Archive for May, 2008

ONE STEP AT A TIME

Monday, May 26th, 2008

Lately I have been riding my Mountain Bike. Yesterday I rode from my house to Phoenix Lake. On the right side of the lake is a trail called Lower Shaver which takes you up to Five Corners. On the Far edge of the lake you have a choice to continue on Lower Shaver or to turn left and climb Fish Grade or Eldridge. Fish Grade for me has always been out of the question since its so steep. So my choice really was Eldridge or to continue straight.

I wanted more of a challenge so I decided on Eldridge…The slope on Eldridge is slightly elevated for the first 100 yards and then there is a 50 yard stretch in which the slope is greatly elevated. That 50 yard strectch is a challenge; on some occasions I have had to stop and walk my bike or once I get to the top I rest. I wanted to break this pattern. And for the minute or two before having to make the decision I debated as to which trail to take. I chose Eldridge and tried something different.

Once I started the steep 50 yard stretch instead of wondering if I could make it to the top I just focused on the step or two immediataely in front of me. I didn’t look at to see how far I had to go. For me the choice was simple. By breaking it down into small segmentss I didn’t notice any slope. It was only when I looked at the top that I noticed the steepness. As I pedaled focusing on what was immediately in front of me I reached the top and continued on my way. I wasn’t tired or winded and it was as if I was riding on a level trail.

JOURNEY ON

MARK

JOURNEY ON is a blog dedicated to personal and professional development. Mark Susnow,JD, is an Executive and Life Coach, who inspires others to believe in themselves. A former successful trial attorney for 30 years and musician, he integrates what it takes to be successful in the world with the inner wisdom unfolded to him through years of yoga and meditation. He also publishes, Letters on Life, an inspirational ezine. Signup! http://www.inspirepossibility.com

Who is in control of your life?

Friday, May 23rd, 2008

There are common issues to both executive and life coaching. One of these occurred in a session yesterday. My client, let’s call her Betsy, was extremely frustrated in her job. She is a brilliant professional woman, who has a part time job that doesn’t totally engage her. And most of the people she works with are not on her level of expertise. She finds herself getting frustrated and often wondering why she’s there.

She is use to being in control…so she thinks. That raises the bigger question as to what being in control really means?

So who is in control of your life? Is it you or your habits? Or are you controlled by forces that you are unaware of? For your curiosity there is a self assessment test on my website that takes under three minutes to do.

When our habits control our lives, we can shirk from the responsibility of having to make decisions. And when that habits we pretty much go unconscious.

Be conscious. Be aware of how you get plugged in. Noticing is the first step in taking back your life. Notice when you get frustrated. Don’t try to figure it out…just notice

JOURNEY ON

MARK

JOURNEY ON is a blog dedicated to personal and professional development. Mark Susnow,JD, is an Executive and Life Coach, who inspires others to believe in themselves. A former successful trial attorney for 30 years and musician, he integrates what it takes to be successful in the world with the inner wisdom unfolded to him through years of yoga and meditation. He also publishes, Letters on Life, an inspirational ezine. Signup! http://www.inspirepossibility.com

SPEAK YOUR TRUTH

Wednesday, May 21st, 2008

We teach what we need to learn, so it is said. That’s what I get to do whether it’s in a life coaching or executive coaching session. Teach and learn….what’s been up for some of my clients is how to handle a difficult person…someone who we might refer to as toxic.

Regardless of how many times we have been there, from time to time we find ourselves in situations we would rather not be in. So thats what my client, let’s call him Fred was faced with.

Fred a professional was faced with an extremely unhappy client. Not necessarily because of Fred’s performance but because he saw life as somewhat futile. He didn’t see much hope for the future. Everything seemed bleak.

What to do? Reasoning with these type of people is futile. No matter how reasonable you are they are not going to change their perspective at that moment. You can bend over backwards and it still won’t make a difference.

Here’s what I suggest. Don’t take it personally and don’t try to be a savior. Realize that in the moment they can’t think clearly. Fred did all he could not to get plugged in. I suggested to him that he write a letter when he saw things from a different perspective….when he was calm and not threatened. I have tremendous success with this approach. Then the other person can read it in his own private moment when he doesn’t feel pressured. Make sure that in the letter you let him know that you totally understand his position.

Make sure you have solid boundaries and know what’s true for you. For example when I was an attorney, a client who had hired me wanted me to evaluate his case in a different way. His way of doing this was to challenge me by saying that I didn’t seem confident. I told him my truth. I was extremely confident as a person, but not confident as to his case.

