Creative Use of Coaching Structure for Successful Change

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How can the creative use of coaching structures help you develop the professional and personal changes you really want?  

Life coaching is fundamentally a dynamic conversational structure— a co-creation between the coach and client to bring forth the new ideas, images, and perspectives that will best serve the client in creating transformative career and life changes.  From the beginning, I as the coach set up a special structure for effective change-making by creating a safe "container" between myself and my clients to help them go farther and deeper in exploring new possibilities and directions.

This "container" is the invisible structure that holds the energy and flow of the coaching conversation—while the coaching conversation itself is the structure that's heard and felt, and moves the client forward.  As I build safety and trust into the coaching "container," clients feel more grounded and more able to participate fully in the coaching exploration about what they really want to achieve.  

Using powerful, stimulating questions and imagery, I expand the conversation to help clients develop the big picture of what they really want, which can sometimes feel scary as well as exciting.  When they are clear about their new choices and direction, the coach can then re-shape the structure of the conversation to help them focus on choosing actions and timelines to manifest their dreams and goals.

Brian, a retired teacher, was struggling to complete the book he was writing based on The Remembrances of Times Past by Marcel Proust.  Brian had recently had a birthday and commented that he felt old, but that this next year for him was supposed to be one of "energy and change." Sensing that he was feeling discouraged about how his life was going because of the lack of progress with his book, I re-phrased this as "a year of energy and transformation." Then I asked him, "What's in the cocoon that wants to come out?"  

"Good question!" exclaimed Brian, and his face brightened. Then he described the image that came to him of a chick pecking its way out of an egg shell, emerging cautiously but gaining energy by moving.  "The egg is transformed into a chicken with its own distinctive internal structure," he said.  "By its own efforts, it's hatched from the limited external structure of the egg shell.  It's free to move and make sounds!"  With his energy opened by a resonant image, Brian felt ready to re-focus and create a plan for moving on and completing his book.

In this case, the structure of the 20-minute coaching conversation expanded with a powerful question that both acknowledged Brian's feeling stuck with his book and his life— and offered "cocoon" as an image of potentiality for transformative change.  As Brian connected with this image, he was able to take it further and create a new opening to go forward with his book. The structure of our conversation then shifted to a more straightforward planning mode with action steps, a timetable, and a method of accountability.

What I've found is that using creative structuring with coaching conversations supports people in getting out of stuckness and into successful outcomes.  This can help you—

  • Transform unsatisfying ways of working into heart-centered livelihood that feels successful and purposeful to you

  • Create more time and energy (life balance) for living with fulfillment and purpose

  • Shift gears into retirement in ways that feel deeply satisfying to you

  • Create more effortless, personalized, and authentic marketing outreach for solopreneurs

  • Learn how to have more effective coaching conversations with clients (mentor coaching)

What is the conversation you're longing to have?

Coach Mentoring for Coaches— Keeping the Spark Alive!

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Have you ever wanted someone to support you in realizing your dream as an aspiring professional in your field? 

Have you ever had a mentor in your life?  

In the coaching field, there's a lot of discussion now about the roles of coach mentors.  As with mentoring in any professional field, a very important function of coach mentors is helping less experienced coach clients fine-tune the quality, breadth, and depth of their coaching.  This also includes coach mentors who support coaches applying for professional credentialing through the International Coach Federation (ICF).  Additionally, coach mentors may offer coaches practice with integrating non-coaching skills into their coaching (e.g., business development, cross-cultural awareness).

As a credentialed coach and certified mentor coach (as defined by ICF), I'm very glad to be part of the mentoring wave flowing through the coaching profession. I very much enjoy mentoring coaches in the areas mentioned above.  In addition to mentoring other coaches, I, too, have received valuable mentoring at certain times from other coaches whose professional expertise I trust and from whom I want to learn. 

A mentor from my mentor coach certification training, Marion Franklin, MCC, introduced me to more nuanced ways of listening to my clients, which allows me to have more fluid coaching conversations with more useful outcomes for them.  My current coach mentor, Ian White, Life Fulfillment coach, has an open, imaginative mind and always helps me find new, creative directions with my coaching.  I have monthly sessions with him to keep my coaching skills sharp and effective.

