Provision #270: Celebrate Life

Laser Provision


To successfully navigate life’s transitions we need to get moving, keep moving, and enjoy moving. That’s what this Provision series has been all about. This week I bring this series to a close with a simple summary: celebrate life!

LifeTrek Provision


We’ve come to the end of our series on Navigating Life’s Transitions. I can summarize the lessons learned over the past 16 weeks in two words: celebrate life. There is no life without change and transition. That’s the nature of the beast. The question is whether we celebrate or grieve that fact. Those who celebrate life trust the flow to generate positive value, both along the way and in the end. Those who grieve life fear, and bemoan the flow, worrying that things will only get worse. The choice is up to you.

On Tuesday I had a marvelous, unexpected experience. I left my hotel room in downtown San Francisco for what I thought would be about a one-hour run. I headed down to the water without knowing exactly where I would come out. You can imagine my delight, then, at seeing the Golden Gate Bridge in the distance. The bridge drew me like a magnet, although I had no idea whether or not pedestrians were even allowed on the bridge.

Fortunately, the Golden Gate Bridge • now more than 65 years old • was built in an era when people were expected to walk and ride their bicycles across. Modern bridges are designed to keep pedestrians and cyclists off the bridge. This one turned out to be a runner’s delight. From the taste and smell of salt water to the sounds of passing ships to the feel of cool breezes coming in off the ocean to the sights of a city awakening in the morning light, this was a run to remember. I got back to my hotel room more than two hours later, having lost all track of time.

You can imagine my surprise, then, to learn that the bridge had just been reopened that morning following a terrorist alert. The authorities had apparently gotten a report that someone might fly a plane into the bridge over the weekend. Had I known that, I might have felt a bit different about running over the bridge. But I would still have gone. The pull of the magnet was just too strong. And the choice was clear: trust the flow to generate positive value rather than fear the potential negative contingencies.

That’s what lies behind Derek Mahon’s poem, “Everything Is Going To Be All Right.” For an Irish poet who knows all too much about violence, war, hatred, and disease, it’s truly a remarkable statement of faith:

How should I not be glad to contemplate
the clouds clearing beyond the dormer window
and a high tide reflected on the ceiling.
There will be dying, there will be dying,
but there is no need to go into that.
The poems flow from the hand unbidden
and the hidden source is the watchful heart.
The sun rises in spite of everything
and the far cities are beautiful and bright.
I lie here in a riot of sunlight
watching the daybreak and the clouds flying.
Everything is going to be all right.

Do you have the faith to believe that everything is going to be all right? Do you have what it takes to celebrate life? That really is the key to successfully navigating life’s transitions. Whether it’s running across a bridge • literally or figuratively • all transitions involve moving from one place to another. Our attitude impacts if and when we will start across that bridge as well as whether or not we will enjoy ourselves along the way.

Over the past 16 weeks, these Provisions have been designed to help us get moving, keep moving, and enjoy moving. That, in my book, is the definition of transitional success. People who fail to navigate life’s transitions either never get started, get stuck along the way, or end up miserable. They see the negatives rather than the positives. They may get to the other side, but not without plenty of kicking and screaming.

To avoid such unfortunate eventualities, I wrote about the 80-20 Rule, Visualizing the Flow, Developing Effortless Systems, and Using Peripheral Vision. They all make the process easier. My faith that everything will be all right didn’t rule out the importance of Grieving the Loss. Rather, it enabled me to write from a strong position about Sitting Still, Moving On, Engaging our Body, and Forgiving Ourselves. Simple tips such as Ply Your Curiosity, Learn Names, Pay Attention, Add Value, and Be Friendly were designed to say the obvious in memorable ways. Finally, we tackled the problem of moving through transitions with your spouse or life partner. Enjoy the Dance is another way of saying Celebrate Life • the choice is up to you.

All these Provisions • as well 150 others • are available in the archive section on our Web site (Click). Next week we start a new series: Ten Winning Secrets for Leadership and Life. I look forward to sharing them with you.

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.

LifeTrek Readers’ Forum (selected feedback from the past week)

Editor’s Note: The LifeTrek Readers’ Forum contains selections from the comments and materials sent in each week by the readers of LifeTrek Provisions. They do not necessarily reflect the perspective of LifeTrek Coaching International. To submit your comment, use our Feedback Formor Email Bob.


I really liked your last Provision. How true. I’d like to suggest one other which was somewhat implied in what you wrote. Work to each other’s strengths or stop expecting your spouse to be strong in an area they are not. Usually each of us is strong where the other is not, so it just makes sense to use it rather than abuse it.


I appreciated your last Provision. My husband and I have been married for 20 years and while our love grows and we have two wonderful children and MUCH to be thankful for • our communication is so very much lacking. Our relationship works far better when we do communicate but my husband has always said that he just doesn’t have the skills. He has also never taken the time to do anything to get his skills healthier even though he would love to improve his marriage. I’m wondering if you know of any way for him to get healthier in his communication without doing all the work, study, and reading and whatever else it takes to learn good healthy communication? (Ed. Note: Developing new habits takes desire and effort. Perhaps a coach could help.)



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
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a TimeOnline Retailers

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 #269: Enjoy the Dance

Laser Provision


Transitions are tumultuous times that can stress anyone and can be particularly hard on relationships. But there are ways to successfully navigate them together. Communicate. Propagate. Advocate. Alternate. This Provision coaches you to enjoy the dance of life with your partner.

LifeTrek Provision


People say that my wife and I have a remarkable relationship. For one thing, we hardly ever argue. For another, when we do argue it never develops into anything big. And then there’s our level of intimacy and joy, which • as we approach the celebration of our 26th wedding anniversary later this month • is definitely more satisfying, stimulating, and salubrious than any time in the past 28 years. We are blessed with a simple case of falling and staying in love.

How do we do this? Interestingly enough, it doesn’t take much effort. We have good, basic instincts when it comes to relationship building. For instance, we’ve developed good communication habits. It’s not hard for us to put our feelings into words, to listen to what each other have to say, and to follow through with appropriate actions. If at first we don’t succeed, we try, try again. Then there’s the matter of being givers rather than takers (as I wrote about in a recent Provision). Put two givers together, and things roll along pretty smoothly. Finally, there’s a tremendous sense of gratitude that God brought and kept us together for the living of these days. Life has been good to us, without any of the terrible catastrophes, hardships, or hurts that so often make the headlines.

