Where the heck have I been and what’s next?

Oh dear, I haven’t written a newsletter or blog post since June 3rd. That’s no way to stay connected, and I apologize if you have wondered what the heck was going on.

The simple truth is that, rather like a cat, I’ve been suiting myself, following my inclinations so long as they did not harm anyone (not that cats actually seem to worry about that), and for whatever reason, those inclinations didn’t include a newsletter or video.

It’s been a rich time filled with both work and play. I love coaching, teaching coaches, and developing coaches (aka mentoring) more than ever. I also love my life more than ever and have been blessed with deep appreciation of each moment most of the time.

How cool is that?
I’m grateful to the readers who reached out recently to say, “what’s up? Where are you?” I feel incredibly fortunate that you are in my “reality web.” Please know that you are always welcome to reach out via email, Facebook, or any other channels that we have in common. I care about what you are up to and what you are up against. I welcome your questions, insights, and requests.

Mount Rainier seen from Sunrise

A few weeks ago The Charming Prince and I visited Sunrise Park on the slopes of Mount Rainier. This photo offers the merest glimpse of the majesty of that spectacular and holy place. I share it here as an image of the profound appreciation I feel these days for all of places in our lives and work. For whatever reason I find myself struck often by beauty and holiness, and not always in obvious places. One reason I’ve been silent these past months is that I’ve hesitated to in any way limit, constrain, or define this experience.
Next week The Charming Prince and I are headed to Paris. I anticipate returning home with an even fuller heart and lots of energy for work. Perhaps that work will include expressing what has been unfolding in my heart through the summer and connecting it to the work we do as coaches and coach trainers. Stay tuned. ♥

Is it you?

Are you my next client? ♥

Are you my next client?

It’s funny, after 22 years of coaching, I’ve gotten out of the habit of letting people know when I have room for new clients. Today is the day to get back in the groove.

Beginning in May, I have room for three new clients. If you’ve thought about working with me but hesitated for any reason, now’s a great time to schedule a discovery session. We’ll talk about what would make coaching the best decision you ever made (I mean, why not, right?). What would you have be different in your life? What dreams are you ready to step into? What old patterns, habits, or beliefs would you like to leave behind?

There’s no cost or obligation for a discovery session, and I will not ask you to make a decision about coaching on the spot. (Ick.) I want this to be right for both of us. Click here to learn a bit more about how I work and to request a discovery session.



100% Responsibility: It’s Up to You, and It’s Not on You

Baby with mirror meeting itselfI’m participating in Michael Neill’s 90-day Creating the Impossible program, which has recently been released in book form. Some other time I may share what a hoot it is that I would do this. The very name of the program would have once given me hives.

But I digress.

This week, Michael asked us to reflect on how much responsibility and control we have for creating our impossible projects. Another way of saying this is, “What percent is up to me, and what percent of accomplishing my impossible goal is up to Mind/Life/God/The Universe?”

I landed, to my surprise, on 100% up to me and 100% up to the Universe. And 50/50 is not the same thing as 100/100.

  • It’s not up to me to make the right choices (even as to my goal). How could I know? Nor is it up to me how my actions work out. How could I know?
  • It is 100% up to me to choose and act (or not) moment by moment, day by day.
  • It is 100% up to Mind/Life/God/The Universe to generate or give rise to the possibility of choice and action.
  • For all I know it is 100% to Mind/Life/God/The Universe to move me to choose or act and make it look like I moved.
  • And it is still 100% up to me.

100% responsibility is the essence of freedom. Who knew?

I’ve never before seen 100% responsibility as so fundamentally freeing. I can (100% of the time) show up for this goal or not. What showing up for this goal looks like will vary, and it may include times of inaction. It’s always up to me (innocently) as the local agent of Mind. I can do a crap job of it, and it’s up to me. I can do a great job of it, and it’s up to me. Oddly, it’s not up to me to know what is going to make the difference between a crap job and a great job (how would I know in the scheme of things?). And it’s still up to me.

For the first time in my life I see “up to me” as the simple fact of the matter and not the basis for an indictment or praise. I’m the hands, the eyes, the voice; it’s up to me, and that includes choosing to still my hands, look away, and be silent.

Click here to learn more about my impossible project, making the Three Principles the foundation of the International Coach Federation (ICF) definition of coaching and Core Coaching Competencies.

Click here to learn more and purchase Michael’s book, Creating the Impossible.

Patience is a byproduct of understanding how the mind works

Patience is a byproduct of understanding how the mind works.

