• The Pace of Change

    The Pace of Change

    “The Only Constant in Life Is Change.”- Heraclitus

    One of our coaching students recently asked this question: what should we say to our clients about how long change takes? What can they realistically expect?

    This relevant question has many layers, of course, and various factors that might influence how a client (or we) might change, and the pace of change. What can we offer our clients on this topic, knowing that there are so many different elements to change?

    What Influences the Possibilities for Change?

    Many of the influencing factors around human development and change come to mind here. For example, the client’s nature/nurture configuration and overall constitution, previous lived experience including personal or cultural oppression or systemic issues like racism, family, societal, economic, political, religious, timeframe/era at birth (e.g. war or other conflict), sibling order, parental mental or physical health and stability, trauma, access to sufficient resources, generational strife, significant illness or loss (self or caregivers), particular habit patterning/strategies. The possible impacting elements around change are robust and complex, and this is not a complete list!

    From a coaching lens, here are some additional facets that may influence the change process that we can consider when clients come into coaching:

    • How motivated is the client
    • Skill, resources and tools of the coach
    • The experience of the coach in doing her own work, so that she can reasonably know and support the change territory from her own experience
    • How willing, ready or capable is the client to experiment with new things
    • How open the client is to practice something different from what can feel like significant behavioral patterns that have been used over many, many years and have reliably worked for the client so far (until now…)
    • What objective inner or outer obstacles are the client working with
    • What inherent strengths and outer support does the client have or need
    • What is the client’s level of tolerance for discomfort and ability to resource themselves
    • What level of trust and safety within the coaching container can you both build?

    Stepping Through Change – Mind, Body and Heart

    What I’ve noticed for myself and my clients is this: it takes many, many incremental movements over time to create real change. I’m not referring to window-dressing change, or as my father used to say, “rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.” I’m talking about physiologically supported, embodied and sustainable change. Most interesting for me is the Body, and what role “below the neck” plays in what I’m calling the real or developmental change that is evidenced by outer behavioral change. I’m including the Heart here as well, since it is located in the lower two-thirds of our human anatomy and is distinct from our strictly cognitive functioning (the Mind).

    In my own growth work, and in working with clients, I observe the Mind can usually change very quickly. We can feel inspired, take on new ideas quite rapidly. We can talk about exciting ideas or visions for the future. As my husband says: “it briefs well.” And, when we get into change that is the actual development of an adult human, that enables someone to show up differently, to actually BE different, so they can DO differently, well, that’s where the rubber hits the road. We know as coaches, it’s often not that easy for our clients to put a good idea into practice. There are other parts of us humans that need to come on board in order to practice and demonstrate a sustainable change in behavior.

    That’s where the pacing difference of various parts of us as humans related to the in change process becomes relevant. The Heart and Body seem to need more time to catch up to what the Mind may be able to grasp quickly. Creating actual new and different actions must include these other parts of us, these inner systems or centers.

    Exploring Pacing through Presence

    I perceive at least two reasons for the phenomenon of this distinct pacing. First, the Body and Heart can hold our history in a different way than the Mind does. Our lived experience is actually embodied over time and lives within the tissues and bones of our physical and biological organism. The second reason stems from the first: there are many unchecked notions, beliefs and assumptions about who we are and what life is that have been learned way back when. What’s driving behaviors that may no longer serve the client’s coaching goals can lie out of awareness, and yet still run the show.

    Our clients can’t often put a finger on exactly what is motivating certain behaviors, yet when they enter into a coaching process, what is out of awareness, through Presence, can be revealed. Having a “safe” psychological space in a coaching conversation to take a dive under the waterline of conscious awareness can reveal simple yet profound whole-self insights and understanding around these motivators. As we work with our client’s holistically, including the Body, Heart and Mind in the present moment, we as coaches can support our client to make new meaning about these drivers that more fit current reality and align with their commitments and coaching goals. The client can then experiment by embodying and practicing new behaviors, which can lead to achieving results more in line with who the client wants to be, and where the client wants to go.

    I’ve noticed that the Heart and Body are generally slower in this process than we are used to watching in the mind (although the mind can reliably throw up its own obstacles to change–think about those unwelcome inner-critic voices!). Our executive control of attention can shift on a dime and is highly distractable. You can notice how quickly we can get pulled into reading the news or scrolling a social media app.

