Being me

When Reality Bites

A few months ago I attended a business summit where one of the speakers taught us how to go live on Facebook, or as we call it: Facebook Live. At the same time, I was working on a special short keynote speech for a conference in front of a live audience. It was somewhat like a five minutes TEDx talk speech. Now I am not new to speaking in front of an audience, but I tell you, to craft a five minutes’ message on stage was one of the most challenging projects I have ever had had in a while. Beyond the message, there was another component in the room: seven video cameras that will capture my message in one shot, no retakes. Which means that the video could turn out to be a professional video that represents my speaking skills, or not. 

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Back to the presenter at the Summit, one of the things that pulled my attention when the speaker was sharing his knowledge about going live on Facebook was the idea that the more you use Facebook live, the more comfortable you feel in front of a video camera. Although I started using more and more videos as part of what I do, I could still sense that I am not as comfortable as I wanted to be with video cameras. Since I wanted to get better with video skills and feel more comfortable in front of a camera, at that moment, I decided to experiment with Facebook live.

And that’s how one journey evoked another journey. To find a way to commit and be consistent with my Facebook live, I decided to connect the Facebook live with another activity – my runs. I run 2 or 3 times a week, depends on my schedule, so I decided that after each run I will do a Facebook live. I called my Facebook live: “on the run.” These Facebook live talks are casual talks; me with pink cheeks after a run, still catching up my breath, sweating and sharing a thought that came to mind while running. Beyond the practicing I felt that going live on Facebook will be an opportunity for me to walk my talk of getting messy, It wasn’t about creating the perfect well-crafted speech, it was about showing up with my raw thoughts and share them with my audience with no editing. And that’s how it all started.

Creating my intention to share my thoughts on Facebook required a new skill, from pure connection with self, I had to figure out what topic I should speak about after each run. 
Sometimes I knew right away what the topic is going to be, but sometimes no real topic came to mind and I could sense how I am trying to force the topic on me. This is how I learned that I need to manage my thoughts, sometimes what I needed was to surrender, let go of finding a topic and allow the topic to find me. I had to learn how to quiet my mind and allow my running time to be what it meant to be for me, a time to think about nothing else, to connect with nature and see endless opportunities in the blue (or cloudily) sky. 

Last week, when I went on my run, I felt that maybe I should shake things a bit and change my running route, and rather than turning left in the usual way I turned right. The moment I turned right, I smiled and told myself: Cool! Here is a topic for today’s Facebook live, I can talk about habits and how great it can be to shake things around, find a new way to do things, see how a new way can impact you and what you can learn from the experience. Perfect!” But at the same time, something unusual had happened, I had a sharp pain in both knees while running, it felt like needles pinched my nerves again and again and then it stopped. Ha! I told myself, my body doesn’t like the change, should I listen to what my body is saying to me?
I decided to keep going, but I could sense how this little change in my route felt so uncomfortable for my body; the downhill was uphill, what used to be behind me was now in front of me everything felt a bit off. But the sky was blue, and I was so excited to share my experience with my FB Live audience. I was almost home when I passed a lady who was walking with her dog. The lady and I smiled at each other, as we do in our neighborhood, I kept some space from her and the dog, but I know that Labrador-Retriever dogs are very calm and smiley dogs.  And then it happened faster than the wind, the dog jumped, I thought it was a friendly jump to say hi, but then I could feel it. I looked at the lady with pain and told her: “Your dog just bit me!” we both looked at each other with surprise. I was hurt, not because of the pain from the bite (yes it did hurt!) but you see, I love dogs, as a child, my house was filled with dogs and animals. Beyond the burning pain, and the anti-tetanus shot and antibiotics and canceling all plans with clients, I think what hurt the most was that a dog, an animal I love so much just bit me. 
For the rest of the day I kept asking myself, what had just happened? Did the instant pinching pain in my knees was my body way of communicating with me that I should not choose the opposite direction? Should I listen better to my body rather than going against it? What is the lesson I should learn?
But there was also another thought that brought a smile to my face: remember what I shared? I planned to share on Facebook Live how beautiful it can be to change our habits and see what we can learn from them but sometimes, just sometimes... reality bites… 

Oh! If you want to check my 5min keynote talk – you can check this link.


 

PEACE

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Yesterday was Christmas and we woke up to a quiet winter cool morning. We celebrate Hanukkah, the holiday of light and hope, but one of the muscles I have developed with the years is the muscle of my curiosity, being open to learning about other cultures, about other religions and also about different perspectives of different people who think and do things differently than me. One of the things I have learned about Christmas is the importance of the word peace and its link to Christmas. So when I saw a quote yesterday about peace it inspired me to write about my journey with peace.