The mind has an innate capacity for clarity and creativity. That’s our default state but for the moment to moment experience of personal thinking. When that thinking innocently creates an insoluble problem, the personal mind tends to ramp up, work harder, and increase pressure. This is like spinning your tires when you car is stuck. If you keep it up you shred the tires.

When we understand that mentally spinning our wheels (ruminating over frustration, anger, resentments, etc.) always results in shredded mental tires, we naturally discover the “patience” to allow our minds to settle down. It takes no more effort to choose to settle down than it takes to remove your hand from a hot stove.

[A minimally edited transcript follows]

I just finished a conversation with my ongoing Art of Living group. We were looking at patience. One of the folks in the group commented that it looks to her like one of the keys to living wisely and well, and working wisely and well, is to cultivate patience.

We had been talking about how each of us has a perfectly functional GPS, internal guidance system, that delivers information, inspiration, and guidance that is formulated specifically for each moment in our lives and work. We often innocently muck it up, because we have a head full of personal concepts about what we should be doing, where we should be going, how fast things should be moving, or in some cases that things shouldn’t be moving so fast. We muck up our capacity to respond wisely and well in the moment, because we’re innocently imposing a lot of assessments, opinions, worries, and analyses that aren’t actually contributing to the quality of the data and insight at hand.

In response to that, one of my clients said, “Well, that takes patience. So many times in our meetings, I’ve written down, ‘Patience, cultivate patience.'”

What I said to her is, “It looks like it’s patience, but patience is a side effect of understanding how life works, understanding how you work, understanding how you work optimally. When you understand how you work optimally, it’s natural to exercise restraint when you recognize that you’re not optimized.”

It’s natural to not pick up the phone and make the angry phone call when you have a deep recognition that that isn’t likely to work. You don’t really have to restrain yourself by an application of will if you know it won’t help. You may still want to, you’re just as angry, you’re just as wound up, and it just doesn’t make sense to make that phone call.

socks don't require patience, they require understandingPeople often tell me that they wish they could knit, but they just don’t have the patience. That’s always puzzled me. I don’t have patience either. It would drive me crazy to wait for a sock to get done. But I don’t wait for a sock to get done, I make socks. I don’t wait while I’m working on a sweater for it to be finished, I’m making the sweater. I’m engaged in it. There is no waiting, no patience required. No patience required, because I understand how the sock is created and I understand my role in that creation, and I’m good with it.

When it comes to taking action in life but being frustrated in the process, we are going to be more effective when we understand how the mind works. If we allow the mind to grind away, analyze, and ruminate, it’s like spinning our wheels when the car gets stuck. We can spin our wheels and shred the tires, or we can look for a way out of the stuckness. Spinning our wheels and shredding our tires just doesn’t make sense to most of us after we learn that spinning your wheels will shred your tires. Patience (the willingness to stop spinning the wheels and look for a better way) is a byproduct of understanding.

Understanding doesn’t necessarily prevent frustration, but it prevents amplifying the frustration. When we see that we can use our minds to ramp up our frustration levels or allow our minds to quiet, it just makes sense to us to choose the latter. We don’t have to work at it; we just see that it’s a better option.

New options and ways to move forward emerge when we tap into our intelligence, our understanding, and recognize what doesn’t help. This may not sound like a big deal, but recognizing what doesn’t help in a deep and profound way takes a lot off your mind. When you’ve taken that off your mind, so many things that we think of as skills (patience, acceptance, wonder, creative thought, making new connections, looking for a new way, being open-minded) emerge naturally out of the intelligence that we’re part of.

When we understand how life works, when we understand that there’s a certain state of mind in which we’re tire-spinning, and we recognize that trying harder from there will only shred our tires, when we understand that, even if we don’t know yet what to do instead, we can plug into the intelligence to stop spinning, in that space, every time, some new possibility will arise.

If you try to manage the emergence of  new possibilities, you’re doing a subtle kind of tire-spinning. It takes some insight and some appreciation of when you’ve had this going for you in your life to trust the process and allow fresh possibilities to emerge. You can cultivate a feel for spinning your tires and not spinning your tires mentally. You know of times when you’ve done tire-spinning and when you haven’t done tire-spinning. Let yourself notice and appreciate how natural it can be to recognize the difference and exercise your free will to choose the better option.

I’m saying that all you really need to know is that not spinning your tires reconnects you to new possibilities and new options. While you’re spinning your tires, you can’t see beyond your current thinking. As soon as you stop spinning them, you become available to new solutions. You’re not in charge of the timing. You’re not in charge of the nature of the solution. The more deeply you understand the difference between spinning your tires and opening your mind, the more quickly and simply you’ll notice that next steps emerge. They may or may not look like full-blown solutions, but you’ll always see a next immediate step. That’s always an improvement over shredding your tires.

