Hey, I’m delighted to offer you a kindle copy of my new book, which is FREE today and tomorrow (Sept 26, 27, 2021, otherwise only $2.99)! It’s called Life Coaches! Find Your Zen & Step Up Your Game, the second book in my series of short, easy to digest guidebooks called Shortcuts to Success.
But it’s not just for coaches. It’s for mentors, therapists, counsellors, trainers—anyone in fact who works one-to-one with people in a professional capacity with the aim to help or guide in some way.
Let me tell you a story.
Years ago, when I had about a decade of life-coaching experience under my belt, I took a course in advanced coaching to step up my game.
I was enjoying this course up in Northern California, among the Redwoods in Sonoma County. I’ve always figured that if you’re going to spend a couple of weeks training somewhere, it may as well be a nice somewhere, so there I was.
It was a rigorous course and a big part of the training was running mock coaching sessions with various partners, that is, other participants on the course.
On this particular day I had a very experienced coach I was partnering with. He was a bit daunting for me; I had a lot of respect for him and was, I confess, a little anxious to impress him.
We went through our session, taking turns coaching each other and the idea was to give helpful feedback.
His sage advice
At the end of my turn as coach, he had four words of feedback for me: “You’re working too hard.”
Ack. How embarrassing. Internally I bristled, while externally I thanked him for his comments. But in my head I was busy making excuses for myself. Of course I came across as working too hard, trying to impress. It was an unnatural situation and I knew I was being critiqued, yap, yap, yap.
He then went on. “Let the client do the work, not you. That’s not your job. Just let go and relax. You have a strong personality; don’t let it intrude on your coaching.
You just need to find your Zen place.”
My Zen place…
Those words made me reel with a confusion of emotions, but I knew what he meant.
I was familiar with Zen. I had been fascinated with it as a college student, had read all of Alan Watts’s books, had devoured Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, and generally joined in the zeitgeist of all things Zen of that era. Zen was trendy in my day.
Zen is best known for enabling a state of relaxation, zero fear, being totally present and undistracted.
‘Unfazed’ as Alan Watts described it.
Unfazed. What a great word—the essence of cool, undaunted, unperturbed, undismayed by circumstances. Non-reactive. In control of your emotions and able to handle criticism. Bullet proof.
The perfect place for a coach—and anybody for that matter.
My partner was urging me to find that state of calm, the Zen state of coaching, where everything flows and so much is happening.
This book is the tale of my subsequent odyssey to become a better coach and trainer.
It’s fun, and short—you can read it in less than 2 hours—and reveals 5 insider secrets I discovered about coaching that helped me step up my game. I believe you will find these secrets very practical in many contexts, not just coaching.
Come along with me as I set out to find my Zen
Enjoy the chapter on A Coachable Cat
Discover what they don’t teach you in coaching college
Learn how to step up your game no matter what line of work you are in.
I would love to hear from you how you liked it and where you found it useful in your life and work. Email me here with any feedback.
And I would be so happy if you wanted to leave a nice review on Amazon. Reviews are the lifeblood of authors and help us so much. As this is a new book, I need a certain number of reviews to be able to advertise it. So your review really, really counts!
I’m kind of embarrassed to admit this, but I’m a news junkie. There. It’s out.
I know, I know, the news is all fake, or toxic, or slanted, and designed to elicit strong emotions in us so we will get addicted and read more. Manipulative. Forcing us to form opinions.
I know all the arguments—we need to keep our minds clean and clear and we attract what we think about. And I am in total admiration of those who avoid the news entirely in order to remain unstressed and calm.
And yet I still turn to news hubs before doing anything constructive. It’s like a drug for sure. I love tuning in for the first time in the day. What’s new? What’s going on? Anything exciting?
Gives an initial high but then is unable to deliver on subsequent doses, like the first cigarette of the day. Or so I’ve been told. I don’t smoke, drink, take drugs, or even coffee; but the news? Forget it. I’m so there.
And as a result I do spend quite a bit of my time dealing with unpleasant images in my head and feeling outraged over injustices I can never do anything about.
I have a friend who has detoxed from the news completely and doesn’t know what I’m talking about half the time. On the one hand I admire her discipline, but on the other I don’t really want to be like that. It seems like escaping.
