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Ponderings

Proud of Myself

There’s a rock

Lodged in a hole.

At the base of a big,

Green,

Tree.

I have run past it hundreds of times,

Maybe more.

I wonder

What’s behind it?

Today I stop. Stoop. Grab hold of it.

Mossy. Slippery. Wet.

I tug, heaving, careful of my

Back against the strain

It comes free.

Now, at last,

I can see

Down the hole.

And I’m proud of myself for having stopped,

When I could have kept on running.

Seeking Sky

I am walking one of my favourite trails in Vancouver. It weaves along the bluffs of Spanish Banks, before either dipping down to the sea of veering south toward the university campus. On this particular day, in early September, I am strolling. When I walk, especially in nature, ideas come to me that would not ordinarily arrive, and I am always delighted when a certain breeze or vista offers up the gift of a metaphor and carries me away. Today it is a tree, an odd slender cedar with a tenacious urge to see the sun. The tree has bent itself over, growing parallel to the ground, before pushing itself upright again, some 8 feet later. The s-curve makes something of bench for those inclined to seize the moment and take a seat. Despite having walked by this particular tree many times, today it encourages me to think about how we are all seeking the light; literally, as a necessary life force, but also figuratively, in our lives, with our families, and in our organizations. I began to wonder about the ways I have contorted my own life, working my way around things, over things, and through things in search of my sky. I think all of us are searching for the sun light of our true nature and that search takes us and shapes us in all sorts of ways- good and bad.  I carried on along the trail, reflecting on the work I do as a coach, and how so much of it is about helping people determine and head for their own light. And I was comforted by the idea that, like the tree, even our most twisted turns, can be […]

Natural Born Leaders

She might be an older friend, or a big sister and shes barking out orders with unquestionable authority to Victoria, a smaller girl clutching the flimsy handle of a plastic bucket. “Hurry! Run!” she yells, pointing toward the low lying sea, about 100 yards off, “Hurry, or they’ll die! And come back as fast as you can!” Victoria turns abruptly, pivoting her bare heel in the damp sand, and sets off, with earnest effort toward the shoreline. She’s saving crabs, little ones. They have become trapped in a swiftly shrinking tide puddle. The older girl hangs back, suddenly alone with herself, under the hot sun with all these little crabs and a huge job ahead of her.

The pool has been steadily warming as it evaporates in the mid day sun and she’s worried the water will either get too hot or disappear altogether. Crab Bisque, I think to myself, as I watch her. “Hurry up!” she screams again, remembering time is running out and there’s work to be done. “Come on! Run!” she yells but her voice is swept from her mouth and carried away on the rippling airwaves. Victoria can’t hear her.

Far away now, I can see her small bent-over form, she’s tipping the bucket and I sense the relief welling up inside her. Because she’s done it, she’s saved them. Later, as I’m walking back through the tall grass, jumping drift wood and wondering where the actual path is that will take me past the BBQ pit and on up to the parking lot, I realize these girls have got what it takes to make a difference in the world: vision, passion, and something worth fighting for. It’s been a good day […]

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Probortunity

A probortunity is simultaneously the kernel of possibility and the problem. A probortunity is a different kind of conundrum, requiring the mental acts of investigating and solving, as well as a willingness and urge to germinate and grow something entirely new and inspiring.

We have all had experiences where we talk about the silver lining. You’ve probably heard people say things like, “well if it hadn’t been for that car accident I never would have met my future husband” and you probably know people who praise the challenges they’ve faced as cataclysmic  events when their lives took on new meaning,  purpose and direction. Mostly these comments are after-the-fact sentiments that help us to make sense of why bad things have happened to us in the first place.

A probortunity however, is born from a proactive sensibility rather than a reactive one. I believe there is tremendous power in this small, cumbersome  and illegitimate word. These days, with the onslaught of problems a fresh and hopeful spark may help each of us grow a sweeter, juicier fruit right from the start.

