80 Percent Effective
Michael, a COO of a growing startup in Austin, Texas, is a great guy and a brilliant thinker. He’s been hired by a particular company to bring about a turnaround in management and inevitably the bottom line. The company has experienced a significant loss in revenue over the past few months and it’s now Michael’s job to turn things around. If he fails, the company will fold – end of story.
Michael is about to take the company in a direction that will transform its vision, culture and business structure. There’s no doubt he has what it takes to create this turnaround. However, he’s challenged and stopped with every step he takes. For instance, yesterday he received a memo from his CEO that states all unnecessary expenditures will be cut. There goes any actualization of executive team off-sites to thoroughly discuss and implement what’s required to make this company work.
Michael is stymied and feels like his hands are tied! He is out to rescue the company. That’s what he’s been hired to do. Since joining four months ago, he’s been exploring the underlying foundation upon which to rebuild. He doesn’t want to push too hard for change as the company and executive team is also quite new and pretty fragile. He fears resistance and pushback. Michael retreats from potential conflict or confrontation; unsure whether the executive team will follow his lead. Our coaching conversations lean into what might occur if he steps into his role to a larger degree.
I asked Michael to assess the degree of effectiveness that he brings with him to his job. He answers that he’s about 80% effective. For Michael’s personal and professional development and for the sake of the company, he’s going to have to stretch to 82-85% to fully engage the company in this campaign.
You expected me to say that Michael needs to stretch to 100%, didn’t you? Well, given that for Michael, 80% is within his comfort zone, to leap too far beyond the edge could create a backlash. And, as most of us have experienced, if we push ourselves too hard for change, we end up digging in our own heels, resisting and pushing back. Exploring out just a couple of degrees from the edge of Michael’s comfort zone allows him to experience various dimensions of reality that confront him, without leaving the comfort of his easy chair. From here, he can assess and evaluate any number of strategies that would initiate a greater degree of effectiveness. Though he initially leans out just a bit, he actually expands his comfort zone, engaging his fullest potential to explore and experiment with his capacity to make things happen.
It’s actually rare for leaders to operate at 100% effectiveness. And, my belief is that most companies aren’t even going to hire an individual who brings that degree of effectiveness to the workplace, because they are yet to be capable of that level of success themselves. They don’t yet know how to bring about that level of success. That makes sense!
Quite a few executive clients of mine back away from the edge of their comfort zone because it’s unfamiliar territory. They fear what may be revealed. More to the point, they fear experiencing the inadequacy within their humanity, which no doubt will devastate their egoic identity. Who are they without the suit of armor called ME?
The consequence of avoiding the edge may mean that employees and the company at large are unlikely to fulfill their vision. Executives are human beings, and like most of us, they may miss the point of digging through personal baggage and exposing vulnerabilities, along with the nuggets of GOLD! They play a big game, however more often than not they are unwilling to risk their own personal security in order to remain invulnerable.
Much of Michael’s conversation with me thus far has been how the company is resisting, ignoring or limiting his authority. As his thinking partner, my listening informs me that, on some unconscious level, the company is conspiring to bring Michael to the fullest expression of his essential nature and for him to lead from this place. They won’t budge until he brings more of his empowered self to the table. He is required to empower himself to make those shifts in order to empower others to do the same.
As Michael and I talk, he begins to get the lay of the land within himself and his company. He’s beginning to see how, in many ways, the company is waiting for him to step into the very practice he’s going to require of them. He sees now that he has to be the role model for change.
Regardless of how high up in the ranks of leadership one climbs, each individual is required to face their fears and risk vulnerability, only in service to their vision and life purpose. I love working with Michael because he is clearly aware of a larger vision for his company and he has a knowing that this is essential for the company to thrive, or even to survive.
The Dilemma for Michael: he can stay within his 80% effectiveness and capitulate to the company’s foot-dragging, while still maintaining his reputation as an effective leader. Or, he can amp up a few degrees of effectiveness, risking a loss of safety and security. He may be vulnerable to the possibility that people won’t like him, may confront him and perhaps drastically push back. Yet change is required to save the company. He’s considering his options.
