It’s About Having Fun

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“Life is a great big canvas, and you should throw all the paint on it you can.”   ~ Danny Kaye

Bobette Reeder is Past President of the International Coach Federation (ICF), the global professional organization that represents personal and business coaches. She has been a professional Coach since 1995 and was among the first 20 coaches to receive the distinction of ICF Master Certified Coach (MCC). She holds a Master’s Degree in Communication Disorders and her coaching voice has been heard by hundreds of clients in 41 U.S. states and 10 foreign countries.

Bobette Reeder

Bobette Reeder

Bobette is active as a Partner with Serendipitous Events and a Co-Host/Co-Producer of the first invitation-only event for Master level Coaches,”Conversation Among Masters” (CAM). She has been married for 42 years and has two married children, four grandchildren and Murphy the Wonder Dog! Her style both personally and professionally is all about having fun and seeking the positive side and opportunity in everything life brings.

As my guest on this week’s Awakening to Awareness Radio Show, Bobette shared how and why professional coaching can be of considerable value to baby boomers; how the word “pause” and its practice is significant; why it’s important to know who you really are; why playing and having fun, especially when in a life transition is key and; the need for both a coach and ‘coachee’ to have chemistry or a “fit” for the partnership to be productive.

5055545286_5983b7c600_mShe also addressed continuous learning; having a positive impact and ‘giving back’ and; how coaching helps to create new awareness. Interested in listening to the show, here’s the podcast link. If you’d like to learn more about coaching, you can reach Bobette at: http://www.bobettereeder.com http://www.coachinitiative.org or coachbobette@gmail.com

Inspiring Others

“Have you ever been stopped in your tracks? By a stranger who affected you profoundly?” ~ Eric Tonningsen

Months ago, I briefly mentioned a woman named Rose. I committed to writing about her in a later post. Now I am. Rose served as the inspiration for a story I shared over a three-month series of progressive speech contests. This video was the last time I told the story in May.

If you watch the video, you’ll better understand where this post is going. And yes, it has to do with how we inspire… and how people like you, inspire me.

Fifteen months ago I launched this blogging journey. Truthfully, I get more out of reading and viewing your posts, than I do crafting and sharing mine. I’ve (virtually) met an amazing, creative cadre; people who take time to share what’s on their minds, in their hearts, seen through their lenses, and created on their unique easels.  To each of you, for enriching my life, a respectful hat tip.

We don’t all follow one another’s blogs. Ergo, I want to acknowledge four bloggers whose work has inspired me and in doing so, invite you to visit their site. You may find yourself comparably inspired. Yes, there are countless more than these four people who move, motivate, and inspire me to think, act, laugh, and cry. I appreciate how each of you chooses to contribute to our community.

In my predictable format, here are three ways in which to consider inspiring others, if so inclined:

  1. Untether people. Don’t simply give people your advice. Give them the freedom to figure it out themselves. No one likes a micro-manager or a know-it-all. If you’re asked for help, share a rough outline to help the person move in the right direction, but leave something to their imagination so they’ll have the freedom to fill in the blanks. Self-discovery will show them that they’re fully capable and more powerful that they ever thought possible.
  2. Empathize with people’s judgments and how you’d like to see their life differently. You can often find presence in the feelings and needs that lie behind their world view. Maybe they aren’t changing, but you can create space in which to transform your own judgments and expectations. You have the capacity to shift opinions of others and relationships by simply focusing on yourself.
  3. Acknowledge contributions of others. You’re just one person yet you’ve contributed to your own life successes. What about others who have added meaning and value to your life? It’s not always your idea. 🙂 Acknowledge other’s contributions publicly, if possible, to show people you’re humble and appreciative enough to give them credit for how they’ve affected you.

Why Dogs Sniff Butts

 “Like the herd animals we are, we sniff warily at the strange one among us.” ~ Loren Eisenley

Stay with me; I’m going somewhere thoughtful here.

