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Wednesday, September 29, 2004

 

Percolating Idea - Intentional Grounding

Here's an idea I'm working on for an upcoming article:
I attended an inspiring workshop last week based on the idea of living an intentional life. Many of us experience everyday life as a series of events that the world does to us. We have no control over the traffic woes, the weather, the state of world affairs, the surly salesperson...these things are out of our control. They are external and they can seriously foul up our day or week or even month. So what do we do about them? The easy thing (and often unconscious action) is to allow them to direct our thinking and behavior. The affects can be souring relationships, declining work performance, increasing isolation from others.

It reminded me of a recent personal experience. I needed to get to a meeting and I was running late. I raced out to my car and drove out of the parking lot when I noticed that my wife didn't replace my SmartTag (a little box that allows us Northern Virginians to move through area toll booths quickly). I drove back to retrieve it and then drove out of the parking lot again when I realized that I didn't have my cell phone. I let my wife borrow it while hers is being replaced. By now, I was fuming. You can see from the way this is going that I seem to be blaming my wife for being really late to an important meeting. Yet, there were so many other ways to view this incident at the time.

A more powerful option is to decide to live a life of intentional choices. While we can't control most, if not all, of the external forces in our life, we can control our reactions to them. We have the ability to make intentional choices that, while not always easy, have the potential for great power in our lives.


Categories: c.Living

Sunday, September 26, 2004

 

How My Children Have Influenced Me As a Coach

During lunch a couple of days ago, a friend asked how I came to be a coach. As I recounted my winding career path since graduating from college, I realized there was one critical milestone in the journey: the birth of my first daughter. Her coming into this world wasn't quite planned and it forced some replanning of my proposed future, as well as my wife's future. Yet, in this period of reconsidering what I was all about as an individual and a professional, I asked myself one deeply soulful question that has continued to guide my life: What kind of father do I want to be?

The answers have provided a foundation not only for my personal life, but my professional life. I remember the first week of knowing that I was going to be a dad; I was terrified by all the changes that were going to need to take place...getting a solid job with health insurance (I was in graduate school at the time), finding a good place to live, etc. Then, this experience was further deepened when I started to consider all the changes that I would need to make as a person. At one point, the anxiety of it all was just too much and I started to run (physically) as hard as I could. I ran out of my basement apartment and kept running along street after street, through park after park, until I couldn't go any farther and fell into the grass. From this exhausted state, I asked myself what kind of father do I want to be and then the answers started to appear.

I wanted my child to know love, to know integrity, to know playfulness, to know commitment, to know that this world is a good place filled with good people, to know that we can love our work. And the way for her to know these things are to see them modeled.

The process of asking myself this question did not end prior to her birth, but continues to guide me today. As my children grow, so do I as a father. Being a dad has provided another powerful layer of purpose to my life. To wrap up, I believe that my children are an incredible influence on me as a man and as a coach.


Categories: c.Coaching; c.Living; c.Parenting

Monday, September 20, 2004

 

Are You Getting Enough Oxygen for Yourself?

A great article at the Parentalk Working Parents site. The 'Oxygen Mask' Principle relates that familiar airplane safety reminder of putting on your own oxygen mask before trying to fasten your child's mask to taking care of yourself as a parent. So often, we take care of everyone BUT ourselves and in the end, we not only cheat ourselves, but those around us. Sometimes, its essential that we're selfish. Then, we can be fully present when our children, spouses, and other loved ones need us.

What are you going to do this week to get your oxygen?


Categories: c.Living

Saturday, September 18, 2004

 

Dream Teams: Do They Actually Work in Organizations?

We all know how the United States basketball team fared at the 2004 Olympics and a similar thing seems to be happening with the U.S. Ryder Cup golf team. Both groups, filled with exceptionally talented individuals and seemingly dominant on paper compared to the competition, provide a stark reminder of one of the pitfalls of team-building. The pursuit to fill a work team with the best individual talent may actually lead to poor results. Instead, first consider the mission of your team (what's your central purpose for existing as a group) and then build based on the answer. Need a strong marketing focus? Are you weak in bringing new ideas to the table? The best individuals to help with these needs may not be one of the "office all-stars."

In the movie Miracle, Herb Brooks (played by Kurt Russell) tells his assistant, "I’m not looking for the best players, I’m looking for the right ones." What he wanted was a team that shined together, not individual all-stars trying to shine on their own. Do you have the right ones on your team?


