I used to drive across country a lot and often before the trip I would worry. What if I had a problem on the highway? What if there were problems with my car? What if I had an accident? What if I was too tired to drive all the way to my destination.
All those typical fears would play in my mind until one day on the road I realized how many of the fears just did not happen. I had a pleasant drive. I enjoyed the time alone to think about various plans I was making. I always seemed to find the right place to stop to eat or get gas. I enjoyed playing some music and singing along. I had fun watching my dog fall asleep and relax along the way. I found friendly people at the restaurants or motels I stayed in.
In other words I found out that the fears and worries were often a waste of time and energy. I started my trips with a more positive attitude. I relaxed and made sure I had contingency plans for unpleasant experiences. I organized what might happen and planned for solutions instead of worrying about imaginary things that might happen. And those trip worries and fears disappeared.
I began to restructure my brain. That takes work but it is well worth the effort.
I am recently catching up on television programs that I have saved for a cold snowy day. And one of them is DaVinci’s Demons. Besides calling up all the problems Leonardo had interpersonally, politically, romantically, and inventively–the show is full of great dialogue, intellectual sparring and wonderful wit. I thought about the coaching process in terms of how Leonardo invents something and there are some real parallels to share.
A Ornithoper by Leonardo da Vinci (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
First, Leonardo is always putting together strange connections . . . .what you might call blurred renditions or strange attractors. In coaching one of the great surprises for many of my clients is the amazing coincidence or the synchronous experiences that seem to collide in coaching. That is a great gift and one of the happy benefits of going through coaching.
Leonardo is also in dialogue with circumstances and evidence that surrounds him. He is not just an observer but a marvelous questioning investigator. That is also part and parcel of coaching. . . . the ability to ask the best question to find the best insight and the best action resulting from the insight.
And then there are the experiences of subterfuge. He evades the normal experience, he tricks reality in the face of obstacles. And sometimes coaching is the art of finding exceptions, looking for the anomaly and the time when a person might have done something unusual for a change.
Anyway, the show is wonderful just on its own, so you might enjoy it. But I couldn’t help but find some of the parallels with what I do everyday as I coach.
Vitruvian Man by Leonardo da Vinci, Galleria dell’ Accademia, Venice (1485-90) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I was slipping and sliding a bit today since we have had very low temperatures, snow and a few side streets that were not cleared. I thought about how I need to buy some snow tires soon so I can fearlessly venture out in winter.
I realized that not only do I need snow tires on my car but I also need something like that in my life now. There are some days where I am just fine and moving along with the greatest of ease, but now and then I need those added protections to venture out fearlessly. And I don’t always have them.
The was a time when I did not worry about that at all. At that time, I had a fearless friend who made me venture toward ideas, wonders, people and places I hardly imagined. She has been gone now for over 15 years and I am a little diminished now that she passed away.
But in this new coaching venture, I am moving forward again. I am finding those snow tires –or better yet, all-weather performance tires. I am ready with all of your help and your good wishes!!
When I was a little kid I had this boundless curiosity about life and an incredible imagination. I believed most things that people said to me as truth. I think this is pretty much what many children experience. In other words, I don’t think I was too gullible or too trusting . . . just the natural spirit of a child that believed that things could be fantastic, full of adventure and even incredible.
Of course over the years, I lost some of that spirit but there is still something irresistible and amazing about life that I cherish in myself. You would have to know me to see that in practice. And of course, people who do, often comment on that kind of timeless essence. It is like looking with a little laughter and at the same time with the smarts of having come of age.
What have you managed to save from your childhood? What makes you incredibly savvy today and yet amazingly wonder-filled? What have you grown into from your childhood that you do not want to lose? How does your childhood motivate you?
Deep in the forest
Here is the information you need to get started in coaching.
What many people are writing about today is the need to train the brain away from its fears and unconscious worries. There are so many defaults that were wired in the brain from early vulnerability experiences, the imagery we find in the newspapers and on television, and in negative messages from co-workers and family members. Those worries, ruminations, and images of paralysis make life difficult. It is as if we are trudging through a swamp with lead boots.
So the repeated mantra from various experts is to train the mind through mindfulness.
It can be a disciplined practice of Tai Chi . . . an empyting meditation . . . a loving kindness experience . . . . a mindfulness walk.
As Dr. Pillay (2010) suggests: ”When you meditate, your attention becomes focused. The brain’s attentional system is more like radar than like a telescope. Meditators refer to this as awareness. Conscious attention is distinct from awareness, which is both conscious and unconscious. Meditation steadies attention, and when attention is steadied, there is less radar interference. . .. Some people refer to this as being in the zone (p. 34 in Life Unlocked).
I had a great dream this morning about one of my favorite people. She was someone I worked with in my past –one of my administrative assistants. When I think about her now, she was one of my “invisible coaches”. What I mean by that is that we often meet people who unwittingly give us what we need at the time . . . encouragement, great laughs, understanding, gentle advice, creative energy.
They are our INVISIBLE COACHES.We didn’t call them that. We called them a friend, an angel from the clouds, a gentle spirit, a boisterous buddy. She was definitely that.
I remember how she greeted me each day with a smile, how she tackled the most mundane things that I threw at her, and how she invented new solutions to old problems.
I suppose dreaming about her made that relevance even more pointed. I did not have the foresight to thank her for the future evanescence she provides even in my dreams. So thank you, Pat, wherever you are!