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Friday, October 30, 2009

Snowballing on All Hallows Eve

It started at the gym this morning - miscommunication. Yet at that point it was still manageable. Trainer Ed had left Kim a text "We still on?" Minutes before our 6am appt, Kim received it, ignored it at that point, and then after running into Ed at the gym, realized our plans didn't matter.

Our heinies and other appendages got burned. Ed, full of grins and eagerness to put us to the test, showed us our new routine, which we committed to while huffing and puffing. Ed blew the house down. Lunges, Round the Clock, step ups with weights. While he rounded out the 30 minutes, we discovered new muscles that would ache all weekend. That's when, on Oct. 30, in 57 degrees, I began to experience the snow flakes in the air.

They moved in slowly. The morning business schedule called for phone calls, writing and planning prior to a "power" afternoon of back to back commitments: client, conference presentation and another client while fueling up the Jeep, finding time for banking and buying groceries.

Twenty minutes before my first appt, a cancellation call came in. Okay. That allows me to eat lunch prior to heading out for the conference. And maybe enough time to gas up the Cherokee before the responsibilities kicked in.

Luckily I leave early enough to select a good station on the way, pull up, park and pull out my credit card carrier. Hmph. No credit card. Up to now, I had passed through the last few days needing no cash, and had none with me. A quick glance at my fuel supply tells me I can get to my next appt with some to spare, and still have time to pull into home, rummage through pockets in other jackets worn while out, hoping to find the card I used just three days ago still there.

I drive on, early to my conference commitment, and able to make some calls. Unfortunately all I could do was leave messages to my network, yet I felt productive. My presentation buddies showed up, we ran through our program, and feeling prepared and eager to wow the audience, we moved on to our presentation area only to discover a very small turnout. Well, it's Friday afternoon, when many folks are gearing up for Halloween events, and the trick's on us.

A dozen or so seated themselves in our room while we began the presentation, yet Glinda the Good Witch must have been paying attention, for before we ended, the room was fairly full. Success! I glanced at my watch, saw that although I couldn't yet run home to check on my credit card whereabouts, I was still on time, and flew out to my car. At this rate I could make it to my next appt ahead of time, enjoy the bag of treats we presenters were handed and have time to rinse out my mouth prior to coaching.

I entered the public library, our selected location, and heard "attention patrons, the library is now about to close". Cutbacks meant on Fridays they close an hour early. Crap. Scanning the lobby I notice my companion not yet among us, dig out my parking ticket, rush to the garage, pull out and wait on the side street for my client to show. No luck. I dialed him, left word of the predicament, suggesting an alternative and sit back waiting.

Within a few minutes he calls - "Entering your number in my phone. I'm at the vet with my cat on emergency. Can we postpone?" Hmph. Okay, I think. Now I have more time to find my credit card, get gas, buy groceries and still get home in time to enjoy a few beers while reflecting on this day. We end our conversation and I pull off, heading home.

Parking in our condo's garage, I duck into the mailbox nook, key into our box, and seeing a check for me, decide there's time to run down to the bank before heading off to all the other places. The bank closes in 20 minutes. Everything else I can get to later.

Rushing into our downtown unit, I dig through pockets of jackets worn through the week and finally discover the card. Checking the time I notice 20 minutes is left before the bank closes. Since I'm used to walking to the bank, I know I can make it on foot. I grab my keys, my check and leave my purse and phone behind. If someone wants me, I think, they can leave a message.

I fly through the hall, down the side stairs, out the front security gate and cross the street on my path to cutting through parking lots and alleys while jay-walking whenever I can. The intersection lights are in my favor. I make it to the bank in good time. Laying down my keys, I fill out my transaction slip, eyeball the teller I know and move into place ready to deposit and retrieve some cash - finally.

Making small talk while at the window, I quickly gather up my cash, leave the window and hit the exit while considering whether I will drink a beer before jumping in my car to fuel up and get groceries. Sure! Why not? I race across the street, noticing my shoes are starting to hurt. Terrific Halloween costumes on several adults awaiting the bus distract me, quickly taking my mind off my feet.

