A Coaching Journey – Pt. 8

I am a woman of thoughts, words and deeds; a woman who loves the flexibility of retirement, yet is resistant to change; a woman who likes to mull things over before going full throttle. I’m not even sure if Marielle realizes how much she has helped me merge these disparate parts of me into a hopeful, not quite there yet, me.

After our first phone session, midway through the coaching program, I rebelled. I eschewed the schedule for the swamp of abandonment, doing little more than spending time with friends (not even realizing that I was working on my “relationship goal”). I went to bed late – a bad habit that I thought I had conquered – and chastised myself for backsliding.

Then, Sunday happened. I slept in; showered off the muck of the past two days; had brunch; and set to work on my scheduler. The brand new week brought fresh perspective and opportunity. It was a chance clear my head and to start with a clean slate, to celebrate the giant steps that I had viewed as baby steps, and to contemplate the new path I was about to take with, perhaps, my most feared goal – the one that attacked my essence and, perhaps, my freedom.

I had been avoiding the “working for money” issue because it seemed to step on the toes of that freedom, seemed a “must do” rather than a “desired goal”. The goal was about much more than reducing my debt to reduce my stress (my “shine statement” – see Guest Blog #3). It was about using my strengths, passions and interests to create a better me.

Marielle helped me see that the debt I had incurred by building an addition onto my home when income was scarce, was actually an investment in my future. It fulfilled a pre-program goal of aging-in-place – a goal that would also benefit my children. Instead of recoiling at what working for money might do to the other areas of my life, I began to see that it was up to me to make that investment grow and flourish.

With a small change in words and thought, I was able to remove the stress of “debt” that had been hanging over me. It left me free to nurture those passions and interests and to merge my strengths into avenues of opportunity.

After a breather that allowed me to think my way through the fog, I can now thank Marielle for recognizing how words can change perspectives (at least for me), and for chipping away at my resistance. I can now go into next steps – mapping out a life plan that will use my essence to accomplish my goals – ready to turn challenge into opportunity.

 

 

 

 

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About the Author:

The above entry is part of a guest blog series titled “A Coaching Journey” written by my friend, client, and talented writer, Linda Epstein. She has graciously agreed to write on her experience with the coaching process as she navigates it, to give a first-hand view of what the journey is like. Visit weekly to find out more!

 

Read the rest of “A Coaching Journey” by clicking below:

Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4 – Part 5 – Part 6Part 7

A Coaching Journey – Pt. 7

Working with Marielle on my Strategies for the past while, it somehow didn’t occur to me that I would have to act on them – that that is what “action” is. Well, now I’m looking at my strategies for my organizational goals and realizing that the first one is looking long and hard at myself through a Personal Assessment and answering certain questions that I placed on the list (with Marielle’s encouragement)

So, why is organization important to me? Why does my lack of organization bother me, and how does it impact me? How did I get to a state in which I feel disorganized when so much of my work life centred on being organized (and/or doing the organizing)? What will help kick-start me so that I can achieve my goal?

I think I would truly love to live in a dream world, in which I wake up in the morning and the house is magically spotless, papers are all filed, and projects are laid out ready for next steps, with “to do” lists magically prioritized. All I have to do is follow up. Unfortunately, that is not my reality.

I don’t love cleaning. Papers are my nemesis, piling up continuously, hidden when guests are coming (important papers with recyclables), only to disappear from view for many moons (I am an “out-of-sight-out-of-mind” personality). I am keenly aware of my projects as I am commitment-driven, but I often procrastinate in moving these forward (see Blog #6) and end up working on these at the last minute.

The stress that my approach causes hangs over me, even as I try to ignore it. It freezes me in place, so that I don’t get things done. I avoid, ignore, or chip away half-heartedly. It stops me from experiencing the full joy that I want out of life. A new approach is called for.

So what will kick-start me toward that new approach? First of all, a self-reminder that I am an organizer; that I have done this before and can do it again; and a commitment to myself to do better. I have already said that I am commitment oriented, but I have found that little tips, tricks and cues help motivate me. With exercise, it is the Fitbit and a commitment to my trainer. With organization, it turns out that it is “reality scheduling “ – scheduling for how my life is now and including “organization” into the mix. And, to keep me honest but not overwhelmed, it is my little kitchen timer, which can be set for 15 or 30 minute intervals, so that I can attack, rather than chip away, and really get things done.

It is a habit that I am still working on. But I feel optimistic that I can and will do it…and as it becomes habit, I will celebrate my victory!

