more Professional, more Natural

Few days ago I received a wonderful feedback on a last coaching session with one of my clients. He told me that thanks to these meetings he feels closer to other people and able to build more natural relations at work. Let’s emphasize what he appreciated most: more natural. He did not say “more professional”.

Initially, for most of my clients professional means not natural. Professional means absolutely self-controlled, cool/cold, logical, impersonal. But how can you remain a person and not be personal at the same time? Does that mean that for 8-10 hours a day you are just…not yourself? Who is that guy then?

After some years of leading trainings, coaching and counselling I am pretty sure most people need not to be more professional this way anymore. Learning from my clients about the costs of being this professional, I challenge them and hereby also you my dear reader: if we were to assume for a while (just a crazy thought) that professional = natural, how would YOU defend this assumption? How would you convince your boss, your colleagues, your clients to it?

Let me and others know :)

Dora

Slowed Down

Have you ever experienced a phase of limited capabilities? However strange it may sound, I like such moments. This time I slipped in the mountains and, unable to walk, I was rescued by mountain guards from freezing. Currently I am slowly walking around using crutches and on pain killers.

I try to treat every situation in Life as a learning opportunity. It does not mean I am trying to impose a MEANING on it. My learning means:

STEP 1 AWARENESS: observing myself in new circumstances: how am I adapting to something new? Do I just treat is as „the end of old” and dream about being capable again, or as a new frame that requires creativity (behaving in new ways) from me? What helps me adapt?

STEP 2 EXPERIMENTING AND ANALYSIS: using new ways of being and handling the situation. Making conclusions concerning the old ways – how my old ways look for me now, from a new perspective? How do I now see this person that I was couple of days ago? How could I describe her functioning then, how it appears to me now?

STEP 3 HARVESTING: concluding the learning – what from my new behaviours I’d like to adapt once these circumstances are gone, over? What from my old ways do I want to keep, continue doing, and what maybe requires changing?

So – thanks for that learning opportunity, iced slope!

My most surprising learning up till now is that slowing down does not mean that I don’t deliver; on the contrary – thanks to limited mobility, I quitted multitasking and I deliver more deliberate, thoughtful results within a time frame. I would have never believed that before, trusting that only being “Fast and Furious” could bend the reality around me according to my will…

I wish you many learning opportunities. Remember these 3 STEPS and don’t hesitate to use them whenever you find yourself in a new place, moment, situation. It can be painful but it can be fun, too. And it’s for free – no training required, just a conscious practice.

Stay flexible,

Dora

PS. “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” Albert Einstein

Interior Responding Wonder

Interior Responding Wonder – this notion was primarily used by Herman Melville more than 150 years ago (!) and means, quoting after Sally Atkins in “Presence and Process in Expressive Arts Work”, “the capacity to be touched by the beauty and pathos of our human existence in the world.”

I recently spoke to my young colleague, who described his week for me. This is what he said:

  • Monday – a depressive day
  • Tuesday – nothing ever happens
  • Wednesday – well, it’s just a middle of the week
  • Thursday – a day before Friday
  • Friday – I might get drunk
  • Saturday – I might get sober
  • Sunday – the end of the week

Actually, this post could end with two worlds facing each other as if in the opposition, but let me take you one step further.

Paolo Knill and Steve Levine (2005) write about aesthetic responsibility – our responsibility to respond to beauty in the world. The first step to do that is to be sensitive – turn your senses ON and tune them, like a radio, to sense beauty. Try this out; it’s a bit like wearing magic glasses. Do not judge, just observe and see beauty, even or especially in the “mundane”. Sounds crazy? Well, when did you last time pay attention to the tree growing by your window? When did you stop on the street to stroke the cat that you spotted couple of times already? When did you notice the smile on your friend’s face and got moved by the fact that you are both getting older and smiling to each other brings out new wrinkles to your faces? When were you fascinated by these holes in your boss’s sweater (wonder who made them!), intrigued by your husband’s washing dishes or moved by your child discovering her feet?

Instead of imposing on my colleague my personal truth about how different life can look like from the version starting with depressive Monday and heading toward Sunday that ends the whole week torment, I encouraged him to create a “depressive calendar”. And I hereby declare I am going to use his list of weekdays to create something. Long live the aesthetic responsibility!

