Destiny Part II: I LOVE What I Do

Monica and Anjali.jpg

Destiny Part II: I love what I do!

I love being a life and business coach. Though I never planned to be a coach, I’m quite happy that I followed my gut into this field. I get a front-row seat as people get really engaged and inspired to take control of their life and their future. I get to see goals achieved, confidence and pride built, and a whole shift take place; clients are taking back control of their lives and setting a purposeful course.

Many people call it “Inner Work” and I have to agree. Changes are made from the inside out; shifting focus, setting goals and boundaries and priorities. It is so rewarding to be a part of the transformations that I see on a regular basis.

I have transformed along with my clients. I have gained confidence and clarity, learned to use the tools I teach, and learned that I have to practice, practice, and practice some more every day. You don’t get proficient at anything without putting in the work.

Today I have the honor of rekindling a coaching relationship with one of my very first clients from 2008. Anjali is a dancer, choreographer and college professor. We worked together for over a year between 2008 and 2010. We did our coaching sessions by phone since she lived in FL (and still does) while I live in CT.

It’s hard to explain how you can build such a strong bond with someone by phone, but we did – and have touched base from time to time since then. (She gets more of the credit).  I still have a thank you card that she sent me in 2012! It meant the world to me to see that she was living the life she had aspired to live (her “future self”) and had made many bold decisions along the way.

Anjali has redefined her life since we first started working together. She has set and achieved some amazing goals with real focus and direction. She has also taken direction from signals in her life – like creating an amazing show based on the 33 quilts she inherited from her mother and grandmother; presenting it a few times since March. Anjali just finished a fellowship at NYU where I had the good fortune to finally meet her in person as she shared her history in “Diary of a Black Ballerina.” (Anjali was a member of the famous Dance Theater of Harlem, led by Arthur Mitchell, and toured Europe and Russia in the late 1980’s).

Anjali accelerated the achievement of her hopes and dreams by staying focused and brave – she had those qualities before we met, and she continues to push forward with new goals and aspirations. We haven’t worked together since 2010, so I can’t wait to hear what she wants to pursue in the coming years and I’ll be right there beside her, proud as punch, as she achieves her goals.

Destiny

I just read an article by John Corbett, the actor. In it, he describes what led him to become an actor.

From a steel mill job that his Dad helped him get, to a disabling injury, and ultimately to a local community college, John’s young adult path appeared to be going nowhere. He had no confidence in his future. What changed his destiny was a chance conversation with a bunch of acting students at the college. They invited him to their improv class and the rest, as they say, is history.

He didn’t set out to become an actor. It wasn’t on his radar. And yet now he is very successful and happy and doing what he loves.

Corbett says, “I’ve learned, like the priest I play in All Saints (a new movie coming out where he plays the lead), that when God sends a suggestion our way, the best thing we can do for ourselves is say yes.”

This brings me to why I am writing today; to share my own “how did it happen” story.

In 2006 my sister Grace, a coach and instructor, invited me to a coaching class; a 3-day weekend course that would change my life. I was a respiratory therapist at the time, working 3 shifts a week in the Intensive Care Units at a local hospital. From the Newborn ICU, to Surgical ICU, to the Burn unit, I was part of the team taking care of patients who were on ventilators and in other crisis situations. I liked what I did but I didn’t like working weekends and holidays. A weekend class with my sister – on my birthday no less – sounded fun, so I went. I had no expectations that it would lead to anything but I was curious.

After taking that coaching class, I was hooked. It took over a year for me to finish the other classes, another 25 weeks to get certified, and another year before I fully quit respiratory therapy, but I’ve never looked back.

I love what I do as a coach. People come in with questions, concerns, and frustrations and come out with confidence, clarity, and new life-changing skills and understanding. It is so rewarding! I challenge myself along the way as well. Each client brings me new understanding of myself and others. Each moment of my life – from the things I read, to the stories I hear, and the people I come in contact with – has the potential to inspire me to acquire a new skill or level of awareness that will make the learning – and the living, a little bit easier.

I didn’t set out to be a coach, but my education, my life experiences, and the encouragement of my sister and others has led me to a career I really love. I love to help people find clarity. I love to help people regain a sense of peace and calm that comes from knowing the direction they are heading. I love seeing relationships grow with new skills to boost more positivity and understanding. I love watching my clients achieve the dreams and goals they care so much about!

And now, a new chapter begins for me as the owner of a training center! I didn’t set out to rent an office, but when one of my clients showed me the building he was renovating for commercial use, the minute I stepped in the door I knew it had to be a conference room – it was full of light and had unexplainable energy for me. It has enough room for a dozen or so people to transform their minds and their hearts and just the right space for me to grow as a business owner.

It’s taken almost a year, but Inner Work Training Center is ready for business! I got a nudge and I followed it; first with coaching, and now with my new coaching and training center. I could have ignored the call, but I’m really glad I didn’t. I’m anxious to see where this new chapter takes me.

If you live nearby, I hope you’ll set up a time to drop in!

 

What to do when you feel stuck!