Categories: c.Leadership; c.Management; c.Movies/TV

Thursday, September 16, 2004

 

It's All Invented...So Have Fun with It

One of my favorite books is The Art of Possibility by Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander. It speaks to me both as a creative individual and as an impactful leader. One of the things that I prefer in books of this type is a mix of insight and suggestions for taking action. The best leadership and personal development books help you use what you've learned in new and dynamic ways. In this respect, it is a coaching-centered resource.

The first chapter forms the foundation for the rest of the book and centers on the notion that we perceive all that happens around us in very individual ways and then interpret them accordingly. Reality and truth are then very subjective. Once you understand and accept this notion, you have an incredible capacity to act in fresh and powerful ways. They call it "It's All Invented" and go on to suggest since we have the ability to create new stories, we might as well create ones that enhance the quality of our lives and the lives of those around us.

So, what stories are you creating right now? Do they involve you as the lead character who lives a life of drudgery, misfortune, bitterness? Hopefully not, but perhaps its just a blah life in which you yearn for more. What if you decided to create a new story today, one that involves passion, excitement, laughter, [go ahead, fill in the blank]?

Remember, it's all invented so have some fun with it. What do you think?


Categories: c.Books; c.Creativity

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

 

100 Things About Me You Might Find Interesting

Fasten your seatbelts, here we go. There is a special prize to those who make it to the end.

001) I grew up in the country in West Virginia.
002) While I enjoy visiting, I don't think I'll return to live there.
003) I went to a Quaker college in North Carolina called Guilford College.
004) I was a history major with a minor in sociology/anthropology.
005) I tinkered with the idea of being a high school history teacher until I figured out that I didn't much care for teaching high school students.
006) I graduated with absolutely no clue what I wanted to do with my life.
007) I quickly found myself in grad school at American University studying International Affairs with a concentration in Europe and building civil society.
008) This ended in a year with the birth of my first daughter and the realization that I needed to get a job (I never returned to finish the degree)
009) After a somewhat brutal job search, I got a job in a small professional society for cooperative accountants as their membership manager.
010) It was because of the relationships that I developed with these members that I came to enjoy the work of non-profit membership.

--- end of scene 1 ---

011) Some of my favorite music bands are: Radiohead, Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, Death Cab for Cutie, Pretty Girls Make Graves, Soundgarden, Chevelle, KISS, and Lush (I kind of like my music hard and fast and atmospheric).
012) One a college study abroad trip, I met and hung out with Phil Selway, the drummer for Radiohead.
013) My first concert was Paula Abdul and Color Me Badd (look, I was with a whole bunch of really cute girls, I was in high school…I had my reasons).
014) To make up for this, I then went to Lollapalooza II a couple of months later and got to see Soundgarden, Ministry, and Lush.
015) I find the current state of music stations in the Washington, DC area to be deplorable – where are all the college underground stations?
016) My most recent concert experience was with Caroline when we went to see Death Cab and Pretty Girls at the 9:30 Club in Washington, DC.
017) I think we were officially the oldest people in the building besides the actual bands.
018) I will always feel cheated that I never got to see Led Zeppelin live in concert when they were in their prime (circa 1973).
019) I think, pound-for-pound, the best album I own is U2’s The Unforgettable Fire; second place is Def Leppard’s Hysteria.
020) I still have a thing for 80’s heavy metal – I can’t hear Judas Priest or Iron Maiden without jamming out on the air guitar.

--- end of scene 2 ---

021) I met my beautiful wife on the first day of college orientation when I was 18 years old.
022) She called me pretentious when I used the word ‘plethora’ in a sentence.
023) I persevered and asked her out to which she could not help but say “yes, as long as you do not use the word ‘plethora.’
024) We hung out in the restaurant on this date for nearly 3 hours and I knew this young woman was going to be my wife.
025) This feeling was confirmed in 1995 when we married between our junior and senior years in college.
026) We honeymooned in Antigua, which is actually just a giant hot rock in the middle of the Caribbean Sea.
027) Our first home was a small brick, 4 room duplex dedicated as married/family housing on Guilford’s campus.
028) We didn’t have pets unless you count the centipedes, slugs (yes, slugs), giganto-enormous spiders, and other crawly insects that came to keep us company.
029) Guilford has subsequently torn down these houses to make way for a very pretty multi-million dollar science center.
030) For some sad reason, we never took pictures of this place – but it is firmly etched in our minds.