    It appears that the Heart and Body need more time to digest what’s happening and actually, seem to be on their own time frame around change.

    Including our Body and Heart in Change

    Paying attention to this slower pace in the Body and Heart can yield interesting outcomes. A useful metaphor is how we metabolize new information inside of us like we do food. Over time, we process what we have ingested, take needed nutrients from that experience, and discard what’s not (or no longer) needed. Like our own internal food digestion process, this happens over time. We can get indigestion from stuffing too much in the system at one time, or by simply not eating the foods our body needs.

    Giving attention to our Body and Heart view of whatever change we are undertaking can be very useful in guiding us to what’s needed around pace. Tuning into our Heart and its innate intelligence can produce salient information in terms of where we actually are in our own process of digestion. For example, in the Heart we may be letting go of old ways of being and behaving, shifting our sense of identity in the world or in our relationships, or getting in touch with what’s truly important to us, and noticing what’s calling us in terms of serving others or expressing our unique gifts.

    The body itself feels safe and comfortable in our usual routines. Our nervous system is easily triggered and thrown off by external circumstances that seem to be demanding we change to meet them (think pandemic).  Even experimenting with slightly changing the cadence of our breath can produce whole-body tension and contraction.  It takes time and ongoing practices to embody a new behavior and the body is a needed ally in this process.

    A personal example of this pace of change is our recent move to Asheville. I am noticing that just recently after four months in this location, I’m beginning to feel like I’m not on vacation here, but actually live here! I have had the plan (Mind) to relocate to Asheville for many years.  Actually, moving here (Body) was a pretty rough transition, even though the clear desire to move here was present (Heart). Moving is a big personal disruption, added to the many additional disruptions we have all been facing in the last year!

    It’s taken these last few months, and likely will take more time, to digest this move in my Heart and Body. And my feeling more like “home” in these mountains has been the result of taking new actions (Body). I notice that I have slowly and surely been putting various roots down, like meeting neighbors, finding medical practitioners and services like haircuts, unpacking and settling inside our home, finding a grocery store, post office, creating suitable workspace. Ahh, that feels better (exhale here – I think I’m digesting)!

    Questions to Further Explore the Pace of Change

    So, change takes the time it takes, and there may be different paces of change within ourselves within our three centers (Mind, Heart and Body) to pay attention to for ourselves and as we work with our clients. Circling back to the question from our student at the beginning, what do we tell our clients about how long change takes? You might be wanting a concrete answer here, and instead of that, I hope I’ve illuminated that this process of human change and development is complex and somewhat of a mystery! I’ll leave you with these questions to ponder:

    • What will you say to your clients about change?
    • What has been your experience of change, and what enables it and delays it?
    • What do you notice about the experiences of your own Mind, Heart and Body in change?
    • What do you observe about the different paces of these three centers?
    • What will you take away and apply from this article?

    Wishing you the best in any personal or professional change efforts you are undertaking, and as you support your clients or organizations to make the changes that are needed right now. In addition, as we are all acutely aware, there are still many changes and challenges underfoot in our world each day to navigate and work with that we didn’t choose, that are calling us to be and act differently in response. Perhaps in all of this, we can take whatever time is needed, have patience with the change process, and hold compassion for this human journey we are all on.

  • Grief, Gifts, and Gratitude

    Grief, Gifts, and Gratitude

    At this time of year, I have a practice of taking time to reflect on what’s occurred over this last year in my life, work, family, relationships and the world at large. As I sense in to 2020, I notice am glad that this particularly long and arduous year is finally coming to end. It’s been a doozy!

    We all have been facing, dealing with, and hunkering down around so much. Here’s a tiny bit of summarizing: the global pandemic, racial injustice, a presidential election, economic uncertainty, climate change. With all these large scale and impactful events, I’ve been realizing that for me, this year boils down to a few simple words. Grief, Gifts, and Gratitude.

    Navigating Change

    One of the most prominent experiences for many of us, and this may be the least talked about, is grief. Many of my clients, colleagues and family members are dealing with some sort of grief. It could be around the potential loss of health, or actual loss of loved ones to COVID. The blurring of home and work boundaries due to working from home and online, and the demands that 24/7 technology places on our attention. The stress of caring for young children or at-risk relatives at home, while being expected to work as if nothing has changed. Grief about the polarization in this country, grief as the truth of long-standing racial injustice has been revealed.  Grief and fear about economic uncertainty, job or wage loss. Grief over the loss of some sort of normalcy and certainty — not knowing what the future will look like.