For such a day full of possible problems, this day hasn't turned out so bad. And I have cash in pocket! I'm cutting through the final parking lot on my way back to our condo's and it hit me. I don't feel the keys in my pocket. Where are my keys? Up ahead is the security gate. I need the fob on my keyring to get inside. And then, I need our unit key to enter. Suddenly my pace has slowed.

Waiting outside the gate for someone to enter takes me 20 minutes. And although we're lucky enough to have a concierge inside who can assist the residents (I'm hoping he can key into our unit), he is nowhere around. His cell phone number is posted at his office, yet I don't have my cell. It's time to sit down. Just sit down and wait. A blister had formed on my left heel, for in the gorgeous weather my feet swelled, rubbing against the back of my shoe. It's now seaping. Gross. As though I needed something else to focus on. While the delay took hold of me, I realized my day has now ended. I will be going nowhere - no gas station, no grocery store, nowhere.

After 15 minutes the concierge arrives - Con, who is Irish - and tells me he was watching me on the monitor, wondering why I was sitting outside. I close my eyes, shake my head and ask, "Will you please let me into my place?" "Of course!" he bellowed. Upstairs we trudged, and while Con told me of his day's maladies, I kept moving down the hall anticipating the one remaining Blue Moon in the refridgerator. Darn. That's going to have to do for now. Without my keys, I can't pick up more at the grocery, and my heel is too sore to walk to the carry out.

Tomorrow is Saturday, October 31. Today was full of tricks. Tomorrow better be full of treats!

Turned on its head!

Out of frustration, we have a tendency to attack ourselves when we miss the mark. We didn't anticipate the opponent's move. We studied the wrong script. We missed the turn-off. Just when we thought we were ready, we discovered just how unprepared we were.

So was the case when I met with a young man over coffee who has been beating himself up over his job search efforts.

"All they want to do is talk about themselves! It feels more like a debate than a conversation, and I don't like it." From the way he rubbed his hands on his thighs and then raked through his hair with his right hand, he demonstrated tangibly his frustration with himself. "I didn't expect to have to listen to them(the hiring managers) talk about themselves and the company. I thought they'd want to know about me."

This young guy wasn't ready for the reality of job fairs and today's approach to the interview.

Similar are the feelings of business developers, new AND seasoned managers, parents and other adults who had it all together until new circumstances and/or change created chaos in their lives. At these times, our thinking gets turned on its head. And like those silly drinking games with baseball bats on the floor and our forehead attached to the handle while we attempt to walk away after spinning around, we get off balance, lose our footing, and walk away embarrased at looking like such an idiot!

We've all been there. The worst case scenario is retreating into isolation until the world is eventually "righted". And the best case scenario is reaching out to a trusting individual and discussing it.

Only then do we realize, it's not us. We aren't idiots. We simply had our world turned around and with eyes open a bit wider now, we can begin to function again. New information gives us better decision-making, stronger motivation and the will to move forward - this time with balance.

We laugh at our mistakes. We anticipate new lessons and slowly pick up speed in building confidence. We're not only predictable - we're good.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


8:26pm Gotta pocketful of sunshine. Yep, it's October 28, not the time of year when natural sun shines through the blinds. Still gotta pocketful of sunshine.

Gliding through the hall with a Blue Moon in my right, a rhythm in my left and my feet clickin' to the beat of Natasha Bedingfield while a smile stretches across my face.

Cats have cockeyed looks on their faces. Does this stand in my way? Oh, no. The beat keeps me focused, the 2nd track keeps the beat.

I gotta pocket gotta pocket full of sunshine, oh......I gotta love..gotta love that's all mine.... Oh...........Take me away....

Usual routine is the kitten in my lap, but not tonight. Can't even sit. Gotta stay in the groove.

Take me a way... the secret place....the great escape.... to better days...

I gotta pocket gotta pocket full of sunshine.......

