Archive for July, 2010

What is your motivation, or how we get in our own way

Tuesday, July 20th, 2010


So the other day I was walking down the street in Marina del Rey, Ca going to Starbucks. I was wearing a top from India which was pretty typical of the clothing from that culture over a pair of jeans. A woman walked up to me and asked where I had gotten it.

“London’s Little India,” I cheerfully relied.

“Oh, great! I’ll just jump onto my Concorde and go!” she said, some what snippily.

Excuse me? What just happened there?

I am always somewhat surprised when people respond this way. This was a casual inquiry from a stranger on the street. The response could have been anywhere on the scale of negative to positive. But why ask the question in the first place? What are you seeking?

After thinking about it for a moment or two, the most obvious answer is that the woman was looking for information which she could use without having to exert herself. She also may have had a judgment about my ability to travel. And perhaps her own ability or inability to travel. So she chose to make a snarky comment and move on.

But what would have happened if she had chosen to engage in a positive manner? With curiosity? What is she had said, “Wow! That’s neat. Not something I am going to be able to do anytime soon.” Or, “Do you know anyplace a little closer where I might be able to find something similar?”

If this was about actually liking and desiring the style of clothing, she would have gotten much further with either of those responses and several others than the one she used.

Now, we can go into she is an angry person, she is having a bad day, life, she argued with the cat before she walked out the door. I don’t know any of those things. And for the sake of this blog it doesn’t matter. What matters is this questions: how often do we choose to respond in a negative manner because we don’t get the answer immediately which we want? And how often do we ask a question which is not the actual question which we are trying to answer? And then we choose to become frustrated and angry when we get an answer which doesn’t give us the information which we truly are seeking?

Now, some of this is deeply programmed into our patterns and history. In fact, many times we only see these patterns in times of deep stress. As a Coach, what I would suggest to my clients is to begin to observe their patterns (I know, for frequent readers of my blog, this has become a broken record!) with out judging them as good, bad, right, wrong. Just simply patterns. Then you can decide if they are still working for you or if they could use updated.

Here is where the fun part comes in. If you are choosing to update, all you have to do is practice. For me, I learned to say, thank you, more often and more freely. In the past, I was always grateful for good service, a compliment, a helping hand, but I was uncomfortable with expressing that. Truth was, I was uncomfortable with drawing attention to my self, the past training that I needed to minimalize my own experience of pleasure because I was not to call attention to myself and that it was unlady like to experience and express strong emotions. As well, my experience was that many times saying thank you would open up a dialogue which I didn’t always want! But I remembered two very important lessons from childhood: A simple thank you from me is all that is required, and a simple sincere thank you can make someones day a little brighter. And it costs me nothing.

Now, once again, from a Coaching perspective, one of the lessons I ask myself and my Clients to choose is to do things which make them uncomfortable. Self respecting and respectful of others, but uncomfortable. For me it was learning to be at easy saying Thank you. Next was learning to ask basic social questions such as, “How are you today?” Sounds easy, right? But in order to do this, I had to be willing to be uncomfortable and release any judgments about people seeing me and connecting with me even on a light social level. (Bus drivers are usually great for this kind of interaction! They love when they have happy passengers!)

So how to do this? The same way you get to Carnegie Hall: Practice. I started practicing Thank you with clerks, and Bus drivers. When they would return my “How are you today?” with one of their own, I would respond, well, thank you. I thanked the bus drivers when they stopped at my requested stop. (According to The Dangerous Book for Boys thanking the bus driver is something all of us should do!) I thanked the Barrista for good service! I thanked the postal worker for delivering the mail. And I branched out and started to thank my friends and family for their help, love and support. While I can’t say that I am perfect at this, it is much better and I experience is more openness where before there was some guardedness and unacceptability. In my perception.

So from a Coaching PoV, I am going to suggest that for the next few days (longer if you like) look at small patterns which if you chose to change them, could reap you large benefits. Such as remembering to say, please and thank you. What are you observing? Both out side yourself and inside yourself. And watch what happens. Do you notice any change? What is it? Can you choose to not judge it but be with it? And then what?

Things to think about. Until next time.

Nancie Kay Shuman

Running around in circles or how the inside of my head can be a scary place!

Saturday, July 17th, 2010


So I have been having some really good days recently on a personal growth level. Done some research. lots of writing, found some irrational beliefs which don’t support where I am trying to go. Letting go of beliefs which have in the past supported me but no longer do. Without judging me, the situations, the people who were involved, etc.

As I am patting myself on the back, I receive a notice from the post office that I have a certified letter waiting me. And even though I have a pretty good idea what it is, I immediately go into panic mode! Worst case scenerio goes through my brain. And it works overtime!