In my wiser years (I won't call myself old YET!), I get to say that I've learned a lot from mistakes I've made, experiences I've had, and challenges I've overcome. I've read a lot of "self-help" books, and even written one.

I was asked a question recently and at the time I came up with something practical and referenced concepts from my book and my coaching techniques.  Now I'm going to try to answer it in a more thorough and thoughtful way.

Here's the question: "What do you do when you feel stuck?"

One of the definitions I found in google that matched the typical use of "stuck" showed:

  • baffled, beaten, at a loss, at one's wits' end;
  • informally - stumped, bogged down, flummoxed, fazed, bamboozled, as in "if you get stuck, leave a blank"

The sense I get when someone says they are "stuck" is that they are feeling frustrated and are at a crossroads of knowing and not knowing. "Do I do this or do I do that?" - sometimes not even sure what their choices are! Other times feeling stuck is being unable or afraid to make a decision or feeling the inability to take action in any direction. That's when the deadly "time-wasting" activities creep in.

In my book I write about procrastinating during a time when I was so overwhelmed by things on my plate that I didn't even know where to start. I was "stuck" in inactivity, not sure how to get out of the mood and mindset I was in that might ease my feelings and point to an obvious starting place.

At the time, my answer was to take a step back, assess what the heck was going on, and make a choice of starting SOMEWHERE!  I decided on one project, one hour of time, one tiny series of tasks to gain clarity and "move the ball down the field". When I was done I felt so much relief and excitement it gave me the momentum to keep going.

The answer to the original question, "How do I get un-stuck?", might sound like this:

What is ONE thing you could do today that would get you moving again?

And sometimes, ANY movement is better than NO movement. It airs out the congestion and gets your brain thinking functionally again.

In the grander scheme of things, in trying to find a way to get un-stuck, it helps to get really specific about what is causing that feeling; are you stuck about life in general, a relationship issue, a giant task that you can't figure out, or maybe a huge decision to make? Are there other people involved? What else is going on to compound the feelings?

This is the perfect time to try my "Five A Change Process". You'll go from Stuck to Action in no time.

1. Awareness: Get clarity! What are you stuck about?
Does it involve just you or others? Do you have an emotional attachment to one outcome or your energy gets drained when you even think about taking action? What are your obstacles? 

2. Accept responsibility to get yourself unstuck. No one else can do it for you. If you wait for things to improve or for someone else to make a change, you could be waiting forever! You also will be at the mercy of others instead of being in control.

3. Attitude is everything. Now that you are mentally in charge, let's get your mental mindset reframed to something positive. If you think something is impossible, it will be impossible! Turn it around. From, "I can't do it" to "I'll figure it out." From, "It's too complicated." to "I'm going to list ALL the steps and figure out where to start." You can do this! Find your motto, charge up the hill, make the change, and TACKLE instead of being "flummoxed"!

4. Assess your choices. You can do something, you can do nothing. Which will move you forward? If you do nothing, as we generally do when we are stuck, we put ourselves in Purgatory. Nothing can get better from there!
If you DID do something, what could that include? It's more than a Pros and Cons list, it's a possibilities list. Once you start writing, the ideas will begin to flow. You might need to talk it through with someone, as I prefer to do when I am stuck. Hearing the words you are forming, and getting feedback or ideas from someone else, is often the key to finding the best choices to choose from. From there you get to pick your first step.

5. Action always gets you moving. You can't be stuck if you are in action (but of course it has to be action toward the issue, not some mind-numbing, time-wasting action!). 
Plan your steps and then DO them! Where and when will you do them? (Studies show that you are much more likely to do them if you visualize where and when you will be when they are done).

These five words can "un-stick" anyone: Aware, Accept, Attitude, Assess, and Action.
Remember them, use them, and come back for a refresher if you need a reminder.

If you're having trouble on your own, get in touch. I'm here to help. Contact Monica!

Learn, Do, and Teach

I love to learn new concepts that will make my life better. And then I like to teach them.

I recently started a new coach training program based on the book, “Profit from the Positive”, by Margaret Greenberg and Senia Maymin, both executive coaches who hold a Masters in Applied Positive Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania. Margaret is our instructor and 6 of us (mostly other coaches) are connected weekly on a virtual platform.

As we learn new material we are both requested and encouraged to teach others what we are learning – it has been proven that you learn the material much better if you learn, do and teach (my words for it). I have used this technique ever since I completed my first coaching class in 2006.

Learn, teach, do – or Learn, do and teach. Either way, the material gets to a deep level of consciousness for me. The more I do and teach, the more readily the material is accessible when I need it!

There is more than one way to absorb new material. I take tons of notes – when I’m reading the book and during our class. Then I review the notes and sometimes add to them. I think about the material and see if I can memorize any foundational material that is the key to using it. I practice using any tools that come up. I also talk about the material to others and use any new concepts or tools with clients asap.

For instance, in “Profit from the Positive”, the first chapter talks about the three common reasons for a loss in productivity – we are Overworked, we Multitask, and we Procrastinate. Well, if you know me, you know the theme procrastination has played in my life recently. I wrote a book that describes the STOP Syndrome: Stress, Tension, Overwhelm, and PROCRASTINATION! Procrastination is the trait that seeps into our lives and puts a halt on progress while making us feel “less-than”, shameful, guilty, and even depressed.