--- end of scene 3 ---

031) Some of my favorite movies are: The Matrix, The Blues Brothers, Animal House, Airplane!, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Star Wars (first trilogy, not the second), The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Alien and Aliens, Spider-Man (original and sequel), X-Men (again, original and sequel), The Godfather, The Ring, The Exorcist.
032) I tend to veer toward the sci-fi, silly but smart comedy, and horror genres.
033) I have never left in the middle of a movie in the theater.
034) I have been truly terrified by a movie only twice – one was The Ring. It scared me so bad that I can’t think of little girls crawling out of wells without getting a severe case of the heebie-jeebies (there, just got them).
035) The second time wasn’t actually a movie, it was a play – The Woman in Black, which is still playing at the Fortune Theatre in London; something about seeing a ghost story live.
036) I’m a big fan of silly – I could watch Monty Python episodes all day long in my pajamas (trust me, done this before).
037) One of my favorite shows is The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and love to watch it with my wife.
038) One of the sweetest sounds in the world is listening to my wife laugh.
039) I’m a big comic book fan with a current collection hovering around 1500.
040) My favorite has always been Daredevil (and was SO disappointed in the dog of a movie they made with Ben Affleck).

--- end of scene 4 ---

041) My first daughter, Leah, was born in 1999 and I wept when they first gave her to me to hold.
042) I’m still in awe of my wife’s strength and determination to go through a 22 hour labor with no drugs (she eventually needed a sedative, but only at the insisting of her doctor).
043) I vividly remember giving her first sponge bath when she was only a few hours old.
044) I also remember being scared to death of the thought of bringing this little thing home and being responsible for her life.
045) One of my fondest recollections of Leah’s first year was how she would wake up next to me (we did the ‘family bed’ for year one), get real close to my face until I would open my eyes, then smile big and say “Good morning, Daddy.”
046) Know what? At almost six years old, she still does that.
047) Katie was born in 2002 and I love how different she is from her sister.
048) Katie is so active – she constantly wants to be doing something, whether it’s dancing with her sister, chasing the dog, playing with her babies, dressing up, etc.
049) She’s our little comedian who loves to be the center of attention (pretty typical for the second child).
050) She also shows the kind of determination (some might call it stubbornness) that’s both going to drive her teachers crazy and make her very successful in life.

--- end of scene 5 ---

051) Some of the places that Caroline have visited include: Italy, England, Scotland, Wales, the Netherlands, and Canada.
052) I’ve also been to Ireland and Spain without her.
053) Our most recent trip was to Banff, Canada where we attended a weekend workshop on Exploring Leadership through Opera.
054) It involved a lot of singing; Caroline sings beautifully and I can barely hold a tune in a bucket.
055) Regardless of this fact, I got up on stage in front of 50+ strangers and sang a wonderful improvised aria about a harmonica.
056) Speaking of opera, Caroline and I once spent two weeks in Verona, Italy during their annual summer opera festival where they perform in an old Roman amphitheater.
057) Imagine seeing Aida performed on a stage adorned with three-story pillars and an actual parade of elephants, giraffes, and other animals.
058) My favorite world cities have to be: Montreal, Dublin, Edinburgh, Vancouver, Verona, London, Oxford, and Banff.
059) If I had to select some favorite cities in my home country, they would be: Santa Fe, NM; San Antonio, TX; Pittsburgh, PA (yes, really); and Asheville, NC.
060) I think every person from the U.S. should visit Las Vegas and New Orleans (been to both places twice) just to see how wild and crazy the world can truly be.

--- end of scene 6 ---

061) I am a die-hard pro football fan who believes the best time of year is when his beloved Pittsburgh Steelers are actually winning games.
062) I am also a Carolina Panthers fan who has been with them since they were born and has gone through painful losing seasons and a near championship season.
063) Since I attended a very small college with traditionally bad sports teams (although Guilford’s golf team is very successful), I have maintained an allegiance to the University of North Carolina.
064) I’m thinking of trying to get a grad degree from UNC just so I have a better reason to be affiliated with them.
065) I married into a family full of Duke fans (for those who don’t know, Duke and UNC are one of college sport’s most notorious rivals) which makes March an interesting time of year.
066) I was once a die-hard Baltimore Orioles fan, but find their bungling owner to be an ignorant fool and so now am just a semi-interested fan; I’m kind of excited about the fact that Washington DC has a franchise now (the name they gave them stinks, though).
067) Growing up in West Virginia, I wasn’t exposed that much to hockey, but am trying to learn how it all works a little better.
068) Caroline and I are seriously considering moving to Canada and I think there is a test of hockey knowledge (I’ve been told the answer to every hockey question is Wayne Gretzky) on the citizenship application.
069) I’m eagerly waiting for the Cup to return to its proper home in Canada.
070) I also wasn’t exposed that much to soccer, but got a taste while studying in Oxford and still follow the English Premier League and Tottenham when I get the chance.

