Archive for November, 2010

And sometimes, I am a little slow on the uptake. . .

Friday, November 19th, 2010


People who have known me for a while are laughing at this title. Because it really is true! Sometimes, especially when trying to figure out other peoples motivations towards me, I can be slightly clueless. This does go into other parts of my life as well.

I had a conversation with someone recently who became mildly offended by my sense of humour. Now, I can be a little sarcastic and I love irony. Always have. I have been told that my sense of humour is quiet and wry. I don’t think I am malicious. Although I am willing to look at this and take responsibility if this is the case.

But what I found out through my mulling this over is that according to this person, I am not acceptable. Now, I completely admit, I am probably closer to the outer left edge of the bell curve than the center, but I am okay with this. Live is so much more fun when you have let go of the judgments of right and wrong and simply embraced your own personal standards for yourself. For myself. (Funny typo there. I started typing “yourself” and typed “myrself” instead.”

i realize that to many people, my choices are a little hard to understand. I chose to be a Coach as opposed to a Psychologist. And when I did choose to study Psychology, I chose Spiritual Psychology instead of Clinical. I would rather be on my own, romantically, than be in a bad relationship or in serial relationships. Because I respect myself and I also don’t feel that this would be a good example to set for my son. I belly dance instead of ballroom. I laugh loudly, dress in clothes that I enjoy and have style as opposed to clothes which are fashionable. (Can I tell you how excited I am at the thought of having disposable income again? My wardrobe is about to explode with really interesting clothing!) I celebrate being a woman. All things which, for many people in our society, are unacceptable.

Now for me, this last year I have been working very hard on letting go of the need to make other people comfortable. To fit into other peoples idea of what is acceptable. There is a phrase which I am going to write on a piece of paper and stick on the wall: What someone else thinks of me in none of my concern. Because when I choose to start listening to others who probably have an agenda, chances are, I’ll get screwed. The past supports this. Even people who supposedly have my best interest at heart. Took me a while to figure that one out.

Now all of the above does not exempt me from civil behavior. It does quiet the contrary. But what it does, is make me responsible for the consequences of my actions. I can get as upset as i want because people judge me for my lower back tattoo. And they call it a name which is completely not who I am. I didn’t know the name when I got it. Nor am I that. And I am not sure that I would have gotten it someplace else if I had known. Afterall, at the time I got it, it was the one place where all of my costumes covered. Those who make the judgment based on tribal thinking, are simply choosing to limit themselves. And it has nothing to do with me. It may mean that their judgments stand in the way of our having an authentic relationship, but that is their choice. Like any other prejudice, this can stand in the way. In the end, it means nothing.*

*The caveat on this is that, in the work place, employers do have the right to dictate, to a certain extent, the habits of their employees. My friend Nicole was turned down for a post with a prominent airline because of her visible tattoos. The companies image is rather squeaky clean and conservative. no matter how qualified she is, it wasn’t something that company was willing to work around.

Now the question which I had to take a hard look at was did the realization that this person didn’t find me acceptable upset me? And the answer is no and yes. No, it didn’t upset me because I realized that it was a projection of theirs. They walk a very fine line in their actions and their way of being. Which seems to work for them at this time. On the other hand, I am a tiny bit upset, and really just a tiny bit, because I know that this stands in the way of my having an authentic relationship with this other person. Not because I am not fully showing up – although I am looking at that also – but because we don’t see things in others unless it is either pointed out to us or it is in ourselves. And as I had to have this pointed out to me, I can only think that this is a projection of theirs, and that on some level, this really amazing person feels that they are unacceptable. Which, if true, is a little sad.

Now, as a Coach, I am am choosing to come at this from several directions. The first is to simply remind myself that someone elses opinion of me is really none of my business. The second is to choose to look at what they have said, see if there is any reality in it from my perspective and then deflect that which does not resonate with my world view. I then have responsibility to process and align what ever does resonate. And to let go, without judgment, anything which need to be let go of.

And finally, I get to remind myself what an amazing person I actually am. And this is something which at first can be uncomfortable. Because we are taught from a young age that this is immodest. But lets face it, if we don’t claim it, chances are, no one else is going to lovingly support us and help us to remember that we are all wonderful, unique and totally, completely, acceptable. As long as we accept ourselves, it doesn’t matter what anyone else says.

