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Archive for May, 2010

Can it be that simple?

According to Seth Godin the answer is YES.

Seth’s post today shares 5 simple steps.  It’s short and to the point, and I’m taking the liberty here of examining it through the filter of my journey the past couple of months.

Simple five step plan for just about everyone and everything

1. Go, make something happen.

I’ve always been good at making things happen; that’s not where I fall short.  However, Seth’s take on this in Linchpin made it so much more enjoyable and authentic for me.  My perspective shifted (causing some dizziness) from forcing myself to do something, to asking what do I WANT to do and what’s the first step I can take right now?

Result: Breakthrough in creativity and productivity!

2. Do work you’re proud of.

How simple is this and how few of us feel pride in this area of our lives?

The work that I’m most proud of is my work as a coach – actual coaching conversations, connecting with clients, hearing what they’re up to and how I can support them.

And yet…there’s so much distraction out there…

Books, CDs, programs, eBooks, podcasts – all encouraging me to do more, be more, think bigger, expand my consciousness, play a bigger game, ad nauseum.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with this; it’s just that it’s easy to get caught up in the tsunami of ideas and “support” and suddenly find yourself miles away from what you’re good at, what fulfills you and what makes you proud.

“I can honestly say I’ve never been happier, and I’m so indebted to you for showing me that it is possible to love every part of your life, even when not all parts are going your way or how you expected.” ~ A.H.

When I get this kind of feedback from clients, I am so juiced, so connected to Source and so totally in love with the work I do.  It is a natural high, energizing and nourishing like nothing else I’ve ever experienced.

Result: Bursting with pride!

3. Treat people with respect.

Wayne Dyer says it best, “You can be right or you can be happy.”

Sometimes my attachment to being right gets in the way of not only being happy but my respect for others.  Lately I’ve become  conscious of this in my communication; I’m still a straight-talker but that’s now tempered by my consideration of others.

respect:

  • to hold in esteem or honor: I cannot respect a cheat.
  • to show regard or consideration for: to respect someone’s rights.

I had a situation arise recently that provided the perfect opportunity for me to practice this point – and I’m not saying it was easy.  However, I saw in that moment that being right about something (and it’s so damn hard when you know you’re really right, isn’t it?) and arguing my point had too great a cost.  In hindsight, it was also about respect for myself.

Result: Stayed true to myself while honouring another’s point of view.

4. Make big promises and keep them.

Love this point and I totally got it as I prepared to launch this blog!  I had all the reasons and considerations for postponing; I rationalized that nobody would read and nobody cared, which flipped into my primary reason for getting it done!

The freedom in that statement was incredible (thanks to Penelope Trunk for this reality check!) and it allowed me to keep my promise to myself.

Result: Did I mention I was proud of myself?

5. Ship it out the door.

And we come to #5, my favourite of Seth’s five step plan.  Shipping!

Here’s what I got from this one:

  • It’s all made up.
  • Make up something good.
  • Set a timeline.
  • Acknowledge your Lizard Brain.
  • Do the work anyway!

My new mantra?

Create and Ship.

It’s scary, panic inducing and exhilarating!

Result: Aliveness and vitality through the roof!

Last but not least, Seth says when in doubt, see #1

I love how the cycle loops around.  Stick with it long enough and you might find yourself experiencing the following…

“Know what’s weird? Day by day, nothing seems to change, but pretty soon…everything’s different.” ~ Calvin & Hobbes

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Making Friends with the Lizard

About 3 weeks ago I read Seth Godin‘s new book, Linchpin.  Yes, I know, I’m still talking about Seth, but hang on, you’ll find out why in a moment.

Since then, I have had more creative energy, completed more tasks and begun more projects than the previous 3 – 6 months.  The difference is astounding and I feel like I’ve had a blow to the head!

We all have defining moments and reading Linchpin was one of those for me.  My friend Mary raved about it until I had to read the book just to shut her up.  I truly had no idea it would alter my life so profoundly.

So, what happened?

The illusions I’d created to keep myself safe fell away one by one as I read the book, and I got clear what it was costing me to not keep my word to myself.  As a coach I am brilliant at supporting others to pursue their passions and take action, but left to my own devices my lizard brain can get pretty damn active.

This of course leads to suppressing myself and playing it safe, behaviour that seems pretty uncoach-like.  It’s just very, very human.

My lizard brain will do anything to keep me from being creative, taking a risk and moving out of my comfort zone.  Ironically, these are all actions that leave me feeling enlivened and satisfied.

When I decided to launch this blog, my lizard brain went on high alert; I had apparently entered the danger zone and the chatter in my head got loud – really $%^& loud.

I was having panic attacks, unable to sleep and feeling worried about these weird conversations I was having with myself.

Conversations that went something like this:

Me:  I want to launch my blog.

Lizard brain (LB):  No way, nope, not going to happen; you’re not ready yet.

Me:  You’ve seen how much work I’ve done this week and I’ve been feeling ready; I think this is it!