Our gratitude was kindled again as we discussed the recent reader reply to my series on how to successfully navigate life’s transitions. “Many times during transitions,” this reader wrote, “it appears to be a challenge to keep synchronized with your partner. As transitions involve many profound and fast-paced changes that are not always easily grasped by a partner, relationships can come under strain. Personally I draw the parallel with ice-skating: each partner being one leg • or skate for that matter • and the body the relationship. To get ahead you must move your skate one before the other. Yet, if you put one skate too far from the other, the body loses its equilibrium and falls. Similarly, if you keep the skates statically together no progress is made and the body loses its heat. The trick is to find the balance between moving forward and falling down. Now that proves difficult in times of transition.”

Remarkably, staying synchronized has not proved particularly difficult to us in any of our great transitions (geographical, professional, or personal). Although challenging, our transitions have produced more light than heat. We’ve therefore spent the last two weeks talking about and reflecting on how this has happened. Without trying to be comprehensive, here are a few of our insights.

1. Communicate. No relationship can long endure a lack of communication. Couples in trouble fail to communicate. Couples who lack constructive communication skills will eventually end up in trouble. Couples who develop healthy habits of regular communication, in good times and bad, will eventually end up more in love as time goes by. Our habits involve daily, weekly, and holiday routines. We talk or journal, however briefly, on a daily basis about how we’re feeling and what’s going on. We lounge around together, at least once a week and with no pressure to wrap up by any particular time, in order to communicate more deeply. And we especially cherish the more relaxed pace of vacations in order to step back, have some fun, and communicate about the big picture movement of life.

This regular communication lies at the core of finding what our reader described as “the balance between moving forward and falling down.” Through good communication, my wife and I have always managed to move forward • together. But communication alone will not a good, synchronized relationship make.

2. Propagate. No, this is not another one of those admonitions from your mother-in-law wondering just when you’re going to get around to having children. But there is something to the notion that a healthy relationship propagates something. If not children, then ideas, service, or projects. Couples who appreciate, value, and sense their legacy as a couple, not just as individuals, will have an easier time staying synchronized in the many transitions of life.

In our own case, we have proclaimed in our wedding vows that we were more effective together than individually. Believing, trusting, and knowing that truth has all but eliminated conflict over our great transitions. In every instance, we have looked to see the new opportunities not only for us as individuals but also as a couple. That openness has never gone unrewarded. We find ourselves ready to make changes and move forward together.

3. Advocate. It may seem obvious, but couples who do well together champion each other. They want to see nothing but the best and nothing but success for their partner. There is no sense of jealousy and no jockeying for position. There is, rather, a heartfelt joy when one person accomplishes something, has a special opportunity, or locks on to a target that beckons. One person’s dream is not another person’s nightmare, even if they don’t share the same interests. My wife has no interest in running marathons and I have no interest in painting watercolors, but we both appreciate the other’s interest and we advocate for their fullest expression.

This works professionally as well. It’s not uncommon for my wife or I to make connections, recommend, and advocate for the other as outstanding leaders in our respective fields. In other words, we advance each other’s careers as best we can (which becomes all the more important in new situations and changed circumstances).

4. Alternate. This one should not be taken in the sense of scorekeeping. It’s not a matter of one by one, turn by turn, “she loves me; she loves me not.” But there does need to be some recognition that over the course of a lifetime there will be some give and take as to who’s in the lead and who’s following. Gone are the days when one partner, traditionally the man in a heterosexual relationship, could just assume that he or she will always be in the driver’s seat. Regardless of one’s earning potential, there will come times when the lead in the dance of life changes hands.

Ten years ago my wife followed me to Columbus, Ohio. While there she got her Ph.D., established herself in the field of educational leadership and positioned herself for the opportunity that brought us to Virginia. This time I became the so-called “trailing spouse,” finding a wonderful opportunity to expand the scope and reach of LifeTrek Coaching International.

Communicate. Propagate. Advocate. Alternate. These four have made our relationship what it is and our transitions a success. We hope you can appreciate and incorporate their wisdom as well.

LifeTrek Readers’ Forum (selected feedback from the past week)

Editor’s Note: The LifeTrek Readers’ Forum contains selections from the comments and materials sent in each week by the readers of LifeTrek Provisions. They do not necessarily reflect the perspective of LifeTrek Coaching International. To submit your comment, use our Feedback Formor Email Bob.


Just a quick thank you for your newsletter. I get to read maybe 2 in 5 but it is always worth it when I do. I was thinking just this morning about how easy it is to let life slip by, and then you can only look back and see where you should have taken the time to invest in your life quality. I’m at risk too but at least thinking of it. Seems you are tracking to successfully commercialize your biz. I have been moderately successful in a freelance consulting thing but struggling with a workable model and managing personal finances following job loss, divorce and a round of health issues with my one daughter. It may force me back into the corporate world but I’m still in the game for the moment!!! Good luck in your endeavors. Thanks for the perspective!!!


Your continuing series on transitioning and your personal transition experiences and perspectives as conveyed in the newsletter have been very timely for me • even changed my initial approach to some aspects. Thanks.



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
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a TimeOnline Retailers

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 #268: Use Peripheral Vision

Laser Provision


Most people have a project, especially when they work with a coach. “I want to get a new job!” “I want to double my sales!” “I want to lose 50 pounds!” When you have a project, it’s easy to lose sight of everything else. But tunnel vision is counterproductive. Peripheral vision holds the key to success.

LifeTrek Provision


Three years ago I wrote Provision #122 entitled “Look Ahead.” (You can read that Provision in the archives by following this link: Click.) I wrote then about the four places to focus your eyes and attention while running: you can look down, ahead, up, or around. Each view has a time and place, but for general-purpose running I coached readers to look ahead.

To look ahead while running requires you to rely on your peripheral vision to see not only where to plant your feet but also other aspects of your environment. This can take some cultivation. When one has a clear vision, what Bennis & Nanus call a “target that beckons” in their classic book “Leaders,” it’s easy to become a victim of the horse-with-blinders syndrome. We see nothing other than what’s right in front of us.

I know runners who can do no other. As the race approaches, and once the gun goes off, they lose all track of time, people, and perspective. The crowds become a blur. The noise becomes a drone. And no one had better get in their way. The target that beckons produces a kind of tunnel vision that blocks out every distraction.

Unfortunately, this powerful human ability to focus our attention • so lacking in and yet desired by those with attention deficit disorders • can work against the very success it tries to achieve. As we narrow our focus, ever tighter and tighter, we heighten our anxiety, tension, and stress to the point where it can take more energy than it produces. It can become counterproductive not only of our ability to enjoy the run but to achieve the goal.

