Very Messy

Open Heart Leadership Mindset

Heart

We all have that person in our life that we can not tolerate. Isn’t that a great opening for a Valentine’s Day post? I think it is. 
A few years ago, I decided to walk my walk of coaching. To walk my walk of coaching meant that I would hold the principles of coaching not only when I sit with my clients face to face or meet with them through the phone but also to hold those principles when I am not with my clients when I am not coaching. You see, the core of coaching is to partner with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential. If you strip the fancy words ICF used for coaching, the nutshell of coaching is the relationships I establish with my clients from the first conversation. Establishing the coaching relationship is what allows me to have a different conversation with my clients.
What I mean by that is that when we start working together, I get curious about my client’s needs and wants in this relationship. They know better than anyone else (including me) what they need. Of course, I make sure that they don't speak the mantra of shoulds and needs that others put in their head. I make sure that they express what is the heart of their want, not the others' want. But to make sure we both can hear the real want we need to have trust. Yes, trust that thing, that "space" as coaches like to say, that makes you want to share your want with me, even if it is uncomfortable. 
What makes people trust you? There are many possible answers to this question because there are many people with different wants and needs. But when you let go of judgment by listening with much curiosity to what they say and shift your focus from what you need or really want to say right now to allow them to talk they trust you because your focus is on them. Also, it is also important that we will ask the person what they need that when we share our feedback or share what we hear, sense or curious about that they will be open to receive our feedback. Think about it, in each relationship the responsibility to give and receive is on both sides. No matter if you are a leader, a business owner or a parent, you are not the only one responsible for the conversation. Think about it,  I can be the best coach with the best tools, and you can be the best leader with the best communication skills, but if the other person in the conversation is not willing to receive your insight or feedback, they just won’t! It is not because we did a crappy job, we followed all the rules, step by step, but we didn’t do something important. We didn’t ask what they need and wanted to be open to receive our feedback. We assume that by asking what we need to do differently, the relationship will get better.


Yesterday one of my clients used the metaphor of relationships as a cards game and here is the deal, I see you, I listen to you, I focus on you, but at the end of the day there are rules to the game. I need to get the rules from you, or we will play on the board game without a win for you for too long, that can be exhausting for both of us. What do I mean by that? First I share with you how I work with you, but then I also ask for your wants and needs beyond your goals, I need to understand what kind of conversation, a way of communication you would like to have that will serve you. Some clients need more of quiet time to process, and for me to stay quiet and wait, some clients want me to challenge them a lot, while others don't like if I push too hard, some need to report about their progress in between sessions while others need to process on their own. I dance with each one of them differently while also get the permission from them to be me. There is no one size fits all, there is no recipient there might be a need to switch the dairy with nut milk for one person, and the wheat with almond flour with another. So how do I walk my talk outside the coaching session? I see people as people. This is the heart of a strong leadership. I think in the last few years it became more and more of a narrative in leadership, parenting and owning a business - see people as people, see the human in the other no matter how different they think and behave. 
But what does it mean to see people as people? I love to use the explanation that Arbinger Institute use in their books. The core of seeing people as people is to stop seeing them as objects. There are three ways to see people as objects:
1.    Seeing people as an obstacle -   when you look at people as something that gets in your way of achieving your goal you see them as objects. If a person slows you down and becomes a barrier in your way, you become impatient, when you become impatient you communicate that with your body and with your words. It can happen with the cashier in the supermarket or one of your team members who doesn’t deliver what you need. You stop seeing them as people, achieving the goal becomes more important than the people themselves.
2.    Seeing people as a vehicle - you can also stop seeing people as people when they become a tool for you to achieve something, a vehicle. You all experienced when someone used you as a vehicle. It will start when they come to your desk, or stop you on your way and probably flatter you on what you wear and then ask you if you can give them something they need that you have. Did you ever experience being a vehicle for someone else? I sure did….
3.    Not seeing people – this is when the other person is invisible, we don’t notice their existence. Have you ever experience sitting in a meeting with another person and they talk about their business/themselves/their mission for 60 minutes and never find the time afterward even to ask you one question about yourself? Would you do any business with that person? 
How do you see people as people? It starts with noticing that we all at times see others as objects. Me too. Now, when we are ready to admit that we have our moments when we don't see others as people, we can start noticing ourselves and learn to switch. How can we switch? We move our attention from focusing on our needs and wants to the needs and wants of the other person. A little example from our current flu season. Like many of you, our family hit with the flu as well. Since Thanksgiving every week I had one or two family members sick in our house. A few days ago while my two older kids stayed home with a cold and a fever I drove my youngest to school. My husband was on a business trip, and I was tired. My little one got into the car and said: “mom I have a headache and I feel like I am going to throw up” It was the sixth time that he used that excuse in the last month. Twice he did have something but this time like the two other times the week before he did not have a fever or anything else. I was tired. I was ready to just go to my meeting with a client and get some peace and quiet from all the germs in my house, so I did what sometimes parents do when they get tired. I yelled. Remember this is a messy blog. I yelled that enough is enough and he is going to school. There was more yelling from my hand, but the underneath the yelling was my try to say to the world to let me be. My youngest gave me the unhappy nine years old guilt look, and we both stayed quiet until we were one minute away from his school. That's when I noticed myself. I shifted from seeing my son as a barrier, being in my way of achieving peace to a child that might try to communicate with me a need or want. “Hey little guy," I asked him "is everything is okay at school? Do you have trouble with your friends, teachers?”, 
“yes mom,” he said, “I have some trouble with the assistant teacher.” 
You see, stop seeing people as people, is something we do more than we think, not only with our team members, or with our clients, but also with our family, or when we go to the supermarket or at networking events. Don’t be upset with yourself, just notice. The more you notice yourself, the more you will open your heart. 

