The Gift of Growth

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“A vision is not just a picture of what could be; it is an appeal to our better selves, a call to become something more.” ~ Rosabeth Moss Kanter

Growth happens. Whether we encourage and nurture it or it manifests organically.

It’s an unseasonably warm Sunday. The Christmas tree is still up (shame), I’m listening to soothing Chris Botti music and friends in the blogging community are on my mind. As relaxed as one can be, I realize that even in passive settings, awareness can grow.

Eleven months ago I had short-term clarity about what was next on my personal journey. And I shared some of those images in a post. While there were clearly interests to pursue, what wasn’t factored in was how unanticipated growth would parade her way into my new experiences… and what a lovely complement she became.

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Looking back, some of my growth was simply appreciating the wit, the wisdom and the insights of ordinary people, unplanned destinations and in allowing the intimacy of unfamiliarity to ooze into my being. I became more aware of other people, how they presented, the unique gifts they possess, and their openness to connection.

In a recent interview British actor Tom Hiddleston declared, “I suppose I am fascinated by the private vulnerability and the exterior of people.” “I think that’s an essential truth. I sort of quite like trying to find what makes people tick behind the construction of their identity.”

Similarly, Mr. Hiddleston’s intrigue mirrors what I have been exploring lately, by turning my attention inward as well as outward. For me, both seem meaningful facets of growth… considering personas and influence brought by others.

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Some of you may be interested in knowing how vision, vantage and vigor aligned and gave power to some of my warming experiences, outcomes and chance growth:

  • My speech Compassion as a Verb was well received by audiences throughout the Spring contest season. It earned third place at Toastmasters District finals. More importantly, it touched people, profoundly. That impact alone made the process worthwhile.
  • My book “Awakening to Awareness: Aligning Your Life With What Really Matters” was published in December.
  • I succeeded at regularly scheduling and reveling in solitude and spending more time in/with nature. This has done wonders for growth and grounding.
  • Self-teaching/learning Italian has seen slower than expected progress. Yet it continues, unhurried. La pazienza paga.
  • I have traveled more, both domestically (within the U.S. and overseas). And what a balm each of those trips has been.
  • The goal to find a worthy cause, one that would afford a volunteer opportunity presented. It is a global initiative that couples Professional Coaching (on a pro-bono basis) and not-for-profit organizations with the purpose of making a positive impact and supporting safer, healthier, happier and more productive global citizenry. Put simply, it is work that focuses on the betterment of the human condition and on uplifting the human spirit.

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But back to growth… and not so much mine as yours! If you are interested in heightening your awareness around growth, consider these simple actions:

  1. Have a truly deep conversation with someone. Listen! Appreciate what makes other people tick. And learn from them.
  2. Ask questions that encourage others to reveal who they are and where they want to go. They may inspire new growth in you.
  3. Create space where silence is honored. Be comfortable there, whether alone or together. Appreciate the inner stillness and the possibilities that emanate there.

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

It’s Not Always So

“At any given moment you have the power to say this is NOT how the story is going to end. ” ~ Author Unknown

Many of us have received or know someone who has received a serious medical diagnosis. Perhaps a terminal pronouncement. Even with access to second and possibly more professional opinions, despair and resignation often sets in.

This post is not intended as a substitute for medical advice and treatment. And I’m not advocating self-diagnosis. What I am trying to create awareness around is that you are not always your diagnosis. To significant extents, in some cases, one’s physical and mental wellness is more about perspective, choice, and mind-set.

A diagnosis is inherently a label that denotes that sickness or pathology is present. Invariably, a diagnosis is then associated with negative emotional responses and assumptions, which stimulate stress responses to varying degrees.

In reality, a diagnosis reflects an imbalance in the body that is caused by a variety of factors – genetics and lifestyle behaviors being just two of them. When someone understands they are not their diagnosis, nor are they prisoners to it, they start the process of breaking free from limiting beliefs and labels. This opens the door to the possibility that a positive outcome is possible.