That’s why Lynch & Scott have a chapter entitled “Relaxing to Excel” in their excellent book, “Running Within.” They coach runners to find that perfect balance between sharp focus and broad awareness, between tunnel and peripheral vision, in order to stay relaxed and yet comfortably aroused. Through a series of “watching exercises” (breath watching, face watching, body watching, and word watching) they show runners how to avoid the negative impacts of stress without losing their competitive edge.

Their exercises and the entire concept of striking a balance between sharp focus and broad awareness are relevant to far more than running and sports. In every human endeavor, whenever there is a goal to achieve or a problem to knock down, striking that balance will inevitably make the difference between success and failure.

This is especially relevant and important when you find yourself on the back end of a transition, in a new situation or changed circumstances. There’s so much going on under these circumstances that only a broad awareness • free of anxiety, tension, and stress • can begin to produce the kind of opportunities that make for success.

Two weeks ago my wife and I were riding bikes around “our lake” in the evening. It’s a wonderful 5-mile ride that can produce delightful sights, sounds, and smells • as long as we use our peripheral vision. We’ve seen a family of swans, snowy white egrets, turtles, frogs, pelicans, deer, bald eagles and countless (but often unnamed) species of flora.

This particular evening, at the end of our ride, we rode by two people sitting in their side yard. We saw them waving, out of the corner of our eyes, and decided to turn around, go back, and say hello. Before we knew it, we were sitting down with them, enjoying an apricot tea smoothie, and receiving an invitation to visit their church in Colonial Williamsburg. That we did, two days later, after which we went out lunch and discovered all sorts of profitable connections.

None of that would have happened had we not (a) seen them out of the corner of our eye, and (b) taken the time to turn around and say hello. Had we been so focused on getting home to start our own dinner or do whatever else was on our mind, a wonderful opportunity for networking and socialization would have been missed.

Do you see the relevance here to successfully managing life’s transitions? With new situations and circumstances, you inevitably end up with new challenges, goals, and projects. For me and LifeTrek Coaching International, that includes establishing a viable corporate presence in a new region of the country. It’s tempting to push this agenda, in order to try and make it happen as quickly as possible.

But pushing an agenda in business often produces the same, counterproductive tunnel vision, anxiety, tension, and stress that Lynch & Scott describe for runners. Pushers are just not very attractive (hence the negative stereotypes of used car sales people). Pulling is the way to go, like magnets, if you want to be successful in business. And using your peripheral vision can make that magnet very powerful indeed.

See the big picture and not just the work project. Notice the people and not just the problems. Take in the environment and not just the task at hand. You will still get the job done • often more quickly and easily than if you had been hard driving to the end. Relax and lighten up. It’s the only way to attract your heart’s desire.

LifeTrek Readers’ Forum (selected feedback from the past week)

Editor’s Note: The LifeTrek Readers’ Forum contains selections from the comments and materials sent in each week by the readers of LifeTrek Provisions. They do not necessarily reflect the perspective of LifeTrek Coaching International. To submit your comment, use our Feedback Formor Email Bob.


I’ve been reading for many months now and I have yet to find a Provision that I couldn’t use on my own trek. I have recently gone through several major changes: getting married, separating, leaving my job, leaving a large Canadian city where I know many people for a small American town where I know no one, becoming an independent consultant•. It seems there is no aspect of my life that is untouched. As you can imagine, such sweeping change has resulted in profound emotional turmoil. I have been to a therapist and take medication to help me get to a point where I can combat the troubles…through it all, working out, mountain biking, and LifeTrek has helped as well. Indeed you are a giver. I try to be one, and thought that I was, but I fear I still have work to do. As strange as this may sound, I think I have to give a little to myself • in the sense of giving respect, better eating and sleeping • factors that will dampen the oscillation of the pendulum that is my life rather than exacerbate this wild swinging to the outside.


I live in Argentina, and if you want a constructive feedback, I can tell you that besides my lovely kids and mountain biking, what keeps me pushing in this tough environment is studying. Yes, the first thing I do when I wake up is study. That enables you to begin the day in a positive way no matter what happens then. Furthermore, I prepare myself for the moment my country is ready to resume growth.


I’ve always enjoyed your Provisions but this one, about giver and taker, is so illuminating. I realized that I’m more of a giver than a taker. It’s very helpful to categorize in this manner. Many thanks.


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
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a TimeOnline Retailers

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 #267: Be Friendly

Laser Provision


Heeding the tips in this Provision will make you irresistibly attractive to the right people and opportunities. But you can boil them all down to one cardinal rule: be friendly. Don’t over do it. And don’t under do it. Just strike the perfect balance between what you’re working on and who you’re working with or around.

LifeTrek Provision


Last week, at the end of a Provision on adding value, I mentioned the concept of being twice as interested as you are interesting. That concept comes from the Coach U program for becoming Irresistibly Attractive. It’s one of 25 relating skills to master if you want to make yourself irresistible to the right people and opportunities. Although this may seem counterintuitive in certain situations, such as a job interview, it’s actually the best way to make a positive impression. When you let people know that you are genuinely interested in them, as people (not just in their assets, projects and ideas), they will warm up to and make things happen for you.

Here’s a few more of those 25 relating skills to master:

  • Don’t just listen to people. Really hear them. Make sure they have an experience of being “gotten.”
  • Communicate fully in the moment. Don’t hold back, wait until later, explain your feelings, or censure your thoughts.
  • See and want a lot for people, so they feel it, without your having to have it for them.
  • Don’t just tell people you care. Show it, every day, in the way they would want (not necessarily the way you would want).
  • Use the word “You” four times as often as you use the word “I,” in a way that people appreciate.
  • Be grateful to and for other people so that they receive it well • it’s neither too much nor too little.
  • Grant everyone you meet and have yet to meet a lifetime of forgiveness in advance.
  • Be with people.

Now I don’t know about you, but when I read this list I see a very simple way of summarizing the whole concept: be friendly. Perfect friendliness is the key not only to irresistible attraction but to success in every endeavor. It is the essence of networking. And never is perfect friendliness more important than when you find yourself going through, or on the back end of, a great transition. You will need the connections and community that friendliness engenders. Fortunately, it isn’t hard to learn.

That may be truer in some regions of the world than in others. I have lived at other times of my life in the southern region of the United States. I had almost forgotten the wonderful tradition of pedestrians waving at passing cars. Well that tradition, along with many other aspects of “southern hospitality,” is alive and well in Williamsburg, Virginia. People are so friendly here.

