Out of the Mouths…

Usually we end that with “of babes” at those times when our young children say the funniest, most embarrassing, or cutest things.  Be careful – it doesn’t go away.   My young adult daughter is visiting this evening and as she was getting ready to go I commented “I’ve got to write a blog tonight – but I’m not sure what to write about.” 

She picked up an old photo from my desk and handed it to me saying “Your Christening”.  I’m always one for a challenge, so let’s see.  Hmmmmm.  How does a Christening relate to coaching?

Oh, OK – I can do that! 

First, for those who aren’t familiar with it, a Christening, or baptism, is a Christian rite where a person is incorporated into the universal church, the body of Christ.  The water, words, and actions of the sacrament are visible signs that convey the Christian’s burial and resurrection with Jesus Christ.[i]

Second, I want to assure you that these Christian steps and words are by no means a requirement in coaching.  I am simply using my personal understanding as a minister as an analogy of what often happens in coaching.  This blog is not meant to be exclusionary, nor is it meant to impose Christian believes on my clients or anyone reading.

There are several parts of the service in my UCC tradition.  And, yes, they definitely relate to coaching in general and to the women I coach.

  • First, the Invitation and Welcome.  The invitation pays special attention to the one being baptized, his or her parents, and “Godparents” (traditionally those named to take responsibility if the parents are no longer able to care for their child, and in recent times those named to help the parents raise their child in the Christian faith.) as they are invited “front and center” around the font of water.  As a coach, my client is always the most important, and many of my clients acknowledge that the support of family and friends is instrumental in reaching their life goals.
  • Next is the Address – the pastor speaks to those present.  Some of the words spoken may include “Unless we are born anew, we cannot see the reign of God; unless we are born of water and the Spirit, we cannot enter God’s new order.”   Unless we are born anew…  In a sense, that is what is happening in coaching as we use our values based vision to pull us toward a new way of living and being.  Water and the Spirit are powerful symbols in the Christian tradition.  Clients will always find their own unique symbols that inspire them, that encourage them, that bring them joy. 
  • The address is followed by questions.  That’s what coaching is all about!  You who experience coaching in any way will come to understand that coaches know that our clients are the experts of their own lives.  They just haven’t yet been asked the questions that will lead them to the perfect answers.
  • Congregational Assent – This one’s a little harder.  The coaching relationship is between the coach and the client.  Although the people involved in the clients life are likely to be referenced, those people are never called upon to give their consent within the coaching collaboration.  Yet, as I read the words typically spoken by the minister, ask the congregation to give their love, support and care to the one being baptized.  So, yes – the analogy still holds.  Most of us need this in our life.
  • Affirmation of Faith – these are specific words the parents, godparents and child if old enough would all speak.  They are words that affirm their beliefs and understanding of their faith.  In coaching the coach affirms their client’s courage, stamina, honesty and much more when it is held forth boldly.  Even more important is the Client who is able to affirm for themselves the choices they are making, the changes they are implementing, and their own belief in themselves.
  • Throughout the service there is prayer.  I always pray when coaching – at the beginning a simple “Help me be open to all that my client brings today, and help me to be the best coach I can be!”  During the session when I say something that’s across my lips before I’ve even thought about it, or I find words to say that are tremendously powerful to my client, I give thanks to the universe for giving what I need right then.  I never know, or rarely know if or when my clients are praying.  It’s not a requirement in coaching.  We are all unique individuals with our own ways of connecting with the divine if we so choose.
  • The Act of Baptism – the minister pours water on the one being baptized as an outward and visible sign of what is believed to happen on a deeper spiritual level.  As a client, I have recently been working on evolving into something other than what was – fancy way to say trying to be a better entrepreneur.  It’s an awful lot of inner work and inner conversations.  My outward sign that I can do this is a little book my daughter gave me many years ago.  The title is Mom, You Rule; and when you push a little button it says “You Go Girl!!”  It’s a symbol of being successful in another challenge in life and encourages me along right now when I need it.  It’s my sign to be strong and persevere.
  • The service ends with An Act of Praise.  Yes, we do celebrate all the wonderful wins that happen in coaching!  Whoo Hooo!

