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 beautiful.

What is the light you seek?

What warms your heart and brightens your world?

What new and unexpected shapes are you willing to take on?

Who or what stands in your way?


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Best We Can Be

John Wooden defines success as “peace of mind attained only through self satisfaction in knowing you did the best of which you’re capable”. So often we look to others to validate our sense of self. We confuse reputation (what others perceive)  with character (who we really are). This reversed logic makes if very difficult to pursue our truest aims as we are forever seeking to please others. But what if we were to  consider the notion of self satisfaction in knowing we did our best? How would this change the way we work, love, live, play, pray?

Fired, Retired…..Hired!

Fired, retired, canned, let-go, put out to pasture, made redundant, given walking papers, the pink slip, shown the door, dismissed, discharged, terminated…anyway you say it: you’re out of a job! Across Canada and around the world people are losing their jobs. According to Toronto Dominion Bank forecasts Canada can expect to lose around 500,000 in 2009.  An air (or perhaps a storm) of uncertainty has set in as people lose their sense of personal and professional security. Conversations cripple, doubt festers, hope diminishes…You’ve been tossed headfirst into the unknown!  Yes, you have lost your job, but don’t kiss the opportunity goodbye!

According to an American HR study 82% of managers and 78% of employees are looking for alternative positions. A UK study found that 33% of all new employees begin looking for another job on their first day of work. What this tells me is that while the time is wrong for many of these layoffs, there can be a silver lining. And coaching can help you find it!

Getting fired ushers in an unexpected time for reflection and vision making. Whether you like it or not, you suddenly have time to plan your next move. Granted, you might have to resort to floor scrubbing in the short run, but if you really decide to make the best of this bad situation you will very likely come through with a more satisfying and rewarding life.  Here are six points to help get you in the right frame of mind:

  1. Commit to a new story: Rather than circle through the story of victim ask yourself the following question: How can i turn this into my opportunity of a lifetime?
  2. Do some inventory: revisit what worked in the past. What did you like about your job? Was it the people, the products, the values, the pay cheque? What new opportunities might bring you in contact with more of what works?
  3. Begin with the end in mind: set a visionary intention for the future. What outcome are you really wanting professionally? (This might be the perfect time to go back to school). Ask yourself what can i begin now that i have been putting off for far too long?
  4. Define the measures of your success: How will you know when the right opportunity arises? Are there mentors or role models you can turn to to better understand and track progress?
  5. Assess your current strengths: Chances are you have been coasting in certain areas of your professional life; an honest appraisal of your skill set in relation to current competitive trends might prove beneficial.
  6. Make a plan: This might involve identifying some heavy hitters or champions, setting up information meetings, asking people for help, redrafting your resume, etc.

For more on how coaching can help you land on your feet with a smile on your face…. Visit my website and contact me for a confidential discussion.  Thanks for reading.

100 Things To Do

A few weeks ago, in the late quiet of a winter night, I found myself thumbing through a journal that I had kept a couple of years ago. The journal, one of those moleskin notebooks, was filled with anguish, longing and uncertainty. While I was happily occupied with loving my daughter, coaching and consulting, being a foster parent, and singing with The Shirleys, I was simultaneously living in a state of acute fear and sadness, i had been diagnosed with breast cancer and was still undergoing treatment and was trying to make my way out of a wretchedly doomed love affair. Amidst the pages of despair I found this:


Have you ever written a list like that? Your own little bucket list? I remember it took me a good long while. I was really reaching for ideas by the time i hit the 80’s but i pressed on to a 100. At the time that i wrote the list, I am not sure how confident I was that i would actually live to do even half the things on it. And some of the things on it seem utterly ridiculous now. I mean for some reason I wanted to get on Charlie Rose. I also wanted to build something beautiful out of wood. I found that comforting and true though i am not sure it would make the list today. Reviewing the list was fascinating. I couldn’t help but wonder how the final tally might have differed had I not been under such emotional pressure. But the real delight was in finding that I had completed- or was close to completing- a good number of the things on it….And it was a profound lesson in the importance of taking stock and celebrating personal success. It was also a little painful to see how much I hadn’t done. But I know I haven’t been sitting around idle. Hell, if there were a camel to ride right here in Vancouver I’d be on it!  The Shirleys call it “gettin’ shit done, crossin’ it off the list”. Of the 100 things listed I’ve managed to cross off the following…

  • Become a better gardener and grow more food
  • Record a CD
  • Go to Hornby Island again
  • Teach leadership workshops
  • Make a great website- Thanks Leanna
  • Practice excellence in coaching
  • Develop an Appreciative Inquiry workshop for youth
  • Be an auntie (and an auntie and an auntie)!!
  • Never get cancer again – so far so good
  • Have fun every day
  • Works in progress include seeing the Mayan ruins, swimming with dolphins, and travelling to Central America with my daughter (depart Feb 20th)

This little story is my gift to you. Write your own 100 list. Each time you do one thing scratch it off and celebrate, toss off things from time to time if they are no longer calling your name and add new ones so it remains full to the brim with hope, dreams and inspiration. I plan to update my list from this new place of good health and gratitude. And look at it more often.