A dog lover, they’ve been part of my life for decades. So naturally, I was drawn to a recent article titled, “Why Do Dogs Sniff Each Other’s Butts? It’s More Complicated Than You Might Imagine.” Turns out, it’s all about one canine literally sniffing out important information about the other; its gender, emotional state, diet, and more. It’s like communicating with chemicals. As part of its olfactory system, dogs nerves direct the chemical information it detects directly to the brain so there’s no interference from other odors. Keep this “no interference” in mind.

Which brings me to the actual focus for this post. As humans, we also process information by:

  • Being quiet inside and really listening as a way of being aware of our own feelings as well as the feelings of others and;
  • Being aware of habitual negative patterns of thought, behavior and communication and then making positive choices to better serve ourselves and others.

When it comes to effective, meaningful communication, there is probably not a more important skill than listening. Not just hearing but truly listening. Listening is challenging for many people because we are often:

  • Focused on the physical appearance, social status, or the clothing of the person speaking. Maybe even judging them.
  • Planning on what you have to do once the conversation has ended.
  • Devising a solution while the other person is sharing a problem.

Hearing refers to the sounds that you hear. It’s what many people do. Listening requires more than that: it requires focus. Just as canines use their acute sense of smell to enhance communication, we can further develop our skill by listening with our eyes and our heart. Think Golden Rule: How do you want to be listened to?

Most of us believe we’re good listeners. If you want to become an even better listener, consider these ideas:

  1. Avoid letting the speaker know how you handled a similar situation. Unless they specifically ask for advice, assume they simply need to talk it out.
  2. Listen without interrupting. Often, people want to interject their own thoughts. (Yes, we know we do.) Does your body acknowledge that you are listening? Use smiles, nods, and expressions of understanding to communicate to the speaker that you are listening. It is important for them to know their words are respected.
  3. Want to listen. This is unique. You must have an intent to listen. Sometimes you don’t want to listen. At other times, your actions may indicate that you don’t want to listen when you really do. And at still other times, you may be unaware that you don’t want to listen. We can be as good a listener as we want.

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Emotional Intelligence

“Emotional intelligence is when you finally realize it’s not about you.” ~ Peter Stark

People once thought a high IQ (Intelligence Quotient) would guarantee that an individual would rise above everyone else. As a stand-alone measure, that outcome is no longer the case. Enter EQ (Emotional Intelligence), an array of non-cognitive capabilities, competencies, and skills that influence one’s ability to succeed in coping with environmental demands and pressures.

EQ is about being aware of your own feelings in yourself and those of others, regulating those feelings in yourself and others, using emotions that are appropriate to the situation, self-motivation, and building relationships. Another way to contrast the two: IQ defines how smart you are, EQ determines how well you use your gift of intelligence. People with high EQ’s are better equipped to make use of their cognitive abilities.

In 2009, I became certified to administer, interpret results, and debrief respondents of the Bar-On Emotional Quotient Inventory (EQ-i), a premier tool used to measure emotional intelligence. When considered in tandem, IQ and EQ are important factors in determining one’s ability to succeed in life. Case in point: people with high IQ’s but low EQ’s sometime sabotage themselves because they are unable to relate to their peers, cannot handle stress constructively, and find emotional connections difficult to maintain.

There are many ways in which to heighten awareness of your emotional intelligence. If you’re interested in embracing your uniqueness and the uniqueness of others, here are four ways in which to:

  1. Become more self-aware. This involves paying attention to yourself and your surroundings in a positive manner. Knowing who you are comes in big here. If you don’t know who you are how can you expect to know others? Ask yourself: “Why do I act like that?” “Why do I have certain beliefs?” “Why do I find it so confronting to have my beliefs challenged?”
  2. Be more flexible. Being emotionally intelligent involves knowing when to stick to and when to switch your emotional attachments. When it’s time to move on, people high in emotional intelligence can make that adjustment. If you find change difficult, look at the possible consequences. What might happen if you stay with the status quo? On the other hand, where might you be if you go with the flow? Change is part of growth.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         
  3. Tune into your reactions. In a given situation, when your voice begins to rise or you find yourself getting impatient, pause and name that emotion and then try to determine which of your core values is being challenged and thus, resulting in your emotional response. This begins to move you out of reaction and into a more considered response.
  4. If you don’t know how you’re feeling, ask someone else. People seldom realize that others are able to judge how they are feeling. Ask someone who knows you (and whom you trust) how you are coming across. You may find the answer both surprising and interesting.

