The Coach’s Alphabet (vol. II): E = Engagement

Doodle EIn working with private individuals on general health, wellness, and life balance, as well as with corporate clients on cultural change and organizational effectiveness, engagement is a popular ‘buzz’ word. Tied into the concepts of mindfulness and empowerment, historically the word engage comes from the French engagier, meaning, “to bind by promise, oath or pledge.” The definition evolved to include “to attract and occupy the attention of” and “to employ and secure for aid,” and became used in both the contexts of a promise to marry and to enter into conflict/combat (the relationship between the two is worthy of a column of its own.) In this post we ponder engagement in terms of an active focus on something that attracts our attention, stimulates our interests, and satisfies our need for connection.

When did you last feel charmed by or enamored with someone, captivated by a moment, or fully immersed and invested in an experience?  

Often in our hectic lives filled constant distractions and multitasking, such rapt attention is only experienced in response to a crisis, where some unexpected occurrence suddenly requires all of our energy and focus. Generally it is something that needs to be fixed – your car, your relationship, your health, your career, or your financial situation. Like any squeaky wheel, when something goes wrong and starts to have a negative impact it then becomes a priority. But, what if you took the time to identify what in your life is worthy of your pro-active attention and engagement just for sheer pleasure and fulfillment? You can revisit an old hobby, start something new you’ve always wanted to try, or expand your investment in something you are only halfheartedly doing.

Seven years ago I was missing a sense of engagement in my life and looked for some sort of activity that offered a challenging goal and structure for achievement—as a result I entered a PhD program. Admittedly, this is a bit extreme, and unless obtaining a terminal degree (and terminal debt) is on your bucket list, I would suggest getting involved in a non-profit, learning to play an instrument or speak a language, or committing to regular date nights or play dates with loved ones. Regardless of whether it is a creative project, physical activity, professional accomplishment or just mindfully enjoying a great meal or pleasant walk, allow yourself to be fully engaged in the process and charmed by the possibilities.

When you pursue the value of engagement in one area of your life, your relationship with all other areas are bound to become more engaging as well.

For myself, now that my doctoral dissertation is done and my doctorate complete, I will need to seek out something (or someone) new with which to become engaged. Maybe it is time to adopt another dog.

If you want to brainstorm some ideas for how you can increase the value of engagement in your life, please contact me (stacey@theCoach4you.com) to arrange a complimentary 30-min coaching session via phone.

StaceySignature

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The Coach’s Alphabet (vol. II): D = Delight

Doodle DThe Coach’s Alphabet is a dictionary of values, as I believe that living our values is the key to living a life of value. Can we include delight as value? It is a feeling, a mood, an experience…but a value, I don’t know for sure. What I do know is that I want more of it—more moments of intense happiness, pleasure, satisfaction, and joy flavored with a bit of lightheartedness and whimsy.

I have noticed that I often experience delight when I fix something small or resolve a minor problem using wit or ingenuity. Years ago I was working as a temporary assistant in an office where the phone was ringing incessantly as the person on the other end was attempting to send a fax to our phone number. My boss rolled her eyes, told me that this happens all the time and instructed me to pick up the phone, wait for the annoying beeping sound and then hang-up. This continued to happen multiple times a day for multiple days. Finally, it occurred to me to use the conference function to transfer the call to the fax line—wallah—message received. The fact that the solution was so simple yet no one else had thought of it just made the moment that much more delightful.

I recently felt delight when, after putting it off for days, I called my cell phone carrier to resolve a data-overage issue. Prepared for a long hold time and contentious conversation, I was delighted to find that not only did I get connected to an agent almost immediately, but she was pleasant, capable, and willing to help find a resolution. I don’t know if she found delight in her job, but the fact that she did not come across as wallowing in bitterness and regret for the life choices that placed her there, enabled me to set aside any of my assumptions and projections that would have blocked the portal to my delight.

IMG_5190I find daily delight in taking care of my dog, and not just because he is exceptionally adorable, but because he is joyful, appreciative, and on occasion seems to find delight in me.

