When Reality Hits, It Isn’t “Reality”
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away I was a heavy smoker. Heavy as in two packs a day.
One day I decided to quit. It was the last day of a hunting trip in eastern Washington. (Yes, in that other galaxy in that other millennium I hunted ducks and other birds. We had two wonderful Labrador Retrievers, Tide and Yoyo, and I was a hella good shot.)
We hunted in the morning and early afternoon, then piled into the Chevy Suburban three decades before SUVs became the car we love to hate. As we drove over the mountains, I sucked on a bottle of scotch to steady my nicotine-deprived nerves. I was probably eating pretzels, too. I like pretzels on road trips even now, in this different galaxy, this new millennium, decades after leaving nicotine and scotch behind.
I was probably smoking pot, too. I can’t imagine that I wouldn’t have been.
But I digress.
Watch out for the dog!
As we pulled into the driveway after dark at the end of a long day, I said rather irritably to Miles (who in that alternate universe was not yet The Charming Prince), “Watch out for the dog!”
He said, “What dog?”
I said, “The big dog! Dammit. The dog right there in front of the car.”
I’ll never forget the look on his face, one part tired, two parts disgust, and seven parts WTF?
I looked again.
For a moment there was a dog, and at the same time there wasn’t a dog. I did and I did not see a dog until my perception settled down, and I decided that there was no dog.
I know. Confusing.
Reality is like that
The reality we perceive, whether the external reality of dogs and doormats or the internal reality of possibilities and preferences, is always in flux and always mediated by perception.
Granted, on that occasion my nervous system was particularly scrambled, but the variables governing reality are still operating, even when they are not so exaggerated.
Our vast capacity to perceive is organized by social and cultural norms, our beliefs and assumptions, life history, language, and our nervous systems, among other things.
Most of the time for most people these variables vary within fairly narrow parameters, with the result that we tend to experience what we call reality as fairly stable.
That saves a lot of time and trouble. We don’t have to figure out if the sound that awakens us in the morning is an alarm clock or a white rabbit.
And sometimes it helps to question reality
There are times when it behooves us to shake things up, especially when it comes to what we assume about ourselves and what is possible in life and business.
One morning in 1984 I awoke from an alcohol and cocaine haze to the brief vision of myself as a window, a window that was closing. I got out of bed, made a few phone calls, and through the kindness of both friends and strangers, found myself in rehab within 24 hours.
I promise you that the woman who had gone to bed a few hours before that vision did not have the resources (moral, financial, physical) to make that happen. In a very real sense (ha ha, no pun intended, but I hate to pass one up when it offers itself) reality shifted.
In one universe I was a hopeless alcoholic slut (sorry, there’s just no nice way to say it), and in the next I was a courageous soul embarking on the sacred project of creating a life.
You can explain it in various ways
There are many things you could point to by way of explaining that reality shift. One is grace, and I made a brief video about that. youtu.be/7lbCZs-9Mws
You could also point to choice, and the first and last videos in this month’s video round-up speak to that.
In this post I invite you to consider the facticity of reality’s plasticity.
It ain’t solid, folks
What you think is possible for you in this moment is a function of inputs and filters, not of a permanent and pervasive structure imposed on you from outside.
One more story.
Somewhere around 1999 I got the idea that it would be incredibly cool to take my niece, Amy, to Europe when she graduated from high school. She was 15 at the time.
I was still a relatively new coach, and I did not have the kind of money one would need for that kind of adventure. But that seemed to me to be a detail, and I had time to sort it out.
I started a savings account for the trip and added a hundred dollars here, fifty dollars there.
I went about my business, assuming that we were going to do this thing and looking for ways that it could be done.
And then the miracles happened
Along the way, some unexpected things happened. I received a totally unexpected legacy from a friend. I got my first $10,000 contract when a person in the first Authentic Promotion class asked if I would bring it to NASA. (Um, that would be a “Hell, yes!”
Needless to say, those things helped, and in 2003, Amy and I went on an amazing 29 day odyssey to Paris, Rome, Florence, London, New York City, and Washington, DC. (Sometimes I overdo things. Oh well.)
But even miracles have filters
Something to notice: all those lovely unexpected things that happened would NOT have helped if I had set up my reality filters a little differently.