LB:  You’re not looking at all the possibilities; there’s a lot that could still go wrong. You only have this one chance to get people’s attention. Do you really want to blow it?

Me:  What if it was about connecting with people instead of getting it perfect? Would it be ok then?

LB:  Hmm, good point, but I still think you should wait.

Me:  LB, I really want to do this.  I’ve waited a long time, I’ve listened to your “coaching” and you’ve done a great job at keeping me safe.  I appreciate that AND I’m going ahead with this.  I’ve decided tomorrow’s the day.

It’d be great if you could relax a little and be happy for me. I really think you’ll be surprised at how good it feels to connect with people.  Won’t you give it a try, for me?

LB:  You’ve already launched one project this week; can’t this wait awhile longer?  I’m worried about you.

Me:  I know and I appreciate it; I don’t want you to stop worrying about me.  I think it’s great that you do. You’ve given me so much time to prepare and that’s priceless.  You’ve done such a good job of it that I really am ready now, so you can pat yourself on the back and be proud – of both of us.

LB:  Well, when you put it that way, I guess tomorrow’s a good day.  But I’ll be watching and I want you to know I’ve got your back.

Have I made friends with my lizard?

Sort of.

I’ve begun to think of it as a cute tree frog whispering in my ear rather than a man-eating Caiman crocodile.

LB is still there, doing its thing and I’m becoming OK with that.

The difference now is that I don’t hear just the criticism and fear, and I don’t feel just the frustration and disappointment.

There’s something new, something unfamiliar showing up; a knowing that I can appreciate my lizard brain for keeping me safe and doing its utmost to protect me.

Knowing that it’s got my back, I can finally do the work my heart’s been longing for.

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Spirit-to-Spirit

I spent a few hours in my kitchen today preparing dinner for guests this evening.  Not just any guests – my in-laws!

Now before you jump to the wrong conclusion, I have to tell you I’m more fortunate than most.

I have a great relationship with them and really enjoy their company.  From what I’ve witnessed and heard from others, this is a rather uncommon occurrence.

My husband Mark had me meet his parents early on in our relationship; in fact, I met them after only one month of dating.  It was four years ago, but I remember it clearly; it was daunting, I was nervous and yet I knew I had to show up and be myself.

My ever-present lizard brain was afraid I’d be too much for them….

Too expressive, too affectionate, and probably too outgoing (Is that my Mediterranean heritage at work?).

My concern stemmed from knowing that Mark’s parents were British; it’s universal knowledge that this means reserved, right?  Did I have the courage to be myself knowing they were not accustomed to my boisterous ways?

I did.

I don’t remember much of that first dinner with them.  What I do remember is hugging them, appreciating their warm welcome and feeling grateful.

Fast forward four years: I don’t know when the transformation took place – these days they too seem expressive, affectionate and even a tad boisterous should the right circumstances present themselves.

“What we’re all striving for is authenticity, a spirit-to-spirit connection.” ~ Oprah Winfrey

Spirit-to-spirit.

Being with people I love and being authentically myself when I’m with them is truly amazing.  When that connection is made, it makes no difference where you come from.

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Look Seth, I’m shipping!

I have become a Seth Godin groupie. In the past two weeks, I’ve read The Dip and of course Linchpin, his newest offering and the book that’s inspired me to finally take the plunge and “ship”.

I’ve thought about it, read about it, downloaded “how to” ebooks about it and so on. That’s just a few of the many distractions that have stopped me in my tracks. Each time, I’ve rationalized and come up with what I thought was a valid reason to wait. The lizard brain won each and every time.

Until NOW.

As I’ve immersed myself in Seth-land, I have felt challenged, called out and energized, all at the same time. In The Dip Seth says,

“Quit the wrong stuff. Stick with the right stuff. Have the guts to do one or the other.”

My wrong stuff (procrastinating & obsessing, wasting hours online “researching”, etc.) has been exhausting. My right stuff (hanging out with my writers’ group, even though I was barely writing) has fed my soul, however inconsistently.

Seems like an easy choice, so why has it been so damn hard to quit the wrong stuff?

Enter the lizard brain.

liz-ard: 1 : any of a suborder (Lacertilia) of reptiles distinguished from the snakes by a fused inseparable lower jaw, a single temporal opening, two pairs of well differentiated functional limbs which may be lacking in burrowing forms, external ears, and eyes with movable lids; broadly : any relatively long-bodied reptile (as a crocodile or dinosaur) with legs and tapering tail

The lizard brain (aka: amygdala) is an almond-shaped mass of grey matter whose sole purpose is to keep me alive, keep me safe.

Unfortunately that safety has had a cost that’s recently become unbearable – it’s kept me from expressing my creativity through writing, something I’ve wanted to do as long as I can remember.

Seth also says ,

“If you continue to do the work, the lizard brain will give up.”

This is it then. The first day of the work.

Bye, bye lizard breath.

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