More than once I’ve asked directions, only to be escorted to my destination. Service workers are quick to bear greetings and go the extra mile. Associations go out of their way to make sure you feel included. The whole environment seems friendlier than the faster-paced, urban environments to which I have been accustomed. Yet the principle of perfect friendliness applies as well on Wall Street as it does on Main Street. There’s just no other way to attract the good things in life.

I keep putting “perfect” in front of “friendliness” to make a distinction between perfect friendliness and either too much or too little friendliness. Too little is not as obvious as it seems. The opposite of friendliness is not necessarily hostility. Even lovers, let alone friends, disagree and fight at times. As someone once said, “If you and I both agree on everything, then one of us isn’t necessary.”

The opposite of friendliness is more about indifference • failing to pay attention to anyone or anything other than yourself. One doesn’t have to be Ebenezer Scrooge in order to fall prey to this malady. It’s really very easy to do. You just get busy and focused on what you have going on, to the exclusion of others. Sound familiar? We’ve all been there at different points and times. Perfect friendliness represents the perfect balance between tunnel and peripheral vision. We maintain both a sharp focus and a broad awareness.

Too much friendliness is the overwhelming, smothering kind of friendliness that comes from trying too hard. Too hard to please, care for, and appreciate people. This kind of friendliness can be a form of co-dependence, as we enable people to maintain their unhealthy habits. It can also be a form of compensation, as we make up for our own inner insecurity (will they like me?) by outdoing ourselves in the friendship department. We become too outgoing, effusive, helpful, or giving. In other words, we need rather than enjoy the friendship.

Perfect friendship is neither about appearance nor need. It is a genuine, heartfelt, and much appreciated paying of attention. Wonder if you’re doing it right? Just ask your friends. They can tell you in an instant. Want to improve? Go through the checklist in this Provision, on your own or with a coach, in order to learn what you have to let go of.

That, in the end, is the problem behind every dysfunctional friendship. Someone is holding on to something that gets in the way of their being present to the person or situation. You can be distracted by thoughts, fears, deadlines, goals, and agendas. You can hear inner as well as outer voices that take you away from your own best intentions. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Be friendly. Be perfectly friendly. Strike the balance between what you’re working on and who you’re working with or around. It’s really not that hard to do, once you get the idea clearly in view.

LifeTrek Readers’ Forum (selected feedback from the past week)

Editor’s Note: The LifeTrek Readers’ Forum contains selections from the comments and materials sent in each week by the readers of LifeTrek Provisions. They do not necessarily reflect the perspective of LifeTrek Coaching International. To submit your comment, use our Feedback Formor Email Bob.


Many times during transitions it appears to be a challenge to keep synchronized with the partner. As transitions involve many profound and fast-paced changes that are not always easily grasped by the partner, relationships can come under strain. Personally I draw the parallel with ice-skating: each partner being one leg • or skate for that matter • and the body the relationship. To get ahead you must move your skate one before the other. Yet, if you put one skate too far from the other, the body loses its equilibrium and falls. Similarly, if you keep the skates statically together no progress is made and the body loses its heat. The trick is to find the balance between moving forward and balance. Now that proves difficult in times of transition. I would be interested in how you would elaborate on the issue. (Ed. Note: Thanks for the comment. I will address this in a future Provision.)


I’m from Mexico and want to know how you handle coaching sessions for foreign countries? Do you have coaches in Mexico? I would like to try receiving and learn how to give coaching. (Ed. Note: We work on the telephone and over the Internet with many international clients — in English. Give us a call, if you’re interested, in the USA at 757-345-3452.)


Deepak Chopra, in his book Quantum Healing, argues against sunglasses that filter out all sunlight • as you recommended in Wellness Pathway #131. He even recommends a “treatment” in his processes of looking at the sun, eyes closed, for 60 seconds every day. These can all be found on his tapes of healing and in his books. I encourage your readers to look into this.


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
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a TimeOnline Retailers

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 #266: Add Value

Laser Provision


Every time you meet someone new, which happens all the time in a new environment following a great transition, people are trying to figure out what kind of person you are. Are you the kind who reaches out and adds value? Or are you going to hold back and subtract value? Successful people add value.

LifeTrek Provision


Many years ago, I remember coaching a young woman who was searching for a prospective partner. It had been a frustrating experience, with many false starts. As we talked, she said something that I have not forgotten. “Perhaps my expectations are too high,” she said. “Perhaps I can learn to be more flexible. But there’s one boundary that’s nonnegotiable. I would rather be single for the rest of my life, than to end up married to a taker.”

It’s been said that there’s two kinds of people in the world: those who divide the world into two kinds of people, and those who don’t. I’m among those who don’t. I find the world to be much too rich, complex, and multifaceted for simplistic schemes.

Still, there’s something to be said for simplistic schemes when they make you think. And this young woman, based on far too many negative experiences, had simplistically decided there were two kinds of men in the world: givers and takers. She was working with me to learn how to attract a giver, for a change, because the takers had worn down both her patience and her confidence.

What kind of person are you? Are you a giver or a taker? It’s really not hard to determine. Most people know the answer immediately about everyone except, perhaps, themselves. Givers and takers are not mental ideals. If you think you’re a giver, but you never actually give, then you’re a taker. That’s why other people can tell immediately who you are. Either you reach out and add value, or you hold back and subtract value.

If ever there was a time to reach out and add value, it’s when you find yourself in a new environment or changed circumstances, on the back end of a great transition. As you meet people for the first time, they are sizing you up as a giver or a taker. And, as the old saying goes, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. “Once a taker always a taker,” my young coachee observed about men, “there’s no way to change them.”

What kind of person are you? Good things come to those who give. This goes far beyond the cheap appeals of some religious personalities, who promise you fame, fortune, and eternal life if you will just send them $20, $50, or $100. Giving is so much more than money, although money is part of the equation.

Consider the following opportunities for giving, which have come my way in the past two weeks.

