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Life And Business Coaching Notes - June 2009
Allie the cat enjoys the spring blossoms.
I hope June finds you well and happy. Here are a few thoughts to help you better enjoy your life and build your business.
1) Feeling a little stuck? Here's some practical insights.
2) Marketing - The importance of meeting clients where they are.
3) Practical Yoga - Today, in this new segment, I talk about the practical applications of ahimsa, the yogic principle of non-harming.
4) Need More Clients? - Summer's affordable mentoring program is coming.
1) Feeling A Little Stuck?
There are many times in our lives when we begin to feel a little stuck, like we are not moving forward as we should.
Sometimes it is just a momentary pause on the journey, and all that is needed is a little time, a little renewal, perhaps a shift in perspective, perhaps some additional know how - and with a little encouragement the energy shifts and you are back on track.
However, for many people there are some predictable and much deeper places where the sense of “stuckness” is more powerful and pervasive. In these darker places the traditional remedies simply do not work. Anyone who is there or has been there recognizes the symptoms:
There is a sense of an impasse, a feeling that you may have lost your way.
There is a sense that you are not fulfilling some intuited potential, not living the life you were meant to live.
The old ways of doing things (keeping busy, working harder) no longer remedy the problem.
Old sources of motivation and satisfaction have lost their magic.
There is a genuine longing to live a more authentic and meaningful life.
There is a growing desire to connect with what is truly important to you and more fully express your unique gifts.
These are all symptoms of a classic stage in the life journey that has been written about for millennium in myth, literature and the wisdom traditions.
Students of myth might recognize this place as the “principal ordeal” in the Hero’s Journey. Developmental psychologists might recognize that a process of adaptive change (change that can only be brought about by growth) is called for. The yogis call this experience samvega, as it marks the realization of a deeply seated desire to grow, evolve and reach an entirely more fulfilling state of being.
If you find yourself at this place, here are some pointers to guide you:
First, forget turning back. You have little chance of going back to anything that used to satisfy you. You must move forward.
Secondly forget trying your old bag of tricks. Your habitual thinking and problem solving techniques do not work here. (As Einstein said, “your biggest problems are never solved at the same level of thinking that gave rise to them.”)
Thirdly, the solution is not “out there” in some new set of external circumstances - new car, new relationship, etc. Rather, the solution requires an internal change. You simply cannot get out of this place being the same person you have been up to now.
If you find yourself in a place like this, get some time alone and begin the process of exploring what it is that you are attached to, what it is time to let go of, and what growth is waiting to happen? The sooner you embrace the changes you are bumping up against, and tap into the new you waiting to be born, the sooner you will feel the shift.
Finally, if at all possible, get some help with this process. Chances are you might not recognize the changes that are staring you in the face. Spend some time with those people in your life that you can turn to at times like this. (Wise friends who know you well, insightful colleagues who will tell you the truth, a coach or mentor who can point you in the right direction. Or, if you are lucky enough to know someone experienced in these matters, a teacher or guru who can help you navigate through the many tricky and unseen reefs in the voyage to a more authentic self.)
What appears like death to the caterpillar, looks like an exciting new life to the butterfly. On the other side of these changes are some wide open blue skies.
all this time
the sun never says to the earth,
"You owe me."
With a love like that-
it lights the whole
When Marketing, Meet Your Clients Where They Are
Have you ever seen an experienced mom greet a tiny young child? Chances are she will kneel down to meet them face to face, at their level, smile and talk softly. In meeting the child at their level, by matching her energy to their's, she puts the child at ease.
Experienced coaches do this naturally. Some clients are naturally more high energy, some are lower energy. By meeting them where they are energetically it is easier to establish rapport, build trust and better coach them to make the changes they want and would benefit from making. (Even if those changes involve better balancing their natural energy level.)
The same principle applies in marketing. You want to meet your client where they are. Far too many marketers, speak, write and promote in their language which may or may not be what their clients are thinking or talking about.
- A coach may talk about finding your calling, whereas many of their clients may just be thinking about finding a better job that uses more of their creativity.
- A coach may talk about fulfillment, whereas their clients may be thinking about lowering their stress and getting more time at home.
The point is, you want to meet your clients where they are, and speak to them in terms of how their problems currently manifest. To do this you must put your own assumptions and language aside, and get out there and spend enough time with your ideal clients.
When you know what your client’s top 10 challenges are, and know what they are dreaming about achieving, and can use the very words that they do to describe their situation, your marketing is going to be far more effective.
"As long as a person doesn't know what he doesn't know,
he doesn't grow."
- John C. Maxwell
3) Practical Yoga - Working on Ahimsa (The nuances of non-violence.)
