Archive for September, 2009

House hunting

Friday, September 18th, 2009

Now that grad School is over, I am thinking it’s time for me to find a place to live. This makes sense, especially now that I have chosen to let go of the idea that I NEED to be a poor Grad student in order to REALLY appreciate what I have worked for. Where did THAT come from anyway?

But here is the problem I am currently running into: every time I start looking in Los Angeles, I start feeling a deep anxiety, a feeling of suffocation, palpitations. What is Going on?

Well, the easy answer is that I don’t want to be in Los Angeles anymore. It’s really that simple. I have accomplished everything that i have set out to do here and, although I have some friends here, I have no real ties or commitments here. And let’s face it, much as I love this City, it can erode your soul after a while. I am tired of being judged by my shoes. But that is just a “thing” and a sign of a larger issue both with the City and within myself.

I want to be in London. I want to be Coaching full time. I want to be near my son while he is in school. I also want to release relationships which are toxic and don’t support me. I love many of these people dearly, but no longer want to enable their insanity. I have learned my lessons from them, thank all the powers that be.

As a Coach, I am going to set this up in the same way I set up my Project in school. I will start with setting a clear intention / Goal / Agenda. Then I will develop a working plan. This plan will include things such as physical achievements, sign posts, end criteria. There will be a mental component as well as emotional and spiritual. Recognizing where I am in conflict, when my actions are not in support of my agenda, understanding when I am getting in the way of my own progress. My experience is that this kind of clarity and preparation leads to incredible success as well as an opportunity to really become grounded in the proccess.

The interesting thing to me is that Coachville, one of the Coaching groups which I have trained with, has just announced a new proficiency which is basically this skill and model. While there have been groups which have used this model successfully for years -especially with professional Athletes, this is only now coming into the general usage with professional Coaches! Think of the amazing applications that this type of model can have within a Corporation both for a the individual Executives and for the larger group! Amazing and exciting!

Right now, I am thinking that I need to start the planning stages. Be realistic about costs, time lines, etc. and understand with the situation I have right now, what I can and cannot do. What variables I cannot control. Then start to move forward, working my process as issues arise, realigning my perspective when necessary, and moving forward with ease and grace.

Things to think about. Until next time.

Nancie Shuman

Walking down the other side of the street

Tuesday, September 15th, 2009

This morning, I woke up at an incredibly early time for me. I tried going back to sleep, mentally knowing that I had only had about 5 hours a shut eye, but my body kept saying, “Let’s go! Let’s go!” So I went.

Now, normally when I walk to Starbucks – about a mile from the house – I have a very particular route I take. The main contributing factor for that route is shade. I am trying to loose a tan and help to reverse some sun damage before I head to a Dermatologist for anything to do with lasers or chemicals. This choice to walk in the shade means that, as I am pretty consistent about the time I go get coffee, I almost always walk on the south or the west side of the street.

This morning, because of how early I got up, I was able to walk where ever I wanted because the sun was not at a level or strength were I needed to be worried about continued sun damage (allow me to be clear – my daily moisturizer has SPF30 in it. It can handle a little early morning direct sun light.)

Walking down the north and east sides of the street was interesting. You wouldn’t think there was that there would be much difference between the two, or that you wouldn’t have observed the little nuances of one side or the other. But I must confess, I was really stunned by the differences I saw. I noticed an original 1908 Craftsman Cottage which was tucked behind an enormous fig tree. I saw a small reflecting pond in the corner of a yard which I would never have noticed if I hadn’t walked on that side of the street. The house with the door from India, or the cream coloured cat who was lounging on a rocking chair on a wrap around porch.

While these seem like small things, this is a great exercise in what empathy is about. As a Coach and Anger Management provider, one of the things I talk to my clients about is looking at things from other perspectives and trying to understand where other people are coming from. If we can begin to move towards empathy, we can then begin to expand our knowledge of different people and other view points which will allow us to grow in ways which we have not previously thought about. This expansion can help in many areas of the clients life from improved personal relationships, friendships, family relationships and work relationships, but also in a better relationship between the client and himself and an better understanding of his place and contribution in the world. This is an incredible opportunity to learn more about yourself, your relationships and your world.

So, which side of the street are you goi

Getting what you pay for

Friday, September 11th, 2009

Over the last few years, I have been job hunting many times. One of the things I am constantly shocked about is the tendancy for potential employers to demand top level work and qualifications for entry level dollars.

Let me give you an example:

“Executive/Personal Assistant
Date: 2009-09-01, 8:51AM PDT

Executive/ Personal Assistant position available in a high-end residential interior design firm located in West Hollywood. We
are looking for a thick-skinned professional who will be able to work well with the designer/owner who may be demanding at
times. Candidate must be organized and the ability to multitask is a must.

