I Believe I AM Influencing Social Change

PaulaFlowersLRWhen the 2016 Global Coaching Study Executive Summary from the International Coach Federation landed in my inbox I couldn’t wait to see how my experiences and opinions related to the other 15,000+ coaches worldwide who participated in this amazing study.  In the 20 pages I read, there was one thing that stopped me in my tracks.

98% of us coaches worldwide believe that we can influence social change.

I feel hugely validated by this. It’s a powerful thing to come together as a group of industry professionals. It’s quite a different thing to be reminded that our combined hearts are working together for the common good of humanity.
Whether we’re working one on one, or with groups and teams, on life, businesses or community issues, we are helping make the world a better place by teaching people how to honor themselves and each other.
Thanks to my clients, my coach friends, all the other coaches, and the International Coach Federation.
I’m grateful for this reminder to celebrate this amazing life that is coaching.
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QUIT TRYING!

“I’m trying to start exercising again,” said my new client. “It’s just not working and it’s making me crazy. Can you help?”

“Absolutely,” I replied. “But you have to quit trying. “What do you mean?” She looked confused.

“I’ll explain. But first, tell me if this is the crazy you’re feeling.

HeavyLoadEvery day you tell yourself that you are going to get started, and then you don’t. So you feel guilty and say you’ll do it tomorrow. Tomorrow comes and you don’t do it again, so you tell yourself how awful you are. Then you get depressed, and feel like a total failure, and even worse, it’s all your fault. It feels like a ten ton bag of rooks that you carry around all the time and success just gets further and further away. You feel hopeless and give up, or keep trying and not succeeding. Either way you feel guilty or ashamed. It’s called procrastination paralysis, and it’s why TRYING never really works in the long term.”

“OMG that’s exactly what’s happening,” she exclaimed. “How can I make it stop?”

I smiled, “You  QUIT TRYING by deciding to DO IT or deciding to LET IT GO, even if it is just for now. Tell me why exercising more is important to you.”

“I really feel like I should; I’m getting older and I can feel it. I feel guilty that I’m not.”  I stopped her right there. “Should and guilt are rotten motivators, they are symptoms of procrastination paralysis. I feel your motivation draining as you talk. Let’s reframe. Tell me what you would gain by exercising more.”

“I’d feel better physically and mentally, and build up some strength.” And how would that make you feel? (I could feel her energy lighten). “Great!” Is that worth letting go of TRYING and moving into DOING? “Absolutely.”

Congratulations! You’ve just gone from TRYING to DOING! How’s the bag of rocks now? “Wow, they’re gone. This is amazing.”

My client QUIT TRYING and started DOING when she changed her motivation from “Because I Should” to “Because I’ll Feel Better.” That was her first step. She could also have QUIT TRYING by deciding, “I don’t really want to do this now.” (This is really common when your motivation is based on SHOULD.) Either choice shuts down the bag of rocks feeling of procrastination paralysis that comes from TRYING rather than DOING or LETTING GO. The important thing is that she consciously chooses to focus on motivation that feels good to her.

We all struggle with procrastination paralysis. TRYING is totally un-motivating; it sets the perfect stage for failure and self-criticism; and it can go on for a long, long time if you’re not aware of it.

You know you’re TRYING rather than DOING if it feels like you’re carrying around a bag of rocks, and/or are really down on yourself.

Is it time for you to quit TRYING and start DOING? Call me to talk about your motivation and first steps.

A Lesson About Safety from My Iguana Hitchhiker

My heart jumped when I caught the movement out of the corner of my eye, and my eyes widened in disbelief and shock as I realized something was climbing down the windshield of my moving vehicle. “Holy crap,” was my first thought, followed by “He’s going to die!”, as I subconsciously registered the colors, the ridges, the claws, and size of him. “It’s a friggin’ iguana!” Panic set in as he moved down the windshield onto the hood, sliding as he battened down against the wind; I was sure he was going to become road kill right before my eyes. I whipped into the next parking lot, and drove toward the shrubs on the side as my hitchhiker inched down the hood. “NO no no don’t fall off here” was screaming in my mind as I came to a stop and he disappeared off the hood.  “Did I run over him? Is he under the hood? Did he go into the bushes?” IguanaCropMy heart was still racing as I jumped out of my truck and ran to the passenger side, just in time to see his tail disappear into the shrubs. As I calmed down, I thought to myself, “He’s safe now, but he’s in unfamiliar territory.” It wasn’t until later that I felt the oxymoron in those words.  Equating safety with being in unfamiliar territory doesn’t feel logical. Safety means knowing what to expect and being in control. When life steps in, picks me up, puts me somewhere else, my mind screams danger and fills up with all of the worst case scenarios. Yet when the dust settles, every time, I grow from it, kicking and screaming at the unknown, until familiarity sets in again.

I finally understand that safety comes not from avoiding unfamiliar territory, but from trusting that I can get through it, and live to tell the tale.

The next time life picks you up, takes you for a ride, and drops you into unfamiliar territory, ask yourself what you can learn from how you’re responding. Do you trust yourself to keep going, or does all of your energy go into resisting the change? What’s the dramatic awful outcome you’re imagining? And most important, is the freak out energy helping? These questions can bring safety into the unfamiliar quickly and easily. Try them out, and let me know how it works for you.

Interested in more lessons from iguanas? Read about my October 2008 encounter with an iguana HERE.

