Monday, January 30, 2012

Influence is a Two-way Street

We just got back from a wonderful college tour trying to find colleges my son would be interested in applying to. What I enjoyed the most about this last college was what the Dean of Admissions said during his talk. He mentioned that he wouldn’t be focusing on how the school would shape the students, but rather in learning how the student would affect or change the school. I had to think about that statement. How could an 18 year old affect or change a college or university?

Thinking about this statement reminded me of how influence truly is a two way street. A teacher certainly influences a student, but a student can also affect a teacher, just ask any teacher. The only difference is that it is expected that the teacher will influence the student.

In many relationships, the expectation is that one of the parties will be having the “influential” role. Yet, influence is not a one way street. We influence the world we live in by the way we show up every day. When we are happy, and open to receive, we are received a certain way. When we are angry and negative, we are received another way. The moment you are in the presence of another, you are influencing them whether you like it or not.

Sometimes we don’t realize how we affect others. For example, certain emotions like disempowerment or victimization can be so self-absorbing that we forget how we impact those around us when we show up that way. Self-pity is not fun to be around. If only we could see how these types of negative emotions can color us in a way that is truly not only ugly, but unappealing to be around.

Perhaps, if we thought about ourselves as influential individuals, powerful just because we are alive and social creatures living and interacting with others, we might be more aware of our responsibility. Yes, we are responsible for how we show up in the world and hence, how we influence others.

This is the conversation I have with many of my coaching clients who are going through a difficult transition trying to pick up the pieces of their lives. In order to create what you want, you have to be what you want. You can’t create something that feels foreign to you. You can’t find a job that you don’t feel you are qualified for. You can’t be in a relationship you don’t feel like you deserve. You influence the outcome of what you create every time.

If you are interested in finding out about how you might be influencing others or the outcomes that you keep on creating, you might want to consider working with a spiritual life coach. Contact me for a complimentary 30 minute coaching conversation to determine if you’d like to work with me.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

To Coach Is To Provoke

A prospective client had recently called me and wanted to know how and what techniques I used in my coaching. There are lots of fancy words, techniques, methods, and names of other leaders in the field that  coaches use in their conversations. When I first started doing this work, I wanted to use the most sophisticated language to describe what I did thinking that the more complicated and fancy it sounded, the easier it would be to impress a potential client and hopefully get them to become an actual one.

The past year I have spent a lot of time re-discovering the value of the coaching I practice. I have learned that in the most severe cases where a client is deeply stuck in whatever it is they are going through, it is my disbelief that they are truly stuck that helps them move forward. Simply, put, I don’t buy the picture they have drawn for me. I buy that that is what they believe they have, but the reality is far from the picture in their hands. In other words, I don’t go down the rabbit hole with them.

Let’s take 3 independent stories about procrastination as an example:

She wanted to come up with a plan to tackle the tasks at hand. She mentioned that she had been procrastinating. It sounded simple enough, typical coaching material. When we went deeper, she realized that she was procrastinating, because she was depressed, things were not going well in other areas of her life, she couldn’t tackle the tasks because she was standing on shaky ground.

Yet another client I worked with that same day, brought up procrastination. For her it was about “order”. She couldn’t do something before she did something else. And that something else could not be done until something else was taken care of.

Today I worked with someone who was avoiding an important project, something she really cared to complete, because she was exhausted from taking care of some other things in her life. She had no energy left to finish her project.

All 3 wanted to accomplish their tasks or projects, but something  (depression, belief systems or habits, other distractions, lack of confidence) got in the way. None of them had much energy or enthusiasm. These were three different women with 3 different scenarios, stuck and unable to move.

Procrastination isn’t just about putting things off and being late or finishing at the last minute. Procrastination can lead to severe inertia to the point of depression, anxiety or physical illness. There is a reason for why we don’t do what we want to do. It is not because we are lazy, or slow. Under all procrastination there is at least one other layer of muck.

I see this in my children, when they are excited about something or enjoy doing something, it gets done before they even come in the door and take off their coats. If the task at hand is not enjoyable or reminds them of something negative, they cannot be held accountable to getting it done. That’s when as parents we think of ways of motivating them or holding them accountable. But the adults I work with, are self-motivated professionals. They understand the importance of the tasks or projects they are procrastinating. They are definitely not lazy or slow. So what gets in their way?

It is not procrastination as we know it at all. They get stuck, energetically stuck in their circumstances. They are not procrastinating, they simply cannot move forward. Depending on what is going on in their lives, they are frozen in a still life photograph that they bring with them to our coaching sessions.

Like a scientist examining an artifact or amber with trapped particles, a coach’s job is to imagine the particle outside the structure she is trapped in. Holding that possibility that there is a vibrant, energized, and alive being pretending to be stuck is what helps melt the amber and liquefy the solid trap. That is the beginning of the coaching conversation. It always starts from the same place, I hold the space and the possibility that being stuck is an illusion and that reality is far different from this state of inertia.

