Category Archives: Coaching

The Wisdom of SpongeBob SquarePants

SpongeBob SquarePants (character)
SpongeBob SquarePants (character) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s funny how life gives us mirrors and stories when we need them.

I was trying to think about how to convey the message of today’s blog in a refreshing way:

Surround Yourself with People Who Respect You for the Right Reason

Most of us, know that the company we keep in life, work and relationships makes a difference in how successful we can be in attaining our goals.

As I was writing this, my sons were watching an episode of SpongeBob SquarePants where Mr. Crabs’ daughter, Pearl, comes to work.  Pearl sets about changing everything at the Crusty Crab in incredibly goofy ways that are costing stingy Mr. Crabs more and more money.

Finally, things are so bad, Mr. Crabs tells SpongeBob that he has to fire Pearl.  Just as SpongeBob is about to fire her, she starts crying, and says I can’t take it anymore, because nothing is working. SpongeBob tries to console her for doing her best.  She’s no, I’ve been doing my best to get fired from this job and it’s not working!

Most of us know when we are in a situation that is not the best one for us or the other people involved in the situation.  It’s worst when we think that by standing up for ourselves, we are going to have to hurt someone we love.

As SpongeBob SquarePants showed today, if there is one area, where we should be wary of flowing with everything around us, it’s in the area of our closest relationships and who we choose to do our life’s work with.

If there is an area in your life that isn’t moving in the direction you would like, take a look at your relationships in that area.  Are you trying to please someone in a way that doesn’t help anyone?

There may be some area in your life where you have to let yourself be fired or fire someone else who is not working with you for the right reason.

Do Others Discover Themselves Through Your Words?

The Perfume Maker, by Rodolphe Ernst
The Perfume Maker, by Rodolphe Ernst (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the spirit of this week’s focus on attraction, I’d like to share a story from my work with a socially responsible business owner.

Today I was working with an amazingly talented client who is a perfumer.  We’ve been working on expanding what I call his sustaining story.   As part of that work with me, he is collecting testimonials from people who have used his hand-made custom perfumes since he began selling them in 1998.  I have been so impressed with the many letters he has received.

This is an excerpt from one of my favorites that he shared with me today:

I believe I discovered your fragrance in San Francisco. . . I have been using it ever since. 

People say it smells like me : )

I cannot smell it on me anymore, I’m so used to it but everyone I know, knows it’s me.

I was at a party a few months back and an old friend of mine who I had not seen in years, said he knew I was there because he could smell me… so he sought me out to say hello, and I was in fact there! 

I often wonder what I will do if you and your perfume ever go away. I don’t ever want to be without it.  It’s become a part of me.

Thanks so much! You are quite simply brilliant.

Perfume urn in the Caron shop in Paris, France.
Perfume urn in the Caron shop in Paris, France. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

He has many more letters like this from the people he says naturally appreciate what he creates.  One of his clients swears the scent attracted his future wife to him.  Another client smelled one of his perfumes on a passerby in Paris and followed the women until she told her how to get the perfume.

My impression is that his inspired fragrances help people to become and see more of themselves.

That’s the same effect that great writing has too.

It’s almost as if we wear the words of a great writer on our soul.

Aren’t there certain lines from poems, quotes and certain imaginary vistas that feel like they are ours as much as the author who wrote them?

Have you ever had the experience of someone finding themselves through the words you have written?

I have a strong intuition that your words just may be a perfume or elixir for the soul for your readers, regardless of whether you ever know it or not!

Does Your Bucket List Motivate You?

Today, I was watching and listening to a motivational video talking about the importance of making a list of the things we want to accomplish in life and realized that I had stopped believing in the importance of what are now called bucket lists.

The reason I stopped caring about these type of lists is that I had accomplished so many of the things on my list, and they hadn’t brought the kind of nirvana that I expected.  In fact, I still feel like I’m muddling through life like the vast majority of people, despite achieving goals that I had once thought impossible.

As I’ve aged, the most precious commodity to me has become time.  I realize that there is less and less of it left in my life.  For me, I don’t want to run around chasing elusive goals just to be able to check off yet another To Do list.

In fact, there has been one major goal on my bucket list for the last four years, which has been to slow down my life and be present for all of life’s little moments with my kids.

I also looked at a magnet on my refrigerator — We Plan — God Laughs.

Yet, for all my skepticism about bucket lists, without having written what I call a dream scene about twenty years ago, I probably wouldn’t be spending my time watching my two boys grow in to men or writing stories and blogs with my two dogs as companions or enjoying the honor of coaching socially conscious entrepreneurs. Writing down my longings in lists and journals had an effect on my choices.