Act as administrative assistant for entire office
Answer and direct phone calls on a multiline system
Handle all scheduling both business and personal for owner
Coordinate all travel both domestic and international
Process incoming and outgoing deliveries and shipments
Act as liaison to all vendors and clients
Schedule all repairs and maintenance at bicoastal homes
Order all office supplies
Handle all correspondence for the owner both business and personal
Maintain owner’s contact database
Greet customers in a showroom setting

Required skills:
Previous assistant experience a plus
General Computer skills, especially Microsoft office and internet research
Highly Organized
Ability to Multitask
Detail Oriented
Handles a high stress and fast paced environment well
Good communication and verbal skills
Adaptability to ever changing demands
High level of confidentiality

* Compensation: $12 per hour DOE ”

(This is a real advert from Craigslist. I wish I could say that it was unusual, but in my experience, it’s not.)

When a company is only willing to pay $12 an hour and demands Executive level assisting (and indicates that the environment may well be abusive. See the line about thick skinned,) why are they surprised that they have a revolving door for this position? Why are they surprised that the people who they actually hire are not invested in their job and many times are more interested in finding their next job than doing the work which they have been hired to do.

Even in todays market, maybe especially in todays market, both employers and employees are feeling exploited. I have heard the same complaint from both sides: that the other does not respect the job.

Well, here is a piece of wisdom you might want to think about: you get what you pay for. HR managers know that good Executive Assistants have a shelf life of 2 – 5 years if they are well compensated. Even when they don’t necessarily like their the people they work for, they will invest in their jobs. The biggest reason for them to leave is because they are bored and want something different.

When you hire someone who is really not qualified for the position or who is qualified but whom you are compensating at a rate lower than the position really deserves, you open yourself up to problems. Remembering the old idea that people do what they do for love or money, unless youare fulfilling their fondest dreams, if you want them to stick around, you need to compensate them according to the work being done. (In Los Angeles, $12 an hour is a receptionist. A general Admin Assistant gets $15 – $17 an hour and someone like me who who not only has been an executive, but can run an executives life on every level starts at $65K per year.)

While there are many lessons in being grateful for the work, being grateful to the person who signs the check, the human condition does demand acknowledgment for work well done. And Universally, this is known as an exchange of energy. Money is seen as a symbol of energy spent. If an employer is looking for someone to handle a heavy, sensitive workload, why are they unwilling to hire and pay for someone who is not only going tp do the job and do it well, but is feeling as though they are being properly appreciated for the work which they do? And the promise of bonuses is great. But in most peoples experience, unless
you are working for an active company which gets contracts and everyone gets a bonus when the contracts are signed and when the project is put to bed, most people would rather have a pase salary which reflects the value which the company puts on their service.

And that may be the biggest key. How much does the company value the service which the person is providing? A good executive assistant makes the bosses life so much easier. They can anticipate the needs and wants of the executive as well as work with them as a team member. A good executive assistant is invested in the success of the company and the boss. ( I have a friend who has worked for the same boss for 15 years. She has been in three different companies with him. And she is paid very well.)

If the company feels that the service is not very valuable, as reflected by the pay scale, why do they have it? And why are they surprised when the applicants are not very driven? Or have an attitude? Or don’t stay long?

Things to thing about.

Until next time.


If you could do anything, what would you be willing to sacrifice?

Thursday, September 10th, 2009

The last 12 months have been difficult for all of us. There has been a lot of fear motivating much of the planet. Let’s face it, there is a war going on, we are dealing with a global economy which has finally gotten over burdened and crashed, the planet is heating up faster than anyone ever expected and *gasp* red heads are expected to disappear within the next 400 years!

(As a red head, this last is obviously not acceptable to me!)

So what do we do? There is pressure on all sides to conform. For more and more individuals, fear and anger is leading them to take drastic steps, everything from cheating on their taxes, to suicide. Some have headed into deep depression, others are increasingly angry and frustrated because their lives are no longer defined by their plan. They have lost control of the cart and suddenly realized that the horses aren’t even attached to the cart, let alone behind it!

So what do we sacrifice? How about our need to be right? Maybe our need to have things a certain way. What would happen if we sacrificed our anger, our judgments, our unrealistic expectations? Our definition of ourselves on a material plain?

Two years ago when i started school, I was making $80,000 a year as an Executive Assistant, plus bonuses. ( I was coaching on the side, working to build my practice while I was getting ready to go to Grad It was a great gig and the company was expecting a lot of expansion. As in doubling it’s size every year for 5 years. Lots of growth potential for me there as well. School was something I was doing for both myself and for my potential growth within the company.

Things changed fast! The economy started to slump, the company suddenly realized that it no longer had the growth potential which it had first estimated, and the $80K per annum assistant had to go! (Others as well.) Obviously, this caused difficulties for me because I was at a cross roads in my career. Did I find another Executive Assistant job or did I dedicate myself to becoming a Coach? Truly stepping into that role? What sacrifices would I have to make if this was the direction I was going to take.? And in the current economy, would I able to do either and still be able too reach my educational goals, support my self, my son and my cats? What would I be willing to sacrifice?