Illness and life problems can be reckoned with and other options for outcomes are possible. People have a choice about how they are going to go about handling their challenge(s).

Modern (Western) medicine offers success rates for recovery greater than ever before, even for serious illnesses. Some situations that would have been considered hopeless are now viewed as fairly commonplace, with patients routinely surviving and thriving. Even with medical advancements, though, there are still conditions where modern medicine holds no promise of recovery. For these patients, as well as those who simply prefer to explore treatment outside the medical mainstream, there is an ever-growing arena of alternative medicine approaches.

Given that “it’s not always so,” there are many things one can do if diagnosed with a serious ailment. Among them, these three:

  1. Do what makes you happy first. Sometimes one can feel like they’re going through days on autopilot. That can get tedious and depressing. Consider starting the day off on a positive note by engaging in an enjoyable activity. This can completely shift one’s outlook and lift the spirit.
  2. Help someone else. Take the focus away from you and do something nice for another person. It can take your mind off of more challenging things and you’ll likely feel better helping someone else.
  3. Take time to strengthen/rejuvenate your mind and body. The treatment road ahead could be grueling and you’ll want to be in good physical and emotional condition. Go on long hikes in the mountains, eat super healthy foods, and meditate. Picture yourself (if the patient is you) healthy and visualize good strong blood cells destroying whatever has invaded your body.

There is truth to the saying “mind over body.” Augmenting positive beliefs with positive lifestyle changes, can yield amazing outcomes. I know this.

Antidotes for Inaction

 “Argue for your limitations and, sure enough, they’re yours.” ~ Richard Bach

For nearly a decade, the coaching field has been my playground. Not sports coaching (though I had the privilege of serving in that capacity, earlier in life) but personal and life coaching. To date, I have pretty much heard it all. And you have likely heard the echoes of my clients claims. In fact, I’d wager many of you have wrestled with some of the same challenges.

Coaching is unique to each individual. The client sets the agenda and determines the focus for our conversations and collaborative efforts. Over time, I’ve found that much of what each of us wants can be found in clarity about possibilities, choice, and self-belief.

Rather than dwell on limiting beliefs (because the common ones are known), what if we considered antidotes that can shift one’s mindset? That prefaced, let’s explore three…

1. People are accomplished at creating excuses for staying stuck. They comfortably default to being fearful of making mistakes, invoking an unwillingness to embrace the unknown, and expressing concerns about appearing “less than” to themselves and others. I’m sorry to break this to (the proverbial) you but that’s life — uncertainty, uncontrolled, and unlimited.

What to do: Stretch yourself out of your comfort zone (here’s a related post). Determine what an exciting and enriching life would be/is for you and accept the challenges involved to create and live that life. If you choose not to ‘go for it,’ then the inaction is yours. Disallow your ego to rule and ruin your dreams. You have a choice: stretch yourself or become comfortable with your status quo.

2. My financial resources aren’t enough. And for some people this is true. Yet for many, it’s simply a convenient excuse. Regrettably, people choose to live life in scarcity. I’ve posted about this, too. It’s an easier position to take than to access and use your trove of capabilities, skills, and personal gifts. In addition to fear, claims of financial scarcity are often what anchor people and prevent them from exploring and effecting change. Potentially exciting change!

What to do: Dispel the “I can’t” belief. Vanquish it! It’s more empowering to let it go than to hold onto a limiting belief. Understand that the more you allow yourself to take control, the more you tap into your ability to be of service and be compensated from what you enjoy and do naturally. Know this: each of us has something important to offer that others need, and will pay you well for.

3. What if I fail? Well who hasn’t? 🙂 Doubt is the bane of self-confidence. It drains us. Many people doubt outcomes before they have even launched an initiative. If something doesn’t work out, deal with it. You will become stronger, more confident and more capable than you were before you tried this new approach.

Self-belief is powerful. It’s intoxicating. When you see it, feel it, and know it, there is often no stopping people. This post sheds light on and explains the strength that abounds in confidence. And there’s nothing new or magical about choosing to take action. What action yields when coupled with self-belief can be transformational.