People can sense when you see them as objects, think about it, see me as a person someone compliments me, see me as an object someone compliments me, do the compliments feel the same? 

Happy Valentine's.


 

Overwhelmingly Unbalanced January and Assumptions About my Generation X

Overwhelned

Something interesting happened this month, we are talking about January, and for some reason, most of my clients shared the same burden of having too many things going on in their life right now. For some, it resulted in doing nothing, and for others, it led to making too many mistakes.

It is kind of interesting how things were starting to fall apart for all at the same time, exactly when we all suppose to let go of our New Year's resolution.

But, let’s skip the New Year’s Resolution Statistics and let me share something I am thinking about related to my generation, Generation X.

I am not sure what is happening to us, especially Generation X, but I think for many of us this smartphone/technology distraction caught us unprepared. Don't get me wrong, I am not that old, but although my father brought home Commodore 64 when I was 6, life with computers, or computer with life – not sure what is the right order – became part of my reality only when I was around the age of 24.  My assumption is that for many of my generation it was/is the same picture.

The reality is that Gen X is struggling with balance like no other generation.

You see, for my kids, technology is part of their nature, they are 100% committed to it, but! When they want to talk to me (not when I make them talk) they will put their technology away and connect fully – I am not kidding.
Now, my parents and their generation? Most of them worked with papers during their office hours, and when they went back home, they disconnected from their work until the next day. Today, after they have retired, they got used to technology, and even enjoy some social media, and smartphones, but they use it as a hobby or pleasure.

Generation X?

Think about it for a moment; we weren't born into this environment; we needed to figure out how to work with all the distractions, how to work with emails efficiently? How to build our business using social media? How to use text messages and What's App? And feel alive or not depend on our smartphone battery life.

So we feel like we always have too much, too much work, too many commitments, too many distractions, so we stopped choosing, we do it messy or just break the rules and don’t do it at all.

Again, this is my assumption about why our generation feels so overwhelmed and out of balance; we had to learn to say yes to too many things, we had to learn later on how to embody email and social media and iPhones and exploding Samsung. Oh! One thing we did forget! We forgot how to say no.

So what I like to do is go back to basics. Somewhere in the new reality of “technology is part of our life” we got confused and started to approach our brain as CPU. So listen here! Yes, our brain is a smart computer, but if you read the machine instructions (Brain at Work by David Rock is a good place to start), you will realize that our brain is not okay with multi-tasking. Multitasking is something that was invented by Human Resources to write in Job Descriptions, but let me repeat my message to you: our brain was not designed to support multitask. Our brain was designed to figure out patterns and behaviors; it learns what we do by breaking the actions to little bites until it sees a pattern and makes it part of our "non-thinking mechanism."

