A New Vision

A New Vision

I recently had the opportunity to work with Jane, an amazing client, whose situation may resonate with you.

Over the course of the last month, as she juggled family, her consulting practice, and the general summer flow (or lack of), she managed to get sick. While she fought her way through with doctor visits and a couple rounds of antibiotics, her list of to do’s grew longer and her plans for the future further away.  

When we got to connect, she simply felt scattered even after a business retreat that she had set aside to do some focused work. I asked her to identify an image that captured her feeling.  “I feel like I have a bunch of marbles rolling around. They seems to be hidden under tables and chairs, behind and under whatever furniture is in the room,” Jane exclaimed.

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Accessing Your Internal Board of Directors

There has been a great deal of talk over the years about a "Personal Board of Directors".  And, don't get me wrong, this is powerful.  They can be your group of wise men and women that you leverage as you move forward on your career path-whatever that may be - in a specific workplace or as an entrepreneur.  Yet, what if there was a step before?  What if it didn't ask for outside recruitment or outside advice, as sage as it can be.  What if you spent your time initially getting to know your own Internal Board of Directors that really serve as your best allies as you move forward in life.

Of course this nuance is different.  So, let's play.  You've heard it said that there is a deeper wisdom inside, that, if listened to, can guide you forward.  A little woo-woo?  Perhaps.  But, what about when you have had that little inkling or 6th sense or gut reaction to do something, say something and it was right on!  Or, perhaps the other direction.  You could feel the sense that you shouldn't do something or you even feel part of you shouting "no" inside and yet, you didn't listen.  And, all you now want is a do-over that simply will never come!  Been there.  Done that...on both accounts.

Intrigued?  Well, the beautiful part is that it doesn't demand paying for a lunch out, or organizing an agenda or playing phone tag.  What it does demand, however, is the space and time to listen.  And, it is about listening to YOU.  These aspects of you include your body, your mind, and your emotions, all of which lead you to your Deeper Self.  Let's take a look.

Your Body:  Yes, the amazing vessel that you walk around with all day!  It is what sends you physical signals about choices you have made and choices you have yet to make.  You know, the neck pain that comes when you read that memo from your boss mentioning a new project "that has your name all over it", but you know it won't really use your talents in a way that energizes you.  Or the headache that comes on when you know you have a family gathering coming up, but you have yet to figure out how to deal with your brother who always seems to put you down.  What do these examples offer?  Perhaps red flags that provide feedback or guidance around issues that need to be addressed.  Begin by asking yourself "what sensations am I feeling in my body?"  Give yourself the space to listen for the answers.  

Your mind:  Insights. Imagination. Inspiration.  An amazing reservoir of possibilities, if we let it and if we learn how to guide it.  For many, we allow our minds to run amuck.  This is when our mind takes on the persona of a wild animal setting our course  and direction.  However, through loving guidance and discipline, this can change.  What am I speaking about?  Watch your thoughts for an hour.  Are there certain thoughts that play over and over again as if you have hit the repeat button and you can't turn it off?  The first step is awareness.  The second is replacement.  Replace the self-defeating thoughts with those that support you.  With the desire to move toward greater creativity, offer yourself the space to ask for ideas, and expect better ones!  Ask for 5 new ideas that your entrepreneurial self is looking for in the creation of your next business, in your next day as a parent of teenagers or small children or in your relationship with your husband or wife.  And then, ask for 5 more!  Give yourself the space to listen for the answers.

Your emotions:  A Gift.  A Beacon.  Your emotions serve as a window into your deeper self. Through self-awareness they offer input.  They offer information.  Emotions are not who you are.  Rather, what you can find is the awareness that stands behind the emotions.  Opening this window allows you to access your insight, your creativity.  How does this work?  Begin by simply asking yourself, "what am I feeling at this moment?"  Give yourself the space to listen for the answers.

Getting to really know yourself through your body, your mind and your emotions opens you to yourself.  Each are valuable in and of themselves.  But through the listening, you also begin to access a deeper voice, a Deeper Self that can offer guidance, compassion and love.   Let your own Internal Board of Directors lead you in the direction of your Joy.  Because, you know, it is the only direction they want to go!  

3 Beginning Steps Out Of Career Pain

Pain is definitely not my first desired go-to for information.  Upon first glance, I would much rather enjoy other forms of communication- a light suggestion, a brief nod, even an encouraging word!  And yet, as an athlete, I can, in fact, resonate with the concept of pain as part of my feedback loop.  As part of that history, I quickly got in touch with the good pain/bad pain reality.  Of course, good pain was when I would push my body to its limits, knowing deep down that I am strengthening it within a larger process.  And, the bad pain?  Well, I can more directly appreciate that message today when I turn in the midst of a yoga pose and immediately feel a shooting pain that simply screams, "oh, so wrong!"

But what about in your professional career?  I have certainly known the pain of not wanting to go in to the office - whether the desire to avoid an interaction with a difficult colleague, blatant contradictions between value-based messaging and leadership actions, or not finding the potential for growth and development that could keep me stimulated and energized.  It really doesn't matter which direction you profess, "live to work" or "work to live", pain is pain.  

So, what does one do?  There are the "simple" answers.  Just leave!  You know, get out!  The next answer, just bury your head, do your job and, when the clock strikes the designated hour, bolt like lightening.  Both of those responses can certainly hold truth or serve as a temporary placeholder.  In all honesty, I have lived into those answers myself.  But what I found in doing just that, the pain didn't go away.

