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So about last night…

hello_changeTuesday May 5th was definitely one of the most historic days for Alberta I can remember.  Not only did we see sweeping political change but the Flames pulled out a thrilling playoff victory on overtime!

You could feel the buzz in Calgary on Wednesday morning, there was excitement, nervousness and a bit of fear about what is going to happen next.  I was standing in line to get coffee and I heard no less than 3 different conversations happening around me about how this new government was either the best thing that could happen or the worst thing that could happen.  You could hear people digging into their points of view and defending why they were right and the other person was wrong.

It’s so interesting to see how people react to change, there’s the excitement of something new followed quickly by the reality of something new.  Will this new thing be better or worse than the old thing?  What’s going to happen to me and my world because of this new thing?  Is it a threat or an opportunity?

We are assessment machines by nature, constantly assessing the future to look for threats and opportunities.  Throw a big change at people and we go into assessment overdrive.  We try to map our expectations against an unknown landscape.  What happens if we can’t imagine a future with this new change?  Then we panic, we assess that our safety is threatened and we prepare to fight.  That’s what I heard while I waited in line for coffee this morning.  I heard a lot of people trying to map their assessments or expectations about the future against this new change in the political landscape.

The danger of getting to entrenched in your assessments (good or bad) is that they begin to look like facts, like what you believe is the truth and anyone who doesn’t believe it as well is wrong.  We limit ourselves when we dig in on our piont of view so strongly.  It’s so important to be thoughtful, open and considerate of another point of view. You never know, you could discover a whole new way of seeing the world.

Unless it’s about hockey… GO Flames GO!

j

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I Declare!

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I am a beginner!

Think about the last time you had to take on a new challenge at work or in your personal life. How did you feel about that challenge? Did you tread the line between excitement and panic? The way you felt about this new challenge tells you a lot about your personal declarations. If you are excited about a new challenge you are probably declaring “I got this!” if you are in panic mode you may be declaring “I’m going to crash and burn”.

These personal declarations are a huge part of our lives. We are constantly generating new possibilities with our assessments about how things are going to go. Occasionally we are aware of these thoughts and we can adjust them accordingly. We can give ourselves a pep talk and march ahead. However too often we don’t hear these declarations, and they can really inhibit our success, happiness and confidence.

Do any of these sound familiar?
• I’m not good enough.
• I’m not smart enough.
• I can’t do it.
• I’m going to fail.
• I’m going to let everyone down.

These declarations are so powerful, we may not even realize the influence they have on our choices. Maybe you are stuck in a job you hate because you are too afraid to make a change. Perhaps you are resigned to an unfulfilling relationship because you don’t think anyone could ever love you the way you are. When you feel a knot in your stomach, or tension in your shoulders about something and you can’t quite figure out why, that could be an indication that there is a declaration you are holding about an issue that needs to be addressed. Have a look, what do you see? Is there a story you have been telling but haven’t been hearing?

One of the most common declarations people hold is “I’m not good enough”, this one can come up when we are doing something new that we think we SHOULD be good at.

I’ll give you a personal example, when I 1st started coaching I was so worried about doing a good job, I had seen Master Coaches in action and I was positive I could never get to that level. My expectation about the level I SHOULD be at was completely unrealistic. Of course I wasn’t a Master Coach, but I was prepared and qualified as a Coach. I had to question my declaration of “I’ll never be good enough to be a Master Coach”. It wasn’t serving me at all. I needed a new declaration that would create a new possibility. I took a deep breath and declared “I am a beginner”. This gave me the permission to feel awkward, a bit uncomfortable and it created the space for me to learn and grow.

What declaration are you going to challenge and replace with something that truly serves you?

j

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Are you sure?

 

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Everyday I tell myself that today I’m going to welcome all new ideas, perspectives and opinions with open arms, I’m definitely not going to get stuck thinking that my point of view is ‘right’ or that my way of doing something is the only way it can get done.

Now how many days actually go like that?  Not very many…

I know there is a chance that someone else might know more than me, might be more creative, could bring new and unique perspective to a challenge I’m working on.  So why do I sometimes find myself getting dug in on wanting my way, or thinking I’m right because you know… I think I’m right.

Wouldn’t it be great if our natural response to a different perspective was “Wow how lucky am I, now I have two great points of view to consider!”  I think it’s natural to feel like we need to defend our POV, we are a reflection of our beliefs, so if our beliefs are challenged then in a way our value is being questioned.