So if it is okay, I would like to invite you to go back to basics, to go back in time to when Commodore 64 was just a big fat box with not much memory. That was the time when we would take a pencil or a pen and write down or even draw your list.

Write down, or draw everything you have in your head, spill it out, throw up, I know you have there more than a dozen item in your head. I can tell you that it feels so damn GOOD to empty your head space and let go of all the distractions and even guilt for all the things you said YES to because they are easy to do, but not important and that will lead you to the next step. You need to have a serious conversation with yourself about what stays and what goes. This is your early spring cleaning. Enjoy ;-)

Last, here is something I have created to plan my goals. I broke down the process into three categories: DOING, BEING, and RESULTS. For each goal ask yourself: What is the doing for this goal? What is the being for this goal and what are the results I would like to see from the doing and being? What's cool about this process is that sometimes what you think is your goal ends up being something else. It makes you think intentionally about each of your goals.

For example, you want to speak in front of groups, is speaking is your result? No! Speaking is your doing, so what is your being? Your being can be courage, and what are the results? Probably more clients, visibility, money…

Got it? Keep it simple, download it and have fun!

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.

I Am Not a Breather

When I started training to become a coach, one of the things we needed to do was to practice coaching skills. So how did we do it? We coached each other constantly! We practiced coaching in school and outside of school; we practiced as much as we could.

One of the things that I couldn’t stand when my coach-student-friends started their coaching session with me was when they would say: “Ok! Let’s take a BIIIIIG breath!”

Since many of the coaching sessions outside of school were through the phone, I used to roll my eyes and let my coach friends take their big breath and just wait for it to be over!

Few years after, I was already a certified coach and a few of us coaches re-grouped to practice our coaching skills and give feedback to each other for the sake of our own growth as coaches. It was great! But then they started with the breathing and I told them in my very Israeli-direct way that “I am not a breather!” Everyone laughed and we had a great conversation about breathing with clients. Yes, I know “breather” is not a real word, but it just meant for me that I don’t enjoy taking a deep breath during coaching sessions when my coach decides for me it is time!. I felt that I am just not a breather. If you want me to take a big breath, please ask me if I feel like it! Don’t make me do it!

But you know, life gets in your face and one morning when I opened the refrigerator (you know, that thing that you do when you work from home) I realized that I was not breathing. That’s right!  I was pressing my lips together really hard and was holding my breath as if I was about to dive into a pool.

I must say that I became very curious about what I had just realized in my own kitchen, but rather than judging my behavior of not breathing, I became curious and started observing myself. The more I observed myself the more I was amused with what I was doing.  Weirdly enough I had realized that “being” in an entrepreneurial “I am procrastinating” state made my thoughts kept me from breathing!

I closed the refrigerator and took a big breath. It was a choice, a choice to shift from where I was to a new state.

 

You know, that moment when I decided to close the refrigerator door (don’t worry – I probably did grab something out of it before I closed the door) was a big moment for me. It was the first time I had realized that breathing is choosing.

What?

You see, few days after, I found myself lecturing my 3 kids, again, during dinner time. So in the middle of the same blah, blah, blah, that I used to say every night (and my kids wouldn’t pay attention to) I paused and took a big breath. That moment of choosing to pause and take a big breath made me stop lecturing them and sit still and quiet.

Everyone was waiting on me to keep going, but I just stopped, I knew that there was no added value to what I was going to say, it was more of a need for me than an added value for everyone else. I just did it because this is what I do every night and then regret. So taking that big breath was for me a moment of choice.

Since then, breathing for me is a choice. When I am “not breathing” I know my body is sending me signals that I am not choosing my next step. It is a signal that I need to shift. It is a moment to ask myself: what do you need to shift right now in this moment?  I can still choose to stay where I am – stuck! But it will be from a resonate place of choice, not from being a victim of my own thoughts.
I work with many clients who talk so fast that they can’t even catch their breath. Their work-life is so full that they can’t even pause the long list in their head and take a moment to breathe.

