Life Lessons

communication, Connection, Life Lessons, Perspective

Walk With Me (3min read)

Lewis: “Betsy, I’d like to spend some time with you before you depart tomorrowbut my schedule is very tight. Would you care to join me for my morning walk so we can have a chat?”

“I’d love to. What time should I meet you?”

Lewis: “How about 5am?”

“Sounds great!” I said, trying to mask the realization that 5am in Houston would feel like 3am in California.

Lewis: “Brilliant. See you then.”

And that’s how I found myself taking a walk at 3am PST in someone else’s shoes.

Literally.

(I’d only packed sandals for the two day trip and had to borrow Nike’s that were 1.5 sizes too big from a fellow I’d met the day before.)

As I left my room it occurred to my sleep-addled brain that walking the dark streets of downtown Houston with a lovely 67 year-old man may not be the safest decision I’ve ever made. I quickly grabbed my phone in case of emergency, and headed to the lobby.

Upon meeting Lewis I was introduced to a safety measure far greater than my phone. Caleb was a 6’4, 270lb former offensive lineman with the presence of a tattooed giant and the warmth of southern hospitality. My hand disappeared in his as he shook it, and with that our mismatched cadre took to the streets.

I’d come to Houston to meet Lewis M. Senior, the co-CEO of Equilibria, and learn more about what they did as the “personality diversity experts”. Having heard Lewis speak a few times I was conscious of the fact that this walk could very well be a “Tuesdays With Morrie” type experience. Although “Walkies with Louie” made for a questionable book title, I imagined the pearls of wisdom might be similar.

2 hours, 8 miles, and 1 Starbucks later, I was certain of it.

Much like the path we took along the bayou, our conversation twisted and turned through the topics of personality, innovation, diversity, inclusion, vulnerability, communication, confrontation, connection, possibility and human potential.

I was impressed by what was included in our conversation, and even more impressed by what was not; there were differences of opinion, but there was no judgment. There was an eagerness to share, but there were no interruptions. There was a genuine desire to understand which left no one feeling misunderstood.

Not to go all Nicholas Sparks on you, but it was absolutely A Walk to Remember.

It will take a while to digest all that happened on that walk, but the moral of my story is this...

The greatest gift we can offer another person, is our time.

When someone offers to gift you their time, show up for them - even if you feel unprepared. (Josh, thank you for the shoes!)

And finally, if you’re fortunate enough to know people who make you feel safe - whether to share your thoughts or venture into the unknown - take every opportunity to invite them to walk beside you.

 

[Photo credit: GETTY IMAGES/BOONCHAI WEDMAKAWAND]

Coaching, communication, Change, Life Lessons, mental skills

Step Into the Ring: Hurt vs. Harm

In conversations over the years a good friend of mine has routinely said that she desires a relationship with someone who isn’t afraid to “get in the ring” with her. Someone who will call her on her shit when she deserves it, and who will put on the gloves to protect themselves from being knocked around. Someone who (when necessary) will stand up and fight because they know who they are and what they deserve.
 

For much of my life, I was not that person. 

 

Before we are able to get into the ring with someone we have to have confidence in ourselves as a fighter.


I was once someone who freely admitted I did not like confrontation. Over the years I have learned that confrontation – when practiced and done skillfully – is one of the healthiest things anyone can do for building trust within a relationship. I’ve learned that conflict and disagreement can co-exist with love and compassion. Most importantly, I’ve learned that building the body of a fighter who can step into the ring with anyone involves understanding what it means to set and hold boundaries. Without them, the hits will keep coming and getting knocked out is inevitable.
 
We often fail to set boundaries for fear for hurting someone’s feelings, never realizing that our failure to set boundaries eventually results in lasting harm – either to ourselves, the relationship, or both.
 

Hurts will heal, but harm endures.

 
Assuming that others should know our boundaries sets them up for failure. People don’t know where our boundaries lie until we tell them or show them, and most folks won’t respect our boundaries until we do.
 