Where do you find delight? Is it some creative or athletic experience, is it being entertained or entertaining others, is it solving problems or taking care of someone else? Whatever it is, do it more often and allow yourself to feel it more deeply—even if only for one delightful moment.

If I can be of assistance helping you discover or revive your delight, please contact me at Stacey@theCoach4you.com for a complimentary coaching call. It will be my absolute delight to talk with you.

 

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The Coach’s Alphabet (vol. II): C = Celebration

cOften, when you see a list of values, celebration is not traditionally included. But as I am not a traditional coach, I thought that I would feature it in this holiday edition of The Coach’s Alphabet.

The way I use values with my clients is to identify and integrate certain elements, principals, standards, and beliefs that add value and meaning to day-to-day life; elements that when marginalized or missing altogether, have a negative impact on one’s well-being.

To celebrate means to observe, commemorate, and rejoice; behaviors that we make a conscious effort to engage in during holidays and major milestone moments, but sometimes neglect to do on a daily basis. Celebration requires appreciation and gratitude, which are significant values unto themselves, but it also entails a bit more of a dynamic energy and assertive investment.

Although clients often seek me out to create concrete changes in their careers, finances, health, & relationships – the underlying motivation is generally wanting to increase their feelings of balance, fulfillment, vitality, and purpose. For that, they have to learn to better understand and more readily celebrate who they are; AND for that, they need to embrace and honor their values.

On this holiday weekend as some people celebrate Passover, some celebrate Easter, and we all celebrate Spring, we can take this opportunity to reflect on the aspects of our lives and our selves that are ready to blossom and celebrate those parts that are already in full bloom.

Happy Holidays & Happy Everyday,

StaceySignature

PS – If you want some support in living a life worth celebrating everyday, please contact me for a sample coaching session. I love what I do and I would love to help you.

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The Coach’s Alphabet (vol II): B = Benevolence

Confucius taught that benevolence is the highest virtue, ranking above righteousness, honesty, loyalty, etiquette, and love for family. Without a kind disposition, the inclination of good will, and the sincere desire to be of service, the other virtues will not come easily or authentically.

We are complex people living in complex times. How we respond to life is in direct relationship to our personal circumstances, which are often in flux. Our actions are also influenced by the tenor of our times, which seems to be dominated by fear, hostility, and disorder. Such uncertainty tends to make us reactionary, proprietary, and accusatory. Wouldn’t we be better served by patience, empathy, and curiosity?

Feelings of gratitude and good will are magnified during the holidays, as is the stress caused by family gatherings, winter travel, loneliness, and the pressure of a ticking clock as new year begins and we contemplate past resolutions that went unfulfilled.

Be kind to yourself…for the more compassionate you are to yourself, the more inclined you will be to offer understanding to others. And be kind to others, because with each smile, good deed, or unexpressed criticism you will expand your capacity to treat yourself with gentle appreciation. When someone is rude, appears ignorant, or fails to meet expectations, notice your reaction and the impact it has on how you feel in the moment–for that attitude will flavor the rest of your day.

How might things be different if you were to offer them the benefit of the doubt? Maybe they are not a horrible person but a decent person having a horrible day. And when you screw up and your inner monologue is dominated with thoughts like “you idiot” or “why can’t you do better,” stop, take a breath, and re-frame your thoughts.

Remember: mistakes can be opportunities, difficult people can be teachers, and benevolence can be the key to enjoying life’s other virtues.

Sincerely,

StaceySignature

Reflection Questions:

  • Where do you naturally fall on the spectrum of benevolence?
  • What image, person (real or fictional) or action comes to mind when you think about benevolence?
  • When have you been the recipient of benevolence?
  • Are the decisions you are making, moving you towards or away from benevolence?
  • In what ways (in action or attitude) will you be more benevolent to yourself?
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The Coach’s Alphabet (vol. II): A = Alignment

aFive Secrets to Achieving Alignment

The Coach’s Alphabet is a tool designed to draw attention to the values in your life that give your life value. It is intended to stimulate reflection on how well your thoughts and behaviors align with your priorities and principles. To that end, Volume II begins with an exploration of alignment.