Michael didn’t get to be a COO by being a coward. He’s talented, highly effective and has what it takes to create this turnaround. He has no idea yet the fullest potential available to him just beyond that 80%. I’m happy to report that he sees this as an exciting adventure! Wha-hoo!
Generating Momentum – The Art of Tending Fire
Clients of mine, whose desire it is to have a thriving business, find it challenging to get out of their own way. Many of them are budding coaches who are passionate about their work, yet carry lifetimes of patterning that continually reminds them of how failure met them at every turn. Repeatedly, dreams of achievements are dashed, and they are left to their own undoing. Inevitably, the patterns of lifetimes ending in death leave us to remember our inadequacies to succeed in the face of death.
Exploring current circumstances, clients’ themes, and how they are tethered to lifelong patterns, make easy work of mining the root source of those beliefs, which generated the manifestation of resistance, withdrawal and playing small. It’s a wonderful game of seeking that which has been present and effective yet out of site and overlooked literally for lifetimes.
Last night, while awake, it dawned on me that I have a session with my client Rusty today, and that I’ll need to put on my running shoes for this session. This image made me smile. Working with Rusty has been a gentle and slow building of an inner momentum within her being. Like all clients, I’ve found thus far, regardless of their station in life and their achievements, she/they are all tender and vulnerable beings. Requesting coaching is out of their comfort zones, especially for Americans who are taught to be independent and that needing others proves them to be weak. It takes time to cultivate trust – within the client, of their own capacity to self-empower, and to also trust that their coach will not make them explore and face the depths of failures and weaknesses. Engaging someone like Rusty into a self-study process that explores the source of her current belief system, which manifest her current conditions and has held her hostage for lifetimes – well, it’s an art form, similar to tending fire.
A fire tenders’ job is to bring life to the being called fire, nurturing it to its brightest and fullest expression. This is what we do with our clients. And, this is what clients do with us coaches, too.
Putting a flame to tender twigs and leaves starts it all off. Shall we use a blowtorch or match? The right amount of presence and mindfulness to what is will make the process effortless from the start. Also, creating enough space so that air can fuel the flame and engage the energy within the leaves and twigs is essential. Loading up the session with more than my client can manage exhausts them, and they leave with no energy to remember how they were enlivened for too brief a time. Gentle blowing to engage – too much will put the flame out.
Throughout our work together, Rusty has cultivated an ability to sort through leaves, twigs and branches for deadwood. Deadwood has no fuel left for any internal fire to burn brightly. As Rusty chooses with more care those thoughts and beliefs that contribute to her fire, her flame kindles a spark within, which has been there all along; though smothered almost to extinction by patterns of beliefs, which continually reminded her that she had no right to shine at all.
Clients like Rusty, who return after years away from coaching, make my days happy! Because of our ongoing relationship, as she grows and generates momentum to self-empower herself toward greater degrees of fulfillment, well, it means I have to meet her – with my running shoes on; keeping pace with her own self-generated drive. Over time, Rusty and others bring to our session that which fuels our fire for excellence. Together we continually tend a fire that burns away old debris, allowing only the purest of flames of our essential nature to be ablaze!
There is no distinction between Fire Tender and Fire. There is no distinction between Coach and Client.
In the moment, both are on the edge of their seat – on the edge of their comfort zone. Simultaneously, each is expanding their bandwidth of awareness, cultivating unknown territory into the life-giving ground of being that inevitably becomes the foundation and framework of the momentum that is built through building.
I do my best work as a coach when the territory my client is inviting me into, is unknown, even desolate. This is their journey, yet they’ve asked me to be their guide, their thinking partner.
As coach and client, what is required to venture forth in this manner?
Curiosity and fascination; Courage; Faith, Patience, Trust and Knowing that all that we encounter is part and parcel of humanness. The art of tending fire requires the belief that we are here to experience that which presents itself in this moment. We are one with the fire of life. We are presence, synergy, balance, harmony, mindfulness and LIGHT.
Being Successful at Living Someone Elses Illusion
One of the fundamental truths I’ve been living with in my life is that I’m simply not enough and will never be enough. I can never do enough because I can never be enough – you get the picture.