Why mentoring?

During one session with Ian, I mentioned that I'd been feeling vulnerable from some challenging event in my life.  Because of that, I felt I was at a new level with my coaching, but wasn't sure what it was all about. Ian identified this transition as "transformational, like starting a blaze!"  That image was so vivid to me that I realized, "Yes, this why I coach.  I'm keeping the spark alive!  I help my clients reach for what is alive in themselves to make positive changes in their lives."

Throughout the ages, mentoring— the passing on of survival and working skills from one person to another— has been the primary way that humans have learned how to navigate successfully the tricky terrain of staying alive and retaining cultural legacies into the next generations.  As the world of work diversified, people became apprentices in different trades or professions.  The more promising candidates were mentored into journeymen or mastery when they were considered competent and able to set up their own businesses. 

These days experienced teachers, professors, and corporate managers and executives may be called on to provide mentoring to less experienced employees and students to help them learn to work more skillfully within their departments or organizations.  Many mentors invite their mentees into important networks for developing professional contacts leading to speaking, publishing, and/or teaching opportunities.

In what ways do coaches need coach mentors? 

We coaches invest a great deal of ourselves in helping clients open their vision for their future, align their career and life planning with their values, find new opportunities on which to base new choices, and motivate them to go forward.  Helping our clients keep the spark alive to make changes that matter in their lives is rewarding and sometimes demanding work.  Periodically, we coaches benefit from skilled mentors who remind us just what it is about coaching that we love to do!

As both coaches and teachers, coach mentors challenge their coach clients to move to the next level of excellence in their work by giving them clear feedback about their coaching interactions with their clients. They inspire their coach clients to expand their reach in helping their own clients understand and make the changes they really want.  Coach mentors remind their coach clients to be curious and open to new perspectives that can help their own clients grow and evolve with consciousness and clarity.

What makes mentoring such an effective learning experience for both the coach mentor and the coaching client?  

As Lois L. Zachary says in The Mentor's Guide,"Learning on the part of both mentor and mentee grounds the work of mentoring. It is the reason we do it, the process we engage in during a mentoring relationship, and the outcome that both mentor and mentee seek."  As both a coach mentor and a coach receiving mentoring, I know and look forward to the mutual learning involved in these relationships.  Mentoring other coaches also affirms my connection to, and appreciation of, the profession and process of coaching as an alive and authentic way of helping people create meaningful changes in their lives.

Defining Heart-Centered Success in Your Own Terms for Your Work and Your Whole Life

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What does it mean to define heart-centered success in your own terms with work and your whole life?  You don't necessarily need to become famous or rich.  Most importantly, you don't need to give up anything that's really important to you.  Clarifying what heart-centered success means to you is about getting to know who you really are and what really motivates you NOW.  The drive to find work and a way of life that deeply satisfies the needs of a person's spirit can be so powerful that it blows right through old messages from teachers, parents, peers, and the media that say, "you can't" or ''that's not what you're trained to do" or "you won't be able to make a living at that."

If you’re feeling burned out or limited at work, it’s likely you’re seeing your professional future and the picture of your life based only on your past and present experience, training, education, or family expectations.  As Barbara Sher in her book on strategic change-making, Wishcraft, asks:  “Were you given real help and encouragement in finding out what you wanted to do-- and how to do it?”  

If not-- and most people I’ve worked with have not been-- then your first step is:  

Begin to envision an authentic career and life as an integrated process based on what motivates and inspires you in the present moment! 

If you're reading this post, you may be exploring what it means to feel successful

in your career or the quality of your life as a whole— with relationships, creativity,

fitness, travel, spirituality, and whatever else is important to you.  Perhaps there's something intangible that you long for to bring a glow to all parts of your life.  This is what I call the "heart-centered" quality of success.  Your can feel it as energy, vitality, and passion.  Essentially, it's about understanding what it is that calls you.

As I wrote in my book, Success with Soul, "Vitality is our energy and passion to live fully, to discover our purpose, to awaken to the gifts we have to offer and not just get by— on the job, in our relationships with others, in every activity we undertake."