Like the functioning of your automobile or the condition of your spine, you often don’t notice or appreciate the alignment of your values until they are so far out of whack that your movement feels restricted and uncomfortable. Often, it isn’t until you find yourself spinning in circles or not being able to stand tall in your choices that the consequences of being out of alignment with your values become so great that you are willing to take corrective action. Unfortunately, those consequences often come in the form of some external stimulus such as a break-up, accident, diagnosis, or loss of a loved-one.

During my time as an outplacement consultant I worked with many people who hated their jobs so much that they were experiencing symptoms of emotional and physical dis-ease. Yet, it wasn’t until they got laid-off that they were able to see the negative impact it was having on their lives. Although unsure of the future, many felt grateful for the circumstance that now forced them to seek an alternative path.

This does not mean that if your work, romantic relationships, or geographic environment is dissatisfying that you need to abandon them to achieve alignment. But I encourage you to identify what values are not being honored and make slight adjustments to incorporate them more into your life. If your boss is not giving you the recognition that you feel you deserve and will help you feel motivated and engaged, then help a friend in need or volunteer somewhere where they will appreciate your contribution…or you can always seek out another professional mentor to help you develop your skills and plan your next career move. If the last time you remember feeling real joy was when you were sitting on a beach reading, playing in a softball league, taking music lessons, or going out with friends, then make sure your schedule aligns with your need for recreation.

Unlike the mechanic who fixes your car or the chiropractor who adjusts your spine, living in alignment with your values cannot be outsourced (although hiring a coach will certainly help). Embracing and integrating your values helps all of the other pieces of your life line-up in ways that reduce resistance, stress, and overwhelm opening up space for balance, simplicity, and wonder. Below are five tips to help you achieve alignment.

  1. Appreciation – Celebrate what is working well and what in your life is already aligned with your values and contributing to your well-being.
  2. Longing – Acknowledge what you really want and consciously direct your energy there.
  3. Integrity – Don’t tolerate obstacles to your alignment (e.g.: negative people, a broken appliance that is easily fixed or replaced, the voice in your head that tells you that you “should” be doing something else.)
  4. Graciousness – Give people (including yourself) the benefit of the doubt. Being kind, receptive, and pleasant keeps resistance at bay.
  5. Never-say-never – When your intuition tells you what you need but your intellect says it is impossible, ask yourself “What if?” What if I did have time to go see a movie in the middle of the week? What if I did take the lunch break I’m entitled to rather than eating at my desk? What if I did sign up for a drawing, writing, or cooking class at the local community college?

Alignment is not about following the path you are on, but making sure the path you are on is leading you to your chosen destination.

Wishing you the value of alignment and the alignment of your values,

Stacey

  • If you would like a free values assessment sheet to help you identify what values you most value, email me at Stacey@theCoach4you.com and one will mbucket list bucket (jpg)agically appear in your inbox.
  • Want to make sure 2015 is a year of alignment, join my BUCKET LIST COACHING  CIRCLE, a 6-month accountability group consisting of two monthly conference calls (or one call and one group meeting for those near Manchester, CT) to provide you a new perspective and and a concrete plan to create the life you want. Starting mid-January

 

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The Coach’s Alphabet: Z = Zeal

IMG_5525Please don’t let the limited options for values that begin with the letter Z make you think that I write about Zeal with anything less than the intense enthusiasm, fervor, or devotion it deserves.  I don’t know if I can say that The Coach’s Alphabet has been a noble passion, but it has been an ardent endeavor that initially started as a marketing device to concisely explain the benefits of coaching.

First, I developed The ABC’s of Coaching: Accountability, Balance & Choice.  Approaching the project with a sense of Discovery, it started to generate its own Energy.  As I moved through the alphabet, writing about values became really Fun and its simplicity introduced an element of Grace to my work.   I tried to weave some Humor through each post but was committed to maintaining the Integrity of my mission to help you find Joy through Knowing yourself better and to create positive change from a perspective of Love rather than lack.

