Provision #124: Don’t Snack. Stretch!

LifeTrek Provision

It should come as no surprise to learn that most Americans have a weight problem. All one has to do is look around on the streets or on the television. Modern conveniences and timesavers have resulted in people eating too much and exercising too little. It’s really that simple for the vast majority of people.

A quick and dirty way to determine if you have a weight problem is to use the following formulas: Men should weigh 106 pounds for the first 5 feet of height, plus 6 pounds for every inch thereafter, and should have a waist of less than 40 inches. Women should weigh 100 pounds for the first 5 feet of height, plus 5 pounds for every inch thereafter, and should have a waist of less than 35 inches.

A more accurate way to determine if you have a weight problem is to use the formula for something known as the Body Mass Index or BMI. To calculate your BMI, multiply your weight in pounds by 703, then divide the result by your height in inches squared (BMI = (W x 703)/H2 where W = Weight in pounds and H = Height in inches). A BMI of 19 to 24.9 is the recommended range. 25 to 29.9 and you’re overweight. 30 or higher and you’re obese. By this scale, 55% of all Americans are either overweight or obese • and the number is growing.

Rather than doing the math yourself, you may want to use one of the many BMI calculators on the Internet. A simple site for this is http://www.askdrbob.com/bmi.htm. A site with more health-related informational links is http://www.healthstatus.com/bmicalc.htm. The BMI is a good way to determine whether or not your weight is putting you at risk for increased health problems.

If your BMI is 25 or above you may wantider eating less and exercising more. Genetics and metabolism notwithstanding, there’s really no other way to reach your optimum weight and fitness level.

Unfortunately, many people fail to reach and sustain their optimum weight and fitness level. For a variety of reasons, we allow ourselves to live below our God-given capacity for healthy and happy living. Snacking is a common response for many people to the stresses and strains of life. Snacking calories add up faster than you might imagine. Those calories are usually high-fat and high-sugar calories that add up quickly and make for big problems.

Stretching is an effective alternative to snacking. It can be done by anyone, anywhere regardless of fitness level. There are stretches you can do while sitting at your desk, lying in bed, or standing in line. Stretching moves the blood away from your stomach, relieving hunger pangs and focusing attention on what your body really needs and wants in order to be healthy and happy.

Stretching is progressive. The more you stretch, the further you’ll be able to reach and the more you’ll experience the health benefits of a limber body. Don’t bounce or jerk when you stretch and don’t suffer pain. Simply reach to where you feel muscular resistance, then reach a little further and hold for about 35 seconds. Repeat after a break. Athletes will experience fewer injuries and better performance from a regular stretching routine. Sedentary people will be gently led to become less sedentary. Virtually everyone benefits from turning stretching into a twice-daily habit. A good book on stretching is the now 30-year-old book by Bob Anderson simply called Stretching.

The next time you feel an urge to snack, don’t snack • stretch! You’ll be surprised what a difference this simple act can make in your overall sense of well-being and your ability to reach and maintain your optimum weight.


To reply to this Provision, use our Feedback Form. To talk with us about coaching or consulting services for yourself or your organization, Email Us or use our Contact Form on the Web for a complimentary coaching session.

May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC

President, LifeTrek Coaching Internationalwww.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformationwww.SchoolTransformation.com
Immediate Past President, International Association of Coachingwww.CertifiedCoach.org

Address: 121 Will Scarlet Lane, Williamsburg, VA 23185-5043
Phone: (757) 345-3452
Fax: (772) 382-3258
Skype: LifeTrek
Twitter: @LifeTrekBob
Mobile: www.LifeTrekMobile.com
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Provision #123: Arrive Early

LifeTrek Provision

Back when Bob was serving as a local church pastor in the United Church of Christ, he preached many sermons that he needed to hear as much as everyone else. That was, in fact, the secret of his preaching. Not standing on a pedestal with a holier-than-thou attitude, but standing in a community with a confession-is-good attitude.

Such is the case with this week’s LifeTrek Provision. We are not very good at this ourselves, but that doesn’t mean we can’t recognize and interpret a good idea when we hear one. As two people who are often prone to squeeze in “just one more thing” before leaving for an appointment, this tip cuts to the quick: plan to arrive 10 minutes early to wherever you’re going. This compensates for unanticipated traffic delays, changes your attitude while driving, and gives you a chance to collect yourself when you arrive at your destination. In other words, it makes all of life less frantic, less hurry-hurry, and less driven by adrenaline. It calms things down.

