The Owl's Perch

The Gift of Travel

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Recently while waiting for a flight at the Madrid airport, I spotted a poster that read, “Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.” I love travelling for the spontaneous gifts of new perspectives I always receive.

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Leaping Over

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Over the last 18 months or so, I’ve been toying with this idea of “leaping over.” When I get triggered, frustrated, angry or charged in some way, I’m curious what it would be like to leap over the cortisol charged reactions and the analysis and processing that follows. Now, I don’t mean just squashing those feelings down. They have some good information for me and if I don’t pay attention to them, they will come out again later, often unskillfully.


What I’m considering is what if I just gave myself the benefit of a little peak around the corner, post reaction, to see what might be there? A quick example: I was recently in a conversation with someone who said something about me in a joking way that I took very personally. I immediately felt my heart rate pick up and so wanted to spout something right back, half in jest (and half hoping to let them know how I was feeling in that moment). I took a deep, mindful breath and thought, “ok, after I feel it, say it, apologize for it and move on what might be there?” What I found was a willingness to just let it go. In that moment, it felt really vulnerable. After all, I had a right to retaliate! Moving gently through the vulnerability,  I chose to leap over there and see what it felt like to let it go. Almost immediately, it felt lighter and I actually laughed out loud.

This is a work in progress of course, but the half dozen or so times I’ve tried it, I’ve been really surprised at how quickly the feelings go all the way through me and dissipate quickly. Most importantly I don’t ruminate on them later and they haven’t come back around wishing for a different outcome. I’ll keep you posted on the longer term impact – but for now, it’s pretty cool and I guess that others are probably happier as a result too.

 

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Stoicism and Fear Setting - Old Tools for Today's Issues

Sunday, May 13, 2018

When you think of a Stoic, you might create a picture in your mind of a boring, emotionless person. Seneca, Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius are a few famous Stoics from a few thousand years ago, and they were anything but boring. Having studied Stoicism recently, I think there is great relevance of the philosophy today. Seneca is quoted as saying, “Think your way through difficulties: harsh conditions can be softened, restricted ones can be widened, and heavy ones can weigh less on those who know how to bear them.” One tool stoics used is imagining the worst-case scenario and clarifying fears.

In today’s age of optimists tending toward naiveté and pessimists tending toward cynicism, it makes sense to reach back 2000 years to this tool when entering a negotiation, making a big decision or preparing for a difficult conversation. Further, I believe it’s a key leadership tool when setting strategy.

In a nutshell, here’s the process: First, imagine the worst thing that could happen if you took a certain course of action. Be specific in defining what might happen. Next, specifically name the fears that may attend such an occurrence – really feel what it might be like to experience the emotions. Then, consider what you might do to prevent such an occurrence and then repair it. That’s it.

A quick example: Recently I had some friends I hadn’t seen in a while over for dinner. Truth is, I felt very judged by them for many years and was unsure how to invite them into my home. I considered topics we might discuss and how I wanted to show up. Using this process, I defined the worst things that might happen if I brought up uncomfortable subjects and how I might prevent things from going off the rails. I tried to sense what it would be like to feel judged and to continue the status quo of not seeing them. Damage repair began to feel better than doing nothing, if in fact they even stayed for dessert. I chose to consider discussion topics that were interesting and thoughtful. Perspectives on current events, thought-provoking recent books and family updates beyond just where and when. I steadied myself for twists and turns that may happen and had a few kind words ready in my back pocket should things go sideways

Because I first considered a few worst-case scenarios, I showed up full of compassion and heart rather than with fear and trepidation – and that made all the difference. At the end of the evening, one of them said to me, “Wow – you really did this well. Thank you.” By the way, if you’re interested, Tim Ferriss describes a Stoic process he calls “Fear Setting” in his TED talk. It’s worth a listen. I’m curious how you might consider using this ancient tool to help solve some of your big decisions?

 


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Why Transformation is Messy

Sunday, April 08, 2018

We’re all on a journey of self-discovery and living a full life. Sometimes that journey involves transformation. If you’ve experienced transformations in your life or witnessed one in someone close to you, perhaps you agree that they, like the journeys of life itself, are rarely linear or tidy. In fact, for me the difference between transformation and change is that transformation nearly requires a messy falling apart or reordering of things.

When a caterpillar goes through a metamorphosis into a butterfly, its body literally liquefies before becoming a beautiful butterfly. Radical transformation is the very process of becoming new by a thorough shedding of the old. When a business needs a turnaround, or you’re thinking of moving to a new home, there are sometimes just simple changes to make. Other times, a complete transformation is necessary. Both are perfectly acceptable ways to move through change. But if you sense a transformation is needed, be prepared for a twisting, turning exploration ahead!

For me the key is finding beauty, compassion and adventure in the process because it’s all too easy to find blame, shame or judgment in the messiness. For nearly twenty years, I had a successful career in commodities trading. For a couple of years, I knew inside that a change was needed, but I wasn’t sure what the catalyst would be or just how transformative those changes would be. Boy, did I make a mess of my leaving! A falling out with my business partner took years of care and resilience to repair. But I spent a lot of time blaming others for how and when it happened. As I look back, the deep inner work and complete re-ordering of the way I saw the world and my purpose in it was the only way to move forward to forgiveness and healing. Gratefully, most of the impacted relationships were fully restored, re-ordered and built on respect and love. Others are still a work in progress. But today, I look on the last 14 years since I left my former career as a beautiful example of the power of transformation, mess and all. What’s more, I built a new career around helping others through their transformations and I couldn’t be more fulfilled.

I wouldn’t be doing this work and loving every bit of it, were it not for going through the messiness of a life-changing transformation. While I wouldn’t have chosen to make, or be in that mess, I’m grateful for the lessons it taught me. Fear needn’t be a deterrent to real change. It’s truly an amazing, beautiful adventure!

What changes are ahead for you and how will you move through them?

 


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Deep Kindness

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Tolerating, Emptying and Beginning Again

Sunday, February 04, 2018

Spiritual Warriors Respond to Spiritual Crises

Sunday, January 07, 2018

First Be Kind - Practicing Kindfulness!

Sunday, April 23, 2017

The Rooster's Sunrise

Sunday, March 05, 2017

Those Who are Different than Me

Sunday, February 05, 2017

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