    Grief for me feels like mourning the loss of regular routines I can count on to settle my nervous system. I had an additional (and admit, self-induced) disruption of recently moving physical locations to another state. Even though this was a household move I had been wanting to initiate at some point, in actuality it happened unexpectedly quickly. The rapidness and the scale of the change was very challenging for me to navigate. It’s been tough to get my bearings in this new setting, and to establish a sense of reliability and ground of the familiar. And I’ve been feeling the loss of not being with my new grand baby as she is growing so quickly and discovering her world on a daily basis. I am missing in-person contact with my aging mother (who’s 92!) who’s in a closed down retirement community in another state. I’ve missed in-person teaching as well (while at the same time, being very grateful for the PBC team and for Zoom).

    Facing into Grief

    So, what is true for you? What are you noticing about any feelings of loss or grief in your own life that may be bubbling up as you read this? What I find helpful is to notice and acknowledge whatever experience is arising, especially the less pleasant ones. Naming what I am aware of in the moment helps move it outside of me, so I can get a bit of distance from it, and perhaps notice another perspective that is also possible. There’s always more than one perspective to any point of view! Letting go of something held onto long past its usefulness, or accepting what is, usually feels cleansing and liberating, after the tears.

    Gifts in the Present

    There have been many unexpected gifts this last year as well. I am talking to my mother by phone almost every day. We FaceTime more often with my daughter and grand baby. I have experienced the gift, after spending many hours in collaboration to reorganize our in-person classes to deliver virtually, to witness our students experience that spark of motivation and inspiration to learn coaching with great success. The gift of the resilience and adaptability of this Presence-Based work, and that the work continues despite the pandemic (thank you, Doug!).

    I’ve experienced the gift of hearing other’s stories about experiencing racism or prejudice, and how they have persevered despite it all. I’ve had to shift my priorities to what’s most important – connection with those I love, taking care of my own health, living in the mountains and close to nature. I have had to find a certain nimbleness within to access pockets of quiet and peace, amid all of the outside demands. I’ve finally felt motivated to clean out and clean up lots of old and neglected “stuff” that can be shared with others who might need it. There is the gift of expanding our community as we welcome people into our retreats and trainings who appreciate the self-development embedded in this work. I feel the gift of the service to others through coaching and leadership. I appreciate the gift of the dedication of our PBC admin and teaching team, Advisory Board, and PBC Alumni who continue to move this work out into the world.

    Opening to Receiving

    What might be opening in your awareness right now as a gift in your life? Especially an unexpected gift or two of this year? Will you capture these out loud or on paper? What happens when you open to receiving these gifts internally?

    Reflecting on these gifts brings me to gratitude. I find myself, on a daily basis, feeling grateful for my commitment to presence, to my own inner work, for my life partner, for family, and for friends who feel like family, for this meaningful work as it moves out in the world, and for those who care to continue its legacy beyond all of us. I am grateful for this earth that holds us all, for the flow of life, and for the mysterious underlying stream that nurtures the call of growth and self-development in us as humans, for the sake of being of service.

    Recognizing Gratitude

    I find that noticing what I am grateful for often shifts my inner state, no matter what reactivity or habit I’m caught in. I have a friend who writes in a gratitude journal every night.  Another friend keeps a gratitude jar on her kitchen counter and adds slips of paper with written gratitudes throughout the year. She reviews them whenever she needs something to remind her of another, more resilient perspective.

    What is your practice around gratitude? How has that uplifted you or supported you in your journey? Or what practice around gratitude might you want to experiment with, or help your client’s implement?

    Redefining 2020

    We are coming to the close of this frightening, tender, challenging, and growthy year. A year that has had some definite down-sides, as well as grief, gifts, and gratitude. What have we learned, individually and as a collective? What will we leave behind, what’s calling us, and what can we organize around that is truly meaningful in our lives?

