What are your possibilities?

This was a question I was asked to respond to in an online course I am doing on marketing.
What are your possibilities?
The instructions were to take 5 minutes and write down the first things that came to mind.
I started at the coward’s end of the spectrum: Walk away and go home. And then more ideas came; less resigned, more interesting and after a short while pretty creative. (Become a wildly successful leadership coach, create a new group movement, go on a full year vacation)
They are, in fact, all possibilities.
If I go back to my list I can certainly identify 4 or 5 possibilities that I can positively influence – there are real actions I can take, there are factors that are under my control. If I do just one of those things today, how will my possibilities look tomorrow and the next day?

What are my possibilities?

To keep improving my possibilities one positive step at a time.
To ask others the same question.
To keep growing the list.

With an open mind, generous heart and zero assumptions,
Ask yourself
What are my possibilities?
See what happens.

Got control?

Negative stress, my husband informed me, comes from the feeling of not having control. Yeah, that makes sense, I agreed with him.
It’s a straightforward insight and yet I hadn’t heard it put in such clear terms before. I’ve held onto that thought ever since.

I began observing myself in situations where I became impatient, annoyed or disengaged and discovered distinct patterns. In a short time it became readily apparent that when I felt helpless, at someone else’s mercy, or dependent on an outcome over which I felt I had no say, those negative emotions were almost certain to surface and persist. I found many more examples at home with family than at work which helped me recognize that the real work I needed to do was, above all, on myself.

So I learned to pay closer attention to my sense of control in various situations. Below are some of the things I do to regain control when I am on the verge of losing it or have already lost it. See if any of these make sense to you:

1. I go exercise.
If I can get out on my own, an extended walk helps me re-establish some degree of equilibrium. Just moving, thinking and being outside works wonders. If I don’t have the luxury of going solo, I just get into a space and do some sit-ups, push-ups or sun salutes. The point is, it doesn’t have to be much. I don’t need to change clothes. Simply straining myself a little shifts the energy in my body from overpowered to empowered.

2. I do a little housework.
My husband is an excellent housekeeper and does a lot of the stuff that I tend to avoid. Tackling a small duty, however, makes a positive difference. Folding and storing a load of laundry, sweeping the floor, or washing some dishes by hand. These are all tasks where I can see the results and I feel responsible.

3. I do my hair.
This may sound funny but it works. Doing my hair involves some effort. While I am fond of my naturally wavy-kinky tresses and the versatility of style I enjoy, washing, combing and styling my hair – typically in some form of braid or twist – takes some time and a bit of forearm strength and finger dexterity. Left to its own devices, my hair is wild and dense. Taming it on its own terms into neat side twists or multiple playful braids without the aid of a chemical relaxer becomes a source of stubborn pride and nice visual metaphor for the order I am striving to create and maintain.

4. I prepare myself a healthy meal.
A couple of years ago I undertook the Metabolic Balance program to work on improving my overall nutrition. Strict adherence in the beginning brought great results but after about a half year of seriously disciplined eating habits, I gradually let up and some of my less favorable habits snuck back in. Nevertheless, the basic principles (moderate portions of protein and veggies, minimal carbs, plus a daily apple) are still with me and have had a positive influence on my food intake. So when I prepare one such meal, I usually steam chicken with broccoli seasoned with some ginger, lemon, salt and pepper and then add a couple of cherry tomatoes for color. A tall glass of water to wash it all down and I feel like I have just won the discipline trophy of the year.

5. I write.
Journaling more than two or three times per month is often just enough to remind me that I have a valuable outlet that I may be neglecting. Giving my funk a name, address and telephone number lets me take ownership of my situation in a different and more balanced way. My journal doesn’t argue with me the way my head does. That makes writing a gift that keeps on giving. The more regularly I write, the more familiar I become with my mental and emotional neighborhood, the better I can cope with all manner of crises in my neighborhood and beyond.

Not quite 6. Time out.
I would love to be able to say that I find a quiet corner and go meditate but that is not the reality. When push comes to shove, I may have to leave the room quickly and go sulk for a time. While it may seem childish, it is also sometimes what I need to do before I can attempt a course correction. This type of time out is the ultimate signal that unless I claim that time and space for myself right then and there, the results are likely to be worse rather than better.