Today another new client, a great event, business makes sense, life is purposeful...just gotta dance...I'll be alright.....

Thursday, October 22, 2009

From a Position of Strength

While superman hoists challenges above his head before flinging them out of the way, onlookers can see the effect on his armpits. Does that hold back Superman? No. Does that hold back the rest of us? Well, usually.

The American adage of "Never let them see you sweat" has gripped our collective psyche to the point that many well-equipped individuals avoid challenges.

I must confess, that has often been my stumbling block - fear of how others would view me or my actions when I step up to the challenge. During these challenging times I typically view my perspective from a position of weakness. Not a very appropriate view.

My body responds with butterflies, my face and ears redden and I feel the need to flee just when the universe has brought me an opportunity to demonstrate my value. Instead, I decline.

Looking at this from another perspective, I wish I could just flick some sense into my head. (Usually this comes after tipping a cold brew, yet sometimes it happens while at work, too!) The more I practice stepping up to the plate, facing my challenges with a strategy of using my gifts and talents, I am in the flow...similar to golfer Bagger Vance.

It's about seeing what's possible.  From that view, my strengths calm me, and then I move into action as though being divinely directed. I don't stand in my own way. Instead, I move forward. Coming from a position of strength.

Athletes understand this, as well as stage performers, musicians, wise sages and priests. Tapping into our inner strengths - our gifts - offers us a way to purposely move forward. We all have the potential.

Facing challenges today? Take'em on from a position of strength.

Monday, October 19, 2009

listing to the left...

Yeah, I gotta admit, part of the joy of blogging is finding the appropriate photo to represent the post. And this one is no exception! No, I don't mean to suggest having presidential duties, but if I don't make my list, I lose motivation to follow through with my day. Think Obama is the same way? Well....

Some people spend hours creating lists...at day's end and/or first thing in the morning. The more analytical and orderly the person, the more lists they create. And then they create a list identifying where each list type is found. Sort of a table of contents. That's a bit much. (smile - out of ability to relate) The more they list, the less likely they will actually complete each, for they've wasted so much time creating the list there is no time left to do anything about it!

Yet I have to say, without my list of specific tasks all for a workday's focus (full of not only names to call but phone numbers specific to each recipient, things intended in the conversation and my specific "asks" per person) I drag my feet prior to getting tasks done. I have to review the weekly goals to remember how my tasks support them. Once done, I fly through my tasks. What a difference knowing how each tasks supports the overall goal!

You'd think I would have gotten so good at this, working in my coaching business for nearly 10 years (and coaching individuals not only in relationship management but in TASK management also) that it all becomes second nature to know what to do next, and I no longer need to create lists for motivation. But that's not the case. And most folks I know who rely on lists ALSO tend to get away from the routine, lose focus, lose momentum and lose their ability to feel productive at the end of the day.

I wonder how Obama feels at the end of the day? Has he checked anything off his list?

Listing is why post-it notes, scrap pads of paper and task reminders are such a huge part of office supply shops and software office programs. Maybe it's why I love walking through office supply shops, touching pads of paper, trying out pens and flipping through filing tools. It slows me down, develops that organizing appeal and allows my "service" gene to stretch. Or maybe it's just another way to make us of good ole' procrastination.

I'm sure I'll continue listing. Just as many other, well-intentioned, driven and motivated people will. Whether we list to the left, list to the right, stand up, sit down or fight, fight, fight! I hope you keep doing it, too. Otherwise, you may not call me back, follow through with your promises or save the world on someone else's behalf.

Just remember to do the work, so you get to check it off your list! Our President has at least checked off one item. :)

Friday, October 16, 2009

If I Could Talk to the Animals

Another morning I'm up before 4am, not by design, but because instead of running conversations through my head as I lie awake, I chose to go downstairs to "play on my laptop". In so doing, two feline friends, Amber and Frisbee, shifted from sleeping contentedly at head and feet to flying downstairs with me.

After I collected my laptop and headed for the daybed, Carmel, another cat who endured me just long enough while I petted her, pounced away from her cozy perch onto the floor and out the door.

