Sunday, May 31, 2009

Not Having All the Answers,...or Any For That Matter

As long as I hold onto who I am right now, I won’t be able to grow into who I might become.

Mondays, when I’m not working with a client, I spend a good chunk of my day handling administrivia, writing, doing paperwork, and wading through that special file I keep of “seed thoughts”, ideas, and reminders to add to, create or morph a program or concept. There is also this file I keep of emails that I parked because I know I need a lot of thinking time to process them. Mondays are when I schedule that time in.

This morning I came across an email exchange I had with a colleague way back when. We had been talking about learning through the process of coaching, not just learning the business of coaching, or through class material, conferences or seminars. Coaches should learn from their clients daily….increasing our awareness of who we are as individuals and professionals.

I remember writing her in response to a comment she made about my work. I shared the following: “What was amazing was how much I learn when I’m Shadow Coaching. I see and learn about things I never knew existed. But even more than that, the feedback I got this afternoon showed how many levels I work on with my clients when I’m on the scene. That’s what amazed me the most. This client told me how I also helped him change in a ‘holistic way’. That blew ME away. I wonder how many coaches are so wrapped up with coaching that they can forget they’re students at the same time? It doesn’t make us any less effective. Quite the opposite. It helps our clients realise the depth of their knowledge when we share how much we’ve also learned in the process. It’s a true collaborative partnership".

”Her response was “That’s why you’re so go damn good at what you do Sherlock! I learn tons from you and also keep you in my mind when I’m consulting and not sure what to do.”

There have been many a thread in coaching articles as to old ways of coaching, models perspectives etc. In the “old days” of coaching, we used to hold back any advice-giving or communication with regards to any sign we might not have all the answers. Now, things are changing dramatically. It might be easier because I’m a situational/observational coach and there to deal with situations and truth as it unfolds. It’s even more powerful when I’m able to tell my client “It’s not important to know what you do as much as how you do it or the drivers behind why you do it”. However it’s also incredibly powerful to turn to a client and ask “What is it you want from me right now? What am I missing?” and admit we’re both on a learning curve. Sometimes we need ‘permission’ to admit we don’t have all the answers but that in itself leads to a fact finding, collaborative learning curve.My clients are all unique individuals. Why would I even presume to use one methodology or answer for all of them?

How does the saying go? “It’s a very stupid man who believes he has all the answers”. Something like that?

One way I let go of who I am right now to become the person I may be in the future is by asking one question at a time, then paying attention to whatever unfolds without having the need to control what that might be. That just might be what it means to live in the questions.


Donna Karlin

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Emma Gives Back

Last fall, I was a keynote speaker at the HOW Magazine Mind Your Own Business Conference. One of the exhibitors was Emma. To say I was enthralled by what they do in creatively getting messages out is an understatement, but when I found out how they give back to the world, well, that really captivated me. I am a Coach after all and one who is involved in giving back through my work on the Board of The Coach Initiative. I felt this should be shared far and wide so I asked one of the founding partners if he could share with me how Emma gives back...

"When it comes to giving back, we like getting lots of people involved. For example, this will be the sixth year of our Emma 25 initiative, where we donate 25 Emma accounts each holiday season to small, deserving charities. Our customers nominate their favorite causes, our staffers pick the list of finalists, and our customers vote for the final 25 honorees. With the trees we plant each month - we plant five for each new customer who joins us - we designate half of them for the equatorial regions that produce the most growth (and therefore the most oxygen) and let our newest customers choose where the other half go (typically somewhere in the United States). Again, it's an easy way to not only remind them they're helping us plant trees, but to actually give them a say in the project.

And we take a similar approach with our monthly donations to and In each case, an Emma staffer takes charge of the program and has a rotating group of colleagues help distribute the funds each month - to deserving third-world entrepreneurs in the case of Kiva, and deserving classrooms in the case of DonorsChoose. In most of our giving, there are stories and names and faces that make it all feel really personal and rewarding, and by taking a collaborative approach we make sure everyone on staff gets to experience it first-hand.

