Categories
Coaching Self-Mastery

Ten Natural Laws, #4: Leave your Comfort Zone

John Owens

Ten Natural Laws, #4: To Reach Any Significant Goal You Must Leave Your Comfort Zone

There is a part of me that responds to the words of this blog title with fear and loathing. I don’t like it that, once again, I’ll have to leave my small circle of comfort to reach a significant goal. “Not again,” a part of me says, “you don’t really have to work that hard, and feel all those feelings. Let somebody else do it.”

So whose voice is that? When I ask myself if that voice is coming from my heart and resonating with my core values, I know it is not. It’s the voice of my Saboteur, the part of me whose job it is to keep me safe, small, and ultimately miserable. Parts of our old brain are designed to do just that: keep us safe, not stand out to be a target, and take care of our wants and needs, maintain the status quo—at all costs. Anytime we want to change our lives, reach for a meaningful goal, start something new, and live our values more fully (see my previous Natural Law blogs), the Saboteur will appear (that’s its job!) and try to talk us back into our comfort zone of homeostasis.

The Saboteur can be ingenious, or as blunt as shaming us into retreating from what our heart wants. The most subtle and confusing is how we can co-create a Saboteur external to ourselves, a boss, ‘friend’, parent or spouse that fills the role perfectly of giving us compelling reasons to stay just where we are. And it takes a heck of a lot of discomfort to effectively stand up to either our internal or external Saboteurs (or both!) to change what we have been doing and how we have been being to move toward something new and meaningful. If you did not have to leave your comfort zone to achieve something of real value, you would already be doing it, right?

Much of the time we are existing in our comfort zone. If not, the constant state of stimulation that would result would cause physical and high anxiety. Paradoxically, the reverse is also true: Living entirely in our comfort zone will cause physical and mental illness, like an addict hooked on a very specific state of being and feeling that gets increasingly difficult to maintain, and eventually he/she breaks down. So it is important for us to manage our discomfort, to push outside from Comfort Zone into Learning Zone on occasion. Here is where change happens in our lives. There is excitement, which is a combination of both fear and joy. Pushed beyond the Learning Zone, we enter the Panic Zone, where our physical, social or psychic safety is challenged, and the old parts of the brain light up, preventing us from learning and growing. Obviously, this state of affairs will not lead us toward any significant goal if it is maintained for long.

So here are a few tips for moving out of your comfort zone and achieving your important goals. Keep in mind that using a life coach can be a powerful ally to keep you on track for all of the points here:

  • Write down your goals. Write the reasons that achieving these goals are important to you. What are the impacts on your and others’ lives that you want to make?
  • Keep your goal and your reasons with you. If I want to lose 20 pounds (yes, I do!), I’ll write that as my goal. I’ll also give my reasons, for lowering my risk of heart and circulatory disease, lower risk of Type 2 diabetes, much easier to bike up hills, improved self-image, more energy, etc. I’ll post that right at my spot in the dining room where I eat and another copy on the snack cabinet.
  • Identify your Saboteur. What’s the justification line your Saboteur rehearses for you to hold you to the status quo? Get to know this part so you don’t get caught unconscious and automatically do its bidding, like finishing an entire bag of potato chips, and then thinking, “I can’t believe I just did that!”
  • Be a compassionate self-manager. Good managers don’t shame, blame or yell or pass harsh judgment. Don’t do that to yourself. Change is not easy. You will have failures, just like you did when you were learning to walk as an infant. Take in the learning from the failure, and try again. Start anew each day.
  • Collaborate by design. What I mean by that is to enroll people around you, friends, coworkers, spouse or kids. Tell them your goal, and why it is important to you and to them. Ask for their support, and let them know what that support looks like for you. You may need to train them, but having a support system will help ensure you get the reinforcement we all need at times. You don’t have to do it alone.
  • Be accountable. That’s not a shaming experience; accountable means giving an account of yourself. If you did not meet a goal, be honest about what sidetracked you. Get beyond the circumstances (the refuge of the victim) and explore what messages you are giving yourself that prevents you from progress.
  • Celebrate each success. Every giant or baby step towards your goal is earned. Celebrate accordingly! You, and those around you, will want more of the part of you that grows and celebrates. Let that continue in a virtuous cycle. Yay me! I lost a pound this week! I’ll celebrate with a victory walk. Woohoo!
Category wise Blogs
Categories
Coaching Self-Mastery

Ten Natural Laws #2: Your Governing Values Are the Foundation of Your Fulfillment

John Owens

Ten Natural Laws #2: Your Governing Values Are the Foundation of Your Fulfillment

Every one of us humans has a set of core values that make us who we are. These core values are like the DNA of our soul. Our values must be expressed, or bad things happen to us and others around us. And when they are expressed, we feel deep fulfillment. The emotions are often joyful, but not always. Caring for a terminally ill loved one may be an expression of a core value of connection and caring, but the emotions that accompany that might be far more complex than just joy. Still, there is a deep-seated satisfaction that goes with living one’s values. You know it when you feel it.

