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.
The “Guilt-Free” Diet
Okay, so I found the diet of all diets! Obviously, by the title you can imagine that it has something to do with being guilt-free while engaging in any number of diets. Are you wanting to lose weight, stop spending, exercise more, quit smoking, spend more time with your sweetie, more time away from electronic companions? I get it! A guilt-free diet may be the way to go!
Throughout my whole life, my body image has been really important to me – the ‘image’ part is one thing but also the health that comes as a consequence of eating well and exercising daily. I’m far less successful than I want to be, yet I’ve been able to maintain my weight within a five pound band-width for about twenty years. Not bad, eh?
Being sixty years old, there’s nothing that will stop my body from doing all those things bodies do as they age: the sagging, creeping and wrinkling – well there’s nothing to be done but to appreciate and value the degree of health and vitality that I have today, as well as continuing to eat well and exercise daily. I’m so grateful to have the stamina and strength that I do have.
However, I keep pushing to lose weight – it’s a constant conversation in my head. And, I realized the other day that for the majority of my sixty years I’ve laid an incessant barrage of guilt and shame upon myself. Guilting myself has been the primary strategy responsible for staying thin and fit. But I realize the price I’ve paid using this strategy over others.
I decided, as an experiment, that I would stop working toward a particular weight goal, which only served over time to solidify how inadequate I am in fulfilling commitments. I would also stop the barrage of “Shoulds and Shouldn’ts” regarding everything to do with food. And, I had an “OMG” (Oh, My God!) moment. A list of attack thoughts spewed out a mile long regarding the “I’m not enoughs” that I’ve been living with forever!
I listed a minimum of 10 statements of guilt and shame that were so automatic I didn’t even know they are there. “You’ll look like an old person; you’ll get plump; you won’t be beautiful anymore; your clothes won’t fit; you’ll be out of integrity with who you say you are, on and on and on. That’s when I decided I’d go on a Guilt-Free Diet!
I heard the wee voice in my head say “What will keep me from gaining tons of weight or being a lazy good-for-nothing if I give up guilting myself? I then asked myself if the harmful side-effects of the guilt may be worse than the extra pounds I might carry. Just another one of those darn dilemmas.
Guilting oneself is not uncommon. For many of us, we don’t know any other way to manage and control ourselves but through guilt. Once I realized how I use guilt regarding food and beverage consumption, I also saw how I use it regarding work, productivity, and my financial where-with-all. I use guilt to make things happen and not happen in every aspect of my life.
Is it possible to live a guilt-free life?
So, while on this guilt-free diet, my practice is to notice the thoughts that are embedded with guilt – notice for instance, when at lunch time, the voice in my head says: “You should have a salad.” That “You Should” is most likely laced with guilt. When I’m about to do something based on that guilt-filled thought, my practice is to say STOP! Then re-calibrate my choice based on what I really want. This requires me to think like a mature and wise adult, instead of that more adolescent part of me that constantly wants what I want when I want it.
Does guilt have to be the only source of motivation?
I’m now more aware of making choices based on integrity and accountability. My intention is to enjoy life and I certainly enjoy it more feeling good and looking good. It’s a fascinating process revealing those thoughts that control and manage my behavior but are harmful and actually create dis-ease, self-hatred and other behaviors to compensate for the guilt and shame. Brow-beating ourselves usually creates the desire to anesthetize that voice – so we choose to eat, drink, do retail therapy, sex, TV, Internet surfing – you get the idea. SHEEESH!
Is There Another Way?
I want to be in alignment with my highest truth and my highest good. I know that spewing guilt thoughts at myself, and at others, for that matter, isn’t in alignment with my highest truth or good. I want health and well-being, and I also want to enjoy freedom and flexibility, which may be in direct conflict to well-being.
It’s interesting just to notice what happens when I take guilt out of the equation – not try to replace it with something else, not try to fix or heal the source of the guilt; just stop the guilt. I consider being a parent to myself and speaking without guilt – only loving thoughts – not manipulative, candy –sweet, but just love and care. It’s just an investigation, an experiment. I’m not trying to loose weight or fix my behavior in any way – I’m just exploring what IS without guilt.
Little by little, so far in this experiment, I’m realizing a greater degree of peace and relaxation – something I’ve not experienced for a very long time. I realize too, the degree to which the incessant pressure to be productive, effective, appropriate, worthy, attractive and desirable, never, never stops. It doesn’t take a vacation, and neither do I.
An invaluable resource that grows with aging is wisdom. Inevitably, we come to discover that who and what we think we are isn’t actually who and what we are at all! What matters to me more than anything else now, is that I compassionately reveal and dismantle self-loathing thoughts that impede my capacity to be the fullest expression of my essential self. How can I be anything but fit and attractive if I follow this advice?
