Archive for June, 2010

Going through the insanity, or what makes getting up in the morning worth it. .

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

I was talking to someone the other day and they were really getting into the insanity around a project which they are currently involved in. It’s is going well, overall, but there are many things which are still not falling into place exactly as originally envisioned. Some of it is because of money, other pieces are because the people who were originally prospected to join in the project aren’t able to, or only in a less complete capacity. I have heard all about how this change was made because it was much more high brow, and that part was let go of because there was no pay off. And how this compromise was made and everything and every one they hate is going to be involved that part, so gee who wouldn’t be excited about it?

What I haven’t heard in a long time is what excites them? Why are they doing this? What is the bottom line that makes them choose to get out of bed every morning and continue to work towards this goal? If everything fell apart right now, could they live with what they had achieved? What is the underlying goal, agenda, desire?

What are you passionate about, enthusiastic about. What do you wake up in the middle of the night so happy and joyful just thinking and feeling and dreaming about that you have to hold yourself still, because if you don’t you feel as though you will explode! And when you come back together again, there will be extra pieces because although you will leave parts of yourself with others you touch, you’ll bring parts of them back with you?

What makes you glow? What do you see in other people which is in you and causes others to look away because they are blinding by that much joy, by that much pure love?

Were it to all come apart, if you were left standing in nothing but your shift, could you still find joy, find love, find the excitement to get up in the morning and laugh, and sing, and love again.

The person I was talking to seems to be so caught up in the material parts of the project, the bling, the prestige, that I wonder if they are enjoying themselves. But I haven’t heard from them that they are choosing to put this project together out of love, enjoyment, the adventure. I don’t hear the words about feelings, although if the tone many things are delivered in is any clue, they are very angry about much which is going on.

So what makes going through the insanity worth it? What is the agenda attached to what you – and I – have chosen to do? What makes it worth our while to get out of bed in the morning?

Money? Money is nice. But money itself doesn’t make you happy. in fact I know many people who have a great deal of money and are very unhappy and unfulfilled. Possessions? Again, you can live in the most beautiful palace and still be in Hell.

What about love? Both giving and receiving? What about friendship? Laughter? Serenity? What about freedom from judgments? Freedom from irrational thoughts? What about compassion and empathy? Especially for ourselves.

I think the thing which my friend doesn’t remember in all their stress is that I, like they say in The Invitation, am not interested in what you do for a living, how much you paid for your car, who you know. I am interested in are you happy, fulfilled, do you like to person staring back at you in the mirror every morning.

Tell me your joy, your pain, your sorrow. But don’t tell me how much you paid for your shoes. Unless it was a really good sale. Because that doesn’t matter to me. The fact that you love those shoes and you feel like a prince(ss) in them, and they go perfectly with this amazing outfit and you feel so much more beautiful in it, that is what I want to hear. That is what I am interested in.

This doesn’t mean that money, possessions, prestige any of it is bad. Quiet the opposite. It is when our focus is on the material parts which take us out of out feelings and block us from being compassionate and empathic with others. And our language reveals where we are coming from and what our world view is.

So from a Coaching POV, what drives you? What are you focused on? What gets you out of bed in the morning? What makes you yell “YES!” at the moon? And if you don’t like the answers to those questions, what choices are you willing to make in order to shift and change?

Things to think about. Until next time.

Oh and enjoy!

The Invitation by Ohiah Mountain Dreamer


Shooting myself in the foot, or what do I really want?

Sunday, June 27th, 2010


I just had a very interesting experience. I have been applying for day jobs, and after sending out a handful of resumes, stopped to look at the e-mails. Now I use a boiler plate cover letter which I wrote several years ago and which usually gets good reviews from recruiters, so that is no usually the problem. But today, it seems that anything which I could do to shoot myself in the foot, I did.

Spelling errors in the title, applying for the wrong job, even applying for a Coaching job when the job advertised was not Coaching. Once I realized that I was doing this, I stopped, took a deep breath and took a moment to think abut what was going on.

This is what I came up with: I really don’t want a conventional day job. I don’t want to go back to Executive Assisting with a side of Coaching again. Not that Executive Assisting is bad, it is simply not the career path I desire to pursue any longer.

Now, pride aside, in the past, I was a very good Executive Assistant. Even better when the boss allowed me to actually fully participate in the job and in the process. The problem I ran into many times was when the boss kept things close to his chest and would not allow me to know and understand what was going on and participate in the process, thus facilitating a clearer and more effective result. And a better relationship across the board.