So how do you know what your core values are? It is enormously helpful to be conscious of what your values are so that you can measure alternatives and make choices for yourself based on your values. But beware, our values are not always what they seem: our parents, our culture, and our circumstances growing up often impose values that we take on, feel they should be important to us, and we go on with life as if they were our own. An example: a bright young girl whose parents, both medical professionals, instill in her the desire to become a doctor. Through college pre-med classes she has done well, but in medical school she has a breakdown and can’t go on. She’s been pleasing her parents (honoring one value), but denying her creative side (stepping on another value). Later, she finds expression of her real value as an artist, and genuine fulfillment.

How do you uncover your core values? There are many ways to do this, but here are a few questions and methods that really get to the heart of this:

  • Think of one or two peak experiences in your life. Times when everything was flowing. What made that experience special? What values were you honoring? Keep probing.There may be just one important value operative, but likely there were more.
  • What are some things without which life would simply not be meaningful? The answers will lead you right to your values.
  • What is it that you can’t stand, that makes you really mad? These things are clues to values you hold dear that are getting stepped on. For instance, I hate it when people interrupt others (doesn’t have to be just me). My value of deep respect feels dishonored when I hear people interrupting one another (the Hindi word “Namaste”, recognizing the divine in one another is how I like to express that value).
  • Who are your heroes? Think of people whom you deeply admire; what is it about them that you hold dear? Their courage or connection, sense of justice or artistic expression? We frequently project onto others the values we hold for ourselves.

Once you have your list of values, you can start examining your behaviors and your choices in this light. It’s useful to rank them in importance to you at this point in time for you. Are you living your values when you take a certain action? Which choice will honor your most important value right now? What values have you not been honoring? What can you do to express that value in your life, work, or relationships?

Finally, notice what changes for you when you are more fully expressing your values. Are you feeling more fulfillment? Are other parts of your life going better as well? Is your heart at peace? Are you more generous, less crabby?

Category wise Blogs
Categories
Coaching Journal

Hummingbird

John Owens

Hummingbird

In summer I put out hummingbird feeders with suction cups on my bay window. This year we were blessed with an abundance of these creatures’ visits. What a marvel to watch them, hovering motionlessly, with their glorious cloak of iridescent feathers shimmering in the afternoon sun.

Such courageous feats hummingbirds commit to! With a body weighing only a few grams, the hummingbird must eat high energy food constantly to survive. A day or two of fasting should spell certain death. Yet these critters fly across the Gulf of Mexico yearly to their wintering grounds without stopping for food or rest. Many birds must perish on the journey. Another courageous thing I have seen hummingbirds do is hover face to face with my two young (and astonished!) cats, bird eyeing cats curiously before buzzing away. I’ve witnessed this frequently, with predator and prey honoring one another from six inches away (through glass) in highly-charged silence.

My Mission is to create abundant compassion by honoring my connection with all beings. It was with compassion and concern this summer when I came home for lunch and found a hummingbird in my garage. She was flying around the ceiling looking fruitlessly for the exit. The sixteen-foot-wide door was open; still it just could not find the way out. Concerned, I left the garage door open, and hoped it would escape by evening.

Hummingbird still had not exited the garage by evening. I put out some jelly, hoping it could get nourishment. Each time I saw the poor creature, it was flying around randomly at ceiling height, oblivious to the open door beckoning it to freedom. I knew that if I tried catching it with a net, it would probably be injured and die, so its best chance lay in my trusting it could find an exit by itself.

Next morning, the hummingbird was still stuck. I determinedly opened the garage door and the windows, propped open the service door, and slightly shut the overhead door so the bird could see more opening for escape at the top of the door. Something worked: at noon I checked; Hummingbird was gone (and not laying dead on the floor!). I rejoiced my tiny friend had at last found freedom. It found its own way, perhaps with the invitation from me.

Later, I recounted the story with some friends. It was then it occurred to me: Hummingbird was no different than us. How many times have I searched exhaustively and fruitlessly for a solution? Then a coach or friend would give me a little nudge by pointing out a direction, and I’d find the door that had been gaping open in front of me all the while. Occasionally we all need a new perspective to show us the door. I was grateful to have been an ally to hummingbird. I am grateful to serve my clients similarly. And I am grateful that you, too, are there when I bumble about blindly.

Category wise Blogs
Categories
Coaching

Legacy

John Owens

Legacy

“Our days are numbered. One of the primary goals in our lives should be to prepare for our last day. The legacy we leave is not just in our possessions, but in the quality of our lives. What preparations should we be making now? The greatest waste in all of our earth, which cannot be recycled or reclaimed, is our waste of the time that God has given us each day.” Billy Graham

From ancient times, tribal elders would ask of any important decision, “What will be the effects of acting on this decision for the next seven generations? Will this benefit our children’s children and beyond?” Who we are and how we manifest our core values with intention can have a long-lasting and positive effect on our communities. Our carelessness and unconsciousness can lead to polluting the earth. Our caring and awareness can lead to a lasting stewardship.

What will you do with your values, your special gifts and abilities, and your time and energy before you pass on from this earth? You are right now creating your legacy, determining with whom and how your values, your work, love and vision survive beyond the scope of your life, and reverberate in the hearts and lives of others.