Where it gets tricky is separating fact from fiction.  So often what we hold onto as “true” is not true it’s just our opinion.  Yet as soon as we label it as true it becomes a fact for us, something that could define us.  It becomes something we have to defend.  If I believe something to be true and you believe something different then by default what you believe is false.

The best example of this is watching two commentators on CNN argue about the politics.  Both sides present so many compelling “”Facts” about why their side is right and the other side is wrong.  There are no facts, there are just opinions, and I think we all know what they say about opinions and a certain body part ;)

Here’s an experiment you can try.  Put a Post It note on your monitor or somewhere you will see it all the time that says “ARE YOU SURE?”  The next time you feel like you are right and they are wrong or you have to defend your truth take a second and ask yourself “Are you Sure?”  Are you really right?  Is this really a fact or could it be your opinion?  If you find it is just your opinion then it’s much easier to open up and consider a new viewpoint.  You never know, maybe that will lead to a new possibility for action that you never considered.

jb

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That’s what tree said!

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Be your true self and that’s enough…  That’s the message I got from a small stand of Birch trees in the mountains of Colorado on the last day of my Coach Training.

Something tells me I should explain a bit more. :)

Since October 2013 I have been learning to be a personal/leadership coach through the Newfield Network.  I did part one (Foundations for Personal Leadership) of the training @ the University of Calgary but decided to do part two (The Art & Practice of Ontological Coaching – TAPOC) just outside of Colorado Springs at a Leadership Development retreat called The Nature Place. Ontological Coaching is a holistic and effective way to help people discover all that is within themselves and open their view to new ideas and possibilities.

Both Foundations and TAPOC have been transformative experiences and I’ve met some of the most incredible people along the way.  TAPOC was especially meaningful as I spent 5 days truly immersed in the work of learning to be a coach.  My classmates were some of the most generous,compassionate and caring people I’ve ever known.  I’m certain I will know them for a very long time.  The Newfield approach of learning is experiential, we don’t just learn how to coach we experience coaching as both coachee and coach.  We practice on each other using real breakdowns and genuine conversation.  Coaching is to be in service to another person and we learned the humility and compassion required to be in service to our coachee’s.  I believe that this style of coaching is more than a profession, it’s a calling.

The Newfield mission sums up the approach to this work:

Julio Olalla, Founder Newfield Network

Our mission is to generate and nurture learning spaces designed to allow the emergence of a new conception and experience of knowing where we learn to live a good life as we contribute to build a socially just, environmentally sustainable and spiritually fulfilling world.

I am very proud to be a member of the Newfield community and I’m so proud of all the work my classmates did to help me prepare for the journey ahead.  They gave of themselves and allowed me to open up in ways I didn’t think I could.  For that I am so grateful.

The amazing room we worked in @ The Nature Place.  So inspiring!
The amazing room we worked in @ The Nature Place. So inspiring!

The next step is to get out there and actually coach!  I would like to thank my Coachee Guinea pigs in advance :)

Oh right I forgot to explain the tree thing!  On the last day of the conference Julio talked about being open to different voices when it comes to coaching, our learning can come from so many places, he asked us to go out to the forest and find a tree that appealed to us and ask it one question.  The question was “What are the things I can do immediately to create happier and deeper relationships?”  I walked into the forest and saw an evergreen tree that looked nice, as I approached it the wind came through and made the leaves rustle on a small stand of Birch trees and that caught my attention so I went and stood in the middle of them instead.  I closed my eyes and asked my questions, the answer came through so clearly it was almost overwhelming!

Be your true self and that’s enough…

Pretty smart trees

jb

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Shhhhh….

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Well this is my last post for a couple of weeks… I leave tomorrow for a Vipassana Meditation retreat that is done in total silence.  Meditation has become a very important part of my life.  Growing up I struggled with anxiety and did have periods where I was medicated.  I never liked the side effects and always wanted an option to help deal with my anxiety.

First I discovered running, something about the solitude of running has always brought me peace and a feeling of calm.  Exercise in general is great for calming feelings of anxiousness.