For one thing, I have a whole heap of nieces and nephews. If I had set up my filters based on some notion of fairness, I doubt the trip would have gotten off the ground.
September, 11, 2001, shook up a lot of realities, and if Amy, I, or her parents had responded to that differently, we might never have followed through on such bold travel plans.
I’m not saying that fairness or caution are bad filters; I’m just pointing out that installing them would have made a difference in whether or not the miracles that happened made a difference.
Now, at last, this is about YOU
The purpose of all my storytelling today is to awaken your curiosity about the reality you’re living in.
I hope that it is one that amazes, delights, and nourishes you and the ones you love.
And if it is not, please know that there are other possibilities.
You have more choices than you may realize.
You have hidden allies.
You are every bit as miraculous as the fragment of a woman that I was on that lonely morning in 1984, and grace not only can happen, it WANTS to happen for you.
As I arrive at the finish line of this strange post, which has meandered like the race course in “Alice in Wonderland,” I feel quite wonderful.
In this moment my filters are set to miracle, and true to form, that is what I see and feel.
I don’t always experience life this way. I do not control my thoughts, and sometimes my thoughts are bleak, limited, and unpleasant to live with.
But they are only thoughts.
And I have come to see thought as the raw material of our magic making. Just because a thought appears doesn’t mean you have to use it to cook up your life.
When reality hits, it isn’t reality
While planning to take Amy to Europe, I often had the thought that it wasn’t fair to other nieces and nephews.
I could be writing the story of how going to Europe seemed like a great idea until the “reality” that it wouldn’t have been fair hit.
But that wouldn’t have been reality, would it?
Shortly after getting sober, I moved back in with Miles, who, over the next few years, morphed into the man I now call, without a shred of irony, The Charming Prince.
I was plagued with guilt until one day I saw that I could have guilt or a happy marriage, but not both.
I chose to give up guilt.
I could be telling the story of how how we tried to get back together after addiction destroyed our marriage, but the reality of my misdeeds got in the way.
But that wouldn’t have been reality either, would it?
You get to look and look again (and again)
Reality is a bit like a kaleidoscope.
You get to look, roll the barrel, and look again.
Have a wonderful, wonder-filled week, and please let me know what you’re discovering by sharing it in the comments.
Photo by Pixabay.com
Soul Speak: An invitation to wake up and light up the world
While we are on the topic of transformation, if you haven’t already heard about it, I invite you to check out Soul Speak this season in honor of Wayne Dyer.
When Sheldon Pizzinat invited me to participate in Soul Speak, I hesitated. Does the world really need another telesummit, even one with a spiritual theme?
I said yes because something in Sheldon’s vibe just felt right to me. I sensed that he would be having conversations with the potential to enliven and awaken listeners. Conversations that would add light and meaning to the world.
The intent of the series is to promote awakening so you can more fully embody your talents and gifts and light up the world, something Dr. Dyer did with grace.
Click here to sign up for The Soul Speaks Telesummit: A Tribute to Wayne Dyer
Quick reminder that tomorrow, Friday, November 13, at 11am PT (2pm ET, 7pm UK), my guest Wyn Morgan and I will be exploring why coaching works–when it does.
Coaching can be a powerful context for personal and organizational transformation. What makes coaching “work” when it works? What’s missing when it doesn’t? What’s the difference between “transformational coaching” and other modalities or traditions?
Join us for this live Zoom videoconference. Yes, we will record it and post a replay, but we would love to have you join us live with your questions, insights, and comments.
No advance registration required. To join us, just click the link below a few minutes before the scheduled time. You’ll be able to join from your computer or by phone. If you join by phone, tolls may apply.
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I hope you will join us!
Last week at a coaching conference one of the speakers held forth about her wildly successful book on the formation of habits, habits that, in her view, lead to success.
Among other things, she proposed a model to explain why some people do what’s good for them and some people don’t (and some people do it some of the time but not other times). She went on to name some of the 21 (!) strategies that she had codified for forming habits that lead to success.
Her suggestion for a useful exercise was for us to sort ourselves into groups according to her model and come up with mottoes for our “types.”