I enjoy the adventure that comes with being curious about myself – how I’ve come to this reality I live within, in this current moment. I have no idea what will unfold from this exploration and practice. I do know that my experience thus far is that it’s contributing to a greater degree of well-being that’s guilt -free!
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!
Ignoring What We Know to be True
I deny aspects of me that I know to be true – those dark shadowy aspects that if people were to find out about – well, it could mean rejection, humiliation and annihilation. It’s best that I pretend they don’t exist.
On the other hand I have a knowing of certain things to be true, yet I deny myself these knowings too. I live in doubt and uncertainty as strategies that diminish my potential power in the world, diminish my light and visibility. In past lives, I’ve probably been murdered or tortured for standing out beyond the norm. “Won’t do that again,” we say; yet living within the protective cocoon of our disguise and pretending is also torturous.
Many of my executive clients over the years have gone through a 360 degree evaluation process, whereby they ask for feedback from lots of people they work with and live with. An enormous about of information is generated, assessed and then returned to my clients so they can see how they show up, what they bring and what they perhaps want to consider bringing to the party.
These 360 processes are really valuable, and yet, my clients share that most of what is said isn’t new to them; they are already aware of what they do well and what they need to enhance, grow and develop.
I always find this fascinating that we know what we know, yet live and work as if it weren’t so. We wait to have our internal wisdom, knowledge and experience validated by the external world. WHY?
When people are doing bad things and are caught and brought to justice, they say “I knew it was wrong and is punishable, but spare me, please.”
This is crazy making; that we have the wisdom to know right from wrong. We have a knowing beyond what makes sense in the reality of the cause and effect world; we know this and yet we choose to deny our culpability and our God-given powers to be the fullest expression of the gifts of our being.
I finished a novel last week by Michael Sky, called Jubilee Day – A Novel. It is about our current circumstances regarding those who hold the power in the United States, how they use that power and the opportunity to choose differently. It’s a brilliant book!
Most of us use our power for egoic gains. We don’t stop ourselves. We also use our power to distract ourselves from the internal knowing that, if nothing else we are violating our own integrity and the dignity of our soul. We know and we pretend we don’t know.
For those of us who attend church every Saturday and Sunday, hearing over and over the importance of using our power in support of all people, not just our little ego self, too often we ignore opportunities to practice what we preach when we enter our Monday through Friday Church of the Almighty Dollar.
We are faced with a dilemma.
Do I do what I know to be in the highest good of all – my company, employees, my own soul, or do I act in alignment with my personal desire for safety, security and control.
There is so much at stake!
Each individual is teetering on the brink of personal devastation. It is only a reflection of the devastation that we witness in all aspects of our Global system. Where current and flow of the Universal and natural unfoldment is ignored, diverted or stopped, in service to our insatiable hunger to be powerful and invulnerable in every way imaginable, we will come face to face with the consequences of our choice-making. Funny how it works that way!
If you’ve ever been around adolescents, you’ve noticed that they have that attitude of invulnerability, impenetrable to attack – They have become a super power unto themselves. As parents of adolescents, hopefully we remember our own teenage years when we knew that we knew everything, and no one could tell us any different. As adults we know it’s a stage in the learning process and that someday there will be a day of reckoning when these teenagers will fall off their pedestal and realize they are just human, just like the rest of us.
I think about the European Countries who have been around far longer than the US. In their youth they built their empires and have been super powers; and all have been demolished, have fallen into ruin, only to be rebuilt from a more mature perspective. I see the more dignified and wise ones smiling at the US, knowing of our youthful attitude of “no-one will take us down.” It is part of the process of maturing that we lose what we’ve not rightfully gained, in order to cultivate right-relationship with our currency of resources – the earth, our people, all of it.
The dilemma we face as individuals is that we are committed to holding onto our super power ideation, yet, at the same time being conscious of the cost of ignoring that fact that we can no longer build skyscrapers in the air. We hope we’ll get away with it, but …
Pretending that choosing to choose not to choose will keep us invulnerable to our human frailties is adolescent thinking at best. Inevitably, our commitment to avoiding mature and wise choice-making will lead us to a phenomenal human experience called despair. Despair is when we realize that the reality of our own creation – our skyscrapers in the air, are coming down, detonated by our own ignoring – not ignorance.
All of us face dilemmas that inevitable puts us in the line of fire of our own humanity. It’s your call to make life-choices consciously or unconsciously. From my point of view, it’s far more fun to powerfully engage in life fully awake, conscious and mature – willingly acting from a ground of wisdom and knowing … you already know what I’m talking about. Enjoy the adventure!