Archive for December, 2009

Please accept this gift. . .

Thursday, December 24th, 2009

…help me to believe the truth about myself, no matter how beautiful it is! –Macrina Wiederkehr

This is the gift which we many times deny ourselves. It is learned. But I can only see what is beautiful in others if it is in my self.

I am honoured that as a Coach, a Friend, a parent, I am part of the revealing and experiencing of the beautiful, amazing truth that is each and every one of us.

May this Season of Light shine blessing upon all of us and may we embrace the truth of ourselves with great love, incredible joy and deep, heartfelt gratitude.

Happy Holidays!

Nancie Kay Shuman

Poor Gerard Butler (or, I’m sorry about your sucky childhood, why are you still making decisions based on that?)

Thursday, December 10th, 2009

(Okay, I need to preface this with the statement that I do not know Gerard Butler aside from what we see in the press. I think he has shown that, overall, he is a decent guy who loves his mother, works hard and is over all smart, friendly and kind. What’s not to love, right?)

So, I have a philosophy which underlies a lot of my Coaching. It goes something like this: I am sorry that you had issues with your Mother (replace with the appropriate noun.) Why are you still making decisions based on that relationship / situation?

Gerard Butler was recently interviewed and said that he is a commitment phobe because of the fact that his father abandoned his family when Gerard was a small child and he – Gerard – was raised by his mother. While I can understand that having your father not be a significant part of your life could cause you some stress, I also know that, through studies, it has been proven that children raised by single mothers who are healthy and well adjusted are no more likely to have issues of commitment and relationships than children in traditional two parent homes. This is even more true if the primary relationship in the two parent home is not healthy and balanced.

But more than this, Mr. Butler is a healthy 40 year old male who has the ability to do the work towards realigning his early beliefs and patterning. I understand that he has – and may still be – studied a spiritual path which, in my experience, is generally built on the ideas of personal responsibility and forgiveness.

And yet, he is putting the responsibility of his inability to commit on to his father.

Now, let’s remember that when we have something going on in on area of our life, it will show up in others. When I have clients who tell me that they have difficulties with commitments, I tell them to make a commitment and keep it. We start with short term such as go have coffee with someone on a regular basis. Then to expand that into other areas of their lives. In Mr. Butlers case, he has set up his entire life to not have to make long term commitments. He is an actor. By the very nature of the job, unless he is heavily invested in the project, he does not have to make a commitment which lasts longer than a few weeks to a few months.

Many years ago, someone interviewed people about their beds and one question was whether or not they had a frame or if they simply had a mattress and box springs. Barbara Walters admitted that, up until very recently to the interview, she had not owned a “real” be since leaving her fathers home. Her reason? She didn’t want to commit. Because of he transient life style as a reporter, the symbolism of owning a bed was that of a commitment. Not that I have any idea whether or not Mr. Butler owns a bed – and who cares – this is simply an example of how commitment issues can manifest in other areas of a persons life.

As a Coach, when I see someone who has a belief such as “I can’t commit because. . .” and they admit that it is standing in the way of their goals, I wonder how committed they are to their goals? And what would they be willing to do to move towards those goals? And what is stopping them?

Here is the article based on an interview.

Things to think about. Until next time.

Nancie Kay Shuman

It’s the Holidays! (More on Why we do the things we do. . .)

Wednesday, December 9th, 2009

I have been speaking with some of my UK and Commonwealth friends recently. One of the things which fascinates me is this feeling of dourness. There seems to be a, life is HARD and it doesn’t matter what you do, it will always be HARD. So go to the pub, have a pint, and drag back home to the hard spouse, and rinse and repeat.

(I want to live among these people. Maybe I, a fairly optimistic and sunny natured human, should look at that. Or maybe I should just accept that I am a little crazy.)

As Christmas is very much on everyone’s minds and it tends to be a very stressful time of the year, filled with traditions and expectations. Traditions are great. They connect us to the past, give us common ground to work from and help us to speak the same language and bond with others. If the reasons for the traditions are remembered, still valid and observed than they add depth to the celebration.

But, they can also add pressure and stress to any occasion, as well as opening ourselves to criticism that the tradition wasn’t properly followed.

I’ll use my own history as an example. . .

My Mom’s family is from the Czech Republic. Christmas Eve is a big deal in our house. Generally more so than Christmas Day. The tradition is that you must have 11 dishes in the table, one of which must be fish or seafood. Why fish or seafood? No one really knows, but there must be a fish dish. Bread as well.

Now, in general, we do a couple of soups, salad, breads, sandwich makings, jello mold, relish tray, veggie tray, deserts. All made from scratch. This can be very time and labour intensive. And everyone has an idea of which soups you are supposed to make! You cannot substitute Minestrone for Chili! And no, Oyster Stew, not Clam Chowder! And where is the Höuska? (Christmas bread.)


Here is where things can get complicated or uncomplicated, depending on your world view and where you are coming from. As I see it, I have four choices here: take this on and make everything from scratch. Pick and choose which of these items I am making and which I am either buying or asking someone else to bring. Call the caterer and have them do the whole thing. Or choose to not do anything.

