Leave Your Coach Self at the Door

If you are a coach or someone who is passionate about human growth I suspect that you are the person in your family that sees the unseen, hears the unsaid and speaks the unspoken.  The muse, mediator and delegate all in one.  Many people who move toward coaching as a career are just this sort. It bodes well for us professionally but can stir the waters personally even though it is always with great intention for peace, love and harmony.

Danger: Do not bring your Coach Self in the front door! Whether you are hired in as a coach to work with a client or you are the company’s internal coach (HR) there are many factors that weight the experience toward one of success that may not necessarily be present when approaching personal relationships.  In the corporate culture the client, even if not initially “open” has imbedded incentive to get “open.”  If not they may not receive their promotion, bonus or may lose their job all together. Even if the employee has 20 years in at the company it does not factor into the equation genetically inherited attributes (temperament, character traits) and the emotional DNA (culture, beliefs, coping) that has been passed down and shared in the dynamic for generations within the family construct. In the context of family the rewards for success are not as readily apparent and the complexity of relationships complicates the work that needs to be addressed.  Additionally, when a coach works within a company the volumes of movies created do not compare to the lifetime(s) we have spent with family members interacting, habituating and creating our movies.


The “stories” or Mind Movies we create are one of the most powerful survival mechanisms and compensatory blind spots that we invent to survive in any context.  And they are some of the most challenging to deconstruct and make visible. This is true because it is not just that “my movie is my reality and your movie is your reality.”  It is that MY movie is THE reality and visa versa!  And in the context of family we have a huge stock pile of movies that are both sequels and re-makes of probably two or three epic movies that we created and clung to for our very survival.  (See what I did there…I dramatized the message.  I do not recommend doing this technique with family, there is already enough drama.)

My intention is not to discourage because this work works when you work it-in any context.  But I think if we go in knowing that there are both subtle and obvious differences the process may be less difficult and the outcome richer.

When approaching a family member with the salient goal to increase self-awareness and create a more cohesive and trigger diminished connection I believe that less is more.  With a family member, you being in the role of coach more than likely backfires- especially if they are not “open.” You are the messenger and I guarantee they will want to shoot you. You are not neutral!

In any context we strive to approach another with Courage-Caring-Candor but when approaching a family member to deep dive into the pool of self-awareness I tend to practice approaching with Courage-Caring-neutral Candor and Curiosity.  And then I allow them to explore in their own private space. Believe me when I say it has taken a lifetime to realize this and it works much more in all our favors because of it.

Let me explain: With a client we may tutor them on the processes involved in the increasing self awareness and then coach them through it to make the invisible visible.  Or I may begin the process by reviewing their feedback on a 360 or from my observations of their interactions.  I then may ask them to pick a situation that we may deconstruct and gain insight through exploring our coaching tools. Ok, let’s put this in context of a family member whom is not “open.” Can you imagine what would happen if you approached a family member and started reviewing observations or a 360?  Yah, nothing good can come of that, yikes!  Remember you are NOT neutral, you are NOT the messenger, you ARE part of the message, you ARE part of the movies.  Approaching from a more neutral and curious place seems to “level set” the space to begin to be more open and less defensive.  Creating a safe and open space within a family dynamic is a bit different than in the Coaching agreement. I may say something like: “we both have moments when we see things from a different perspective and sometimes we hurt each other’s feelings.  I would love to better understand your perspective so that I can support you in ways that I currently cannot. I have a great exercise that will teach me more about your perspective.  Could I show you this and you can explore it on your own when you have time.  When you are ready you can either send me what you discovered or we can talk about it. I will also do the same exercise and we can compare where we have common ground and where we may need to understand each other more clearly.”  Do not-I repeat-do not do anything more at this time then give them the structure of how to use the your tool (no personal examples included, please) And then give them lots of time and space to explore.  When they finally make contact again be ready, my friend to hear things that may be difficult to hear and share things in a manner that will take much more love and presence on your part. The difference with Client vs. family is that if you approach family as your Coach Self, because of the fact that you are a dynamic part of the Movies-you can never maintain neutrality.  The Coach-Client agreement is that you are there to help them and support them in the discovery process as a neutral party.  But remember you are not in the role of Coach in your family- you are daughter, son, mother, father, hero, savior, instigator, officer and on and on.  In other words the relationship is not neutral, clean nor simple.  When approaching this work in the family context one must take themselves out of the Coach role and make themselves as vulnerable and open to the process as you are desiring of your family member’s participation, even if you are more self-evolved, currently. Approaching this work with a family member, in it’s essence is the rawest and most pure form of the co-creative process. So leave your Coach Self at the front door and bring all of your vulnerable, neutral, curious self through that door to be present to and for your family member(s) and I promise that over time they will begin to feel safe enough to be open.  May not have been what you wanted to hear but take it from me, it’s works!