Regular readers will know I am a long-time student of the world's wisdom traditions. I have found that whenever you dig beneath the period specific, cultural and political dogma, you find beauty, truth, wisdom and inspiration. In fact at a deeper level I believe most of the world's spiritual traditions offer up a template, or a virtual conveyor belt of teachings and practices that will lead a seeker to higher levels of awareness, openness, connectedness, compassion, peace and joy.
While I have gained immensely from all the traditions I have studied, I happen to agree with one of my heroes, (the late Joseph Campbell), that the best teachings usually come from India. Thus over the past 5 years, I have immersed myself in the overwhelming richness of the yogic tradition. ( I am a certified yoga instructor, but really think that if I study this tradition for another 20 years I will still be more of a student than a teacher. It's that deep.)
Anyway, when you get beneath the superficial western bastardization of yoga, you find some jewels. You see yoga is an art, science and complete philosophy. (We in the west have simply hijacked the authentic teachings and infused it with our frantic, striving, competitive energy so that most of the yoga you see is focused on one small component of the teachings, asanas - which too often look like a mindless series of calistethic like poses that only a gymnast could master.)
Traditional yoga has many important and interrelated components, including a complete moral code. One of the main moral teachings of yoga is called ahimsa. The essence of ahimsa is that you should live your life so as to not harm any living creature by thought, word or action.
Putting this principle in action can dramatically change your life, and take years to fully realize. Not that it is hard for most people to restrain from inflicting physical harm. It is at the more subtle levels of thought or word that the big challenge presents itself.
To experience a practical example of this work in action, I suggest you take some time to explore all the habitual ways you hurt yourself, simply through your daily thoughts.
When you really start to pay attention, you might find many recurrent thoughts like, "You should; do more, be more, accomplish more, etc." How about the ever popular, 'You really are too, (fill in the blank) old, stupid, fat, slow, etc".
And even beneath your conscious thoughts there are probably countless other, small impatiences, angry reactions, judgments and forgiveness you are withholding. And even more subtle perhaps your habitual way of rushing yourself through life like you had some unseen train to catch. All these patterns serve to separate you from your joyful and abundant true nature.
All these thoughts have subtle, cumulative and influential impact on our peace of mind. They are all ways that we are constantly attacking our self. And when you are under attack, you are on the defensive, and you are simply far less likely to be open, present and compassionate to those around you. Your subtle self-violence ends up feeding other's subtle violence and the circle of struggle perpetuates itself.
Ultimately you either have love or fear at your core. Wherever there is fear, there is violence, and even the most simple forms of violence find their way to ripple out into your world. You become another part of the problem rather than being part of the solution.
Remedies - The power of a well-established yoga practice is that it will bring you into awareness and move you past the thousands of impediments to living a fuller, richer, more loving life. For those who are unfamiliar with the powerful breathwork and poses of yoga, there are still simple steps you can take that will have an impact.
As relates to the practice of ahimsa, simple awareness can be a powerful ally. It can bring unnoticed thoughts and behaviors out into the open, allow their hidden assumptions to be challenged and debunked, and return you to a place of peace and choice.
Exercise - For a day or two, notice the most common and negative thoughts you harbor about yourself. (Perhaps what you view as your biggest failing or weakness.)
Pick the most powerful thought, the one that most negatively impacts you, and ask yourself, "What am I most afraid of here?" You will probably find that beneath each hurtful thought or judgment, lies a root fear. Perhaps you are afraid that if you are not the most; beautiful, smart, accomplished, acclaimed mother/father/partner/professional/etc. that you will never achieve the love you long for.
If the essence of the energy beneath the hurtful thought is fear, then think up an empowering intention - in yoga this is called a sankalpa. And in the example above, where the thought is rooted in fear, a good sankalpa might be, "I am fearless, open and loving." And then, whenever you notice you are thinking the old negative thought, replace it with your sankalpa.
Now, the ancient yogis were optimizers. They were the originators of the scientific method, millennia before it even had a name. (In other words through hundreds of generations of trial and error, if a particular practice did not produce the desired results, or was not repeatable by others, they dumped it and moved on.) So the traditional schools of yoga know a lot about what really works to overcome the tricks of the mind or small self.
In the case of using sankalpas, the yogis found there are some auspicious times to repeat your intention. In particular, those moments when you are falling asleep or waking up (or entering or exiting savasana) allowed the intention to more easily slip into the powerful unconscious mind and better override the existing neural circuitry.
A good sankalpa should be practiced for at least a year to have the desired results. Good luck.
"By embracing your mother wound as your yoga,
you transform what has been a hindrance in your life into a teacher of the heart."
- Phillip Moffitt
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