And you? What are you going to do today with such a beautiful Tuesday, when nothing ever happens? J

Dora

PS. Mark my words! :)

caledar

The Husband and The Lover

No, this won’t be a post about an affair. Not quite. Maybe just a little bit.

I have many clients dedicated to their every day reality of duties and responsibilities. They are married to their jobs, positions, employers. Surprisingly, many of them dream about “something else” and “somewhere else”. For some of them that I heard these temptations sound like “having my own business”, “starting a kindergarten”, “having a cottage in the mountains that could be opened for guests”, “writing a book”, “having a store”, “opening coffee brewery”, etc. For most of them even merely saying it out loud sounds like a betrayal already.

Sometimes I wonder if this is not a Polish thing – we have so many sayings that encourage us not to dream that could be summarized with one sentence: be happy with what you got. The consequence is, many of us don’t even know what and how to WANT, what to DREAM OF and how to pursue our dreams. Dreaming feels like betraying, because we should stay with what is already there. And, God knows, we might even lose this “little stability”! So better get used to it. Well, sometimes something inside cries out, but it is so easy to shut it down with more – work, responsibilities, things, addictions.

The scary part is that if you are not faithful to your SOUL it will find ways to project your yearnings out there, somewhere. You might suddenly get fascinated with someone, believing that he/she will change your life. The truth very often is that he/she is only like a “product placement”, your soul trying to find its way out of this dull marriage that you call life.

So – please, regain your power.

Come back to yourself and have a courage for a little conversation with your soul.

Do not run away, no matter what you hear.

You know, sometimes our souls get frustrated after some years of not being heard at all. These conversations can be painful. And choices are sometimes painful, too. But my experience is that if you remain faithful to yourself and at the same time courageously in touch with reality, you will be able to live your life fully instead of just hanging there as a frustrated partner of your own daily routine.

Wishing you many true conversations,

Dora

 

Midwifing Your Dreams

Do you have dreams that are so delicate that you wouldn’t even like them coming true, fearing losing them?

Well, if you do, this story is for you.

Apart from being a counselor and a trainer, I am a singer, too. Since I was 16 (my first band!), I have always dreamed of publishing a CD, a clip, a song, something professional that would allow me to laugh for the rest of my life that „I made it!”

And you know what? „I made it” is very often far more difficult than „I’ve been trying” or „I’m working on it” or „I’m planning to do this”. “I made it” means that you are capable, strong, persistent and…that your dream is now out there in the world, this child of yours. It is no longer in the dark, cozy womb of your mind. People can now relate to it. This brings some sense of responsibility and fear of being hurt in the very moment of beautiful vulnerability – giving birth to a dream.

However, deeply inside we know that we fully relate to others only without our armors on; how could we touch and be touched otherwise? And we can fully relate to beauty when we are unarmed, too. It does not mean helpless. It means natural, true, authentic.

Thus I wish you courage to dream, persistence and tenderness to midwife them and daily ability to nurture yourself with good words and deeds.

Dora

P.S. For my dream coming true – check out the music video of my band on Youtube:

In English http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ry7hboNdoWA&feature=youtu.be

In Polish http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JF2e8M8HcUA&feature=youtu.be

Hidden Assumptions. On Delegating.

I have always considered a topic of Delegating Tasks quite a mundane one, until the day I discovered fun coming from tracing hidden assumptions underlying our incapability to delegate. If delegating is far from being number 1 on your Strengths List, this post is for you.

If someone asked you whether you think your people are skilled, you’d probably say “of course”. If I asked you if they can cope with challenges, you’d say “yes”. If I’d ask you whether you think of yourself better than you think of your people, you’d say “of course NOT!” But let us do a quick check in. A short quiz concerning NOT delegating.

  • “I’ll do it because my people already have a lot to do”. Oh, really? That means that you think you are either better organized, or work faster, or maybe are just generally more effective than your people. Moreover, apparently the reward for being more effective is having even more to do. And your role is The Saviour of Rome, right? They go home, you stay and work over hours, as every decent manager with a Martyr complex.
  • “I’ll do it because otherwise I’d have to explain it to X and waste his and my time”. Oh, so what you mean is that your people’s development is a waste of time. Interesting! And it’s better to hold on to something than to teach someone else to do something. This will ensure your bright fascinating future: this task next time will come to you, too.
  • “I’ll do it because I would have to correct it anyway when he does it.” Sure. Assertiveness is a rare gift. It’s better to suffer in silence.
  • “I’ll do it because clients expect me to do it.” Of course. They expect you, because they do not know anyone else from your team; for the client it has always been you and maybe some “other guys” doing “some stuff” to make it all happen. Why are you, again, standing in the way of your people’s development?