The Ripples Through Time

I don’t usually share long winded stories on here but I feel compelled. This is a story of how profoundly and deeply our actions can impact someone’s life and we may never even know it. I recently reconnected with a very close friend from my teens and early twenties. He was so special to me. The second thing he shared with me when we got back in touch was that over twenty years ago, because I believed in him and encouraged him it changed the course of his life. I was barely legal to drink, just a young clueless girl and yet… He reminded me of an idea he had shared with me that related to the world of television production. He had no experience in this field. I told him to go for it and that I believed in him and I was going to help make that happen. I wanted to set up a meeting with him and Bill Campbell at ABC affiliate in Chicago. Those of you that know Chicago would know of Bill. He was an on air personality/host/ TV journalist and my father’s best friend. They worked together at ABC. My father directed and stage managed his shows. Although my father had already passed away a few years prior, Bill and I were still close. So I called Bill and set up a meeting (me, this little girl…as if) and we went downtown to ABC studios when it was still on State St. and took a meeting with him. My friend shared with me that because of that small gesture and my unwavering faith in him and Bill’s encouragement it changed the course of his life. The project did not manifest but that was no matter. It fundamentally changed who he was. He said it gave him the power to follow his dreams. And he has…for the last twenty years. And he is brilliant at it. I did not have any recall of this story but my friend never forgot. And yet when I remembered this story I also remembered so many other stories of my life. How special Bill was to me, more memoires of my father, memories of being dragged all over Chicago to hang out and listen to my Dad and Bill play weird African Jazz music together, memories of how I practically lived at ABC studios growing up and had free run of the entire place. Memories of how fragile and fragmented I was after all my losses and yet I still could be brazen and brave out in the world in spite of my fragility; How terrified and also brave I was to go back into my second home (ABC studios) for that meeting. It had been 5 years since I entered that building before the day of our meeting. I was 16 and cleared out my father’s locker when he was too sick to continue working. I knew I was saying goodbye to so much that day as I walked out seemingly never to return.

Going to visit Bill with my friend 20 years ago fundamentally changed my friend’s life but his sharing of that story today fundamentally changed mine. He gifted me back memories that half a lifetime ago were too painful to hold on to. He gifted me back our amazing friendship. He gifted me a continuity and a sense of SELF that no amount of therapy or mantra could impart. He allowed to see that I am still fragile and terrified but also strong and fearless. I am both and that is ok. He gifted me the ability to see how far I’ve come. But the funny thing…I am also still that girl telling myself and others to follow our dreams and finding ways to make that happen. This is what I do, I am compelled and it has served me and others. It doesn’t always make for an easy life but when you hear that you have profoundly impacted someone’s life because you just couldn’t help yourself…well that makes for a rich life and one worth living. We cannot fathom how or when the ripple of time and intention may touch our lives… So remember live brave and from the heart because we are all connected in ways beyond our knowing. If you live from your heart, somehow, someway, somewhen it comes back to you ten fold. And for this I have my friend to thank. Deepest gratitude and love to you…Thank you!