It also flies in the face of culture and business in the information age. We didn’t invent our habit of rushing at the last minute all by ourselves. Family, friends, teachers, employers, and advertisers carefully instilled this habit in us. “Get yours before they’re all gone!” “Work harder and faster!” “Keep all the balls in the air!”

These are the kinds of messages that produce an adrenaline-driven lifestyle and culture. It is all around us. “Be the first on your block to own the latest and greatest! Rise to the top at all costs! Produce! Push! Profit!” It’s enough to wear down and wear out even the best and the brightest.

Are you caught in the adrenaline trap? The following 10-point checklist, adapted from a Coach University program, may assist you to answer that question.

 

  • Do you drink caffeinated coffee?
  • Do you smoke cigarettes to calm yourself down?
  • Do you get grabbed by surprises or upsets and then not calm down for a day or more?
  • Do you drive faster than the speed limit?
  • Do you run late?
  • Do you feel that inner rush much of the time?
  • Are you working too much and too hard?
  • Do you find that you attract more problems and upsets than you feel you deserve?
  • Is money tight?
  • Is it hard to focus for more than 10 minutes on a single thing or conversation?

Even one checkmark indicates that you are not living an adrenaline-free lifestyle. The more checkmarks the more adrenaline it takes to keep going from day to day. Adrenaline’s not all bad. It has its place, particularly in fight or flight situations. But as a lifestyle, day in and day out, it’s a terrible way to live. Always jazzed up. Always rushing. Never able to relax and be at peace with yourself, your family, your friends, your community, and your environment. Never free to just do nothing.

Arranging your schedule to arrive early for appointments and events, dealing with the fifth point on the checklist, is a powerful way to break the grip that adrenaline has over life. Every once in a while we manage to do just that: arrive early, 10 minutes or more, before an event or appointment starts. Time to sit in the car or walk around the block. Time to breathe. Time to be mindful of the situation, the people, the agenda, and the opportunity. Time to be silent. Time to listen. Time to talk.

It is truly a different way to get somewhere. Once you get the importance of going this way, you’re never quite the same. There’s a Swahili proverb, “Haraka, haraka, haina baraka,” meaning, “Hurry, hurry has no blessing.” Our entire culture, and most of our lives, defies this ancient wisdom at great personal and social cost. There are other ways to get things done than through adrenaline. Planning and practice, discipline and dedication come immediately to mind.

To reply to this Provision, use our Feedback Form. To talk with us about coaching or consulting services for yourself or your organization, Email Us or use our Contact Form on the Web for a complimentary coaching session.

May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC

President, LifeTrek Coaching Internationalwww.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformationwww.SchoolTransformation.com
Immediate Past President, International Association of Coachingwww.CertifiedCoach.org

Address: 121 Will Scarlet Lane, Williamsburg, VA 23185-5043
Phone: (757) 345-3452
Fax: (772) 382-3258
Skype: LifeTrek
Twitter: @LifeTrekBob
Mobile: www.LifeTrekMobile.com
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Provision #122: Look Ahead

LifeTrek Provision

Ron Kenoly sings a song that includes the refrain, “If you catch hell don’t hold it, if you’re going through hell don’t stop.” That’s a LifeTrek Provision in its own right. It speaks to our freedom and power in the face of adversity. Circumstances and situations, even hellish ones, do not have to bog us down or destroy us. We can keep moving.

It also speaks to the interaction between our attention and the environment in which we find ourselves. Catching hell is one thing; going through hell is another. In either case, deflecting our attention changes the dynamic.

Runners understand this interaction because changes in perception can lead to changes in pace, energy flow, and rhythm. Take the question of where to focus your eyes, where to look, while running. There are basically four options: you can look down, you can look ahead, you can look up, or you can look around. There’s a time and a place for each, but looking ahead usually produces the best results.

Looking down is where most runners look. There’s really no other way to run when the terrain is rough. It’s the most cautious, careful, and conservative way to run. No twisted ankles or sudden stumbles here! Just steadily putting one foot ahead of the other, on solid ground. It can become a mesmerizing tunnel vision, this constant view of the ground 5 to 10 feet out.

Looking ahead is a good way to pick up the pace. Pick out a point, a ways in the distance, and run for it as best you can. As you reach that point, pick out another. There’s always another one coming into your field of view. Looking ahead keeps you moving, even through hard exertion. Looking ahead requires runners to use their peripheral vision to plant their feet on solid ground. This mix of tunnel vision, on the distant point, and peripheral vision, on the nearby ground, expands our awareness to include a wider variety of experiences and sensations. It is a richer way to run.