Can you see how instead of pointing us inward toward the source of our moment to moment experience, she was pointing us outward, toward her model? Not only that, she was asking us to invest our creative energy and attention into developing her model, dressing it up with mottoes.
The world is overflowing with models and life hacks that don’t work.
You are a human being, a creature with infinite potential, not a robot who could benefit from an operating system upgrade.
Instead of looking outside for models of success, look inside toward the source that inspires and catalyzes human beings of all sorts to do extraordinary things.
Have you noticed that sometimes you just feel alive? Really alive?
And have you noticed that when you come alive, life works?
And have you noticed that sometimes coming alive happens regardless of your circumstances? It can happen when you have bills to pay (and no money in the bank). It can happen when you or the people you love are sick.
That’s because coming alive has absolutely nothing to do with your circumstances. It happens before and underneath them.
Coming alive is the realization of what you already are, not a new accomplishment.
It’s what the mystics and sages are pointing to when they tell us that all is well and all manner of things be well.
And when you are in touch with the underlying okayness, when you let that okayness unfold and reveal your true aliveness, life just works.
An invitation to “Come Alive and Do the Thing”
As you can perhaps tell, I care a lot about this. I care so much that, for the first time in nearly three years, I’m forming a mastermind group and calling it “Come Alive and Do the Thing.”
Come Alive and Do the Thing is about two things: experiencing your aliveness and taking action in the world.
It’s about letting go of analysis paralysis and embracing the game of life wholeheartedly.
It’s about connecting deeply with the formless energy that animates all things and showing up regularly as a creator in the world of form.
It’s where insight meets action, and I would love to have you along for the ride.
Come Alive and Do the Thing begins December 1
I’ve known I wanted to convene a coaching group to explore this territory, but until I sat down to write this article, I didn’t know what it would look like. The details are still coming into focus, and here’s what I know so far.
Come Alive and Do the Thing will be limited to eight persons. We will meet weekly on Tuesdays at 9:00am Pacific time (noon Eastern, 4:00pm UK) beginning Tuesday, December 1, 2015. We will get a running start before the turning of the year!
Meetings will by video-conferences using the Zoom platform, and there will be a private Facebook group for connecting between meetings.
I’m working on a web page for the group now and will email you as soon as it goes live. I expect registration to open on Thursday, November 5th. Because it is such a small group (and it has been so long since I have offered a mastermind), I expect it to fill quickly.
If you have questions now, feel free to email me.
Yes, you can still sign up for Pay What You Choose Coaching
Whether or not you feel called to this new group, remember that you can request a coaching session with me on a Pay What You Choose basis. Pay What You Choose means exactly that: you choose how much to pay based on your resources and the value you perceive. Details are here: shaboominc.com/coaching
Photo credit: Pixabay.com
Last month I stopped charging set fees and announced Pay What You Choose pricing. Here are some of the things I’ve learned so far.
1. You don’t have to know step three before you take step one.
I have wanted to try PWYC pricing for at least two years. One reason I hesitated was that I didn’t know how it would work. Then I realized that I didn’t need to know how it would work in order to run an experiment.
As I set it up, I wondered what kinds of systems I might want or need. Should I screen clients before agreeing to a session? How would I handle payment?
I decided not to try to screen prospective clients before accepting appointments. Instead I ask folks to make one initial appointment. This lets me meet the client and have a conversation with them about subsequent work. It seems simpler and more effective than trying to screen people.
I use acuityscheduling.com, which enabled me to create a simple intake form that pops up when someone makes a PWYC appointment. I ask what calls them to work with me, what their previous experience of coaching is, and what else they would like me to know. At the same time I ask what they want to pay. As soon as I receive an email notifying me of the appointment, I send a PayPal money request.
That has worked beautifully. Many clients find that a single session is sufficiently transformative, and they go away happy. If and when they want another, they are free to schedule again. Other people have turned into weekly or bi-monthly clients.
And, in case you are wondering, there’s no correlation between the amount people are paying and whether or not we agree to ongoing work. Read on for more about how little money appears to have to do with the quality of the experience.
2. There is no correlation between the amount a client pays and their readiness for coaching.
One of my thoughts going into this was that I could end up with a slew of people who saw themselves as needy, broke and/or broken, and victimized, which some might expect to indicate that they are not ready for coaching. I certainly see and hear a lot in coaching circles to support that.