Happy Holidays, and thank you for being a part of my inspiration.

Design your ’09

For most people January marks a time for new beginnings, fresh starts, resolutions and fabulous intentions. Professionally, it may inspire you to think about your aspirations, successes and setbacks and to consider creating a plan that will make the New Year a GREAT Year!

Frequently when people approach personal or professional development planning it is from a reactive position. The desire for change is born from an experience about what is not working. This is to be expected as we are wired to respond to pain (physical and emotional).  We are all pretty clear about what we don’t like or don’t want, and yet rarely do we give conscious though to what it is that we DO want. Let’s take that pain analogy a little further. If you put your hand on a hot stove you will, without thinking about it, pull it away, likely uttering an expletive or two. But if, instead, you were asked to set your hand upon something that you really want to touch, discover, take hold of, you’d probably stop and really have to think about it.

Making a mindful decision to work on ourselves is more wisely approached by considering what it is that we want more of. That involves a deliberate investigation into our beliefs, values, mission and vision. From there one can imagine the success measures, or indicators that would let us know we had met our objectives. After that it is a matter of thoroughly assessing where we are right NOW. And this is where assessments and feedback become our best friend.

The Leadership Skills Inventory Assessments (LSI-S) is one such assessment created to support individuals and  groups in determining a benchmark for their personal and organizational leadership proficiency. The assessment is a self-scoring and self-administered communication and learning tool that  assesses the level of functioning in  five leadership skills sections, which include the following:

  • Self-Management Skills
  • Interpersonal Communication Skills
  • Coaching and Problem-Management Skills
  • Consulting and Team Development Skills
  • Organizational Development Skills

The assessment allows you to:

Evaluate proficiency in 60 Transforming Leadership Skills

Determine required professional development for executive succession

Outline framework and focus for leadership coaching

Identify required skills for success in any leadership or supervisory role

Conduct a comprehensive 360 degree assessment by pairing it with the  LSI-Other

INtwoIT Executive Coaching & Consulting would like to help you DESIGN your ’09 and is offering an exclusive, time limited assessment and coaching package. ASK ME ABOUT IT TODAY!

Story Tellers

I saw a marvelous film today. Atom Egoyan’s Adoration. I got a call at 9 AM from a friend saying she had won tickets from the CBC and did I want to go. I, only moments before, had been silently lamenting the  fact that I had failed to see even one film at this year’s International Film Festival, so you can imagine how quickly I reoriented my day. What a movie! And what a study on the power of storytelling. Without giving away the movie, it follows the impact of one young man’s story (told as if it were the truth) on the lives of both himself and others’ and then meditates upon the difficulties one has in getting away from a well told story once it has taken on a life of its own.

I was particularly moved by this film because story-telling has been a constant theme in my work lately. Appreciative Inquiry and all its delicate permutations is concerned with storytelling. Organizational change is approached from the perspective that change is better set in motion by understanding pinnacle strengths not entrenched weaknesses and thus AI processes frequently begin with an inquiry or investigation into what constitutes the positive core of the organization, in other words its “good story”. Combining my love of AI with the latest research in neuroplasticity is, quite honestly, blowing my mind! (See prior post for more on that!)

We are all story-tellers. What I am increasingly interested in is the way in which the stories we tell help or hinder the changes we seek to make in our lives. Coaching is about change. A client comes to a coach wanting something to be different. They may be seeking improved skills, career transition, greater confidence, more impactful communication, ability to influence and lead others, a greater sense of life balance, personal satisfaction, more success, less stress, etc. In short the client comes with a story of what was and a hope for what might be.

I believe my role as a coach is to help shine a light down the path of their preferred story. As we come to accept and understand the tremendous power of our own minds to influence the physical nature of our brains or how our stories and language pave the road of our experience, we have every reason to be enthused by the possibility that surrounds us.

The young man in Adoration was both a product of the stories told by others, and a great author for what was to come. The simplest of words has the power to set in motion tidal waves of joy, regret, wonder, worry, love, hate. I encourage anyone wishing to make a change in their lives to make a full hearted commitment to authoring a story that is exactly what they want to read every night. What’s your story?