Thursday, September 28, 2006

History Starts Now

About a week ago now I was watching the season premier of a favourite show ‘Criminal Minds’ and as the show was drawing to a close, a song was played that captured my attention. The words were amazing which spurred me on to doing a search on the internet to see if I could figure out the name of the song and the group that performed it. I mentioned to my son that the group sounded so familiar but when I did the search and came up with the name of the band it didn’t ring a bell. Not anything unusual for me as I’m pathetic with names of bands, movies or songs, but their voices remain imbedded in my mind forever.

However once I did the search and other songs came up as well I realised I knew the band well and loved their songs. They’re called Five for FIGHTING and are quite distinctive, never mind socially aware in their work. I emailed the group asking permission to use some of the lyrics in my blog and was pleasantly surprised to get an answer within an hour. John Ondrasik, the lead, was more than gracious in giving me permission to share a bit of their work with you through my insights and comments. And, I hope you’ll run out and buy their CDs as their music really is extraordinary.

The song from the program was called ‘World’ and has many messages to it. My favourite of them all is “History Starts Now”. There is so much about that phrase I could write about in many contexts. History starts now in life as we create our life from this moment on…..every choice determining what our future will look like by our relationships, ideas, ideals, values and passions. It’s also very relevant in history when it comes to relying on an individual, judging one person by the actions of another, and using something in the past as a ‘written in stone’ guideline as to how a person might respond in the present or future.

That’s one of my biggest challenges in the workplace. Those I partner with as clients work very hard at changing what isn’t working in their ‘worlds’ and it’s very hard to break past history with colleagues and implement that change when others don’t give them the benefit of the doubt. People see what was, not what is. Using the ‘History Starts Now’ changes that paradigm. You can create a new history by how you relate to someone in the present. You can create a new history by seeing the best in people and acknowledging the changes they’re making.

“What kind of world do you want?
Think Anything
Let's start at the start
Build a masterpiece
Be careful what you wish for
History starts now... "

Years ago I decided to build a life I love. Slowly but surely I pruned my life of toxic relationships and replaced them with those who enriched my life. I’m happy because I choose to be, not give the power of that choice to circumstance. I look to learn something new every day, connect with people in all facets of life. I will soon attend an international symposium for coaching and we’re going to look at Stewardship in Coaching. This ties in beautifully. Coaching from a framework of stewardship is normative: “with accountability for affirming human rights and dignity, ecological health, and care for the health and well-being of the whole”. It also shifts focus from “Being the best in the world” to “Being the best for the world” (a triple bottom line: economically, socially, ecologically).

If you reach out to make a difference in some way every day, look to learn something new, speak to someone you’ve never spoken to before, make connections for you or connect other people, you will build a masterpiece of a life. No time like the present to begin. History starts right now.

Donna Karlin

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Live Through Your Passions

“I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge, that myth is more potent than history, that dreams are more powerful than facts, that hope always triumphs over experience, that laughter is the only cure for grief, and I believe that love is stronger than death”. - Fulghum, Robert

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read this quote and had a completely different reaction to it. It truly touches every aspect of life in one fell swoop. When I listen to clients, friends, colleagues or members of my family they might begin telling me difficulties they’re living or a challenge they have to face but ultimately the conversation veers towards something that has captured their imagination, and asking me to help them find a way to live it. Their passions come out and the sense of possibility. I watch as their energy goes from a low point to way up there beyond measurement. Their faces change from a frown to a smile that reaches their eyes and their heart as their whole being comes to life through imagination. One will reach for a dream no matter what. That will stimulate you much more intensely and quickly than a mere fact.

And even as they might sit around grieving for a lost loved one, through the tears come moments of laughter as they begin to speak of funny times shared that lightens the heart.

Human nature is resilient. A person’s mind can take them to places beyond belief. Instead of pushing those thoughts aside, ask yourself how you can use them to evolve into life….much more than growing. It’s becoming that dream, living it and experiencing it firsthand. Anyone who tries to control your thoughts or passions is fighting to discover their own. Don’t let others steal them away. “Patterning your life around other's opinions is nothing more than slavery” - Lawana Blackwell.

Live your life for you, not for anyone else. Teach others how it’s possible to live your dreams by creating your own day by day, thereby encouraging others to do the same in their lives. Accept others for where they are in life and ask them to do the same for you. Learn from those around you, don’t become them. And in doing so, give yourself the gift of a fulfilling, joyful life.

Best…Donna Karlin

Monday, September 18, 2006

Walking In Your Own Shadow

“There is a time when passing through a light, that you walk in your own shadow “ – Keri Hulmee.

This past week was exactly that for me. I was in Chicago doing an Advanced Shadow Coach™ Training session with a group of amazing coaches looking to see what else is out there in the realm of our profession. Some already knew me and about my work and walked in eager to jump in to whatever was tossed at them. Others walked in with open minds, not really knowing what it is I do and the rest, well it took a while for them to come around to my model of coaching as it challenged their paradigms in every way shape and form. Whenever I teach I have to take a good long look at everything I do and how I do it so I can articulate it to the class. In hearing their feedback and answering their questions, I did indeed walk in my own shadow as I’m a Shadow Coach ™ : )

Those dynamics are present in all my trainings and I love watching as the awareness sinks in. They not only learn how to go deeper and wider in the dynamics of working with clients but their self-awareness or walking in their own shadows increases as well.