Why not push, now? Can you accept the notion that if you want something different in your life, there is no better time than now to take action and bring your desire into being?

Bridging a Significant Gap

“To be fully alive, fully human, and completely awake is to be continually thrown out of the nest. To live fully is to be always in no-man’s-land, to experience each moment as completely new and fresh.” ~ Pema Chodron

There is a wealth of difference between knowing and doing. It’s what separates performance and success from wishful thinking. Generations have been surrounded with amazing knowledge and possibilities for personal growth. Whether it is time, focus, or not understanding, the application and use of knowledge and learning is one of the hardest parts of change. We read, listen (though often, not enough), and learn, but it doesn’t seem to make it into our reality. So all the knowledge and possibilities in the world are useless if we don’t cross the bridge from knowing to living.

To grow from where we are to where we want to be, we need to bridge these gaps. To do this and expand the possibilities of living better begins with awareness of what brings us satisfaction now and what would bring us more. Clarifying what is creating the gap between where we are and where we want to begins with crossing the bridge. And honest awareness makes this possible.

From expanded awareness we have to spend time and energy to explore the concepts, ideas, and strategies that can help us cross the bridge and close the gap. We need to reflect, consider, and imagine how new ideas or actions could change us. This is the new knowledge and if we can’t see the knowledge expressed in our reality, we’re likely to remain in the gap.

A personal experience: Over time I realized that I had accumulated considerable knowledge. I knew a lot. I was able to enlighten others to possibilities that could change their lives. But I wasn’t feeling that much better about my own life. I knew how I wanted to live, yet I wasn’t living it. Thus began a long process of attempting to integrate what I had come to know about how I wanted to live my life into actually ‘being’ that on a regular basis. There were changes I needed to make; tough decisions I had to face and; tension between who I was and who I knew I could and wanted to be. This process continues to this day as I try to live as my most authentic self.

With clarity and new knowledge, followed by exploring our possibilities, we can make choices. We only have to choose an action, a pattern, or an opportunity to make change. Keep repeating the new choice and the change gets easier. It won’t be long before the new knowledge is the old knowledge and more possibilities for growth are recognized and, voila, a new gap appears. Every day becomes a new adventure in expanding and discovering as bridges get crossed.

Here are three possible ways in which to cross from wanting and knowing something to living it:

  1. Plan for tomorrow but live for today. All positive actions are undertaken in the present moment. Little steps each day give us a slight edge and before you know it your goals are in sight, the achieved, then surpassed. Before you realize, people will say you’ve changed and you’ll know how you did and why.
  2. Develop an endless curiosity about our world. Become an explorer and view the world as your jungle. Stop and observe all the little things as unique events. Try new things. Get out of your comfort zone and experience as many different environments and sensations as possible. Why not?
  3. Rise. Sometimes you don’t achieve. Sometimes things don’t turn out as planned. Sometimes you just don’t feel like continuing on anymore. So what do you do? Rise. There’s a lesson to be learned in everything and sometimes that lesson is to cross another bridge and engage in a beautiful comeback.

The Price of Perfection

“I am careful not to confuse excellence with perfection. Excellence I can reach for; perfection is God’s business.” ~ Michael J. Fox

Just this evening I had a brief exchange with a friend who is writing a book. It is a deeply personal story that she has been writing for quite some time. And she’s done! But she struggles with something that many of us do and not just with writing – and that is, perfection. She keeps going back to the story and her words and her emotions… finding yet more to change in her quest for perfection.

Perfection has different meanings for each of us. What complicates our relationship with perfection is our denial of two very basic truths: 1) We are not perfect and; 2) We are not, ultimately, in control.

In some cases, I still aspire to perfection. It is almost as though I am hard-wired to do flawless work (though obviously, not with my blog posts). 🙂 When we make mistakes we often believe that we are not meeting our own or others’ expectations. And who wants to fall short? Yet, if life is about experimenting, experiencing, and learning, then to be imperfect is essential.