So, thanks Charlotte for the challenge you gave me.  It’s fun when I find the ways that Rev. Lee and Coach Lee overlap and intertwine.

Enjoy your week everyone!  Make it a great one!


[i] Book of Worship United Church of Christ, 1986 (United Church of Christ Office for Church Life and Leadership, New York), 129.
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Why You Should Fail More Often

“What?!  Who wants to fail?  Failure’s not a good thing, is it?”  I’m not sure about you, but when someone first told me to fail often, that was my response.  I heard the disdaining voice in my head saying, “You’re nothing but a failure.”  Thomas Edison said, “I have not failed, I have just found 10,000 ways that didn’t work.”  If he didn’t try that next time, we wouldn’t have light bulbs.

There’s a term we use in coaching – Fail Forward.  Every time we do something that’s not just right, we’ve taken another step forward toward success.  We just don’t do stuff perfectly the first time out of the gate. 

There are four stages to learning and perfecting a skill. 

Unconscious Incompetence is when you don’t know what you don’t know.  Before you learned how to ride a bike, there was a time that you didn’t even know that was a possibility.

Conscious Incompetence – you’ve discovered a skill you want to learn and you’ve been practicing, but you’re not good at it yet.  There’s lots of room for improvement during this stage.

Conscious Competence is when you’re getting pretty good at the skill you’re trying to learn, but you still have to think through the steps.  Think of learning to drive and what it took to go from park to moving forward.  “OK, foot on the break; shift into drive; look left and right and into both mirrors; foot on the gas and press just a little; watch out for obstacles…”  You have the skill, but it isn’t consistent or habitual yet.  Lots of concentration is still required.

Unconscious Competence is when you’re doing something without even realizing it.  The skill has become automatic and the conscious mind can focus on other things.  Go back to the driving example.  What are you thinking about when you get in the car and get going?  Probably everything but the steps involved in the process.

Malcom Gladwell, best-selling author researched the science of mastery.  In his book Outliers, he says that achieving mastery is the result of continual, consistent effort – 10,000 hours of deliberate practice! 

Most people don’t know that Bill Gates’ and Paul Allen’s first venture was to build a business around collecting traffic data.  The dream was to have a light post on every corner of every street processing traffic.  The company failed. 

Bill and Paul learned lots of lessons from that big failure and a few years later Microsoft was born, and Gates’ vision of “a computer on every desktop, in every home, running Microsoft software” is pretty close to reality making him a mighty rich man!

If you think about it, most success stories are built on failure.   Albert Einstein was labeled “dull” and “moderately talented” by his teachers.  He went on to win the Nobel Prize in Physics.

Marilyn Monroe was considered by Fox as “unattractive” and “a bad actress”.  In 1999 she was ranked 6th greatest female star of all time!

When you fail, you learn.  A toddler takes her first successful steps to Daddy’s arms only after falling down hundreds of times.  So think big, and fail forward!

It’s best said by Gary Keller, New York Times bestselling author, business life coach, and keynote speaker: “I don’t think A to B. Blow up the alphabet and start living for Z.”

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Summer Time Dreams – Create Spectacular Memories

It’s June 4th and summer is right around the corner.  The pace of our day to day life tends to slow down; kids are out of school; vacations are coming up.  How will you plan your summer so the time doesn’t just fly by, but you make it a spectacular summer to remember?