 

 

 

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About the Author:

The above entry is part of a guest blog series titled “A Coaching Journey” written by my friend, client, and talented writer, Linda Epstein. She has graciously agreed to write on her experience with the coaching process as she navigates it, to give a first-hand view of what the journey is like. Visit weekly to find out more!

 

Read the rest of “A Coaching Journey” by clicking below:

Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4 – Part 5 – Part 6

Marielle’s Book Club

Feel_the_Fear_book _coverI (Marielle Gauthier) am a voracious reader and always have a few books on the go with a fiction, personal development and resource books. I started  thinking about particular books that really helped to change my life. I thought it might be a good idea for me to revisit some of those books and share these with you. In fact, I have decided that I will give away a gently used copy of the book that I will feature. Please see below how you can enter your name for a chance to win the book.

The first book I want to share with you is “Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway” by Susan Jeffers. I read this book in the mid-90s and thumbing through it a few days ago, it has a lot of great tools that I am going to revisit such as the “How to make a no-lose decision” and the “Ten-step process to stop the negative chatterbox in your brain.”

When I think about this book – it really is the concept of the book that resonates with me. When I feel fear rearing its ugly head, I ask myself now what exactly am I fearful of? I know now (with my study of neuroscience based coaching) that most of the time the fear and/or anxiety comes when things are unknown or our brain perceives a situation as a ‘threat.’ This uncertainly causes a flight or fight reaction or “amygdala hijack” in our brain. To keep that reaction from occurring or occurring at a deeper level, it’s important to ask yourself what exactly are your afraid of? When you start to do that kind of thinking then you can start to take control of the feelings of fear and start to think clearer.

To enter your name for a chance to win this book, all you have to do is:

1. Like Redworks Coaching on Facebook
2. Share the status that brought you to this page
3. Tell us if you have read this book and the impact it made on you OR
4. Tell us about a book that did make an impact on your life and share what the impact was.

What the Chilkoot Trail Taught Me about Leadership – Pt. 3

EPSON MFP imageThe first day on the trail – August 2006.
We had spent the night at the Dyea campground just south of the Chilkoot trailhead. I was very excited and a little anxious about starting the hike and consequently didn’t sleep very well. I tossed and turned, going through all of my lists in my head, wondering if we had everything we needed for our journey. I also wondered would I be able to do this? Would we be able to do this?
I was also thinking about all of the unknowns: What would the paths be like? Would any parts of the hike be washed out? Would we have to hike through creeks and rivers? …

As it turned out my two travelling companions – Lucille, my youngest sister and her friend Michelle – had not slept very well either.

After a huge breakfast prepared by my brother-in-law, we did our final checks, going through our itemized list for the umpteenth time. “Food – check; Tent – check; sleeping bag – check, first aid kit – check.” Ready!
It was quite an amazing feeling to be at the trail head just 1 km North of Dyea – this historical spot where thousands of gold-hungry miners had also stood over 100 years before us.

EPSON MFP imageWe signed into the registration log, took some photos, said our goodbyes to my sister’s partner and her two-year-old daughter, Sophie, exclaiming that we would see them in five days, and started our trek.
We hiked through spectacular scenery of the Pacific northwest coastal forest in Alaska. Dense stands of alder, cottonwood, aspen, and spruce trees with mosses and ferns, at their feet. Amidst the rugged northern wilderness, we saw historical artefacts that told the story of the Klondike Gold Rush.
We crossed narrow swinging bridges made out of wood and cabling; we hiked over gravel paths with exposed roots, and up and down slippery and muddy natural “rock stairs” more than likely carved out by the thousands of Stampeders throughout the Gold Rush and of course our contemporary counterparts.
It was these natural rock stairs where I encountered trouble early on in the hike. Some of these steps were more than a foot high and the one trekking pole that I had brought with me broke, so I was not able to use it for support when going down. Stepping down the stairs without support caused me to overextend my right knee to the point of injuring it.
Our original itinerary for the day was to stay at Pleasant Camp – 16.9 km (10.5 miles) from the trailhead. When we arrived, however, it was relatively early. We checked in with one another and decided that, since we still had some energy and light, we would hike another three kilometres to the next camp, called Sheep Camp.
This was probably a mistake for me to hike the extra three kms, but I let my ego decide what was best for me. If my fellow hikers wanted to keep going, then I had to keep up. After walking a total of 18.9 km (11.8 miles) for an elevation of almost 1000 feet with a 25 pound pack (see blog #2), my legs were very shaky and knees were quite sore. Unfortunately, my right knee was also starting to swell. This was not a good sign. This first part of the trail was supposed to be relatively easy compared to the next day. We were planning to hike what was expected to be the most difficult part of the trail – the scales and the summit.
I needed to act fast to stop the swelling, so I took a couple of Ibuprofen and soaked my knees in the river (yes it was very cold) with eyes looking out for hungry bears.