I don't like being up so early on another workday, fully expecting to hit the snooze at least once before I get to the gym at 5:30, yet now I'm up at least an hour ahead of time, not appreciative but preferring to make good use of the time. After reading a few emails, I notice activity around me from 4 fully awakened cats as they jockey for position, posturing and pouncing. Buddy sauntered in to check out the food dish that Frisbee finally left while Amber and Caramel took turns catching my eye in front of the other.

Only Caramel was ticked off from being awakened. Yet that was even short-lived, evidenced from her drool while I petted the top of her head. The others demonstrated their appreciation of being awake and functioning, of having my attention.

"Thanks for realizing we are here," they seemed to say. "And while you're at it, refill our food. Come pet me again. Watch me run and knock over the vase of flowers. I bet you never saw another cat jump down so quickly while keeping its fur in place."

My attitude is now much different than when I first awoke. Thanks to the energy in this room. As the clock ticks on, and I've fully awakened, I can actually smile -which attracts notice from Amber sitting in my lap. Good thing I can't read their minds. If I could, I may actually be upset right now.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

How much is Good Enough?

Not long ago I sat across from a client who asked me, "Who gets to say whether I'm good enough?"

The context of our conversation focused on a recurring theme today: job seeking. Whether those prepping to land their next position are asking guidance from experts on resume building, interviewing effectively, networking or image, the bottom line is a rather pitty experience of whether they measure up.

Contrast this with watching TLC's What Not to Wear(one of my favorite shows, by the way!), attending an audition, prepping for a big presentation or tournament competition. Being Good Enough is such an opinion-driven, in-the-moment experience. And who gets to be the judge?

As a confidence-building speaking coach, I lead clients to look to themselves for being able to pass scrutiny. Consider first what IS good enough in your own eyes. Then dismiss all the fluff as extra. Perhaps we are considering appearance, actions, results, how to spend money, how to use our time. When we know what is most important to us, we will measure our actions, our behaviors and our words to those values. Anything beyond that is TOO MUCH.

As adults, we are in the position to make choices. This, consequently, becomes a model for youth and young adults. Those who are driven by their parents, or peers or celebraties to push themselves beyond thier limits, especially regarding things that make little difference, will soon become victim of the Not Being Good Enough syndrome.

Decide. How much is good enough - and then be good with it!
Please share, what is your measuring stick?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Up to the highest height

I'm not sure which Greek sage first announced, "Know thyself". It is attributed to at least six. While presently the thought shows up in the modern-day film,The Matrix, on a plaque above the Oracle's door, the saying encourages us to achieve our potential.

Today is Sunday. This weekend I observed myself through attention to others while my family came to visit. The gene pool lever knocked on the back of my mind while I noticed a key habit of my father's - the quick release jaw during laughing. I have always been mindful of how often my mouth flies open wide when attempting to kick a ball, shoot a basket or block a shot.

Although I have meant to adjust that habit so my tongue isn't quite so evident, I never think about it soon enough. Well sure enough, Dad's does, too. And not just when he's attempting a physical feat. It's also when he exclaims, laughs and wonders.

Just when I began shaking my head in wonderment, I noticed it again. My mouth had flown open. Suddenly I was aware that this behavior was not learned but natural. It can not be controlled.

Sure, Pythagorus, Socrates, Plato - all the ancient philosophers - have led us to reach our highest height of understanding self while witnessing those around us: actions, behaviors, morals, habits. Even applying this to our understanding of God, the universe, and our collective consciousness.

Let's go fly a kite
Up to the highest height
Let's go fly a kite
And send it soaring.
Up to the atmosphere
Up where the air is clear.
Oh, let's go, fly a kite.

On this sacred day of days, what I have discovered about myself gives me little sense of divinity. My opportunity of flying a kite, of discovering enlightenment, has led me instead to sucking in flies.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Reaching Into the Great Beyond

About a month ago I had coffee with someone who, not surprisingly, expressed her fear of making phone calls. My coaching work often leads me to those in business development who feel anxiety when using the phone to call upon strangers while seeking business. Cold-calling is a drudgery for many in sales, yet it leads to the eventual result - an appointment.