Legacy need not be money or property given as a final act or bequest. It may be mentorship of those younger than you, a scrapbook, a company culture, camping or hunting trips with the family, or a book written because it was in you. Legacy is the culmination of one’s life purpose and mission. It is your service in the world guided by your vision and values.

When we focus our attention on creating our legacy, we bring to bear all our gifts: our talents and abilities, intention, purpose, vision, relationships, values, our material wealth and our spiritual endowment – all toward something that enriches and empowers, connects and inspires others for generations to come. And through that work of legacy we live on past our own death, in the hearts and memories and stories of those we love and bless, those who would be inspired and carry our legacy values and vision and beliefs to yet another generation.

If we humans did not create legacy, there would be no Jesus or Buddha or Mohammed or Moses. There would be no Gandhi or Mandela or George Washington. Imaging a world without Mozart or Picasso, universities or sports heroes. Through legacy the world is built and bettered for generations to come. It is not just the great and famous who leave a lasting and worthwhile legacy. There are millions of stories that survive those who lived them. We may not know their names as household words; the gifts that these women and men have left us may not bear their names, but certainly their signatures: what is authentic and unique about them that continues to live on.

What is legacy composed of? Certainly there is a vision of a better world. Without these we could not imagine and dream of its creation. It is a vision of what is achievable in one’s lifespan.

Category wise Blogs
Categories
Coaching

The Client’s Agenda

John Owens

The Client’s Agenda

The date may suddenly loom up on your calendar…”Gee, I’ve got a call with John tonight. What should I coach on? Gosh, I don’t have the slightest idea…Hmmm, maybe I’ll just wing it and see what I think of when I call.”

That’s one perspective, isn’t it? “I’ll just ad lib and see”.

Another perspective might be “I’ve got to be prepared and get this RIGHT”. So you choose to spend time thinking about the biggest problem you’ve experienced over the week, and rehearse what you’re going to say, and maybe anticipate some of the questions the coach will ask.

Another choice might be to ask someone you trust what you should coach on (the ‘let Wise Annie lead my life’ perspective). What perspectives have you had toward your coaching sessions?

Let’s face it: sometimes there is just no burning issue that begs for coaching. Sometimes you may feel just NOT up to the task of spending another 45 minutes talking about your finances, your significant other, or your career, etc. AGAIN. So there you are, stuck on choosing a topic that is not excessively wimpy and weak, and then again, not about that big, excruciating boulder that you keep finding in your path every time you try to move forward with your life.

Sound familiar? I’ve been there myself as a client with my own coach. It happens because we are human, and thrive when we have a balance of all those parts of the Wheel of Life: environment, career, family / friends, fun & recreation, health, personal growth, spiritual/community life, love/romance, and wealth/abundance. We might be stuck in a perspective that coaching sessions have to BE about one sort of thing and not something else. So there’s a place to start!! Look at your wheel in that folder you have for your coaching notes. What have you kept off the table for coaching? What feels out of balance, stuck, empty or dull? What in your life is just sailing along with a strong breeze? Coaching is not JUST about problems, saboteur, and attaining goals (the upward mission). It can and does encompass the downhill parts of life: being, relating, holding oneself and others in particular ways. Curiosity. Creativity. Play. Deepening learning means also exploring what is going well, to see what is present and manifest in those moments. It can be taking time to celebrate change or actions that you have taken that required effort. Coaching can be about celebrating your failures—the sure indicator that you really stretched it out there and took a risk!

Another place to look for an agenda topic is your original goals for coaching. Review the things you said you wanted out of coaching. Are you there yet? What remains to do and be? There is some rich and fertile ground there for taking life to that next level of fulfillment and achievement. Maybe you have achieved your goals. Write some new ones and share them. What could be your topic then? Still stuck? How about redoing the Wheel, see where fulfillment is not yet at level 10. Maybe you just feel bored or enervated. Great! Let’s explore that together and see what treasures lie in those rooms. You get the idea I’m speaking to here, and I trust that you can find several more ways to focus your coaching agendas to walk confidently along the path of your Future Self.

Two cornerstones of Co-Active Coaching (what I do as coach) are to hold the client naturally creative, resourceful and whole (NCRW), and that the agenda comes from the client. If the coach does not hold the client NCRW, it does not even matter where the agenda comes from. There cannot be a powerful relationship between equals, and inevitably, the coach tries to ‘fix’ the client, and the powerful alliance is deflated. From the coach’s perspective that we are all NCRW, I know that the client is completely capable of coming up with their agenda, and will solve their problems in the best possible way: using the coaching session as a means of exploration, testing, and choice for action and deepening the learning.

So here’s my request to all my lovely clients: From this moment on, promise me you will take charge of your coaching sessions by having at least one agenda item or topic, and preferably three or four things you want coaching on. Remember, you can say ‘yes’, ‘no’ or counteroffer to the request. Write me back and let me know what you will do and when you will do it. AND I promise to hold you up to the magnificent, capable human that you are right now.

Category wise Blogs