70th Anniversary of Decimation

The drone footage of Auschwitz is being far to kind in my opinion. Over 11 million murdered. Over 1 million murdered 70 years ago on this very spot. My Grandmother was one of the very few to survive. Her name was Lily. She was a tall, curvaceous, fairest of fair skinned, fiery redheaded Hungarian. Think Zsa Zsa Gabor with red hair. When she was taken by train to the camps she had already lost all of her brothers, her husband, one sister to America and she assumed her other sister, her nephew and my father were dead. They were not. My great aunt jumped off the trains with her then 2 yo son and my then 6 yo father. Risking death for all, they made it back to Budapest and spent the rest of the War in hiding. My grandmother survived the concentration camps on luck and strength. Strength from within and luck in the form of a man named Victor. He was a lawyer working in the offices. Unbeknownst to the Nazi party he was a Jewish sympathizer and working for the Jewish liberation. Somehow he met my grandmother and secretly fell in love with her. Because she spoke three languages he convinced the officers to allow her to work in the offices. She had a few hours of warmth in the offices and Victor snuck her scraps of bread to keep her alive. They both could have been killed for this. His love literally saved her life. When the Jews were liberated at the close of the war he declared his love for her. They returned to Lily’s home in Budapest in hopes of gathering what few keepsakes they could salvage before they moved onto the next chapter of life. As they stood outside the apartment looking up at the destruction my grandmother saw the face of her son peering out a window. At that very moment on that very day my father also returned for the same reason before he was to travel to America with his aunt and cousin. My grandmother instantly recognized the son she thought she had lost but my father did not recognize her. The once 140 lb curvy woman was 90 lbs emaciated and bald. They were reunited by fate. Victor Hahn married my grandmother and legally adopted my father. They moved to Berlin and opened a cabaret. I have so many fantasies of their nightclub…dark, thick and smoky, where people came to perform and talk and reignite the Weimar era that was so alive before the war. Eventually they moved to America where my Momma Lily became head cosmetologist and Marshall Fields and my Papa Victor became a pastry chef at the Ritz Carlton. They built a great life for themselves and for us. I am not one who visits Holocaust museums or concentration camp memorials when traveling. I don’t watch the films. I don’t need to. I lived it through my grandparents and their friends. Through their eyes, their silence and the serial numbers on their arms. We never spoke of any of this, I just knew.

Often in this part of the country people will say to me: oh, your Jewish!? That cool, I’m hanging out with a Jewish girl or I’ve never met a Jewish person or That’s so cute, your Jewish! I have no opinion on this but I think to myself you really have no idea about any of this. You have no context for what it really means socially, politically, philosophically or historically. No idea.

All of humanity has suffered at the hands of genocide across all races, across all religions, across all of time. History is closing in on us once again…as a world not just as Jews. We are living in fragmented and fragile times. Propaganda propagates fear, fear propagates derisiveness and derisiveness propagates separateness and hatred. Now is not the time to pull away and shield yourself. Now is the time to sit in stillness and pray for a greater capacity for love and compassion for all. So let us not forget this moment 70 years ago or this story I share or any others that speak to so many times in history where our hearts did not manage to override our fears. We. Are. One. Love. You may share this story if you wish because it is not my story but all of ours. I love all of you very much. L’chaim!

Juggling Cats!

I have moved from fear to Fierce! Thank goodness! Fear is not a place we want to visit for very long. Some of you may know that recently I was almost paralyzed be fear and doubt surrounding building this new business. By taking right action, allowing myself to get messy with it and pushing myself every moment of everyday past my comfort zone I finally have broken through the fear into fearless. I am working with two amazing mentors, building my website and programs, just started a certification program and have been invited into a training with two Harvard professors who focus on the neuroscience of positivity and leadership. I know I am such a geek. I am juggling cats as the saying goes, probably 7 more than is recommended. Did I ever tell you I suck at juggling. But instead of those cats caterwauling, clawing each other and dive bombing me desperately digging their claws into my jugular hanging on for dear life… they are happily flying through the air, playing with each other and purring. Good kitties! Lily is adjusting too. She is the best kitty of them all!

I used to wake in the morning and my first thought was “God I can’t wait until it is time to go to sleep tonight.” It was not a statement bourn of depression but one bourn from burnout and not living 100% from my heart. I loved what I did, was pretty much my own boss and was successful. I was really good at it, was doing really important work, building great trainings and coaching and consulting with amazing people. But I probably was experiencing only 60-70% of my divine alignment on this career path. I know that seems like a really high percentage of heart investment in a career. I should have loved it, right? But again because of that small percentage that was dreaming of a slightly different path combined with overextending myself I just wanted to get through the day and then collapse.

