are you coachable? here's how to tell.

Working with a coach can be a powerful way to accelerate your personal and professional growth.  In order to benefit from coaching, however, first you must be coachable.  What exactly does being "coachable" mean?  From my experience as both a coach and coachee, I've learned that the people who experience the most growth and progress with their coaching goals invariably possess three key traits.  When one or more of these traits are missing, the coaching goes neither very far nor very deep.  So if you're considering working with a coach, first ask yourself if you possess what I call the "Three Cs of Coachability":

Commitment.  If you're considering working with a coach, you must be willing and able to commit to the process.  Growth and progress toward your goals take time and consistent effort.  You need to keep showing up.  That means setting a minimum number of sessions per month at as regular a cadence as possible and sticking to it for the duration.  (If you want to see any progress, I recommend a minimum of 2 sessions per month for 3 months - anything less is a waste of time.)  Of course, the longer you commit to coaching, the more growth you will experience, provided you invest effort consistently.  Schedule your coaching sessions on your calendar and treat them as sacred time.  On the days where you're feeling too drained for coaching, or you're tempted to blow off a session in favor of a social event, honor the time anyway.  Coaching is about meeting your experience in the present, processing it and learning from it - whether you're tired, overworked, drained or just not in the mood.  So keep showing up, and the process will reward you.

Curiosity.  It's easier to put in consistent effort when you approach your coaching experience with a curious mindset.  Have a sense of wonder about what you will discover during - and between - the sessions with your coach, and your learning and growth will amplify.  What was it like to take that step outside your comfort zone?  If you didn't take that step, what became more important?  What are you learning?  Get curious about yourself, your expansion and the discomfort that you encounter along the way, and you'll find it easier to take steps you otherwise wouldn't have dared take.  A willingness to learn engenders boldness.  Curiosity is a powerful mindset with which to approach the coaching process as it enables you to detach from discomfort and view personal growth as an adventure to experience rather than a process to endure.  Without it, your motivation and commitment will quickly run dry.

Courage.  Approaching challenges with curiosity enables us to be more courageous.  Having courage is essential in coaching since, if you want to grow, you must be willing to step outside your comfort zone, explore dimensions of yourself that you may have been avoiding and process emotions that are difficult to be with.  Being courageous does not, however, mean you have no fear - quite the opposite.  Having courage means experiencing fear and moving forward anyway.  And the more courageous steps you take, the more confident you become in taking risks, and the more you learn and move forward - which is what the coaching process is all about!

If you're committed to investing the time and effort it takes to work with a coach, are curious about your growth experience and have the courage to "feel the fear and do it anyway," consider yourself coachable and ready for the next step: finding the right coach for you.  Stay tuned for my tips on what to look for in your search!

 fiery crescent | mixed media, 20x16" (2017)

fiery crescent | mixed media, 20x16" (2017)

5 ways to jumpstart your your creativity

Struggling to make a change?  Have writer's block?  Blanking on a creative solution to a problem?  Try one or more of these tips to shake things up and get in your creative flow:

1.  Move.  Run, dance, climb, stretch, shadowbox.  Put your body in motion in whatever way it craves.  When you get into your body, you get out of your head - your analytical, and often hypercritical, mind - and connect instead with your intuition.  Listen to your body for cues as to what kind of movement you need.  Where are you feeling tense?  That part of your physical self is likely storing stagnant energy that, when released, will catapult you out of your rut.  Are your hips tight?  Grab a hula hoop and let loose.  Shoulders tense?  Put on some music and roll them around to the beat.  Feet restless?  Go for a walk around the block.  Move for at least 10 minutes.  Notice the shift physical movement creates in your mood and mindset.

2.  Play.  Playfulness is at the root of creativity.  Through play, we more easily reach "flow state" (also called "the zone"), or the mental state you experience when you're so absorbed in an activity that you lose track of time, and things just "flow".  Play can activate the flow state as it puts you in the present, pushes your inner critic aside and opens you up to your intuition.  Children, of course, are great reminders to play.  So, the next time your 3-year-old daughter or nephew asks, "Will you play with me?", say YES!  Get out those Legos, color in a (children's) coloring book with crayons, play dress up, build a fort.  And watch your imagination wake up!