Shalom (Hello),

As an Israeli who grew up and spent her first 30 years of life in the middle east, I didn’t realize that what many of us are craving, peace, was part of our daily conversation. We use the word peace so many times a day but with a little twist. You see the word: “Shalom” is what we say when we greet each other with hello/hi, sometimes it might mean: welcome, but the real essence of the word Shalom that we use so many times each day in Hebrew, and in Arabic too is the same word we use to talk about PEACE. One words two main usages and it makes sense since the original greeting was a bit longer: “May there will be peace upon you.” Which again is the same in Arabic and Hebrew. It strikes me now, how I was caught up in my daily habit of greeting others with the word: “Shalom” that I haven’t really paid attention to the deeper meaning of this word. Since this blog is all about getting messy it was interesting to notice myself in the creation of this blog post and the thoughts that were running in my head while writing these lines, it started with a very judgmental perspective about my lack of connection with my behaviors, and then I was able to find compassion for myself then and understand that I needed to disconnect and detach myself so I would be able to believe and hope that in an environment of constant external conflict, still what many including me want and crave for is peace.

 

Calm

After the move to the US, the external conflict transferred into an internal one. For the first time in years there was so much noise in my head that I wasn’t able to hear anything. It is like you walk around with an untuned radio station, no matter how much I was trying to listen to the stations clearly it felt like constant noise. My husband was talking and I couldn’t listen him, my kids were speaking to me while we were walking or playing together and I couldn’t really listen to them, my friends were talking but I couldn’t listen them. All I heard were constant noises in my head saying: When are you going to figure out your plan? What are you going to do with yourself? Why are you so stuck? Why did you lose your confidence? Why did I do to feel this way?

I had so many internal conversations with myself, but were they really conversations? When I look back I can see that they were more of question after question after facts (or maybe opinions) about who I am, or maybe who am I not being and it was painful, and exhausting and burning and confusing that when others tried to talk with me, I lost the skill of listening. They were just background noises. I was craving quiet; I was craving internal peace.

 

Heart

Few years passed by, first I had to learn how to listen to others and it started with a different listening to the noises in my head. I learned to choose how I listen to those voices and then I was able to listen to others. It started by learning to be quiet internally and move my attention from listening to myself to listening to the heart of others, to be curious about them, to listen without the need to tell them what is their need, I waited for them to share their needs. And with the learning of how to listen to others I was also able to contain a new perspective about external conflicts that were part of my life: conflict in our core family, conflict in my workplace and a conflict that was in the middle east. One day while having a conversation with my kids, something in the conversation opened my heart to listen to something that I haven’t noticed before. I realized how easy it is to hate, it takes a millisecond to hate, but it can take lifetime to learn how to love again the one you hate. In that moment I promised myself that I will bring peace one heart at a time and it started with taking the time to learn how I can bring peace first  to my heart. I signed up for a special training that teaches the heart of conflict and I learned how to show up differently in relationships with others and myself. I learned that we all tend to focus on fixing others, especially in relationships, and what we are trying to fix is what we push the others to do even more, I had to learn that if I want others to change I need to change, and only when I change others will choose their path toward me. If I change for them to change, I don’t really impact a change, but rather a manipulation for the sake of me. I had to feel pain from others so I can teach myself to stand still and be okay with what they did, and then I had to learn that what they did was not always with the focus on "doing it to me" -  I had to learn that when I think that others did something to me it might have only been my personal interpretation but not their intention, I had to learn to hold them with love while they were hurting me, and I had to learn that many times what others do to me, is not really them trying to hurt me, but rather they being messy with themselves and the impact is on me. I had to learn that in the midst of my anger, my pain and my hurt to hold myself and my emotions with compassion and that’s when I learned that peace is not about quiet my thoughts or others’ noises, peace is about holding everything you have, notice it and open your heart to be okay with it. Most important I have learned that like everything else, there will be times when I will be better with staying at peace, and times that I won’t and that’s okay too, what I can offer myself is to always try again to practice being at peace.

In few days the new year will knock on the door and I will welcome her (I just feels like it is her) with a smile and say: “Shalom 2018,” and to you I wish PEACE in your heart even when the noise is surrounding you.

What do you wish for yourself in 2018?                                                 

 “Peace - It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.” - unknown

Giver vs. Receiver (not a taker)

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to all the Givers out there. A true story…

Funny enough when I started writing this blog post I realized that today is Giving Tuesday. So it is a good place to start and share my thoughts about Givers.