Recruiters frequently complain that many Executive Assistants – especially those who have been EA’s for many years – move around a lot. One told me that in her experience the average EA, even high level, is only in a post for 18 months to 2 years. And there are many reasons for this. But the main one tends to be boredom.

Let’s look at my last 3 posts. Just for fun.

I was brought in to work with the CEO as the Board of Directors was trying to sell the company. A lot of setting up meetings, travel arrangements, multiple conference calls. MovieLink was bought out by Blockbuster and all the top executives were let go. I was one of the lucky ones. I was kept on for 30 days and then received a great severance package which allowed me to start my Masters program. But, overall, it wasn’t rocket science. And my interpersonal skills weren’t challenged. I had 4 Coaching clients at the time to keep things interesting for me. I also traveled a lot and had a great salary and benefits. This kept me interested and committed.

Incite Entertainment. Now this was a little more interesting. The Owner / Producer, Carey Schot, was looking for someone to come in and organize her office and help her put together her Non-profit. This research and organize was part of what I love to do and excel at. Because Incite is an Independent TV / Movie company, they were more susceptible to the whims of the market, and Carey decided that although she was satisfied with the work I had done for her, she simply couldn’t afford another assistant in the Company at that time. A few months later she did down size considerably. I understand that things are picking back up for Carey, but like for many of us, it has been a rough couple of years.

RazorGator. This job was probably my biggest challenge. I was hired to help my boss, who was a Cowboy, to get into Corporate mind set. I was told, if you can’t do this, than no one can and we accept that what we are asking may be an impossibility. I was contracted for 6 months and it was probably the hardest 6 months of my working life. Because Boss really did not want to conform and play the game. He also had no idea how to make the most of me and my skills and was highly resistant to any suggestions. He also had the mind set of a more sales based position with quotas and evidential assessments. In other words, strong indication of use of time. As anyone knows who works with a good EA, there is a lot of down time. In the end, Boss went to Europe for 4 months, and I left the company.

But overall, these positions were rote. Answer the phones, get lunch, schedule appointments and set up travel. Now, I am not too proud to do any of these things. In fact, I kind of enjoy the challenge of getting and keeping someone on track. But it isn’t my lifes blood. It doesn’t excite me to the point where it fulfills me.

A good recruiter knows and understands this. Most will seriously ask what else do the candidate do to fulfill themselves. (I am always amazed when you see advertisements for EA jobs which indicate that you are expected to be available 24 / 7 for a low salary. Give me a reason to sell myself into slavery, please.) What else do they have going on which will help to balance the what is basically a slightly boring and many times low paying post which generally will not go any place?

By the same token, many recruiters and executives are very afraid of candidates who have outside interests. The ask for candidates with very specific qualifications which many times include advanced degrees, and yet become nervous and sometimes demeaning when the EA actually uses their training and intelligence. Sometimes ever threatened by the EA. Afterall, s/he might be after the Executives job!

Stop the madness!!!!! Please!

As mentioned above, recruiters know that EA’s have a defined shelf life. Isn’t it better to be up front about this as opposed to deleting many good candidates because they don’t have longevity in one position? Or to discover the WHYS of their leaving? (I had a 5 year period where I had 4 jobs. Every company closed.) And wouldn’t it be better to look at the Assistants long term goals and see how they and their training can be put to use for the expansion of the company and the more efficient and effective running of the life of the Executive to whom they report? It does boggle the mind.

So my task was to release the judgments I had about taking an EA post and think about what my agenda is. What am I trying to achieve both in the short term and the long term? Can I choose to look at things differently in order to support that agenda? And what choices do I have, what research am I looking for?

These are questions which in this particular economy more and more of us are asking ourselves. What is your agenda, and what are you willing to do to achieve it?

Things to think about. Until next time.


Occupational hazards, or what was that pattern again?

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010

Yesterday I was on the phone with my sister. She told me about something which had happened and my reply was, you’ve gotten better.

Then I laughed!

You see, as a Coach, I look at patterns. Speech, actions, movement. Where does the Client support themselves, where do they undercut themselves? What small changes can they make in order to better support themselves and their choices.

This is great, and when I am COACHING, being able to pick up these sometimes subtle clues makes me a good Coach. But there are times it makes me less than stellar dinner companion! And on a date, it can be a bit daunting. I have been known to put my date in his place by reading his character back to him. Let’s just say that we choose not to repeat the experience.