Every day, I fail to bring about the magical miracle outcome that I hope will happen through completing ordinary tasks. The hope is unfulfilled. I’ve come to resist doing anything, or completing anything, because the evidence is that I will face the emptiness of unfulfilled expectations,… and I hate that feeling.
Empty of magic; empty of miracles; death of a dream; incessant hope that is unfulfilled, I watch as I despair with the perpetual emptiness that greets me at the end of every trip to town, every email session, every completion of a blog. The wish for success – work and prosperity – is attached to the belief that something is lacking. And all fingers are pointing at me – there’s something lacking in me.
Spiritually, I know that I’m Divine Presence incarnate and if that’s true then I have no doubt that I’m worthy of my desire for work that fulfills me and brings prosperity. This isn’t currently present in my life, which means something is wrong – again, all fingers point to me. My job is to uncover and unconceal a belief pattern that is juxtaposed to the truth of my Divine Presence.
Through muscle testing I’m able to converse with my self. I recover the logic and reason a three year old child used to understand her reality. Given the dysfunctional environment she was raised in, she came to believe she will never be enough and that she can never do enough because she can’t ever be enough. She is powerless to bring about a change in the circumstance in her environment. She is destined to repeat this pattern for decades.
Having the wisdom, experience and the knowledge to have this conversation with myself today, obviously reveals that as an adult I am enough and can do enough to bring about amazing outcomes; however …
If I find my emotional self continually avoiding tasks and projects as ordinary as going to town and back so as to avoid what I’ll be facing upon my return, I then have to take this expedition into emptiness to find the belief I made to be true, but which continually sabotages and thwarts the fullest expression of my essential self. So I take the journey.
The emptiness the three year old could not fill through her own presence of being is still here, experienced yet unfulfilled. For her whole life, she’s looked to others to fill that emptiness. She/I now know that has never worked in the past, nor will it ever work.
In this exploration, I touch on all that I’ve shared above. I see how I came to create the level of success I now allow and understand that this three year old child’s essential belief about herself is still embedded deep within my psyche. There is no capacity for greater fulfillment as long as this belief – that I will never be enough, is in place. I will continue to fail to bring about a different outcome because I can never do enough because I will never be enough.
I have no doubt that in past lives – my own or my ancestor’s, that I failed to survive. I died because I couldn’t do enough to save myself and perhaps others. So, again I came to decide that I must not be enough if I can’t do enough.
Anyone who understands the power of the energy held within beliefs, like the ones I’m sharing with you, gets that I need to detach from these beliefs and past life experiences in order to liberate myself from the inevitable outcome from proceeding as usual.
So, now what?
On page 8 of A Course in Miracles (1985), stands this passage:
“The Escape from darkness [illusion] involves two stages: First, the recognition that darkness [illusion] cannot hide. This step usually entails fear. Second, the recognition that there is nothing you want to hide, even if you could. This step brings escape from fear. When you’ve become willing to hide nothing, you will not only be willing to enter into communion but will also understand peach and joy.”
I’m grateful that I’m well into stage two, and no longer wish to hide, distract myself from, ignore or avoid thoughts that precipitate fear – to any degree. Everything is up for a look-see and a toss out.
As many of you know, I dowse to uncover and clear thought patterns that no longer serve my highest good or my highest truth. I highly recommend this practice to everyone in service to your fullest expression of your essential self.
After a session such as the one I’ve just described, I need to allow time for my body to release the cellular memory that has been within my system, perhaps for lifetimes. Rest, water, walk in nature, perhaps a good cry, all support an energetic detox. It could takes an hour or two, a day, week or years … no one knows how the unfolding of this process will proceed. I will know where I am in the process by the sense of peace and joy that I experience. In this moment, though, I feel liberated from the incessant feeling of emptiness and despair, and, I feel gratitude, which I’ve come to realize is part and parcel to being peace and joy.
Gurdjieff said: “Conscious faith is freedom. Emotional faith is slavery. Mechanical faith is foolishness.”
