Connections

By Andrea Chilcote

I’m happy to report that I’m now a regular blogger for Spirited Woman, and have an opportunity to share my experience and create a dialogue about a topic so important – our relationships.

For many years I have sought a way to explain my work — what I actually do. I’m an executive coach, a leadership development expert, and a writer. When I say that, people often respond, “But what is it that you do?” The popularity of life coaching has helped somewhat, though even that doesn’t always convey why companies hire me to do this type of work.

Here’s what I really do. I help people build relationships – all kinds of relationships. The common denominator that defines my work is the connections we have or seek: with ourselves, with other people, with the natural world, and with the minute-by-minute opportunities afforded us by the grand existence called being a human.

Connection is a primal need, particularly for women. That’s why there’s so much distress in organizations when personal agendas and misplaced hierarchical boundaries trump inclusion and collaboration. It’s why, in one-on-one relationships, we seek to be heard and understood first and foremost. The basis of trust is the feeling that one is safe with the other — and trust is required for engagement of any kind. Perhaps most important is a connection with ourselves; an eyes-wide-open type of awareness that stems from honest self-examination. This leads to two things: a state of being called “settled in self” as well as on-purpose action.

In the coming months I’ll be blogging about building upon the relationship you enjoy with yourself, with key others, and your animal companions. I’ll include that oh-so-important relationship you have with time — the moment at hand — as that is where the magic begins.

As you “relate” to my posts, I invite you to begin a dialogue. Share your own stories and reflections to spread the connections among all of us.

Defining Your Destination

How does one “Re-Write the Story of Their Life?” This is the last in a three-part series I wrote for The Spirited Woman. In this part I discuss transition.

Defining Your Destination

By Andrea Chilcote

Being “in transition” implies you have left one place (physically, mentally or emotionally) and have not yet arrived in another. And one of the more daunting challenges associated with transition is not knowing where you are going. I don’t know about you, but while I am enjoying the journey, I want to have a destination on the horizon.

The process of defining a destination, an intended outcome sounds simple – though we can make it into a complex science project.

I’ve never cared for mind benders, those frustrating puzzles that make your brain hurt. Yet I’ve spent a good portion of my life puzzling over so-called universal principles that feel just like mind benders. I’m referring to profound revelations uttered by philosophers and gurus that you just know are The Truth, yet are paradoxical and seem hard to live by in practical terms.

One such head scratcher is the concept of detachment. According to this gem of wisdom, we must set a clear and compelling vision, then…let it go. The idea is that with attachment, our fears and obsessions will muddy the pure intent, contriving all manner of disaster and plotting contingencies to prevent such. This focus on the details can be exacerbated when one is in transition, because it feels as though all we control is the minutiae.

Does this “law of detachment” mean we should stop wanting what we say we want? No, no—and therein sits the conundrum. The problem often lies in defining what we want. Often what we say we want is just a means of getting to some higher-level, often unexpressed, goal. What we get attached to is the mechanism — this house, this job, this relationship – and we miss all of the beautiful opportunities that show up along the way.

In your heart of hearts, what do you know you truly want? And, what will having that bring you? The answer to the second question is, in all likelihood, what you truly desire. The rest is just method or means, the detailed how-to that your clever mind has calculated. These instructions we issue to the universe squelch our creative wisdom and limit the innate potential available to all. Most of the time, we’re not in charge of the how-to’s anyway. Have you ever looked back after some miraculous achievement and wondered how it all came together? W.H. Murray’s famous statement says it all: ”The moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too.”

So look forward. Craft your vision, paint a picture of your heart’s desire. See it, feel it, imagine it come to life. Then let it be. Go about your day, enjoying each precious and fleeting moment. You might be surprised at what happens next.

 

Read all three parts on The Spirited Woman site.

The Story of This Very Moment

How does one “Re-Write the Story of Their Life?” This is the second in a three-part series I wrote for The Spirited Woman. In part two I challenge us all to engage in the moment at hand.

The Story of This Very Moment

by Andrea Chilcote

Re-telling the story of your life requires examining the story you are living today. Even if – perhaps especially if – you are in transition, you are writing the story of your life right now, with each thought you have and each breath you take.

Many years ago I was living in a seemingly foreign place, away from my husband and four-legged family, finishing out a commitment to a job while anticipating a move to start my business. I was both exhilarated and terrified about my future, and anxious to be finished with my current assignment. And, I was lonely.

In hindsight, I learned a lesson. I had put my life “on hold,” working too much at a job that was unfulfilling, longing to be with my family, and obsessing about the future. Toward the end of the eight month period, I met a young family who invited me into their life. This brief experience helped me recognize that I had squandered the precious present moment far too long. Rather than engaging in life where I was, I had been living in a world of “what-if’s,” an uncomfortable mental state in which I was trying to hold on to what had really ended while unable to step fully into my future.

Change expert William Bridges suggests that in any transition, we experience a stage of letting go, then a stage of neutrality in which nothing feels grounded or clear; finally, those two stages are followed by a period of orienting to new beginnings. I suggest, while these are natural stages we must pass through, we can continue to live the story of a meaningful life even inside the so-called neutral zone. It’s as simple as showing up.

Are you telling yourself a story about a past that’s over or a future that has not yet arrived? What story would you tell about your life right now?  You have a choice to live a life of engagement and vitality. Even if you would rather be somewhere else, what can you do today, this moment even, to come alive again?

The fleeting present moment is filled with potential opportunities and possibilities, yet we often miss them because we’re consumed by a mind cluttered with thoughts about the past or the future. Stop – then look, listen and feel. Are you willing to engage in the precious opportunity before you?

 

Read parts one and three on The Spirited Woman site.