When I coach people, that's where we're going— towards where their energy

vibrates at a high level and towards where they are genuinely attracted.  At this energetic level, you're able to connect with what is most meaningful to you— and to your capacity to let this open and flourish.

Nicole, is a coach in her mid-50s with a strong business background, hardworking and creative.  She began coaching with me because she felt stuck professionally.  She believed that to go forward, she needed to create a bigger business involving associates, trainings, and informational products.  Each time she took a step in that direction, however, she could feel herself losing energy and interest.

Her dream was to go back to living in the country on a good-sized piece of land, but she insisted that she needed to make more money before she could afford to do this.  However, she was clearly longing to take action in a new way.  

So I asked her if she’d be willing to look at whatever she enjoyed doing, then brainstorm ideas for career directions for each possibility.  Soon it became clear that everything she loved doing was in the outdoors.  With “Hiking,” she considered becoming a professional photographer.  “Kayaking” led her to the prospect of offering kayaking tours.

But when she offered “Chickens” as what she loved, then I really heard the passion in her voice, while she felt the upsurge in her energy!  From this place of aliveness, she envisioned starting her own chicken farm of free-range chickens, finding someone with land with whom to partner (thus reducing her need for instant capital).  

In fact, she was passionate about wanting to rid the world of chicken factory farms that torture these animals to force them to produce.  By educating people about the humane advantages of backyard chicken farms, she also saw she could have more opportunities to be outdoors helping people make this happen. 

She even stretched her vision to consulting with Hollywood film professionals about setting up “boutique farms” in their spacious backyards.  With her passion, knowledge, business and coaching skills, she saw clearly how she could help them design and operate aesthetic, flourishing, self-sustaining chicken environments.

Most importantly, Nicole felt supported in embracing a new work and life direction that made her feel alive and ready to work at achieving her dream. 

So if feeling heart-centered success in your work and your whole life sounds like the direction you'd like to take, ask yourself—

What is heart-centered success to me?

How do I want to contribute from my heart?

What support do I need to lift my energy to a higher level to find purpose and aliveness in my work and my life?

Creating Transformational Change

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What is transformation? And what is so important about the radical shift that transformational change can make in your life?

In my coaching career, I've had the privilege of helping many people make the changes they wanted in their work and other aspects of their lives. However, I began to see a profound difference between the experience of simply making changes— and that of connecting with your awareness and inner passion to create changes that transform the shape, energy, and reach of your whole life.

This is what I call transformational change, and what Karen Kimsey-House, co-founder of the Coaches Training Institute (CTI), calls "changes that occur at the level of identity or being." When I work with people who are creating transformational change, I often notice a sharp rise in their level of self-confidence and joy in living.

For example, Leslie, an unhappy employee in a small restaurant, told me she'd seriously considered working with another coach who promised he'd help her get a high-level management position in a prominent restaurant. But Leslie also had a feeling that she wanted to explore other possibilities. In choosing to work with me, it soon became clear that, though she loved cooking, she was dissatisfied with the restaurant industry as a career path. She also longed for the warmth of a home with a partner who was committed to creating a family together.

The fact that her position in the restaurant consumed most of her waking hours, and that she felt lonely and disconnected from friends, family, and a sense of purpose, pushed her into realizing how joyless her life felt. From this new consciousness, she began to plan and manifest how she really did want to work and live. She reconnected with a former boyfriend who now wanted to build a life together. Her glow of delight at this new evolution of her life was palpable— as was her new, purposeful career plan to work in a community setting teaching cooking for health and fitness.  

In the case of Eric Sun, "a devastating diagnosis led [him] to find new meaning in an old pursuit," as I read in a recent New Yorker magazine. Eric had played violin from early childhood through college with immense technical prowess. However, both his instructors— Kyung Chee, violinist with the Seattle Symphony, and Dawn Harms, violinist with the San Francisco Opera Orchestra— tried to convey to Eric that he needed to learn "how to emotionally move people through [his] playing."  Somehow, despite his obvious talent, it just didn't seem to happen.  