In moments like these, I practice conscious faith – though sometimes it’s really difficult. Given the choice though, to truly practice what I preach, there is no other choice to make. It all becomes a no-brainer. Not fun, not easy, but just what there is to do.
Blessings on your journey!
Ineptness as a Masterful Teacher
Hank is a young fellow working for a fifteen year old company in Sarasota, Florida. He is frustrated because there is a lack of momentum on the part of his manager to fully implement Hank’s gifts and skills. He’s frustrated because he feels underutilized and unfulfilled. He feels like a racehorse that isn’t given enough rein to really run the race and win. He’s being held back, but why?
More often than not, managers aren’t conscious of how they influence their team. They don’t even know that there’s a way that they are being that limits the success of their direct reports and the success of the company as well. Only sometimes are they holding back their direct reports in service to their own desired outcomes. Usually, they just don’t know.
What Hank hears from his boss is to not push for change too quickly; “Things take time around here. Slow and steady wins the race.” Hank isn’t a tortoise; he’s a thoroughbred. He was hired for his expertise and the results that he’s capable of. He has the passion and capability to make things happen quickly. After two years with this company under this particular manager, Hank has exhausted much of his creative energies fighting his manager for more free rein.
Hanks dilemma isn’t foreign at all to many individuals working under a management style that holds them back rather than supports growth and expansion. How does he bring the best he can to a situation where his manager really doesn’t know how to manage a thoroughbred like Hank? He could quit; however, is there something else that’s happening here for Hank that could bring value to his time in this company? What’s possible here as a learning opportunity?
Through our coaching, Hank gets clearer that he is being exposed to a management style that is ineffective for him and people like him. He wants things to change – he wants his manager to be more of a mentor; he wants to move up in the ranks and be a leader himself in bigger and better ways. He’s stuck behind a plow horse and can’t see his way clear to run the race he believes he is here to win.
A fascinating aspect of Hank’s dilemma is that he is actually in a perfect internship opportunity where he has the most to learn to be a really good leader for people like himself. Rather than focus on how ineffective his manager is, he can focus on two things:
- What’s missing in his manager’s style that if it were present would spur Hank on to greater success?
- What’s available in the current situation that can be of benefit to him and his leadership development? What’s incubating within himself that will bring about a much more powerful leadership style?
I believe that these questions are so essential in business coaching. Sometimes our clients can’t change their circumstance, however they can shift their perspective. I believe that every situation we find ourselves in is an internship – a place to learn what we need to learn. More often than not, like Hank, we didn’t consciously sign up for these internships – these learning opportunities. Thoroughbreds want to run – they don’t want to do anything else – there’s nothing else to do but get to the finish line. However, Hank has an opportunity to learn through experience and take notes on how to be a leader – committed to the best and highest contribution of his team. He can only do this through his current experience.
Being fully immersed in his current circumstances, Hank is having an experience that informs him about his own personal reality, needs and desires; informs him of what capacities he sees is required to work in the environment within which he finds himself; and, informs him of what capacities he wants to cultivate to be the manager he wishes he had for himself, and that he wants to be for others.
Hank’s practice is multidimensional: He has to get out of his normal operating strategies, which include the automatic generation of thoughts and feelings. He has to look around and see how his environment is currently affecting him. He has to think – I mean really think, about what there is to learn right now beyond perceived constraints. He has to accept that what he thought would be the rewards and outcome of this position in this company isn’t forthcoming, yet there are greater rewards far more rich, delicious and sustainable for him to achieve, right here, right now. Hank can get – and is getting, that this is a leadership development opportunity of a lifetime that isn’t available in any MBA program; not even at Harvard Business School. If he can shift his attitude and perspective, Hank will become an exceptional leader and manager.
We all have dreams about what we imagine our careers will reap. More often than not, we see it happening soon, faster and better than it actually occurs. We get frustrated, pissed off, resentful because it doesn’t look the way we imagined it. As we each step into being grown up and adult, realizing that life doesn’t show up the way we want, but shows up the way it does, we have a much greater capacity to choose willingly to explore the opportunities for growth and learning that are right in front of us. By meeting what feels like demands with openness and curiosity we will be given the rewards we anticipated in ways we’ve yet to imagine.