Now, there are a couple of ways to look at this. The first is, I can’t get the letter until tomorrow morning, so panicking really doesn’t do anything for me except give me a poor nights sleep. So I can actively choose to not worry about it until tomorrow.

The second thing I can do is g ahead and worry, but do so in a controlled way. Think about all the things the letter is likely to be, and then see if I can systematically dismiss them.

The last, and this can be kinda fun, is to imagine the best and the worst case situation of this letter! See how far I can push it into fantasy! The steel magnet I briefly dated has passed away a few years ago and being without an heir, left me everything! And the Lawyers have finally found me! I am the winner of the Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes! The people who I helped find money in the States Treasurers office have claimed it and want to give me a thank you gesture. Or this could be as simple as the IRS has made an adjustment on my taxes and is notifying me of it. I have had that letter before. Or it could be the landlord of my storage space giving me notice that he would like me to move. Which is also fine. I’ll work that out.

So, realistically, this really is a choice. I can spend all my energy waiting for the big bad, or I can spend some on fabulous fun projections, or I can simply turn my concentration someplace else. And lets face it, there isn’t much I can do before 9:00 am tomorrow morning. Once I have the letter in hand, I can choose to react and take action as appropriate to the news within. Or not. But there is no use loosing sleep over something I have no real knowledge of or control over.

But how often do we do this? How many of us immediately go into full panic mode when the boss calls us into the office, or our beloved says they need to talk to us? How many of us start to try to figure out what we did wrong and how much trouble we are in? Do we choose to walk into the situation with defenses high, anticipating conflict and in some cases actually be prepared to fight? Or do we go in with an open mind and heart, ready to hear what in many cases is not about us and a non-issue? Do we get the adrenaline going, or rest in a place of openness and acceptance?

Now, I have to be honest, the latter can be a scary place! Because you – I – have to be in a place of trust. I have to trust myself, God, the person I am going to talk to. I have to be solid in the knowing that the choices I have made in the past were good and in alignment with who I am and what ever I have been working towards. And that sometimes I have simply been doing the best that I could and that I will need to address places where others feel that I have not fulfilled my part of the agreement, such as with the IRS and the adjustment in my taxes. Really in the scope of things, not that big of a deal. Because it is something which can be dealt with and does not make me a bad person.

So, from a Coaching point of view, the question is, where is the jump off point for our fantasies? Where is the point where we choose to buy into the judgments of ourselves and others with little to no solid evidence? What patterns are we reinforcing when we make the choices which was make? And what would happen if we made other choices?

Things to think about. Until next time.


Dealing with distractions or why the dishes must be done before I can write. . .

Tuesday, July 13th, 2010

So today I have added a couple of new elements to my routine. Nothing huge, but they are important to my overall goals. Free form writing daily, back to core / ab work and a few other things, many of which I have been flirting with in the past but have not fully committed to. Things look great except. . .

I am easily distracted. Year ago, when I was an undergraduate, I lived with my friend Teri. During our last term in Uni, we were both doing design work and spending a lot of time at the one drafting table in the house. It worked because we had just different enough schedules and I had a drawing board which we anchored on in a way which didn’t disturb Teri’s work.

Anyway, finals rolled around and we both had a ton of work to do. Not simply design work, but writing and prepping for exams. But before we did we did two things: cleaned the house from top to bottom and went grocery shopping. Because we knew if we didn’t we would never get our work done.

Now I am going to say something which will cause some disagreement, but here goes: this is more a female issue than male. A friend of mine, who specializes in human sexuality, commented that for a woman to reach a high level of satisfaction, she needs to be able to eliminate all distractions. Because women have, over the centuries, developed the ability to multi task, which is a good thing in day to day life, but when the need to concentrate on one this is important, can be a determent. Really amazing sex is one area where, for many women, this is true. For me, writing is an area where it is very easy for me to allow the distractions to over take my concentration.

So what to do? Well, this depends on the nature of the distraction and how willing you, or I, are to initially being uncomfortable. Because for some of us, the dishes being in the sink while we take care of what ever we need to concentrate on is just a thing. Not good, bad or anything else. We know that they will be there when we are done, not an issue. For others, we know that those dishes will breed and if we don’t take care of the ASAP! we will have to handle even more dishes when we are done. Or maybe there is a judgment lingering about being a good or bad person depending on if there are dishes in the sink if anyone were to walk in while I / you / we were writing.

Now here is the interesting thing. This is one of the few places where I will tell you that you don’t necessarily need to look deeply into the situation in order to make a shift. Unless the situation brings up feelings of unworthiness, self hatred, etc., then it is worth sitting down with pen and paper and maybe a Counselor or Coach and looking at it. More relevant is what are you choosing to do about it?