3.  Clear.  As in, your space.  When you create space in your physical environment, you make room for opportunity, new energy and fresh ideas.  Start small: pick up the clutter from the living room floor.  Toss or file all loose papers on your desk.  Clean out the kitchen junk drawer.  Pick 5 items from your closet to donate (be ruthless!).  Then observe what happens next.  If the urge to purge overtakes you, go with it.  You're making room for the new - in your surroundings AND in your life.  Empty spaces are places to create what is possible.

4.  Try something new.   To generate a fresh perspective, do something you've never done before.  It can be as significant as signing up for a juggling class or as simple as taking a new route home from the office.  When we do new and different things, we think different thoughts and have different feelings.  Try that mysterious-sounding dish on the lunch menu.  Download the #1 song in the genre of music you listen to the least, then play it on full blast.  Observe the sensations created by your new experience.  What is different as a result?

5.  Vegetate.  This one may seem counterintuitive, but in order to allow creative ideas to germinate and flow through you, you need to give your intellect a rest.  Allow your subconscious mind time to marinate new ideas.  Doing nothing - meaning, spending time with no specific activity or outcome in mind - is a great way to make these things happen.  Give yourself permission to lie on the couch and stare at the ceiling, electronic devices and books and music out of reach, for an unspecified amount of time.  Better yet, lie in the grass at a park and stare up at the clouds.  Let everything go!  Notice over the following day or so any resulting insight or change.  Sometimes the most powerful thing you can do is nothing.

The next time you're wanting to bring about a shift - in your thinking, your creative work or your life - try one of these jumpstarts daily for a week.  Then comment below on your experience.  I look forward to hearing about what happens!

 

 sueños azules | acrylic on canvas, 19.5x16" (2013)

sueños azules | acrylic on canvas, 19.5x16" (2013)

are you stuck? 4 tips on how to deal

We've all been there.  At some point in our lives, we inevitably reach a point where we find ourselves in a rut of some kind - either professionally, personally or both.  We may find ourselves thinking, "I don't know where I want to be or what I want to be doing - I just know it's NOT THIS."  Or we do know - we are just unsure of the steps to take to get there.  Or, perhaps worst of all, we know where we want to be, we've envisioned it quite clearly, we're doing everything in our power to get there - yet day in and day out, week in and week out, we remain in the same place. 

There's no question that being stuck can be a very discouraging experience.  Rest assured, though, we are exactly where we need to be at all times.  So when we find ourselves in a rut - let's call it "The Stuck" - we might as well lean into it.  Lean into The Stuck.

What exactly does "Lean into The Stuck" mean?  It means letting yourself experience the rut without fighting it.  And it means extracting whatever benefits you can from it while you're in it.  So how can you make the most of being in The Stuck?  Here are 4 tips:

1.  Honor your emotions.  When you find yourself in The Stuck, take a few minutes each day - 20, 10, even 5 - to check in with yourself.  Find a place where you can be alone, separate from all external distractions.  (At the office?  At home with the kids?  The bathroom can be a sanctuary.)  Tune inward, take a deep breath. Do a body scan - notice the physical sensations you're experiencing, starting with your toes, working all the way up to the crown of your head.  What are you feeling in this place?  Frustration?  Anger?  Sadness?  Anxiety?  Restlessness?  Yes, it sucks.  Let it suck.  Then name your emotions out loud.  Allow them to come through without judgment.  Acknowledging our emotions is the first step in releasing them, and releasing them can be creative fuel that moves us to a new place.  (For more on that topic, see my previous post "how to use difficult emotions as creative fuel".) 

2.  Get curious.  What's it like in The Stuck?  If there were a weather pattern associated with the rut you're in now, how would you describe it?  Is it cloudy?  Hot and humid?  Are you in a frozen tundra?  What color is The Stuck?  If it could talk, what would it say?  If it were an animal, what would it be?  Getting playfully curious about a place we'd rather not be helps us shift our perspective and attitude toward it, making it more tolerable - perhaps even interesting!

