Monthly Archives: June 2010

THE FREEDOM TO CHANGE

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um-062910-emailMy husband and I are making a big change in our lives right now. We rented our house in Petaluma to a wonderful couple for the next two years. We are leaving the comfort of our home where we have worked, played, entertained, and had countless guests over the last 10 years, and starting a new adventure in Santa Barbara.

I feel change coming like a calling to wake up and go for a run, to get moving. The energy of change can be frustrating if you don’t know what steps to take to COOPERATE with it. Cooperation comes when you realize that this is a moment of freedom in your life not only to consider change, but also to make a change.

I often think about making changes because that’s the basis of so much of the coaching I do. People want to have the freedom to change their way of thinking, or a habit that no longer serves them, or just do something they continue to dream about.

WHAT DO YOU WANT—COACHING, ADVICE OR FEEDBACK?

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um-062210-emailThis is an important question to think about when you’re asking someone to help you look into a situation that is bothering you. Do you want to be coached, get advice, or get feedback?

Recently, I thought someone wanted to be coached, but actually all they wanted was feedback and advice. It got me thinking, once again, about the difference. Feedback is information. It can take the form of thinking through what might happen if someone pursued a specific course of action, or it could be information about what already happened to be used as a basis for improvement. Advice is a recommendation given by someone you think is knowledgeable.

Coaching takes feedback/advice to another level. Coaching leaves you in action with specific timeframes, goals, and planned outcomes. Feedback is important. It can give you valuable information. But if you just talk about it, it may not be integrated into a course of action that changes the game.

MAKE NO EXCUSES!

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um-061510-emailIt seems that everywhere I listened in to conversations last week, someone was making an excuse, blaming someone else for their discomfort, or accusing life itself as the reason for diminishing opportunities. Last week, even President Obama was advising graduating high school students to take responsibility for failure as well as success. He said, “Don’t mimic Washington by making excuses.”

And then I read an article that I wrote over 10 years ago that said, “Is blame on the rise, or is it just because it’s my business to notice it?” I do notice, and I coach people to take accountability for whatever shows up around them in business, family, and life itself.

Why?

Because you have the power to make decisions now that will move you forward or keep you stuck. But when you keep hearing about the decline of the American worker, business, economy, or family, you might be inclined to add that information as evidence that someone else is to blame. But that evidence can point you away from the real problem.

MAKE IT A CONSCIOUS DAY

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It may be a blow to our egos to think that we often go about our days as unconscious as slugs, slithering across a sidewalk, of the foot about to descend. We operate out of habit, rather than being conscious moment to moment. As long as something, a habit, behavior or a way of thinking is unexamined, it rules you. When you become conscious of your thoughts and actions, you notice if they serve you. If they don’t, then in that moment of awareness something changes. You wake up.

I’ve noticed some patterns in myself and others that are surprisingly unconscious and are only recognized fleetingly, in the after effect rather than in the moment. If you ever get this inner message, “I shouldn’t be doing this,” in the middle of taking an action, then don’t do it. You can actually stop the action and not, in the famous words of Laurel and Hardy, reflect after the fact, “This is another fine mess you’ve gotten us into!” Being conscious in advance of making the choice and engaging in the behavior can correct these “messes”. But you can’t change what you are blind to.

LIVING IN THE MOMENT

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um-060810-emailCan you ever REALLY live in the moment? Well, of course, the answer is that you can’t live anywhere else but the moment — except in your mind, where it can filter your experience of what’s happening now. This was made evident when I ran into someone I knew, and felt a wall go up which was certainly not of this moment, but probably born of how we felt about each other in the past that now filters into the present.

I stopped to think about why this happens, and here are the thoughts that came to me:

1. I’m making it up
2. If I experience a wall, the wall is mine
3. The person is a snob
4. They just don’t like me, resonate with me, or appreciate me
5. I remind them of unpleasant memories