Now I wake in the morning (4:30 am today to be exact) and I think, “oh my, there are not enough hours in this day to explore all that I am excited about.” I know that sounds totally annoying and I probably should make up a cheer routine to go with it. But think about it…just pause for a moment. Think on this…it is our birthright, our divine contract in this lifetime to live from our heart, to live our love. To walk through each day expanding toward our greatness, whatever that may be for you. It may be something simple or it may be saving the world. Either way if you live your love you will be saving the world anyway.

Would you rather contract in life or expand toward life? Take it from me, someone who has been on both sides, you want to choose the latter. And believe me if I can discover this so can you. I am as fearful and stubborn as they come. And this shift for me is nothing short of a miracle. I have had many amazing career paths and experiences in my life but this is by far the most authentic expression of living my love to date. And since I have been my own science experiment most of my life I have some amazing tools to share with you if you also desire to gently tweak your life to live your love. There are some fantastic suprises awaiting you when the business officially launches. I hope you will find them of value and come along for this ride with me. I would love to have your continued company and support on this -living my love and yours-path. Besides it will help me not fall on the floor crying and whining about how I suck and can’t do this!

How the Common Core is not so Common

I know you are thinking an opinion piece from me, no surprise! I have heard much outcry and confusion lately about the Common Core and our failing education system. I would like to weigh in. So here is my two cents…well actually twelve. The Common Core fundamentally, in it’s essence is a good thing. Yes I said it. You heard me. It is attempting to create overarching themes per grade, to ask students to make cross curriculum connections, to ask our students to go deeper. But here is where it falters…drastically. It fails our Educational system in four key areas. 1. It was never field tested therefore it was inappropriately implemented across the country. What “they” are asking our teachers to impart is at minimum two years developmentally ahead of what is grade/age appropriate. And each year “they” push it a little more. This is not just my opinion. I hear this from all the teachers and administrators with whom I work. 2. Teachers are not trained to teach how/what the Common Core is asking them to teach. Our teachers whether in undergraduate or graduate level programs are not taught to teach from a child centered, constructivist, creative problem solving methodology. If you are going to ask them to change the way they teach then change the way you teach our teachers. The brilliant teachers that I have coached were this way before their education. 3. Thanks to the Bush Administration and No Child Left Behind…We are still teaching to the test. More and more standardized tests are being forced upon our schools. The current formative assessment is testing from an old paradigm while we are attempting to teach from a new paradigm. Teachers are desperately scrambling to ready kids for testing so they can get high scores and not have their Title 1 funding cut and shut down. Our teachers are overburdened and panicked by this. How can they go deeper when they are scrambling to go wider? This is contraindicative to teaching what and how the Common Core is asking of our educators. Memorization and rote is what the testing is looking for yet the common core is asking creative problem solving, higher order thinking and big idea making from our kids. Testing needs to shift to reflect the outcomes of what we are asking our teachers to impart upon our students. 4. The way our classroom time is structured there is no way our teachers can go deeper into subjects and impart true authentic lasting knowledge. 50 minutes per subject leaves students fragmented and more often skimming the surface of the content. Which leaves our teachers not knowing what our students really know and what they don’t know. Yet the Common Core wants us to explore the depths of content. Well then “they “ should lend the support and instill a new semester model to allow this to happen.

Research has shown that our brains are evolving exponentially which directly coincides with what the world is asking of our brains. The industrial era is over. Teaching children from an industrial model of memorization, rote and simple applicable formulae is over. The information era is here and our brains are being asked to think big idea/ big picture while simultaneously making connection on the most subtle and complex levels. Our schools need transformation not reformation. The common core is attempting this. It has good bones but no musculature to support it. As a country if we do not begin to “produce” humans who can match the new world demands we will falter as an economically viable nation. We already are. We are drastically sub-par in educational performance when compared to other 1st worlder’s. The writing is on the wall folks. The very- near in the future- generations need carry great amounts of emotional intelligence to navigate an increasingly fast moving, complex and compact world. We need to raise cultural and worldly creatives who understand their metacognition, can solve complex problems out of the box and co-create in dynamic group structures. Is our educational model supporting this? No not yet…but we can all agree that it needs to be.