The trip started off with a smile as I pre-cleared US customs. The customs officer wanted to know the nature of the work I’d be doing in the US and when I told him I was going to do an Advanced Shadow Coach™ Training, he looked at me and said “You DO realize I don’t have a clue about what you just said”. To which I replied “Even coaches don’t know, which is why I’m traveling so much to teach it!”

He wished me the best of luck and I went on my merry way.

But that’s what happens in every realm of life, isn’t it? Every day someone says something to me of which I have no clue and I can’t wait to hear more. That’s one of the best parts of Shadow Coaching. Our work is interdevelopmental. There isn’t a day where we don’t grow in leaps and bounds and as my knowledge increases, so does my ability to coach that client and all the ones that follow.

Are your relationships interdevelopmental? Are you both stimulated by your interactions and if not, are you engaged? Are you interested in what evolves? And are you open to and aware of the possibilities as they unfold? Especially for coaches, if you are so intent on having control of the process, the conversations and sessions, then you aren’t open to the client’s life as it unfolds. You are more intent in guiding the process and then it isn’t about the client. It’s about you. Shadow Coaching™ eliminates all that, as you coach in real time, not on an interpretation of that moment fed back to you later.

If we were more mindful of life as it unfolded and let go of the control of what we think we want before it happens, life would go in a totally different direction. We would learn more, grow more, meet people we hadn’t intended to meet and evolve on a totally different plane.

Have you caught yourself guiding a process that didn’t seem to work? Do you often feel as if you’re trying to force a square peg in a round hole in a given circumstance? Then perhaps it was meant to go in a different direction. Maybe it’s time you walked in your own shadow to pay attention to your own life as it unfolds. What a concept!

Donna Karlin

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Enjoying the Chaos

Are you enjoying the chaos? Are you enjoying every aspect of your day no matter what unfolds?

It’s a question I often ask organizational leaders, especially during challenging times. Often they look at me and say something like “Are you crazy? You’ve seen what just happened and you ask if I’m ENJOYING MY DAY? (This question usually thrown back at me with a smile, thank goodness : ) As a Shadow Coach™ I know full well what they’re living because I see it unfold before my eyes. I also see how my clients tackle what unfolds and at that point I mentally rub my hands with glee because this is where I do my best work….in the centre of chaos.

I don’t care what you’re living in your work environment, how intense it is or how crazy, but bottom line is, if you’re not enjoying the process, dealing with the problems, world catastrophes, whatever it is, then get out and find another job.

Recently I asked a government leader, one who is dealing with global challenges, that very question. It’s a good thing he knows me well, so when I asked him (knowing full well he had a weekend from hell) if he was enjoying his day, he stopped, looked at me and said “I wouldn’t EXACTLY call it enjoying.” But he said it with a smile. He knew what I meant and even though he had a sum total of about 5 hours sleep in 3 days, he was enjoying the knowledge he was doing something about it, at least what was in his power to do.

We can’t change the world. We can change how we look at the world and our place within it.

That’s what makes all the difference between being depleted in our jobs and energized, no matter what unfolds. I want my clients to be successful….successful by their definition not mine. I want them to create a sustained level of performance that is not easy to upset or restrict. Their mindset is what will take them from being reactive to responsive. If they are not enjoying the intensity, they will be in reactive mode which depletes them of energy. And it’s next to impossible to feel as if you’re accomplishing what you set out to when you’re always trying to catch up and take back control.

When you enjoy the chaos you’re the eye in the centre of the storm. It will energize you and help you focus and keep you one step ahead of the game.

Looking forward…
Donna Karlin

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Jumping Back In

Our senses come alive through the summer. It’s a time when we savour the flavours and scents of the seasons….the blooming of flowers, cut grass and long summer nights. As fall comes we think of packing up cottages and leaves turning colour, soon giving way to falling snow.

Colours fade and are replaced with white and grey of winter and as the land goes to sleep and rests for a while, we become the most productive. Long, leisurely summer strolls turn to brisk walks in the cold, invigorating and energizing us.

Summer holidays are over and now the world gears up for a season of productivity. Kids go back to school and we return to our offices, ready to tackle whatever comes our way.

Or are we ready?

Many tell me the first day back is brutal when it comes to focusing and getting their minds off their vacations. They have to wade through voice mail and email and as the day wears on, fatigue sets in. Along with it come the feelings that holidays were a lifetime ago. All it takes is s small shift or two, a change in scheduling and that post vacation syndrome can be a thing of the past.

Don’t come back from holidays on a Monday. Come back on a Thursday. That way you have a day to play catch-up, check emails, phone messages and speak to colleagues to find out what happened in your absence. That way you’re in the loop. Friday, develop a plan of action and it’s already the weekend! You’ll still have all that energy you recouped when you were off work and with all the catch up under your belt, Monday won’t seem so daunting. And if you can really schedule carefully, the perfect scenario, for example is to come back the Thursday before Labour Day so you come back at a quiet time and end up with a three day weekend ahead of you. It’s like another mini vacation, except this time you’re all caught up and can hit the floor running.

Three day weekend or not, coming back on a Thursday will help you keep that spring to your step as you know the weekend is just around the corner.

Welcome back. Enjoy diving back into the deep end. It’s been waiting for you.

Donna Karlin

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