What Others Know About You

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“We are all here on earth to help others; what on earth the others are here for I don’t know.” ~ W.H. Auden

Eleven years ago I met my first Life Coach. It was Jane who saw that my blocks and my direction were closely connected. We worked for some time to rediscover my direction. One early exploratory exercise that Jane invited me to pursue was to ask five people to describe me in short words/phrases.

Some time later I realized the purpose and benefit of this exercise. You see, most of us believe we know ourselves better than anyone else. And to measurable extents, this may be true. Yet when those five people replied with candid feedback, I read and learned of strengths that I did not clearly see or embrace.

There is a lot about us that we don’t notice or acknowledge because it’s simply who we are and how we’ve developed over years and through learning and experience. Yet there are often attributes/personal gifts/qualities that define us as seen (and known) by others!

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There is comfort in knowing how connected you are to your strengths. When confident in/with your personal gifts, you expand the potential by which you can impact others and effect favorable change. If you find yourself resenting what you’re doing or the way you are living, ask yourself if you are utilizing what you believe are your qualities and what others see in and know about you.

Some times tapping into what others know about you (that you don’t fully see) can awaken you to reconnect with a dream, with your heart or perhaps, with a new calling. New self-awareness may even inspire you to let go of what you perceive(d) as a strength, once you’ve adopted an even more valuable virtue(s).

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If the prospect of learning how others see you intrigues, I invite you to consider the exercise I embarked upon eleven years ago. It was revealing and the insight that was shared helped me to consider a new direction (and a more passionate focus!), simply because I sought candid input from people who knew me as well as I believed I knew myself.

Naming your personal gifts is unusual but the more exact the better. It is important in asking for words and phrases (not sentences) from respondents that they be honest, positively and negatively. The preliminary steps:

  1. Choose four people from among immediate family members, a close friend(s), former schoolmate, partner, spouse, colleague, supervisor (past of present). Aim for a mix from among all of these. The fifth source of input is yourself.
  2. Ask each of them (and yourself) to “Describe me as you know me,” “Describe me as you see me,” and/or “Describe me as you remember me.”
  3. Your lists will contain lots of words and phrases. When you have all of them, print (don’t type) them on a table.
  4. If/when you get this far and want to know what follows, let me know; I’ll craft a follow-on post. This involves some time and work. Yet the results can be quite telling. ūüôā

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Credit: Child playing piano / M-IMAGEPHOTOGRAPHY via Getty Images

You As Yoda

Lucasfilm, LucasArts & ILM

“Learning is finding out that you already know. Doing is demonstrating that you know it. Teaching is reminding others that they know just as well as you. You are all learners, doers, and teachers.” ~ Richard Bach

In The Empire Strikes Back, Luke Skywalker discovers that he needs help on his journey to become a Jedi Knight. He recognizes that he cannot achieve his true potential without some guidance and training. He needs someone to provide direction and practical knowledge so he can acquire the understanding and skill to use The Force, the energy in the universe, wisely and effectively.

Yoda, who Luke meets on an isolated planet in the galaxy, initially appears to be an unlikely guide for such a momentous journey. Yet Yoda puts up with Luke’s initial insolence and arrogance, takes him under his pointed ears and manages to bring out the Knight that is within him. Yoda demonstrates, as the mentor to mentors, how to give support to a promising individual, how to offer challenges that permit one to learn and grow, and how to provide vision so that the “mentee” gains confidence and, eventually, independence.

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Have you ever been a Yoda to someone? Or perhaps, thought about being a Yoda? There are many ways to support someone who is exploring and willing to discover their true potential: there are teachers, trainers, coaches, guides, and obviously, mentors. These roles are not mutually exclusive.

So what makes a mentor unique? A mentor is an individual willing to become part of a supportive and diverse community of learners, open to sharing experiences, vulnerability, and expertise. A mentor is a person who models the need to continue learning as a life-long adventure. S/he is a person who has learned through success as well as challenge. A mentor realizes that respect is always an earned commodity. And a mentor accepts others in humanity.