Non-procrastinators just don’t seem to understand. They say things like, “Just do It!” (I’ve told myself that very phrase more times than I can count). But it’s not just about “doing it”. We are not lazy. Our mind is telling us a million reasons why NOT doing it is so much better in this moment. Things like, “You don’t have time to do it all”, “It won’t work”, “It will be too hard”, or “I don’t know where to start.”

These are evil, confidence-killing phrases that take control of our mind and crush our productivity.

That leads me to the teaching part.

Dr Maymin and Greenberg offer great tools to shift your mindset and get you into action – and that’s just chapter one!

So take this Procrastination:

·         Just Plan It!

·         Trick yourself into getting started

·         Set habits, not just goals (BIG IDEA!)

·         Work less, accomplish more

I recently started with a new client, the day my class covered these 4 tools. I KNEW they would be perfect to share with her. After hearing about these four tools she immediately embraced the first and third tool. We planned out some strategies for the week, breaking a HUGE goal into tiny, achievable parts, and she texted twice in the first 2 days to tell me what she had already accomplished and how great it makes her feel.

She is doing! That is the key. She has broken the log jam of procrastination. I am doing more too!

THAT is a beautiful thing.

Learn, do, and teach. I completed the cycle in 24 hours! Now it’s your turn.

Read “Profit from the Positive” and pass it on!

 

PS. “Profit from the Positive” is a great book - a guide for business leaders, managers, executive coaches, and human resource professionals. I do not gain anything by having you buy this book – I just like to support authors who write great things!

What do you want more of?

When I get stuck or feel like life is not going the way I planned, I sometimes focus on the problem - my time is getting hijacked by external forces, I'm having trouble focusing, or I just don't feel like doing what I had planned for the day, etc. I look back on my day or my week and see how many ways I DIDN'T do what I "should have".

Thinking like this leads to a lot of negative self talk; beating myself up, getting aggravated by those external forces, wishing life was simpler, whatever. All this negative self talk is a sign. A sign that I'm not setting clear intentions and clear boundaries for myself and others. It might also be a sign that I'm asking too much of myself or others, that I have unrealistic expectations.

Let's try to re-frame the negative talk to a positive approach.

What do I want more of? I want more self-commitment and a clear path of action. I want more results. I want to make a list and stick to it. Did you notice I'm still beating myself up a little?

Try it this way: What brings you joy? What would make you really happy and excited, maybe even relieved? How can you boost your own morale and reward yourself for X, Y, or Z action? What can you do to start and end your day to get you in a good mindset? What kind of breaks can you take during the day that will allow you to move, clear the cobwebs, and refresh your body and soul? 

We are not Human Doings. We are Human Beings. Remember that. Be the person you want to be.

I love to celebrate with my clients.  We start our sessions with a win for the week. It's amazing how many times a person will say they don't have any wins, but then when they get started talking about it, they realize they made this good choice and that first step. They may not have done exactly what they said they would do but their brain found a way to take one step closer.

I am going to make mindful choices, celebrate more accomplishments, and focus on how great it feels when I get things done and stick to my plan!

 

I create my world and the climate around me

This is one of my favorite quotes because it addresses the stress and drama we can feel, especially around those we care for the most. Though it was written hundreds of years ago, it applies to all of us because it is about human nature. Read it all the way through and then I will take it apart, sentence-by-sentence.

"I have come to the frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element. It is my personal approach that creates the climate. It is my daily mood that makes the weather..."

Read More

Forgiveness And Apologies

Note: A favorite blog from 2010.  Enjoy!

“We must forgive those we feel have wronged us, not because they deserve to be forgiven, but because we love ourselves so much we don’t want to keep paying for the injustice.”
The Four Agreements, Don Miguel Ruiz

Forgiveness is a gift to yourself and to the person you are forgiving.

Read More

Making a Decision - fight it or embrace it

Making decisions can be tough or freeing.  I don't know about you, but I find that the more layers there are to what the decision means, (or the more it involves money or technology), the more time I procrastinate about making it.  In particular, when the right decision means that I have to figure something out, learn a new skill, or make a long-term commitment to something, I tend to shy away from pulling the trigger.  "I don't have time for that right now," is the usual rationalization.

Read More

A Goal Without a Plan is Only a Dream

I’ve been “blogless” due to other writing responsibilities but now I’ve been inspired! Have you ever had an issue or topic on your mind and then you just happen to find a quote or article that exactly matches what you are trying to say? That has happened to me a few times in my life. 

Read More

You Wouldn’t Let Them Play With Matches – Would You?

Note: This was the first blog I wrote in 2007, written in honor of my mother, Mary Kay Flannery. As the mother of ten children, she saw it all, achieved so much, and was a great role model for me. The lessons here can apply to any relationship where you can play a leadership role.

Twenty-something years ago when my two older children were just 3 and 4 years old, I was complaining to my mother about discipline issues. The kids weren’t behaving and I was sounding rather exasperated about what I wanted them to do or didn’t want them to do.

Read More