7am on the Redeye ferry from Orcas to the mainland. Springtime makes my feet want to root themselves in the earth. It is not a time to go gallivanting around to more beautiful places – they can’t be found. Birds, trees in bloom – everything’s in bloom. After 6 months of winter’s darkness in the Pacific Northwest, Mother Nature births us all over again to be her eyes, her ears, her sensing bodies in service to absorbing the beauty and the light that arrives with this season.
I’m not an intrepid individual, really.
I leave the Island every month, somewhat troubled about whether I’ll return. While in my 40’s, I left Nova Scotia and my 10 year love affair with God’s Country of the East Coast. It broke my heart, for although I planned on possibly returning to my home on the edge of the sea, there was a sense of uncertainty that I’d have to face. As it turned out, aside from one visit back I’ve never returned.
Expanding the edges of my comfort zone to accept that uncertainty and faith are constant companions is the practice that will never end. And, empowering and inspiring people to expand their capacity to be with uncertainty and to step into the next adventure – this too will never end.
Facing the frontier and the uncertainty that meet each of us is the adventure we’ve come here to have. Like Disneyland – The Happiest Place on the Planet, we can create the same sense of fun and exploration with just a tweak of our attitudes and our way of being.
This months Newsletter addresses the uncertainty each of us face with every choice we make, every client we meet and each success we imagine.
In this month . . .
Uncertainty, Invulnerability and Survival Strategies in Empowering People Who Empower People, I’ll look at stepping out of our comfort zone in Growing Your Practice, share highlights of the Relationship Coaching & Organizational Coaching weekends in From the Classroom, and Revelations Along the Road from George Bernard Shaw.
Empowering People Who Empower People
This section supports you as a coach. Simple pointers to empower you to be in alignment with your commitments – making a difference in people’s lives.
Uncertainty, Invulnerability and Survival Strategies
Every so often I have a run of issues that tie into one fundamental human impasse. I have one of those “Ah-HA!” moments, than share it with Todd and my trainees saying “This is THE fundamental human issue, that if we listen for and speak to it in transformational coaching will create effortless shifts. If we get this you’ll have this coaching thing down!” Here’s what’s seems to be the essential issue of late.
First; every single one of us stepping into a new day or a new situation faces uncertainty. For instance, with the economic shifts as they are, it facilitates the opportunity to notice how we be with uncertainty. Do we ignore, distract, deny, control, allow, be open to, intellectualize, emotionalize, spiritualize? There are all kinds of ways of being with those circumstances that are fraught with uncertainty. Rarely do we consider all of the possibilities and ramifications of those possibilities.
Second; uncertainty creates a sense of vulnerability. No one likes the feeling of being vulnerable. The quality of being vulnerable can feel tense, tight, anxious, squishy, weak, helpless, powerless, incapable, incompetent, immobilized. Who wants to experience these qualities of being?
Third; over years perhaps decades each of us has perfected our particular survival strategies, as best we can, to eliminate vulnerability and avoid uncertainty.
In walks your client: Anyone seeking coaching is wanting something that they can’t seem to make happen under their own volition. Something is in their way. Generally, what is in the way is how they are being with the uncertainty of having what they say they want; more to the point, it’s the fear of having to be with relinquishing old ways of being and doing, for new or different ways of being. It could be the uncertainty of just wanting what they want. There is a lot of vulnerability in allowing yourself to want. There is a large degree of uncertainty as to whether you’ll get what you want. . . . There is the uncertainty of success, uncertainty of how you will be with success, uncertainty of how you will be if you fail. It’s all unknown.
The question is how do you be with uncertainty?
How most of us be is invulnerable. We create strategies that support being invulnerable. We avoid and distract ourselves from feelings and thoughts that manifest the angst and anxiety that arise with uncertainty. We avoid that void that perhaps feels like death. We create strategies to survive those feelings – keeping them at bay so as not to feel the element of danger. Or we create “what if’s” that actually bring up feelings of uncertainty – “what if I make a mistake or fail?” Isn’t it fascinating that so many of us actually create scenarios in our heads that creates the uncertainty that we are wanting to avoid. Actually, this particular strategy keeps us stuck in possibilities that we can only imagine and stops us from stepping into the unknown or into uncertainty that we can’t imagine.