This last point is the one I waffled about including. It is not the strategy I am proud of or would recommend. Nevertheless, it is one of the things that I do when it feels like the battle for control is lost, if only briefly.

My primary finding here is that one of the best tools we have for recognizing control is understanding how we feel and behave when it is missing. Identifying these six ways I try to restore or boost my sense of self-control moves me that much closer to growing a resource which can quickly become scarce when the pressure is on and I need it most.

What do you do to manage and negotiate your sense of control? Please share. I would like to hear your thoughts.

Being seen as the coach


I did it!  I delivered my workshop on “Co-Active Coaching Techniques for Better Communication” at an international educators’ conference and loved every minute of it.  The primary focus was on introducing and practicing active listening, paraphrasing, the use of open questions and demonstrating how these skills converge during a coaching dialogue.

What did my participants take away from the session?

An appreciation for:

“Open questions. They show you are interested in what people want to say.”

“[The] combination of different techniques to form a whole (duplicating, open questions…)”

“Open questions and giving time to listen.”

Some realizations:

“I realized that I don’t “ask myself” the deeper questions I often ask others.”

“I want to paraphrase and duplicate more.”

“I will particularly use the “you say,…” in active listening.”

What did I learn in the process?

I learned that when I take on the role of the coach, I bring my best authentic self to the task and some things begin to happen:

I feel myself flexing my integrity muscles.
I authorize myself to soar and in doing so, encourage others to take wing, make the leap, run the risk; to find their own music and share it.
I resist that persistent urge to keep my coaching a secret.
I make my practice public (by offering workshops).
I accept the vulnerability that comes with putting my work out in the world.
I get to live my passion and deliver on a promise to myself.
I open myself to new contacts and unexpected conversations.

Educators talk a lot about goals, outcomes and processes.  These were all part of my positive workshop experience.  And yet the piece that truly makes me hardly able to wait until the next opportunity: the sheer joy of coaching others!  That’s how I know I’m in the right place, at the right time, doing the right thing.

What a blessing!

Recalibrating “enough”

My sense of “enough” is being recalibrated moment by moment.  What it means is that circumstances are helping me to recognize that what I may have considered lacking before, now strikes me as more than adequate.  Where it would certainly be possible to perceive a problem on the horizon, it has become equally as easy to see that things are as they are and in my response I can choose to make a problem of it or not.

Byron Katie instructs us in Loving What Is to “stop arguing with reality.” This straightforward maxim has helped me to do just that. As a result my “enough” becomes an instrument of ongoing learning. It can shrink and grow as the situation demands. Where would it help for me to listen more and more carefully? When what I thought what I wanted doesn’t pan out the way I was sure it would, how flexible is my sense of “enough”? When might I have achieved more by doing less? These are the times when I become more intimately acquainted with the real levers of change: reflecting, rethinking, unlearning: all precious opportunities to recalibrate my personal understanding of “enough”.

As a new year approaches, I wonder how my sense of “enough” will be stretched and challenged. Drawing on the wisdom of Peter Block, I may find comfort in the suggestion that The Answer to How is Yes.

Testing, testing: This is your coach speaking…

This year, this month, very recently, I learned to speak the following words out loud: I am starting my life coaching business.  It is a true statement and no longer that bottled dream on a shelf waiting patiently to be released.  My secret is out: I am here to coach and I know so because when I engage in the process and your agenda is at the center of attention, that is when I am most fully myself: present, curious, observant, connected.

My card

During our time together, we open up space in which to work.  We survey the landscape, explore the territory, become discoverers in your own backyard.  We can investigate exteriors and inner workings, we can wonder about oddities and ideosyncracies, tinker with habits and patterns.  Our process recognizes and honors the “quest” embedded in the questions and by design sets us on a course of movement towards your desired destination(s).

Our journey is rich in discovery.  Your research takes unexpected trajectories. New findings emerge. The topic of investigation shifts.  Your learning expands and you are energized by the forward momentum you have created. We walk, we skip, we amble. We catch our breath and move on.   We celebrate progress and do a victory dance right there in the space of our deliberate making. We mix our metaphors like exotic cocktails and have fun doing it.

I can hardly wait to work with you.  To listen intently, share in your humor; to welcome your wildest dreams and ambitions into the light of day; to life.

No longer a test: This is your coach speaking.  I’m here.

See you soon,