As a Coach, I believe in setting up supportive environments. In my case with the dishes, I have learned to do them as quickly as possibly, especially when I have decided on a specific course of action for my day. In their words, I have a to do list calling my name! And let’s face it, to do lists are great because they show us direct, measurable evidence that we have achieved something with our day! Sometimes the key is to get as many of the small things out of the way as possible prior to tackling larger projects. Sometimes it is better to break down the stages of the larger project and use the smaller things on the list as a counter balance and reflecting period. There are times when simply choosing to let the list go temporarily is the wisest choice, especially when there are issues such as deadlines involved so that we are able to meet them and be in integrity with our word, especially our word to ourselves.

So what are some tricks and tips around helping yourself to make sure you are able to move forward with your agenda with as few distractions at a time? Well, some are easy, such as prioritizing and delegating. Remember when you delegate to give clear instructions including expectations and deadlines. A little harder, but very doable is to create pairings. For me, free form writing and core work go hand in hand. I spend 30 mins more or less writing and then I get down on the ground and do crunches or what ever is on the list for he night. And yes, that is another thing I do to support myself, I make lists. Both of things which need to be done, or in the case of my exercise routine, the various things which I am putting into practice in order to support my goals. Other fun things can include tools such as the Om Yoga Flash Cards which allow you to play with Yoga poses and create your own set of sutras. this helps to keep things fresh and the same philosophy can be applied to just about everything.

When we choose to break things down into smaller parts or to create systems which support us and our agenda, we are more likely to be able to follow through and stay in integrity of our agenda and our intention. So over the next few days, I invite you to look at where you can start to eliminate distractions and create more supportive environments and systems which will move you forward and help you to shift you into a better life.

Things to think about. Until next time.


Procedure and policies or how a well thought out manual can save you a lot of grief

Friday, July 9th, 2010

Many years ago, I worked for the High Risk OB department at a major hospital here in Los Angeles. It was a great experience in that I learned a lot and really liked the majority of people I worked with. But there were a few challenges.

I had been hired to assist the Head Nurse and the Clinic Manager. Both Nancy and Mary were lovely woman who had been with the Hospital for many years. I had been there for about 4 weeks when one of the clerks was hurt on the job. Bridget was sent out on leave and I was asked to take over several of her duties.

The challenge was that no one clearly explained what I was supposed to be doing. And there was nothing in writing about how to proceed.

Needless to say, this was very frustrating for everyone involved. While I was, overall able to make a success of what I was doing, I also experienced a great deal of frustration when I ran into other peoples issues. One Counselor on particular enjoyed giving me grief when I was unsuccessful at getting the information which was needed in order for them to do their jobs. Now, mind you, I had improved the success rate for this from 50% to 85%. And I later found out that, in the end, getting this information was the job of the Counselor, not mine. But it took several months, many headaches and tears before I was told this. And by that time, I was done.

The obvious answer to this situation is to have a good, basic policy and procedure manual. It doesn’t need to be complicated. When I was an EA, we generally had a set of desk notes which we would update when needed so that if we took time off, the temp could easily figure out how things worked. And many times, it helped our boss to see what all the assistant does for them, because a good assistant makes it look easy!

Many people don’t want to put into writing what they do all day. Because it is time consuming to do. And it can also bring to light some hidden fears about being replaceable. The interesting thing is that many times, we do so many things which are not on our job description that we don’t even notice the valuable things which we contribute until we sit down and write them out. It is only then that we are able to begin to have a clear vision of the value of the service we provide our employer.

When a Client comes to me and says that they don’t see the value in what they are doing, I strongly suggest that they start with what they do on a daily basis. Keep a journal on their desk and for a week, keep track of everything they do. Even the little things such as fielding questions from co-workers or sending that heartfelt e-mail to a Client. Things which may be totally unrelated to their job, but are very important in building relationships and cooperative relationships which then help to expand business.

A well thought out and put together manual also helps to guarantee a cohesiveness through out the company. Now, I personally believe that there is always some wiggle room and many things are and should be open to interpretation. I had one boss who worked from 11:00 – 8:00 pm but because of the way the department was set up, I had to be in the office at 9:00 am. And while we were able to make accommodations for this lack of congruency in our hours – she was very good at leaving clear notes on the files – it still would have been a better working team for us if we could have been able to sinc up our hours more closely.

Now to bring this into real life, if you were to write a personal policy and procedure manual for your life, what would be in it? What are your bottom line statements and how do you operate? What are the important things in your life and what are the extras? Where do you file the insurance policies? Which acts do you perform out of duty and which out of love? What is the first thing you do in the morning? And what do you do to refresh your soul? Do you do anything?

If you choose to write this, don’t be surprised if you see patterns developing. Places where you don’t take care of yourself and places where you have other imbalances. And sill others which are right in alignment with who you are and who you are becoming.

It’s an interesting challenge and generally very revelatory. Are you up for it?

Things to think about. Until next time.

Nancie Kay Shuman