Despite the injury, it had been a glorious day – an exhilarating hike in this majestic coastal forest –the natural environment was so green, lush, exposed, and raw. My body also felt raw and I collapsed into my sleeping bag and slept soundly.

EPSON MFP imageSo what did I learn?

• Sometimes it’s better to stick to the plan – the plan had been made with lots of thinking and there were good reasons why we made that plan.

• Do a check-in with yourself and be honest about how you’re feeling. Don’t allow your ego to push you into doing something you might not be ready for or want to do. Telling others you don’t want to, can’t or would rather not do something is not a sign of weakness. It’s an opportunity for dialogue. If I had been honest with myself and not let my ego make the decision, I am quite sure my travelling companions would have been fine with not going to the next camp. I would not have pushed myself beyond my physical limits that day and I would have had more time to rest.

• Don’t let fear of the unknown rush the experience. I remember wanting to push forward so badly so that we could get on with it and climb the summit! Looking back and thinking about this, I now think that this was because I did not know what we were going to encounter. This fear made me want to rush through it.

A Coaching Journey – Pt. 6

Rather than work on the strategic plans for Goals 1 and 2, Marielle and I decided to take a sledge hammer to that wall that seemed to have been building up – especially since my retirement – and blocking me in several areas of my life: P-R-O-C-R-A-S-T-I-N-A-T-I-O-N. At least, if we could create some cracks in it, the light may be able to come in.

It would seem an easy task. “Just do it,” some of you will say. “Take 15 minutes every day for each task and gradually increase that,” I hear others of you shout. “Schedule, schedule, schedule,” cry others.

Well, I know the remedies as well as the next person. It’s just that I find excuses, do end runs, or just plain ignore what has to be done until the last minute.

It’s not that I don’t meet my deadlines or meet my commitments. In fact, as we talked through the issue, it was quite obvious that commitment was a big motivator in my life and that, once I said I would do something, I stuck to my guns – even if it meant staying up until 3:00 a.m. to do it.

By procrastinating, I was creating unnecessary stress in my life, and in fact, removing some of the freedom that I had been so jealously guarding. And I had to remember that I had overcome walls in the past. Most certainly, I could do it again.

So, even though I had already done some work on scheduling, I committed to creating a workable schedule and to build toward following it. I have two new schedules now: one that outlines a day without outside commitments (only self-imposed ones), and that even includes TV and social networking time; and one that looks at my weekly set commitments, and works my other goals and commitments around those set plans.

The cracks in that wall are beginning to show and the light is beginning to shine through. I’m not there yet. Not everything gets done. But I’m working on it – baby steps. And I’m sure that I’ll get there eventually.

 

 

 

IMG_1837About the Author:

The above entry is part of a guest blog series titled “A Coaching Journey” written by my friend, client, and talented writer, Linda Epstein. She has graciously agreed to write on her experience with the coaching process as she navigates it, to give a first-hand view of what the journey is like. Visit weekly to find out more!

Read the rest of “A Coaching Journey” by clicking below:

Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4 – Part 5

Have you heard about my NEW Up Your Game Coaching Program? If you’re ready to propel your career or business to the next level, this program is for you! Click Here to learn more.

A Coaching Journey – Pt. 5

So, after a bit of sweat and hard work, I got the strategic structure for Goal #2, and am hopefully on my way to staring down the other two goals.

In the meantime, I was so energized by the process, and revving my engine to move forward, that I decided to put some fuel in the tank and work on my scheduling (an action, not a strategy). Perhaps that was my way of celebrating. Or perhaps it was more of a visioning exercise for me.

I took pen to paper (sometimes computer just doesn’t cut it for me), and “chunked” my general schedule to reflect my weekly and/or long-term planning (e.g., cleaning and organizing; regular and not-so-regular appointments; writing; personal; follow-ups; correcting past sins…that last one will be explained in another blog). Then, I listed my “locked in” times in the average week.

Having completed this outline, I created a schedule for the upcoming week – times and all. (You should know that this is not like me. I generally only make lists when I am completely overwhelmed – and that is because I figure that, if I can write it down, it is do-able.)