We tend to think of boundaries as restrictive, but in reality boundaries are limits that promote integrity in our lives. Setting them allows us to live with greater energy and intention and we get to draw the lines in any area we choose; with our family, friends, partners, co-workers, strangers… in conversations, in relation to our bodies or to experiences or emotions… the list is endless.
 

If you’ve yet to set boundaries in an area of your life for fear of hurting someone, please consider the harm it may cause by failing to do so.
 

Remember: The only people who get upset when you set boundaries are those who benefited from you having none. 


Setting boundaries can be challenging, but it is absolutely worth it!
 

May you cultivate the ability to step into any ring with confidence and fight skillfully and passionately for our own integrity.
 

P.S. If you could use some help with your training, please reach out.

Life Lessons, Change

11 Words said in a Volkswagon

It’s 2006 and my twin brother Chris is driving us along picturesque 280 just south of San Francisco. He’s come up from LA for the weekend and I’m filling him in on the end of what had been the longest relationship of my life at that point. The person I’d been dating was now dating my co-worker and in full “woe is me” fashion I laid out a few scenarios for next steps and asked Chris what I should do.

He was silent for a moment, and then he said something that I will refer back to for the rest of my life.

“Sometimes you just need to let things take their organic shape.”

11 words. 

The fact that we were 23 at the time and riding in my parents 87′ Volkswagen Vanagon made it sound like the most hippie/stoner thing he’d ever said. (For the record, my brother doesn’t smoke weed.) He does, however, have a knack for being wise beyond his years and though I didn’t fully grasp it in that moment, he was right. 

Lately I’ve been struggling to let things take their organic shape. In moving to a new place, starting a new business and meeting new people there is a lot of unknown. The unknown is exciting - but it’s also scary because so much seems out of our control. (Spoiler alert: it is.) When things are unknown and outside of our control we have a tendency to want to DO things. Action is a remedy for fear; being in control of something somehow tames the wildness of that which we can never truly harness. 

Every time I feel the need to DO something I think of those 11 words…

Often I find that the only thing I need to do is be patient. What I need to do is do less. I need to let go. Breathe. Stay open. Show up. See what happens.

Letting things take their organic shape isn’t a call for passivity or laziness. It’s honoring the space between no longer and not yet with all that you have.

Maybe things take the shape of an opportunity or adventure. Maybe things shape up to be a life lesson or unforeseen direction. And if things happen to take the organic shape or Ryan Gosling or Sophia Bush - please, call me!

Enjoy seeing how things shape up for you today :)

Life Lessons, Change

"Can I get some change?"

While waiting for some java at the local coffee shop a guy rushed up to the counter and thrust forward a one-dollar bill muttering, “Can I get some change?”

The barista stepped back from the register as if the guy had pulled a knife, put his hands up and shook his head saying, “Change comes from within, brother.”

The hurried man rolled his eyes and rephrased with, “Fine. Can I get four quarters?”

“That I can do! Here ya go, sir.” the barista said with a smile.

(Well played barista man. Well played!)

Lately my life has undergone a lot of change both personally and professionally. For years I read books, joined coaching groups, sat through webinars and attended conferences in an effort to make the kind of change I was seeking. I had this crazy pervasive feeling that something big was on the horizon and I kept investing in this and that to help bring what felt far off into focus.

One evening this past spring I told my head coach and fellow assistant of my decision to step away from coaching basketball in service of coaching people. This was a tough thing to do because the truth was I loved everything about my life: the people I coached with, our team, the school, the department, the location, my charming little cottage by sea… 

Driving home that night with eyes swollen from the tears that came with sharing the news I remember stopping at a red light. For YEARS I felt like something big was coming, that something was about to change. 

Sitting at that light in a Field of Dreams type moment I suddenly realized that the thing that had to change, was me. I was what I’d been waiting for.

                                     “Change comes from within.”

For the next two weeks I barely slept - partly out of panic about a very uncertain future - mostly because for the first time in a long time I was so damn excited about my life. I had no idea then what it would look like, if it would work, if I could make it, or even how to get started. It was terrifying. And, I felt blissfully alive!