    As they say, the one thing that is certain is change. Among all of the disruptions of this year, that perspective feels somewhat comforting. I’m learning a lesson from the mountains outside my window. These mountains have been here long before I was, or 2020 occurred, and they will still be here after this year has faded away in my memory. The sun will continue to rise and set, thankfully with a predictable rhythm we can all settle into, as we watch what unfolds next…

  • In Presence and Solidarity

    In Presence and Solidarity

    I believe unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word

    Martin Luther King, Jr.

    What do we feel?  What do we say?  What do we do?  How do we support?  How do we serve?

    These questions have become prominent in many conversations I’ve had with leaders, students and clients in the last 2 weeks.  As a white woman, I can’t begin to know the lived experiences of Black and Brown communities in these moments of horror and inhumanity as the racism in this country is graphically displayed for all to see in the recent murders of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky, and Ahmaud Arbery in Glynn County, Georgia.  I feel the pain, the injustice and the outrage at what’s occurring (and has been occurring for centuries in this country).

    My hope is that this moment in history is where our hearts and eyes will open and stay open to what’s happening.  To wake up to the difficult truths of the limiting systems in which we are embedded.  These truths that some of us have so easily ignored because it didn’t seem to be affecting us directly…oh, if that were only the case!

    Let us remember we are all deeply connected, and if one of us is hurt, attacked, senselessly killed, disenfranchised, it affects us all.  In the Presence-Based® Leadership work, we understand that we are all a part of the complex systems of our society and are impacted by them. The enormous cracks in our systems in this country are being revealed (once again).  It is also true that every act, no matter how small, has the potential to change the system.  What perspective will we take?  I see these cracks as opportunities to apprehend more of the whole picture. To be able to sense in and know what’s truly important, what resonates with us inside and to take whatever action that is in alignment with that.

    Some of you are working on large system changes; some will take small and quiet steps that ease another person’s difficulty.  Each of us, with our unique gifts, can support the bigger change that is opening up as a possibility right now. You get to choose who you will be in this.

    Our individual and collective challenge, and our inner and outer work, is to be able to face fully in.  To become present to and stand in and with the pain of others, our fellow humans who have suffered and are suffering, ourselves included.  To take compassionate and skillful action against racism and systemic inequalities.  To not remain silent.  To bring our own awareness to bear on how we are colluding with the broken systems.  To bring care and love, and our capacity for Presence into these substantial challenges.  Presence can enable us to open our hearts, to feel, to speak up, to serve, and to do what’s needed, whatever our sphere of influence.

    I am a stand for Black Lives Matter. What are you a stand for?

  • New Year’s Resolutions, Take 2

    New Year’s Resolutions, Take 2

    New Year’s Resolutions, Take 2

    Happy New Year!  How are those new year’s resolutions going? I may be bringing up a slightly sore subject!  As we find ourselves turning the corner into February, many of us are seeing the quiet fading away of what we once felt so strongly about and made commitments to: our 2020 resolutions.

    This is a common phenomenon, one that I’ve experienced many times over the years, and I bet you have, too. For this new year, I committed to overhauling my diet, replacing all the not so nourishing stuff I eat when traveling or am feeling stressed with healthy, whole, less processed alternatives.  At work, I was determined to clean up and organize my office once and for all and stay current with my email inbox.  As the year turned into 2020, I was sure that this time these intentions were strong enough, important enough or just plain needed enough to make the difference. Sigh.

    My New Year’s Resolutions Progress? Not So Great

    As I assess my progress at the end of this first month of 2020, as any good coach would do who kitchen-tests her own recipes, I am not seeing stellar results so far.  And the resolve with which I made these commitments to myself seems to have evaporated!  I suppose I just got busy, or distracted, or overwhelmed, or lazy or…

    How Do We Make Desired Changes Stick?

    Perhaps the deeper question is how do we make these desired changes stick?  How can they become more sustainable than just a good idea? I wonder if you notice a similar dynamic around your own professional or personal resolutions? Perhaps you’ve discovered a useful or easy way to make these commitments real in your day to day life. If so, please let me know!

    One thing I’ve come to understand about my own process in making commitments around behavior change comes from the Presence-Based Leadership work I teach (and try to live!).  We know from this body of Presence-Based work that making sustainable changes is an affair that requires addressing our wholeness, because our habits (those patterns and strategies that take us down the familiar roads of behavior), are also more than just ideas.