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I have been blessed to have had several mentors; individuals who were as honored to support my growth (and at times arrogance), just as I was privileged to receive their tutelage. I’ve also been on the giving side of this relationship. As a mentor, I get to model the professional values and behaviors to those with and for whom I serve. It’s a win-win proposition.

There are many ways to be an effective mentor. If contributing in this capacity is something you might be good at and interested in, here are three ways to consider serving:

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  1. Guide and Counsel. You can serve as a confidant, sounding-board, or personal adviser to your mentee, especially as the relationship grows deeper over time. You may help your mentee understand conflict or explore ways to deal with problems.
  2. Share rather than teach. Mentoring is not about overtly teaching someone everything they need to know. It’s more about building relationships. Sharing from your heart bypasses any resistance and helps a mentee forge their own direction. This ensures they gain the right knowledge within the appropriate context of life lessons like persistence, self-awareness, and diligence
  3. Follow-up. If you’re going to start the process, make sure to be consistent and follow-up. Make arrangements to meet for coffee, phone calls, etc., every couple of months or at a frequency that works for both schedules. Mentoring only works if you do!

Masculine Qualities

“There are very few great discoveries in the world. Tantra can claim the greatest discovery.¬†Even after nuclear weapons, Tantra‚Äôs discovery¬†has been standing there for ten thousand years unused,¬†an insight of such great value.¬†The insight is that man and woman are not just one –¬†man just man, woman just woman ‚Äď no.¬†They are both together:¬†man is half man and half woman,¬†and the same is true about women.” ~ Osho, Sermons in Stone

Recently, I was discussing desirable masculine traits with a female colleague. She shared five qualities with me that she heard from Shelly Bullard, a Marriage and Family Therapist. I wasn’t surprised that these five aligned with themes addressed in coaching, as well as qualities frequently highlighted in this blog.

My colleague was explaining reasons we’re attracted to certain people and one of those reasons is whether that person is masculine of feminine. And I suspect some of you reading this post are saying, really?! ūüôā She went on to say that as a man, you must have these qualities to appear attractive to a female. However, not every woman is going to want a man with these distinctly masculine traits. Confused yet?

Presence¬†Presence is the ability to be consciously connected to the here and now. Women can feel a man’s presence when he listens to her. She can feel presence when a man is connected to his core. And presence is a practice at which one can get better. Culturally, we’re in an epidemic of not being present; we find many ways to distract ourselves every day. Thus, being present in interactions is highly desirable and valued.

Purpose¬†According to Bullard, purpose can be many things. It can be to change the world; to push your body to its limits; to build a business or home; to make art; or to be the kindest person you know. It’s not so much about the purpose, rather, it’s that you have a purpose or that you’re in the process of discovering/fulfilling it.

Direction¬†With purpose comes direction. Purpose is knowing what you are here to do and direction is doing it. Women are attracted to men who get things done. A man’s clear direction makes the feminine feel safe. If she knows a man can navigate well on his own, then she has more room to relax in a man’s presence. She doesn’t have to show a man how to do it.

Honesty and Truth¬†Both of these traits are important in all relationships. Trust comes from acting in honest ways. A distinct (though not exclusively) feminine quality is intuition and with intuition comes the ability to sense BS a mile away. (The converse holds true for some men, too.) When a man learns to be completely honest with himself (about struggles, shortcomings, challenges, strengths, etc.) then his integrity can be felt/sensed and he’ll be trusted.

Humor¬†Humor is at the top of most women’s lists because humor has the ability to lighten the mood. The feminine gets bogged down with her emotions, as well as her to-do lists. (Bullard said this, not me.) This is stressful for women. If a man can make her laugh, it’s a getaway to flow. Women are grateful for a man’s ability to add joy and light to everyday life.

Now typed, I’m unsure why I chose to share this. I suppose, in part, it’s because I appreciate and strive to live these qualities – but for my own reasons, not necessarily to satisfy another’s criteria. In my mind, masculine and feminine qualities are gifts. And perhaps it’s the mix that each of us possesses which makes us unique.

So… wise readers, what say ye?

Believe You Can

“The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ten years ago, Denise Cerreta opened the One World Café in Salt Lake City, Utah. She opened the café to provide meals to anyone who wanted to eat. There were no menus and no charge for the meals. Each day she cooked what she wanted and made it available. At the end of the short buffet sat a brown basket in which people could make a donation for the meal. It was an exciting new concept at the time.