For more on the inventors of this fine if somewhat illegitimate word click here

Cause, Effect and Unexpected Debris

When it comes to cause and effect we tend to be overly concerned with the effect others are having on us and rarely consider how we ourselves are influencing or causing results.  A poorly prepared meal in a restaurant,  harsh words from a loved one, road construction and unnecessary delays,  missed deadlines, errors, these are personalized to the point of insanity while imagining that our own behaviours have a light and/or temporary influence on other people or processes “I said i was sorry, can’t you just get over it?”.
The truth is we  have no idea how the relationships  we cultivate or the emotions we generate today will influence  tomorrow. Or ten years from tomorrow.  In a related manner, the systems thinking principle behind this truth has recently  come to light here in British Columbia with the arrival of tons of debris from the Japanese Tsunami.  On a personal level we can think about this by imagining ourselves as both a spider and a web. As a spider we are moved by the smallest of breezes, the social and emotional climate, the comings and goings of others—the effects of which manifest in numerous ways. As a web, we are a  gossamer thread  touching everyone from the girl at the grocery store checkout counter, to our colleagues and loved ones to a switchboard operator thousands of miles away. And each touch point ripples outward in its own unexpected ways, touching off further effects or causes, some of which are obviously stronger than others.
Emotional contagion offers a great example of this ripple. At work or at home, the negative,  sad, or joyful mood of others can rub off on us (or vice versa). Then later in the […]

The Star Inn

The Star Inn in Wenhaston Suffolk, is the first stop on our seven week English, French and Italian tour. Owned by our long time friend Virginia and her partner Carl, it’s all a pub should be: No big TVs, no obnoxious homogenous tribes of good lookers with their 300 dollar blue jeans. ;

Instead it’s hunks of gorgeous cheese on the ploughman’s platter. There’s a dog named Dylan, fields of green in all directions, songbirds in the air and pheasants in the field and a welcoming air to all who enter…its a good place to land.

Six Billion Others

I stumbled upon the most astonishing and ambitious web site i have ever seen. Called Six Billion Others it is the grand work of photographer Yann Arthus Bertrand. In an effort to help the world understand itself he dispatched 5 photographers around the globe to conduct interviews with all sorts of people about big life questions and the result is this interactive website. You can create an account and share your own perspective, you can assist with translation and site maintenance, you can share it with your friends. He also completed a movie that was released for free download called Home that he hopes people will share and use to inspire our collective imagination and commitment to save the planet before its too late. This man is a true champion and should be celebrated for his visionary approach!

Attention Deficit Defense

Keeping track of what is important can be very challenging, especially when there is so much other less important stuff to keep track of. I have been struggling with this lately. And so have my clients. Every day we are bombarded with dire predictions, very real dilemmas and devastating circumstances stemming from the complex assortment of economic, social, ecological and emotional happenings. This comes hand-in-hand with tender encounters,  bursting buds of spring, the sound of laughter, babies being born, heart ache, memory, desire, and of course the hugely annoying fact that we are simply exhausted from the relentless task of  choosing brand A over brand B….X,Y,Z (think toothpaste aisle). Much of the time it seems we have a handle on things. Our ability to multitask is held in high regard and being busy is a badge of honor.

But what about the important things? To investigate this questions  I suggest doing a thorough Attention Inventory of your current mental and physical activity. What specifically holds your attention throughout the day? Explore a typical day from beginning to end and review what captured your attention. This can be a very sobering exercise. You are likely to discover the degree to which you are fully, or not-so-fully present with people, issues and ideas. And this inventory will reveal to you the extent to which you are or aren’t  attending to the things that matter most. To get me started on my own Attention Inventory I am committing, this very minute, to a spend some time every evening answering the extraordinary and thoughtful questions that the late poet/philosopher John O’Donohue composed– I invite you to do the same. Your comments and insights will be very much appreciated.

What dreams […]

top two issues that broke my heart during our short-lived unholiday like holiday

I’m sipping hot lemon and honey. It’s early and I awoke to the sound of the rain with a very sore throat. We’re back, my daughter and I, from a trip gone wrong. We had opted for a real travelling adventure which i hoped would offer consecutive days of lazing in the sun and sand as well as a good stiff peek into the human condition beyond the comforts of home. We got the stiff peek, especially my daughter who contracted e coli upon arrival and subsequently endured the discomfort until a diagnosis and treatment protocol were made.

So here are the top two issues that broke my heart and made me think about world:

1. There is no paradise. I had always wanted to spend time languishing on the shores of the Caribbean Ocean. The blue is truly breathtaking.  Seeing the coast line from the ancient steps of Tulum one can imagine (briefly) what a tropical paradise might have really looked like. But it is gone. Our modern lifestyle and throw away culture is choking the oceans and beaches not to mention the fish and birds that mistake brightly coloured bottle caps for fish and eventually die with a belly full of trash. For more on this urgent situation visit Algalita and the work of Captain Moore and be sure to click on the TED lecture at the bottom of the home page.

2. The cost of clean water. It used to be when you travelled in Mexico that hotels placed the big blue water bottles of purified water in courtyards for customer consumption. But not anymore. Now however it is all about the disposable water bottle. The beaches and trash cans of idyllic places like […]