--- end of scene 7 ---
Wow! You’re still here?

071) Some of my favorite books (read for leisure) include: Dune by Frank Herbert, Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah by Richard Bach, The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy by Douglas Adams, How The Irish Saved Civilization by Thomas Cahill, The Life of Thomas More by Peter Ackroyd, and How to Know God by Deepak Chopra.
072) I tend to read REAL slow.
073) I find it harder and harder to make time for leisure reading since so much of my reading needs to be dedicated to professional and school books.
074) I’m in a Masters degree program in Organizational Management at The George Washington University and hopefully I’ll finish up sometime late 2005/early 2006.
075) I consider comic books and graphic novels legitimate works of literature.
076) Anyone who disagrees should read The Watchmen by Alan Moore.
077) I always wanted to be Spider-Man or Wolverine from X-Men (okay, still do).
078) Or a jedi and be able to have a real light-saber.
079) I often get confused for a geek.
080) I’m truly excited about the upcoming Fantastic Four movie and hope they don’t mess it up.

--- end of scene 8 ---

081) I was first introduced to the coaching profession by a wonderful friend and mentor.
082) I have never been around a more contagiously enthusiastic group than the coaching community.
083) One of the real thrills of my life was being taught in a coach training session by Henry Kimsey-House, one of the greats in the coaching world.
084) There is nothing more satisfying than helping another human being find their own unique voice and use it to do amazing work.
085) My dream is to build a retreat center in the mountains of North Carolina or Tennessee devoted to advancing dialogue between business leaders, creative artists, and spiritual leaders; it will have an amphitheatre, dining facilities serving organic food, meditation centers, creatively designed inspiration classrooms, and in close proximity to rivers and rocks for outdoor interactive learning; anyone who is interested in funding this project can contact me.
086) The person most influential to my career whom I have never met is Stephen Covey.
087) The greatest sin a manager can make is to not respect his or her employees enough to tell them the truth.
088) I would love to meet and chat with Meg Wheatley; If you know her, please let me know.
089) I think regardless of what I do as a professional, my life’s success will largely hinge on the kind of father I am to my children.
090) Fatherhood is one of the highest callings any man can receive.

--- end of scene 9 ---

091) I have yet to find a type of ethnic cuisine that I do not like.
092) I could exist entirely on Indian food alone.
093) I would encourage everyone to visit an Ethiopian restaurant at least once in their life (the Adams Morgan neighborhood in Washington, DC has some of the best).
094) While I enjoy a great bottle of wine, I’m more inclined to reach for a beer; and not just any old beer, but good beer; I’m a believer that a good pint of stout or porter will cure most ails.
095) I’ve been thinking about homebrewing since 1997, but can’t seem to get started.
096) I enjoy cooking as a creative outlet, but find the baking is best left to Caroline.
097) Some of my favorite things to cook are: Risotto, Chili, and Pad Thai.
098) I’ve also been told that I make a mean brunch complete with Sausage, Egg, and Cheese Casserole, Marmalade Stuffed French Toast, Apple Pinwheels, Eggs Benedict, and French Press Coffee.
099) One of my favorite restaurants in the whole world is The Grizzly House in Banff, Canada, a fondue joint that serves wild game and lets you cook your meal either in oil or on hot rocks.
100) If I had to find one place to kill time while in Washington, DC, it might have to be the Brickskeller - and if you don’t believe they have the world’s largest selection of beers under one roof, visit and get back to me.

--- end of scene 10 ---
You made it. Now wasn’t that interesting and educational? But wait, there’s more…

My favorite Sesame Street character: Cookie Monster
My favorite ice cream: Starbucks Mud Pie
My favorite toothpaste: Colgate Total
My favorite paradox: I prefer Coke over Pepsi, but Diet Pepsi over Diet Coke
My favorite comedian (new school): Dave Chappelle
My favorite comedian (old school): Richard Pryor
My favorite roller-coaster: Storm Runner at HersheyPark



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