So take the time to send a letter the next time one of these situations comes up. It’s also important because it helps you clarify exactly what was said and what happened.

Journey On

Mark

JOURNEY ON is a blog dedicated to personal and professional development. Mark Susnow,JD, is an Executive and Life Coach, who inspires others to believe in themselves. A former successful trial attorney for 30 years and musician, he integrates what it takes to be successful in the world with the inner wisdom unfolded to him through years of yoga and meditation. He also publishes, Letters on Life, an inspirational ezine. Signup! http://www.inspirepossibility.com

MOOD CHANGERS

Thursday, May 15th, 2008

My very first newsletter was written seven years ago. I wrote about Attitude and how important it is. In fact it’s more than important it’s everything. I think we agree on this principle but what’s more confusing is what we can do to change our attitude. I didn’t address this back then. So I’ve had many years to come up with a program that will help you change your moods. Let’s say for example that you’re in a bad mood and don’t feel like doing anything. How do you get out of your funk? Here are some ideas that help me from time to time.

#1. When you notice that you have a lousy attitude, cop to it. You can’t change it unless you are aware of it.

#2. Ask yourself what’s going on! Is there something that you are afraid of or are not looking forward to. Be honest-why are you bummed out.

#3. Change your perspective by reframing what’s going on. Usually I find that empowering questions goes a long way. Let’s say it’s an event that I don’t want to go to. I might ask myself the following question: I wonder who I’m going to meet or I wonder what the highlight of the evening will be. There is a good discussion of this on my website in the article…. Start your Day on your Terms.

#4. After you have exhausted the mental stuff, then woodshed. Look at the tools you can use. For example exercise. When I get in one of those moods I’m not exercising. When you are exercising it’s difficult to remain in a funk. For example dancing. If I’m in a funk and I go dancing, I’m not going to think about what’s bothering me.

#5.What about your diet? Usually sugar and caffeine are the culprits. Too much meat will suppress your energy.

#6. Extra credit. When I was in law school, I went to a workshop on fasting given by a nurse. Ever since I have made fasting part of my program. At least once per year I’ll fast and adopt the Stanley Burroughs master cleanse. This definitely changes my mood and gets me feeling great. The first few days are a struggle but as you progress you will feel great. It’s never failed. If you’ve never fasted before, make sure you get appropriate support.

#7. Music is a great mood changer. Almost instantly it gets me going…it’s hard to be down when you’re tapping your foot and singing.

#8. Take a walk on the beach or in nature. And if you have time, take a trip. These are just a few of the things that have worked for me in the past. Hopefully I keep learning.

JOURNEY ON

MARK

JOURNEY ON is a blog dedicated to personal and professional development. Mark Susnow,JD, is an Executive and Life Coach, who inspires others to believe in themselves. A former successful trial attorney for 30 years and musician, he integrates what it takes to be successful in the world with the inner wisdom unfolded to him through years of yoga and meditation. He also publishes, Letters on Life, an inspirational ezine. Signup! http://www.inspirepossibility.com

A Voice for Optimism

Sunday, May 11th, 2008

My journey of the last eight years has led to many conversations some of which have been inspiring and others a little disconcerting. There is a voice of concern and resignation that I have been repeatedly hearing that seems to be louder than the voice of hope. Many are concerned about the global and planetary challenges that we all face. At the heart of these challenges is an uncertain future. During an election year these concerns are exacerbated.
The huge media juggernaut bombards us with information most of which is negative. Within seconds we become aware of events and tragedies that have occurred somewhere in the world. It’s difficult to tune it out. This negativity, which is constantly reinforced, colors how we perceive our personal reality and the challenges that we experience in day-to-day living. We wonder how we can find fulfillment on a personal level when there is so much suffering and uncertainty in the world.
Lately I have been hearing the voice of those who are in the camp of the pessimists. They’ll rattle off the war, the economy, the environment and our dwindling resources as justifications for their feeling the way they do. When one tends to focus on what’s wrong and what isn’t working they will always find a litany of reasons to justify their perspective.
I am in the camp of the optimists. No matter what is happening in my life or in the world I believe that there will be a better day. In fact I don’t think we have a choice but to be optimistic. This is so even when there is so much suffering in the world.

I think back to the sixties. Not only did our country seem stuck in a senseless war, Vietnam, our country was hopelessly polarized. There seemed to be little hope. What made matters worse was that we were on a collision course in the bigger cold war with the Soviet Union. Numerous pundits and leading edge periodicals predicted a nuclear holocaust with the Soviet Union.