I have a close friend who, when it came to my perfectionist leanings, once told me to “Stop the insanity.” “Why are you doing this to yourself?” If you have ever been there or still have tendencies to perfect… and would like to change that, here are three considerations:

  • Practice the opposite. Be purposefully imperfect. See what happens. Arrive ten minutes late to work. Tell a lousy joke. Mismatch your socks. Laugh as you contemplate the possibility that imperfections are not only okay, they are life enhancing.
  • Disclose everything. There are few things more freeing than confession. Not necessarily to a priest but to a safe, trustworthy friend. Write down everything you’re afraid, ashamed, and embarrassed of, and read them to that person. You will likely be surprised when they look you in the eye and say, “I still love you.” This is a first step to discovering how imperfect you are without your armor.
  • Let go of your worries. By obsessing about the past, what happened, what we think we did wrong (or someone else did wrong), we are giving our power away. Be here, now, and focus on creating an imperfect (yet beautiful) life for yourself. Focus on reasonable, achievable possibilities, and practical/doable solutions.

Creative Spark

“The ‘Muse’ is not an artistic mystery, but a mathematical equation. They are those ideas you think of as you drift to sleep. The giver is the one you think of when you first awake.” ~ Roman Payne

Most of us possess a flame inside in the form of strong ideas, gifts, and desires to create. It is this flame that ignites our own unique forms of creative expression, fields of interest, and adventurous curiosity. Inspiration is an intangible yet inseparable part of the creative process. And most all creative possibilities are related to the muses that inspire us.

The ancient Greeks believed that all creation, whether artistic or scientific in nature, was motivated by goddesses who served as the literal embodiment of inspiration. These were the Muses – the givers of creative spark. We still rely on muses to aid the creative process, though ours may take many forms. People we meet, intriguing ideas, movies, books, nature, and cultural ideals all have the potential to awaken our imaginative minds. When touched by our muses, we understand that we are capable of producing our own kind of greatness.

I suspect many people progress along their own journey, unaware of the presence of their muse. This lack of awareness can be compounded by the fact that we may have one muse that remains with us throughout our lives, multiple muses that inspire us concurrently, several muses that come and go as necessary, or a single muse that touches us briefly at specific moments. You will know that you have found your muse when you experience a force that makes you feel courageous enough to broaden the range of your creativity.

If you surround yourself with people who support you, keep a pen and paper close by, immerse yourself in culture, and brainstorm frequently, you will soon reconnect with your muse. Then you can consider these actions, specific to your creativity:

  1. There are 7+ billion people on planet Earth, but only one you. You are a walking phenomenon, an anomoly of sorts. You were born for a reason, for a purpose, and meant to be here. Acknowledge your individuality and know that your dormant talents were given to you as a gift. Determine your uniqueness, your strength, and your voice; then begin to introduce it to the world.
  2. Everyone struggles and struggles are directly tied to the human condition. Struggles make you relatable and are what help you connect with your audience. By sharing where you have failed and how you have overcome, you are transparent and reliable. We must be confident in telling our own stories about our challenges, success, and experiences. This is part of creative expression.
  3. Muses have difficulty being heard when they are affected by negativity, criticism, fatigue, fear, and panic. Try to eliminate these elements from your life. If you are unable to totally eliminate them, try to find productive ways of channeling negative energy away from you, or learn to redirect it into positive action. Remember that muses are not always attractive, socially acceptable, moral, or lovable.

Once you have identified your muse, embrace it by giving yourself over to the creative inspiration it provides. No matter what you are moved to create, you will find that neither fear nor criticism can penetrate the joy that goes hand in hand with the act of taking an idea and turning it into something everyone can use and enjoy.

