Category Archives: limitations

a cottage: not a prison. broken down walls, nonetheless.

your prison

a cottage: not a prison. broken down walls, nonetheless.

I want to bring my creativity into my work.

I want to feel more confident and powerful.

I want to change the way I feel about my bodyI want to do work I feel passionate about. I want stronger relationships.

Or even:  I don’t know what I want, but it’s not this.

It’s no small thing when someone says that they want something in their lives to change.

My coaching clients do a lot of hard work to get from where they are to where they want to be, and that work isn’t always in the form of action (going, doing, getting, running, higher, faster, now!). The hardest work seems to be in the shifting, the choosing and affirming new perspectives, the being and the standing up into what they want.

I recently completed with a client, who put it quite simply: “I had built my own prison!”

She was talking about the process of acknowledging, examining and letting go of the stories that kept her stuck. The tall tales she told herself which built steel bars, and doors that locked tight (complete with guards carrying automatic rifles). A prison that was built of: That’s the way it has to be. They call it work for a reason. You can’t do what you love. I am not [fill-in-the-blank] enough. Other people can do that, because they are [fill-in-the-blank] and I am not. You are a dreamer, come back to reality.

From the prison, she could smell the warm air of possibility and the sweet notes of her heart’s desire, but her arms could not reach out to grab onto these things. For months, we sat together on the floor of that prison, looking around and describing what it was made of. Brick-by-brick, she looked at the stories and chose: to believe something different. She choose the way she wanted to see the world by choosing which stories would stay and which would go.

I had built my own prison.

And we all do. The key that unlocks the door is listening to the stories we tell ourselves and then making the choice to either continue to believe them or to choose something different. Shifting from: They Call it Work for a Reason, to: My Work is a Joyful Exploration, opened up possibility, curiosity, play, and just fit my client like a glove. (You can tell by the sparkle in her eyes.)

On this July afternoon, I wonder: what stories are holding you prisoner? And if you chose, what would the new story be?


about that monkey brain of yours…

Disclaimer: the word “monkey” appears in this post more than is acceptable for human consumption. Also: all monkey references are metaphorical only: please don’t put monkeys on strings.

Our brain is intended to serve us and we celebrate it: “Look at how smart I am! With the figuring and thinking and reasoning? Way to go, brain!” However, I am starting to think that the little monkey in my brain is running me around in the nastiest of ways.

I have been noticing how often that little monkey calls the shots. Thoughts leaping from tree-to-tree, making connections based on half-truths and partial information, stirring up a cavalcade of emotions, and dozens of voices insisting that their chants be heard. These monkey thoughts push me around and I have had just about enough of it.

While ruminating on this thinking thing, leadership coach extraordinaire Kendra Reddy put it this way: if the monkey is calling the shots, be the organ grinder.

Click. Thunk. Whoomp. Be the organ grinder (except without the lederhosen, those things are not very flattering). It’s about making those monkeys work for me, instead of work me over.

How to be the Organ Grinder:

Choose the song. The organ grinder chooses the song to play. What is your song? How do you want to be in your in your reality? Depending on the day, I would choose a little folk or rock or even punk, but the monkeys would have me flipping through tracks and genres moment by moment. Choose your song and stick with it.

Where are your monkeys at? Do your best Jane Goodall impression and watch the monkeys jump and roll around. Track them. Notice connections. Try not to play with them, instead sit back and study their relationships, influencers, motivators, and interactions. Make notes.

Put the monkeys on a string. If you know your monkeys, you can build structures that will calm them, distract them, and even have them dancing in time with your song. Leave little notes for the monkeys when they are a bit wild (the photo up top is a note to an especially nasty and negative monkey of mine). Have a picture or a song that reflects your reality and keeps it fresh. Erect caution signs and phone a friend in active monkey times. Or engage the services of the Embassy of Self Care.

What do you notice about your monkeys? I am willing to bet that you have well-developed monkey management strategies and I would love to hear about them.

Happy monkey-taming!