So what can a Client expect from me in this regard? Well, one is that we look at their patterns and make adjustments which will hopefully better support their agenda. Some of these changes are subtle and many times do not feel as though they are actually directly connected. Let’s look at an example from my life: I am starting to read Rumi. A little trite I know, but it appeals to me on several levels. But more than that, I am starting to pattern my brain to think along more romantic terms, to be open to a romantic relationship. Something which has a connection on all 4 levels – Mental, physical, emotional, spiritual. What better then Rumi? (I’ll let you know my progress.)

But why read Rumi instead of signing up for on line dating services, or going to multiple singles events? Because my pattern is to be very logical and, as I have mentioned, rather laser when meeting people. I am ready to cull the herd very fast and sometimes with an axe where a scalpel would be better. So, Rumi.

Now, part of my pattern is to resist what I know is going to help me. What can I say? Like everyone else, I don’t enjoy change. Even change which I KNOW is going to be good for me, I am going to enjoy, and which will improve my life. Not to mention will be fun. But I have to fight because it’s part of the process!

Now, in the spirit of “better” what would happen if I simply surrendered that part of the process and dove in? what might happen if I dove in with joy and abandon? What would happen if I were to add curiosity to the mix? Excitement?

Now may be a while before I start seeing direct results from this. But the key at this point is, as I expand my openness, to keep awareness of where else I sabotage myself and my goal. And when I see it, note it and make the changes – sometimes called course corrective actions – which will bring me back into alignment with my agenda.

Sound hard? Not at all. It’s all about choices. Here is a challenge: find one pattern which you can change or adjust. It can be simple, such as taking a word out of your speech pattern. See what happens.

Things to think about. Until next time.

Nancie Kay Shuman

Under the Tuscan Sun, or keeping promises to myself

Thursday, June 17th, 2010

Okay, so I have decided that I would benefit from lightening up a little bit. Nothing major, but I know that I can be a little bit intense at times. And perceived as being serious. So what to do? How about laugh a little?

So, my solution is to watch funny movies. I have committed to watching 2 – 3 a week. Tonight, it was Under the Tuscan Sky with Diane Lane. And while it’s a complete Chick Flick, it’s fun, too.

But this is the more important thing: I laughed a lot. I am sure the good people at Starbucks thought I was crazy, but that’s okay. Because the other thing which was probably even more important was that I was keeping a commitment which I had made to myself.

Now, I am pretty good at keeping my commitments. In the past, I have had any number of people not keep commitments to me, sometimes in big matters, sometimes in small ones. So I understand what it is to be disappointed by others. And it also reflection of that persons personal integrity. So I have consciously chosen to do my best to keep my commitments. But remembering that what we perceive in others in many times a reflection of what is going on within ourselves, I have chosen to look at where I don’t keep commitments to myself. Where do I not put myself first? Where am I willing to compromise my principals, ideas and word towards the most important person in my life – me?

Now. I don’t beat myself up about this. Afterall, it is human and, especially women, are taught that putting ourselves first is BAD. That we are selfish for keeping our commitments to ourselves. That we should put the wants and needs of others before our own. And while this is great, the truth is that until we, as individuals, are willing to let go of that particular mind set and put ourselves forward, asking for what we need, and being clear about what we want, no one else is going to to do it for us. No one else will take care of us as well as we can take care of ourselves.

Now the interesting phenomenon is that the moment we start to take care of ourselves, we start to get what we need. By keeping our commitments to ourselves, we suddenly find that we have more space in our lives. And not because those who have in the past been the focus of our “nurturing” have left our lives. Au contrair. Many times, they also expand their abilities to take care of themselves.

And example of this is my son. When Justin is home, he lets me do almost everything for him. It’s a Mom thing, I know. Laundry, cooking, etc. But I know that when he is at school, he does all these things himself. And when I say, I am busy right now, he shrugs, and goes and takes care of things himself.

In business, you see this frequently as well. Many an executive has gotten caught up in micro managing their staff with less than stellar results. Stress, feelings of helplessness, frustration, anger. And a lack of self care because the Executive is focusing all their energy on personally trying to make sure that all the fires are put out as opposed to allowing those whose job it is to put out the fire to do their job. Instead of committing to overseeing the process and to their personal role in the process, they are outwardly focused and therefore not being in integrity with themselves and not being en efficient leader.