  • One day I met the President of a local company at a party. Two days later, I recommended him as a speaker at a Rotary club I was visiting. Suddenly both the company President and the Rotary club thought I was a giver. Why? Because I had given freely of my connections. That simple act also established me as more of a player than a newbie. It was a win-win-win proposition that will be repeated over and over again as time goes on.
  • Another day I ran with someone on a long run who told me his life story, including the way alcohol had ruined his life, how he had turned things around, and what resources in the community were most helpful in his recovery. By the time we ended the run, this person thought of me as a giver. Why? Because I had given freely of my attention. The simple act of listening to him was enough to motivate us both to take our health and well-being more seriously. Another person offered to pay me for such “coaching on the run.” I laughed and replied that having a running partner was payment enough.
  • On a different occasion, I came across a tree which had fallen across a well-used bike trail. The tree was blocking the way. After finishing my six-mile run, I grabbed a saw and ran back to the tree in order to cut it up and move it out of the way. On the way home, someone called out and asked if I always ran carrying a saw. Once again I laughed, said no, and indicated I was clearing the bike trail. Suddenly that saw (with a covered blade, I might add) was seen in a different light. Suddenly I was viewed as a giver. Why? Because I had given freely of my time and energy. I wasn’t just using the resources of my new community; I was caring for them as well.
  • As my wife and I visit different religious communities in the area, we find ourselves not only leaving a financial contribution but also asking about other opportunities to serve. It’s not enough to have great music or a great message. It’s also important to have great opportunities for community service, education, and fellowship. These questions make people think of us as givers. Why? Because we freely give of our availability. Instead of remaining anonymous, we sign the guest pad and write a check, so people can readily find us. It’s an exposure worth having.

This list could go on at length. Coaches are natural givers. We are in the business of adding value both to our own lives and to the lives of others. But anyone can adopt the same life position. It works as well in the workplace as it does at home or in the community. Adding value to the lives, projects, and concerns of others adds value to our own life, projects, and concerns. Choosing to be twice as interested as we are interesting makes people irresistibly attractive. Being a giver rather than a taker is one habit worth developing.

Even if it is rather simplistic, to frame every situation in terms of giving and taking, it’s worth thinking about. Are you more of a giver? Or more of a taker? The best marriages, partnerships, teams, and companies are those with an abundance of givers. They look out for each other and make things happen, far beyond what takers will ever know or realize. For my money, I choose to be a giver. What about you?

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
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a TimeOnline Retailers

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 #265: Pay Attention

Laser Provision


Are you paying attention to what’s important? Successful people do just that. They identify and stay focused on the critical variables in their environment. That’s especially important when you find yourself in transition. Read on to learn how you can develop and master this competency.

LifeTrek Provision


Last week I wrote about the importance of learning names whenever you find yourself in a new environment or changed circumstances. We lack the power to move forward successfully until we have mastered the names of people, places, streets, and acronyms.

Several readers responded with a word of thanks for this Provision. One reader wrote: “Awesome word on learning names. Especially good timing as I just completed seminary and am about to go on active duty as a chaplain. Learning names and acronyms will definitely be beneficial. Can you give us some pointers or methods for easy name recognition, etc? Thanks for your work, your encouragement, and your time.”

The answer is simple and goes far beyond the task of learning names. To learn names, and to successfully navigate life’s transitions, we have to pay attention. In any situation, how we spend our attention influences what we get in return. Focusing on important, critical variables generates big dividends. Failing to pay attention to these variables generates big deficits, all the way around.

To keep our attention in the present moment is both a challenging and profound task. It’s much easier to be distracted by what happened yesterday or may happen tomorrow. It’s only human to get sidetracked and impatient. But successful people master the art of knowing what’s important in the present moment and channeling their energy and awareness in that direction.

Here’s an illustration. Before we moved to Virginia, my wife commuted for two years. During that entire time, I never learned a single Virginia telephone number. I even had a hard time remembering the area code. Whenever I wanted to call my wife, or anyone else, I would always have to look the number up. Virginia just wasn’t that important to me and so I didn’t pay attention to it. I would mindlessly dial the number, figuring there was no reason to clutter up my brain.

Once I moved to Virginia, I learned my wife’s office telephone number quickly • simply by paying attention to the pattern on the touchtone keypad. So too when it comes to the names of our growing community of friends. By paying attention to what people say, how they look, where they live, and who they are I find myself quickly growing a new mental contact list and relationship map.

But it doesn’t stop there. In fact, your contact list will have limited impact and functionality if you rely exclusively on your mental faculties. As the old saying goes, the weakest ink is stronger than the strongest memory. Having a written or computer-based contact list will keep your memory fresh and give you new opportunities to make valuable connections.

I know one successful CEO who adds personal notes to his contact database following every significant interaction. As a result, he can review the notes before each subsequent interaction • enabling him to ask about their spouse or children by name or how some project turned out even after very long periods of time. He can also have his secretary send cards to celebrate significant events.

The impact? People think he has an incredible memory. In reality, he has an incredible system. People are important to him; he therefore pays attention to them and has developed effortless systems to support that attention.

What’s important to you? What are you paying attention to? What are your systems like? Many people work with coaches to answer these questions as they move through life’s transitions. Even in ordinary times, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by everyone you meet and everything that has to get done. In transitional times, those challenges increase exponentially. The weekly coaching conversation comes as a refreshing and productive stop on the journey.

For many people, the coaching conversation is a great way to stay focused. It can bring people back to their best intentions and leave people with new strategies for paying attention to the things that are important. But one does not have to wait for a conversation with a professional coach in order to accomplish this. We can work on these things independently, through a process of self-coaching, in order to move forward continuously.

One technique that I use with many coaching clients is to crystallize and rehearse a self-directing affirmation. Can you reduce your best intentions to a single sentence? It’s usually possible. Then write that sentence in the present tense, as though it were already true. Right now, for myself, I’m working with the sentence, “I eat and drive slowly.” Anyone who knows me knows that this is not true. But I am coaching myself into a new position by using this self-directing affirmation. Writing or repeating such an affirmation every morning, sometimes with the non-dominant hand, can have quite an impact.

What’s important to you? What are you paying attention to? What are your systems like? Answer those questions, develop a self-directing affirmation, and you’ll find yourself successfully navigating not only life’s transitions, but life itself.

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.

LifeTrek Readers’ Forum (selected feedback from the past week)

Editor’s Note: The LifeTrek Readers’ Forum contains selections from the comments and materials sent in each week by the readers of LifeTrek Provisions. They do not necessarily reflect the perspective of LifeTrek Coaching International. To submit your comment, use our Feedback Formor Email Bob.


Great article on names. I’m a business coach and one of my products is the Dale Carnegie Course. You have given me a powerful reminder of what Carnegie was talking about in his chapter in How to Win Friends on names. Thanks for the gift!


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
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a TimeOnline Retailers

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 #264: Learn Names

Laser Provision


Your curiosity may open doors when you find yourself in a new environment, but learning names will keep those doors open. The more names you learn, the more power you have. If you want to successfully navigate life’s transitions, learn the names of people, places, and acronyms. It will do more than you think.