Though it appears as if Hank’s manager is inept at his job, he will actually be one of the greatest contributors to Hank’s development as an up and coming leader. However, it’s up to Hank to fully utilize his time under his guidance to fully benefit from his mentor’s style.
No Peace on Earth!
There will never be peace on Earth. Never! Not as long as humans put themselves in charge of the rightness and wrongness; the goodness and the badness, prosperity and poverty. Nope: It ain’t gonna happen!
Peace will come when we give up doing unto ourselves and others what is hurtful, harmful and destructive. I drink coffee and alcohol, use sugar and eat meat and wheat – all of which are destructive to my system. I use electronics, drive a fossil fueled vehicle and count on many of those organizations who contribute to destruction of the planet, to keep me safe and provide electricity, etc for my comfort. Like the majority of individuals on the planet, 70% of my thoughts are negative. This also contributes to an internal environment that is not peace-full; it is actually dis-eased. I’ve been in relationships with people that cause me constant frustration as my expectations have me distance myself, withdraw and withhold. I feel victimized and want to get back at the individual who broke promises and ignored agreement. Yet, I want peace.
I have come to realize that the world doesn’t need fixing – no peace required. It is perfect and faultless in providing an environment within which we learn and grow through the trials and tribulations of the circumstances we are presented. That is the whole deal with coming into human form and to Earth University; make all the classes easy and effortless and the learning disappears. Therefore, we need the world the way it is, until we need it another way, and then, it will miraculously become that!
From this Universal Consciousness/Spiritual Intelligence perspective, all corporations and business environments are also perfect for getting the learning we’ve come to get. Perfection is always and everywhere. It’s up to us to get smart enough to recognize such perfection and utilize it for the very purpose for which its presented itself.
My perspective, in this moment, is that we are here, enrolled in Earth School – from nursery school to post-graduate work. We are here to become enlightened to greater and greater degrees. There is no end to which one can become enlightened; learning opportunities just keep on coming. It’s as if the more conscious and enlightened we become the more the Universe creates a greater array of challenges for our species. Eckart Tolle said that never before could a species consciously choose evolution. Evolution: Hmmmmm. Is there ever an end to evolution? I dare say there is none!
How do we evolve? We evolve only when we are at the edge of our comfort zone and are pushed or voluntarily push that edge to include what never before was possible, what could never be imagined and, what now is only a twinkle in our creator’s eye! There is no limit to our evolution as long as we keep ourselves in the game.
Okay, so that sounds as if we can take ourselves out of the game. No, we can’t. And you may think you want to because the game in some ways seems to be getting bigger than you, and scarier than you planned on. It may be; however, what’s important is to focus on what’s yours to do. What course are you currently in and what are the objectives of this particular learning opportunity? No, you can’t take yourself out of the game, because, like Dalai Lama’s hotdog, you are one with everything.
I believe that most of us have some investment in saving the planet – that somewhere in our personal or professional vision statement there’s a word or phrase that reflects this compelling desire to do something to make this a better place for all of us. In the world of business, it’s no different. Yet, we are challenged to do the job we are hired to do, at the same time attempting to cultivate an environment that is healthier to work in. At times we throw up our hands and whine “Is there no peace?”
As I began so I shall complete with “No; probably not.” This doesn’t mean that life will be full of despair, frustration and depression – not anymore than it has been up ‘till now. So, learn to be peaceful within, though the circumstances around you are not to your liking; find what causes a lack of peace. Ask yourself what would be valuable to learn, discover or practice in situations within which you feel out of control – this is how you cultivate peace – at least for moments at a time.
I retired from saving the Earth and all the people and beings that live here too. Sometime I forget that I retired, but when I remember it becomes clearer that what’s mine to do, and what’s only mine to do is to let myself off the hook for being only human, which often includes being less than perfect, not fulfilling other people’s expectations and feeling guilty and shameful about my inadequacies and unworthiness. What’s mine to do is to practice kindness to myself and others and to be mindful of what I do that could be harmful, trying to minimize my impact of the earth.
I love peaceful moments and pray that all of us can share peace – if for only moments at a time. They are exquisite!