In this case a month ago, my companion wasn't reaching out to make a sales call. She was instead attempting to discover information about herself. She experiences social anxiety - something many experience at varying degrees, yet we have often heard it called "shyness". According to Jonathon Berent, ACSW, when we call ourselves shy, we avoid control over our condition. Calling ourselves socially anxious, we "are on our way to a more relaxed, fulfilling life in which we are in control".

I was forewarned to expect a call from my socially anxious companion, and within a week, she called. Now that's amazing. I remember thinking I'd never hear from her, for after all, what was motivating her to reach out? Yet she did call.

While on the phone she mentioned her fear of phoning, allowing me to marvel at the followthrough. Beyond that was her fear of meeting in public. Yet her intent in making the call was two-fold: could my coaching help her address her anxiety in specific ways, and if I thought so, could we meet?

After I shared my willingness to learn more about her, we agreed to meet. I selected a comfortable coffee shop convenient to both of us, while also very "public". If our work together was to be effective, it would get demonstrated immediately by our public location. My new acquaintance agreed and 2 days later we sat down together with coffee.

Reaching out into the great beyond, this woman chose to conquer her problems and overcome the symptoms that get in her way. Like others, she has constantly held herself back from relationships, personal fulfillment and career moves simply because of her embarrassment, fear or loss of confidence when assuming others are judging her.

Odd as it seems, this is a common factor we all face, daily. Daily. Often hourly.
We retreat back into isolation when our mind - logic - informs us it is time to reach out. Yet our fears of the result - our emotion - blocks us from following through with our intentions.

The manager considers checking in with a direct report, yet struggles with being unable to answer endless questions, hearing negative talk or having to make a decision he/she doesn't want to make. The sales professional avoids the client who wants a return call, fearing their dissatisfaction, or they fear cold-calling which leads to lack of interest or feeling of no value.

In our personal relationships we simply want positive reinforcement. When we don't get it, we assume things beyond what's actually the case.

Initiating contact with people is not always, but sometimes, a huge risk. But as in the earlier woman's case, it leads to information we need. And from there, possible connections that are of major importance. In the meantime, we find we have a more relaxed, fulfilling life in which we are in control.

In what way can you reach out instead of retreating, today?

Monday, October 5, 2009

Slow to Fast

One of the joys of living in urban Columbus is having eating and drinking establishments a few steps away. We're 1 block from the nearest coffee and bagel shop, 1 block from a tapas restaurant, and able to walk to tens more choices of bar restaurants within 2 to 10 minutes.

Like many urban dwellers, we keep little in the cupboards, yet we don't go hungry. Nor is fast food the routine. Although our diet restricts most meats, carbohydrates and sweets (no snacks are in our cupboards), we enjoy eating. Give us humus, eggs, beans, fruit, yogurt, nuts and vegetables, and we're good. While out eating, similar finds are noted on menu's, and with little need to loss sight of our diet, we enjoy. I can still enjoy the eventual fries or pancakes, yet now my body responds poorly when it happens too often.

Today, while on the treadmill at the gym, I read about the fasting of one of Dan Brown's characters, Ma'Lak, in The Lost Symbol. His attachment to it is the purification his body goes through. That's what got my interest. Ma'Lak glories in his control over his body, his decision to fast, to sacrifice and to get through it. Two days of liquids, nothing more. Two days of focusing on the enjoyment of self-discipline.

Discipline is a lost art, today. For the most part, discipline comes with personal benefit that is not immediate: diet, exercise, practice of skills, cold-calling, and other long-term, preventitive and proactive behaviors. In the American way of life, we stay so fast-paced with enjoyment, entertainment, impulsive behaviors, that our eating habits follow suit.

