Monday, June 01, 2015

Waiting for Others to Help Us Get it Right

I'm recently back from TEDWomen 2015, its theme Momentum. As always after one of these conference, my head is about to explode. Not only do I get a myriad of ideas for how to do my work differently or view situations and solutions differently but I connect people and ideas. That is one of my jobs when I'm at TED. I'm blessed to work with TED Fellows and one of the ways I can support them is to connect them with others who can help them more powerfully impact the planet.

Mia Birdsong, of the Family Independence Initiative made a statement that really resonated; "We can't wait for others to help us get it right." Something else she said which resonated was, "My humanity is inextricably caught up in yours". 

We don't live life in silos. We don't work in silos. As much as one might want to feel they have a great deal of power in an organization and might hoard information...want to be in control, ultimately one person is intricately connected with another and so on and so on. If we don't listen to others, reflect on their wisdom, not believing we know more, that we are better or are more important, we will succeed. Everything we do, say, believe and share impacts someone else in some way shape or form.

Those who believe in the power of social connectedness do better than those who don't. Organizations that promote this way of being ultimately succeed.

Social capital gives companies momentum. How high is your organization's SC?

Thursday, April 09, 2015

One Day I'll be Ready

"One day I'll be ready..." I hear this statement every day from clients, friends or family. "I'll be ready for that vacation when..." One day I'll be ready to change my job" and so it goes.

If you're saying "One day I'll be ready" then you're already ready. It's not a matter of figuring out when that day will be. It's a matter of looking at what is standing in your way right now for taking the plunge, and seeing how you can remove those roadblocks. Most of all it's no longer listening to the voices in your head telling you that you don't measure up or that the realization of one's innermost dreams happens to others but not to you, a regular kinda person.

Monday, March 09, 2015

Achieving Mastery as an Executive Coach

Learning the Shadow Coaching® technique differentiates a coach from a Master Coach. This becomes even more evident when I teach abroad, whether Brazil, Australia, or Italy. Coaches are becoming even more impatient than their clients to make a difference and adopt a methodology that is impactful, present and powerful.

Recognizing the essence of the conversation with a client and understanding how to ask the question that will illuminate exactly what they need to focus on in the moment is where Shadow Coaching® training beings. 

As our clients become more and more demanding and their lifestyles are increasingly chaotic, they are going to expect us to have the set of skills that schools hadn’t been teaching until now. That was evident when two practitioners from EcoSocial in Brazil came to check me and my methodology out when I was teaching in Boston. Two hours or so into the class, they walked up to me and said “You will be coming to Brazil to teach”. I looked at them and said “Oh really?” to which they replied, “Definitely”.

The rest is history. Just short of a year later, I was standing in front of 35 master level practitioners eager to dive into the unknown. The level of respect and openness from them was second to none. Not only did they absorb whatever I threw their way, but they questioned, challenged, integrated and starting figuring out how they would approach their current clients with a new way forward. This group just got it. They saw the value of going much deeper with their clients and how that could bring forth dramatic shifts and change.

In the executive realm we need to speed up to their lifestyles while we get them through clarity and awareness to the point of what I call slowing down to the speed of life instead of reacting to whatever comes their way.  It’s also going deeper with the client without wading through traditional ways of assessment and the self-discovery process that might take years.  This is not therapy although we look at ‘programs’ and behavioural drivers.

I feel we need to take the industry of coaching that one step further way beyond the “box”.

The reason I am teaching my model is because I feel it’s important for a Coach to walk into a person’s total life or business and be able to see the central truths of ‘what is’ within an hour….not days, weeks, or months. 

I believe it's possible to give the kind of quality work where we're simply incredibly aware and in tune with all that's happening or at least the critical elements of what is happening that may not appear in any textbook or in any traditional measurement device.  I think as coaches we can devise what these measures are.

The role of a Shadow Coach is to be able to go and recognize the intangibles that won’t show up in any reports, either financial or managerial or for that matter, performance reports.   There are too many things going on behind the scenes to be measure on a balance sheet.  Traditional coaching delves into the client’s present awareness. The Shadow Coach goes way beyond that level into what the client doesn’t see, i.e. the client becoming aware of skills, behavioural patterns, Shadows (Jungian) and cultural tethers.

Shadows give suggestions in the form of questions. For example, “Forget time management for a moment.  What would your life look like if you eliminated delay? How do you respect yourself in relation to time?”  How do you see them as different?