I’d love to hear where this lands, what lands, what doesn’t. So email me or comment. Thanks for watching!

Why Coaches Should Avoid the Black Box of Stuckness

[I’m experimenting with having transcripts of my videos made. Let me know if you like it, are neutral, or hate it. ♥ MLG]

If you have been a regular video follower or watcher, thank you for your flexibility and patience in these last couple of months. For four years or so, I was consistent in producing or creating weekly videos. For the last couple of months, it’s just been really erratic. So there you are.

Part of what’s been going on behind the scenes is that I’ve gotten clearer that I really care—sue me ;-)—I really care about the coaching profession. It looks to me like coaching emerged in the last half of the 20th century in response to an evolving, awakening awareness about the nature of human beings when it comes to learning and potential. Like, coaching woke up in us and in various people and different disciplines as we began to appreciate that human beings are designed to learn, and that human beings are coded to adapt, to develop. And yet that there seemed to be things that got in the way of the full expression of that capacity to learn and develop.

So we got curious about what’s in the way of the flowering of human potential. It seems to me as I sit here right now, and I’m just thinking out loud, that there were two opposing forces from the beginning of coaching. One developmental or evolutionary direction was, “Holy crap, human beings learn and when we show up for each other with a certain kind of listening, a certain kind of presence, attention, open-ended curiosity, that learning is catalyzed, even accelerated!” (Cool, no?)

The opposing force was a preoccupation with what gets in the way of human learning. What is it that keeps us from fulfilling our potential? It seems to me that this is a really good question, and I think that there’s a trick embedded in it.

The trick is that if we get too impressed with what’s in the way, we become complicit with an obstacle created in the mind of the person who is stuck. Like, everyone who has ever been stuck is stuck within the limits of the way they perceive, concoct, and understand their situation and their circumstances. Stuckness cannot occur outside of the box that we’re stuck in.

Stuckness cannot occur outside of the box that we’re stuck in.

It’s innocent, and to the degree that coaching became preoccupied with unpacking what’s in that box, the black box of stuckness, we developed, (this happened in therapy, too) lots of way to unpack, reorder, repack, improve, tweak, manipulate, manage, optimize the contents of the black box of stuckness. But the thing is you don’t have to do that. You can look beyond, look through, look under, around the black box of stuckness.

You don’t have to unpack what’s in the way, if you understand that what’s in the way is always a product of thought in the moment. That may sound facile, but there is a depth and a richness underneath that very simple statement, that stuckness is always the product of thought in the moment, and that unstuckness is the result of insight, which redesigns, restructures, replaces the contents of the black box. Every time.

And so, there are coaching tools, coaching techniques, coaching interventions, lists of coaching questions, all of which appear to improve what’s in the black box such that clients get unstuck. I propose that what’s actually happening is that all of those interventions, one way or another, coincided with the emergence of an insight in the client such that the black box is no longer an issue.

There’s a famous quote attributed (apparently mistakenly) to Einstein to the effect that we cannot solve problems at the same level of consciousness at which they were created. He said something like that, but he didn’t say that. (Sorry, I can be geeky about attribution.)
Well, Einsteinian or not, it looks to me to be very useful. We cannot solve the problems that our clients have or help them solve them if we get preoccupied with what they created at the level of consciousness in which the problem emerged. We and our clients can absolutely re-engage situations, learn, adapt, develop, innovate, create, tweak, when we are no longer preoccupied by or limited to or enchanted or entranced by the problem of the black box in front of us.

One way I talked about this recently on LinkedIn is, “Are you coaching the signal or the noise?” When we coach the signal, we’re trying to help a client get over, past, beyond, free from the noise created by that black box of stuckness. When we coach the signal, when we coach the client to differentiate between signal and noise, we are supporting the client to learn, to have a fresh look, to engage with the potential for a new thought. And that is an insight-based process, not a performance-based process. It has immense implications for performance, but it doesn’t start by tweaking performance.

I don’t know if any of this made sense to you. I would love your pushback, your feedback, your questions. This is what I’m up to in 2018,  articulating the fundamental principles that are the key to client learning, to client transformation. Excuse me, it’s what we’re all up to as coaches, but we don’t all look in the same place for it, and I want us to look deeper at the source code of transformation, and not at the black box that is temporarily in the way of transformation.

So let her rip. I want to hear from you. Thank you.

Share your thoughts in the comments or email me. 

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