Pleasing Perspectives?

“There is no burnt rice to a hungry person.” ~ Philippine Proverb

In this image, what is the orange’s perspective? Maybe it’s not! Life is all about how we look at it. This sounds and perhaps is, cliché.

In my coaching work, we widen the aperture to consider expanded views and we search for a larger number of things that may be possible in the future. I encourage clients to visualize panoramas when exploring; to cast their consideration nets wide.

You and I have a wide range of perspectives, including: friendship, politics, entertainment, fashion, spirituality, money, laws, history, culture, death, etc. Perspective is seen and experienced through a ‘now’ lens, yet flexibility with perspective can frame new possibilities for moving forward. When one changes their mindset, they often free themselves to step into new spaces with new perspectives.

Perspectives can be fixed or malleable. They can take the form of ideas, beliefs or opinions. They can shift views from the negative to the positive or vice versa. They might change tomorrow or they may forever stay the same. Two perspectives on life that I hold are: 1) Most people aren’t against you, they’re for themselves; and 2) Go where you are celebrated, not where you’re tolerated.

We know that how we view people affects relationship dynamics. And our behaviors and reactions are often rooted in our perspectives. Yet how we act toward others can be modified. If you are interested in altering select perspectives, here are three steps you can take:

  1. Assess what fact(s) you are unclear about or uncomfortable with and how it is impacting your life. Ask yourself, what view do I need to change? What do I want my changed perspective to be and to yield?
  2. Explore your strengths, personal gifts (skills, talents), and potential – because each of us has these qualities. Ask, how do I use these to create and align with new, desired perspectives?
  3. Discover and get clear about what you want to change. Ask, how am I prepared to effect action(s) to get me to where I want to be and; What kind of story do I want to tell a year from now about my shift in perspective(s)?

I’ll close on an amusing note. The following image, is self-explanatory. It’s a humorous example of a geographic perspective… from an Australian who has never been to the United States. Once he travels to the States and becomes a bit more familiar with what lies where, he may change his perspective. 🙂

Is it Ever the Right Time?

“Winners quit all the time. They just quit the right stuff at the right time.”

~ Seth Godin

Here’s a $64,000 question: How do you know it is time to quit? Have you ever reached a point where something isn’t working, frustration is mounting, and you’re wondering if it is time to quit? Typically, this point is reached after repeated moments of indecision and internal conversations.

The times you have thought about quitting is probably greater than the total number of your fingers and toes combined. And what most often causes us to pause when making a good decision about quitting – is feeling guilty and thinking we will let ourselves or others down. This comes from believing that if something isn’t working, it is because you have not put in the effort, time, or energy for it to work. While this may have contributed to reaching this decision, there are other aspects of the situation more important to making a decision now. These aspects can be brought into focus by answering four questions:

  1. What would have to change in the situation for me to continue and succeed?
  2. What information, skills, experience, and resources would I need to continue my efforts and be successful?
  3. Is there another direction, task or situation that would better match my current goals, skills, and interests? What is it?
  4. What are the benefits of continuing on and what will be the costs? Possible costs include time, energy, money, emotions, relationships, and future opportunities.

Answer these four questions truthfully and you will know if it is time to quit or refocus your efforts. Consider writing out the questions and your answers to allow your mind more clarity. Then, read your answers and consider your possible actions.

Often people quit when they are emotional, especially angry and frustrated. Instead, using these questions creates a more logical and reasonable decision-making process about quitting that can get good results for you and everyone involved.

Try it. You might like it!

You Have Your Permission

“When you have a good idea and you’ve tried it and know it’s going to work, go ahead and do it – because it is much easier to apologize later than to get permission.” ~ Grace Hopper

“Mother may I…?” “Simon says…” Do either of these expressions ring a bell? Perhaps from childhood games? Are you waiting for someone, anyone, to give you permission to succeed? While you may not think you are waiting for permission, when you need the approval or validation of another person to take a risk or allow your capabilities to be used, you are waiting for external permission.