We are an accelerant or a catalyst.

We immerse ourselves into the moment completely like a diagnostician, using all the technology and all the experience to get to the bottom of things, not just treat symptoms. We've got to bring everything together and be able to sum up the past, the present, the future for that client as quickly as possible to generate that accelerant, to get them there so much quicker, because people are demanding that. They want it now. They don't want to wait any longer.

We basically help them understand themselves at a much faster rate versus the self-discovery process that can take years to find things out about themselves.  They have plenty of time to discover things on their own but for me I want to make sure they get it and get it fast so they can move on to what they hired me to do.  

I believe that clients are unwilling to take the time it used to take to solve their problems or to make the changes even in an organization. So people are dissatisfied with the delay and are looking for ways to shorten it. As well, I personally believe that awareness is curative, that it's not just the prescription or a Band-Aid that cures but it's the awareness of something that cures. So part of what we're doing is increasing awareness with our discernment and with our sharing and language. That, plus the strategy one might offer, plus the insights or the simple ways we phrase what we're observing can actually, overnight, make changes that might have taken three or four years to implement in more traditional methods .

It was an honour to teach this group of amazing individuals who, not only realised this, but who were eager to absorb ways of applying this method, not sometime in the future, but immediately.

I look forward to my next class in Milan, Italy and to go back to Brazil in the near future!

Thursday, August 07, 2014


Recently I was asked how I define Mindful. I had written a piece about it way back when and decided to revisit it...

Mindful….being present….living right now in this moment, not clouding it with what was or what might be. It’s being in tune with what’s happening and our place within that moment in time. It’s awareness at its best because it’s not clouded with judgment, expectations or assumptions. It just is. And because you’re totally present in that moment in time, you are free of the burdens of the past and the ‘what might be’ in the future. You can observe, accept, …..move on. And because you’re totally aware, leaving the emotional and intellectual baggage behind, you can be free to think of possibilities, have the mental space to create new ideas and grow within your life.

Being mindful, as a client described to me, was watching me be like a huge rock in the center of a fast moving river. The water is hitting it from all angles, but the rock remains calm, steadfast. Being mindful within a chaotic moment is a way for you to create mental space within which you can create, grow as an individual and be open to whatever it is that comes your way.

It gives you a balance between what is happening and what you’re doing within that event. There is no good, no bad, just the truth of the moment. It transcends you.

You are mindful when you no longer identify with emotion or feeling. You are no longer afraid, confident or outlandish. You are a person who is experiencing those feelings right then. You are not at one with them. You are more than each emotion. Mindfulness is a part of life, work, personal, all parts of your life. When you are open to all that is around you, you grow in leaps and bounds and learn without filters. And in experiencing each moment in time, you free yourself up to invent your future, one day at a time.

The first step is in eliminating the ‘whens’. I will be happy when….. I will be content when…… I will no longer be afraid when….. When emotions are conditional upon what might happen one day, you will not be truly alive in the present. That day in the future begins right now.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Wisest Advice Shared and Three Cents of my Own

“The single raindrop never feels responsible for the flood.” If you’re taking part in something bigger than yourself that has detrimental impact, whether spreading gossip or not stopping others from spreading it, or, not “getting involved” when you see something happen that is terrible, you are responsible whether or not you like it.

“Remember, you’re just a walk on part in everyone else’s play.” You might believe you’re the most important person in the world, or you might think your opinions are the ones that should be heard and followed, but you aren’t the end all and be all in anyone else’s life other than your own.

“Stop looking around for the right person and try to BE the right person.” You get back what you “are”.

“Worrying is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it doesn’t get you anywhere.” (No more needs to be said on this one.)

A reputation takes years to build and only seconds to destroy. Don’t ever, EVER let anyone in any way negatively impact your reputation. You are your word.

By living, there’s a risk of dying. If you don’t risk then you’re not living. It’s an existence.

“Call your mom.” Hey, as a mom I love this one!

You can judge the character of a person by how they treat people in the service industry.

Being old and being a grown-up are two different things.

Our lives are short but the things we can do within that time are infinite. The thing is, the more you put things off for “another time” or “later” the less you’ll do, the less you’ll be.

Everyone in this world, no matter where they come from and what they do, knows something about life and living that you don’t know. Find out what that is.

