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Archive for the ‘passion’ Category

I’m Bored. Now What?

Sunday, March 22nd, 2009

In the middle of a recent coaching appointment, both the client and I had a huge realization. She was completely bored with her life! As we were talking about a decision she was facing, it wasn’t the opportunity that was appealing; it was the thought of welcoming change – any change – into her life that had caught her attention.

 

“What’s challenging to you right now? What is exciting in your life? Where do you find passion?” I asked. To each question, she gave me a puzzled, almost painful look. She did not have an answer.

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Finally, she explained, “I work hard and am successful in my career. I got married, had kids, survived divorce and am now working hard to keep some balance in my life. Life feels functional; I have a lot of responsibilities and I find that the only real challenge is juggling the activities in my life.” But where was the passion?

 

It’s easy to see how this can happen. When we were in school, our goal was to graduate. Then we wanted to get a good job. Next it was to meet someone and get married, have kids, be a good parent, etc. Now that we’ve done all that, what are we moving towards? The first part of life seemed so structured. We knew what we were “supposed” to do and what was “normal” and what came next. But who makes the rules and sets the goals now? What is “supposed” to happen next?

 

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“Imagine that you are the writer and director of a movie – your movie,” I said, introducing an analogy for us to play with. “The stage is set, several plot lines have been introduced, and there is a cast of characters with you as the lead. Tell me how the story unfolds. What happens next?” Sounds pretty open-ended, right? The irony is that this much flexibility can be stifling!

 

She looked at me, completely stuck. I pressed, “Where is the passion?” She had become so busy just managing her day-to-day life that she had forgotten.

 

We then reconstructed and described each of the eras of her life. We began in childhood and moved on to the School Era, the Single Years, the Relationship to Marriage Era, the Family and then the Divorce Years, which brings us to now.

 

We brainstormed her future Eras. The next one was called Back to Me. Travel Time came next, which naturally flowed into the Relaxation, Retirement and Grandparent Eras. We talked about each one and built a loose framework for her future. As we watched the chapters unfold, she saw where she was now with more perspective as to how it fit into the rest of the story.

 

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By creating descriptions for each time period (including the tone, color, theme song, motto, etc.), we provided clarity and dimension to the various segments of her story. Excitement grew as her entire life began to feel more alive and connected. Ideas sprang forth that took completely by surprise and the boredom disappeared. We had, in effect, re-energized her life by adjusting her perspective.

 

Stepping outside of the day-to-day responsibilities can help to gain a broader perspective. This macro-view provides the big picture along with the details…and how it all fits together to make up your life. By knowing where you’ve been and where you plan to go you gain a better understanding of where you are right now. Isn’t life really all about right now?

 

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Coaching Challenge: Review your life and write down the major eras. Describe each segment by answering the following questions:

•    What is the overall theme of this time period?

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•    If you had to describe this era with an article of clothing, what would it be?

•    What is the lead song on the soundtrack of this era?

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•    What kind of car do you drive?

•    What would a bumper sticker on your car say?

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Now list the upcoming time periods in your life. Create the macro view. Then focus in on each one and answer the questions above. Have fun with it. See where you are going. Imagine the possibilities, and feel the passion!

Eating the Elephant One Bite at a Time

Tuesday, January 20th, 2009

Entrepreneurs make great coaching clients. They have a wealth of ideas that are just waiting to be hatched. Their eyes light up as they explain a new product/service and how it could be used. We float from one idea to the next exploring a slew of topics, ideas, products and services. Their mood goes from excitement to overwhelm as the ideas pour out of their mouth. How does it all fit together? How will they proceed? How can they prioritize and focus their time and not get lost in the minutia?

Ideas with numerous pieces can be overwhelming. As you try to get a grasp of the whole picture, you find that you are juggling thoughts and ideas that are exciting, but seem to make no sense. It’s like having five hundred puzzle pieces in front of you and wondering if they belong to the same puzzle.

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You may have heard the question, “How do you eat an elephant?” and then the answer, “One bite at a time.” But how can this be implemented with the whirlwind of ideas that feel more like a tornado than a warm summer breeze?

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A client was frustrated trying to create her new business. She asked, “How do I define it? What does it look like? Who do I serve?” We explored different sides of her “elephant.” She provided stories of people she had already served, different modalities she offered, various forms of communication, etc. The more we talked, the more puzzle pieces we had out on the table. How did they all fit together? Here is where her confusion and frustration originated. This is where many creative people become paralyzed.

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I pulled out some note cards and we wrote down each of the ideas, words, and images on a card and set them aside. It was a fun way to brainstorm and create.

We came to a natural break and laid out the note cards. Using a puzzle analogy, we had opened the box and spread all of the pieces on the table. We began to group the main ideas, just like you sort out the edge pieces, the sky pieces, etc.

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We categorized, grouped, set aside and pieced together the cards, looking for the view of the entire elephant. Most of the cards fit; some did not – and that was okay. A relief, even, because knowing what didn’t fit meant clarity.

After we had several main categories, I asked about each one, looking for the passion and energy she held for each. We prioritized them. “Which one(s) must happen first?” Having the cards laid out and talking through each made this exercise so much easier. It wasn’t just a bunch of words floating through the air or in her head, but something tangible that we were able to see, touch and manipulate.

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A flow and order surfaced and we came up with action plans and deadlines for each of the steps. Her energy went from frustration to motivation.

It’s easier to know when

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something needs to be done and harder to know what needs to happen first. By laying all of the pieces on the table, even if you can’t see the puzzle’s image, you have a sense for the larger images. As smaller pieces fit together, it’s easier to see what stands out, define the larger pieces and then determine your next right step.

 

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Coaching Challenge: If you feel overwhelmed with the multitude of ideas and find yourself wondering how it all fits together, get a stack of note cards. Anytime an idea comes to you – whether it makes sense or not – pull out a note card and write it down. Do this for at least a week.

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Then review the cards and categorize them into groups. As categories become clear, prioritize each one and create at least one action step forward. Give yourself deadlines to keep you on task. Then move on to the next. Continue to note any other ideas you have and repeat the same process. This will help you move from ideas to action.

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