You see, I don’t really like to think it’s an addiction despite what I said earlier. I prefer seeing it as a challenge. A challenge I don’t want to run away from. You can try to live in a bubble, but eventually something will burst it and you still have to deal with all those emotions.
What I want is this—to be able to scan the headlines, dip into an article here and there and remain calm and untroubled by it all. I want to be able to handle it. To be up to date, informed, but unperturbed.
I want to be in control.
I just want to be able to observe, and avoid taking sides or reacting. In other words, not play the game the media is playing, trying to manipulate my mind and emotions. I don’t have to. Then I’m free.
I don’t HAVE to form opinions about everything I read or listen to. I can remain neutral if I so choose.
This leads me to the title of this blog, ie Two Lines That Sum up What I Believe.
The other day I was re-reading the poem Desiderata by Max Ehrmann, and two lines grabbed my attention and literally made me gasp. It summed up perfectly what I deep down really believe about life, the news and world events, and all that other stuff that seems designed to keep me agitated. They are towards the end of the poem. Here they are:
“And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.”
There. That’s my opinion on all of it. I’m going to stick that line somewhere on my computer to remind me all is well and will develop in its own time without my help.
I will keep an interested eye on things, and act where I can, while remembering it’s all working itself out as it should. Unfolding.
I know that deep down, this is what I believe. This is a work in progress and I’m not there yet. But now I have a strong vision and intention of where and how I want to be.
What sums up your beliefs? Does this help you with something?
Let me hear from you. If you like this blog and would like more like it, or if there are other subjects around personal development you’d like to discuss, let me know. Please. I love getting feedback from you.
Interested in trying out online coaching during the pandemic? Why not now? Many are using these strange but opportunistic times to try out new things and work on themselves in ways they never felt they had time for.
So, I’m here and have over 20 years’ experience as a life-coach and NLP therapist. My special offer of donation only between $20 and $50 USD for a 40 minute session still stands while times are interesting. For now, until end of August. Email me here to set up a session. You won’t often, if ever, see a deal like this on coaching.
Sessions are on Zoom or Facebook Messenger, no video, and designed to help you identify what you want from life and how to go about getting it.
I specialize in working with entrepreneurs who are struggling to get their practice or business to run smoothly. I’ve had tons of experience and overcome tons of obstacles. Still here. Still kicking.
My only successful attempt was back in the 90s with the Atkins diet. Remember those days? We all lost weight and then gained back twice as much.
Fasting? Even worse. My one experience sent me into semi-coma.
Nevertheless, for the past five months I’ve been following the Intermittent Fasting thing. You may have heard of it. It’s not a diet as such, but rather an eating program based on when you eat and not what you eat.
Typically it involves eating inside an 8-hour window and not eating during a 16-hour window. What you eat and when you impose those windows is your choice.
It’s surprisingly easy to follow, even for this rabid anti-dieter, and the results are interesting. Weight loss, lower blood insulin and sugar levels, improvements in chronic fatigue and type 2 diabetes, and better mental clarity are among many benefits touted.
I highly recommend it.
The Knock-on Effect of Intermittent Fasting
But the most interesting aspect to me is the one discovered by Nobel Prize winner Yoshinori Ohsumi in 2016. His research found that fasting triggers a healing process called autophagy, which means self-eating. (Charming, I know, but wait). It results in cleaning out any dysfunctional or damaged cells, renewing them and helps slow down aging. (Better?)
So, given a chance to rest from continuous face stuffing, our bodies quickly start to heal and correct imbalances in the system.
I find this astonishing.
A Fast for Mother Earth
I couldn’t help noticing the similarity of Intermittent Fasting and how it relates to the pandemic.
Mother Earth has been given a break in digesting pollution. An imposed but welcomed fast.
I’m sure you’ve read about dolphins and fish appearing in the canals of Venice only weeks after the Coronavirus lockdown.
Or about the air pollution clearing up dramatically over China. Birds singing in Chinese cities for the first time in years.
It’s as if Mother Nature is saying, just leave the rivers and air alone and watch what happens.
Leave it to me. I got this.
It’s not Pollyanna-ish to recognize that there are bound to be some good things coming out of the global shutdown. If nothing else, that perhaps we don’t need to do a lot to help the earth heal. Just like our bodies and fasting, we just need to leave it alone.
