Firebirdlifecoach's Blog

Pursuing a Passionate Life

Meeting “The Man” July 20, 2011

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My son just left to get his hair cut. It’s a big deal for him, not exactly as big a deal as it was for Samson – but close enough for this non-biblical tale. For the last year or so – with varying degrees of enthusiasm – he has been trying to get a part-time job in this relatively small town. There isn’t much out there and until a month or so ago his prospects were looking pretty bleak. But it seemed that he had finally landed something at a local pizza chain and went in last week as planned to fill out the required paperwork – only to be told, “Come back next week and in the meantime – get your hair cut.” And so, reluctantly he trod off to hair salon with old photo of a younger, shorter “tressed” version of himself in hand as a guide.

My son – “has my hair”. Not literally of course I have plenty of my own – but genetically he seems to have gotten the thick, curly locks of his Italian-American mother, and though it is not as long as it was a year ago, he doesn’t wear it short. And it suits him. He is a good kid, who likes to think of himself as a free-thinking, non-conformist – and his hair was such a notable characteristic in his overall look – that there is probably not another physical change in his appearance that would have as big an impact. So cutting his hair is really not something he wants to do – and yet he is accepting it as a necessary trade-off in getting a job, which clearly he wanted and needed even more. It’s one of those “life lessons” he likely will not forget.

In order to make our way out in the “real world” there will be a lot of compromises along the way. Sometimes we choose to go along with what is asked of us, and sometimes we do not. The trick is knowing who you are, what is important to you and what you are willing to give up or not. Learning to negotiate the compromise is something that we need to master on some level as we face the responsibilities of living life in this world. I will miss my son’s longish locks, but I am proud of the young man who made the decision to get them cut in order to move forward. He can grow his hair again one day if that’s what he wants to do – and the growth he will get from this experience is just one step out into the big world that will require a lot more from him some day.


Sweet Dreams March 16, 2010

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I belong to a professional development group of coaches. We get together for weekly meetings led by a facilitator/instructor and work on our coaching skills, discuss business development issues, education and certification. The group has been meeting for several years and I have been a part of it for over a year. During that course of time, some members have joined and some have moved on – but the core group of seven has remained intact.

There are weeks when, my schedule feels particularly full or I may be feeling more tired or less focused. It is not uncommon for me to think on one of those evenings that maybe I will have to miss the group but other than once or maybe twice in the last year (when I was travelling or on my son’s birthday) I believe I have shown up for every meeting. And you know what, I am always damn glad I did. Last night was one of those nights.

I had been feeling exhausted and needed to take a little pause before an evening session with a client to just clear my head and refocus; I had even considered a brief nap – but to do so I would have had to miss my group. Knowing from past experience that I am always grateful when I go – I joined the group a couple of minutes late and did my best to be present and focused in the moment. At the beginning of the group when we were all discussing what we needed from the group that evening – I said that I hoped I would walk away with “an unconscious focus” (focus without a lot of thinking).

As the group began one member started to coach another around an issue that was very resonant with something I am dealing with in my life. As I listened to their coaching session I began to feel myself slip into the sleep that my tired old bones were definitely needing and I did indeed fall asleep for a few minutes. I awoke shortly before they wrapped up their session and just in time to hear a very powerful visualization exercise. Moments later when giving my feedback on the bits I had heard, I realized I had gotten exactly what I had wanted at the outset – unconscious focus.

Sometimes the universe can work in mysterious ways. You know the old, “ask and you shall receive” idea. Envision what you want – put it out there – and wait. The returns are not always that immediate and obvious – but I do believe that being clear and expressing not only what we want but what we need is the first step to getting it.


Got Armor? March 9, 2010

There is a concept that we work with a lot in coaching which revolves around our “Inner Critic” or “Gremlins”. Intuitively we all know what that means. They are those voices inside our heads which are quick to chime in with their negative criticisms and self-defeating rants. None of us seem to be immune from their punishing voice, no matter how self-aware we may be. At times they are an active tribunal of punishing judges who deliver their harsh verdicts without ever giving us a chance at a fair trial and sometimes if you want to move forward you simply have to confront them.

The first step is recognizing the sound of their voice. At times it can be difficult to tease out the sound of your critic amongst the myriad of thoughts we may be having as they are masters of disguise, but it is possible. It requires a training of your inner ear to listen not just for the sound of our harshest critics but to the messages that they are spewing. If there is someone in there telling you “you can’t do it” no matter what “it” may be – likely we are on the trail of one of the little troublemakers. Adjusting your thought process to be aware of their presence is the key to vanquishing the little varmints.

How you choose to work with them is a whole other step entirely. You may use some creative visualization exercise to toss them away, or send them to bed. You may develop an inner armor to shield yourself from their negative blows. Or simply develop counter messages which you use to overpower the negative ones that they are tossing at you. Given the abstract nature of the entire conceptualization the only bounds here are those of your imagination. In my imagination the gremlins often take on the look of those “cold germs” in the pharmaceutical ads who meet their end when the subject takes whatever medication is being hawked in the advertisement. Whatever works for you, there are no limits.

The amazing thing is – that a simple mental exercise can have a pretty profound effect. Changing “the voices in your head” from those of a harsh personal critic to a supportive champion has a real impact. After all, even for those of us who are strongly impacted by those around us, we spend the most time listening to ourselves. So treat yourself with a little kindness, champion your own self and work toward recognizing and transforming the enemy within, you deserve it.


Congratualtions – YOU are the Next Big Thing! January 22, 2010

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Americans are obsessed with trends, and though that may be true for folks living in other countries as well, the fact is I don’t live there so I can’t really say for sure if they are infected with the same fascination, and besides I am quite sure “we got it bad”. Sometimes the “next big thing” is a pop culture persona who through constant media attention becomes someone who we all know about, whether we want to or not. Occasionally, it can be an idea, an expression or a glib catch-phrase posing as an idea. And often it is a material object – a new electronic gadget or “must-have” fashion accessory.

The funny thing is, while many of these things are touted as new or revolutionary they very often are just a merchandised manipulation – promising to be special and unique but really not so extraordinary at all. When you’re the first kid on the block to get a new bike, with a hot paint job, super funky handle-bars and a new-fangled seat – you feel pretty darned cool. But after a few months, several of your friends have one too, and when you see your mom come home with a new, adult-sized version, you know your day in the sun has truly passed. Trends, by popular definition are time-limited, some short and some long, but none truly timeless.

I think that sometimes personal improvement is also vulnerable to the same fate. Encounter Groups, fad diets, personal fitness regimens and other ideas for enhancing and improving our lives come and go – which is not to say that they aren’t worth trying. When yoga first gained popularity in this country as a form of physical, spiritual and mental exercise a lot of folks “jumped on the bandwagon”, and though many fell off over time, for a great number of people, regular yoga practice is a constant part of their daily existence. We can’t always know today what we will still want to have as a part of our lives tomorrow, or next month, or ten years from now – and there is no harm (well mostly) in trying new things – but before you buy that new exercise machine or enroll in the next self-improvement class – it may be useful to understand whether the choice you are making is right for you. Know thyself, be thyself, because YOU will never go out of fashion – now go out there and expand your horizons and try something new.