Meantime, in 2009 Eric was hired by Facebook, after completing a master's degree in statistics at Stanford. The next year, he married his waltzing partner, fellow violinist, and the love of his life, Karen Law. He kept on playing and in 2014 bought a rare Vuillaume violin in London. In 2016, Eric developed symptoms of what was a malignant brain tumor. He took a medical leave from FaceBook and kept on playing, even as his prognosis worsened.  

As his health declined, Eric began to share his feelings about dying and living with purpose with his wife and his friends. He opened himself to the wisdom and compassion of his wife who urged him to go deeper within himself and find out which desires were most important to him at this time in his life. These included the dream of winning a place with Stanford's resident St. Lawrence String Quartet's chamber-music seminar— which he did.  Lesley Robertson, violinist with the SLSQ, sharing with the group Eric's medical condition, added from her own life learning, "Making music can literally be a matter of life and death . . . That profound moment of making music that takes you to another world is something we're very privileged to experience."

Then came Eric's playing the Fiddler in Fiddler on the Roof— which catapulted him into his own emotional stratosphere. To help him prep for this role, he went back to his high school instructor, Kyung Chee, who had him slow down his playing so that the "very heartfelt" quality of the Yiddish melody could come through. As you listen to his solo, you can hear and see how he plays this incredibly difficult piece with his whole heart and self. As Karen said, "He was trying to convey his own personal story and the story of the fiddler. He pushed the boundary of what he felt comfortable with." 

In Leslie's situation, transformational change was about shifting her awareness and the vision of her life as a whole. Interestingly, though she was close to her own family, before coaching she'd never put "love" and "home" into the equation of how she wanted her chosen work to look and feel in her life.

In Eric's case, he never lost his passion for playing the violin. In the end, he broke open his heart and shared his passion for living and loving through his music. And so he transformed his life.

Change-Making at Solstice— How the Light Gets In

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This post is a reprint from December 2016

Building Connection, Creating Community, Holding Presence

Now, on the shortest day of the year, with even northern California cold enough to wear hats, scarves, and gloves, I'm reflecting on the seeming polarities like light and dark, love and fear, that have swung us back and forth over our political and personal landscapes this past year. For me, the experience has been like standing on rock cliffs, being battered and splintered by an ongoing series of huge waves under the low-hanging clouds of a storm.

One such wave was the result of the presidential election in the United States. For myself and the majority of the electorate there is now the fear of having a president, a Congress, and a Supreme Court that will actively work against what we hold dear for our society— a healthy environment, health care access for all, up-to-date public education, and fundamental equal rights for all— so that we may have work and build lives in connection with our authentic desires, our relationships, and our world.

At such times, it seems that there are only the polarities of storm or calm, vitriol or caring, hate or love, dark or light. When people are able to stand steady in the heart of the storm, grounded in awareness of the connectedness of life, there are ways to bring oppositional forces into calm and wholeness. And it is in this place of wholeness and connection that positive change can emerge.

Recently, for example, I heard the story about the brilliant poet, songwriter, and singer, Leonard Cohen, who just died this year, and how he quelled a riot at the 1970 Isle of Wight rock concert in England. I was there, too, one of 600,000 in the passionate, free-flowing audience, many of whom were upset about political, economic, and social injustices of that time, including the Vietnam War. However, since the concert went on day and night, I seemed to have slept through Cohen's 4 AM performance on the last night of the festival that followed a literally blazing Jimi Hendrix set.

This was what I missed. Apparently, on that dark, rainy night, the audience was cold and restive and trashed the stage. Cohen, awoken at 2 AM after Hendrix played, was only bothered because the organizers couldn't locate a piano and organ for his musicians. "I'll come out when you find them," he said, and did, two hours later. As film reviewer Mike Springer wrote, "Perhaps the most moving moment [was] at the beginning, when Cohen [brought] the massive crowd together by asking a favor: 'Can I ask each of you to light a match, so I can see where you all are?'" In this way, he gathered that huge group of disparate, upset people in a cold, damp, inhospitable place into one whole, and soothed them into listening with his calm and deeply centered presence.