Looking up is a good way to finish a race. Before that, looking up can be dangerous. It really isn’t possible to look up and see the ground at the same time. And, if nothing else, running requires that you see the ground. An occasional furtive glance can be uplifting in the middle of a hard run. At the finish line, it’s pure gold.

Looking around is a good way to see the sights and sounds of life. Looking around is best left for walking, when the scenic route is what it’s all about. Not too long ago we walked a portion of Bob’s running route. Even though he has run that route hundreds of times, there were houses and trees he’d never noticed before. By walking the route and looking around, he could experience a different kind of enjoyment and peace.

Where do you look in life? At different points, in different contexts and situations, it will be appropriate to look in different directions. Too many people never travel at a leisurely enough pace to look around. They’re so intent on getting somewhere that they fail to enjoy the journey. The destination overshadows the beauty and the wonder of the moment. Don’t allow that to happen to you. Take time to see the sights, to hear the birds, and to smell the air.

When it’s time to move, you may want to consider looking ahead rather than down. Many people put their head down to dig out the race. That may even be the natural way to run. But unless the course you’re traveling is particularly hazardous, you’ll do better by picking out a point on the horizon, in your field of view, where you plan to go. Keeping your eyes focused on that point will keep your body and spirit moving toward that point with maximum efficiency and effectiveness. You’ll get there before you know it, with energy and room to spare.

In the end, don’t forget to look up. There truly is reason, no matter how hard the journey, to lift every voice and sing, to rejoice and give thanks, to remember that we do not run the race on our power, but on the power that comes from above.

To reply to this Provision, use our Feedback Form. To talk with us about coaching or consulting services for yourself or your organization, Email Us or use our Contact Form on the Web for a complimentary coaching session.

May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC

President, LifeTrek Coaching Internationalwww.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformationwww.SchoolTransformation.com
Immediate Past President, International Association of Coachingwww.CertifiedCoach.org

Address: 121 Will Scarlet Lane, Williamsburg, VA 23185-5043
Phone: (757) 345-3452
Fax: (772) 382-3258
Skype: LifeTrek
Twitter: @LifeTrekBob
Mobile: www.LifeTrekMobile.com
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Provision #121: Present Tense the Future

LifeTrek Provision

Many people have goals • often vaguely stated, but goals all the same. Not many people reach their goals. That can lead to real confidence and integrity problems. Hold on to a goal long enough, without much progress, and it becomes a crippling reminder of who and what we are not. Goals can be the best of things and the worst of things. They can fill us with passion and purpose; they can also fill us with depression and despair.

It’s no wonder many people live without any conscious awareness of their goals. It’s not only easier, it’s less risky. There’s no way to fail if there’s no goal to reach. Or, as the scarecrow said inThe Wizard of Oz, if you don’t know where you’re going then it doesn’t much matter which road you take.

But there’s another adage of equal importance: if you don’t watch out, you’re going to end up where you’re headed. By design or default, everyone is headed somewhere. Couch potatoes and elite athletes both have a trajectory to their lives, whether they know it or control it or not. Going through the motions, without much thought, has as many predictable consequences as following an Olympic-training schedule. It’s your choice as to the course your life will take and the destiny your life will follow. It’s really up to you.

Many people who get tired of their old comfortable ruts retain a coach in order to get the ball rolling. Inertia is hard to overcome. Momentum, once it starts, is hard to stop. Setting a goal and making progress towards that goal builds upon itself. Like a ball rolling down hill, it gains speed and grows in size. It takes on a life of its own. That’s the experience coaches want for their clients: not spinning wheels but moving forward. Some call it evolving.

One way to break the inertia and start the movement is to “present tense the future.” Don’t state your goals in distant, future-tense, and far-off terms. I will be at my ideal body weight by next Christmas. I will find a new job by Labor Day. I will run a marathon in 3 hours, 20 minutes. I will finish my dissertation by the end of the year. I will become an electrician after my apprenticeship. I will take a personal interest in the people I meet. I will lead my team with a collaborative and empowering leadership style.

All these are good and worthy goals. But stating them in the future tense serves to remind us of who we are not rather than of who we are becoming. How much more powerful and affirming it is to state these same goals in the present tense. I eat and live properly for my ideal body weight. I am well positioned for a career change. I am a strong marathon runner who can maintain a 3:20 pace. I am an emerging expert in my field, sharing that knowledge with others. I am an electrician who knows how to wire things right. I take a personal interest in the people I meet. I am a skilled leader who enables and celebrates the accomplishments of others.