In the meantime, as if trying to tell me something, I received a free scheduler in the mail (not a calendar, but an actual scheduler!).

As I said, I listed by the hour or half-hour, what my week would look like, with a little “to do if there is time” at the bottom of each day, as well as underlines and stars for the very important tasks. Then, as I completed each task (not always on time, but darn close), I checked it off. And, oh, it felt so good!

Unfortunately, I dropped the ball after a week. Habits (good or bad) are not made in a day (or a week). I’ll take another stab at it (again and again, if need be), and finally get there, I hope. After all, I do have that scheduler!

 

 

 

IMG_1837About the Author:

The above entry is part of a guest blog series titled “A Coaching Journey” written by my friend, client, and talented writer, Linda Epstein. She has graciously agreed to write on her experience with the coaching process as she navigates it, to give a first-hand view of what the journey is like. Visit weekly to find out more!

 

Read the rest of “A Coaching Journey” by clicking below:

Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4

Have you heard about my NEW Up Your Game Coaching Program? If you’re ready to propel your career or business to the next level, this program is for you! Click Here to learn more.

What The Chilkoot Trail Taught Me about Leadership – Pt. 2

marielle_on_trail_cropped_2I love going on adventures and trying new things, so when I started hearing about this great hiking trail in the Yukon called the Chilkoot Trail, I was very intrigued.

I mentioned my thoughts about hiking the Chilkoot to my sister Lucille, a transplanted prairie girl who now lives in Whitehorse, and she said that her partner and his family had done it many times, so I thought, “How hard could it be?!”

We completed our hiking party with a friend of hers, Michelle, and agreed that we would undertake the five day hike in August 2006.

We filled out the necessary paperwork for our trail permits with Parks Canada and were excited to receive the approval for the dates for the hike. We bought our train tickets that would take us from Lake Bennett back to civilization (Skagway) – we were that confident.

I looked up whatever information I could on the web, but didn’t have access to what the area was really like, what the conditions could be like, how challenging it was and in exactly what kind of shape you needed to be in. So we we’re going on the experience of others. They made it so how hard could it be!

No worries I thought. I can do this. When I started planning for it, I thought, “Now where exactly do we train in Saskatchewan to ascend a mountain that is nearly 4000 feet in height?”

Again, I thought, “No worries. Let me think.” Well, I can do more squats to strengthen my legs for all of that climbing. So I added more squats.

Speaking of climbing: How can I get some vertical challenges into my training? Well, I can drive out to the old Blackstrap ski hill – hmm that might be a little too far to do this every day. OK, what about the hill at Diefenbaker Park in Saskatoon. Sure that will work. What else? Hmmm… well I guess I can hike around the river bank. Sure, that will work. Now that I have a few areas that have a bit of height, what else?

Well I need to get used to the extra weight on my back while I am hiking. How much weight will that be I wondered? I had no idea but I filled my pack with about 15 pounds of stuff and set out on short hikes around the City.

So I added these elements – elevation and weight – to my training program for the two months before our hike.

I believe my training certainly did help me get ready for the actual hike; however my actual pack ended up being much heavier – closer to 25 pounds. We wanted each of our packs to weigh roughly the same amount, so we removed whatever we could to make them lighter, but they still ended up being around the 25 pound mark. By the end of the first day, this pack felt a lot heavier and I did consider leaving stuff like my tent behind, as this was the heaviest item in my pack. I soon realized that would be a bad idea.

So what did I learn?

  • Best laid plans don’t always work out – plan for all possibilities including a plan B; prepare as much as you can with the current knowledge you have; accept that something might not go as planned, and just know that you can overcome the challenges
  • Speak to an expert – ask tons of questions – they love to share their knowledge and expertise
  • If you’re preparing for a trip in the mountains – go to the mountains to train or at least go a few times so you have a small idea of what you may be encountering. Wherever your adventure takes you, go to a similar area to train.
  • Train longer – a trip like this requires an amazing amount of strength and fitness
  • Train with as close to the actual hiking weight as possible
  • Buy a lighter tent
  • Go to an adventure/outfitter store and buy specific back-packing gear. I have seen amazing light gear that I would have loved to have had!
  • Do tons of research – read up about the area, conditions, weather, etc. as much as possible. Look for videos, and ask a lot of questions of folks who have the experience.
  • In short, be prepared and have a back-up plan just in case!

 

What the Chilkoot Trail Taught Me about Leadership

Miners_climb_Chilkoot

Hundreds of miners climb the Chilkoot Trail.