So, what techniques do I use in my sessions? I provoke to create a different possibility, one that the client found unimaginable or unattainable in the beginning. Once the provocation has taken effect, the coaching follows.

If you are stuck in procrastination or anything else, you may want to consider working with a spiritual life coach so you can begin imagining a different reality for yourself. Contact me for a complimentary 30 minute coaching conversation to determine if spiritual life coaching is something you might be interested in pursuing.

Friday, January 20, 2012


The most dangerous and destructive energy drain out there is one that is addictive, deceiving, manipulative, contagious, sneaky, and readily available. We are all guilty of partaking in it and offering or pushing it onto others. Most of the time, we are not even aware of how we engage in its distribution. It is bigger than us. It can entice us to talk up a storm, analyze a situation to death, and even keep us up at night. It breeds fear, negativity, anxiety, and depression.

Any guesses as to what it might be? If you guessed, drama, then you are correct. Drama is well disguised and yet it creeps into our lives all the time. My clients often complain about how talking to certain people brings them down. In fact, turning on the TV can be a very dangerous activity in that it opens the door to drama. Worse yet, you usually have your guard down listening to the news, unaware of how much drama was just injected into your psyche.

There are 3 major sources of drama: media (any kind of news, or entertainment), families, and work place.  Yes, it is everywhere. No, you don’t have to run away and live in a cave. You do have to be fully awake and alert and recognize it when it hits you. You don’t have to fight it, you’ll always lose. You don’t negotiate, you will lose. You breathe and allow it to blow through.

How? It is similar to hearing someone talk when you are not interested in what they are saying. You hear, you let them say what they have to say, you walk away. You turn on the TV, you watch, you listen, you recognize what is drama, what is real information, you take what you want, you walk away.

In summary, the best way to deal with drama is following the steps below:
1)    Breathe
2)    Recognize drama
3)    Keep on breathing
4)    Decipher what is useful information and what is not
5)    Choose what to do
6)    Move on

Sometimes, you might think you succeeded, but if you find yourself slightly irritated, doubtful, or anxious, then some of it got on you. Once again, go through steps 1 through 6 in your head and let go of drama. It cannot hurt you if you are aware of what is happening and choose not to let it get to you.

If you are interested in working with a spiritual life coach on learning how to cope with drama or any other kind of negative energy, contact me for a complimentary 30 minute coaching conversation to decide if spiritual life coaching is for you.

Saturday, January 14, 2012


He said he was hopeful for the New Year.  I was concerned about him, he was about to lose his father to a terminal illness and he hadn’t been taking it too well. Today, he said he was hopeful. “A new year means so many things and I can’t help but be full of hope”, he said with a half smile on his face.

What is hope? According to the dictionary hope is: “desire with the expectation of obtainment” or “to expect with confidence”. To me it is directly correlated with a beginning. Early morning is a time for hope for a good or successful day. Hopelessness on the other hand is directly correlated with an ending, it has a death like feeling to it. The night when the day has ended, is the end of the hope for the new day. In fact, we always say or think that tomorrow will be a new day, a new opportunity to try again, etc.

And what about in the middle of hope and hopelessness, what is that?  What is in that space or on that continuum? Or is it a continuum? Going back to the analogy of morning and night, the middle is the day. The middle is what happens between hope and hopelessness. The middle of desire and defeat is the practice or attempt to obtain whatever you were hopeful to achieve. The middle is where you forget about hope and how it started when you are busy doing what you thought you wanted to do. The middle is distracting, consuming, and deceiving. Only when the day has ended, you are reminded of how it began.

This kind of segmentation helps us digest our lives. 24 hour segments of beginnings and endings with the stuff in between, chunking life into digestible pieces. Yes, the New Year is a beginning full of hope and some time in December we decide whether we accomplished all that we had hoped to. In between January and the following December is when life happens.

What if every moment was like the dawn, full of hope? What if hope never ended? What if we were in a consistent state of hope? As young children we are more hopeful than as adults. Just look at a toddler when they wake up in the morning, they are bright eyed and fully alert and ready to go. Over time, we learn that we don’t always get what we want and with multiple experiences of defeat or what we perceive to be defeat, we become less bright eyed and hopeful.

Over time we learn that sometimes we get what we want and sometimes we do not. This is how hope gets diluted and eventually becomes hopeless. What if obtaining something or having an expectation was not part of the hope experience? What if hope was just a feeling, like joy or sadness or excitement? What if hope didn’t come with baggage?

That’s the hope that he was talking about. He had no expectations, he knew that his father would not survive his condition, yet he was still hopeful.  He was hopeful because it was a New Year and hope was just a part of the New Year experience. It was not logical or rational, it was an irrational emotion, a child-like enthusiasm, a beginning, a clean slate, endless possibilities, …

Spiritual life coaching provides an opportunity to explore concepts like hope in a safe space. Sometimes you can change what you believe they mean and then re-experience them in a new way. If you are interested in pursuing spiritual life coaching with me, contact me for a complimentary 30 minute spiritual coaching session.