What About Psychical and Social Healing?
If our bodies heal when we give them a short break from eating, and if Mother Earth heals when left alone, can we also heal our minds in a similar way?
Every ancient religion recommends observing one day of rest a week—the Sabbath. It’s the 4th commandment in the Ten Commandments. I used to wonder how that one got ranked in there amongst killing and adultery.
We don’t observe it much anymore but it was considered crucially important for mental, spiritual, and emotional health. A one-day activity fast each week.
We used to have Sabbaticals where people would take a year off work to travel, study, think and relax, and focus on personal enrichment and development. Is that still a thing?
What about weekends? With shops and restaurants open all week and many people working from home, weekends no longer seem to be obligatory times of rest and relaxation.
My Point About the Pandemic
Here’s what I’m getting at. Of course for many the pandemic has dire consequences and I’m not making light of it. But for all of us it can be a unique opportunity to take a much-needed break from work, socializing, shopping, and a plethora of other frantic activities.
Do you miss them?
Many are reporting that once they get over the initial shock, they are learning to relax into it and do some things they haven’t done before.
Like sitting in nature and doing nothing. Or reading some good books that have been catching dust on your shelves or lurking in your Kindle.
Taking slow walks.
Or what about those online courses you’ve paid for and watched maybe one video before either giving up or forgetting all about it? I found one on my computer I had bought five years ago and never opened. It’s pretty good.
Have You Ever Wondered….
…what it would be like to take vows and join a monastery? Now you can sort of get an idea. Or what about a stint in prison? Would you survive emotionally? This isn’t that bad. We’re also not at war.
It could be worse.
I’ve often toyed with the idea of going on a longish meditation retreat with no internet, phone, TV, or conversation for a set period. (I toy for a moment or two, then think better of it and turn on Netflix.)
Retreaters report that the first few days are relaxing and peaceful—then the withdrawal sets in and many experience depression, irritability, and wanting to kill someone. If they push on through they come out the other side feeling imperturbable and blissful.
Can you make this pandemic your Sabbatical? Pretend you’re on a retreat? You may never get another chance to slow down and do nothing for long periods.
Think of it as Intermittent Fasting for your mind and spirit. Who knows what will heal?
Now, here’s the offer.
Starting April until the end of May 2020 I’m offering life-coaching sessions online for donation only.
Give what you can—it’s important that it’s a transaction. The amount doesn’t matter.
We can discuss how you can seize the day and make the most of the enforced seclusion, set some soft goals, and develop a positive view about what is happening. It IS a once in a lifetime opportunity and talking things over can help you get your head clear.
Sessions are 40 minutes long, via Facebook Messenger, or Zoom if you’re not on FB.
No video, so if you haven’t put on makeup or washed your hair for a week, we’re cool.
Current clients included of course!
Donation by PayPal.
Just send me an email here to book a session. I’d love to connect with you!
If you want to know more about Intermittent Fasting, drop me a line.
A few weeks ago I trundled along to Mexico City to attend a conference. My hidden agenda was to grab several hours completely alone in my hotel room, to do some work. Just a desk, my computer, and me. I was determined to complete a marketing task I had been avoiding for about 4 months. This was my real reason for going—to have an uninterrupted opportunity to get down to it.
After the first 10 minutes of peering at spreadsheets and searching for keywords, I got itchy. Should I make a coffee? (No, one is already sitting in front of me). Is there anything on TV? (No, only 1 English channel). Emails? (No, you checked 10 minutes ago). Facebook?
Stop! You’re here for a reason, I scolded myself. To avoid all those distractions. Get to it!
Well, good reader. I got it done. And oh, it felt so good I can’t tell you.
And oh, if only I could escape to a nice hotel room every week or so and do those focus intensive tasks!
The Number One Complaint I Hear
I’ve been a life-coach for over 20 years now, and I can honestly say the number one complaint I get from my clients these days is—I can’t focus on my tasks. I can’t get anything done. I can easily waste a whole day doing nothing! What can I do about this?
Seems a lot of us, especially if we are work-from-home-entrepreneur types, have trouble making ourselves focus on tasks at hand.
The reasons are obvious. Digital Distraction. Modern research is showing that the average person checks his or her phone 200-500 times a day! Ack.