As I thought how the boys will be leaving home in a few years, and my dogs unfortunately won’t live forever, nor will many of the older people who are so important in my life now, it became clear maybe it’s time for a new bucket list.

I never thought much about what I’d do after I reached the age that I am now.  When you’re young life seems to go on forever. Knowing what I do now . . . that the achievement of my dreams is not a static thing, but an ever-changing evolution,  I’m ready to start dreaming about my journey for ten and twenty years from now.

I’m also looking back at the dreams of my younger years when I was 15, 21, 25, 35, and 40.   I’m grateful for that young and naive self for having dreams and desires and taking the risks to make them come true, even when I completely failed to reach some of them.

Here are a few questions for your contemplation today:

  1. Do you have any goals that are motivating you now?
  2. Is is time to add some new ones to your list?
  3. How are you now living a once longed for dream that you might be taking for granted?

Here’s to the wonder of all the ways in which we create our destiny.  Even something as simple as writing a list of all the goals, relationships and adventures we want in life.  It is actually possible to write and sketch out our destiny.

Attracting Destiny Partners for “Success”

There are two ways in which many people tend to approach the idea of destiny.

  1. Some people think we don’t have to go out of our way to create our highest destiny; it happens to us irregardless of what we choose to do.
  2. Other people feel that it is entirely up to each of us to create our highest destiny, so we don’t have to plan or strategize our way forward in life.

Of course, you can also believe a bit of both, like I do.

Many Americans tend to follow the idea that it’s up to us to create our future, and that if something isn’t going well in our lives, we just have to work harder.   Like the picture on the right, we create a “map” to success in our minds.  It’s just a matter of time before we achieve success with this linear or map driven approach.

When you look around at the solutions to our current American and global economic problems, most of the solutions have to do with this idea that we are the masters of our destiny, and we just have to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps to reach “Success”.

There’s nothing wrong with the idea of working hard, except:

  • if you’re working hard for an idea of success that is flawed.
  • if you aren’t as powerful as you think you are, and aren’t actually competent to succeed.
  • if the world is changing so drastically that the old way of doing things just doesn’t work anymore.

Probably like most of you and most of my coaching clients,  I have worked hard to create my own destiny at many times in my life.  This is part of life.

But there is a problem with us humans — we tend to make mistakes, sometimes big ones.  Collectively, we have been making a large negative impact on the earth and its ecosystems in ways that an individual or even a bunch of bright individuals can’t solve.  In thousands of years on this planet, we still have not found a way to end wars, poverty, hunger, etc. because individual or national self-interest is not enough.

The older that I’ve become, the more I see something larger than humanity, pulling us along.  I’ve been learning to surrender my own ideas of what my highest destiny will be.  I tend to trust people who are not so rah, rah about our individual effort and who are more concerned with how we collaborate. Of course, saying that collaboration will solve all problems can also be a trap.  How often have you seen committees design a great product or a new paradigm?

My belief is that in many cases, a better approach for creating “success” in our lives is to work with the energies around us and attract destiny partners.  I know it’s a woo-woo idea to work with our energy to attract good into our life, but I’ve seen it work too many times to doubt that our personal energy state matters.

Now, how does this relate to writing?

When you look at great stories, whether in books or movies,  many of the best stories involve the main character and a partner or set of partners who find a way to save the day or conversely tell a story of the  lack of the right partners to heal the situation. We like to read or watch a story where something larger than the heroes comes to their aid.   We’ve come to expect that the help comes only after the hero or heroine has surrendered the concept of success.

The movie, The Hunger Games is a recent example of this type of story, where being strong isn’t enough.  The heroine Katniss Everdeen gets help the more she surrenders her own success.  Throughout the story, she also has several destiny partners come to her aid.

It’s the same in our lives. When we surrender to the flow or Tao of life, and use our best judgment on what to do next, Grace course corrects our lives for us.  Sometimes that course correction isn’t easy.  Other times it is.

For today, here are a few questions to ponder:

  1. When have your best “destiny partners” come into your life — when you actively seek them out or when you are in a relaxed or surrendered state?
  2. Do your stories include destiny partners for the main character?  Sometimes these are called Allies.
  3. The climax of a story often involves a situation where the main character can not solve the problem at hand, and ends up relying on a greater power to move through to the conclusion of the book.  What is the unsolvable dilemma in your story?
  4. How could you flow more and push less with your destiny?

Who Are Your Destiny Partners?

A Destiny Partner is a term that I came up with a few years ago, when I was working with some coaching clients and had an inspiration to help them look at their life differently. There is something about looking back at your life and looking for helpers in our life’s journey that gives many of us comfort.

