Living heARTfully and the problem of weaponized insight


Watch where you point that thing! The problem of weaponized insight

A participant in the Come Alive and Do the Thing! Mastermind has a brilliant term for the use of a supposedly wise observation to critique or diminish another person: weaponized insight.

Don’t you love it?

At first it was thrilling to me just to have a term for this phenomenon, but as I sat with it, I started to see some important implications.

A weaponized insight is a weapon, not an insight

The moment an insight becomes weaponized, it stops being an insight and becomes a weapon.

This goes a long way to explaining what’s going on when we use our own insights against ourselves.

Insights and weapons are inherently different

An insight produces a shift in awareness. It tends to expand awareness, deepen connection, and elevate consciousness.

A weapon has the opposite effect. It shrinks awareness as the person against whom it is being used goes into fight or flight.

It breaks the connection between the one who wields the weapon and the one against whom it is wielded.

And it tends to lower one’s level of consciousness to the realms of competition and survival.

When we use insight to assess, judge, and berate ourselves, it stops being insight

Weaponized insights aren’t always wielded by others. Some of the most pernicious are the ones we wield against ourselves.

How often have you argued with yourself about why you aren’t using your hard-won insights or following your wisdom in some area of your life?

I don’t know about you, but that has confused the hell out of me. How can I be so incredibly smart (just saying) and so incredibly stuck at the same time?

It’s because I’m confusing self flagellation with insight.

There is nothing insightful about any attack on your inherent okayness

Any so-called insight that calls into question your inherent okayness has been weaponized.

Since there is nothing wrong with you, any insight wrapped in the message that there is, is false.

Something that points at how you are (presumably) broken takes you in the wrong direction–but only entirely.

Put down the weapon first

I used to try to pry the insight apart from the weapon. My logic went something like this.

If I could only get the message of the insight, the weaponized message would not longer apply or hurt.

That didn’t work.

The weapon didn’t stop being a weapon until I simply put it down, even at the risk of dropping a seemingly good insight.

I began to see that wholeness is key

As I dropped my weaponized insights, I began to see the vital importance of beginning with the premise that every human being is created whole and deserving.

I saw how our relentless compulsions to judge, evaluate, and improve ourselves actually block access to deeper impulses toward goodness and creativity.

And I saw how authentic insight points us toward our underlying wholeness and connects us to those deeper impulses.

Here’s to freedom

Weaponized insights wound and diminish.

Authentic insight heals and expands. It can sting, but the sting is bracing and enlivening.

That distinction is liberating. Play with it. Take it for a test drive. And let me know what you discover.

Have a wonderful, wonder-filled week, and please share your thoughts and questions in the comments on my blog.



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Soul Speak: An invitation to wake up and light up the world

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

Why does coaching work, when it does? Free call tomorrow!

WynsmallQuick 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.

If you will be joining from a Mac or PC and this is your first time using Zoom,
please come to the Hangout a few minutes early to allow time to download the
free Zoom client. This download will happen automatically when you follow the
above link from your Web browser.

If you want to join from an iOS or Android device, please install the free Zoom
app of your choice in advance so that you are ready to go when the Hangout begins.

I hope you will join us!



Why Life Hacks Don’t Work (and What Does)

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.

Say what?

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 “The Art of Living”

Click here to learn about my newest program, The Art of Living: Creating Magic and Meaning in Life and Work. Save $100 when you sign up before April 21, 2016.

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What Pay What You Choose Pricing Is Teaching Me About Coaching and Business

IMG_1161Last 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, 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.


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