And again, thanks to the Bush Administration our schools are now governed by statistical analysis. NO matter what socio-economic sector, no matter what American subculture or predominant demographic…no matter, it’s all about scores. So the upper middle class, English speaking schools test high and get more funding. See what kind of meta-message is being sent here. See why our schools are panicked and still pushing to teach to the test. No Child Left Behind was that administrations failed attempt to show a caring face toward Education. It was entrapment and now our schools are being dictated to from a national level. When you give a not so smart administration the power to create big change…this is what you get. It is all connected to funding. If schools don’t make the scores, funding “justifiably” gets cut and can be spent on other agenda items. Our children’s education should not be conditional no matter race, economic status or location. To me that is unconstitutional at the deepest level.

When the “administration” of this country shifted several years ago they heard the outcry from our educators screaming that they needed help and guidance with this new model thus more money and more fanfare was thrown at the problem. That was a great thing. It allowed people like me, like the Kennedy Center, like Trike Theatre, like so many brilliant Arts Integration Specialists to get funding to help out these schools and guide them. But healthcare was also in crisis and I knew we were only a few years out from shifting funding in that direction. I hit it on the mark. 4 years later funding for Curriculum reform is shrinking when it is needed most. We as a nation are not so good at slow and steady. We want immediate change and immediate perfection. “They” gave us a platoon of horses but never followed through on providing the means to ride them. “They” got distracted by the next bright shiny object…healthcare. And here we are as a nation of parents and caregivers and educators wondering what in the world happened to our education re-form.

And please don’t turn this into a political platform because I will shut this down. You are missing the point. I don’t care what party you abide by I am speaking of governmental administrations manipulative relationship to education. The bigger political picture…now that is another story all together.

So where does this leave us? Awareness of these issues are increasing outside of the schoolyard, finally. Change is happening, slowly. Certain states were so against the Common Core that they lobbied to have the right to accept or decline the use of this. They won. Although I don’t think refusing to implement the Common Core is the answer (we were failing before this) I do feel that it is our right to stand up and be heard and not be forced nationalistically to do something that may not suit us locally. That is a slippery slope. Some states, like Arkansas, have adopted the new Standards and Frameworks for Teachers. This is a good thing. It brings to the table actual video training modules that teachers must take which trains them in what an exemplary, constructivist classroom looks like. However, this adds more burden to an already overwhelming schedule for teachers asking them to spend several hours a week after school to complete these trainings. Additionally it does not give in person coaching to the teachers. Concurrently, government funding for special education projects and government Title 1 monies for schools are shrinking every year. This means no funding to hire specialists to help train teachers. Funding that IS available is coming from private endowments and less from the government. Those of us that create Professional Development and coaching in the classroom now need to come together and coalesce where big funding is available. It’s all a grass roots movement. It always has been. This does not scare us. We keep revising the plan. You as a parent or caregiver: Find ways to bring information to your educators, raise funds for your school so that they can match funding on grants to help your teachers get training to implement efficient teaching strategies. Take a look at the Common Core Modules for your child’s grade and see where you may participate (even it if is just asking the right reflective questions or knowing what books or documentaries to watch at home). Find out who your state and very local endowments are and build relationships with them…somehow, someway. They will be a great resource financially someday. Or pull your kids out of school altogether. I don’t care, just do something. But most of all realize that teachers are at the front lines of this mess. They are not the enemy. Many of them feel their hands are tied so lets help free them.

And with that said I realize I am no expert, I could be totally full of crap so let me have it. I can take it on the chin!

The Destination IS Kinda the Point

I believe in the transformative power of the human spirit, I believe in the power of mind to create our reality and I believe in the transformative power of human connection. The more we learn about our own spirit, how to grow our mind and how to healthfully navigate human dynamics the more we have the power to shift them. To make bold and grounded decisions on the path to our ‘big picture life’. I am still working on cultivating patience with others who cannot see this. Who don’t believe this. With diligence and focus anyone can answer the calling of their dreams and Aspirations. And if you don’t think you can clean it up and pull it together, take it from me, my life has been messy. If I can clean it up so can you!