So no, I don’t make them breathe. I still think that your coach should ask for your permission to take a big breath together, but what I do is ask my clients is to notice how fast they are speaking, how short their breath is,  and get curious about what’s going on.

 

Ask yourself, what makes you talk so fast that you can’t even catch your breath? What makes you hold on your breath so that it feels like you are about to dive into a pool? What makes you stop and take that big breath that everyone in the range of 5 miles away from you can hear? What are the signals that your body is sending you?

What I Have Learned About Mindfulness from a Deer

A week ago I took the kids to school, it was early morning, my car was still cold and I was driving slowly. In front of me, the sky started changing their color from the dark sky to beautiful colors of an early sunrise. “Look at the beautiful sky in front of us,” I said to my daughter, who was sitting next to me.  While I was looking at the road and driving ahead I heard a big bump from the back side of my car.

“What was that noise?” I asked. I turned my head around to the window behind me and to my surprise, I saw a deer heading back to the other side of the road where it came from. It was really quick, but I couldn’t really see him, he crossed the street after I passed him in the dark and he bumped into the door behind me. I stopped the car and found that it had some dents and seems like the deer was fine if he was able to keep running, and I didn’t drive very fast.

Luckily it was a minor damage, I don’t like how my car looks like right now, but we are all fine.
Now, what’s interesting is how my driving habits changed after this experience. I drive for many years, but I have never needed to deal with deer living next to us. Where we live now – driving in an area where deer can jump into your road is a daily reality and I realized that my driving habits and skills didn’t include the habit of being mindful for a deer that might jump into the road while I am driving.
Then Last night I have noticed while driving back home from a networking event that I changed the way I scanning the road with my eyes. If before I was looking mostly at what was in front of me and/or on the road, now I am also paying constant attention to what is happening on the sides of the road left and right, especially if I know that I am driving in an area where we can meet a deer friend.

The deer made me think about the practice of mindfulness in our life. So many times we let our life pass by without noticing what’s really happening, without focusing. We don’t really pay attention to other people or things in our life. Mostly your thoughts are running all over the place with no structure. You don’t really think about anything; you just do it. But when a deer bumps into your car you open your spectrum, you look back and ask yourself: “how for god sake I didn’t notice these events in my life?” Suddenly you start looking not only at what is in front of you, but also what is on the sides of the roads, your eyes are scanning all the time, and your mind is present with what is happening right here right now. “

So now you probably think to yourself: “Oh! Great! I understand the example about the deer, but how exactly it is applicable to MY life? How do I stay present and more mindful about my life? and don’t start telling me to meditate because I truly don’t have time for meditation in my life right now!”

Okay! I get it, and I am not going to convince you that meditation can help you practice being present with your life, I won’t! my only request to you is very simple and quick – just take one deep breath. Yep! That’s it. Whenever you catch yourself traveling with your thoughts all over and pass people and events without paying attention just take a deep breath and see what’s happening. Don’t stop after the first time, keep doing it every time you catch yourself wandering around. That’s only one second and one deep breath – that’s it. Now you know. I hope the deer will take a deep breath too….

 

 

     

    The Pain of Loss and Grieving During Relocation

    This article posted at the Canadian expat network website, as a guest blogger.

    "to avoid pain of loss would be to avoid the love and life we shared" C. S. Lewis