Exploring the values that bring Meaning to all that you do is a process that Nourishes the soul within and leads to Opportunity in the external world.  Befriending your values prepares you to pursue your Passion and attain Quality results and relationships.  It is through honoring your values that you will earn the Recognition you deserve and reduce the Stress you don’t.  Your values connect you to a personal Truth that helps you to better Understand yourself and others.  By becoming familiar with the Variety of values that add to the Wonder of your life, some of the mundane and even exasperating aspects of life can suddenly seem eXtraordinary.  And from there, well, you just can’t help but adopt aa Youthful attitude that helps you go after what you’ve always wanted with confidence and Zeal.

IMG_5409 - Version 2It has been an honor to share Volume 1 of The Coach’s Alphabet with the individual clients, the creative groups, and the organizational teams that I have coached, and all of those who have responded to these columns to let me know that you found value in my exploration of values.  Thank you all for adding so much value to my life and enabling me to pursue my vocation with Zeal.

* Click on any of the above highlighted words to take you to the blog post that explores that value. And if you want to explore how these values show up in your life, contact me for a complimentary 30-min coaching call (Stacey@theCoach4you.com).

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The Coach’s Alphabet: Y = Youthful

Dana, Mark and StaceyGeorge Bernard Shaw quipped that, “Youth is wasted on the young,” but I disagree. I think the young utilize youth quite well. Can you imagine navigating all of the new and difficult challenges of childhood (let alone adolescence) without the tools of youthful exuberance, unrestricted curiosity, and a passion for play? If we were not young, open, and fully engaged in every moment, we never would have been able to master the physical and psychological functions required to grow; learn all that the world was trying to teach us; endure the lack of control over our circumstances; nor be so willing to accept the persistent care-taking of those around us. Coincidentally (or not), my adult clients face similar trials-and-tribulations, yet their struggle is made greater because they view life through the lens of maturity where hurdles are obstacles to overcome as opposed to an opportunity to leap.  As adults we often adopt an attitude of, “I should know better,” which can generate guilt and frustration, making it seem like whatever we do is never enough. When we respond to others as if “they should know better,” well, that is even more frustrating and can lead to them feeling shamed and becoming defensive.

Childhood 1 (jpg)I wonder how external actions and internal responses might shift if we looked at life through a more youthful lens. Could we see that the unknown is not only exciting, but to be expected? Would we recognize opportunities to be curious about what might be, instead of focusing on what is missing? What if feeling a lack of control did not immediately trigger angst, but helped to make us more receptive to the insight and support of others?

With age comes wisdom – now we just have to incorporate it as a compliment to, and not a replacement for, our youthful enthusiasm, sense of discovery, and delight in surprises. One of the reasons I incorporate so much of Carl Jung’s depth psychology in my work and writing is that his theories help to not only expand the capacity to tolerate the tension of life’s many paradoxes, but to integrate them in psychologically healthy and emotionally fulfilling ways.  This includes:

  • Finding balance between the desire to be self-sufficient and independent, yet longing to have intimate relationships and belong to a supportive community;
  • The need to develop discipline and responsibility, yet wanting to remain care-free and flexible;
  • Being analytic and decisive as well as emotional and reflective; &
  • Setting conscious intentions while staying open to unconscious instinct.

These are not easy challenges, but neither is learning to walk, talk, or use the potty. Fortunately, all we have to do is dust off some of the old tools and toys from our youth and we can move forward with wisdom that is expanded by whimsy, intelligence that is enhanced by instincts, and decisions that are made from a place of possibility rather than predictability.

Even though our bodies are older, our brains are filled with excessive information, and our perspective is clouded by experience, the lens of youth is still available to us. As adults we have the power to look at life any way we choose – now we just have to try the different lenses and decide if the view is better like this, or like that.
With much wisdom & whimsy,

 
PS – If you are curious about what new perspectives are available to you, please contact me for a complimentary discovery session. Stacey@theCoach4you.com.

Peruse thecoach4you.wordpress.com for my posts on: Accountability Balance, Choice, Discovery, Energy,  Fun, Grace, Humor, Integrity, Joy, Knowing, Love, Meaning, Nourish, Opportunity, Passion, Quality,  Recognition, Stress, Truth, Understanding, Variety, Wonder & eXtraordinary.

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