Can you feel the difference in these statements? They become the kind of thing you can remember and say to yourself in the morning when you rise, in the evening before you sleep, and in various moments throughout the day. They become mantras of our true identity. We do not become who we want to be by arriving at our final destination. We are already who we are becoming. It starts within, and works its way out.

New Testament scholars speak about this in terms of tension between “the already” and “the not yet.” The reign of God has already come among us. But the reign of God is not yet all that it will be. So how do we speak of God’s reign? Is it here or is it not? We believe it’s both.

We also believe it’s not helpful to speak primarily in terms of what will be • of what is not yet. It’s more helpful to speak primarily in terms of what is • of what’s already good, wonderful, and true. Once you have a clear idea of who and what you want to become, infuse that idea with power by speaking of it in the present tense. It is already a part of your consciousness, commitment, and identity. Speaking of it in the present tense makes it easier and truer than the life you’re leaving behind.

To reply to this Provision, use our Feedback Form. To talk with us about coaching or consulting services for yourself or your organization, Email Us or use our Contact Form on the Web for a complimentary coaching session.

May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC

President, LifeTrek Coaching Internationalwww.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformationwww.SchoolTransformation.com
Immediate Past President, International Association of Coachingwww.CertifiedCoach.org

Address: 121 Will Scarlet Lane, Williamsburg, VA 23185-5043
Phone: (757) 345-3452
Fax: (772) 382-3258
Skype: LifeTrek
Twitter: @LifeTrekBob
Mobile: www.LifeTrekMobile.com
Subscribe/Unsubscribe: Subscriber Services

Provision #120: Have Goals Within Goals

LifeTrek Provision

Last week we wrote about Bob’s experience of running the Cleveland Marathon in 3 hours, 46 minutes. Our focus was on the importance of having a partner. Along the way, we mentioned that Bob’s goal had been to run the Cleveland Marathon in 3 hours, 40 minutes or less. In other words, he didn’t reach his goal. Was he a failure? Is it time to quit running? Should he kick himself about training poorly or not having what it takes? Should he feel bad? Not hardly.

Consider the following paragraph from the book Running Within by Jerry Lynch and Warren Scott (Human Kinetics • Champaign, IL, 1999). “A 60-year-old athlete we know had set a goal of running under 3 hours in a marathon. After numerous unsuccessful attempts, a friend asked why he persisted in what seemed to be a futile journey into the forest of frustration. The athlete quickly responded that the attainment of the goal was not his ultimate objective. The goal was his excuse to experience a full life of training at high levels, getting into great shape, eating healthy foods, and feeling terrific. The goal simply became the beacon that illuminated his journey toward fitness and wellness.”

This paragraph contains many coaching nuggets. It certainly speaks of persistence. To quote President Calvin Coolidge, “Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan •press on’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”

But what makes persistence possible? It’s not just a strong will, although President Coolidge’s quote suggests as much. It’s also a broad imagination that can set goals within goals within goals. Having concentric goal circles enables failure at one level to be offset by success at other levels. No one can persist forever in the face of total and utter failure. But no one ever really fails totally and utterly unless they limit their focus to one single (and often impossible) goal.

Such limited focus is a curse for many runners. They develop tunnel vision around THE RACE and THE TIME. So too with many people about many other things. Accomplishing THE GOAL becomes all-important. In the process, they lose their peripheral vision, their ability to see and enjoy the many other goals that are being successfully reached day by day. They lose touch with the present moment and all the treasures it holds.

This danger has particular relevance for coaches and their clients. It’s been said that coaching is goal or performance driven while counseling is issue or problem driven. People go to counselors when they have a problem. The more serious the problem the deeper the counseling. People go to coaches when they have a goal. It may be to run a 3:20 marathon. It may be to find a new job. It may be to finish a big project. It may be to get a particular promotion. It may be to develop a leadership skill. Whatever it may be, coaches assist people to get real specific about their goals, to develop plans for reaching their goals, and to stay on track with those plans until success is achieved.

It’s easy for coaches and their clients, with all the focus on goals, to press too much in the future and to relax too little in the present. Setting concentric goal circles is the way out of this conundrum. Yes, we need long-range distal goals • goals that are so large they fill life with transcendent meaning and purpose. But we also need short-range proximal goals • goals that are so immediate they fill life with passion and joy.

The quote from the 60-year-old athlete captures this mystery and expresses it well. The ultimate goal was an excuse for achieving other goals; it was a beacon that lit the way to a better life. What’s your ultimate goal or goals? Have you set goals within goals within goals? If you haven’t done that, persistence may not be sustainable, failure may leave you devastated, and joy may elude you in the present moment. If you have done that, you may have stumbled upon the secret for “having the life you want and wanting the life you have.”