Robin Sharma, one of world’s top leadership experts, who has sold more than 15 million books, says unequivocally, “Your phone is costing you your fortune.”
Sharma goes on to say that we suffer from Digital Dementia—using up valuable ‘cognitive bandwidth’ by being hooked to a screen of some sort from the moment we wake up. We are literally addicted to the dopamine shot that we get from social media ‘likes’, messages, and emails.
We deplete our creativity allotment for the day with news, videos, and articles. Information overload before our day even properly begins.
Oh, this is so me!
Makes you think. Sharma isn’t the only one pointing this out.
James Clear, author of Atomic Habits, says that in his research on productive, successful people, he found there are “no high performance people, just high performance habits” and that the key to high performance is creating an environment where you can concentrate on the one thing at a time.
Swami Vivekananda, the famous Hindu monk, wrote that “The difference between an ordinary person and a great person lies in the degree of concentration”.
The great quarterback Peyton Manning always claimed that the only thing that distinguished him from other players was his ability to focus in his practice. He would spend hours after the other players had gone home, practicing one throw hundreds of times. And that one throw would win him the game.
Our ability to focus Is important, and crucial to our productivity and success in anything.
A Tight Bubble of Total Focus
How do we ordinary mortals make ourselves focus with all the distractions life brings? The answer, says Sharma, lies in creating a tight bubble of total focus—controlling our environment and all distractions so we can sit and work on one project at a time.
No phone conversations, no checking email. Absolutely no Facebook. Ahem.
Isolating oneself for a fixed period.
(Dogs can be a problem. I’m being pestered as I write this to go for a walk.)
But it’s not impossible! And it does require some discipline. (What is that, I hear you cry?) Plus deciding it’s worth it. Do you want to write that book? Paint that picture? Start that business project? Finish that course? Really want to?
Or is life as usual just pulling you along and, well, hmm I think there’s a jar of mixed nuts in the kitchen that hasn’t even been opened, and then I really must email my friend in California who is having all those problems right now, and oh I need to go fix a drink of something. Is it lunchtime already?
I Woke Up From My Stupor
My weekend in Mexico City woke me up. I experienced a rather delicious feeling when I got something challenging done. Way better than watching YouTube videos.
So I’ve started a morning and afternoon Power Hour when I really focus on something challenging until I get it done. Then at least I’ve done something!
And maybe I can’t do hotels every weekend but I could get myself dressed and out the door to work for a while in one of the many cafes in town. Might even be fun.
What could you do to be more focused? Or do you do it already? Share your experiences with me. You’re almost bound to be more disciplined than I am, so you can ‘fess up safely.
PS— I may not be the most disciplined person on the planet, but I am a good coach and can help you with things you are struggling with. In my experience the best coaches are the ones who really ‘get’ your challenges because they share them and have worked on them personally. That would almost certainly be moi.
It’s that time. Well, a little past that time. I know, I know, maybe you’ve been avoiding it. Or it’s possible you’ve already set some goals…. 2 weeks ago…. but now can’t remember what they were?
Well, mid January may be the perfect time to set some new goals or freshen up the ones you’ve already made. You’ll get it right this time. I have some solutions.
You look at your list of goals from last year… with some trepidation.
Hey, not bad. Some of them actually appeared in your life.
Then one jumps out at you. It’s been on your list for years and no progress has been made.
You are filled with a sense of failure. You don’t know whether to give it another heroic go… or just give up and accept reality.
Maybe you should just pack it in on learning how to use Mailchimp, or apps on your iPhone, Zoom, spreadsheets, or your technical nemesis of choice. It’s so easy, they say. Yeah. Maybe you should own it that you you’re never going to be a computer whizz. You know, joke about it. Stop apologizing. Shrug your shoulders.
Oh the relief that would bring, mixed with a feeling of dismay at settling for less than you deep down know is possible.
Or, let’s see, would it be better to just accept those extra 10 pounds and learn to live with them? Love each and every one of them? Wear looser clothes and avoid mirrors? Let black be your best friend?
Who are you kidding?
Something in you rebels at giving up—even if you’ve struggled with this goal forever.
Are you with me? Know what I’m talking about?
So the blame game begins.
You start to fuss at yourself. Making excuses. Beating yourself up.
You tell yourself to stop being such a wimp.