You don’t have to believe in destiny to marvel at how sometimes people show up in our lives that are extremely important to our personal growth.

I’ve found there is an even more powerful question than asking who are our destiny partners for many of us, and that is:

Has there ever been a time in your life when you were a destiny partner for someone else? 

More than likely at some point in your life you have shown up in someone else’s life just when they needed a friend, a mentor, a colleague, a spouse or just a person who could listen.  It can feel like synchronicity, but often we don’t notice the importance of what we do for others.  This can be an incredibly empowering question for many people to answer.

Being that it’s Good Friday, I have another question to contemplate.

Does God or the Divine need us to be a destiny partner for goodness to come into this world? 

I believe the answer is yes. New Agey types,  including myself, talk about co-creation with the divine, and that sounds wonderful most of the time.  But sometimes the reality of what it means to be a destiny partner for the divine isn’t so easy.

I see the disciples and apostles of Jesus as his destiny partners.  Without them and the writers of the New Testament, and so many countless others, we would not know about Jesus’ life.  Perhaps a few mystics would feel Jesus life and presence, but most of us would never have heard his story.

Many of Jesus’ disciples were not too impressive on the day of his death which is of course commemorated today.   Interestingly, several of Jesus’ women “destiny partners” were with him to the end, and were also the ones that found the empty tomb a few days later.   It took courage and strength of character to be there when everything was falling apart.  As we know, for centuries, being a co-creator or destiny partner for Christianity was a dangerous thing to do.

Being a destiny partner to the divine and the truth, can still be dangerous, not only for Christians around the world, but also for Tibetan Buddhists, peaceful Islamic protestors striving for social justice across the Mideast, and many others of all faiths and even to those who are not aligned with religion but Imagine peace like John Lennon. For most of us, our lives are not going to end up in a world-changing spiritual story or a dangerous one.  I hope you never have to risk your life to live your destiny.  But you might!

Being a destiny partner is a high calling, even when we don’t see it.

For me, my children are my most important destiny partners. Who are yours?

For just ten minutes, think about who is and who has been helping you to grow as a person throughout your life.  Maybe more importantly, give yourself credit for all the people you have been serving through your life and how you embody goodness in the world, and without you the world would be a less divine place.

Focus on Your Strengths as You Write

Every so often, it feels appropriate to talk about my experience as a consultant and how that might apply to writing.

Today, I’d like to share an idea that I first heard 6 years ago, when I was working for a non-profit that was part of the National Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP).  I was taking a class on executive coaching from a woman who had successfully coached hundreds of CEOs to become more innovative and profitable.

She surprised me by teaching us that manufacturing was suffering in America because its leaders focused too much on eliminating weaknesses and not enough on expanding strengths.  Focusing on weaknesses was leading manufacturers to become commodity creators and driving down costs.  A business that focused on expanding its unique strengths stood a much better chance at being innovative and more successful.  Think Apple and Steve Jobs!  Ever since that time, I’ve wondered about coaches who focus so much on weaknesses.

This same idea applies to any of us who wants to write for a living or as a passion.

This idea of knowing our strengths came up again in a recent Shero class where Jen Louden asked us to get 10 people to tell us our strengths.   I asked several people to do this for me, and got some unexpected answers like: you have a flair for fashion and you like shoes.  I hadn’t thought of my love of fun shoes as a strength! However, the best strength was this one by my ex-husband.  Yes, I asked him!  I’m one of those weird people who is better friends with my ex now that we’re not married.  Here’s what he shared:

Since they were young, I've taught my boys to enjoy trees too!

You also have the ability to see the bigger picture.  Some would call it “vision”.  Not all people have that gift.  I have some of that but I’m very task oriented.  I get the crap done, but you see what needs to be done – in a grand style.  This is also your downfall. You see the forest in spite of the trees because you climb atop of the trees to see the forest.  Every now and then you fall from the top of a tree.

Yet, the funny thing was that as I’ve been writing my novel, I have scenes scattered throughout my book where the main characters sit at the top of trees.  And of course, sometimes they fall from them!  Art does imitate life.

So, how does this apply to you?

This next week or so, find some people to tell you what is great about you and your writing.  Then, for the rest of your life focus on getting better at those things.  The weaknesses you’ll always have, and you’ll find a way around them.

To paraphrase ancient Greek wisdom, “Know Thy Strengths!”

Expanding Our Conversation

I’ve been thinking for a while that I’d like to add videos to my blog.  This last weekend, I finally got around to shooting some short videos with my videographer pal Sean Missey. 

Today, I wanted to share a video overview of what I’m going to start doing every week with a weekly video and blog centered around the ideas in my books. 

I’m hoping you will enjoy the videos as much as I enjoyed making them for you!