Vacations don’t have to cost a lot of money or stress, nor do they have to be jam-packed with something planned every moment of every day.  Consider someplace that incorporates things your family enjoys – hiking, boating, swimming, the beach or the woods.  And make this a yearly vacation spot.  My best summer memories are spending a week in the woods of New York.  Since we went to the same place year after year, it was like a second home.  Our family of 6 each found things to do that filled our spirits, our sense of adventure or quiet.  My sister spend day after day sitting in the sun with a good book, while I spent the time being a nature-adventurist swinging from huge vines in the trees, to catching frogs, to exploring the creeks.  My brothers build go-carts, and hunted in the woods with their home-made sling shots.  The tradition continued with my children who say they wouldn’t change a thing.  Where will your family call “home”?

You don’t have to go away to create lasting memories.  One of my friends says her favorite family routine is their evening walk.  “It’s a great way to leave the to-do list behind and just focus on being together, and we love to observe the cycles of wildflowers that grow around our home.”  Just think of all there is to discover on a walk together!  Explore the flowers, birds, insects, animals you see along the way.  As your children get older you can use this time to have uninterrupted conversations (no texting, no facebook!) that are so important and can be so meaningful to both of you.

Crafts are a good boredom buster and a perfect activity when you need to get away from the midday heat and want to stay away from electronic entertainment.  Two of our favorites were shaving cream and corn starch.  Although clean up is much easier outside, this can be indoor fun as well.  Remember that sometimes making a mess is half the fun!  Give each child a can of shaving cream and watch them start laughing!  From the first time my daughter touched a mound of shaving cream when she was two years old and had no idea what to make of it!  To when they were eight and nine years old, this was one of their favorites.  They had fun drawing in it, getting covered with it, making a pile and slapping it, to throwing blobs of it at each other and creating crazy hairdos.

Corn starch mixed with just a little bit of water makes a very interesting concoction.  Sometimes liquid and sometimes solid, this too let to lots of exploring.  It kept them entertained for quite a while.  I only brought it out a couple of times each year, and each time they found new interest in looking at the weird ways it behaved.

Because the opportunities for summer time fun are limitless, it’s easy to want to make the days packed with events, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed and miss the chance to create spectacular memories.  So before it gets into full swing, take some time to consider what your summer will include.  Decide how much time will be on the go and how much time you’ll just spend at home.  Take some time to plan the summer before it comes and goes and you’re saying “where’d the time go?!  I didn’t do anything I wanted to do!”

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Public Speaking at Its Best

I read a post from a coaching colleague today.  Here’s what he said:  “Public speaking is the number one fear of most people on earth. It scares them more than the prospect of death!!”
 
Is this you?  If so, don’t worry – it’s easy to overcome.  Many of you have heard me comment that I used to be super shy and introverted.  Add to the mix a horror at the thought of public speaking!!  The first time I was asked was to simply read a short passage for my church congregation.  I had been a member of this church for about 7 years, so it wasn’t even in front of strangers, but people who knew and loved me.  It took another 18 months of my pastor cajoling me before I finally screwed up the courage to do it.
 
The key to my success wasn’t the page of underwear advertisements with faces cut from our pictorial directory (what a hoot!!) that he put on the lectern for me to see, but the time he spent with me the day before coaching me. 
 
Here’s what I learned that day. 
 
Know your material.  It’s likely when you do your presentation that you’re speaking about material you are really interested in.  And you’re the expert among us.  Use humor; laughter puts a speaker at ease.  Use personal stories and speak as though you were having a conversation with us. 
 
Practice!   I read that passage repeatedly until I knew it nearly by heart.  I read it slowly, quickly, and really slowly!  The more you practice, the more comfortable you’ll feel.  Practice speaking loudly and clearly.
 
Know the room.  We’re all pretty familiar with the room at Tatnuck, but take some time to come early so you can stand where you’ll stand when speaking and even practice some of what you’ll say.  Get familiar with the room from this perspective. 
 
Relax.    Before you even begin speaking, try this.  Right after you come to the front, pause, smile at some members, and count to three (“One one-thousand, two one-thousand, three one-thousand.. ). Don’t even begin to speak before you do this.  This helps transform nervous energy into enthusiasm.
 