Unfortunately, society often teaches that other people, especially authority figures, are always a better judge of what we are doing, have done, and can do. We don’t trust ourselves, especially the skills, abilities, and experiences making up our capabilities. If we trusted ourselves more we would know that as individuals we are the best judge of our capabilities and we are the only ones who can give ourselves permission to risk and succeed.

I don’t know about you but I’m not too thrilled about letting someone else determine my success and surely don’t want them to determine my failures. The key to self-belief and consistent success is always the point at which and the amount of internal permission we give ourselves. This permission to make mistakes and even fail, frees us to find the limits of our learning and experience. The permission to fail is the permission to succeed.

Regarding your permission:

  1. You have a right to assert yourself, even if it may inconvenience others.
  2. You are under no obligation to say yes, simply because you are asked.
  3. You deserve to succeed. You deserve to live your dream. You deserve to be recognized for what your abilities are able to produce. Three words: Just get started! On your terms.

A Time of Reinvention

“There is a fountain of youth: it is in your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will have truly defeated age.” ~ Sophia Loren

When people talk about retirement, they often think of financial issues. But psychologist Nancy Schlossberg likes to get people to think of retirement as a career change because not only are you leaving something, you are about to begin something new. Dr. Schlossberg found many factors that contribute to helping people negotiate retirement transitions. In her research, she identified six ways in which adults approached retirement:

  • Continuers who continue using existing skills and interests.
  • Adventurers who start entirely new endeavors.
  • Searchers who explore new options through trial and error.
  • Easy Gliders who enjoy unscheduled time letting each day unfold.
  • Involved Spectators who care deeply about the world, but engage in less active ways.
  • Retreaters who take time out or disengage from life.

What I find interesting in similar studies and surveys is the alignment of a specific age (or ages) with traditional retirement. Yet aging does not always equal retiring. Aging does not mean people drift quietly off to the sidelines while younger generations take over. Some Baby Boomers may want or need to work less, or to have more flexible working arrangements, but don’t many of us need that at different life stages?

For your consideration, additional findings specific to reinventing one’s self:

  • Instead of slowing down, 57% of Baby Boomers view retirement as a time of new beginnings. 51% indicated that they want to launch a whole new career when they retire. As a Professional Coach (and boomer), I find that percentage encouraging!
  • Although preretirees said having a reliable income stream is what they would miss about ‘working,’ retirees reported that lost social connections associated with work were what they missed most.
  • Nearly half (45%) of the boomers surveyed said they needed help deciding on the best place to live in retirement and 40% needed help finding housing or eldercare arrangements for their parents.

When you find yourself planning for or entering retirement reinvention, here are three tips:

  1. Let go. Make the decision to let go of what’s not working in your life. Identify your biggest stressors and issues that are preventing your from living a significant and fulfilling “Third Act.” Leave the agonizing to the 30 years olds and make a move. Trust your intuition, turn up the volume to your passions, and listen to what is speaking to you.
  2. Take small steps. If you’re thinking about making a huge change, especially a risky one, you may want to start off slowly. If it’s going to take a toll on your wallet, don’t take it lightly. Consider doing little things that scare you, accomplish them, and then develop a belief that you can do bigger things. There are many introductory ways to get a taste of something.
  3. Remember you’re in great company. At age 30, Julia Child was a government spy and Andrea Bocelli was a lawyer. Enjoy a list of famous people in the ‘wrong’ jobs earlier in their lives here.

Focusing Energy and Intensity

“The healthiest competition occurs when average people win by putting above average effort.” ~ Colin Powell

How many times have you tried harder? Did it yield the desired outcome? Always? Sometimes? Rarely? Trying harder is your natural response when skills, strategies, or situations are not working as you want or expect. Other people, wanting to help, may tell you to increase your intensity, give more effort, or try harder and it will get better. All of these imply that you need to do more; you just need to try harder to get success. Unfortunately, that is the opposite of what you need to do.

Trying harder increases your stress responses, raises your anxiety, and hurries your mind. You get caught up in the emotions, especially fear and anger, as you become distracted by what isn’t working. As a result, you make more errors, focus on what won’t work and raise your frustration. Continue trying harder and you will find yourself in a spiral of increasing negative results, as your mind and body get out of synch, interfering with what you want to do.