So what to do, you ask. That is easy. Find small things to which you can commit and then stick to them. Set it up in a pretty no fail system to start. One Client of mine said to me that he wanted to become more involved in his religous community. We agreed for the first few months that he would attend church twice a month. And that after a pre-set number of months, he would start to volunteer in some capacity at church. Because this way, he would not be setting himself up for failure. Included in this was an opportunity to journal, and look at his patterns of resistance, shifting any judgments which came forward, and replacing them with new ways of looking at the situation.

So today, I am going to encourage you to think about what commitments you have made to yourself which you are not currently living up to. What is stopping you? Is there a better way to break it down in order to fulfill it? And who will you be when you do?

Things to think about. Until next time.


Finding balance, or there are times when it’s best to just pet the cat

Saturday, June 12th, 2010

I was talking with my Godfather earlier this week about how busy our lives are. Bill, like me, I pretty much just a kid from someplace else who happens to live in Los Angeles. We are both always a little amazed at the opportunities which life has provided us with.

One of the things which we agreed upon was how easy it is to get into the habit of doing, doing, doing. And never simply being. Think about it for a moment. How often do we hear people talk about the need to be out and be seen? Do you go to an event to enjoy the event, or is it a networking opportunity? I know someone who will not go to the grocery store without their business cards because they see this as an opportunity to net work.

While I applaud this, and am honest enough to say that I always am ready to talk about Coaching, I also wonder about how authentic that is? When someone is so focused on the outside, on results in the physical world, when do they have the time to be with the person who is on the inside? To simply be?

How often are we encouraged to know ourselves? Shakespeare encouraged it. To thy own self be true. Which would suggest a certain level of self knowledge. We are told by Socrates that an unexamined life is not worth living. So why do we spend so much time outwardly focused and so little inwardly?

And I am not talking about deep psychological examination. Although for some people that is definitely a valuable part of the journey. I am talking about looking at what makes you happy, what fulfills your wants and needs, what do you do which no longer supports who you are today and where you want to be tomorrow? And what choices can you make to bring about healthy changes?

Sometimes, it’s just best to stop and pet the cat. Spend some time with a child or older person. Listen to the birds.

Our society right now has a lot of emphasis on prayer, meditation and creative visualization. Which is good. All are wonderful tools which can help to bring a person closer to their authentic self. But like many other things, all of these have been packaged in one form or another for outward gain. Once again, not a bad thing, if the person who is engaging is coming from an authentic, loving place. Unfortunately, many programs teach this as an outwardly focused, with direct manifestation in the physical world. While this is not a bad thing, it can be misleading.

Real fast, let’s go over one of the key Coaching models: in most peoples life’s, they believe that if they do something, they will then have something, then they will be something. In Coaching, we believe that if you are something, then you will do something, then you will have something. Be serene, be the change, be dynamic, be powerful. Be authentic. Be you.

This is why the statement, “I am. . .” is so powerful. The sentence, “I am.” is the shortest in the English language. And once again, one of the most powerful.

But how to find this being / doing / having? My stock in trade answer is of course Coaching. But I readily acknowledge that it is but one avenue. There are others which are just as valid, just as real. And as effective. It depends on what the Client feels most comfortable with.

But, in my experience, the first step is slowing down. At least enough to breathe, to shift focus, to look at where your life could be improved. To be willing to even momentarily let go of the rush and to settle so that the wisdom of your learning can come forward. And to find balance.

Things to think about. Until next time.


Social taboos or that tat. . .

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

My friend Nicole was just turned down for a much better job with a potential new employer. She was completely qualified for the job, has great references, experience and a great attitude. She speaks several languages and gets along with people well. The problem? She has two visible tattoos.

Nicole is a beautiful young woman. I met her while she was a teenager and she was trying to come to LA for a convention and needed a chaperon. I volunteered. I was going to have my teen age son with me, so why not, yes?

Anyway, the company Nicole was applying to have a very “classy” image which does not include visible tats. She was immediately disqualified for the job.

Now, Nicole never planned on working in Customer Service. She was going to be a TV writer. In fact, I have read some of her work, and she is really quiet good. But like many of us, she made a choice based on what she hoped would happen and the consequences are that she is not able to get a great job.

I am not anti tattoos. Or piercing or any other number of things which can be part of the determining factor for job seekers. In fact, I know of several people who have been able to have their cake and eat it to.

One of my brothers has a friend who has a Japanese style full body tattoo. He has a great affinity for Asian culture and thought long and hard about getting the tattoo. When he first started the work, there was no laser tattoo removal, so this was definitely a life time commitment.