LifeTrek Provision


“A rose,” Shakespeare wrote, “by any other name is still a rose and doth still smell as sweet.” Or does it? Many cultures, including my own, have ancient traditions which ascribe great power to a name. When you know the name of someone or something, you enter into a new, more intimate and powerful relationship. It is an important and awesome privilege to know someone’s name.

That’s why we’re advised to never put the names of young children on their clothing. If a stranger walks up and calls them by name, there’s a much greater chance that the children can be manipulated and abused.

That’s also why God was unwilling to reveal the divine name to Moses in the Sinai desert. While herding sheep and goats across the desert, Moses saw a burning bush that was not consumed by the flame. Curious, he went over for a closer look. That’s when God called Moses by name and commissioned him to liberate his people from slavery.

Wanting ammunition for the campaign, Moses asked to learn God’s name. But the divine name would not be revealed. This was no kept God with a household name. This was the Universal Spirit who defies every attempt at definition and control. To reveal the divine name would change the terms of the relationship. And when it comes to the Universal Spirit, the terms cannot be changed.

Has the Universal Spirit ever called you by name? It may happen only once, but once is enough for a lifetime. The Irish poet, W. B. Yeats, describes this experience powerfully in his classic poem The Song of the Wandering Aengus.

I went out to the hazel wood
Because a fire was in my head
And cut and peeled a hazel wand
And hooked a berry to a thread
And when the white moths were on the wing
And moth-like stars were flickering out
I dropped the berry in a stream
And caught a little silver trout

When I had laid it on the floor
I went to blow a fire aflame
But something rustled on the floor
And some one called me by my name
It had become a glimmering girl
With apple blossoms in her hair
Who called me by my name and ran
And faded through the brightening air

Though I am old with wandering
Through hollow lands and hilly lands
I will find out where she has gone
And kiss her lips and take her hands
And walk among long dappled grass
And pluck till time and times are done
The silver apples of the moon
The golden apples of the sun

There are, of course, many interpretations of this poem in which Yeats • the Wandering Aengus • was so powerfully transformed when “some one called him by his name.” I like to fancy the glimmering girl as the Universal Spirit, who Yeats will no doubt find “when time and times are done” in “the silver apples of the moon, the golden apples of the sun.”

This reflection on the power of names is designed to reframe this provision for successfully navigating life’s transitions, since it might otherwise be overlooked as too simple or rudimentary. When you find yourself in changed circumstances or a new environment, learn names. Doing so will shift your energy and relationships in powerful and intimate ways.

This past week I had the opportunity to learn many names. In addition to the obvious business and neighborhood connections, I went out of my way to meet the people who deliver my newspapers, collect my garbage, pick up my recycling, cleanout my septic tanks, and deliver my mail as well as my packages. These service workers are important to my functioning.

By learning their names I made them feel good and, at the same time, I increased the likelihood that they would do their job well. Perhaps that’s why one executive I know always asks prospective new associates to name the service workers in their last office. If they don’t know any names, he doesn’t hire them.

Learning place names can be just as important as learning people’s names. When I first arrived in my new environment, I would ask for directions, receive them, and still be lost. “Do you know where Penniman crosses 60? That’s Page Street.” The names meant nothing to me. All that changed as I took out the map and began to learn the names of streets, parks, buildings, and neighborhoods. I still get lost, but not as often.

The same goes for acronyms in work environments. Every environment has shorthand ways of referring to people, places, projects, technologies and proposals. When I find myself in a new environment, I make a point of having these acronyms decoded. On one project, I was so overwhelmed with all the acronyms and technical jargon that I produced and distributed a glossary of terms. Much to my surprise, even people who had been there a long time thanked me for the list. Even they had forgotten the meaning of some of the acronyms and jargon!

We have gone from the sublime to what may seem rather trivial, but learning names is never trivial. Whether you hear your name called by the Universal Spirit or by the person next door, there is always something powerful and intimate that happens when your name is called. Get beyond, “Hey, you!” by the simple act of learning names. “Hey, Bob!” will get my attention every time.

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.

LifeTrek Readers’ Forum (selected feedback from the past week)

Editor’s Note: The LifeTrek Readers’ Forum contains selections from the comments and materials sent in each week by the readers of LifeTrek Provisions. They do not necessarily reflect the perspective of LifeTrek Coaching International. To submit your comment, use our Feedback Formor Email Bob.


Thanks for the Wellness Pathway on protecting your skin. I now dutifully lather my face with sunscreen, following the dictates of my doctor (and you can’t imagine how significant this is until you’ve dealt with skin grafting onto your nose after a malignancy!). Or I wear a wide brimmed hat . . . well, it turns out both are better (necessary, actually!). Even wearing the hat, the sun’s harmful rays will get to your face via pavement/sand reflection. Isn’t that cheerful news????? Now, if anyone can enlighten me about how to juggle sunscreen and make-up, I’ll be grateful! Some folks tell me the sunscreen is good for 6 or 8 hours; next time I hear its usefulness is gone in 20 minutes. Sunscreen manufacturers gain if I use more sunscreen; make-up manufacturers want me to find it easy to use their stuff. Know anyone who can speak from an unbiased “reality”? Of course, if I stay in the house exploring the subject on the net I’ll never get outside to encounter the problem! Give my regards to the heron.


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
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a TimeOnline Retailers

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 #263: Ply Your Curiosity

Laser Provision


When it’s time to settle down in new circumstances and environments, there’s one surefire way to open doors and make things happen: ply your curiosity each and every day. Don’t make like a turtle and pull into your shell. Reach out and discover what the world has to offer. There’s more there than you know.

LifeTrek Provision


We are moving into the homestretch of this series on successfully navigating life’s transitions. Although we’ve covered a lot of ground, there’s still a little more to say, based not only on our reading of the literature but also on our recent experience of relocating our home and office to a new community in a new region of the United States.

We’ve written about how to prepare for the transition and how to go through its initial stages with effortless simplicity, style, and grace. Now it’s time to turn our attention to moving on. One cannot always be in transition. By definition, transition is a “passage from one form, state, style, or place to another.” At some point, in every transition, the opportunity presents itself to settle into new ways of being and doing.

The question is whether the new ways are any more satisfying and successful than the old ways. Although we some times luck out, stumbling into the opportunity of a lifetime, most of the time we have to make things happen through conscious choice and affirmative action. Fortunately, conscious choice and affirmative action are equal opportunity employers. We all have the same chance to make them work for us, regardless of the difficulties we may be up against.

Too many people go into shock over transitions, prompting them to hunker down in depression and self-protection. Unfortunately, those very real human responses to the at times overwhelming nature of what comes at us during major life transitions only make matters worse. When we find ourselves in changed circumstances and new environments, that’s when it’s time to ply our curiosity in every way shape and form. One never knows what will come from even the most innocent of initiatives.