I remained optimistic. This is what I wrote in a poem back then.

“Should there be a day when the visionaries of peace stop loving, then the prophets of doom will have their day of gloom.”

I have come to the conclusion that feeling bad or hopeless doesn’t help things. Remaining optimistic does. When you are optimistic you have hope and are able to see possibilities that you couldn’t see before.

It’s been estimated by researchers that we have over sixty thousand thoughts in a day, some of which are positive and some negative. The question is which one you focus on. There’s a Native American Story, which I’ve told before, that reminds me of this point.

A grandfather is discussing with his grandson a tragedy that just occurred.
The grandfather says, “ I feel like I have two wolves fighting in my heart. One is an angry vengeful one and the other is a peaceful loving one.”
The grandson then asks,” Which one is going to win?”
The grandfather replies, “The one I feed.”

I recently viewed Al Gore’s latest talk on climate change which he presented at the TED Conference. I found another voice of optimism. While he layed out the disturbing environmental challenges before us and the crisis in democracy that we faced, he suggested that we reframe the challenge by seeing the challenge as one that motivates us to action. He urged one to reach inside of themselves to tap into a greatness that they never knew was possible. He went on to ask, “How many generations before us have had the opportunity to rise to a challenge that is worthy of our best efforts-a challenge that can pull from us more than we thought we could do?”

Imagine approaching your whole life in this way. What will the challenges be in the future that are worthy of your best efforts? Think of the challenges along the way that have helped you get to this point in your life; the challenges that have inspired you to surpass what you thought was possible.

I am sure you have experienced those moments when you have felt as if things weren’t happening fast enough-those moments when you doubted whether you were making a difference.

You might have even felt that things were hopeless or that you weren’t good enough. There’s that voice again. There’s always that voice-that voice of doubt- that limits what you think is possible in your life.

I know that voice well. Even when you are optimistic that voice creeps in and before you know it starts to take over. It’s powerful and has been reinforced by a lifetime of negative conditioning. Here’s what I do to try to become free of it. As soon as I notice that I am thinking negatively I catch myself by talking to that voice. In coaching we refer to that voice as our “gremlin.” I have even given my gremlin the name of Ralph. By talking to my gremlin I am able to break the seductive pattern that it has over me.

The sooner I am able to recognize Ralph, the sooner I can break the hypnotic spell that he has over me. I remind myself that this voice has nothing to do with what’s so. Once I break the spell I allow myself to think of other perspectives that empower me. In this way I reframe what I initially considered a problem into an opportunity.

I don’t think we can get enough inspiration in our life. We have to make a conscious effort to make this an integral part of our lives. When you are living an inspired life, its much easier to remain optimistic and to see the possibilities that surround you. You might even pick up the phone and call an old friend and engage in an inspiring conversation. Perhaps you’ll make time to read an inspiring book. And then there is that smile that goes a long way. Slow down, embrace the moment and take time to “smell the roses.”

Thank you for sharing Letters on Life with those in your circle. I love to hear from you. Let me know what’s going with you.

Journey On

Mark

JOURNEY ON is a blog dedicated to personal and professional development. Mark Susnow,JD, is an Executive and Life Coach, who inspires others to believe in themselves. A former successful trial attorney for 30 years and musician, he integrates what it takes to be successful in the world with the inner wisdom unfolded to him through years of yoga and meditation. He also publishes, Letters on Life, an inspirational ezine. Signup! http://www.inspirepossibility.com

Using empowering questions

Monday, May 5th, 2008

So what’s going on? What do you want to accomplish? What would you really like to happen? What changes would you have to make? When are you going to start to make these changes? I know I’ve asked a lot of questions. Here’s why. Questions are powerful and are probably the most effective way to shift your focus. That is shifting your focus from what isn’t working to what you want.

In some manner we are always asking questions, although we might not be aware of what they are. For example. If you are thinking about lack and limitation, ask yourself what questions you are asking yourself. Usually you aren’t aware of what they are. If you have had a few disappointments in business you might be asking yourself how can things get worse….or what is the next thing that can go wrong. When you are in a downward spiral create empowering questions to change the spiral. For example again using the few disappointments scenario an empowering question might be: I wonder who my next client will be or what my next project will be? How does it get better than this?

Empowering questions can also create a positive expectation. If I’m going to an event, I’ll think about who I’m going to meet and how interesting they will be.

How you think about your life determines your life because it is a fundamental law of the universe that what you focus on expands. CHANGE YOUR THINKING CHANGE YOUR LIFE.THERE’S NO BETTER TIME THAN NOW. There will always be something that holds you back; an excuse to put your life on hold.