Fast forward to 2008, to Leonard Cohen's concert in London at a time of world-wide economic depression. I was very moved by what he said before performing his famous song, "Anthem," to the people in his audience. Again, he brought them together by speaking to their feelings of fear, anger, and upset with lovingkindness— "Thank you so much, friends. We're so privileged to gather in moments like this when so much of the world is plunged in darkness and chaos."

And then he sang:

"So ring the bells

that still can ring,

Forget your perfect offering.

There is a crack in everything,

That's how the light gets in."

In our lives, it's not so imperative to seek perfection as to embrace our wholeness.  This includes our stormy encounters, as well as the thin band of light we see on the horizon. When we put our attention on this light, we can see it radiating outward, reflected on the waves of the sea, reaching and opening our hearts.

So try this— when you find yourself in a difficult work situation, relationship, or political landscape, focus on whatever you can that is beautiful or inspiring in the midst of that challenge. Find that crack where the light gets in, whether it's a compassionate glance from a colleague, a memory of a loving moment, or a song that opens your heart. In this way, allow the change you long to make begin from within.

As poet and inspirational speaker, Mark Nepo, wrote in his book, The One Life We're Given: "When we can keep breaking through what has hardened and keep what is alive soft, the cracks turned into openings fill us with an undying light." In this season's darkest days, may we celebrate the beauty of the light and love within us as we move forward into the challenges and changes of the new year.

An Oasis in Time — What Is It to Make Time to Savor and Transform Your Life?

Do you long to have a way of taking a satisfying, daylong weekly "time out of time" from your busy life?  

Are you wondering if this is even possible?  

Have you tried taking a day off from work at the end of a busy week— and enjoyed it so much that you wanted to do it again— but never did?

If having a way to disconnect from an over-busy, over-technologized, incredibly hectic way of managing a life filled to the brim with work, family, friends, fitness, social activities (and probably no time for yourself) is important to you, you will want to read and take to heart the wonderful new book by my colleague, Marilyn Paul, PhD, An Oasis in Time— How a Day of Rest Can Save Your Life.

An Oasis in Time is a deeply compassionate and profoundly felt exploration of the value of the weekly sabbath day— and why it's so important in our over-stressed, modern, professional lives. Just as importantly, this book helps you design, protect, prepare for, and live your own unique sabbath— or "oasis in time."  Finally, Marilyn Paul describes the transformational value of taking a weekly day off that is dedicated to nourishing yourself, your community, and your world — emotionally, socially, and spiritually.

As Paul says about her own life, "Years ago, before I discovered oasis time, I was a hard worker round the clock, or so it seemed to me.  But I was incredibly inefficient.  

I thought I was giving work my all, all the time, but actually I was slowly running out of steam . . .  Next weekend, I told myself, I will get organized, straighten out my priorities, go for a long run, maybe out in nature, and just get back on top of things.  But that next weekend never came."

And what is the cost of delaying finding and keeping your own oasis in time? What's so important about not burning out on the job? According to Paul, "The combination of a stressed immune system and the overuse of technology can lead to another serious outcome: burnout. This one word is so powerful, and yet it hardly captures the deep emotional and spiritual costs of losing one's inner flame."

Taking a whole day off to unplug and put aside your work gives you the chance to shift your life back into your organic circadian rhythm— back into replenishment, health, and connection with what else, and with whom, you love.

Furthermore, "Taking back our time is a subversive act these days. It entails claiming that . . . we can have a good day without achieving anything other than unwinding, slowing down, connecting, and experiencing grace.In other words, you don't make the world a better place by over-working, or over-stressing in other parts of your life seven days a week! By dedicating a day a week to enjoying being in the moment, gladly spending time with those you love, playing with them, having relaxing meals together, talking a long walk, or just reading a book you've saved for a special day, you add to what famed author and neurologist, Oliver Sacks, M.D., calls "living a good and worthwhile life— achieving a sense of peace within oneself." 

Just in case you think taking a whole day off from work each week isn't possible, An Oasis in Time has great tips for helping you shift your perspective, hold your time boundaries, and become a convert to the delights of "slowing down, connecting, and experiencing grace"!