Things to think about. Until next time.

Nancie Kay Shuman

The old bait and switch or let’s be clear about this

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010


Last summer, I received an e-mail about a concert in the park which was being held by one of my friends whom I hadnt seen in about a million years. Cool, thinks I. Not only was I going to see Deliah, but it was free and in my neighborhood. Free is always good in my book, and last summer it was especially nice.

Well, a day or so before the event, I receive an e-mail and notification on a couple of social networking sites that the venue had been changed to the theatre in a restaurant near by. The organizer was now asking for a $20 donation at the door.

While I don’t mind paying for my entertainment, I thought that $20 was a little steep for what was basically going to be a coffee house performance. But as it was by donation, I was cool with it. Got kitted out, headed over and arrived at 8:30, which was right when the singing was supposed to start.

Was turned away because they weren’t ready. Come back at 9.

Now, I live in LA. Nothing starts on time. I completely acknowledge that. I went downstairs, sat in the bar and talked to someone I knew who was there for dinner, and then wondered upstairs.

When I got to the door, the person who was selling the tickets looked me straight in the eye and said, “$20.”

I blinked. I had my hand on my wallet. I even had $20 dollars with me. And I really wanted to see Deliah, but the feeling which were coming off him were very aggressive.

“I thought this was by donation,” I said.

“No. It’s $20.”

“Okay, I guess I am not coming in.” I took my hand out of my bag and walked away.

I went home and looked up the invitation and it did, indeed, say suggested donation, $20.

This got me thinking about how often we either are offered something and then get something completely different or do this to ourselves. Last December, one of my beautiful friends was prospected and offered a job at a career college. He took it specifically because he wanted to work with the person who hired him. There was a lovely synergistic energy between them instantly. Before he even started, she had been promoted and moved to another branch. Which my friend was happy for her about, but her replacement, unfortunately, had a much different agenda and way of being. My friend, bless his heart, really tried to make it work. I Coached him through some of the rough parts. But in the end, it was decided that this wasn’t match. And the thing which came forward was, had he felt as supported by the replacement as he had the person who he had taken the job to work with, he would have been fine. But because of the shift, not only in personnel but in the focus of the position due to that change, he was not able to really engage on an authentic level and, thus, excel.

So why do we do this? Why do we choose to pay the $20 or to take the job when the circumstances have changed? What do we compromise on in order to fit in or to reach a goal which may not serve us anymore?

As Executives, this is a very important thing to look at and ask ourselves. In fact, for anyone, this is very important to ask ourselves. How often do we simply do something because the “experts” tell us that this is the best way. How often do we say, the best way for whom?

Two years ago, I spoke with a man who was having some health challenges. He was a successful businessman. I made that suggestion that he treat his health issues like a project he was working on professionally. This was a stunning idea to him. We discussed it more and the bottom line was that he would have to become an expert on HIS health and then gather a team who he could trust had the knowledge and means to help to bring him to the most optimal health which he could achieve. I recently received an e-mail from him, letting me know that as soon as he shifted his way of being from participant to leader, and a leader coming for a place of knowledge and trust in his team, things started shifting immediately. While he is still not 100% through the process, he told me that coming from this angle gave him a feeling of control, responsibility and moved him out of victimhood and the attendant frustration. It also made him much easier to live with, which contributes to a stronger, happier marriage.

When we choose to take dominion over our thoughts, actions and feelings, as well as accept responsibility for our choices, we then empower ourselves. Yes, we will make choices which do not always have the hoped for outcome. But this is normal. The key is that, by accepting responsibility, by being willing to do some research and than deciding where to stand your ground and where to give some up, we are less likely to be victims and to fall for the old bait and switch.

Things to think about. Until next time.

Nancie Kay Shuman

30 day challenge – week three and four

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

Okay, I looked at my blog and I came to the conclusion that the best way for me to report on the last several days was to lump it all together.

In a word: movement.

Now, much of this movement was inner. I have made several discoveries, found a lot of very old material which, while it didn’t upset me or cause me any active issues, I discovered that I still held some old feelings about them.

Now knowing what I know today, I realize that even a little residual pain, anger, whatever negative emotion involved, colours me perception of what is happening today. Much of this has to do with joining large groups, which for me has, in the past, been a challenge. This has given me a chance to look at my expectations, my hopes and what my motivation has been, in the past, to join large groups.