I know most of us have been there. But what did we take away from those experiences? When a skill, strategy or solution is difficult or not happening as you expected, slow down and divert your focus elsewhere. Take a couple of deep breaths, relace your shoes (or whatever act aligns with your effort) or move on to a different skill or situation; all can shift your focus quickly and immediately. By interrupting the emotional and physical states that were interfering with your task, you allow your mind and body to find the appropriate energy, intensity, or different approach needed for success.

Increasing your intensity or trying harder will not change the nature of the task, only your responses to it – for the worst. By approaching your task or situation in a different state, you give yourself a chance to comfortably respond. The more you apply this approach, the more you will learn to succeed at anything, especially the most frustrating things.

If you are looking to accomplish tasks more efficiently, consider these ways:

  • Complete every task! Leaving an activity half-finished is stressful. Whenever something is only half done, it gnaws at you and stops you from focusing on other activities. When you complete a task, a rush of endorphins is released into your system making you happy, pleased and relaxed. It provides the energy to continue and complete the next task.
  • Focus your energy on the most important tasks. The 80/20 rule states that 80% of the value you create in a day will come from 20% of the tasks you perform. Meaning, if you complete those 20% you will have done much more than if you complete all the rest. Find ways to focus more time on the most important tasks.
  • Take a break! The best way to save time is by relaxing. to be able to work efficiently, you need to be of sound mind and able to focus. Take a break once in a while. Go for a stroll, take a nap or drink your favorite beverage.

Even with intensity you can think and act differently. The results may surprise you. 🙂

Transitions

“Look at every exit as being an entrance somewhere else.” ~ Tom Stoppard

We all go through transitions. Some we initiate and others present as they are intended. They can be pronounced or they can be subtle. Transitions, however, are as constant as change because every major change includes a transition period with transitional experiences. Often we resist this transitional period and accompanying experiences just as we resist change. We want to be at the new spot, the changed behavior, or the result we sought to attain. While we want the change we desire, could we be missing the most valuable part of the experience, the transition?

There are times, for some, when changes take place simultaneously. This scenario can be stressful. Even one change can be significant. Think about events is which you were measurably involved. Were they exciting? Were they draining? How much stress did you feel? I worked with a client who was building a new home, launching a new business, having a new website developed, involved in a child’s wedding, and shifting into pre-retirement mode (as traditionally defined by age). He had a lot on his plate!

These events were overlapping and very time, energy and space intensive. However, four strategies made the difficult easier, the challenges less frustrating, and his enjoyment more joyful.

  1. In change, especially big change, let flow show you the way through the transition. We are so conditioned to make plans and take action that when big changes occur or are anticipated, we take the planning and actions to an even more intense level. When you relinquish total control and allow some of the decisions to sit, flow will show you the way. When flow guides you, the creative spark needed or the right person to do something always appears and right on time.
  2. It is easy to focus on the end of the transition, but the process determines success. No matter where we think something will end up as a result of change, the process will guide us to success if we trust it. When you focus on what could go wrong, you divert the direction of your intended outcome. Ignore the naysayers and keep focusing on and trusting what you want.
  3. Looking ahead to what could be and looking back at what has been, only keeps you from looking at the present. Change and transitions are ripe for the games of the ego-mind. Remember the ego operates almost entirely in the past (where you have been and why) and the future (where you could be and why that is better than the past). When you choose now from the possibilities in front of you, the transition will be smooth without a beginning or an end, yet it will take you exactly to the experiences you want, by presenting them over and over now. All choices are made now.
  4. All transitions are personal and even with the best intentions, other people’s  opinions, suggestions, and advice is just that – other people’s. I often find that change is tough for people because they are waiting for permission or advice on whether they should or how they should change. (Here’s a post that addresses “shoulds.”) This continues during the transition, if we trust the opinions, suggestions, and advice of others more than what we know is best intended for us and by us.

If you are making changes and going through transitions, I wish you the best for navigating them not only successfully but also effectively. Transitions make life interesting while expanding your possibilities and potential. Let it all flow, be in the process, be present, and take it all personally. You will be rewarded!