PS. For those of you who want to know how the iguana got on the hood of my truck, it climbed up the fence, into a tree, and onto my truck to sun himself. The overhanging branch has now been trimmed back, and I check my roof before I drive away. LOL.

Building Your Muscles of Choice and Change After Cancer

“After it sunk in that I couldn’t take time for granted, I felt compelled to make spending time with my children my top priority. It was challenging, I kept reminding myself that if I could do cancer, I surely could do this.”– Angelina Provst, age 43, 4-year lung cancer survivor

Change, by definition, requires doing things differently. To have more of what matters most, YOU MUST want it badly enough to step out of your comfort zone and take a new action instead of an old one.

 The first step into the gym, ice cream skipped before bed, or salad ordered instead of a burger is the absolute hardest. As much as we wish that we could lose weight and keep it off without exercising or changing our diet, we won’t.

Changing how you do things is like strengthening a muscle. It can take weeks to finally set foot in the gym. The first time you lift the weights, muscles weak, your first repetitions are hesitant and uncertain before you get the feel of it. Next time you feel a groove. Soon, the workout seems easier so you add more weight. Your confidence grows. And then one day see muscle where there was none when you do the muscle-man arm flex. You feel inspired to keep going.

Of course, you won’t go from your first workout to muscle-man arms overnight. Life will get in the way.  A rush assignment at work and sick kids will intrude on your routine. One morning you will wake up and decide “I can’t do this right now.” Like we all do, you’ll get stuck, sometimes for weeks, months or more. THIS IS A NORMAL PART OF THE CHANGE PROCESS.

 This process of transition comes in uneven spurts: three steps forward, one step back, with a frustrating stuck place, or plateau, where nothing seems to happen. Know that healing is happening in that stuck place. You are processing the growth you have made, and preparing for your next steps. Remember to show yourself compassion when things slow down or aren’t progressing as fast as you’d like. Instead of feeling wrong, celebrate your progress. You’ll reduce stress, gain confidence, and feel more control over your future as you begin to focus your attention on the choices you’ve made.

When you heard “You have cancer,” did you believe you could do what you have now done? By no choice of your own, you’ve faced the thing you thought you couldn’t do. Fighting cancer has created a new muscle, the If I Can Do Cancer I Can Do Anything muscle. Flex this muscle when your normal resistance to change appears.

 Sign up HERE for my FREE Three Easy Steps That Build Your Muscles of Choice and Change Telecall on Tuesday May 15, 2012 8-9 pm EST / 7 CST / 5 PST. Can’t make the call? Sign up and get the audio after the call.

Learn more about building the muscle of choice and change in my What’s Next After Treatment Ends? LifeBook. Look Inside HERE.

Applause for the Fear That Comes with Cancer

I’m honored to be a new expert columnist for Beyond the Boobie Trap! My first guest post on the BTBT site is below. Listen to me talk about Beyond the Boobie Trap here,  and be sure to check out Beyond the Boobie Trap!

“I’m totally stressed out; I wake up at 2 a.m. terrified my cancer will come back; and I think I’m seriously depressed,” my new client said hesitantly, with tears in her eyes. “I finished chemo over six months ago and every day I tell myself I’ll feel better and I don’t. I should be grateful just to be alive,” she broke into sobs that lasted several minutes, and then raised her head.

I burst into applause. She looked at me like I was crazy.

 Applause“It takes a lot of courage to say your deepest fears out loud. It’s a lot easier to bury them or pretend they don’t exist. How long have you been carrying this fear and stress around with you?” I asked. “I’ve felt it since my diagnosis,” she sighed. More applause from me. Louder. Her shoulders go back as she sits up straighter.

 “Take a deep breath. How’s your stress now?” “Better,” she said, surprised. Then smiled. “MUCH better. I feel like I’m taking charge of my life instead of just tolerating it.”

 “Close your eyes, take deep breaths, and imagine that your stress and fear are standing in front of you. If you had to name them something, what would it be?” Pause. “Rat –On-A-Wheel.” “OK. Client, shake hands and say hello to Mr. Rat –On-A-Wheel.

 Her giggle surprised me. “What about Mr. Rat makes you giggle?” He’s a sneaky, ugly little rat, like a cartoon character.”

 “Is this cartoon rat running your life? I queried. “Heck no,” she said strongly.

 I asked my client to stand up, take a bow, and give herself a round of applause.  Mr. Rat and I clapped and cheered.

 “Why are we applauding?” she asked. 

 You are applauding yourself. You just stood up to this Mr. Rat character who was trying to run your life. You’re giggling at him.  How cool is that? Whoo hoo to you! Mr. Rat’s applauding because he’s relieved. He’s truly is a rat and he’s tired of you and ready to move on. I’m applauding because you’ve just managed your own fear, and you can do it again.

Clap! Clap! Clap! Clap! Clap! Clap! Clap! Clap! Clap! Clap! Clap! Clap!

Use these simple steps to take your life back when fear, despair, and stress take over.

1. Acknowledge and release your emotions.  

  • Explore your feelings honestly. What’s your truth?
  • Release them: Write them down,  have a pretend conversation with them, share with someone else.
  • Applaud yourself for your courage when you’re done.

2. Create a persona for the feelings and get curious.

  • What does this persona want and need? Does it really want to be doing what it’s doing?
  • Applaud yourself for your curiosity.

3. Decide what you want to happen next.

  • Take one small step to get started, like asking for help.
  • Applaud yourself for making the choice and taking the first step.

Right now, I challenge you to pick one thing, take these steps, and tell me if it works for you.