To reply to this Provision, use our Feedback Form. To talk with us about coaching or consulting services for yourself or your organization, Email Us or use our Contact Form on the Web for a complimentary coaching session.

May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC

President, LifeTrek Coaching Internationalwww.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformationwww.SchoolTransformation.com
Immediate Past President, International Association of Coachingwww.CertifiedCoach.org

Address: 121 Will Scarlet Lane, Williamsburg, VA 23185-5043
Phone: (757) 345-3452
Fax: (772) 382-3258
Skype: LifeTrek
Twitter: @LifeTrekBob
Mobile: www.LifeTrekMobile.com
Subscribe/Unsubscribe: Subscriber Services

Provision #119: Have a Partner

LifeTrek Provision

This LifeTrek Provision is unabashedly autobiographical. If that turns you off, or if you don’t enjoy reading about marathon running, then read no further. But there are lessons here with wide applicability. Running, after all, is a metaphor for life. And this particular run became especially so.

Bob runs two marathons a year, one spring and the other fall. The spring marathon is a little harder to prepare for, since he’s training through the winter with more weather interruptions. Having access to an indoor track or a treadmill is a good idea in this part of the country. In addition to weather interruptions, Bob encountered two other problems in his preparation for the Cleveland Marathon.

First, he developed a pulled hamstring muscle about 2• months prior to the marathon. Lesson: take time to stretch and warm up before exercising vigorously. Metaphor for life: don’t be in such a rush to get going that you fail to get ready. Adrenaline can get a lot done, but it takes a toll. We can suffer or hurt ourselves in the process. Better to work effortlessly, with balance and energy.

Second, he followed an inadequate training schedule. It was long enough: about 46 miles a week, but it wasn’t planned right: too many sub 60-minute runs and too few 180-minute plus runs. This was partly in response to his pulled hamstring, but it was also a lack of knowledge about what makes marathon running effortless. Metaphor for life: master your subject if you want hard things to be easy. That’s true in every area: true mastery appears and feels effortless.

In the weeks prior to the marathon, Bob overcame his pulled hamstring with reduced mileage and the assistance of a massage therapist. Metaphor for life: don’t be afraid to spend time and money to take care of yourself. It can pay big dividends in the end.

Bob could not overcome his inadequate training schedule, but fortunately he didn’t know that at the time. So Bob arrived at the starting line filled with enthusiasm and armed with a plan for running a sub 3:40 marathon. More importantly, he also arrived at the starting line with two friends, running buddies, who had gone to Cleveland with him to provide more than just moral support. One, Linda, was running in the 10K race. The other, Mark, was going run the last six miles of the marathon with Bob.

Everything went according to plan during the first half of the race. Bob passed the halfway point at 1:49, on target for a sub 3:40 marathon if he’d run a negative split. But he faded in the second half of the race. Where were those long training runs when he needed them! It also didn’t help that it was a warm, sunny day. A great day, in fact, for a picnic but a lousy day for a marathon run. Metaphor for life: learn to accept the things that are truly beyond your control.

The heat and sun caused dehydration that made Bob a bit silly and disoriented from mile 22 forward. As one veteran marathoner quipped: mile 22 is the halfway point of a marathon. This was surely true in Cleveland on May 2. To compensate for his borderline delirium, Bob reached out and grabbed Mark’s hand as they were running. He thought it would help to hold hands for just a minute. They ended up running the rest of the race that way, crossing the finish line together with clasped hands lifted in triumph.

Bob and Mark finishing the Cleveland MarathonMetaphor for life: have a partner. Someone you can count on and draw strength from. Someone who can anchor you in the present moment. Someone who can share your pain and their reserves. Someone you can touch and feel. That’s why many people retain coaches. No one goes through life alone. But we often act and feel like we do. It’s time to abandon the notion that real people do it by themselves. Have a partner and do it together. It’ll make the hard times easier and the easy times better. It’ll assist you to finish the race in style.

Bob finished the Cleveland marathon in 3:46, short of his goal but nevertheless a personal record that would not have been possible without Mark’s assistance in the final miles. Thanks, Mark, for being a great partner in the run.

To reply to this Provision, use our Feedback Form. To talk with us about coaching or consulting services for yourself or your organization, Email Us or use our Contact Form on the Web for a complimentary coaching session.