It’s interesting, because the choices were rather easy. To support my vision, I was willing to sacrifice a place to live, I was willing to sacrifice some relationships which had stopped supporting me me. But more than that, I was willing to sacrifice my distrust in myself and in the Universe. I was willing to let go of my definitions of who I am and who I am supposed to be. i was willing to allow myself to simply be Nancie. Which encompassed many aspects of myself.

This was not easy. It was even a little scary. But once the concept of something being right or wrong was released and the concept of being part of my learning replaced old thinking, things began to shift. Because I no longer felt as though I were fighting an up hill battle. I am not saying that things suddenly turned on their heads and everything i snow peachy, but I am able to look at where my value lies.

This has also not been easy for some of the people around me. I have had to chose to lay down some boundaries. Which I don’t enjoy doing because I am very aware that there are exceptions to every rule. Some of these boundaries are very based on my observations and interactions with the people involved. But the were necessary for my being able to grow and feel secure in my honouring myself and choices.

I recently saw the movie Taking Woodstock The lead character Elliot is gay and concerned about his parents reaction. A transvestite comes to the resort and befriends Elliot’s father. Elliot asks Vilma, Does my Dad know what you are? Vilma responds, I know what I am. It should be pretty easy for others to figure it out.

Wow! What Vilma must have chosen to sacrifice to be that authentic. He had to give up his caring what the world thought of his choices. He had to let go of any judgments he had about being gay. He had to really allow himself to be comfortable with who he was. What would it take to be that self honouring?

What would you be willing to sacrifice if you knew that by doing so, you could do anything?

Things to think about . Until next time.


Some days are like that. . .

Friday, September 4th, 2009

You know, some days, I feel as though I have no wisdom. That I have nothing to share. That all "it" is about is just getting through the day. There is nothing new to say. Everything has been said before. There are no new ideas, just old ideas stated differently. Hoping that people hear us this time.

Some days I choose to look at the down side, the dark side of things. The struggles, the pain, the obstacles. The improbabilities if not the down right impossibilities. And why not? Why not choose to look at the things which, in my perception, keep me stuck? Which I choose to believe keep me from moving forward in my life? Which I have actually invested time and energy into making right and valid as reasons why things aren't working the way which *I* have determined that they *should* work?

Why shouldn't I choose this? Afterall, it makes me right? It keeps me feeling as though I am all powerful and can have some control over my destiny, even when what I am getting is in direct conflict with what I want.

My intentions and desires compete with one another. When I choose to check my perceptions, I discover that many people have received great value from my wisdom, both high and low. That being "Right" or "Wrong" has nothing to do with truth. That choosing to understand my current limitations, both in the physical and on the mental, ego levels, will help me to see clearly where I have competing intentions and finding ways to reconcile those so that I remove the "obstacles" from my path, as they no longer serve me.

As a coach, I find that the challenge which most of us have is to value ourselves without being or becoming arrogant and overbearing. I know my personal value, I have embraced it on many levels. A few years ago I fought and held fast for the financial recognition of the value I bring to the table in my work. And I won that battle.

The financial recognition is one way to in which to access your personal value. Although you and I are not our financial situation. If Reverend Ike is to be believed, money is one of God's ways to show us he loves us and by accepting it, we are showing God that we love him and are open to accepting his gifts and his care of us. I am becoming more open to this line of thinking everyday.

One of the Universal truisms which sometimes gets lost is that, because we exist, we have value. When I was in high school one of my brothers gave me a poster which said, God doesn't make junk. This is sometimes hard to grasp, let alone remember and apply to ourselves, simply because we are constantly getting outside feedback that we are not perfect. That we are junk. Whether is is direct feedback from someone because they are trying to help us, or indirect via advertising, the message is still out there and still constant. A study showed that women became increasingly depressed when looking at fashion magazines because they felt that they would never measure up to the models. And they become more fixated on trying to look like one. And another study has shown that more men are not forming healthy relationships with "average" women because they believe that they will get a super model, and yet they also believe that they are not good enough to get a super model.

STOP!!!!!!! This is crazy! Why are we - and I am just a guilty as the next guy - choosing to compare myself to such impossible models? Why do we choose to belittle ourselves? Why do we make ourselves small, insignificant, put limitations on ourselves? What would happen if we decided to embrace the magnificence which we are? What might be the results if We - I - decided to simply surrender to the truth: that I am perfect just that way I am, for all I have been through, all I need to do is choose to improve.

So. the question is, what other ways can we measure the value we bring to the table? What would happen if instead of listing on our resume the companies we worked for and the 'things' which we did, we listed our characteristics? We listed our driving force? We listed the things which we are capable of? Not just alpha numerical filing, but being able to organize and calmly run a chaotic Universe, with ease and grace? Of moving mountains and changing the direction of the tides with out breaking a sweat, let alone a finger nail? How about simply. serenely creatively support those around you, finding solutions which benefit all?

It's easy, really. Just start with these statements: I am worthy. I a able. I am strong. I am perfect.

Add your own. Be positive. Be energetic. Excited. Do it for 30 days. See what happens.

Things to think about. Until net time.