These are the most popular sentences I’ve heard through the years from my clients having “hard time delegating”. You might know the delegating theory, which is not rocket science by the way, but hidden assumptions will still keep you in your old ways, like an anchor of a thinking habit. And remember it is not wrong – it is human. The only reason I’m inspiring you to think is because I am sure awareness broadens our range of play.

So – if you want to play some more, start from writing down all the answers to: “I’d rather do something myself than delegate because….”. Then look at them, look at yourself and decide if you want to try on creating and then practicing another list: “I’d rather delegate than do something myself because…”

Wishing you a playful session with yourself,

Dora

Non-Worrying Moms Rental

After consultations with my friends and after having heard multiple clients’ stories, I think one day I’ll open a rental point that would say “Non-Worrying Moms Rental”. It would rent – for some time, for moments most needed – Moms that DO NOT WORRY but encourage and support instead. It is fascinating to hear how many Moms practice worrying for their kids as a skill, developing and polishing it over the years. I’m starting to suspect this skill must have some benefits, otherwise no Mom would be so good at it, and so dedicated.

If you recognize some of this attitude in you – even if you are not Mom or Dad (do Dads worry so gracefully, by the way?) – please, next time catch yourself worrying, and before you express your worries to your child/partner/employee/boss/someone, ask yourself these questions:

  1. What do you want to achieve communicating that? (helpful tip: Do you really want more people to feel anxious? Is one not enough already?)
  2. Is it really the right moment to share the bitter bread of anxiety? (I know that you are fed up with eating this bread alone…and you think no one else really worries about this serious issue…)
  3. Whom does this worrying really serve: How does it serve YOU? How does it serve THE PERSON that you worry about? How does it serve YOUR RELATIONSHIP with this person?
  4. What do you need – and if this is peace of mind or clarity – how can you ask for it otherwise than communicating how worried you are?
  5. What could you do next time instead of worrying?

All right, having said all that, just one last thing. I know anxiety can be a big issue. Sometimes it is like a fog; moreover, for some of us feels natural like air we breathe in. But believe me, there is life beyond anxiety, and it can start from making small decisions concerning how we support other people – and ourselves.

Take good care!

Dora

Straight Line

If somebody told you that personal development is a straight path leading to happy life, he lied. It is neither straight nor does it necessarily lead to happy life. Sounds strange when written by a coach and a trainer, doesn’t it? Well, read on!

First of all – most of my clients and myself as a client of other therapists/supervisors develop in a kind of a dance. Everyone has his/her own style. Usually, generally this dance looks like that: making three fast steps forward, two steps back, one slow forward, two fast back, four fast forward, one large back, and so on. If you imagined self-development, like some portals suggest, as a lovely walk through the meadow on a sunny day…well, not exactly. There are some things you might have to give up and some other that you will probably give in to. There might be moments when you will feel lost, hopeless, helpless, pissed off.

Secondly – what does happy life mean? One of the first steps on development path is gaining awareness on what has been running you, and this is usually a not very comforting awareness in the beginning. You might even feel angry, thinking that you’d rather not know and remain blissfully ignorant than dive into the unpleasant discoveries on the topic of YOU.

But you know what?

After a while you realize that there are no bad guys and good guys that you can either despise or compare yourself to. After bitter awareness of your own “Automatic Pilot” (after John Scherer) and all the shadows in you comes a sweet realisation that we all have light and shadow within, because that’s what being human means. And self-development’s goal is not to turn you into a saint, man. It can help you be human more fully! No more frantic attempts to divide the world into “me, we, the decent people” and “they, them, those other dark forces”. More understanding, respect, compassion, even love, for yourself AND others – this is what you might get. So better check out with yourself if this is what you want.

Every meeting with my clients reminds me how beautiful in its complexity life is, and how humble I should be in the face of Life incarnated in this particular human being.