A Demystification of TED

“All propaganda or popularization involves a putting of the complex into the simple, but such a move is instantly deconstructive. For if the complex can be put into the simple, then it cannot be as complex as it seemed in the first place; and if the simple can be an adequate medium of such complexity, then it cannot after all be as simple as all that.” ~ Terry Eagleton

At a 2013 TEDxSanDiego event, Benjamin Bratton, a UCSD Professor spoke about “What’s Wrong with TED Talks?” In his 12 minute presentation, Bratton delivers an intellectual (his) perspective about why he believes TED Talks:

  • are a conceptualization of possibilities
  • are where people talk about inspiration and world-changing ideas and why they are not necessarily insightful
  • are timid approaches
  • generate affectation but not actual effectuation of change

Last month I posted about perspective. And Bratton’s view is his perspective; one person’s opinion. I find it an interesting one. And I’m sharing it here for your viewing, consideration, and invited comment. Yes, it’s a 12 minute video, yet it provokes thought and possibly, a changed perspective.

I also chose this topic because I’m an advocate for personal transformation – which can contribute to social change. As a Baby Boomer, I am aware of how our generation is not only impacted by rapid shifts in science, technology and medicine, but in design and entertainment as well. We’re all part of the “system” and thus, equally responsible for its problems and solutions.

Rather than recommending three tips or techniques (as I often do) specific to a post, I encourage you to share your perspective, once you’ve viewed the video. Its companion article can be read here.

Encore Careers

 

For the boomer community (as well as GenX’rs!), my next Tuesday (10/29/13) Awakening to Awareness Radio Show is sure to stimulate your interest buds. If you want to learn how to navigate seemingly endless “what’s next” choices and seek more information about the show, click here and then tune in at 8:00pm Eastern time (U.S.).

The show and my guest will address what you can begin to think about as you approach life’s “Third Act,” as well as how to tap into vast resources that are available to you for your consideration and future planning.

Advice from Your Ego?

“How to get rid of ego as dictator and turn it into messenger and servant and scout, to be in your service, is the trick.” ~ Joseph Campbell

Your ego-mind needs no introduction. It knows you perhaps even better than you know it. It does such a good job that you are likely unaware of its guidance. But there is more intended for you than the ego-mind can provide.

When you are being you and making choices to live and share your life with the world, everything is easier, clearer, and enjoyable. You can follow your own plan or the default plan of your ego-mind. They will both work but the results will be quite different. The differences are between struggle, stress, and pursuing happiness (though never fully getting it) of the ego’s plan or the ease, peace, and joy of your plan.

The ego-mind limits your possibilities by its own limited purpose. Each day to the ego-mind is another day of survival, filled with thousands of moments needing your responses (thoughts, feelings, words, actions, and behavior patterns). Even when you are sleeping it continues its interpretations and responses with one objective: survival. This means always protecting and defending the ego-minds longtime held identity and reality. This narrow perspective on your experiences guides every aspect of your life through your responses to those experiences. Think: easiest and fastest.

To make different interpretations and utilize different responses you must have a purpose that guides you to be more than surviving, instead thriving, sharing and loving. But to change your purpose you have to know your plan and the beliefs, needs, and fears the ego uses as the foundation for choosing responses. Without knowing all this, the ego-mind will continue in the background to be your guide and be totally convincing at doing so.

Consider these three tips if you are interested in liberating yourself from your ego-mind:

  • Start questioning. Question what you’ve been told by your parents, your teachers, your religious leaders, your romantic partners, the media, and your friends. Check in with your intuition and ask yourself, “Does this feel right to me?” If the answer is “NO,” take some time to figure out what does resonate with you.
  • If you demand more, then getting less feels like a loss; so stop asking for so much from life. Stop demanding attention, loneliness will come at times, Stop demanding friends, separations come along, etc.
  • Make friends with the unknown. What if the unknown is simply what you haven’t created yet? You create moment-to-moment from a field of infinite possibilities. If you are really afraid of the unknown (as the ego-mind would like you to think), you should be screaming right now because you’re in it! It’s when you are constantly projecting a known past into an unknown future that you get stuck in your fears and limiting beliefs.