But that’s not how it has turned out.
Yes, I have had a few people show up who seemed to be in a needy or broken state of mind. But here’s the deal: I know that they are not broken. After years of holding that as an article of faith, I finally see deeply that it is true. And it appears that when I see a client as truly and inarguably whole, it doesn’t matter a great deal whether or not they show up as needy in their own minds.
Because a funny thing happens when any of us is held with true, loving regard. We begin to wake up to our true nature, which is whole and resourceful. That holds true no matter how much a client pays.
It distresses me that this is not more clearly and widely understood in the coaching world.
3. There is no correlation between the amount a client pays and the degree of engagement we experience or the pleasure I get from the session.
I also wondered if knowing what someone had paid might influence my coaching. Would I feel pressure to perform with a client who paid in multiples of a hundred dollars? And would I be less enthused or energized or have any number of thoughts about coaching someone who paid in multiples of ten?
As it happened, the first week I was far too busy to even think of looking up what a client paid before I showed up for the session. In week two, after a particularly satisfying session, it occurred to me to check. I discovered that the client I had enjoyed the most had actually paid the least.
After that I decided there was no benefit to paying attention to what people choose to pay, so I don’t.
4. Lowering the barriers to entry won’t help you get hired by folks who don’t know you exist.
21 individuals have signed up for PWYC coaching since I announced it in early September. As I write this on Friday, October 2, apart from a few sessions with folks who have become repeat clients, I don’t have any PWYC appointments for October. My conclusion? Even if you have been coaching for 20 years, as I have, your work is not front of mind for your prospective clients. No matter what your pricing model, you need to find a way to make your work visible and accessible to your just right clients on a regular basis.
5. Lowering the barriers to entry doesn’t change anything for folks who don’t know why they would hire you.
Being visible and accessible is not enough. Your just right clients need to see a reason to hire you–a reason expressed in terms that match their own values, needs, and priorities.
I’ll be working on this in the weeks ahead. I’m starting by asking recent clients to let me know what they got out of our sessions. I’m not talking about getting testimonials. I’m talking about listening carefully to how my clients talk about the value they received, the difference it made in their lives, and how it helped. That way, when I write a new description of my services for this ezine or the Web, it will be from the perspective of the client, not the coach.
This perspective shift is crucial. It is one thing to say to prospective clients: “I have seen something that could be really useful to you.” It’s another thing entirely to be able to report exactly how other clients have found it to be useful.
What folks have reported so far includes:
- Actually being excited about marketing their work.
- Feeling really, deeply good about themselves for the first time in ages.
- Looking forward to “loving up” their significant other after having months (or years) of relationship tension.
6. It can be difficult for people to hire you if you don’t name your price.
Most of us have a lot of thinking about money, and that can make it very difficult for someone to hire you if you don’t give them a number. They get lost in their thinking about what you really want or expect. They can get lost in their thinking about taking advantage of you or being taken advantage of.
Sometimes clients are reluctant to book again because they don’t feel they can afford to. In their minds they are locked into a price because they chose it once and hesitate to scheduled additional sessions for less money. When this emerges, I explain that I want is to coach people who want to be coached at whatever price they can afford to pay.
When people make an appointment, the intake form offers them a range of prices and “other.” I give the range to give some context and a starting point, and I’m really okay with “other.”
7. I have no idea how this will work over time, and that’s okay.
I need to earn a certain amount of money in order to keep the business going and contribute to the household. The costs of ongoing professional training, renewing my International Coach Federation membership, insurance, utilities, equipment, and a few hours each month from the office angel do add up.
In September I brought in a little less than half of what I need to earn in an average month. Right now I’m undergoing radiation therapy and working about half time. I am hopeful that as I get back to full time in the months ahead–and as people come to know about and trust this offer–the numbers will work out.
If they don’t? I’ll punt. I’ve been at this for 20 years, and I certainly know how to create and enroll programs. I’m mulling over a couple of groups now, in fact, that might have set fees and might not.
Meanwhile, I’ll keep my eyes open, pay attention to what is unfolding, and make new choices as the needs and opportunities arise.
Photo by pixabay.com