May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC

President, LifeTrek Coaching Internationalwww.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformationwww.SchoolTransformation.com
Immediate Past President, International Association of Coachingwww.CertifiedCoach.org

Address: 121 Will Scarlet Lane, Williamsburg, VA 23185-5043
Phone: (757) 345-3452
Fax: (772) 382-3258
Skype: LifeTrek
Twitter: @LifeTrekBob
Mobile: www.LifeTrekMobile.com
Subscribe/Unsubscribe: Subscriber Services

Provision #118: Just Say Yes

LifeTrek Provision

Last week we talked about the importance of just saying no. It wasn’t an anti-drug LifeTrek Provision, although we support the importance of saying no to tobacco, alcohol, and other addictive, mind-altering drugs. There’s no other way to be healthy and free.

Our focus last week was on saying no to those people and pressures that distract us from our true purpose, that violate our true identity, that seek to do us harm, that seem urgent but are really not important, that intrude upon our space and time, and that undermine our sense of well-being. When those people are close to us or have authority over us and when those pressures are loud or in our face it is challenging to just say no. But there will be no peace, and life will be out of whack, until we learn this important discipline.

This week we talk about the importance of just saying yes. It’s really an extension of our discussion last week regarding standards and boundaries. One cannot say no, effectively and judiciously, to people and pressures until one has said yes to standards and boundaries. Ironically, it is saying yes to standards and boundaries that even makes true spontaneity possible. When do you throw out your plans and do something unanticipated? When the deviation aligns with your standards and boundaries more than the plan.

All this assumes a tremendous amount of self-knowledge and self-awareness. We like the counsel of the prophet Habakkuk. He recognized the importance of discerning a vision, writing it down, and making it plain (Habakkuk 2:2f).

When was the last time that you wrote down the vision for your life? If someone asked you to identify five standards and five boundaries • five things you hold yourself to and five things you hold others to • could you do it? Could you rank each list in importance, from one to five?

If it takes time, Habakkuk urges us to wait. It’s that important. “If it seems to tarry, wait for it; it will surely come, it will not delay.” There’s really no other way to live. Flying by the seat of your pants, shooting from the hip, winging it with a song and a prayer, putting out the latest brush fire, may enable you to get by. If you’re sharp and quick, it may even enable you to achieve a measure of success. But you will not achieve the highest levels of success and you will not enjoy the fullest levels of happiness. That takes planning on the basis of a firm personal foundation.

People pour that foundation when they make plain their standards and boundaries. When Habakkuk urges us to write the vision down, he’s not speaking euphemistically. He’s speaking literally. Until we write down our standards and boundaries, ranking them as to their relative importance, we have not laid the foundation for a successful and happy life.

There are many areas to consider. People can develop standards and boundaries in relation to the environment, physical fitness, spiritual disciplines, personal hygiene, professional competence, family relations, promise keeping, truth telling, daily habits, time management, spatial beauty, and diet. Just to name a few. There’s really no end to the list. If it’s important to you then it’s important. And if you’ve written it down, then you’re better able to be who you want to be relation to yourself and others.

Just say yes to your standards and boundaries, write them down, make them plain, and live!

To reply to this Provision, use our Feedback Form. To talk with us about coaching or consulting services for yourself or your organization, Email Us or use our Contact Form on the Web for a complimentary coaching session.

May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC

President, LifeTrek Coaching Internationalwww.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformationwww.SchoolTransformation.com
Immediate Past President, International Association of Coachingwww.CertifiedCoach.org

Address: 121 Will Scarlet Lane, Williamsburg, VA 23185-5043
Phone: (757) 345-3452
Fax: (772) 382-3258
Skype: LifeTrek
Twitter: @LifeTrekBob
Mobile: www.LifeTrekMobile.com
Subscribe/Unsubscribe: Subscriber Services

Provision #117: Just Say No

Laser Provision

It’s important, but not enough, to set standards for yourself. You also have to set boundaries for others. Boundaries are imaginary lines that protect your well being from the words and actions of others. Sometimes you have to just say no in order to be your very best in the world. This Provision will help you do that.

LifeTrek Provision

The revelation came to me while I was sitting in church. It doesn’t always happen that way, but this time it did. The pastor was reading from the book of Nehemiah • one of the great books in the Jewish / Christian scriptural tradition.

Nehemiah was a Jew living in Persia when he heard about the desolation of Jerusalem. Filled with compassion and community pride, he requests and receives a royal commission to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the city. Nehemiah leaves Persia with a job to do. He has a plan and a strategy that fills him with energy and life.