Here is an interesting learning, until not so long ago I was a pure Giver. You might have read the book The Givers, by David Callahan. I didn’t know I was a giver, until a few years ago when I read this book and realized that this is me – I am a Giver. As much as I have enjoyed being a Giver at times, I also suffered from being the victim (yes, yes… it is my pattern, and I have learned how to shorten this way of being) of the takers. I haven't noticed this trend until I was part of a special program where I realized that some people picked up the phone or met with me only when they needed some information to understand the material in the program. But after they took the piece of information they needed they disappeared and when I needed something from them? They were no way to be found. That is when I have learned that takers will take knowledge, but will never share it with others.

Givers, on the other hand, will give knowledge, time and resources to anyone in need. They don’t see knowledge as power; they don't even understand this conversation around power, mostly they will come from a place of abundance. By the way, if you are not sure if you are a giver, here is a clue for you, you will always leave a meeting with another person too late because you want to make sure they got everything needed from you.

But the thing with givers is that we Give, and we enjoy giving, but because we put people before tasks, and many times we will also over commit to too many things, one day we wake up with the victim feeling and say: “Hey! What is happening here? I give and give and give, and no one is supporting me! no one is referring business to me, no one shows a place of an open heart to me, and the people I have trusted and helped grow to his or her leadership had turned away." How come that a Giver who comes from a place of kind heart suddenly feels as if no one cares?

I believe some of you were thinking to themselves: "Hey Givers! make up your mind! Do you help others just because you want to do something out of the goodness of your heart, or do you all just a bunch of manipulators who give so you can get something in return?”

No, True Givers don’t want anything in return, they are so inclined to give that they get to the point (and it happens again and again) where they just feel as they have no resources left. A deep sense of sadness and exhaustion arises, and then stress and fear crawl to the inner giver who steps into an overwhelming state. So what they do? They shut down, close the door and roar at anyone else who is trying to steal their time. Without saying a word, they look at you as they say: “Stay away! This is MY time; it is MY MY MY time to take care of myself because no one else does! I have some work to do, do you see the “No Disturb” sign? until I am done, I am not here!”

So after years of being a pure Giver, I felt as something is missing for me to enjoy giving, and then I asked myself: “What if I will become a receiver? What if I will allow my self to choose when I want to be a pure Giver but will also open my energy to receive?” And that’s when an interesting journey started for me because after years of giving without anyone leaning my way, suddenly people just showed up and asked: “Can I help?” sometimes they didn’t even ask, they just Gave without asking if I wanted to receive. Actually, they didn’t need to ask – because I communicated it without words, I communicated it through a new energy and new way of being that now I am willing to receive, they were able to sense.

When I was looking internally, I was able to notice that for years I was stuck in a positive way of being that blocked any opportunity I had to receive. I must confess that I know what was the reason I blocked my way of being as a receiver, but I will not go there. Still, if you are a giver who wonders why? Why no one leans my way? Ask yourself if there is something within that blocks you from wanting to receive, maybe you have learned long ago that when you receive you need to pay back for receiving? Maybe you have learned that when you receive you lose your power, or it might even bring a sense of shame? Perhaps you have learned that receiving could diminish the giving? and maybe you are confusing receiving with taking? When you go deep, ask yourself what is it that you block from receiving that doesn’t allow others to help/support/promote/mentor/advocate behalf of you/for you? 

So how would it be to Give and also be a receiver?

 

Followers?