Know that people want you to succeed.  We’re all rooting for you!
 
Remember that we’ve all made mistakes.
 
Here are some other tips for a powerful and professional presentation.
·      Stand up tall – we have more confidence in ourselves and it open our airways
·      Keep your hands in front of you – and out of your pockets.
·      Bring props.
·      Involve the “audience”.
·      Dress professionally.

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Becoming a Master Juggler

“Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance and order and rhythm and harmony.”

– Thomas Merton

Have you ever asked a mom if she feels balanced in life?  If she has enough time to do everything she’s been wanting to do?  If she takes time for her own self?  If you have, you’ve probably gotten the same response as I have – “Ya right!”  or “Keep dreaming!”

 

Either that or you’re the mom who wants to just laugh at me!  Believe me when I say I can relate.  I’ve been there myself.  I used to think that when my kids got older and left home, I’d finally have that peace and serenity that comes with a less chaotic life.  But here I am to say that their leaving didn’t create the lack of a long to-do list.  It’s just the lists’ items that changed.

 

All the more reason to learn the art of The Master Juggler early on! 

 

It’s not easy to keep all the balls of our life in the air.  With our attention divided between children or grandchildren, work, housework, our larger family and our friends, volunteering…  (the list goes on), you can quickly see how easy it is to become imbalanced.

 

Work-life balance is about creating and maintaining supportive and healthy environments for yourself, both at work and at home, and for your family.  And it can be done.  When we’re in balance we have more energy, we tend to think more positively, we’re healthier and we have more fun.

 

Step 1 is to Recognize that you are not alone. There are more moms in the American workforce than ever before. When I grew up in the 1960s, my mom worked part-time—and it seemed out of place. Yet today, 61 percent of mothers work outside the home, according to a recent study by statisticsbrain.com. Of those, only 15 percent report that they are happy, while 80 percent of stay-at-home moms say they are “very happy” or “pretty happy.” Why is that?

 

My guess is, and my experience tells me that a lot of it has to do with the juggling act we’re all trying to play. There was a time when I worked part-time, was studying full-time for my master’s degree, and was raising three young children as a single mom. Somehow I survived, but I surely could have done more than just survive. Maybe there would have been more of a sense of well-being and calm if someone taught me how to be a Master Juggler.

 

Watch for more on keeping in balance next week.

 

Peace,

Lee

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Energizing Self-Care

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving with much to be thankful for as you reflected over the last year.

This year my holiday changed significantly from years past, and I was left on Thursday to spend the day by myself.  Not to worry – my daughters cooked a marvelous meal on Saturday.  I didn’t miss out.  But as I said, I had the day to myself.  Since just about everyone else was with family and friends, there wasn’t much “socializing” to do.  I learned a lot that day about what it is to just STOP.  I work in an industry that has a high focus on self-care for the people we serve, and I’ve always been one to stress the importance of caring for one’s self so that you can continue to care for those around you.  I haven’t been so good at heeding my own advice, though.  Until Thursday.  And boy did it feel good!

And so, guessing that most of you are like the majority of full-time-working-parenting-volunteering and all-’round busy people, I wanted to share some “self care” tips.  After all, it is when we are feeling our best physically, spiritually, and emotionally that we can BE and Do our best.

Self-care is a topic most people don’t pay any attention to.  If we’re taking care of ourselves, we’re often seen as selfish, slothful, over indulgent.

Self-care really is none of that. Taking good care of yourself, physically, spiritually and emotionally not only makes your life more fulfilling and contributes to your well-being, but it also extends to others.

As Cheryl Richardson writes in her book The Art of Extreme Self-Care: Transform Your Life One Month at a Time, “From years of personal experience, as well as from the work I’ve done coaching many caring and hardworking men and women, I’ve learned that when we care for ourselves deeply and deliberately, we naturally begin to care for others – our families, our friends, and the world – in a healthier and more effective way.”