I was particularly fascinated by what this book has to say about the potential of oasis time for transformation in our lives— "Our oasis time offers a chance not only for rest and renewal but also for transformation. This is the unexpected benefit of taking regular time off: The nurturing haven you create each week can become an incubator to support the kind of growth you need to face your greatest challenges. Oasis time, with its uniquely nurturing setting, provides the perfect conditions to prepare us for deeper engagement in life."

In other words, by creating a designated day apart for relaxation and re-connection with what you love and value that you may rush past during a busy week, you're building your inner resources of vitality, emotional resilience, and creativity. You're opening yourself to your fullest potential with ease!

Using the Wisdom-Energy of Your Body to Create Positive Change #2

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Have you ever thought that you've been holding back your professional aspirations or your creative potential?  Have you ever wondered what it would be like to connect with the deep, untapped well of possibilities within yourself, and let it flow? This deep inner well is your life energy, and you can draw from this rich resource by learning to pay attention to what you're sensing in your body.

Sound compelling to you?  If so, I hope you'll join me for my new webinar, "Using the Wisdom-Energy of Your Body to Create Positive Change," that's happening on Wednesday, October 25th, from 12 - 1 PM PDT /3 - 4 PM EDT/ 8 - 9 PM CST/ 9 - 10 PM CEST.  This webinar is part of the series, "The Heart of Being Human," sponsored by Living Forward, LLC. Register for this webinar by clicking here.

Gregg Levoy, human potential speaker and author, describes a striking example of a woman who intuitively understood the deeper meaning and limitations of what it meant to her to live with obesity.  She came up to him after he gave a public talk and asked, out of the blue, “You know why I’m so fat?  It’s because I have so many stories inside me that I’m not writing down.”

As Levoy noted in his book, Callings— Finding and Following an Authentic Life:  “This woman knew that her condition meant something and what it meant . . . She seemed to understand that within her body all the records of her rejected desires, deflected dreams, and frustrated creativity were piled up and pushing out from inside….

Levoy also knew something about staying unconnected with his untapped well of possibilities.  Earlier in his life he was a journalist, and continued to work for a particular newspaper until way after his spirit or his life energy was ready to move on.  It was as if he'd just been waiting for something to nudge him away from his secure paycheck, and free him to do the writing and teaching about creativity and authenticity that was calling to him.  

And then he was fired. To me, it's as if a mouse had slowly been gnawing away at the rope that had Levoy bound to a way of working and expressing himself that no longer made sense to something deep in his vitals. 

But you don't need to wait.

You can learn to be more pro-active in recognizing the signals from your body's energy— and encourage that deep well of possibilities within you to flow. You can learn to slow down, breathe more fully, and pay attention to the wisdom-energy ofyour body.  You can learn to feel what engages your energy and what limits it. As you learn what lifts your energy, you'll be able to feel what choices will lead to positive outcomes in making the professional and creative changes you desire. 

If this interests you, I invite you to join me for my webinar on this topic on Wednesday, October 25th, from 12 - 1 PM Pacific Time.  I look forward to sharing this new experience with you!

Using the Wisdom-Energy of Your Body to Create Positive Change

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Did you know that you have a great built-in resource that can help you create positive change in your work and your life? This resource is your life energy, and you feel it through sensing in your body. What it has to tell you about what inspires or depletes you is what I call the "wisdom-energy" of your body.

If that sounds exciting to you, I hope you'll join me for my new webinar, "Using the Wisdom-Energy of Your Body to Create Positive Change," that's happening on Wednesday, October 25th, from 12 - 1 PM Pacific Time. This webinar is part of the series, "The Heart of Being Human," sponsored by Living Forward, LLC. Register for this webinar by clicking here.

From my earlier career as a somatic therapist and in my current career as a certified life coach, I've learned that becoming aware of the body's energy is usually an easy way for people to assess their level of interest in choices they have to make.  Well-cared-for children instinctively follow where their energy leads them. However, as we grow older, we tend to become more socialized and less spontaneous with this ability.  

In order to be socially accepted, we hold back from the direct knowing of joy, happiness, and understanding that our feelings and body sensations tell us. We forget the resource we all have inside ourselves— the wisdom-energy of our bodies— that lets us go forward and make authentic choices that lead to positive change.