So, where do you begin when the pain feels excruciating and You. Just. Want. It. To. Stop!  The following are beginning steps forward.

Step 1.  Start by bringing your emotional thoughts into the present physical moment.  Begin with your breath.  Breathe and allow yourself to feel the oxygen entering and exiting your body. Why?  Because that action brings you into the physical present rather than swimming circles in the pool of your thoughts.  Do this multiple times to practice being in the here and now.

Step 2.  Engage in self-reflection.  Move your thoughts from your head to paper.  Through journalling, you begin the process of releasing a block in your life.  And, it can be done in whatever way resonates.  Possible ideas are bullet points of current situations, key word capture or story telling. Just get them out of your head.  

Step 3.  Give yourself space to open to the awareness that comes from reflection.  Patterns, connections, the emptying of the mind to create room for possibilities can all begin to emerge. 

These steps can move you from hanging over the precipice to standing a distance away and taking in the view.  Allow this to be a beginning, your beginning, as you use pain as guidance and input rather than merely a scary voice from which to hide.

Two Ways To Move You Into Life Balance

The other night as I was leaving a parent meeting at school, I shared a quick exchange with another mom that I hadn't crossed paths with in a while.  "You know," she said, "I hate that word life balance.  There is simply no such thing.  I hardly ever see my friends or anyone socially and all I do is work!"  And, yes, I could definitely sense a thud to the exclamation mark at the end of her statement challenging me to even try to counter with any alternative view.  However, I was curious if she was enjoying her own business.  She shot back with how completely busy she was without anytime for anything or anyone in her life, upon which she turned and began a conversation with someone else.

Life balance is a powerful concept.  The pain of the concept comes when we load it up with the expectation that our lives are components of inanimate objects to be picked up and placed on an immovable scale.  In fact, Martha Beck says that any "deep-seated, long-lasting, intractable emotional pain is always evidence that we believe something false". 

So, what is life?  Life is simply the existence of change.  And change is ever constant.  Adding the concept of balance actually adds deep beauty if you recognize balance as simply presence. Presence allows for acceptance in what is in the moment.  That awareness offers compassion and love, if you let it.  

So, you are probably saying, "come on now...life balance is awareness of constant change opening into compassion and love?!?"  Oh, ya, baby, you've got it now!  So, let's bring it down to the everyday.  A couple of ways to do that... 

If life is change, then check in with yourself.  What are you feeling?  Self-awareness comes with self-reflection.  So do it!  Ask yourself.  And, if change is constant, consider making it a habit.  That feedback can be amazing content in your forward movement. 

If balance is about presence, then take some time to introduce yourself to yourself!  Take yourself out on a date and give yourself time to yourself.  Do you know what you like?  Do you know what makes you happy?  Peaceful?  Excited?  Find out!  Living in the moment is a sensory explosion of an amazing magnitude.  Check it out!  As you do, you might find the power of you and the real blessing that you are to the world.

So go for it.  Life balance can be a lot of fun, if you allow it to be what it is...awareness of constant change opening into compassion and love.  Bring it on!

3 Small Steps Toward Your Truth

Are you one of those people who start a novel and take a peek at the ending?  Maybe closer to my M.O., is choosing movies (at least a majority of them) that simply have a happy ending.  I want to know that everything will end up alright.  Perhaps this is world news coverage fatigue, but at any rate, knowing that I will have the happy ending is where I go and play.  

But what about life?  You know, the real thing.  You might think that after the above I would be dead on arrival.  And yet.  I am not.  Does that mean that I have found the special happy pill?  No. And. Yes.  However, it's not a pill.  It's more like awareness of a journey.  A journey that I slip and fall occasionally, lose my way, get tired, but also get back up, stop for rest, enjoy the vista, play on the hillside, regain my path and well, have a fun along the way.  

This awareness is found in three small steps - stillness, listening and observing.  It is these three steps that take me to a deeper truth that can't be found in the noise swirling around me.  My family's spring break was a mishmash of various directions - taking my daughter on college visits, engaging in a local business entrepreneurial class and celebrating my mom's 75th birthday.  Of course, looking back on this list to be accomplished in 3 different states might lead someone to say, "Too Much".  But then, leading a life in the "AND" of a professional life, family life and personal life can sometimes get off track when I stop moving from a place of awareness that takes me to my truth.  

Fast forward to about week and a half in, and I was toast.  I had let go of pretty much all three of my steps.  The beautiful part, however, was feeling the resulting pain and letting it guide me back to my awareness.  Moving back into stillness found in my early morning, took me into listening to my life.  Many thoughts came, but by observing them and just letting them move on through, I found myself backing into my deeper voice of love, gentleness and healing.  

Claim your time of stillness whether it is in the early morning hours with a cup of coffee, going for a walk or claiming journaling time before you start your work day.  Use the time to be with yourself, feeling your amazing body that you are privileged to have and just breathe.  As you relax into yourself, listen.  Yes thoughts, like clouds in the sky, will come.  Let them and let them keep on going!  Observe what is going by.  Begin to notice the tape that might be playing and how the repeat button is on constant. In the noticing, comes the awareness of the existence of your deeper self that is listening and observing,  That is your beginning.  It is this place, the place of awareness, that will lead you to your deeper truth.