• Read Pain is Inevitable, Suffering is Optional

    Emotional Intelligence, Mindfulness, Well Being

    Pain is Inevitable, Suffering is Optional

    The title of today’s blog is a quote that has been attributed to many notable talking heads, including the Dali Lama.  And it’s the events of last week that really brought it home for me, as in the wee hours of Friday morning, when I should have been peacefully sleeping, I was awakened by a massive migraine attack, complete with nausea and all the fun things a migraine can throw one’s way.  The bottom line – it was an unrelenting 24 hours of hell.  And not just on the physical front.  Especially not only on the physical front.  In-between unsteady trips to the bathroom my mind was awash with anxiety.  What’s going to happen to all my client appointments tomorrow?  Cancelled.  What’s going to happen to my blog I need to finish and get out by the end of the week?  Not happening. What if this wrecks my business?  Clients are going to think I’m unreliable.  How am I supposed to plan and manage my engagements when something like this can strike without a moment’s notice? What if this puts undue stain on my marriage?  Me being up keeps him up.  How much can my husband really take?  It left me drained, emotionally and physically, but also quite reflective.  Because at some point, in the midst of all the strife, strain and obsessive worrying, I realized I had a choice.  Not a choice of whether I get to have migraines – unfortunately I don’t have that kind of power!  But a choice on what perspective I get to take on the situation.  And it’s the perspective I take that leads directly to how much suffering I must endure. What does it mean to suffer? To break this down, let’s think about what suffering means.  It’s worth noodling on this considering the Buddha said many a time that “life is suffering.”  On the surface of it, not the most upbeat way to view our journey around planet earth.  But it depends on how you look at it.  I’ve often defined suffering as “resistance to what is.”  Resistance creates pressure.  And pressure creates stress.  And so, when folks enter my virtual office these days and say things like they’re burned out and stressed out, I believe them.  They are.  But I also say the solution lies not so much in having more time in the day to address a never-ending list of to-dos, but more in the way we manage our energy relative to the problems life throws our way.  Because unfortunately, like it or not, life will throw us problems.  That’s the one thing we can always count on.  The real problem is we think we shouldn’t have problems.  And therefore, we spend a lot of time resisting said problems, which creates a lot of suffering. Recognize any of these? If only I’d had a better childhood, then I wouldn’t be navigating all the difficulty I am right now. They were wrong to fire me.  If they had really valued me, […]

    February 26, 2024

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    5.5 min read

  • Read Consider this if you struggle to be assertive

    Authenticity, Emotional Intelligence, Leadership

    Consider this if you struggle to be assertive

    We are often told we need to be assertive.  Assertive, but not aggressive.  And that can be a tall order for many of us, especially those of us that learned to make our way through life as the pleaser/appeaser.  For those of us that fall or have fallen at some point into this category (myself included) when we try to make a conscious shift, we may find ourselves over correcting and drawing a much harder line than we intended.  Imagine a pendulum swinging all the way from the left to the right.  We feel guilty about it, and may find ourselves going back and forth in our heads thinking – “Did that come across as rude?  “Did I overdo it?”  “Do I need to apologize?”  Maybe we do end up apologizing, maybe we’re not sure, but things are awkward.  This assertiveness thing is too hard, too sticky.  And maybe we’re better off just doing what we do best – going along to get along. Or maybe the shift is an unconscious one and perhaps the resentment we have shoved down for so long finally boils to the surface and we blow our top like a fiery volcano.  This explosion becomes another mess we need to clean up and we find ourselves full of shame, guilt, we over apologize, maybe we beat ourselves up about it and punish ourselves and we double down on trying to be the pleaser, because good people don’t do things like this, right?  If I was a better person, I would have been able to keep my cool and wouldn’t have reacted that way, right? In my opinion, assertiveness is one of the hardest things to get right, mainly because we have so much baggage around it.  When I really started looking at the roots of this for myself, I had to go deep.  Find the root cause If you’ve never met me in person, outside of the virtual world of zoom, there is something about me you will notice instantly.  No, not my dazzling smile or my bright blue eyes, as lovely as they may be.  I’m 6 foot 1.  If I were male, you probably wouldn’t bat an eyelid.  But even though humans are getting taller and taller these days due to better nutrition and living standards, 6 foot 1 for a woman is still really tall.  And I didn’t shoot up like a weed later in life.  I’ve always been tall.  All my baby records were off the charts.  I was always in the top 1% of height for my age, since about birth. So you can imagine that when I started elementary school I definitely stood out in the room, pun completely intended.  And I bet you can guess what happened.  I got teased.  Bullied is the word we would probably use now.  And it was relentless.  It was every day, so much so that in the mornings I’d be nauseous and never want to go to school, because I knew what […]