She further explains that through self-care, “We become conscious and conscientious people. We tell the truth. We make choices from a place of love and compassion instead of guilt and obligation.”  I for one want to stay away from that guilt and obligation place.  Richardson offers a variety of nurturing and empowering activities for readers to try. Below are three of them.

1. Discover when, where, why and how you feel deprived.

First, determine where you feel deprived in live and what’s lacking.  From there you have a good idea on how best to approach your self-care. Richardson suggests asking these key questions:

  • Where do I feel deprived?
  • What do I need more of right now?
  • What do I need less of?
  • What do I want right now?
  • What am I yearning for?
  • Who or what is causing me to feel resentful and why?
  • What am I starving for?

Have specific, not vague answers. As Richardson writes in her book, instead of saying “I feel deprived because I have no time to myself,” you might say, “I feel deprived of solitary, uninterrupted time away from my children and husband, which allows me to do something just for me, such as read a good novel, have lunch with a friend, or take a quiet bath.”

2. Find your own rhythm and routine.

Far from being boring, routine gives our lives stability, security, safety and serenity. And routine is rejuvenating. (Think of uplifting routines like getting enough sleep, engaging in physical activities you enjoy and having a date night with your spouse or a girls’ or guys’ day out.)

Don’t change everything all at once. Richardson suggests asking yourself this powerful question: “What one routine could I put into place this month that would improve my life the most?”  Once you’ve named the routine, write it down on an index card. Then think of how you’ll schedule it into your life for the next 30 days. After a week of engaging in your new routine, consider if you feel more relaxed and healthier and less overwhelmed.  Next month try adding another routine.

3. Create an “absolute no list.”

Knowing what you don’t want to do is just as important as knowing what you do want to do.  Create a list of the things you refuse to tolerate in your life.  Richardson’s friends had some great examples on their lists, including:

  • I will absolutely not join in the gossip
  • I won’t use my credit cards unless I can pay them off completely when the statement comes.
  • I will NOT rush
  • I won’t keep anything that I don’t love or need
  • No phones during dinner

Pay attention to the things that frustrate you. For example, maybe your realization that the charity you were giving to used most of the donations frivolously and you discovered that most of your support never got to the person in need. Use that for your list! Richardson says you might write the following: “I will no longer donate to a charity unless 90% of my donation goes directly to the person I’m trying to help.”

We talk to ourselves in ways other than our words, so when you’re making your list, listen to your body.  Are you feeling more relaxed?  Or is this item actually creating tension.  If putting something on the list makes you feel lighter, it was probably a good thing to add.  If just the thought of something riles you up – another hint that it should be on your list.

Put your list in a spot where you’ll see it every day.  Take time to read through it.

Extreme self-care takes practice. At first it might seem awkward to say no to something or someone. At first, you might feel guilty for taking time for yourself. But with practice, it’ll become more natural and automatic. And you’ll notice that you feel a whole lot more fulfilled.

 

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Why do I really want to……?

Everyday I talk to people who are contemplating starting their own business. Often their motivation  is a reaction to something in their work life…a bad review or work environment; a lay off or fear of one.

Other reasons range from the “I want to make a lot of money” to ” I don’t want to have to listen to a boss telling me what to do” to “I want to have more time for the other things in my life”.

While these reasons are understandable reactions and frustrations, they are entirely the wrong reasons for starting a business. You’re on firmer ground if you have a product, service or skill that you feel has a market and you are passionate about providing. Determination and perseverance count too! Even so, before we open the doors of that new business there are many practical questions to ask and answer regarding finances, marketing, your business model and plan…to name a few.

But one area that I think is rarely if ever addressed and I believe is critical to any new businesses survival is an understanding of the personality of the person who will be running it by the person who will be running it!

After all, regardless of the knowledge base or MBA’s we may have accumulated, how we use that information is going to be mediated by our values, beliefs, background and a myriad of other factors coming together every day to create decisions that will affect the success of our business.