When I first tried meditating it didn’t go that well.  After 20 minutes I had literally no enlightenment and I didn’t know what the meaning of life was and to top it all off my foot fell asleep.  It was a couple of years before I tried again.  This time I went to a course with Becky that was amazing.  It taught the Sudarshan Kriya that was developed by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.  It involves very precise breathing techniques to put a person into a very deep meditative state.  This was truly transformative for me.  In fact it was during this program that I had the epiphany about coaching as a profession.  Since taking this course meditation is an (almost) daily practice for me.

Anywho back to the 11 day retreat I’m going to.  It is a meditation practice called Vipassana which is taught worldwide in over 150 centres.  I’ll be taking the program in Merritt BC.  For more on Vipassana check out this site http://www.surabhi.dhamma.org/.

I’m very excited/nervous about this program.  For 10 days there is no talking, no reading, no journaling, no exercise, no iphone, no music and no eye contact with other participants.  I will be sitting in meditation for 12 hours a day.  The daily timetable is below.

I’m thinking about this as a reboot, in the old days you had to defrag your computer all the time to reorganize the systems so they ran efficiently.  Well I’m going to defrag my mind, body and spirit over the next 2 weeks.

I will be sure to let all of my readers (Hi Mom) know how it goes when I get back on June 9th.

Wish me luck and namaste,

jb

THE COURSE TIMETABLE

The following timetable for the course has been designed to maintain the continuity of practice. For best results students are advised to follow it as closely as possible.

 

4:00 am Morning wake-up bell
4:30-6:30 am Meditate in the hall or in your room
6:30-8:00 am Breakfast break
8:00-9:00 am Group meditation in the hall
9:00-11:00 am Meditate in the hall or in your room according to the teacher’s instructions
11:00-12:00 noon Lunch break
12noon-1:00 pm Rest and interviews with the teacher
1:00-2:30 pm Meditate in the hall or in your room
2:30-3:30 pm Group meditation in the hall
3:30-5:00 pm Meditate in the hall or in your own room according to the teacher’s instructions
5:00-6:00 pm Tea break
6:00-7:00 pm Group meditation in the hall
7:00-8:15 pm Teacher’s Discourse in the hall
8:15-9:00 pm Group meditation in the hall
9:00-9:30 pm Question time in the hall
9:30 pm Retire to your own room–Lights out

 

 

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My Journey

Journey

Okay that’s maybe not the best image of My Specific Journey… but I do love the song ‘Don’t Stop Believin’ :)

Alright enough monkey business…  I’ve been having some really great conversations lately with some really interesting people.

As I move through this process of learning to be an Ontological Coach I have been recruiting potential ‘Coachees’ to volunteer for the final part of my training.  So far the people who are interested are amazing to talk to.  They are smart, interesting, intuitive people who I can learn so much from.  I’m so grateful that they would even consider being a part of this process with me.  I still have a couple of months before I will actually do any real coaching but the conversations so far have been so energizing.

I know in my heart this is how I want to spend my time.  Building genuine connections with people who are passionate about growth and want to fully step into who they truly are.  The holistic approach to these conversations is why they they have the power to be so transformative.  Discussing the power of language as a tool for action, the influence of moods and emotions and how they are manifested in our physical self is rich and diverse terrain for discovery.

I already have the opportunity in my day job to build one on one connections with new people all the time, but I’m a Recruiter so there is a defined business motive to these meetings.  This means there is a limitation to how deep a conversation can go.  I’m very fortunate to have the opportunities I do and I’m grateful to those around me for allowing me to explore this new path.

I’m so excited to be a coach!

I was speaking with someone the other day and we were discussing that since I don’t have kids I will forfeit the experience of helping a person grow and develop into a good person.  This experience is unique to parents.  However she pointed out that a good coach does exactly that, a coach can help clear away the clutter and enable a person to step into who they truly are.  This was an amazing moment for me to consider that.

For me the idea of being a coach is to be in service to other people.  To see the light in another person and help them see it in themselves feels like important work.  This is my journey and I will work hard and strive to make the world a better place one conversation at a time.

jb

And because I used the picture…

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Come What May

Come What May

 

I recently had a Career Planing session @ work with my Manager.  Every quarter I meet with my Manager and we talk about my personal goals, my work goals and what training I need to take to achieve my goals.