    February 15, 2024

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    6.7 min read

  • Read The Beauty of Grace

    Emotional Intelligence, Relationships, Spirituality

    The Beauty of Grace

    I’ve been noticing a trend in popular culture lately as it pertains to relationships.  Evidently, we live in a toxic world, full of narcissistic people who don’t deserve to have our friendship or our comradery as colleagues.  We are often told by various self-help guru’s and other talking heads that we need to cut these people out of our lives. You know the kind of problem people I’m talking about.  They’re the selfish, difficult ones who don’t respect boundaries.  Who take and never give.  And the most appropriate response is to ghost them, particularly if it’s a personal relationship.  Ghosting a colleague or a boss at work is a bit tricker but many of us find ways to “work around” problem people or secure our escape in other ways, perhaps by changing departments or jobs. The problem is, it’s just not this simple.  And there comes a point at which you can’t keep avoiding problem people, trust me I’ve tried.  I’m not in any way advocating tolerating abuse, but there’s a difference between abuse and dislike.  There’s a difference between abuse and valuing different things.  We can put up wall after wall after wall, but the interesting thing about life is that it will keep sending you the same challenges over and over until you rise to the occasion and look more deeply inwards at what is really going on.  Grace under pressure I’ve known my friend Morgan for years.  She’s the amazing artist type, somewhat erratic, flies by the seat of her pants, creative and fun. I’m not, and that has been a point of contention over the years, especially as it relates to timeliness and honoring appointments.  I expect her to agree to a time to meet and be there at that time.  It doesn’t always happen.  And so the tension had grown and grown in our relationship – I was becoming increasingly resentful of her tardiness, and I made it personal.  That she didn’t respect me, that she didn’t care, that she didn’t give a damn.  We had fought about this in the past and I just didn’t have the energy to re-engage, plus, she’s a better fighter than I am.  I was ready to walk away from the relationship. So the other day I showed up for a walk at 8 am, the agreed time, and I rang the door and I waited.  No Morgan.  I called.  No answer.  I waited about 5 minutes and then I left.  I went and got gas.  I was looking at my phone, deciding which yoga class to go to instead, and I saw her name pop up.  Normally I would have avoided the call – she lost the opportunity to walk with me, she can bear the consequences, and this friendship really is on its way out.  So be it. Instead, I took the call and told her I’d come back to walk after I got the gas.  Why did I do it?  I’m still not sure.  But I […]

    February 8, 2024

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    6.8 min read

  • Read This is the question you need to ask yourself in 2024

    Authenticity, Life Direction and Purpose, Productivity

    This is the question you need to ask yourself in 2024

    I stopped making new year’s resolutions a while back.  I could never see the point, especially considering the statistics that surround them.  Just this morning the news was mentioning by the end of January, 43% of Americans will have already given up on whatever it was they resolved to do.  But if not a new year’s resolution, then what?  I think it’s human nature to gravitate towards the future.  To think about things like goals and plans.  I’ve been pondering this conundrum lately, as I’ve spent the last month taking a much needed and long breath.  And I use the word breath very intentionally, rather than break.  I closed my practice down over the holidays, something I’ve never done before.  I went hiking with my husband out in the southwest – we visited Zion, Bryce Canyon, White Sands and many other desert hot spots.  The breath gave me time to ask myself some questions, and to do some deeper reflection on what I really want.  But the questions I was asking myself were different than the ones I’ve often asked myself in the past.  In the past it tended to center around goal setting.  What goals do I want to set for myself this year?  What do I want to accomplish?  Then a logical jumping off point from that question is to then think about how to make those goals SMART – specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time bound.  We are starting with the wrong question. I tried asking myself these questions over my break this year, but no dice.  I really tried.  The answers just weren’t coming, and I did something that was hard to do – I resisted the urge to just come up with something and put it in a spreadsheet.  It was really tough because the feeling of restlessness came up.  I had a feeling it would come, and it was overwhelming.  It was pushing me to sign up for a million different things and to try to fill my schedule with a million different activities.  Restlessness is a feeling I’ll do anything to escape.  I decided to sit with it instead.  I looked deep into that feeling, and the patterns it can often create in my life.  I asked myself what was really going on, what was sitting under the restlessness.  I asked again and again, I resolved myself to feel it, and it eventually passed. And from the bottom of that well, a different kind of question emerged.  This year, I stopped asking myself, “What do I want to do?”  And I started asking myself instead a different question, “How do I want to be?”  Being versus the doing The answer was one single word that kept coming to me over and over and over again.  In conversations, in dreams, in everyday life interactions.  Depth.  It’s become my word now for 2024, an intention that I’ve set to define my year. Interestingly I’m feeling very differently about 2024 having gone through this reflection and […]