As Nehemiah works on rebuilding Jerusalem, his work comes to the attention of three local governors. They are not happy about the prospect of restoring the capital of the Jewish community. They are not happy about dividing their meager pie into any smaller slices. This was the point, as I heard the story read aloud, at which the revelation came to me. Allow the scriptures, and Nehemiah, to speak for themselves:

“(One of the governors) sent me a message, ‘Come and meet us in the Valley of Ono.’ Now they intended some harm to me. So I sent messengers to them to say, •I am engaged in a great undertaking and so cannot come down. The work would come to a halt if I left it to come down to you.’ Four times they sent me the same invitation and four times I made them the same reply.” (Nehemiah 6:2-4).

Four times Nehemiah just said no to meet the governor in the Valley of Ono. The alliteration certainly helped to make the point. Four times Nehemiah just said no to being distracted, pulled away, and sidetracked from his strategy and plan. Four times he just said no because he knew it would do him and the work harm. That was the revelation.

Coaches do a lot of work with their clients around the issues of standards and boundaries. Standards are behaviors to which you hold yourself because they reflect you in positive ways. Boundaries are behaviors to which you hold others because they impact you in negative ways. Nehemiah had standards and boundaries. Rebuilding Jerusalem grew out of his standards of compassion and community pride. Saying no grew out of his boundaries for the project and for himself.

Do you have clear standards and boundaries? They’re both equally important. Standards reflect who you are. They are not moral absolutes. They are personal attributes. For one person, it may be impeccable honesty. For another, it may be heartfelt compassion. For a third, it may be empowering organization. For a fourth, it may be good, clean living. There are many standards, and it’s OK to have more than one. The key is to know what they are and to live accordingly. The challenge is to raise them high without overextending or having to be hyper vigilant in the process.

Boundaries are critical to maintaining your standards. You can’t be who you are if you allow other people and things to constantly pull you away. That can be hard when you’re facing the crisis of the moment or responding to a request from your spouse or boss. Indeed, many people will compromise their strategies, standards, and even themselves if someone in authority over or relationship with them pushes the right button. But that is not the way of honor and peace. Just say no when you get asked to do something that takes you off course. Say it four times, if need be, but be sure to say it.

Set high standards and strong boundaries. Tell others about them. And see what a difference that makes.

To reply to this Provision, use our Feedback Form. To talk with us about coaching or consulting services for yourself or your organization, Email Us or use our Contact Form on the Web for a complimentary coaching session.

May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC
LifeTrek Coaching International
121 Will Scarlet Lane
Williamsburg, VA 23185-5043
U.S.A.

Telephone: 757-345-3452
Fax: 772-382-3258

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Provision #116: Have a Strategy

LifeTrek Provision

The ancient Greek philosopher, Heraclitus, may have said it best: “It is in changing that things find purpose.” Most people come to coaching in search of purpose. It can be broad sweeping • my true Life Purpose • or very particular • my purpose here and now. Coaches encourage, support, and challenge people to find purpose by assisting them to make self-directed changes.

Why? Not because there’s something wrong with where they’re at, but because self-directed changes bring purpose. Last week we talked about purpose in terms of having a plan. Not just wandering around, from one day and moment to the next, but setting sail for a particular destination. It is important to be heading somewhere, intentionally and confidentially steering the ship, rather than just drifting with the wind and sea.

Intentionality and confidence are important even if your plan is to “drift with the wind and sea.” Whether your purpose calls for taking something on or letting something go, it will take intentionality and confidence to get there. Coaches do as much work with the letting go as with the taking on • so don’t think unwinding and decompressing are not worthy projects.

Unfortunately, many people are good with big-picture planning • the where do I (or my company or my project or my family) want to end up • but bad with detail planning. They can come up with the bullet points, the high-level view, but when it comes down to what I’m going to do right now, the low-level view, they proceed with no more intentionality and confidence than someone with no plan at all.

We call the low-level view a strategy, and it’s certainly as important (if not more important) than the high-level view. The best plan in the world means nothing if it doesn’t get broken into bite-size pieces. And even if it gets broken down, it still means nothing if we don’t consume them one bite after another. Trying to cram them all into our mouth at one time will not move us in the direction we need to go. It will instead risk injury, pain, and even death (literally as well as figuratively).

Insight can be gained from the world of athletics. An overarching purpose might be to become a world-class runner. A plan might be to run in a particular series of races. But your results will be less than satisfactory if you don’t have a strategy. To achieve your purpose and do well with your plan, what should you do today? How far should you run? How fast should you run? What should you eat? How much should you sleep? What cross-training should you do? The details are legion. No one captures them all. But if you don’t capture enough, or if you develop a strategy that will not support your plan, you’ll never get to where you want to go.