Life is a series of forks in the road- moment to moment decisions. I know that sounds cliché but at any given moment ask yourself…is this fork in the road leading to the ‘small picture life’ or the ‘big picture life’. You just need to get clear, or relatively clear about what your big picture is. It is because I got clear about this several years ago and continued to polish that window through meditation and mindset practices that the sacrifices I made although brutal in their moments, would lead to something so much more. On blind faith, I knew this! I have made many sacrifices. I took the fork that led away from Lily and I purchasing our dream home to squat in a friend’s house for a year to build a new business. I took the fork that led away from a relationship that would have served my need for safety but would not have served my daughter or my desire for growth. I took the fork in the road that led away from social time with friends and vacations so that I could diligently study my mind and spirit extensively to garner the power to shift it. I took the fork that led away from a thriving self made business into one that dropped my income by more than half and catapulted me into a two year empty wallet spin in solitude and learning.

And the biggest fork in the road before I even knew that I had the strength and courage to journey down the ‘big picture road’ was the sacrifice I made that led me away from Lily’s father when she was less than 2 years old because…that is no way to live, that’s why. Financially supporting and raising my daughter on my own has not always been easy. Oh, who am I kidding- there has not been a single moment that it has been easy and I have not always been at my best but I have grown from it and having the courage and faith to take the ‘big picture’ road has led to this very moment in time which is an amazing one.

The saying goes: it’s all about the journey not the destination. Whaaaaat?! That is just crazy talk! I am not discounting the journey because I am the Lewis and Clark of the internal landscape. The journey IS the growth, the discovery, the workout. But if you journey and never arrive then what is the point? What is the point of continually wandering through beautiful landscapes and never anchoring yourself in the most amazing spot? What is the point of feeding your soul and your spirit if you cannot feed yourself or your family. The protestant work ethic has killed our spirit, I get that but there is a sweet spot somewhere between Buddha on the mountain and being a slave to society. And it loops back to the question I asked earlier- What is your ‘big picture’ destination and what does your ‘big picture road’ look like? What calculated sacrifices are you willing to make to rest proud and full of life on your next plateau?

In order to up level your life and land in a place of power and authenticity one must have the courage to walk the ‘big picture path’. One must internalize a mindset of faith in oneself and the universe. Up leveling your life is a scary thing. For two years I hung on white knuckled to the edge of the next plateau hoping to GOD that when I finally had the strength to pull myself all the way up and stand strong on my new terra firma there would actually be something other than a vast expanse of NOTHING to lay my gaze upon (news flash: there is!). If you take the time to cultivate power of mind, richness of spirit and connections that fuel your journey down the ‘big picture road’ you will always arrive, without fail at your next beautiful plateau. It won’t always be easy. It’s not called sacrifice for nothing but you will get there. I am living proof of this.

I have arrived at- not my last- but definitely my most authentic and beautiful plateau to date and I owe it in large part to the calculated forks in the road I took. The diligent focus and practice of cultivating power of mind and richness of spirit cleared the way to make ‘big picture road’ decisions. But I have to tell you folks, the secret sauce, the magic ingredient that landed me here today was human connection. That was the hardest lesson of all for me to integrate. I am good at Buddha on the mountain, scary good. But ask me to ask you for support, forget it. During an extended meditative practice focusing on manifesting support from known and unknown sources people began appearing in my life that I never knew existed. People I had absolutely no prior connection with showed up big. Hugely successful, brilliant, generous, heart centered people showed up and rolled out the metaphorical red carpet. People with whom I could play crazy big! Who welcomed all that I am and all that I do into their world. My intuition drew me to them and continually guided me to stay in the game. To keep saying yes even though I did not know the end result. All of my diligent focus and consistent spiritual practice allowed me to have faith that it would be something much bigger and more profound than my little mind could dream up. And it is big, huge huge big! I have made almost more money in the past 4 months than my best year ever, and every moment has been pure bliss. And guess what folks, what intuitively drove me toward these people was not about money. There was initially no money on the table. We just kept showing up and the money eventually showed up too. I know, I did that taboo thing just now and mentioned money but we live in the real world and money is the energetic litmus for a certain kind of success. So yeah me!!!! But it’s not about the money because I have made money the old fashioned way (see slave to society above) and at the end of the year there is always a deficit in both my financial and spiritual bank.

Point being: success is fundamentally about living your authentic life. Happiness and peace is the great equalizer not money. As I always say, if success to you is quitting your job and making soap than you are all the richer for it. My new mission in life is to create a world where every human being has the tools in place and the faith to manifest their version of a rich life! In a nutshell I guess I could have just said that!