Maybe four quarters is all you need. But if you’re searching for something more, read the quote below and look inside. 

Happy adventuring, change-makers ;)

“Make a radical change in your lifestyle and begin to boldly do things which you may previously never have thought of doing, or been too hesitant to attempt. So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity, and conservatism, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more damaging to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future. The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.” Jon Krakauer

Life Lessons, Coaching

The Kayak

Thanks to the generosity of friends, I’m spending August at the Chautauqua Institute in a beautiful house on the lake. I can’t imagine a better setting in which to build a business and lay the foundation for success in my new venture. The grounds are breathtaking and soon after arrival I grabbed a life jacket from the porch and made for the dock to venture out in the homeowner’s double kayak. It was a bit windy, and as such there weren’t many boats on the water. 

“Perfect!”, I thought, “less chance of being run over by a speedboat.”

Having no idea how far it was, I set my sights on the opposite shore which I guesses to be just over a mile away. I wanted to touch it - to say I’d been across the lake. Excited for a new adventure I pushed away from the dock and into an experience. 

It took about 20 minutes to reach the other side and I pulled in next to a small floating dock with a giant bobble head owl meant to keep the seagulls away. As I sat on the dock basking in my achievement I looked at the owl, “Whoo… whoo” I said to myself with a grin. My inner dialogue took a serious turn however when the owl’s coo became elongated into questions like, “Whoo? Who are YOU to be here? Who are you to be coaching coaches? Who made you an expert in communication? Who?” As the conversation with my nodding companion began to get real I decided it was time to move on. Action has always been a great remedy for fear and doubt. 

Looking back across the lake I noticed the whitecaps were clearly present now and the wind had increased.  I aimed the kayak straight across and after a few strokes I noticed that already I’d been pushed further down the shoreline. 

Uh-oh.

Since it was an open top kayak the present danger wasn’t just in getting back, it was “how do I keep the small waves from inviting themselves on board??” My rowing across a windy lake in a double kayak experience was exactly zero. But, my paddling a surfboard into choppy break experience was high, so I did what I knew and pointed the kayak directly into the waves - and into the wind - and got to work. 

10 minutes later I looked sideways and realized I was only about 300 yards from shore and that it was going to be a long journey home. This was the same moment a twinge of panic set in. I quickened my stroke rate in an effort to cover more ground and minutes later recognized the need to pace myself. I stopped paddling to rest and felt the boat immediately drift south of my landing point. Long story shorter, it took over 3 times as long to get home, and I learned a lot along the way;

When you feel called to take an adventure, go for it! Whether or not you’ve done it before, whether or not you’re fully prepared, whether or not others think it wise or have found success in it. Jump in, start paddling, and see what happens.

Be your own cheerleader. On the way back I repeated “deep-stroke-strong-stroke” in rhythm with my paddle to stay focused on what needed to happen in the moment. 

When you reach a goal, celebrate it! I let out a little “WHOOP!” when I first reached the other side, and before my questions with the owl began I took a second to savor the view. 

- Meet challenges head on to get where you want to go. It will get tough. And the times you’ll want to rest are the exact moments when it’s crucial that you keep going.

Be mindful of how you spend your energy. If you’re gonna paddle, make each stroke count! Deep and strong, as skimming the surface will only take you so far. 

At times there will be doubt. LOTS of doubt! Who are you to do this thing? How dare you? And yet here you are… sometimes in the middle of a lake with the elements working against you. Remember that you have resources (a paddle, a life jacket, a kayak) and you have intangibles (work ethic, positivity, commitment) the combination of which is uniquely your own. Keep showing up. Again, and again, and trust that you already have all you need to make it.

- The path may not be what you imagined - `and it may take a lot longer than you planned - but stay the course. It’s absolutely worth it!

- Finally, when you do get to where you’re going, be grateful. And then in gratitude, set your sights on future adventures and enjoy!