Yes, I became one of these people who read 2-3 books at the same time. Most of them are books around what I do as a coach. I am looking for inspiration, nuggets, a line that will pull my attention to dig deeper and this week was no different. The inspiration came from the word followers. I got caught in the leader-follower term that we all use now. I think before it was the word "subordinates, " and since we are moving from the top down management to leadership so now we have the word: followers. But the more I think about it; I am not sure I would like to stick with this term, followers, let me tell you why.
 I believe that my role as a leader is not to make all the decisions, but to create an environment that makes others shine. It is interesting watching myself struggle with not going into solutions when I lead (or even when I parent). As a coach, you stay away from fixing, or go into solutions for your client which is 99% very easy to me. But as a leader to allow the other side to come up with solutions, experiment with them and see where it will take us that's a work in progress. Everyone talk about what the leader needs to do to make people follow them. Leadership by its very definition presumes that there are followers to lead. And if there are followers to lead, that creates the necessity of an actual leader. Essentially, leaders exist because of followers and followers exist because of leaders (Hogg, 2001). I admit that I see it the other way around. I think that as I see it, it is about what the leaders need to stop doing, or even just do less? The less they do, the more space they create for others to shine. So if you stay with me, we move into Zen approach leadership where less is more. The less you suggest, the more others shine, the more you go to the back, or to the side, the more others want to go to the front. Even in the messiness of others, I have learned that it is what I don’t do or try to fix in them that will allow their storm to calm down and come back different when they are ready. So that made me think… if... I as a leader go more and more to the back if I focus on asking questions, if I manage myself to do less and create more space for others to move to the front, they are not followers. 
Pause for our story time. Last time I talked about one of my biggest gifts, this time I will share one of my biggest weaknesses. My orientation, my sense of direction is just horrible. Put me in the car with GPS, and I will probably get lost. Every time I am sure that I walk or drive in the right direction without a map or GPS I walk/drive to the opposite direction.
When I was in college, my friend and I attended the same class for a year. For a year, every time we left the classroom, she slowed down and let me lead the way. Every time we left the class I took the wrong turn, then I would look at her and realized that she was giggling. After a semester she stopped and said: “Noa, I can’t believe, we come here every week, and every time we leave the classroom you head in the wrong direction”. 
Yes, luckily my husband and my two boys have an incredible sense of direction, and I follow their lead, which takes me back to the word: followers. When I walk with my husband in a new city I don’t even try, I trust that he will take me to the right place, but in that trust, I let go of curiosity or learning, I move the responsibility to him. You see, as a follower, I don’t need responsibility, it is my husband's job to make sure we get to the right place. Now, in the next day, if I will need to walk on the same route that my husband and I walked the day before, I will have no memory of the path, I will need to start from scratch with a map as I have never been there before.
So you see, my concern when we use the word followers is that as leaders we want our team, our employees, our client or members to be engaged, to be responsible – but we come from an intention/mindset of seeing them as followers. How can they take on responsibility??? by the way as a leader do you want everyone to follow you?

“Hey! I need your help” I texted my husband who was sitting in an Irish Pub at the other side of the world “do you have a different word for 'follower?'” 
Yes, that’s another problem I have, I start from my end thought and forget about all the intro. So I began my text message again, now with a full intro, or at least as much as I can write when my create brain wants an answer right here right now. I waited to see what words he will share. 
I know as a leader and as a coach that I can’t allow myself to use the mindset of wanting others to follow me or invite others to create a culture of followers. 
So I came up with the term: WALKERS.
When we walk, we can walk side by side and have a real conversation, but sometimes when the path is too narrow, you can walk before me, or choose to slow down and allow me to lead. It doesn’t matter unless we are hiking in North Carolina during spring, or summer or early fall and then I will probably ask you to go in front just in case we bump into a snake, but that's a topic for another post.

By the way, my husband came up with the word: “Devotee.”
What would be your word?
        

Easy Doesn’t Mean Yes

Focus. If you live in our ADD generation, many of us are struggling with how to keep ourselves focused. I see two levels of how I can keep myself focused. The first level is how to commit to myself to do what I promised to do, and the second one that I am going to focus in this post is how do I focus on my primary purpose and its goals without being all over the place.

I think that being a leader and having my own business open the door for me to be mindful of what and how I do things and what are my thoughts and emotions about every step I take (or don’t take). You need to deal with so many fears, demons, and challenges and for each one of us they are different, and since not doing results in no money, or no clients/people who support your vision – it is very easy to see when you are not showing up fully even though you want to. 

So here is a fascinating lesson I have learned in the past two years around keeping myself focused or being all over the place and not following my desired path.

What I have learned in the past two years relates to a gift, yes, a gift that I have. For me to take on a big project, a complicated project, something that I have never done before is really fun. In my former life, I was a project manager and change management consultant. I didn’t need to have complicated workflows and documents to run projects, I have had a simple workflow, and most of the other components were in my head, and I remembered EVERYTHING – yes it is crazy, but this is my gift. It is easy for me to orchestrate and run the project and then to bring on board the people that will join me to do their part. I am totally at flow when I execute a complicated project. So this is one of my biggest gifts. I can tackle complicate projects easily. And here is the BUT.... What I have learned is that my gift is also what stands between my desire to stay focused on what is important to me and my fear to be all over the place. 

What I have noticed is that whenever someone reaches out to me and asked if I can help and take on a complicated project, my answer was YES!
 