My client Ruth is courageously creating a new life for herself at sixty years old. She’s been married twice, has grown children and has had various careers. But what she realized in our last session is that throughout her life she has been avoiding the uncertainty of following her own path. For the sake of security and certainty she’s followed a path laid out by those who’ve gone before her.
We explored what kept her from taking the path less traveled and the concept of uncertainty came up. “What does uncertainty mean to you?” Ruth was able to trace back to a moment when she was three years old and holding her youngest brother. Being the oldest sibling and the only girl she had a thought in that instance that if she dropped this baby it would be a catastrophe. In that moment she sealed herself off from even the thought of what might happen and began to learn how to control circumstances in such a way as to avoid uncertainty and inevitable dangers may that arise – especially in the mind of a three year old. She laughs in that moment as she reveals how she developed her controlling, perfectionistic personality. If uncertainty could potentially lead to catastrophe what strategies would any child develop?
You gotta know that most of us develop our relationships with the main concepts of humanity before we are six. We are trying to create a how-to manual to ensure we are worthy, valued and lovable. We decide what’s true and how to be in relation to what’s true. If what’s true for Ruth is that uncertainty will lead to catastrophe, she’s going to develop strategies for being and being with uncertainty that could only lead to certainty.
As a coach, if we can keep in mind that each of our clients is avoiding uncertainty and vulnerability, we can begin to distinguish specific strategies that may limit them in having what they say they want. We then empower them to be clear about the choices they make and to perhaps choose differently in service to their intended results. As a practice, they can begin to cultivate awareness around how they be with uncertainty and to exercise different muscles that will give them more flexibility in their choice-making ability.
Growing Your Practice
This section is devoted to what’s growing your practicing, what’s killing it and what you may be doing to just letting it die.
Stepping Out of Our Comfort Zone
All of us are stepping out over the precipice of our comfort zone by taking on that next new client or that next new skill set or tool. New trainees are in anguish at having to somehow invite clients into their brand new practice. There is so much uncertainty in their professional career. They feel so vulnerable to rejection, and more devastatingly, they are vulnerable to their own self-talk. Self-criticism and self-loathing are strategies we implement to avoid being okay with being with uncertainty when we don’t know what the heck we are doing. Thank God we didn’t have to think about how we were supposed to get out of the womb. Very few of us would have made it into this world if left to our own creation. Coming into this world was probably the most difficult journey we’ve ever taken in this lifetime – and we did it with total uncertainty that we’d survive. Interestingly enough, many of my clients and trainees who are developing their practice face the very same issues they faced in their birth process. This transformational coaching stuff is very profound!
I asked a student in my practicum course the other day when she had made a choice where there was complete certainty and knowing. The answer came swiftly; she said, “When I decided to attend ITP, I knew it was the right thing.” I asked how she knew. She said, without being conscious of what she was saying, “I didn’t let my mind interfere with my decision.” Wow! How fascinating! She was able to distinguish the process of not allowing her mind to interfere with the certainty of her knowing. How often do we let our minds turn our knowing into confusion, uncertain mush. What the heck is that about?
An essential foundation of the Transformational Coaching Training Program is to practice what we preach, walk our talk, be the change we wish to see (as best we can). By exploring our own relationship with uncertainty and vulnerability, by distinguishing our own survival mechanisms and strategies in relation to creating desires beyond the edges of what is certain, we increase our level of competence to be-with other’s situations and dilemmas where uncertainty is the pivotal context. In consciously stepping into cultivating your practice, using the coaching skills and tools on yourself, you will become far more effective, more confident and more inviting. You’ll be a magnet to clients. I have no doubt about that!
Here are some questions in service to growing your practice:
1) What are you certain about in relation to your work? What do you know?
2) What have you done, what actions have you taken in making this happen, e.g. gotten a masters or Ph.D. in supporting personal development, got certified as a coach, etc?
3) How much have you invested in your work as you know it, financially, physically, time, space?
4) When does the uncertainty show up? What thoughts precipitate the uncertainty?