Always keep your promises. If you can’t make them happen, then don’t promise in the first place. Broken promises beget broken trust.

What do you want your legacy to be?

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Who Do You Need to Know That You Don't Know?

In all my work with clients, whether in turbulent situations, corporate settings or in the lecture hall, I ask the same reality check questions "Who do you need to know that you don't know?" and "What do you need to know that you don't know?"  You know what you know. You know many people, but do you know what they know? How often do you sit around the table when a long time friend comes out with something and you turn, dumbfounded, because they shared something you didn't know of them?

Successful leaders don't know it all; they know who their go-to people are for what they do need to know. The more expansive your network is, the more thought partners you have access to. The world isn't slowing down any time soon and we can't be expected to keep up to its pace. It's even more critical that leaders align with people outside their immediate realm so they have access to a breadth and depth of knowledge and experience they need in order to lead.

But how can we grow the leaders of the future? In most cases, the traditional education model will not prepare them for thinking on their feet, nor for how fast the world is evolving through innovation and technology. Therefore some of the fundamentals have to change. Years ago, I was driving with my son and talking about just that. What he said to me stays with me for this day which was, "The traditional education system is failing not because of bad teachers, bad kids or low standards but because the content is not interesting and the environment isn't stimulating, but the rest of the world is. The educational model as we know it has lost its relevance. People learn more in online communities. The physical environment is too structured and doesn't allow for individuality".

Well, that's being addressed, I'm happy to say. Enter TED-Ed, Lessons Worth Sharing. Users can take any educational video as well as a TED video and easily create a customized lesson with it. Now there are TED-ED clubs, school-based programs that supports students in discussing, pursuing and presenting their big ideas in the form of short TED-style talks. Many of my clients now invite their staff to share a favorite TED talk and then discuss why they shared it and what the learning was.

Today, I'm happy to say, I read a position paper from the British Columbia Ministry of Education on their Curriculum Transformation Plans where they state "The current curriculum has too many objectives to cover and with so many objectives it can in some ways restrict student learning. Moreover, its highly prescriptive nature puts it at odds with the vision of a more personalized learning experience. With the improved curriculum, students will have increased opportunities to gain the essential learning and life skills necessary to live and work successfully in a complex, interconnected, and rapidly changing world. Students will focus on acquiring skills to help them use knowledge critically and creatively, to solve problems ethically and collaboratively, and to make the decisions necessary to succeed in our increasingly globalized world."

This is exciting! It's time leaders enabled their people to learn, share, create strong thought partnerships and evolve all those around them. For parents and teachers, it's about helping the next wave of leaders-to-be learn, and integrate the learning every day and to use the outside world as the global classroom it can be. You want to have a sense of where your kids are heading in the future? Bring back those dinner table discussions around something that blew you away that day and ask them to share the same. Watch a TED talk with them and then discuss it. Invite them to embrace curiosity and inquiry. We will never know all we need to know which opens the door to global relationships, to percolate on and design what we need to build a strong future.

Tuesday, January 07, 2014


This post brings a different slant to what I usually write. I'm all for connecting, networking, having global conversations and sharing my perspectives. I also usually write a new year's letter sharing all that happened in the past year with my intentions for the year to come. However this year I disconnected instead.

For a while I felt guilty about not writing my letter and then came to the conclusion that those people in my life, who are interested in my life, already know what I've been up to. So I disconnected. I didn't post on Facebook, barely looked at LinkedIn unless I got a direct email through there. I didn't respond to work emails and didn't do all the administrivia I usually do at the end of the year.

And you know what? The world was still there on January 2nd! What a concept!

This morning someone I greatly respect shared an article with me and I was mentally whooping and hollering "YES!" Someone else did that as well!  It's an amazing post which I'll share with you called Logging Off by Kevin Conroy Smith. In my mind, he really does have 'A Better Perspective'. I am reminding myself why I used that phrase as my company identity. When I was naming my company and was going to call it "A New Perspective", a dear friend told me that sometimes the old ways are better. That conversation comes to mind more times than I can count.

Kevin's post brings it all full circle. In being so connected, we're disconnecting from life. So instead of posting everything I was doing, I just did it. Instead of sitting with my tablet or laptop, I shared life with my life partner. We puzzled, watched movies, went shopping, saw family and friends and cooked great meals. That is what connecting is all about.

Wishing you a year filled with connections, relationship, fulfillment and a better perspective on life.