3.  Find the gift.  Once you get curious about the rut you're in, it becomes easier to see what The Stuck has to offer you.  What is the gift of being in this place?  Maybe you're in a job that is not intellectually stimulating for you; you could do it in your sleep.  As a result, you have a storehouse of mental energy, even restlessness, available to you.  Where can you redirect this energy?  Could you dedicate 30 minutes of your lunch hour, twice a week, to learning something new via an online course?  (There are tons of free and inexpensive options available these days - check out Udemy, Coursera, Lynda, Skillshare, The Great Courses Plus.)  Could you channel it into a new hobby, or amp up your exercise regimen?  Being in The Stuck can also offer us a necessary period of rest.  In fact, periods of massive change and upheaval - stressful experiences in themselves - are often preceded by a critical period of calm.  To everything, there is a season: a time for growth and expansion, and a time to chill.  So soak up the rest while you can!  What else can you appreciate about this place?  Write a list of 10 gifts The Stuck is offering you now.

4.  Remember, this too shall pass.  Nothing lasts forever, including The Stuck.  Sometimes just remembering that fact alone helps us relax, give in to where we are and let go.  And more often than not, when we let go, shift happens.  There's a line from the Alanis Morissette song "Thank You" that sums up this irony beautifully:  The moment I let go of it is the moment I got more than I could handle.

Leaning into The Stuck honors a vital phase of life evolving.  Honor it, and eventually you will be rewarded with forward motion. 

Next up:  how to shift the stuck energy

 

 turning of the tide | acrylic on canvas, 24x29" (2016)

turning of the tide | acrylic on canvas, 24x29" (2016)

unlock the creative power of your emotions

In today’s fast-paced, technologically-driven world, it is far too easy to get caught up in external distractions and, as a result, become desensitized to our emotions.  But regardless of the nonstop change that may swirl around us, one thing remains constant: each of us is a sentient being.  Having emotions is part of the human experience; you’re not just a doer and a thinker.  Despite this fact, we often suppress our emotions, particularly when what we may be feeling is unpleasant.  So-called “negative” emotions, however, can be valuable sources of information and creative power.  So what might your emotions have to offer you – especially the ones you’d rather avoid?  Let’s look at three in particular.    

Anger.  When I first begin working with a client, we do a lot of digging into what is most important to her.  Sometimes when the obvious questions – “What is important to you?” “What do you love”? “What gives you energy?” – turn up few or no answers, I’ll switch gears and ask, “What makes you MAD?”  Anger is often a sign that one or more of our values are being dishonored.  Maybe rude people piss you off; that’s a sign you may value kindness and consideration.  Perhaps you grit your teeth every time your boss gives you directions for your work, which could point to your need for more autonomy and creative freedom.  Or, if you’re like me, you want to throw things when someone lies to you, or says one thing but does another – which suggests honesty and integrity are among your values.  Anger can be an illuminating emotion if you’re willing to pay attention to it.

Jealousy.  Also expressed as resentment, jealousy points us to something we are wanting.  Think about the last time you were jealous of someone.  Maybe it was a coworker who got promoted (when you didn’t), your best friend who landed a big-time gig or a sibling who embarked on a 3-month trek around the world.  What did that person get or do that stirred your inner green-eyed monster?  Chances are, that thing is something that you – consciously or not – have been wanting for yourself.  It may seem obvious, but often we’re oblivious to not only our jealousy but also what is at the heart of it.   In The Artist’s Way, author Julia Cameron suggests a clarifying exercise called the “jealousy map” for pinpointing unarticulated desires:  

  1. Draw 3 columns on a sheet of paper. 
  2. In the first column, list people you are jealous of.
  3. in the second column beside each person’s name, give the reason why you’re jealous of that person.
  4. in the third column, name one action you can take per item to minimize the jealousy. 

This activity takes an otherwise crippling emotion and transforms it into creative power, moving you from victimhood toward victory.  The green-eyed monster suddenly becomes a green light.