    January 24, 2024

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    5 min read

  • Read How to Manage the Emotional Impact of Change

    Change, Leadership

    How to Manage the Emotional Impact of Change

    I’ve got to restructure my group, it’s a mandate from the top.  Three are going to have to leave.  I know how I’m going to make the decision as to who stays and who goes, but I don’t know what to do about the emotional impact on the group as a whole.  How do I manage the emotional impact of change? It’s a question that came up in a group coaching session this week.  An organization I’m working with currently is undergoing a profound amount of change.  The tone on that call was somber.  She wasn’t the only one facing this challenge. And the answer to the question?  The answer is there is no easy answer.  And that’s tough, because most of us who are in leadership positions got there because we’re good at solving problems.  We’re type A people who know how to get sh#t done.  Our tendency to be able to jump in and fix things is what has gotten us to the point we’re at, it’s our success formula so to speak.  Utilize Compassionate Empathy for Managing the Emotional Impact of Change Managing the emotional impact of a reorganization or a significant change isn’t something that can just be easily ticked off a to do list.  And this causes significant stress for a lot of leaders because in essence we feel helpless.  In our ignorance of how to deal with the situation, we often end up ignoring the problem.  Which makes things even worse.  The bottom line is you don’t “fix” emotions.  You hold the space for them gently.  You acknowledge them, don’t try to rush people through them and don’t try to change them or make them go away.  You let them be.  Leading with compassionate empathy can be tricky.  It’s not the same as pity or sympathy, where we feel sorry FOR the other person.  It’s about allowing yourself to feel WITH them without taking the responsibility for solving their problem on your shoulders.  In practice it looks quite simple but it can be quite difficult to do.   3 Steps for Navigating Change with Compassionate Empathy 1) Create a safe space.  Maybe this is a 1:1 rather than a team meeting.  You might ask, “How are you feeling about the change?  How is the impending reorganization personally affecting you?”  Ask a few open-ended questions and then wait. 2) Embrace any awkward silence that may arise.  This can be excruciating if we’re not used to it and you might be tempted to fill the silence.  Don’t.  Trust me, they’ll eventually speak.  And then deeply listen.  Listen for the tone in their voice, listen for the specific words they’re using.  Are they sad?  Anxious?  Angry?  Resentful?  Listen for the emotions present in what they are saying, even if they don’t name a feeling. 3) Acknowledge and validate what you’re hearing.  It doesn’t mean you have to agree with their interpretation or how they’re processing the information.  “It makes perfect sense that you’re frustrated.  This is the […]

    December 8, 2023

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    4.8 min read

  • Read Know your place (and embrace it)

    Authenticity, Life Direction and Purpose

    Know your place (and embrace it)

    I’ve often mused that that trick is life is figuring out what you want, especially in this world that is overflowing with options and opinions.  After all, it was the Cheshire cat in the story of Alice in Wonderland who wisely said, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.”  It’s not enough to know what we don’t want, which is the less than powerful place we often navigate from.  The question is what do you really want?  What does your heart long for?  But cultivating a direction requires some careful thought and often some courage.  Without it, we can end up living someone else’s version of our story, rather than the one we were meant to create. Navigate from a place of what you want, not what you don’t I’ll share a personal example to illustrate this point.  For the last couple of years, I’ve been figuring this out for myself, as I further refine my idea of my business, my calling in life and my priorities.  I’ve been asking myself a lot of questions – What do I want my business to be?  How do I want it to grow?  Do I even want it to grow?  What do I want my life to look like?  Who is my ideal client?  How am I meant to serve?  And the answers are not often super straightforward because life will test us on this path.  Charismatic colleagues and friends will show up with exciting business opportunities, saying things like, You need to introduce more products into your business so you can generate passive income!  Or – I’ve got an idea or dream of creating something large and scalable where we’ll hire other coaches and build a coaching powerhouse of a business.  Think big, think Lencioni and the Table Group.  Think Kornferry.  We can charge big money, travel the world, farm out the work and live high on the hog!  Or – You’re such a talented coach, you’d be crazy to define your niche so narrowly and just work with women.  Options and possibilities are a wonderful thing indeed, but there is a dark side.  When you don’t have a clear direction for where you want to go, it’s easy to get seduced and swept away by someone else’s vision.  And I can be just that person, considering I’m a natural enabler and want to see folks that I care about be successful and achieve their goals.  Plus, sometimes it’s just easier frankly to ride someone else’s wave.  You don’t have to think too hard.  You don’t have to do your own heavy lifting and your own deep work.  And we also get seduced because you don’t have to take accountability when you’re riding someone else’s wave – if it’s not a success you can always point the finger and blame them instead. Serve your soul, not your ego I’m realizing there’s something so powerful in recognizing who you are and putting a stake in the […]

    November 30, 2023

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    4.9 min read