. Forgiveness is not something where I would have thought that we would end up. I also understand even creating that visual representation or a concept of the idea that’s only on the cover of what’s happening. I understand it intellectually, and I think it’s different when you feel it, and you are experiencing it, and then you can embody it. I can see this as being a big thing for me and the people that I see that I support and serve.
I never know where we’re going to go. It’s part of why these are always a little anxiety-producing for me. Usually, what’s going to happen. I don’t have it controlled and laid out. For the first part of our conversation, I wonder what the thing is. What is there for us to coach around for us to take a look at? I’m glad that it went the way it did because I think that it’s so important as coaches that we let go of the agenda for how it’s meant to get somewhere or even that it’s meant. One of the best things a coach can do for their clients is let go of their need for the client to generate value in a conversation, which is oxymoronic.
That’s what then gives someone the freedom to have things go however, then you can lead as a client. “All right, I’m going to go here. How did that go for you?” “It sucks.” “Great. Now, next time maybe don’t go there or keep going there and know it’s going to suck.” Forgiveness is a neat place for us to be. It’s my people. That’s a place where often, for me, it’s a constant ongoing like, “I’m learning to practice at that level.” The idea that it might still be a little bit inside that box reminds me of Zen teaching. We’re trying to get to this place of no concepts, but you’re giving me concepts to do it. To get you free of concepts, we have to create some concepts first. There’s a point in your progression for all of us where we need to let go of that thing, and the same is true for any box we’re in. We step into the next box, and we’re like, “Now I have the belief that will solve everything,” until it doesn’t. I was like, “Now I’ve got to let go of that belief.”
That was the premise of the conversation anyways, to give them one simple silver bullet. First, you have to create the awareness. The way that I described it to some folks when they’re specifically entrepreneurs that are trying to describe, the direction where they’re going in the vision is you might have these awesome visions, but you need to give people some handles to hold onto because otherwise, it’s like that fluffy cloud that you can’t explain it. Nobody gets it. It’s some handles and some concepts that they understand in order to have enough of a grasp and then eventually, you can let it go. To get to the letting go, you have to go through the processes through the journey, which is pretty much what you’ve described because essentially, it’s the path to mastery. You get so good that it’s internalized, and it’s not a process anymore. It’s a nature.
That’s the progression from learning too. I used to teach dance and I knew a lot of ravers because I was a raver back in the day when we even used that word. People that went to raves typically had just they liked the music. They would move however they wanted. That was what it was accepted then they’d come to my classes and they get frustrated because I was teaching technique. They’re like, “I want to move how I want to move.” It’s totally fine. Part of what creates art is the restrictions a little bit, like we have to first learn the steps so that then we can throw the steps out. We have to learn the rules so we can then learn how to bend the rules. That’s where mastery lies. You’re a coach, what do you do? What people do you work with, and where do people find you?
Where I found myself is working with innovative leaders. Out of everybody that I worked with so far, there’s been an interesting thread. They’re all innovative. They’re glass ceiling breakers, they’re usually out front on the vanguard. Sometimes it feels lonely because you’re at the very front of the pack and there’s no one around you blazing a new trail. Pretty much every single one of my clients described themselves as a trailblazer. Specifically, they are either senior leaders, or executives, or entrepreneurs that changing culture, that are changing things inside of an organization. They’re building this some kind of a new thing, whether that is an AI tech company that’s working to solve how electricity is used instead of a bigger building. Whether there is a real estate company that’s changing the way that real estate is done in order to support local communities, those are the people that I’m resonating with.
Can I ask you a question? I could imagine if you’re out on the vanguard, it was the same word that came to my mind, I would imagine there might be often either a feeling of having to fight through people, pulling you back to the known mainstream and or this fear of, “Am I crazy?” Is that a common theme for them?
It happens. It doesn’t happen all the time, but I would say it’s one of the elements. One of the executives that I’m working with. She’s changing the culture of this entire organization. We had a conversation. She let someone go by breaking all the rules and the way that things are done through HR and everything, she went about a completely different way because of one question that we asked. We looked at how will this moment right now that you have to have this person would be the best thing that ever happened to her a year from now?
That is not how that are going to an organization. That’s not how they approach it. They usually sit you down with the HR manager and then you’re like, “Here are the papers and all that stuff it’s done.” She is the type of person that’s changing things. After that, we debriefed and the last conversation was like, “How do you roll that out to your peers?” “I’ll roll it out against the entire leadership team,” so that how you do these changes and the reputation of it. It changes a whole bunch of different things, but that’s just one instance.
Where do people find you?
The easiest place to find me is ErnestBarbaric.com, my website and I’m mostly active on LinkedIn as well. I have a podcast, too, that I just started rebuilding again. I called it the Art Of Meaningful Work. I talk about my experience with psychedelics and psychics and stuff. It was an interesting one. It’s been on hiatus for 1.5 years and there’s a ton of interviews with all kinds of interesting people on there as well, so now I’m rebuilding it back up.
Thanks for being here. Thanks for saying yes to this. If you’d like to be one of our guests on this show, then send an email to PR@AdamQuiney.com, or you can message me directly on Facebook. I always love to have people volunteer. Thanks.
- Ernest Barbaric
- TEDx Talk – Return To Analog – How To Break The Digital Leash by Ernest Barbaric on YouTube
- LinkedIn – Ernest Barbaric
- Art Of Meaningful Work
- Facebook – Adam Quiney
About Ernest Barbaric
Helping leaders eliminate uncertainty and accelerate change with calm, clarity, and confidence.
For 15 years, he worked with high-level leaders to navigate strategy, innovation and digital transformation. His clients included organizations like Yamaha, Shure, Parks Canada, Intact Insurance, and Brookfield.
He designed and taught university courses and national strategy certifications, delivered keynotes at 100+ events, and founded a podcast conference.
His projects have been featured in Forbes, USA Today, HubSpot, Smart Insights, CBC, GlobalTV and Canadian Business. In 2017, delivered a TEDx talk on digital addiction.
With his wife Stacey, their daughter Ariella and Ernest moved to Victoria, BC in mid-2020. He enjoy trail running, collecting fountain pens, restoring straight razors, and I’m currently learning watercolour during his free time.