Join that gym again and stick with it this time. Overcome that fear and loathing.
Dig out those old Tony Robbins tapes and get yourself fired up into a froth of energy and willpower.
Announce it to all your friends and even get a goal buddy.
Just do it, as Confucius once said. (Wait…was that Nike, or the Dalai Lama?)
Previous experience tells you something is wrong here and it’s not going to work. Yet it’s important to clean up those stubborn goals before setting new ones or they will just gum up the works.
Old, stubborn, unachieved goal. Ask:
Is this something I really want to do or does it give me a yuck feeling every time I think about it?
Is the result exciting, or just meh?
Do I have a plan or strategy to make this happen or is it all just wishful thinking?
Am I honestly willing to pay the price or do I deep down feel it’s not worth it?
Chances are somewhere in those 4 questions is the reason you haven’t hit that goal that’s been hanging around for years.
If it’s something you can change, or you weren’t aware of before, maybe, just maybe, you can get it to work this time. Perhaps subconsciously you just weren’t willing to pay that price? But you are now?
I suggest you look at the questions and if you still can’t work up any enthusiasm, drop-kick that goal to the curb! Clear it out. Chances are, if you send it packing, it will magically appear in your life anyway. Goals have a weird way of doing that.
OK, we’ve got that old stuff out of the way to ready you for some fresh beginnings.
Maybe we can rejig them, bring them up to date.
Does it always have to be 10 lbs? What’s wrong with 7 lbs or 12? Wouldn’t you be just as happy with 5? Something about putting a number to it, seems to guarantee failure. What about just losing a little weight without getting cranky, light headed, and fainting in the supermarket?
Now try this easy approach that I use for goal setting.
I used to set frantic, ambitious, highly detailed goals, with numbers and dollar signs attached, but these days I’m more laid back about them. I just want my goals to gently nudge me in the direction I want to go.
This new method is relaxed and comfortable and do-able. I find more things happen that I’m pleased with and I don’t have that guilty loser feeling when they don’t.
So, get out a piece of paper or notebook, pen, and a cup of coffee. At the top write —
“Goals for 2020”and the date.
Draw a line down the middle of the page. On the left side at the top, write
“In 2020 I would be excited and pleased if… “
Then list one by one some exciting, pleasing things you would like to show up in your life that aren’t there now. Just free wheel and let your mind play loose.
On the right side at the top, write
“In 2020 I resolve to take these actions.”
Here write a list, in any order, of steps you intend to take in relation to your goals. EG let’s say losing weight would really excite and please you. So you resolve to find out about intermittent fasting, or join the gym, or get a treadmill, or a Fitbit watch, whatever. Just get a plan down. No numbers. Just action steps.
Write this next at the top of the next page.
“In 2020 it would be over-the-moon fabulous, beyond my dreams if….”
Think of what would be totally amazing if it happened. You don’t have to believe it will happen, or make any resolutions to make it happen. Just write it down and forget about it.
Now, one final bit, which is where it really gets interesting. Write this.
“What is one goal that would positively affect all my other goals?”
This is your Meta Goal and will facilitate all the others. Examples would be, to create some great work habits, to be more focused and productive, establish good eating and exercise habits, to learn to be more technical in certain areas, to get good at marketing, etc.
It may well be something you need to sacrifice, or a habit you need to change.
What is yours? This is your umbrella goal, which will make all the others more likely to come to fruition.
Mine is to create better work habits. Pretty vague and that’s OK. But better work habits will impact all areas of my life—income, weight, exercise, creativity. It’s all related. One good habit impacts all others.
I need to sacrifice spending so much time on emails and social media.
Put this at the top of your to-do list every day.
It will benefit you to make it your prime focus. Keep it in front of you. Don’t forget about it. This is the one thing that’s going to facilitate all your dreams and goals.
This approach works really well for me and I hope it does for you too. Make it fun and enjoyable. Sit out in the garden or under a tree. A cup of coffee, or hey, make it tea. It’s so simple— you just daydream and write down your daydreams.
If you would like help giving 2020 a kick start in the best way possible then drop me a line here and we can either meet in person here in San Miguel or work together online. I’ll help you get motivated and ready to roll.
And if you like I will hold you accountable through the year.
Check out my Accountability Coaching.
You’ll be glad you made the effort!