    Our actions are actually embodied within our body/mind, which includes our emotions and our soma (the body in its wholeness).  Incorporating an approach of change that includes our three brains (gut, heart and head) is much more likely to create different results.  It’s also about aligning ourselves with ALL parts of us, so that alignment creates leverage, traction and old fashioned “oomph” to get out of the orbit of our habits. To lift off past the strong pull of gravity of our familiar ways of operating in our contexts.

    One approach is to make small steps, with an experimental mindset.  See my last blog of 2019, about incremental change for more details.

    Presence: Your Tool for Change

    Another aspect of creating different results includes approaching change with Presence.  We often omit awareness of the state of our consciousness, which is, in my own and my clients’ experience, often asleep at the wheel.  Some useful brain science is on the books about how our prefrontal cortex can only handle “this much” information at one time (visualize the gesture of my thumb and index finger making a small gap between them).  Because of the way our brain works, we tend to default to our former experience and make predictions as to what’s needed at any moment. And we make choices based on what worked (or didn’t) previously when we decide on a course of action.  Did I say former LIVED experience?  Yup, our whole, embodied self is showing up here again.

    Where does this Presence idea come in?  Presence is the internal state of our being.  We can cultivate our own presence in each of our three centers of intelligence (gut, heart, head). We are most strongly present to the immediacy of the moment when we place our attention from the whole of us on what’s happening right here and right now.  In the present moment.  We are able with practice, to see any situation or choice, from a more objective lens, rather than the perspective of doing what we’ve always done that often feels comfortable or safe or familiar.

    This translates into taking time to be present with the three centers of ourselves:

    How to be Present

    • Mindset: experimental, including fun and ideas for interventions that seem a bit whacky
    • Heart space: open to discerning how we actually feel inside about the change we want to make, and what’s our real motivation for making it? As we sense in underneath the surface and are honest with ourselves, what more do we know about what’s really getting in the way of the changes we want to make?
    • Body (Embodiment): making small moves over a limited time-frame, while locating these change efforts at the edges of the issue we want to be different. This also includes noticing where we find ourselves in the systems in which we are embedded and bringing our attention to what patterns may be repeating over time that move us either toward or away from our change goal.

    Perceiving ourselves and our situation more objectively and explicitly with Presence can open up much more information into our awareness about what’s really happening.  This data can bring with it additional ideas for shifting ourselves and our contexts that were out of our consciousness previously.  Having support of another person (i.e. a coach or peer) is also useful, as that person can offer additional perspectives about what’s really going on.

    Here are some practices I find helpful to cultivate presence and create change:

    Four Practices to Help Create Change

    1. Take quiet and uninterrupted time to really sense into the three centers within you.  Try a sitting practice for 10 or 20 minutes a day.  Keep it simple, focus on your breath.  Check in with your awareness into your 3 centers (Body, Heart, Head).  What wisdom does each have to share with you today?
    2. Pay attention to your inner state – are you agitated?  Afraid? Sad?  Invite everything you find inside you to come more fully into the present moment. Making room for all of you — your wholeness. This offers you more data to understand a more objective view of what’s happening.  And remember, actions always emerge from your inner state.
    3. Set your clear intention for where you are going, without attachment to the means to get there.  Watch what shows up in your own systems.  Look for signs of support, information, people, resources that come into your field of awareness.  Take action on those that seem likely to move you toward what you want.  Continue to assess progress along the way.
    4. Trust the process of change itself – it often unfolds at its own pace (which, by the way, is often a lot more slowly than our ideas would have us believe!).  Remember in your bones that you are indeed always changing on all levels.  You always have a choice to practice something new.  Experiment with what might seem out of the box and interesting that might move you in the direction you desire.

    Ready to Experiment?

    Why not give some or all of these practices a try?  We’d love to hear how it’s going, so let the community know here by commenting what’s working (or not!).  Please share any additional moves or practices here, too, that have helped you or your clients move forward to create change!

  • 10%


    What does 10% mean? I hope I’ve stirred your curiosity!

