In My Own (Crazy?) Way

By Andrea Chilcote

 


On Monday I joined some friends for coffee, friends who meet regularly at a time I’m usually on a plane or have some scheduled task. Since I’m not a regular member of this group, I was in for surprise.

One member, my friend Sheppard Lake, is a life coach. So at these gatherings, she regularly leads exercises designed to – well, coach us in life.

I considered excusing myself when the paper and pens were passed around. But I was intrigued enough to postpone the work I was supposed to be doing, and I stayed.

Sheppard asked us to write a letter to someone we admired, telling them what it was we loved about them. The first person who popped into my mind was none other than the CEO of an Arizona non-profit, Pam Gaber of Gabriel’s Angels. It was easy to list all of the things I admire about Pam, and I finished my letter quickly. It was fun to hear who others chose, when we read our letters aloud. Some picked famous people and one wrote a touching letter to her husband.

Then, we learned the punch line of the exercise. Sheppard dared to ask us to re-read the letters, this time substituting ourselves for the exalted one. What??

She asked me to go first. “I can’t do this,” I said, “because part of it, one word in the middle paragraph, would be a lie.”

She encouraged me to just begin. Amazingly, the truth was that many of the things I admire about Pam are qualities I at least strive to embody myself. (Okay, they are qualities I possess.) But when I got to that word in the short sentence in the middle of the page, I stopped.

“I’m in awe of your energy, organization and presence.” Which word would that be, you might ask?

“I am not organized,” I declared, oddly on the verge of tears. Immediately my friends began to give me examples of how they admired my ability to plan and organize, how methodical I was, how much I got done, and on and on. I was incredulous.

I listened, and considered the evidence they presented.

“In my own crazy way, perhaps,” I conceded. And as the words came out, I felt better.

In my own way.

Yes, while I have a nearly life-long criticism of my ability to order and structure things, the truth is that I organize things “exactly just right” for me. I have systems, processes and order that, while mysterious to some, work for me. It’s only when I try to do what others do that I stumble.

How about you? What’s “your own way?” that serves you, and – that others even admire?

I have an idea. I think I’ll stop comparing myself to others, at least for the weekend.

Do You Coach or Give Advice?

Andrea ChilcoteBy Andrea Chilcote

I don’t mean “Are you a coach?” – though some of you might be, in your role at work as a manager, in a sports context, or perhaps as a professional. What I’m asking is, when someone needs help, do you provide coaching – or do you advise, give feedback, solve others’ problems for them, criticize, or judge – with the intent of being helpful?

As a professional coach and also one who teaches others to do so, I give a lot of thought to what coaching is and isn’t. And I think the world needs more coaches and fewer critics; more empowerment to think on our own, and less advice.

Think of an example in your own life – as a parent, as a friend or as a leader. When presented with a situation in which someone needs help,

  • Do you ask enough questions to fully understand the situation – or do you already know what you think is going on and what they should do?
  • Do you listen objectively to understand, or do you listen with a biased ear, one that either agrees or disagrees?
  • Do you encourage them to identify strategies and solutions, or do you simply give advice?

And one final question, has anyone ever made a significant change because you told them they should?

In my work, the purpose of coaching is to affect change – create movement and shifts in people’s perceptions, viewpoints and behaviors. And I’m betting that’s the goal of the situation you just thought of. It’s all about change, subtle or substantial.

People change when the factors that create their experience change.  In order to do change a person’s experience, we have to:

  1.  Understand the current situation from their perspective.
  2. Clearly define their desired future or result.
  3. Understand what it will take to get to the result.

The process I described takes time and patience. It takes dialogue. And it requires a mindset of objectivity (a willingness to suspend our own biases), and positive intent.

In my experience, it works with teenagers, significant others, friends and team members. Here’s a simple version:

  • First ask:  “What’s going on? What’s causing this situation? What’s the impact?”
  • Then ask:  “What do you want? And (important!) – What will having that do for you?”
  • Finally, ask: “What will it take to get to the result? What are you willing to commit to?”

Do you want to help another change? Try empowering him/her to help their self.


This post appeared originally on The Spirited Woman where Andrea is a blogger. Enjoy it!

Complete As Is

Arthur and Andrea ChilcoteAre you still in search of an ideal intimate relationship? …I had just returned from yet another date that took more energy than it gave in return. I asked myself, “Why are you doing this? Why are you wasting precious time with men with whom you feel no connection?”  The following post was originally titled, Do I Really Need A Marriage?

By Andrea Chilcote

Dining with an old friend and her significant other, a story surfaced that I have told often, though never written. It’s the story of how I met (maybe “recognized” is a better word) my husband, and it’s not even about how I met him in the tactical sense. I have no advice to offer as to the pros and cons of online dating vs. more traditional methods. It’s about the state of mind (and heart) that I believe enabled me to find him.

My friend recounted the story of how she and he became a pair. Her beloved husband passed away several years ago, and after several attempts at “dating,” she decided she really didn’t need a mate, and would proceed to be happy as is. Then, when she was not looking (or counting on finding him), he appeared, a casual introduction from friends.

I will never forget my own experience 28 years ago. I had just returned from yet another date that took more energy than it gave in return. I asked myself, “Why are you doing this? Why are you wasting precious time with men with whom you feel no connection?” The answer shocked me. I was doing it because I thought I needed a mate. Didn’t every woman?

In that moment, I vowed that I did not. I decided that I would carefully discern my feelings and choices. Most of all, I decided that if I never, ever fell in love and married, I would have a happy life.

Arthur came along a month later. I don’t think I would have recognized him had I not made that declaration.

Arthur and I love one another without condition, though our human nature takes its toll on a regular basis. Our relationship has endured, in large part, because of the fact that we are both confident as individuals. The “secret” to our success is the antithesis of Jerry Maguire’s famous line, “You complete me.”   We were both complete before we met.

That is the truth I realized one evening 28 years ago, and it’s what my friend realized just

I don’t pretend to know the pain of loneliness or the distress that comes from trying to find a person to share your life. I’m certain that many others have the kind of confidence I describe, yet are still in search of ideal intimate relationships. But one thing I do know is this. Accepting yourself as whole, complete and loving is a prerequisite for finding a companion who will hold you in that same high regard.

And after all of this, the truth that holds me here
Is that this emptiness is something not to fear

                             – Mary Chapin Carpenter

_____

This post appeared originally on The Spirited Woman where Andrea is a weekly blogger.