Last week, for example, I went to two Rotary meetings, a neighborhood block party, a running club, countless vendors, and a worship service. Business cards were exchanged, relationships were established, and opportunities began to present themselves that would never have happened had I not plied my curiosity into action.

One can be curious over just about anything. That’s one of the great things about human nature. Although we can certainly succumb to isolationism and xenophobia • the fear of strangers • we can also exercise judgment in different directions. We can embrace expansionism and xenophilia • the love of strangers • out of our confidence that in so doing we may align ourselves positively with the mystery of life’s unfolding.

Here’s one small example from the past week. Early one morning I went for a run on a new route to a local park. At the end of the road, there were several trails each of which I followed just to find out where they went. I was curious. At the end of one trail there was a small amphitheater with a fire circle, looking out with a glorious view over Chesapeake Bay. At the end of another trail, there was a dock which I sat on for a while to watch the blue herons fishing with such incredible patience. They stood perfectly still until just the right moment.

That scene, which I would have never experienced without taking the road less traveled, later became the image I worked with in my morning affirmations. I came to identify with the blue heron as an image of myself in the process of becoming. I am definitely not good at staying still. It’s all too easy to rush and demand my way from one task to the next. But that is not the way of life. The blue heron showed me a different way, which I employed as I sat on hold in various telephone queues throughout the week. Instead of getting impatient with the frequent, interminable delays I thought of myself as the blue heron, waiting for a fish to appear.

Here’s another example. The neighborhood block party, which has happened every year during June for more than 30 years, could easily have been skipped. After all, we’re still in boxes with computers on card tables. How could we take the time for softball and socializing? It would have been easy to bury ourselves in our own pressures and projects.

But that is not the way of life. Those pressures and projects will be there yesterday, today, and tomorrow. They’re not going anywhere. The neighborhood block party was a once-a-year opportunity around which we plied our curiosity from 7:00 AM (07:00) to 10:00 PM (22:00). The people we met are neighbors who will no doubt become colleagues, clients, and associates. Let’s just say we ran out of business cards and have already started making connections that will benefit LifeTrek coaching.

That’s how it works when we ply our curiosity rather than hide in our shell. Things happen when we get ourselves out of bed in the morning and make ourselves available. Whether it’s a bird or a business prospect, we can benefit greatly from paying attention to what they have to offer. The more interested we are in the manifold beauty and bounty of life, the more it will come back to us a hundredfold. That’s what some have called the law of attraction. It’s really quite simple. Ply your curiosity and experience the blessing.

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.

LifeTrek Readers’ Forum (selected feedback from the past week)

Editor’s Note: The LifeTrek Readers’ Forum contains selections from the comments and materials sent in each week by the readers of LifeTrek Provisions. They do not necessarily reflect the perspective of LifeTrek Coaching International. To submit your comment, use our Feedback Formor Email Bob.


I love your weekly postings. They are a great help to me and many, many others. I need to inform you of a change in e-mail addresses for me. Thanks, and I look forward to many more insightful postings. (Ed. Note: Anyone can subscribe at any time by using our auto responder. Simply send any email to: subscribe@LifeTrekCoaching.com.


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
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a TimeOnline Retailers

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 #262: Forgive Yourself

Laser Provision


The point of effortless systems is not to eliminate error, although that does happen from time to time. The point is to effortlessly make one as successful as possible. When error does happen, acknowledge the facts and forgive yourself. That’s the only way to move on with joy to bigger and better things.

LifeTrek Provision


Last week I wrote about the importance of designing and using effortless systems in order to successfully navigate life’s transitions. We can, of course, push our way through with grit and determination. But that takes so much energy! Effortless systems are designed to produce the same results with minimum energy, leaving us free to appreciate the change process and to accommodate the new environment.

As an example of an effortless system, I described how we relied on the postal service to trigger and pace our account forwarding information before our recent move to Virginia. On a daily basis, we processed the notifications for those bills and publications which came in that day’s mail. By starting early enough, about 40 days prior to our move, we easily captured all of the important vendors, customers, and publishers. The system worked like a charm.

Several readers commented on how impressed they were by this system. They correctly observed that it enabled us to focus on other things besides the nitty-gritty details and that it made our first week in Virginia much more enjoyable. What they failed to observe, however, is that even with a well-designed and effortless system there were still pieces which fell through the cracks. No system, no matter how effortless, is foolproof. There’s always some degree of error in the system.

First, there are the things that we do wrongly. One of the conveniences of modern life is being able to pay bills electronically. No more check writing, stamps, or duplicate accounting entries! Create the vendor, enter the account number, and from there on out you pay effortlessly with a mouse click. Recently, in the process of setting up a new vendor, I transposed two of the account numbers • thereby transmitting funds to a nonexistent account. That little mistake took 30 minutes on the phone and several faxes to correct.

Second, there are the things that we do rightly and others do wrongly. When the phone bills arrived, I called the telephone company to arrange for the forwarding address and telephone numbers. Upon our arrival in Virginia, I called our old numbers only to discover that the recorded greetings were not in place. Once again, that took 30 minutes on the phone to correct • and they still didn’t get it right. There goes another 30 minutes on the phone.

Third, there are the things that we forget to do. As we finished up the packing of files in preparation for the move, I created a note of several vendors who we had not heard from in the mail and who needed to be notified of our new address. This was on a Sunday, so I had to wait until Monday to make the calls. Guess what? By Monday, the note was misplaced and the calls were never made. Now, as we unpack the files, I find myself going through the same process all over again.

These are, of course, petty examples of doing those things which we ought not to do and of not doing those things which we ought to do. In times of transition, even with effortless systems, we can expect these “sins of commission and omission” to increase in both frequency and severity. That’s what makes transitions so challenging. Stuff comes at us with such speed, force, and direction that things inevitably slip. We simply cannot account for every eventuality.

Accepting that fact makes all the difference, when it comes to successfully navigating life’s transitions. As long as we think that life ought to go perfectly, with no slip ups and no confusion, we end up kicking ourselves and railing against others. That phone company which can’t seem to get anything right? How dare they waste my time! Those numbers I transposed or that note I misplaced? What’s the matter with me!

Too many people spend way too much time and energy second-guessing themselves and condemning others for the errors that creep in along the way. But there’s a simple antidote to the problem: forgive yourself. Accept that you and the people you work with will come up short, even with the best of systems. The point of effortless systems is not to eliminate error, both human and mechanical. It’s to minimize error in order to give people the greatest chance for success.