But then one day I set with my whole life projects, I made a long list and realized that I said YES to too many projects that are easy for me. When I looked even deeper, the sad news was that none of the projects on the list served what was important to me (no matter if it is in life or business). 
My YES was to “EASY”, easy to pet my ego.  What I mean is that if I will be very honest with you, saying yes makes me feel good that I can do it easily and I can save others' world at that moment. Of course, it serves them and it also serves my ego, but does it serve my goals?
And that’s when I STOPPED.
Don’t get me wrong; there are still moments when it feels like I can be the only one that can save the day and my first tendency is to say: “Yes, I can do it”, but I have learned slowly to control the four words and STOP. Then I ask myself: “What is the purpose of saying YES?” If it is only because it is easy for me, that’s not a yes. If it is to pet my ego, it is defiantly not serving me nor others. So now my focus is to say YES only to projects that serve my purpose. So next time ask yourself: Am I doing it because it is EASY for me, or am I choosing to say YES because it serves the goals that are the purpose of what is important for me. And YES it is okay to say NO.
 

The NO Line

As a child, many moons ago, before the reality TV hit the road and their producers didn’t even dream about keeping with the Kardashians, on days when there were no friends to play with or older siblings around to share my imaginative ideas, I used to go to our family living room and pretend that I am on TV and everyone can see what I do right here right now.

In the past few years I was more mindful about doing being, I know, it sounds weird when you read it: “doing being?” – but stay with me.

I am not sure how exactly it started, maybe when my clients started to tell me that I am very intuitive and instead of pushing my intuition away, as I used to, I started listening to it, the more I paid attention to it, the more connected I felt. The intuition opened the door to zoom in and understand my FEARS, I was so astounded and at the same time paralyzed with my relationship around fear. How the fear shows up in my thoughts and how theses thoughts lead me to courageous decisions and many times, not too proud to say, to stop me from moving forward.
Bringing it back to my childhood reality TV story, in a way it was like I have decided to put a camera behind my back that will watch me all the time and I can watch the inner happenings at Noa’s Show (I think it can be a cool name for a reality TV show).
That’s what lead me into experimenting with meditation that taught me about how to stay with curiosity even when I can’t shut down the inner chatter. It’s okay. It is not about being upset with myself that I can’t, it is about noticing and bringing myself back with no judgment.

To make a long story short, I took myself on a path where I have learned how to of observe my senses, my emotions and my thoughts with no judgment at the Noa’s Show.

A few months ago I decided to experiment with running. It started as a suggestion for my 12 years old to do something together, so we started the couch to 5K program. She hated it. I, on the other hand, loved it. The more I kept going with the program the more my body yelled back at me: “Hey! Let me run more and more.” So I decided that my body probably knows better than me and I just need to listen to it. I ran more and more and It got to the point where body yelled even louder: “more!” so I decided to go for a bigger loop. Everything went well, I was running up the hill, and then my body was starting to lose it. It wasn’t happy anymore, I was really struggling, I just wanted to get to that church sign and stop, but that church seemed so far away from me and I moved into walking few feet before I got to the sign. Then on my next run everything went really well until I got into that same hill, closer to the church’s sign, “I think I can get to the church line! I can do it,” I told myself internally, all I needed to do was to pass the church sign, but my body, again, gave up few feet before the sign. I felt very frustrated and could notice how the reality TV camera is trying to understand what is going on there.

The next time, I felt like no matter what, I am not going to give up! I started the run, the hill, my body started to be upset with me, but then as much as it was hard I heard the inner cheerleader telling the quitter that he knows that I have that tendency to quit but not this time, and to make it even more interesting I heard him saying: “Listen, this time not only that you are not going to aim for the church as your line to stop, we are going to do something crazy! you will keep going as much as you like, no lines!”
The quitter was ready to quit, but the funny thing was that the moment there was no line to cross, the quitter lost interest and the cheerleader got in charge. Not only that I passed that church sign I was able to keep running another mile as if I just started.
That experience was so strong that the next time I ran, every time I felt like I am about to quit I heard the inner cheerleader yelling at me: “no Lines! Just run, stop when you are ready.”

When I took the running experience into my day to day experiences, I realized that there are some areas in my life that I am stuck for the same reason. My quitter loves lines, or should I be really messy here and say that he loves not crossing the lines – he will quit even before I get to the line. Understanding my pattern, I let go of some lines I drew in my life and as funny as it sounds that freedom left the quitter with not much work to do. So if you are in need of part-time quitter you are welcome to hire him he is available to start immediately.