Of course, this is just the tip of the collaborative iceberg for us. Meals on wheels? Two staffers collaborate each Wednesday to handle the food delivery. The newly formed Emma bowling league? Collaborative. Designing the all-important bowling league commemorative socks? Collaborative. Finishing off last week's kegerator beer to make room for the new stuff? You've never seen such a collaborative spirit
: ) "

Clint Smith, Founding Partner Emma®
Emma helps organizations everywhere communicate & market in style.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Instructions For Life - 2nd Edition

I can't remember where I got this from but love it and wanted to share it with you. It's worth revisiting don't you think?

If you have anything to add, share it with us

Donna Karlin

Give people more than they expect and do it cheerfully.

Marry a man/woman you love to talk to. As you get older, their conversational skills will be as important as any other.

Don't believe all you hear, spend all you have or sleep all you want.

When you say, "I love you", mean it.;

When you say, "I'm sorry", look the person in the eye.

Be engaged at least six months before you get married.

Believe in love at first sight.

Never laugh at anyone's dreams. People who don't have dreams don't have much.

Love deeply and passionately. You might get hurt, but it's the only way to live life completely.

In disagreements, fight fairly. No name calling.

Don't judge people by their relatives.

Talk slowly, but think quickly.

Remember that great love and great achievements involve great risk.

Say "bless you" when you hear someone sneeze.

When you lose, don't lose the lesson.

Remember the three R's: Respect for self; Respect for others; Responsibility for all your actions.

Don't let a little dispute injure a great friendship.

When you realize you've made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it.

Smile when picking up the phone. The caller will hear it in your voice.

Spend some time alone.

Open your arms to change, but don't let go of your values.

Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.

Read more books and watch less TV.

Live a good, honorable life. Then when you get older and think back, you'll get to enjoy it a second time.

Create a loving atmosphere in your home is so important. Do all you can to create a tranquil harmonious home.

In disagreements with loved ones, deal with the current situation. Don't bring up the past.

Read between the lines.

Share your knowledge. It's a way to achieve immortality.

Be gentle with the earth.

Pray, meditate or center. There's immeasurable power in it.

Never interrupt when you are being flattered.

Mind your own business.

Once a year, go someplace you've never been before.

If you make a lot of money, put it to use helping others while you are living. That is wealth's greatest satisfaction.

Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a stroke of luck.

Learn the rules then break some.

Remember that the best relationship is one where your love for each other is greater than your need for each other.

Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it.

Remember that your character is your destiny.

Approach love and cooking with reckless abandon.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

How We See

We see things through our own perceptions rather than looking at life through an unfiltered lens. We miss so much when we only look through our own stories.

This past week at the Conversation Among Masters conference, that was cemented through so many realizations...

One was that a friend and colleague of mine was perceived to be loud and boisterous because she looked like she should be...yet she speaks quietly and thoughtfully and if you would watch her in her work you would instantly see how she centers the people she interviews and brings a sense of calm to any conversation.

Another was to bring to mind something that is always said to me "Your brother is busy. He doesn't have time for...." a usual excuse for him getting lost in his own self and ego. He's brilliant in what he does but by virtue of being a surgeon and a male, whether or not he works longer hours than others doesn't matter. He's busy. "We are not."

Some ask me how in the world I can do all I do in a day. I'm not necessarily busier than others, I just do things differently and have a different focus than others perhaps. Another perception...some people have more time than others. No. Time is finite and we all have the same available to us.

After dinner one night, one of my friends told me about a woman she shared a table with who had some fascinating stories. I knew of her but hadn't had any in depth conversations with her. I asked her if she would have time to meet the next afternoon during break so I could get to know her. She happily accepted my invitation and as we sat outside in a quiet corner she shared with me that she had known about me forever, about my work but never in her wildest dreams thought she would ever have face time with me. I was taken aback and asked why. She said "Because you're so well known, famous for your work, I just never thought it would happen."

I've met the most amazing people because I approached them through their humanity, not their role, title or position. I don't bow to people who say they're busy because of their status. I honour those who give of themselves despite how busy they are, based on humanness, not title or position. I never want to be too busy that I forget the important people in my life. I never want to be too busy to take time to meet new people and learn from them. Because if I do, if we do, then what is the point of being so busy? To what end? For a better life? To mean something?

Donna Karlin

***A book to take note of...

I was so blown away by the insights this book generated that I just bought 10 of them to give away to the special people in my life. That is how strongly I recommend it.