JOURNEY ON

MARK

JOURNEY ON is a blog dedicated to personal and professional development. Mark Susnow,JD, is an Executive and Life Coach, who inspires others to believe in themselves. A former successful trial attorney for 30 years and musician, he integrates what it takes to be successful in the world with the inner wisdom unfolded to him through years of yoga and meditation. He also publishes, Letters on Life, an inspirational ezine. Signup! http://www.inspirepossibility.com

MAKE THE UNKNOWN YOUR FRIEND

Saturday, May 3rd, 2008

As an executive and life coach it’s not unusual to hear about the same concerns from several different people.

Usually these concerns are about the future. Will I have a job next year is a common concern. So is will my business continue to grow? What happens frequently is that this concern affects how one lives today in two different ways.

The first is that people tend to conserve more and live closer to the vest. This is not necessarily a bad thing but it can be if you shut down and use it as an excuse not to live today fully.

The other is that their concern about the future tempers their experience of today. Instead of enjoying today they think about tomorrow. This gets in the way of their experience of the “now.”

For most people the future represents the unknown. We want certainty in an ever-changing world. Impossible! What has to happen is that we need to change our relationship to the unknown.

Think of the unknown as your friend. Instead of being anxious, be curious. When you do that you allow more room for possibilities. You might want to think about the many ways in which your business can grow. You might also wonder about how great your next relationship is going to be and what you’ll learn from that person. Instead of thinking that a particular relationship won’t develop think about the many ways it will develop. Your imagination is useful in creating the picture of the life you want. After all don’t we use our imagination when we worry. So here we use in a more constructive way.

The other thing you can do is to learn to be more in the moment. Be fully present. Eckart Tolle’s book “Power of Now,” is a great work that guides you in this endeavor. Meditation and practicing non-judgment are two things you can do to help you embrace this state of mind.

JOURNEY ON

MARK

THERE’S NO BETTER TIME THAN NOW. There will always be something that holds you back; an excuse to put your life on hold. JOURNEY ON is a blog dedicated to personal and professional development. Mark Susnow,JD, is an Executive and Life Coach, who inspires others to believe in themselves. A former successful trial attorney for 30 years and musician, he integrates what it takes to be successful in the world with the inner wisdom unfolded to him through years of yoga and meditation. He also publishes, Letters on Life, an inspirational ezine. Signup! http://www.inspirepossibility.com

TRANSCENDING YOUR EDGE

Friday, May 2nd, 2008

When I’m on Kauai I usually go to a yoga class 4-5 times per week and I feel great. Upon returning to Marin I’m not as committed…my excuse being that there’s not a morning class that is at the right time.

I no longer have that excuse. There is an early morning class, M-W-F, that i have been going to. I’m feeling good. It’s certainly enough to keep my body out of pain and stiffness.

And there are others who don’t have a yoga practice, but go to the gym. They go just enough to get in the minimum amount of cardio and perhaps some stretching and or lifting.

We do the minimum to maintain. We justify it by reflecting upon articles by the American Heart Association that state that the minimal amount of exercise required for health is the same amount that we exercise.

When we have a health concern we give our body more attention. And then we go back to our maintenance program doing enough to get by.

Last night I didn’t feel like sleeping and my body felt like it wanted to be stretched. I gently eased into a few different yoga postures.

I had a thought. It feels good when we find our edge and go beyond. Learning about our body and its possibilities is a great to discover what our edge is. It’s the same edge that we experience in the rest of our lives. Where do we stop? What stops us?

Hopefully we experience a state that is beyond doing enough. That state is experienced when we want to practice yoga and go to the gym, not because we want to be out of pain, but because it feels good. Our body rather than being a source of stiffness and discomfort becomes a source of pleasure.

We want to get in good shape because it’s when we feel our best, rather than exercising to maintain our tone and keep the stiffness away.

What are you waiting for?

JOURNEY ON

MARK

THERE’S NO BETTER TIME THAN NOW. There will always be something that holds you back; an excuse to put your life on hold. JOURNEY ON is a blog dedicated to personal and professional development. Mark Susnow,JD, is an Executive and Life Coach, who inspires others to believe in themselves. A former successful trial attorney for 30 years and musician, he integrates what it takes to be successful in the world with the inner wisdom unfolded to him through years of yoga and meditation. He also publishes, Letters on Life, an inspirational ezine. Signup! http://www.inspirepossibility.com


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