Fear.   When you’re seeking to live more fully, fear can be an obstacle to overcome.  But it can also be used advantageously.  First, the degree to which we’re afraid of something can be an indicator of how much we desire it.  (My own coach told me recently, “Often when we are really wanting something, our fear screams the loudest.”)  Our yearning to make that particular move – quit the job to start your own business, move overseas, ask someone on a date – is echoed in equal measure by the trepidation that paralyzes us.  But fear can serve as a motivator if we grab onto it, flip it over and play with its opposite – desire.  Shift your focus from fear of failure to desire to serve others, from fear of the unknown to desire for adventure, from fear of rejection to desire to connect.  Fear can also be pitted against itself to jumpstart you into action:  are you more afraid of failing at your own business, or of the depression you’ll fall into if you stay another year at your job?  Are you more afraid of being turned down for a date, or kicking yourself for the rest of your life wondering what could have been had you made your move?  When I was 27, I left North Carolina – where I had lived my entire life – for New York City with no job lined up or direction for my career.  People asked me, “Weren’t you afraid?”  I told them yes, very much – I was afraid of what would have happened to me if I’d had stayed in the life I’d been living.  I amplified that fear until it became fuel for me to move.  Fear can send us running away from what we want – or in the direction toward it.  You get to decide.

Practice befriending unpleasant emotions.  They’re often allies pointing the way to greater fulfillment, authenticity and aliveness – but only if we pay attention to them.

This article also appeared on Huffington Post and Ellevate Network.

 pele's promise | mixed media, 30x40" (2013)

pele's promise | mixed media, 30x40" (2013)

5 steps to empowering yourself with your intuition

Ever feel like something is “off” in your life, but you’re not sure exactly why, or what to do about it? Maybe you’re stuck in a job that doesn’t resonate with your values. Maybe you feel like you’re living a façade, or not connecting authentically in a relationship. Or perhaps you’re unhappy living in your current location, but don’t know where to go.

If any part of your life is out of alignment with your core self, the good news is, you possess an inner resource that is always available to guide you: your intuition. Your intuition (also called your “sixth sense”, or “gut”) is an invaluable resource that, when accessed, can provide you powerful insight, clarity and guidance on living more authentically. But how do you tap into it? It’s easier than you might think. Here are 5 simple steps:

1. Get present. Our intuition sends us messages all the time. But more often than not, those messages are very subtle, and therefore easily overlooked. To access your intuition, you need to pay attention, and to pay attention, you need to be present. To be present, first slow down. Breathe deeply. Tune into your senses. Notice your surroundings – what do you see, hear, feel, smell? Name the objects around you out loud, in detail. Arrive where you are.

2.  Tune inward. Once you’re attuned to the present, tune into yourself. The intuition expresses itself in various ways: a voice in your head, an image in your mind’s eye, a “random” thought, a queasy feeling in your stomach, a mysterious yet definite knowingness, a "bad vibe". An easy way to tune inward is to first close your eyes. If there is a topic or issue you want guidance around, call it to mind. Next, say aloud to yourself, “My head says _____, “ and fill in the blank. Then, take a deep breath, place your hand over your heart and say aloud, “My heart says _______.” Say what immediately comes to mind, without editing or censoring. What came up? Notice what resonates.

3. Write it down. Jot down today’s date along with the intuitive flashes you received. You may want to buy a pocket-sized notebook where you log your intuitive insights to refer to later, or use the notes app on your phone. Recording these messages clarifies their meaning, sharpens your awareness, solidifies your new habit and makes your intuition more accessible overall.

4.  Trust it. Equally important to noticing and articulating intuitive messages is trusting the inner guidance you receive. Too often we write off a thought or feeling as “random,” “irrelevant” or “illogical”, preferring to rely only on empirical evidence and analysis, or “left-brained” thinking. But what would happen if you embraced intuitive guidance as an equally valuable source of information? What is possible when you connect to the innate wisdom that lies deep within you?

5.  Act on it. Courageously put the guidance into practice. Apply it to your situation. If you’re unclear how your intuitive insights relate to your topic, or what they mean in general, write them down anyway and set them aside. More than likely, within the next day or so their meaning will become clear.

Try these steps each day for a week, and see what impact accessing the wisdom and power of your intuition has on your life. I’d love to hear about what you learn!

This article also appeared on Huffington Post, Ellevate Network and LinkedIn.

 colores de sevilla | acrylic on canvas, 36x12" (2013)

colores de sevilla | acrylic on canvas, 36x12" (2013)