    A few weeks ago while I was speaking with one of my clients she shared with me her feelings: "I moved to an amazing city that has so much to offer, I can explore art exhibitions like no other place in the whole world, I can enjoy good theater or Broadway shows, but instead I feel so lonely and sad. My friends are so jealous of me, but mostly all I do is cry, I am not even sure why. Then with my husband, I used to tell him how I feel but he felt so guilty for seeing me so sad that I stopped telling him. I just pretend as if everything is okay, but I miss my family, I miss my friends, I even miss the food. No matter how much I try, I cant really enjoy anything I have around. You know, sometimes I even feel that I am not strong enough. I don’t get it,  I suppose to be happy, but instead I am so sad… why am I so sad? It just doesn’t make any sense"  
    “Actually it does,”I tell her, she is not the only one who feels this way, many of my clients who went through relocation experience feel the same way. Some transitions in life like death, divorce, losing your job are painful changes and they are also life transitions that our surrounding is easy to acknowledge our pain. But in other life transitions, like marriage, having a new baby, or move to a new place with a big house and yard it is harder for us and the surrounding to see the struggle, these transitions are categorized as "good events” and we will see less support or understanding around our pain.
    When we decided to make the move to North Carolina, I knew it is the right decision for our family as a whole and for each one of the individuals in our system to move. But in the back of my mind, I was also saying goodbye to people and places in Brooklyn, NY. It meant accepting the feeling of loss for what became our community, the people who were part of our daily lives and more than a cultural experience, It was a symbol of many personal struggles and then learning points that allowed me to shift my perspective from I don't know who I am anymore and how I can do it, to I know!.  I felt a whole person, I was connected and grounded.

    While processing the pain of loss, I have realized something that happened through our first move. I was restless; there was a change in my emotions. One moment I was angry, the next moment I was out of energy feeling very sad, I didn't feel like working, I didn't feel like connecting with other people, I just wanted to sit down and read an 800 pages book I received from my husband. Then I would wake up for another full of energy and feel that everything is great! I am done being sad and things started getting better, I was creating, connecting, I felt fine, until, you know the next day when I woke up and again I was out of energy, going back to the 800 pages book with no desire to do anything else.

    One day my friend came over for a coffee and asked me how I am. "I don't really know how I am anymore", I told her, feeling ashamed and guilty for my behavior, "the only thing I really want to do right now, is read a book. And you know what? I feel so guilty about it.". "That's ok", she said, "You are just grieving".

    She was right, I was grieving, I wasn't grieving the ending of an important period in my life, I was grieving the not knowing of who I am going to be after the move.
    You might have heard about the five stages of grief, by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance. Not everyone goes through all of the phases or in the same order, but knowing you can experience them through loss can help you cope better with your relocation experience.  I believe many people who go through relocation experience part or most of these stages.

    Denial -- means disbelief. It doesn't mean you ignore your move, it means that you still can't believe it is happening, or it is going to happen, and mostly the people around you who are also sad about the loss react in the same way.

    Anger -- anger shows up in many ways and shapes, many parents shared with me the guilt about yelling at their kids, they were tired, emotionally exhausted and they took most of the anger on their kids. My anger wasn't really logical, I didn't even know why I just felt like it is not fair!

    Bargaining -- mostly in relocation bargaining shows up as guilt, you tell yourself "only if" we would have done things differently. Guilt also shows up a lot with the partner who is responsible for the move, they feel as if it is their fault. They will say something like "if only I can make him/her feel better, I just want them to be happy ".

    Depression -- I am not talking about a sign of mental illness that is a long term thing, but the feeling of emptiness and the sadness we feel at certain times in our lives. After the relocation, the grief gets into our lives on a deeper level, but this is our way to keep us protected until we adapt to something we can't handle. The paradox is that the longer you will try to push the pain away from the longer it will stay. The depression will stay until it feels it served the purpose of loss, so instead of fighting it, try to accept this phase and allow your uninvited guest to stay. You can invite them for a cup of coffee, just sit with the pain try to understand it more, acknowledge it.

    Acceptance --is about accepting the new reality, it is about understanding that this is our new reality and it is going to stay here permanently. I know you miss your past or dreaming about a brighter future, but if you want to create a better present for yourself it might be the time to accept where you are and while acknowledging there you had a wonderful past and one day a brighter future, the present is where you are. 

    If you, or anyone else you know, have ever experienced all or part of these stages, please know it is okay. You are not crazy, although you feel this way. You are also not weak you are just processing the pain of your loss. In a strange way, accepting the grief brings us closer to coping with the transition in our life. The ending is how every transition begins, and when you will be ready to let go of your ending that's when you will start to connect with other people again and create new opportunities in your life.

     

    “to avoid pain of loss would be to avoid the love and life we shared”

    — C. S. Lewis