Many wondered how this could work out while admiring her dedication to sharing the most basic of human needs, food. Not only has it worked out, the One World Everybody Eats Foundation has directly or indirectly helped launch 30 community cafes and is mentoring over 50 cafe groups in the planning stage worldwide.

Communities have embraced her inspiration and her profound trust and dedication. People volunteer to help, clean, and even cook.¬†Cafes receive donations of equipment and other items that support Denise’s original purpose to remind us that we are one world.

Denise is living an inspired purpose. In her own relatively small way, she has changed the energy of the world in a profound way. Most importantly, she didn’t set out to do so. She followed inspiration without questioning it or doubting its purpose. She trusted what her heart told her about the importance of sharing and treating people as part of one community. She realized that if people are not fed, then life cannot be lived.

Three years into her vision, she was asked about the potential for expanding her purpose to a larger world. Her answer inspires even more. She said, “I’m not worried about it catching on because the idea is bigger than me. I just happened to be the person who didn’t talk myself out of it.” (Salt Lake Tribune, March 8, 2006)

You are being inspired right now and all the time. Like most of us you are probably talking yourself out of the direction or path your inspiration is directing you to take. Maybe it’s time to listen and act. Your inspiration can never lead you in the wrong direction, but your mind can. Take a cue from Denise Cerreta and what you know you want¬†and are meant to do to make the world better.

Your inspiration will inspire us all.

Clickety-Clack

“Going to work for a large company is like getting on a train. Are you going sixty miles an hour or is the train going sixty miles an hour and you’re just sitting still?” ~ Jean Paul Getty

Even though I was quite young, I have unusually clear memories of hot summer train trips from Seattle to New Jersey. They were four-day treks and the only place that was air-conditioned was the dining car. Multi-hour layovers in Chicago were, for we kids, like going to Disneyland. But years later, commuting via train to work in New York City, this once magical travel mode instead became a necessary routine. The novelty had simply worn off.

Two summers ago, I¬†returned¬†to the clickety-clack world (that rhythmic¬†place where iron wheels meet rails).¬†Tired of air travel and all¬†its inconveniences, I booked a “roomette” and round-tripped my way from Albuquerque to NYC, via Chicago and Washington, D.C. The experience was like returning to my childhood;¬†sensory delight…¬†all over again. Thank you, Amtrak, for rekindling fond and creating new memories.

Not surprisingly, the rails that crisscross the countryside and slice through¬†massive fields of grain,¬†small rural towns (think: Norman Rockwell), and cities have long captured people’s imaginations. Just the idea of taking a ride on a train can evoke a sense of freedom, adventure, or romance. I find trains are like people in that they must inevitably arrive at their destinations. They make scheduled and unscheduled stops along the way and move at different speeds. Some trains can travel for hours and are mindful of only a single destination. As with my commuter train, others¬†meander from busy stop to busy stop. The route and purpose of any train may change as the years go by, though less so on Amtrak’s fabled cross-country routes.

As you visualize this world, think about how our lives stretch out in front and behind us like train tracks, and we are the train, its passengers, and the engineer. The way you choose to live your life and the goals that you are working toward are the route and the destinations you have chosen. (Remember, you purchased the ticket.) Like a passenger, you have the choice to get on and off, find new routes, pick new places to visit, or just stop and enjoy an experience Рas I almost did in South Bend, Indiana.

Maybe you prefer to move through life¬†as if you were an express train. Or, like a commuter, you enjoy taking the same routes over and over again. Some of us might want to just stop riding and choose a different direction you’d like your life to take.

Have you looked at the tracks of your life? Are you feeling unsatisfied with what you see? Would you like to explore the changes you can make to find a more fulfilling path to follow? Maybe you’d like to slow down and experiment with a more winding, rather than a straight and narrow route.

Or, perhaps you’d like to experience your life more as a ride that gets you where you need to go. Changing your route can sometimes give you a chance to “get on the right track.” In doing so, you may discover that the something new you seek is just around the bend.

In the words of many a conductor, “All Aboard.”