How we feel and behave toward such things as money, success, competition, work relationships or roles, organization and planning emerge from what I call our Business Personality.  It is that aspect of our personality that specifically affects our orientation to business decisions. What’s our management style? Do we have an optimistic  or pessimistic view of risk and change?

An understanding of the elements that make up our business personality and an ability to use it in the service of our business is critical to the success of that business whether it is a start-up or established.

Do you know what yours is going to say about the choices you’re going to make?

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Thanks Even in the Hard Times

Next week we celebrate Thanksgiving here in America.  This tradition from the days when settlers and Native Americans came together to give thanks for the abundance of food from the earth.  It’s a time for us today to consider all that we have to be grateful for.   As a Success Coach and Hospice Chaplain, I have so much to be thankful for.  For my clients with whom I can celebrate “wins” and for my hospice patients and families who remind me every day never to take anything for granted.  They also remind me that life is too short, and we should stop to smell the roses.

Yet, I’m also aware that it can be difficult to be “Full of Thanks.”  For many the upcoming holidays bring sadness instead of joy.  Sometimes it’s just plain hard to keep that grateful attitude.  We get focused on our problems and we don’t get a chance to reflect on the positive.

I read a poem today that speaks to this…

Be thankful that you don’t already have everything you desire,

If you did, what would there be to look forward to?

Be thankful when you don’t know something,

For it gives you the opportunity to learn.

Be thankful for the difficult times,

During those times you grow.

Be thankful for your limitations,

Because they give you opportunities for improvement.

Be thankful for each new challenge,

Because it will build your strength and character.

Be thankful for your mistakes,

They will teach you valuable lessons.

Be thankful when you’re tired and weary,

Because it means you’ve made a difference.

It is easy to be thankful for the good things.

A life of rich fulfillment comes to those who are also thankful for the setbacks.

Gratitude can turn a negative into a positive. 

Find a way to be thankful for your troubles and they can become your blessings.

                        -Author Unknown

Whatever your situation is, whatever this holiday season holds for you, I hope that you will find some nuggets that you can be thankful for.

Happy Thanksgiving to my American friends and family, and may all of you from many nations be blessed with the perspective to see the positives in every situation.

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The CrossRoads Series – Top 10 Ways to Cope with Job Transition

Job transitions can be stressful!  Change can come in many ways – you’ve been laid off, picking up the pieces when others in your department have been laid off, you have a new boss,  or you’re out in the job search and don’t know where to begin.

  • Take an honest look at yourself.  What are your strengths, weaknesses, skills?  How did those influence—positively or negatively—your transition?  And how will you use them to move forward?
  • Step up your self-care.  Major changes are physically and emotionally taxing. You need take care of you to stay emotionally and physically healthy.
  • Engage your curiosity.  Ask yourself:  What went wrong? or right?  What could you have done better? What worked really well?
  • Focus on what you want, and less on what you don’t want.  Keep your eye on the prize.
  • Find support.  Since your transition affects your family as well, it may be better to seek the outside support of friends or professionals or others who have gone through this transition and can offer insight.
  • Think of your thoughts.  Our brains don’t know the difference between what’s real and what’s imagined.  Calm your fears and reinforce your sense of hope and happiness.
  • Reassure (or avoid) those who are threatened by, or jealous of, the change. Take control of the situation and help others to do the same.
  • Create your own rite of passage.  How will you let go of the old and welcome the new?  Placing a “marker” of some sort between the two space helps with all transition.  This could be anything from a ritual, a celebration, a ceremony, …
  • Let go of how things were “supposed to be” and accept “how things are.”  Find appreciation for what is.
  • Keep things in perspective.  Or try on a new perspective.  Don’t get stuck.  Remember, the only constant in life is change.

Adapted from Claire Communications and used under license © 2011 Claire Communications

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