Hey! Can it really only be a few days away from 2020? Time to set goals…..again? So soon!
Seriously, I love setting goals for the New Year. It’s fun and optimistic and motivating to me. Gets my juices flowing.
I confess though, inevitably when I look back at my goals from the past year, I wonder why I bothered. I keep records of all my goals and if I glance over a decade, I can clearly see that I probably hit only about 20% of them.
So last year I tried something different. Sure, I still set my very specific financial and personal goals, but I also added a new ingredient that was bang on target and made everything else work.
Let me share.
Here is my process. I call this my Pre-Goal Game Plan—3 steps you need to take before you set your goals for better results.
So…looking back over the past year or more…
1) Think of an area in your life where you would prefer to have been more effective.
You didn’t hit that goal or make those needed improvements. Examples: Learning a new skill, getting your health in hand, getting along with family, making presentations, being more productive, and creating smarter work habits, etc.
2) Now, think of an area of your life where you are really successful; something you already do well and with total confidence.
Examples: An aspect of your job, cooking, a sport, languages, computer skills, etc.
Now, here’s the key that unlocks the goodies.
3) What is the difference between the two?
What do you do in the unsuccessful areas that differ from the activities you excel in? How do you behave? What are you saying to yourself and what do you believe about doing those activities?
What happens when things go wrong? How do you recover? When you know you are off-track or not achieving what you want, how do you respond—what are you thinking and feeling? What do you tell yourself?
So, in other words, what is the difference between the successful recoveries and the not so successful ones?
3)Now, imagine you are ‘mapping over’, i.e.transferringthose components of success to areas where you aren’t achieving.
Just visualize yourself doing the desired activity and imagine you are applying all the thoughts, beliefs, and actions from things you do well. How would you be feeling? Behaving? Handling setbacks?
You know you can do it. You already have, just not with this specific thing.
For me, this process gave some astonishing insights.
For a long time I had been good at both preparing and delivering talks and trainings, which came from my 10 years’ experience as a business trainer.
But marketing? Sheesh. I was terrible at it. It required skill sets that I knew I didn’t have.
So I dug into the differences. When preparing for a talk I knew I had to put in a certain amount of work, I knew exactly what that work entailed, and I believed and was certain that it would pay off. I just had to slog away until the preparation was done.
If I found I didn’t like the direction it was taking, or I messed up with something, I would simply start again and persist until it was working for me. I knew I could do it.
For the marketing, on the other hand, if it didn’t work straight away and give me the results I wanted, I would throw up my hands and quit. Do something else. Why bother with this?
Successful marketers persist until they get it right. They adapt and adjust their tactics if they don’t work first time. They know what they need to do and are certain they will get results. Just like I do with my workshops and speech prep.
Conclusion? I need to believe that if I persist with my marketing, hang in there and just do the work, results will come. I also need to study up on it a bit more, and either farm out or learn to do the technical stuff myself, and have confidence that what I’m doing is the right strategy. Then get busy, just do it, as someone said, (Gandhi? Dali Lama? L’Oreal? Wait, Nike!) and not give up at the first obstacle.
You are your own best role model
In Neuro-linguistic Programming (NLP) we call this self-modeling. You know how you can be successful better than anyone else because you’ve done it before. You just need to dig deep into what you do well and compare it to areas you would like to improve.
Think of the implications. If we can model ourselves and de-construct our own successes and failures, we will have a powerful set of tools to achieve whatever we want in life.
For me, this has worked better than goal setting on its own. For my marketing I imagine I’m an experienced marketer who knows and believes in what she is doing. It really helps me to not start second guessing everything I’m doing. I now just get on with it.
But I still like to set goals, just adding in this new information about how to get there. Being more mindful about it.
I urge you to try it out. Just 3 steps. It’s actually fun. I’d love to know what you come up with. Contact me here.
I’ll talk some more next time about a great way to set your goals once you know where you need to change.
If you would like some personal help with goal setting, or with mapping over your success qualities to your disappointments, just shoot me an email at email@example.com. This is one of my favorite activities so I’d love to get stuck in with you.
Book a session with me now for the New Year and keep my current prices! They are going up in January 2020. The new prices for coaching are already on my website so contact me here firstname.lastname@example.org for current charges that you can keep forever.