As a coach, I've found that helping people slow down, breathe more fully, and pay attention to sensory perceptions (signals from our bodies) allows them to feel what engages their energy and what limits it. In learning what lifts your energy, you're more able to feel what choices will lead to positive outcomes in a career or other life transition. In this way, your energy builds, and these changes you make become transformative leaps in the way you work, create, and connect with yourself, others, and the world!

A man in his early forties whom I coached was in transition from his engineering career and struggling with all he had to do, as he saw it, to get his new business under way. He felt tense and exhausted, seeing no end to his to-do list. He felt he couldn't give himself the time to go to the gym or even take a walk in his neighborhood.

So I challenged him to put five items from his list on the back burner for a month and see what new choices he was inspired to make for his work, as well as his health and well-being. He was appalled because he thought that now his business development would have no structure and that his new career venture would fail.

I had him practice awareness of his body sensations and breathing as he considered different actions he could take. By doing this, he realized that his original plan to create a new website plunged his energy down low. What sent his energy up, and what he really wanted to do first, was take time to deepen some connections with potential partners for his business. Suddenly, he felt energy rush through his body as he was filled with a sense of new possibilities opening!

He also planned to invite a friend to join him for a weekly workout class at his gym. In paying attention to his body's messages, he realized that what motivated him was connecting with other people— and this new insight transformed his approach to working and making time for fitness and self-care.

So if you're interested in expanding your awareness of the wisdom-energy of your body to create the professional and personal changes you desire, I invite you to join me for my webinar on this topic on Wednesday, October 25th, from 12 - 1 PM Pacific Time. I look forward to sharing this new experience with you!

Making Things— The Joy of Creating with Magic and Wisdom

Have you ever considered a career path that involved creating things with your hands?  Or have you ever used your hands as a staple of your profession apart from writing with a pen or working on a computer?

As Elizabeth Gilbert, author of the best-selling book, Eat, Pray, Love, states in an "On Being" interview with Krista Tippett: "The entire world . .  has been altered by the human hand . . . making things a little more beautiful than they have to be, altering things, changing things, building things, composing things, shaping things.  This is what we do . . . And no one is left out of the inheritance of that."

I was reminded of that quote when I visited the Rosie the Riveter museum in Richmond, California, where thousands of people— the majority of whom were women entering the work force for the first time— came in 1941 to work in the huge shipyard there as part of a major armed forces buildup as the US entered World War II.  For these women it was an incredible experience to use their hands and minds outside the home to create enormous ships that the lives of men in the military would depend on.  The skills, self-confidence, and professional camaraderie they developed on the job in a common cause I believe also helped set the bar for the second wave of women's rights activism in the early 60's.

Personally, I'm quite tactile and have always enjoyed using my hands to make things and explore the world.  However, because my education from age seven on was primarily conceptual and to some degree social, the focus of the work I expected I would do as a career was also conceptually based.  In my book, Success with Soul, I described what it was like when I changed careers from nonprofit program development to somatic therapy.  I felt like "a complete imposter . . . never before having worked using my hands, with the integrated presence of my body and mind, as my tools."  But I also felt that, for me, this way of working "was guiding me to my own inner wisdom that could connect to that of every person whose life I touched in this way."

Making things happen with your hands as part of your presence in the world is a creative way of being that can also be professional.  Our hands put us in touch with our primal ability to make things that can be both useful and beautiful, and let us explore the range of our creativity.

So I was intrigued when I read "Magic in the Making"— an article about Stanford mechanical engineering professor, David Beach, who, in the early 1970's, transformed the Stanford Student Shops ("shop class," as it was known in high school) into the Product Realization Lab (PRL).  Having worked on the Hewlett Packard factory line before getting his master's degree at Stanford, Beach knew he could work with his hands.  But he didn't know he could combine his hands' skill in making objects with the creative experience to bring forth innovative solutions for a wide span of societal needs.

At the beginning, he didn't even know how to teach at this level. He didn't know how to help students who'd never had hands-on experience with different materials learn to have fun and be creative with these materials.  He didn't yet know how to work with students on the big picture of what they were doing, on how to interweave design and manufacturing.  But the "magic" and the "wisdom" he learned about the process of creating with his welding tools led him to success with this "timeless" new way to work.