Now, part of this is an old pattern. I am from a rather large and boisterous family. Both immediate and extended. While many times it was great overall, when you are in a large group, there is a certain expectation of behavior which is in alignment with the group. In extreme cases this is mob mentality. In lesser cases, it can simply be about making choices which are in alignment with the group, but don’t particularly support me as an authentic person.

Many years ago, I watched my father join an international men’s social / philanthropic organization. To him, it was very important to not only be involved, but to become a leader within the organization. He started programs, ran youth basketball and golf tournaments, had my mother supply his club’s hospitality room at the quarterly board meetings and conventions. For him, it wasn’t simply enough to be a member in good standing, he needed to be in the inner circle. To have the jacket and the secret password. I understand this. This is a conundrum I have faced in the past. On the one hand, I have always been the roll up my sleeves and get to work kinda gal, on the other, I have had the conflict that I didn’t want anyone to notice that I was. And yet, I also wanted acknowledgment that I had! ARGH!!!!

So I learned to go ion my own and to be very self sufficient. I had standards for myself, and I would tell myself that I didn’t want – or need – feed back from anyone. That I am strong and self confident and quiet capable of discerning for myself what is going on and how to do course corrective work. Not that I am resistant to feed back, in fact I am quiet open to it, but that I do not need to actively seek it. What I have discovered over the last few weeks is that this is only partially true. Having feed back is really essential. This can be as simple as having someone give you verbal feedback, or as complicated as watching cues from my environment or my body. Head aches, muscle aches, even colds are good ways of my body letting me know that something is going on. Having people react in a particular way can also be a good cue. If you are like me, I drink a lot of coffee. Love it. Having a conversation with someone and watching them take a step backwards, might be a good clue that I have coffee breathe. They may never say anything, but likely that is the cause. Mint, anyone?

Back to large groups. I think what really came forward for me was my time as a little sister for a fraternity when I was an undergraduate. Now I went to a University of 25,000 undergrads and lived at home. A childhood friend was a member of Theta Xi, so this seemed like a logical fit: someone I knew and a place to drop my bags and hang out between classes. And no, there was no pressure to be play things for the male members. Over the two years I was a little sister, things changed. Now, I will admit, I took the open door policy to heart. I was there frequently. Much more often than I probably should have been. By the same token, the rules had changed, as they do, and instead of someone taking responsibility to speak to me about it, there was a lot of passive aggressive behavior towards me. Many of the members later told me that they didn’t have a problem with my being there, but that there were a few who did, and they were influential towards those who were neutral or whose agenda was to be accepted as part of the group, no matter what their personal feelings were. Now, once again, taking responsibility, I had a choice when I started to recognize that there might be a problem, to withdraw graciously. But like a bad marriage, I had never been taught that this was an option. I had been taught to stick things out, to ride the storm. To not quit.

There is honour in knowing when to fold. Knowing when a large group will no longer support me, as an individual, and to move on to something which will. Or to choose to go it alone. For some of us this is not an uncomfortable alternative until something else comes forward. It wasn’t until things came to a head that I finally walked away. And by that time, there were bad feelings on all sides. And as I discovered, a little bit of unresolved anger.

But what I found, over the course of the last two weeks of my challenge, was that if I chose to look for a pattern which lead to this and resulted from this, I could then make other choices and move forward. And what I discovered was that there were two. The one which lead to this situation was heavily ingrained. Girl Scouts, High School Athletics, finally a couple of romantic relationships. All of which I was desperately trying to fit the ideal of what someone in the role I was assuming would be. Never really authentically me. The other pattern is that I no longer am willing to put up with abusive situations. People are people, and I understand that, but as someone I used to work with pointed out, if you are working for a company whose business, and business practices, is only borderline legal and moral, do you really expect to be treated well?

These revelations have been huge. And for those wondering, yes, there is some psychology going on here. But more than that, my recognizing the pattern, choosing to look at it, take responsibility for it and than to acknowledge that it no longer serves me and to let it – and any residual anger or other emotions – go, is not only healthy, but well within the realms of Coaching. That is feedback. And that is progress.

I’ll do a overall wrap up including what have learned and what I will do differently in a day or so. Meanwhile, what feedback are you looking for? And what will you do with it?

Things to think about. Until next time.

Nancie Kay Shuman