Now, when he started he was selling insurance to farmers in Nebraska and Iowa. A more conservative group you will probably not meet. He also was dealing on a daily basis with other people in the Insurance industry, also not a group known for it’s willingness to push the envelope in their ideals and beliefs. His compromise was to keep his tattoos covered. He told me that none of his tats could be seen when he was wearing long short and a golf shirt out on the gold green. That this was carefully thought through and respectfully remembered and applied when ever he had work done. Because he not only loved the tattoo and had no desire to stop, he also was aware that with the groups he interacted with, he was choosing to respect them and their social mores and taboos. This is, in part, what has made him successful in his line of work and in his life.

At times it is valuable to step back and look at where we are headed and what we are bringing with us. Do the choices which we made when we were 17 still support us and our agenda? Are there better choices? Or are there better choices in our selection process now? Could Nicole have chosen a company which does the same thing but is less conservative? Or would it behoove her to look into laser tattoo removal? Or should she be looking at getting out of the business she is in totally and go where her heart is – TV production?

Today, I would suggest that you take a moment and think about things which you are hanging onto which potentially cause people to perceive you in a way which does not support your agenda. Whether that is something like a tat or a bad habit or a speech pattern which could be improved. What could you do to change that? And what might happen, who might you become, if you did?

And for those of you interested in tattoo and removal, my I suggest you check out the following sites? Dr. tattoff,, National Tattoo Assiciation. I am not associated with either company.

Things to think about. Until next time.


The things which Irk me, or how to reprogram your brain. . .

Tuesday, June 8th, 2010

Okay, so today my horrorscope told me that the things which irk me were going to be magnified 10 fold. And that I should probably simply choose to bite my tongue no matter what is going on at this time. That way, I wouldn’t have any back tracking to do, right?

Well, me being me, I made another choice. I decided it was time to reprogram my brain.

This is an exercise which I learned long ago. When something bothers me, something in the past which really there is nothing which I can do to change it, that I should bless it, and let it go. Now being the Coach, I also take the time to look at and acknowledge the choices which I made, what was behind those choices and my responsibility for them and the outcome.

Really not that hard. The hard part is being willing to 1) be aware of the patterns which I have fallen into, 2) being willing to take responsibility for my past actions and 3) placing no judgment on those actions.

By becoming aware of a pattern, we are able to acknowledge it, and decide if it is still working for us, and then choose to change it, if that is what we feel will serve us best at this time. And if we find out that the new choice doesn’t serve us – me – then I can always change back! Trust me, the old choice will still be there!

Being willing to take responsibility for your actions and thoughts is also not new. If you read my blog regularly, you know that this is a keystone of what I preach. Now, taking responsibility is not a horrid thing. In fact, it’s a good thing because it empowers each and every one of us and allows us to live our own lives and not be victims of others. It can be hard, especially when we perceive that we have made a mistake or have caused harm, whether to ourselves or others. We spend time anticipating that we will be punished for what ever we have done, good or bad.

This is normal and human. We have been programmed this way for several lifetimes at least. But there is good news!

If you look at #3, letting go of judgment of yourself, the situation other people is a key to freedom! Here is the thing which we forget sometimes when we are standing there being irked at ourselves or others. And judging our lack of discernment or what we perceive as poor choices: if we had known better before we chose what ever we chose, we would have made the better choice, yes? But how were we to know without this experience? We aren’t stupid, dumb, an idiot or any of the other things which we – and sometimes others – call ourselves when we do something which does not support us and our agendas. We simply didn’t have adequate information.

Now I am not saying that there are not consequences to our missteps. There are. One of the situations I was dealing with on an emotional mental level today was with a former landlady who was really crazy. She locked us in, blocked the driveway, would write me really nasty notes. While I was not the perfect tenant, some of her behavior was just bizarre. I knew that I should have run the other direction quickly, but didn’t see anyway out at that point in time.

Today, as I was walking in that neighborhood, I found myself really getting irritated at this memory. Not to the point where I was angry, per se, but still a little grumpy. I stopped, took a breath, and reminded myself that I made the best choice I could at the time. Rosario, bless her heart, was doing the best that she could and really needed the help of her family, and this situation finally got them involved. I spent a moment thinking a good thought for her, being compassionate for myself and the situation which I found myself in, taking responsibility for my actions and feelings, and letting go. The thought is that if I continue to do this, probably sooner than later, I will no longer have any charge in this, no longer be irked by this memory. I will have reprogrammed my brain.

Today, I would encourage you to find one memory which irks you. Take the three steps, see what happens.

Until next time, things to think about.