Many great spiritual traditions view the notion of forgiveness as holding the secret of life. This is as true in the workplace as it is in the home. Keeping a record of wrongs, whether they be your own or others, will only serve to wear you down and out. Wiping the slate clean, with a gracious and understanding spirit, will enable you to design even better systems the next time in order to support you at being the best you can possibly be.


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.

LifeTrek Readers’ Forum (selected feedback from the past week)

Editor’s Note: The LifeTrek Readers’ Forum contains selections from the comments and materials sent in each week by the readers of LifeTrek Provisions. They do not necessarily reflect the perspective of LifeTrek Coaching International. To submit your comment, use our Feedback Formor Email Bob.


Congratulations on such a good move. It feels better to imagine you two together more.


Thanks for Wellness Pathway on appreciating beauty. It is nice to feel, right now, right at home with people who care about living life to the fullest. After reading and sharing about an appreciation for beauty, it is nice to enjoy knowing also that beauty is not only in the eye of the beholder but also in the heart and spirit. Thanks for a good moment.


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
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a TimeOnline Retailers

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 #261: Develop Effortless Systems

Laser Provision


Too often we try to navigate transitions through the strength of our own determination and will-power. Unfortunately, that never lasts forever. Things work much better when we design, develop, and draw on effortless, self-organizing systems. This Provision illustrates how to make that happen.

LifeTrek Provision


As I begin to write this Provision, I am watching the mist rise off the surface of Queens Lake and the morning sun brighten the still, green leaves of the opposite shore. It is a glorious start to the first new day in our new home and headquarters of LifeTrek coaching. It is also the prefect ending of a perfect move. Everything went so smoothly, according to plan, and effortlessly that I have to think there are many lessons here for successfully navigating life’s transitions.

One lesson is to design, develop, and draw on effortless systems. This can only happen if we do the grief work described in the last two Provisions. To move from something old to something new, one has to put the old to bed. That takes an active recognition of all that is good in the old world. Doing so frees your energy and imagination for the kind of systems that will assist you to be successful.

Here’s an example. I call it being organized by the flow of life (AKA the United States Postal Service). Approximately 40 days prior to our move-in date, we secured our new phone number and established new banking relationships on the east coast and began doing business from there. That enabled our old accounts to grow dormant prior to closing. It also enabled us to begin notifying our vendors and customers of our new contact information.

Once all this was in place, we began the daily routine of dealing with any mail that came through the door. Since we were a month out from our move-in date, we would perfectly catch the next monthly billing or publication schedule without missing a single invoice or issue. It worked seamlessly. By the time we arrived, there were few items that the postal service needed to forward from our old address.

More significantly, it worked effortlessly. We did not have to make to-do lists or think about all the people we had to notify. We simply let them come to us. By dealing with them day-by-day, over the course of 40 days, we knew we would capture almost all of the important contacts. Rather than worrying over whether or not we had thought of everyone and everything, we could simply wait for the flow of life to organize itself through our awareness and use of a system that was already in place. We were also presented with a manageable amount of business to handle from one day to the next. It worked like a charm.

There are huge life lessons in this example. Allow me to identify three.

First, we free ourselves to be successful when we don’t rely on systems that take will-power or self-discipline. Everyone knows the problem of going on a diet: you gain the weight back once you go off the diet. And no one can be on a diet for ever. So just about everyone gains the weight back. The only people who successfully lose weight and keep it off are people who develop new, enjoyable habits and interests. They hit upon effortless, self-organizing systems that work.

That was certainly the experience of organizing our transition through the postal service. As soon as we had the system in place, we could sit back, relax, and let the system do its work. Confident that the system would capture at least 80% of the vendors and customers, we could direct our energy to grief work and leave taking. We could pay attention to the finer things in the life, since handling the details was on autopilot.

Second, we free ourselves to be successful when we rely upon effortless, self-organizing systems that are already in place. And this is true more often than we think. We just need to recognize and use them. It would certainly have been possible to develop lists upon lists of all the people and companies we needed to contact and notify. But why bother with such a labor-intensive system? The postal service delivered the list to our door every day! And they did their job impeccably.

This lesson has broad and deep applications. So often we approach life from the heroic, “I did it my way” frame of mind. There are certainly times and places for rugged individualism. But most of the time there are resources at our finger tips we barely manage to recognize, let alone tap. I mean who would think of the postal service as a resource? Reframe the project, however, and it suddenly jumps into view. So too in other areas of life. There are systems and people in place that will assist us to be successful, often free of charge, if we just let them. We don’t have to reinvent the wheel. We can build on the experience and wisdom that’s all around us (and don’t be afraid to pay for them when necessary).

Third, we free ourselves to be successful when we rely upon effortless, self-organizing systems that break things down into bite size pieces. To quote a clich•, there really is only one way to eat an elephant, and that’s one bite at a time. Take on too much at once and suddenly everything starts to slip. Quality as well as quantity begins to decline. Perhaps even more significantly, we quickly find ourselves overwhelmed • pushing from adrenaline rather than pulling from attraction.

What’s attraction? It’s being so filled with energy, gratitude, and love that systems and people are drawn to you like a magnet. There’s no way to be that attractive and be overwhelmed at the same time. Breaking it down in manageable pieces of work will fill you with energy that’s often missing for the trek of life.

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LifeTrek Readers’ Forum (selected feedback from the past week)

Editor’s Note: The LifeTrek Readers’ Forum contains selections from the comments and materials sent in each week by the readers of LifeTrek Provisions. They do not necessarily reflect the perspective of LifeTrek Coaching International. To submit your comment, use our Feedback Formor Email Bob.


I’ve really enjoyed the LifeTrek Provisions, and they come at just the right time. May was a terrible month with significant health and career challenges. Though limited in what physical activity I could do, on May 27, I began walking daily on a treadmill at the local community center. At first, I tried to read or do something “productive.” Finally, I decided that these walks, looking out at a beautiful field and hills with the sun coming up over them, were really a walk away from these recent events and a walk to a newer, healthier, and (hopefully) wealthier life. It made the walk much more purposeful than just exercising. I’ve been through the range of emotions on these walks, and feel strength, energy, and purpose returning as I move away from the events of May. While I’m not certain about what I’m walking towards, at least I’m walking away from unpleasantness, a job that took too much out of me, and pain in my back. Starting tomorrow, I will start imagining what I’m walking towards! I’ll trust my body and mind to get me to where I need to be. Thanks for sharing your insights in these Provisions!


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

Bob Tschannen-Moran

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

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