Though some take pleasure in food preparation, few take pleasure in exercising food discipline enough to partake in eventual fasting. When it comes to diet in America fast-fooding, not fasting, fast-fooding takes precedence! Habits that lead us quick to mouth are in control. When our stomachs talk to us, growling in hunger, we respond almost immediately.

Unless our faith encourages fasting and prayer, most of us would not practice this sacrifice. We are slow to fast, quick to eat. Does this mean we have no self-control?Perhaps we are seldom fulfilled in ways other than eating. If that's the case, we would jump at any chance to eat, simply to gain fulfillment.

I'm not sure, yet, whether I will try fasting. Many logical excuses come to mind as I consider it. Yet I do know that life fulfillment is worth exploring in ways other than using plate, fork, fingers and teeth.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Less Than Half Empty

It's beer:30 on my day off. I've worked up a sweat on this first day of October, sitting on the rooftop while reading. Hard to believe, but it actually feels like it's 80 degrees up here! After an hour, suffering, I go inside, reach for a cold brew - a real brew! not the MGD 64 substitute I usually find in the fridge - so I can feel that click in my head that relaxes me.

Because so far this day has been only mildly relaxing. Sleep in until 7, skip the gym, have breakfast out while reading the new Dan Brown release, go to the river and watch kids throw bread crumbs to the ducks.

I need another way to relax. I've slowed my pace, yet I need to FEEL it. Beer:30 usually does the trick. Good thing Blue Moon has twist offs - I don't want to waste anytime digging for a beer bottle opener. Now, it's time to go full tilt.

Yep, that works. That works well. And since I'm a little hungry, I reach for the Quick Fix. Dry roasted peanuts are a great companion to beer. On your day off, you take a break from routine, whether it's work, meals, the gym or anything else on the schedule. Days off are meant to be lived without routine.

I'm running out of beer. On the contrary, I'm laughing. Even singing...."Blue Moon, you make me..." Okay I forget the words to that song. What I do know is, drinking Blue Moon on a relatively empty stomach creates a joy I forgot was possible. Wait - I thought I had another still in the side door of the refridgerator - now that's an odd word, isn't it? Refridgerator? Doesn't "re" mean "again"? What got fridged again?

You're not supposed to let cold beer get warm and then iced down again. I know a guy who bought a case from a carryout, yet by the time he got home it was warm, so he returned it and actually got a replacement since he claimed to have received it warm!

Has my Blue Moon been iced down after it got warm? Can I pull that off? Pulling out the cash to run down to the carryout, I'm laughing. Can you imagine the look on that guy's face when I ask him if he can prove the beer I bought from him before was iced without first getting warm?!

Naw, I don't think I can deliver the punch line without laughing. My bottle is less than half empty and I have to do something about this. I need a FULL Blue Moon.

Running down to the local carryout, I open the door, look for the Blue Moon section and spot a new entry on the chilled shelf: Full Moon. Yes!!!! Does that mean you can just keep tipping?? I turn to the owner who has just finished serving a customer, laughing and pointing, my mouth wide open.

"I love it!" I said. "A Full Moon for my Beer:30!" He just looked as though he was looking right through me. "What?" he said.

Then I look further and see the seasonal distinction. For the winter months. Huh? Who wants a cold beer in the winter months? Aha! No wonder they stay full then! Blue Moon is pretty clever!

Finally, I see the Belgian White - the Belgian-Style Wheat Ale. "Oh, good. That will replace what I've been drinking," I say aloud to the owner, who by now has made some decisions about me and my behavior.

As I approached the checkout, I ask him what time it is. "Ten minutes til 4," he replies. "Good, that still gives me enough time to enjoy these six while it's beer:30."

"Blue moon, " I hum while exiting, suddenly remembering to check the temperature of the bottles I'm carrying out. And instead of asking my owner friend if they were able to keep the bottles chilled while re-stocking, I decide I need to run home before they get warm. Perfect. I'll work up a sweat, need the twist-off cap to quickly come off, then can enjoy the first at full tilt before I reach for the peanuts again.

What a day off.