    I’ve been contemplating how change really happens. We’ve just completed our PBC Certification course (LIPCC) with a highly motivated and intimate group of learners, burgeoning coaches, and precious human beings. These folks came together for a six-month intensive container of learning, laughter and professional and personal development. I am grateful to play a part in their growth, supporting and nudging them to be their biggest and best selves as coaches. I found myself holding them firmly at times and loosely at other times as they each navigated their own territory of becoming. This coaching stuff is an art! I witnessed in awe as each of them grew to reveal and embody their unique style and expression of the Presence-Based Coaching work. I took note of how they held their collective intentions and were a true support for each other’s growth during this time frame.

    So How Does the 10% Fit in Here?

    As I’ve watched the sometimes tentative and indeed delicate process of student’s and client’s evolution over the years, I’ve come to understand that the way we might hold the notion of change through our personality or ego is not necessarily how change actually occurs. What I notice in myself are my own ideas about the way it has to be to actually “count” as change, which involves more wholesale and sweeping change. This way of viewing change does not actually reflect my experience as I train adults in a new skill of coaching or coach leaders to be more effective in their organizations. Hmmm, what’s that about?

    Change Happens in Incremental Bits

    What I actually experience is that change happens incrementally, in small and sometimes imperceptible bits. Change is not discernible until we reflect back to realize that in a particular moment, we did something differently than our usual conditioning or Habit Nature would predict. Evidence of the incremental path of change looks more like 10% more of this perspective or 10% less of that behavior. Of course, it’s important to cultivate our awareness of these present moments, so we can notice these tiny shifts. And over time, these incremental moves build on each other through practice, ongoing adjustments of application, and persistence. Seeing what looks like big changes at the end of this six-month container of our certification class was something to celebrate. And, as I reflect, I remember that the change journey really did happen in 10% increments.

    Notice and Name Change

    Speaking of celebrating, another way to apply the 10% concept is to look at how we actually notice and acknowledge (or don’t) our small wins. As I continue to shift my own perspectives about change, it’s useful to access both my mind-set and my behavior. How many of us have that inner critic voice that refuses to notice the small changes or blows past them in a whirl of busyness? How many of us feel selfish for tooting our own horn? What if, instead, we notice and name any 10% change of thinking, perspective, ability to pause before acting, or new behavior, no matter how small? We do this for our clients, right?

    There is Investment in You Staying the Same

    Offering this important noticing of change to ourselves and our clients nurtures the practice of providing internal and external support for the newly growing, often delicate green shoots of what’s emerging now, from the soil of our experience. These new and tender indicators of change often meet our cynical internal stories or external nay-sayers.

    It’s also helpful to remember that when we change, the bigger relational systems we are embedded in may be invested in our staying the same! There could be push-back for any change endeavor we undertake. I remember a moment from my teenage years when my mother finally went on a real diet, and my father surprisingly and blatantly pressured her into eating dessert every night after dinner. Not only did she have to fight her own urges to eat more than her diet allowed, she felt added pressure to not please her husband, who was invested in her remaining overweight!

    New links in our System

    This points to the importance of finding those like minded souls in our systems (or joining some new systems!) who are supportive of the developmental changes we are making. This is where a community of practice, like in PBC, or with other groups of which we are a part, can play a vital role in witnessing and acknowledging our small steps. It is in the company of those who are on a similar change journey as we are where we find new connections and stability that supports us to experiment, stretch and grow. Of course, this is also what coaching provides!

    Circumvent the Ego’s Warning System

    Another way I see the 10% idea is at work is when we embark on a new behavior that feels daunting, overwhelming or there seems to be a big wall in front of us. I’ve been experimenting with taking very small steps, inspired by the Kaizenphilosophy. The idea is to make such a tiny move of change that the ego’s warning and defense system against change is not activated. An example would be putting on exercise clothes for a few days, before even venturing onto the treadmill, where you then stand for a few days without actually walking on it. You get the picture.

    I’ve found these 10% change strategies to be highly effective for getting me to take time to move my body. The 10% also works with time: like when I’ve finally sat myself down to a task I don’t enjoy (ok, I feel some hearty resistance to doing – I suspect you have some of those tasks you could name right now!). I set the timer on my phone for 15 or 30 minutes and tell myself that’s ALL I have to put into that task right now. And usually once I start, I get into the flow and I ignore the timer when it goes off. It’s the moving over that seeming abyss of the threshold into actually doing the task that seems to be the hardest part.