If I choose to take this on and make everything from scratch, I have choices as well. Am I doing this this way because I want to or because I feel I have to? Am I choosing to do this this way because I feel an obligation or because I happen to love to? Both cook and create a unique holiday dinner for my friends and family? How much do I have invested in a need for approval of those same people? And can I let go of that need? And what is my attitude regarding doing this? And I coming from duty and obligation or from a loving, joyful place?

The second choice – to make what I feel is most important and to delegate the rest – is an act of trust. Along with the questions above, there is the question of can I trust myself to make wise decisions about what to delegate, where to get those things which I have determined to buy as opposed to making? Will I seem pushy to those I am asking to contribute to the feast? Will they actually bring what I ask them to bring as opposed to what they want to bring? What if someone doesn’t show up and we don’t have eleven dishes? Can I trust them – both the store bought and the home brought – to be of a quality I find acceptable? And what would happen if I do choose to trust?

*Breathe, breathe, breathe*

The third choice may be the hardest and the simplest depending on where you are coming from. Because if you are heavily invested in other peoples opinion of you, this is the one which could leave you most open to criticism. Everything from she is incompetent to make a simple Christmas Eve dinner, too she is showing off her financial status, to this is MUCH better than she could have EVER made. Now, if you can separate yourself from those judgments, which are probably the ones you have chosen because of your need to be right, then you can probably just enjoy the feast without too much worry.

And of course the last choice, to simply do nothing. Go to someone elses home or out to a restaurant. If you are really engaged in upholding tradition, then this is going to be the most uncomfortable choice of all. Afterall, these traditions are around for a reason!

We go back to the earlier statement – if the traditions still has meaning, then engage. If it doesn’t then make a conscious decision about why you are doing what ever you are doing and then make it your own or discard it. the interesting thing about traditions is that, if you walk away from them for a while and then discover that they do have meaning, you can always pick them up again and rediscover them.

In a Coaching environment – since that is what this blog is supposed to be about – I would encourage my Client to look at what the tradition holds for them? How does it enrich their lives? Can they choose to embrace the spirit of the tradition and enjoy the work, the creative part of it and what it’s intention was and perhaps, if it is appropriate, reinvent the intention so that it better supports them individually? Releasing stress and judgments of wrong or right, good or bad along the way.

A challenge, yes. But a great place to start and to have a wnderful holiday season.

Happy Holidays.

Things to think about. Until next time.

Nancie Kay Shuman

That thing you do. (and why you do it!)

Saturday, December 5th, 2009

I have been having a conversation over the last few days regarding why we do what we do. There seems to be two camps: because we HAVE to and because we WANT to. I am pretty firmly on the WANT to camp.

I have chosen to adopt the attitude that life should be fun. I should enjoy what I am doing and overall like the people I am working with. The late, great Pat Natarro, (former SVP of Motion Picture Distribution for Columbia / Tristar / Sony) once told me that we spend approx. 1/3 of our life at work. We will be happier in the long run if we choose work and an environment which makes us happy. And to work with people whom we like and respect. He died unexpectedly of a heart attack at the age of 56. At his memorial service, his former boss, Jeff Blake, said that it had been a perfect day for Pat, Went surfing with his eldest son, spent a quiet morning with his wife, and played video games with his youngest children. Set the high score. Sounds like a great day to me!

The people who I have been talking to who have been in the “Do it because you HAVE to” camp, feel that if you are having fun, you obviously aren’t serious about what ever you are doing. Those I have talked to who are of the “Do it because I WANT TO” camp, feel that anything which smacks of Duty and Responsibility is a negative and does not support real choice.

And if we have a choice, why not choose to have fun?

Now there are aspects of every job, every situation which are difficult to envision as “fun.” If you are in a Supervisory position, having to discipline of even terminate an employee is not “fun,” is it? And yet, aren’t there creative ways to achieve these things? Could it be possible that finding and helping your employees find creative solutions be “fun”? That disciplining doesn’t necessarily mean being harsh, negative and condemning.

This is also true about critiquing someones work. While some people find that it is fun to be catty and mean towards an artist, writer, etc. Do we offer our opinions, solicited or not, in a way which shows that we have an understanding of, not only the medium, the message as well as our personal ideals, morals, values, and our respect for both, or are we making statements which are meant to show the world how witty we can be but which really don’t help in expanding the understanding or facilitate greater discussion of the topic at hand. Or do we spend time and energy giving well thought out, honest, balanced answers which may or may not be a little funny, depending on the stand point of the person who is delivering the comment and the recipient?

I am not saying that we can;t be humourous in our approach to things. In fact, just the opposite. But humour not at the cost of someone else. Or even ourselves. Humour at the situation. Humour at the the obvious, homour at the ridiculous and absurd which is dished up to us for excatly the intention of tickling our funny bone. This helps to give life texture and colour.

So we are back to the original question: why do you do what you have chosen to do? What is your motivation? Where is your come from? What are you trying to acheive and does your choice allow you to achieve it with ease and grace?

These are all great questions which we raise in our exploration in Coaching. Set and agenda, build a plan, find the patterns and make the shifts and changes which support the Client to reach their goals.

And maybe have some fun.

Things to think about. Until next time.

Nancie Shuman