Namaste,

Dora

Sense of clarity

A need for clarity is one of basic human needs in life. Of course we are able to operate in ambiguous environment and work with many unknowns – how else could we be successful in business? My favourite moments of ambiguity happen when I am leading workshops based on group process facilitation, or during every counselling session, sitting down in front of the client without  knowing what he or she will bring today. Improvisation makes my work fascinating. However, operating within clarity is more comfortable for me. If you need it, too, this post is for you.

Recently, I finally decided to make some important moves that seem to be major turns on my life path. By the way – have you ever tried to draw or imagine your life path? Is it straight, curvy, narrow, broad, a highway or a village path, a forest path, winding, toward the sun or disappearing in mist? Try this exercise on and see where it takes you.

As for me, suddenly, after some days of running around with some anxiety and tension, I landed on a deeper sense of clarity and peace. By the way – do you know the phenomenon called “incubation phase”? Described by Graham Wallis, it is a process of unconscious recombination of thought elements that were stimulated through conscious work beforehand. To put it in another words – that your brain has been working hard to help you without you knowing that. And then, “suddenly”, you get “illuminated”.

My “illumination” feels very strange. Suddenly I am clearly able to distinguish between things that should be done and others that still might be done, but will only serve the “old way”. I just know – and this knowing is present on many levels; intellectual too, but even more on emotional and in my body. Of course I can still hesitate and negotiate with myself if I want to entertain myself with thoughts, but my sense of clarity will listen to these struggles with empathy and in the end remain the same.

If you are allergic on the word “should”, please, approach this “should” with a basic curiosity. This is “the helping should”. The rooted should. The very clearly energetic should. Your personal navigation system on a new way. Instead of “should”, you can call it “this feels right”, “I am deeply convinced it is right”, “I don’t know why, but this just sounds right”, “my intuition tells me it’s right”.

Old ways start to feel like dry branches of your tree of life that really do not need more water; they will dry out and fall off, and it is time to focus on this parts which are thriving. They might still be tiny, a seed merely, but this seed can feel closer to your soul that other more spectacular accomplishments from the past.

Do you have Courage to nurture it?

Wishing you incubation with illumination,

Dora

PS. In order to create good circumstances for incubation, do something else than thinking hard about solving your problem. I paint or hike, as you can see below. Just leave it and trust the process!

IMG_3297

Crisis? Float.

Many wise things have already been written about a phenomenon called CRISIS. In business literature the domineering narrative on this topic is that a crisis is a change, a turning point, a possible opportunity that forces us to do something differently, to turn on the crossroads the other way than usual. Yes, it’s all true. AND…

Sometimes, when you are in the crisis, there’s no way you can see the end of the situation. It sucks you in and makes you believe that it is the only reality, and there’s nothing beyond. It might be a very depressive state, or very frantic, or very tensed – you name it. You’re trying to embrace reality, to give it your order, but the only outcome of your effort is that more and more blocks fall into your TETRIS game and you are even more stuck.

But what IF “controlling” and “embracing” are not the most effective VERBS that could help you in such situation?

Sometimes, if you try hard to impose an order on reality, it gets stuck because the only order you know is the “old one”; the old way of putting things together; and crisis wants – and usually requires – something different. What if instead of standing in the way of things happening you would learn how to FLOAT on them?…

I know, I know. Sounds like “useless”, “passive”, “cowardly” even. This is your inner fighter trying to convince you that fighting and controlling is the best strategy in every situation. Grasp this bull’s horns! Make reality capitulate to your forces of control! And guess what? You’re stuck again!

So – few tips how to learn to FLOAT:

  • Realize you are tensely trying to control life in a new situation.
  • Breathe deeply couple of times, smile to yourself with patience and understanding, show yourself empathy, cry if needed, kick some pillows or just hug yourself. Let the tension release its tight grisp on you.
  • Keep your head above stuff, that is – as soon as you feel you’re drowning again and you get sort of frenzy, ask your friend to send you a text message reminding that the horizon of reality is larger than NOW, though NOW seems to be the only reality available.

And remember that all the things pass away – the bad and the good;

we ARE passing away, and the skill we need sometimes is to float on the waters of life,

instead of fighting with them.

Dora

PS. As an additional inspiration, one of my favourites songs from Peter Gabriel on the living river: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zv-evzBPPLw