    Ask Yourself This Question

    Here’s an idea I learned from Wendy Palmer as part of her regular centering practice.  Once we are centered into ourselves, we can then ask (I’m paraphrasing here): Can you bring into yourself 10% more of a quality you’d like to embody? For example, self-compassion, courage, serenity, boldness, etc. Pick whatever one you like. I find this practice to be enlivening and useful for my own embodiment, and the specific qualities I focus on can change even daily, depending on what’s needed in the moment.

    Adjust Your Sails

    Another idea that involves the 10% concept is the overall trajectory of change. It’s a sailing analogy (my husband loves to sail). On a sailboat, when you slightly adjust the sails to accommodate changing wind conditions, even at 10%, this change of direction, will lead you to a very different destination over time. And isn’t that what we are all about as coaches, change agents in organizations, and those committed to our own development? A useful frame is to remember that small, 10% changes will bring a big impact over time. We can develop the patience and trust in the process of change itself, while encouraging those we serve to persevere over time.

    Now, Invent Your Own 10%

    • I encourage you to find or invent your own 10%, in whatever way it might work for you or your clients.
    • I’ve offered many angles here, and I feel sure you’ve got others to share with our community.
    • Please do offer your additions to these thoughts below and let us know how applying the 10% is working for you and for those you serve!
    1. Maurer, Robert One Small Step can Change your Life: The Kaizen Way Workman Publishing, NY, 2004
    2. LeadershipEmbodiment.com
  • Whole-heartedness


    I have been feeling the turning for some time now.

    It began a couple years ago, when a combination of circumstances made it clear that we could no longer sustain what we had so enthusiastically built, and it was time to create some change. Moving to town, selling our beloved retreat center, Walker retiring, building the team that delivers and manages the Presence-Based Coaching offer, and a couple of other moves opened a distinct new chapter.

    Presence-Based Coaching has reached a maturity and impact I couldn’t have imagined fifteen years ago. I work with fascinating clients, our work is rich and influential, it’s all working. Yet, there’s more.

    I’m inquiring into what’s next
    I’m inquiring into what’s next

    I’m inquiring into what’s next. Not as in “I’m retiring and what do I do with the rest of my life,” but more like “what is worth energizing now.” My path has always been an integrative one… seeking the next edge to my own development, and folding my learning into the living work that we collectively bring forward, and that is also my expression in the world.

    So, when I feel this calling, I listen.

    This time, it has something to do with a more direct connection of our Presence-Based work to the crucial issues of our times. There are lots of people who are doing important work for the benefit of us all that are not likely to know about, or attend PBC training. I want to be of service to this movement… the social entrepreneurs, those contributing to the creation of life-affirming alternatives to myopic consumption, people who are experimenting with how business can benefit us all. I’m seeking new and creative means to support leaders and the systems they are working with. And engaging small systems of highly committed people that want to take their mission and purpose all the way through. I’m called to link with others who wish to experiment with Presence-Based coaching and leadership as a foundation for collaboration in service to what matters.

    And, I’ve been hesitant about this. I was asked in a coaching conversation recently if I “was just window shopping, or buying something?” Great question! Here are just a few of the narratives through which my underlying fears express themselves:

    • “I’m comfortable doing what I’m doing, I’ve worked really hard to build this, it’s working…. there’s no need to change.” (Well, true. And I’m sensing a calling, and I’m paying attention to it. There’s more.)
    • “I don’t trust myself to set boundaries. I am afraid of getting out of whack like when I was younger. I’m not willing to live on airplanes and in hotels.” (Actually, I do trust myself to set boundaries. I’ve gotten really good at declining opportunities that don’t fit. Nice try!)
    • “I don’t really know what this looks like, and am hesitant to put it out until I know.” (So, who’s to say that heartfelt prayers need to be accompanied by detailed specifications? I can enter whole-heartedly, and trust what comes back.)

    Underneath them all is some level of fear, and most of these little stories don’t stand up to scrutiny!