And now, the PRL is in hot demand on the campus.  Working with the hands and with the mind together is now the new white-collar way to go!  Students from the PRL are being hired by Apple, Tesla, and Google.  They are also working to help meet worldwide societal needs, such as creating low-cost medical devices (e.g., burn rescue tools) and more effective groundwater drilling tools for developing countries.

Plus, there's the pure joy and confidence students experience in "the feeling of finally making things."  As one graduate student states, "Everybody talks about ideas and invention . . . but the ability to immediately turn [them] into something is incredibly empowering."

Feeling Stuck? Try a Radical Shift in Perspective!

Have you ever felt completely stuck as a professional— trying to find work you love, or having to do work you do not love at all? It happens to everyone at certain times, really jarring your sense of yourself as a competent, resourceful, purposeful, even worthwhile, person in the world.

What can you do when you feel stuck like that to get your creative juice going again? One thing you can do is get into a radically different perspective from the one you

are in. If you can’t do it for yourself, get in contact with a friend or colleague who’s empathic, but not stuck, and allow something new to emerge in talking together that turns your mind in a totally different direction. Coaching, too, can offer this kind of experience, as I shared once in a rather dramatic encounter.

It was early in my coaching career, and I was invited to give a presentation at a support group for people in mid-life seeking jobs. I came early to watch how the group worked together and found myself looking several times at a participant who moved very strangely, I thought. He wasn’t disabled, but his body seemed all at odds with himself. Even standing still, one shoulder was significantly higher than the other, and his whole torso was somewhat askew. But most particularly, his face looked out vaguely, seemingly without focus.

From my training as a somatic facilitator, I had an intuitive thought that he might be inwardly distressed from the sheer drudgery of waking up daily for months, maybe more than a year, to the endless round of the job search process.

Then it was my time to talk to the group about career transitions. Throughout the room, the energy was tired, low, and discouraged, so I led some exercises designed to help people expand their vision or sense of possibilities. I felt it might be interesting to the group to offer a mini-coaching session for one person that everyone else could tune into.

There was only one concern I had— I hoped I wouldn’t have to coach this particular man, who seemed so out of touch with himself, in a limited, 15-minute session. Of course, he was the only person to raise his hand.

He literally shuffled forward to the front of the room. His energy level was almost at zero. I asked him what he’d like to be coached on. He mumbled something about finding a new job. In response to my question about what he’d really like to be doing for work, he responded with litanies of positions he’d held and positions he was applying for. There was no uplift to his voice anywhere, no opening I could elicit.

I felt myself as stuck as I’ve ever been as a coach until, out of sheer desperation, I seized upon an inspiration. “Barry,” I said, “What is it that you can tell us about yourself that none of us here knows?”

Suddenly, there was an amazing shift in Barry’s posture and stance. His body literally unwound and righted itself. He took the microphone in his hand, actually smiled, and, speaking clearly and audibly to the group, told us about his joy in volunteering as an auctioneer to raise money for a nonprofit group he supported. He had such poise and passion as he told us about what he did with this work, that the group in front of him clapped and cheered. He beamed. For the first time in a long time Barry received affirmation for what he truly loved to do and who he truly was as a whole person.

In the 2013 movie Her, Theodore, a professional writer of personal letters, is emotionally and professionally stuck. His upset over the failure of his marriage leads him to start a new, unorthodox relationship with a specialized operating system in his computer named Samantha. Having a completely open mind without conventional limitations, Samantha invites him to join her in a connection that will bend his mind open and jumpstart his whole life.

When Theodore asks her how she works, she replies, “Well, basically I have intuition . . . But what makes me me is my ability to grow through my experiences. So basically, in every moment I’m evolving, just like you.”

Falling in love with Samantha, Theodore finds that he’s opening to a more playful and expansive approach to life that unsettles him, but brings him new awareness and fulfillment with his intimate and professional relationships.

I don’t know what happened next with Barry’s job quest, but it was clear that he’d had a transformative and breakthrough moment. He finally acknowledged to his support group that he knew what it was to work in a heart-centered way— and that that was what he really wanted.