I’ve always enjoyed this process… well “enjoyed” is the wrong word, I get value of out of the process but it can be overwhelming to try to plan the unknown. I’m a person who has (does) struggle with anxiety so planning for an unknown future can be nerve racking. A great example would be if the “Plan” is that I eventually move into a Management position, not knowing if that’s the best option, not knowing when exactly it’s happening is going to be a problem for me. I can quickly lose sight of the present and start to worry about when the planned future will happen and if it will be exactly like I imagine it to be.

This anxiety actually posed a real problem for me at work a couple of years ago. I had the opportunity to back fill my Manager while she was away on Maternity Leave. I got so anxious about whether or not I would do a good job and what was going to happen to my career when she got back that it actually impacted my health. I gained 12 lbs, I couldn’t sleep and I was drinking more than I was comfortable with. Basically this “opportunity” was taking it’s toll on me and I was counting down the days until my Manager was back. Once she returned to work I thought everything would go back to normal… nope! I went from feeling anxious about the future to feeling resentful about the year that had passed. I felt undervalued as though my internal sacrifices (that no one knew about) were not being acknowledged. I realize now how strange that sounds.

In hindsight this was all my doing, my personal expectations of myself and others were not reasonable.  It wasn’t until I began studying to become a Coach through The Newfield Network that I began to unravel my part in all of this internal drama.  When I could see the Observer I was and the story I was telling myself I had a sense of clarity about what had happened and what was coming down the road.

I’ve mentioned “The Present Moment” in other posts and this was the big lesson for me.  Focus on living the best life I can now and that will influence the future I want.

My career planning sessions have changed these days, and I happy to say for the better.  Now the focus is more about the activities I’m doing today.  I’m focused on the journey, not the destination.  Are there still moments of panic and anxiety about the future?  You bet, but those moments don’t define me, they remind me that the Path to Mastery (a topic for another post) is about appreciating every moment along the way.

It’s funny, the less I worry about the future, the more excited I am about it.

jb

 

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Cogito Ergo Sum Inked

I think most people are familiar with the latin phrase ‘Cogito Ergo Sum’ which means ‘I Think Therefore I Am’.  It’s from Rene Descartes ‘Discourse on Method’ from 1637.

What very few people would know is that it was also my 1st tattoo.  I got it when I was 16 and had just discovered Albert Camus, Jean Paul Sartre and of course Descartes.  In one fragile year of intellectual discovery I effectively shut down my emotional self and discarded any possibility of a spiritual life.  I reasoned that all I needed was to trust in myself and my logic and if I couldn’t see it, it wasn’t real.  I became one of those very annoying “Bullet Point Atheists”, my arguments were literally only skin deep.

It didn’t take long before I realized that I didn’t have the knowledge to back up my arrogance and I stopped showing people my tattoo.  I felt like a fraud to have that phrase on my arm when I didn’t even really understand what it meant.  The idea of what it represented was what I was attracted to.  I didn’t want to acknowledge my emotional side (too painful) and as far as spirituality went, I felt truly abandoned by any kind of God.  That only left logic and reason.

My teen years were challenging,  it sucks to be a teenager no matter who you are but I don’t think I had the tools to handle the challenges that came up.  My feelings were dark and depressive during that time, I know I retreated into a world of reason & knowledge, not to learn but to hide.  I couldn’t handle the loneliness of those years and I reacted to the environment I was in by shutting out anything that could hurt me.

For 13 years that tattoo was a real regret on my part.  Whenever anyone saw it I would pray they didn’t know what it meant, I would always make up random meanings for it to change the conversation.  I was so embarrassed of what it represented, while I felt like a fraud when I was younger, I felt like an pretentious idiot as I as got older.  I realized that trying to live in just one domain (mind) for so long was limiting my growth and joy.  If I wanted to really engage with the world I needed to be comfortable in my own skin, and that meant learning to be comfortable with my emotions.  It also meant I had to get that damn tattoo covered!

Well the tattoo is long gone, I had it covered by a Japanese pagoda 10 years ago.  It took a while to step into my emotional self and feel okay, it’s a work in progress, but the work is really satisfying.  In the last 18 months I have really found my spiritual side.  Meditation has become a very important part of my life.  Through meditation I’m feeling the connections all around me and it’s amazing.

I think about that 16 year old kid who got a dumb tattoo to show the world he didn’t need to be vulnerable or to be protected.  I used to feel sorry for him but I don’t feel like that anymore, I’m proud of him.  That tattoo was his shield and I‘m proud that he did what he had to do and he made it through.

jb