    I love the experience of whole-heartedness
    I love the experience of whole-heartedness

    True, I don’t know what’s emergent (although I have a lot of ideas!) I know there’s more, something about the shape of it. I love the experience of whole-heartedness. Here’s some of what I’m doing to invite this future:

    • Another book is expressing itself through me. This third book will be a significant re-positioning of our work into a leadership context, and will speak to new audiences in new ways. The book will serve as an attractor for conversations and collaborations.
    • My own development has always been the animating force for my professional expressions. (OK, this is not conventional business strategy, but following the frothy edge has provided reliable guidance for the past 40 years. I see no reason not to trust it now.) Doing my practices, being in the woods, inquiring into the nature of my experience, engaging my life partners, coaches, and guides is tremendously clarifying.
    • Investing in two significant professional development experiences this year will put me in new contexts with people doing work that I deeply respect and can learn from. I will be shaped by these in ways that I can’t fully anticipate.
    • I am actively engaged in a number of conversations with younger, mission driven people about how we might partner for mutual benefit. This will increasingly become a kind of fast-cycle prototyping of new kinds of engagements, which will in turn actively create What’s Next. The right conversations continue to appear in response to my transparency.

    The core Presence-Based Coaching training continues to be the place where foundations and principles emerge. Retreats are at the core and the depth and commitment of those who come catalyzes my learning as well as theirs. I am fully committed here; the retreats are where the work is evolving.

    Being whole-hearted doesn’t mean needing to know the shape of things to come. It simply means being congruent and aligned with the discovery process. It means being joyful, all in, and not knowing, all at the same time.

    • What emergent future are you holding at bay?
    • With what stories are you hedging your bets?
    • What would whole-heartedness look like for you?
  • The Turning of the Wheel

    The Turning of the Wheel

    There is ample evidence for the turning of the wheel
    There is ample evidence for the turning of the wheel

    There is ample evidence for the turning of the wheel.

    I have two grandchildren. My father is 85, and counting. I’m in my 60’s. Walker and I have faced significant health challenges. We sold our retreat center last year. All these are indicators of bold new territory!

    In this emerging chapter of our lives, there is plenty of evidence of decline, of wearing out. And, there’s increased lightness, freedom, less and less of a sense of having anything to prove, and little concern about building business. There is much more of a sense that everything counts.

    What we do matters, there’s choice, and time is short.

    In this turning, I sense two strong pulls in myself. One, the desire to engage the Presence-Based Coaching work more directly with the world’s pressing issues.

    We have created a very strong body of work about developing humans, about holding authentic conversations, about catalyzing leadership through substantial challenges. Yet, for me, there’s a persistent question about how to best get this work out in the world to those who most need it. This invites questions of scaling, of what the bigger game is, of how to democratize the leading edge of human development. There is lots to do.

    What we do matters, there’s choice, and time is short.
    What we do matters, there’s choice, and time is short.

    The second strong pull is towards simplicity. While my web of commitments is getting simpler, and I say “No, Thanks!” with increasing ease to opportunities that don’t feel like a fit, there’s an aching in me for greater freedom, less to carry through the world, less time spent on things that others can do better or things that don’t count for much and don’t provide joy.

    These two tendencies seem to pull in opposite directions. Yet, there is truth in both.

    I don’t know what this next chapter will look like, though I know that, in five years, my work life will be significantly different. I invite that, and trust that I will both choose, and be shaped by, the future as it emerges.

    I also know that collaboration with creative others is nourishing and essential. I am participating in Otto Scharmer’s MOOC. The processes for profound social change that he is describing dovetail exquisitely with, and leverage, our Presence-Based leadership work. There is much more to explore here, and you can expect to hear more about the nexus of these two bodies of work.

    Otto offered a lovely YouTube clip from the film Bagger Vance, in which Will Smith invites Matt Damon to sense the field, sense the one perfect shot that is calling him to it. While the specific shape of my one perfect future has yet to be revealed, it will be characterized by being both bigger, and simpler. It will be done with others. And, it will include, and transcend, the Presence-Based Coaching foundation that we have been building together for 15 years now.

    This is what I’m up to at this turning of the wheel. I am sensing the future, and investing in conversations and learning that focus and accelerate this sensing. I will be experimenting and prototyping with this in the coming months and years. You are invited to the conversation.

    collaboration with creative others is nourishing and essential
    collaboration with creative others is nourishing and essential

    For now, please weigh in with your thoughts:

    • How, in transitions, have you sensed future possibilities emerging?
    • How did you engage others in exploring or prototyping the territory?
    • What transition are you in now, and how are you resourcing yourself?