This year, I had the pleasure of spending the Christmas holidays with my sister and her family in Whitehorse, Yukon. I have visited Whitehorse many times and I am always in awe of this City – the beauty and ruggedness of the land; its hardy and adventuresome people, and its amazing history.

Reminders of the Klondike Gold Rush are everywhere. I always ask myself, what was it really like during the Gold Rush with thousands of people uprooting their lives and travelling long distances with great hopes and dreams of striking it rich?

The strength, determination, perseverance, and just plain stubbornness it took for those miners to cross the rugged terrain to stake their claim was quite an incredible feat. I know that first hand as I hiked the Chilkoot Trail in 2006 without the required ton of goods and equipment.

You may have seen one of the famous pictures of the Gold Rush era – that of a long line of men transporting their belongings over the summit of the Chilkoot Pass. It would take hours for someone to get back in line should they have the misfortune of falling out of line.

chilkoot

Chilkoot Trail Mail – Click for a full map.

Why am I talking about this? Well, during my visit this past Christmas, I had a chance to reminisce with my sister and a friend about our hike of the historical Chilkoot Trail – a 53 km (33 mile) of rugged Northern wilderness that tested thousands of gold-hungry dreamers.

We shared laughter and stories while watching a video that I had shot during our journey for the first time. We looked at photos of our excited and nervous faces at the beginning of our trip, our exhausted faces and bodies at the end of each day, and the rugged beauty of this very special environment.

The footage and the photos reminded me of some of the emotions I felt gazing upon some of the most beautiful, rugged, and pristine environments in Northern Canada – humble in the face of my own insignificance, and very much in awe of Mother Nature – her strength, power and beauty. It wasn’t lost on me, however, that this was serious business. We were not at a theme park where a customer service representative was just next door. We could get in serious trouble fast and would be at the mercy of the mountain.

We also talked about what we learned about ourselves – the need to summon up the strength and courage to keep putting one step in front of the other despite the pain we felt, for example.

I know for a fact that I learned a lot about myself on this journey – things that have helped me enormously in facing other big challenges in my life.

So in this new year of 2015, I thought I would look back at this challenging journey and write about   some of the greatest lessons I learned on the mountain and the impact it had on me.

I greatly look forward to reminiscing with you about my journey on the Chilkoot Trail in this new blog series.

Marielle Gauthier supports individuals to live their extraordinary lives by facilitating positive change.

Have you heard about my NEW Up Your Game Coaching Program? If you’re ready to propel your career or business to the next level, this program is for you! Click Here to learn more.

A Coaching Journey – Pt. 4

I was reviewing my notes and prepping for my Strategy session with Marielle when I noticed that all three of my primary goals, and even my secondary goal, had a common roadblock that was preventing my moving forward. And that roadblock (or, rather, “a brick wall”) was procrastination. Marielle would call this “an insight”. And, indeed, it was.

I discovered that I am a world-class procrastinator, and that I have been letting it get in the way of my success in many areas of my life. So my strategy for the Strategy session was to start with Goal #2 because it specifically mentions procrastination in my “shined goal”.

It was the right choice, but easier said than done. The tendency, of course, is to want to smash down that wall and to act with full force…but, wait a minute: Action is later. Strategy is meant to lend structure to that strategy so it becomes a sustainable entity. It also isn’t supposed to cross over into the other goals. So I cooled down and struggled with the rules and the structure required for Goal #2. I wanted to cross over, but Marielle gently, yet firmly guided me through the task at hand.

I guess that’s what coaching is, and why it is one-on-one or small group rather than a larger group lecture. The hard work lays the new foundation so that, when I am truly ready to knock down that wall, I won’t fall under the weight of the bricks.

So, after finally setting a seven-point strategic structure, I was finally ready for Strategy #8 – to celebrate!

I do have homework – to discover in writing how I got to where I am in the first place – but I am celebrating moving forward with my goals in 2015. And I am looking forward to setting Strategies for my other goals. Hopefully, the next go-‘round will be easier.

 

 

 

IMG_1837About the Author:

The above entry is part of a guest blog series titled “A Coaching Journey” written by my friend, client, and talented writer, Linda Epstein. She has graciously agreed to write on her experience with the coaching process as she navigates it, to give a first-hand view of what the journey is like. Visit weekly to find out more!

 

Read the rest of “A Coaching Journey” by clicking below:

Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4

Have you heard about my NEW Up Your Game Coaching Program? If you’re ready to propel your career or business to the next level, this program is for you! Click Here to learn more.