5) How have you been being with uncertainty in the past? What have you done to avoid crossing the threshold or actually meeting that choice-point? How have you distracted yourself from this choice point? Perhaps with another certificate, another training, another graduate degree, another. . . . ?
6) What ways can you be with uncertainty now? What new ways can you be-with your thinking (your context) about potential failure, the potential mistakes, etc?
7) Ask yourself “What am I really committed to?”
8) Then ask “What am I willing to do? What’s the smallest incremental step I can take to get me closer to my work as I know it to be?”
It’s not about getting clients. It’s about practicing being in right-relationship with yourself in relation to uncertainty. Like I said, get this, and you will be a client magnet!!! Of this I have complete certainty!
From the Classroom
Here’s what’s showing up these days in the Transformational Coaching Training Program
Since the last newsletter we’ve had the Relationship Coaching Weekend and the Organizational Coaching weekend. And the new schedule for next years training is now available. Remember that if you’d like to re-attend one or more of the sessions the fee is only half price! It’s a great way of getting re-energized and inspired.
The Relationship Coaching weekend was full! A number of trainees brought their spouses. Their presence contributed so much to the weekend. For those of you who know Ashley and Lance from Jackson Hole, they shared themselves and their relationship issues through a coaching session with me that revealed some of the most challenging aspects of being in committed relationship and also coaching relationships. They helped reveal to those observing the most intricate details that support the growth or the destruction of relationships.
This past weekend (Organizational Coaching) we fell in love with each other through Mark Nicolson’s amazing capacity to bring our humanity into the conversation. His mastery and comfort with affect and ritual created an enormous space for each individual to bring intimacy, vulnerability and trust to the foreground, whether it be within an organization or with individuals.
Mark reinforced many of the foundations of this training program by bringing clarity to the understanding that each organization requires the same level of listening as every individual within the organization. And, that the humanity of each member of an organization wants a safe space within which to be heard, acknowledged and appreciated. They want to experience being cared for. Imagine what organizations and corporations would be like if each individual got this level of listening!
We’ve merged the Somatics and Emerging Issues into a four day retreat in the Santa Cruz Mountains the end of July. Todd and I are really excited to integrate so much body centered work into this long weekend. Breathwork, birthing issues as they relate to coaching and more!
Contact Rosie if you are interested in being with us. firstname.lastname@example.org
Revelations Along the Road: writings from those of us on the path less traveled
“Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dream with open eyes, to make it possible.”
~Lawrence of Arabia
“This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap; the being a force of Nature instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.
I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no brief candle to me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.”
~George Bernard Shaw
It’s Summer – Any Good Novels to Recommend?
I’d rather read a good novel than non-fiction anytime. But to recommend a good novel is like recommending a good BBQ joint in Texas. Everyone has a particular flavor that they appreciate and enjoy; genre’s, authors, storyline – all impact on what is tasty and satisfying or not.
While on vacation in Hawaii, I read two novels. The first, I recognized the author. She’d written a couple of best sellers. I struggled through and barely finished it, only because – well, I was curious enough to see if perhaps it would have a good, quality ending. It didn’t, and I was frustrated with myself for having to finish it. I realized that I have to really care about the characters if I’m going to spend my vacation with them. I’m glad in this case that I’m a fast reader.
I picked up the second book because I liked the cover. It was colorful, playful and had a tropical feel to it. It was an old book – from the 90’s, but it was a new author to me. He had that Tom Robbins, John Irving crazy, absurd and imaginative perspective. The characters were perfect companions for a holiday, and with the vacation and the book complete – I miss them.
Now, that’s the kind of novel I’m looking for!
Here’s What’s Up With Heidi Spitzig
Since I began the coaching training program in the summer of ‘08, my life has shifted in ways I never imagined possible. I recently finished my Masters at ITP through the Global Program: My life will never be the same. I can no longer withhold my passions, my joy and the work I love to do, which includes coaching, shamanism and wilderness adventures with adolescents. It was unforeseen circumstances that directed me to my work – totally against my desire to play it safe. I’m so excited about what is unfolding and I have found it invaluable to walk this path with a coach who keeps my mind clear so I can actually see my way. Click on the link to see some of my work.
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