Insight can also be gained from the world of investments. An overarching purpose might be to become financially independent. A plan might me to invest in a balanced portfolio of stocks and bonds. But your results will be less than satisfactory if you don’t have a strategy. What do you buy and what do you sell? When? Once again, the nuances of a sound financial strategy are legion. But you better pay attention to them if you hope to achieve your purpose and do well with your plan.

Many people retain coaches and advisors to assist them with the high-level as well as the low-level views. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed, get distracted, and lack the required knowledge. Coaches and advisors help people to develop their strategy and stay on track.

To reply to this Provision, use our Feedback Form. To talk with us about coaching or consulting services for yourself or your organization, Email Us or use our Contact Form on the Web for a complimentary coaching session.

May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC

President, LifeTrek Coaching Internationalwww.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformationwww.SchoolTransformation.com
Immediate Past President, International Association of Coachingwww.CertifiedCoach.org

Address: 121 Will Scarlet Lane, Williamsburg, VA 23185-5043
Phone: (757) 345-3452
Fax: (772) 382-3258
Skype: LifeTrek
Twitter: @LifeTrekBob
Mobile: www.LifeTrekMobile.com
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Provision #115: Have a Plan

LifeTrek Provision

We are blessed to live with two wonderful teenagers, both of whom are in high school. With all the negative press in the wake of the shootings in Littleton, CO, they and their friends serve to remind us of how many great teenagers there really are in the world. As our daughter prepares to graduate from high school, we find ourselves grieving the imminent breakup of a family we’ve known and loved for almost 18 years.

High-school graduations come ready-made with the question, “What are you going to do next?” There is no option. Once you graduate from high school, you can’t keep going to high school. It’s that cut and dry. They boot you out to face the world, ready or not.

Most graduates are more than ready. They have been working for months, if not years, to plan their future education, employment, travel, and service. They’ve been dreaming about what they might do, talking with guidance counselors, reading about potential schools and careers, getting a sense of themselves and who they want to be.

It’s unfortunate that so many of us lose this energy after the early years of young adulthood. We settle into a groove with family and friends, degrees and responsibilities, never to return to the excitement of making plans and striving to achieve them. Maturity becomes an excuse for living without a plan.

But it doesn’t need to be that way. At midlife, Megan went back to school to get her Ph.D. and pursue a new career. At midlife, Bob became a marathon runner and a professional coach. These midlife plans represented totally new directions, and they’ve generated for us the same enthusiasm that our teenage daughter finds in dreaming about college. It’s not your age, but your plan, which fills life with meaning, purpose, and joy.

What’s your plan? Have you laid out any courses lately that touch your heart and energize your mind? Philip C. McGraw, in his book Life Strategies: Doing What Works, Doing What Matters,suggests that without a plan we lack an important edge. “Ask yourself right now,” he urges, “do you really have a strategy in your life, or are you just reactively going from day to day, taking what comes? If you are, you simply aren’t competitive. There are •a lot of dogs after the bones’ out there, and just stumbling along is no way to succeed. The winners in this life know the rules of the game and have a plan, so that their efficiency is comparatively exponential to that of people who don’t.” (Hyperion • New York, 1999).

It’s important to have short-range as well as long-range plans. Microsoft is fond of asking the question, “Where do you want to go today?” But how can you answer that question unless you know where you want to go next week, next month, next year, and next decade?

Where you want to go with your life? That is the question. Are you doing what you want to be doing? Are you living how you want to be living? Are you becoming who you want to become? If not, then perhaps it’s time to sharpen your pencil or turn on your computer and develop a plan. Coaches can assist people with that work, but not until they’re ready to make a strong commitment. It’s hard work to set a course and stay on track. It’s far easier, albeit far less satisfying and successful, to simply wander around from one morning to the next. But that’s not how energy flows. Energy flows from the proactive creation of a life we value and esteem. This is not beyond the reach of anyone, regardless of age, and coaches stand ready to assist with those who are so inclined.

To reply to this Provision, use our Feedback Form. To talk with us about coaching or consulting services for yourself or your organization, Email Us or use our Contact Form on the Web for a complimentary coaching session.

May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC

President, LifeTrek Coaching Internationalwww.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformationwww.SchoolTransformation.com
Immediate Past President, International Association of Coachingwww.CertifiedCoach.org

Address: 121 Will Scarlet Lane, Williamsburg, VA 23185-5043
Phone: (757) 345-3452
Fax: (772) 382-3258
Skype: LifeTrek
Twitter: @LifeTrekBob
Mobile: www.LifeTrekMobile.com
Subscribe/Unsubscribe: Subscriber Services