Provision #148: Change your Heart

LifeTrek Provision

We’re at the end of my serieson 10 things you can change about yourself to change your life. They startedout so simple: change your handwriting, surroundings, and name. They ended upgetting progressively harder: change your focus, script, religion, consumption,relationships, and trust. Still, none of them are beyond anyone’s reach andthey don’t depend on other people. These are things you change by yourself,about yourself, and for yourself.

Keep in mind that you canalways go back and refresh your memory at the LifeTrek Provision archive on our Website, http://www.LifeTrekCoaching.com. Iknow people do this because I occasionally receive comments from people whofind it helpful. You may want to go back and review LifeTrek Provision #146, Changeyour Trust, before reading the rest of this one. The two tips are integrallyconnected.

Although most people foundLifeTrek Provision #146 to be helpful and encouraging (as in, “boy, did I needthat!”), two people raised serious theological questions about my statement”that all of life, including the hard, impossible, and incomprehensible partsof life, has nothing but our best interest at heart.” Try telling that tosomeone suffering in abject poverty, or to someone in a concentration camp, orto someone who’s little girl has just died from cancer, or to the innocentvictims of natural disasters.

These people asked for my theodicy, my argument defending God’s goodness despite the existence of evil.It’s an age-old quest. Job, in the Old Testament, wrestled with it admirablybut ultimately came to an imponderable conclusion. “I’m speechless, in awe –words fail me,” Job concluded, “I should never have opened my mouth.” Perhapsthat’s the best way to respond: in silence. At its core, Job’s responserepresents the final LifeTrek Provision in this series: change your heart.

One thing is clear: everysituation may not be good, but no situation is beyond God’s reach. By changingour heart we can shine as human beings in even the worst of circumstances; wecan find and follow the tug of goodness that makes a way out of no way and atestimony out of a tragedy.

A danger of believing that “allof life has nothing but our best interest at heart” is the danger of becomingcoldhearted to the plight and suffering of others. They must be suffering for areason and we, who have access to the Internet, must be succeeding for areason. Life is trying to teach them a lesson. Let them find their own way out.Let them pull themselves up and out by their bootstraps.

This attitude can be bothblatant and subtle. Some people, the “God-wants-me-to-be-rich” people,unabashedly proclaim a prosperity gospel. Other people keep it to themselves,and may even deny it publicly, but they do little to suffer with or relieve thesuffering of others.

If that sounds familiar, thenperhaps this LifeTrek Provision is for you. Change your heart. Prosperity has more ofa lesson to teach than adversity. Perhaps that’s why Jesus said it’s easier fora camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to get intoheaven. If success fails to make us more compassionate, more sensitive, moreunderstanding, more gracious, and more generous then we have not come close tothe truth.

How do we defend God’s goodnessdespite the existence of evil? It’s all in the heart. If evil invokes oursilence, strengthens our resolve, deepens our caring, binds our community, andenergizes our love • if evil lead to one for all and all for one • then it tooplays a part in the mysterious unfolding of life. When you get right down toit, it’s a leap of faith. Either you believe that God’s presence impacts everysituation or you don’t. I can’t prove it, one way or another. But I believethat without this invisible hand, things would be a lot worse. I also believethat with this invisible hand, things are such that every situation, even theworst of situations, can bear the fruit of love. Change your heart. Be compassionate, even as God is compassionate. Who knows the miracles you’ll see.

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

Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC

Provision #146: Change your Trust

LifeTrek Provision

Trust is a big deal in our family. Megan, who has herdoctorate in educational administration, wrote her dissertation on trust inschools. When trust is present, things work better and students learn more.When trust is absent, things break down and students learn less.

It’s easier to define the absence of trust than itspresence: suspicion, hostility, deceit, impatience, antagonism, undermining,dishonesty, pretense, cheating, intolerance, and edginess. We know those whenwe see and feel them.

After considerable research and thought, Megan settled uponthe following definition for the presence of trust: “Trust is the willingnessto be vulnerable based on the confidence that the other party is benevolent,competent, reliable, honest, and open.”

For this LifeTrek Provision I want to work with that definition ina context other than schools, other than organizational theory. I want to workwith that definition in the context of God, of the Universe, of Life itself.

How do you go through Life? Do you have the confidence thatGod, the Universe, and/or Life itself is benevolent, competent, reliable,honest, and open? Or do you approach Life with suspicion, hostility,impatience, dishonesty, intolerance, and edginess? The answer to that questionmakes a world of difference to your health, well-being, attractiveness, andfuture development.

Let me give you an example. These LifeTrek Provisions have beeninterrupted and delayed by my father’s emergency open-heart surgery on Friday,January 21. Things were touch and go both before and after the surgery as theyworked to prevent a heart attack and stabilize his condition. Now he’s in themidst of his own marathon, known as recovery road, with the inevitable physicaland emotional challenges.

How do you cope with such untoward events? They happen to usall. Health emergencies. Growing pains. Domestic disputes. Career transitions.Financial crises. Fertility problems. Attention deficits. Rush-hour traffic.You’re likely to see most of these stresses, along with many others, over thecourse of a lifetime. How do they leave you feeling? Do you ponder, “Why me?”Or do you trust, “Why not me?”

“Why not me?” reflects the vulnerability that underlies thedefinition of trust. When we open ourselves to the idea that all of life,including the hard, impossible, and incomprehensible parts of life, has nothingbut our best interest at heart we start living out of trust rather than fear.And that posture enables us to move placidly, effortlessly, and gracefully fromthe cradle to the grave.

The sacred writings tell many stories of people who learnthis lesson. There is the student who seeks wisdom from a master, only to growimpatient as the teacup overflows. Or the crowds who ask Jesus to explain thesin behind a man born blind. The answer is always the same. It’s not about sin.And there is no secret. It’s about finding the trust to accept the presentmoment as the perfect moment for us, the one that’s perfectly designed forwonder, growth, transformation, and blessing.

Perhaps the apostle Paul said it best: we know that allthings work together for good for those who trust God. It’s not magic. It’sjust the way it is. Trust God to use every situation for good and you’ll findthe good you trust in no time.

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

Provision #145: Change your Relationships

LifeTrek Provision

Atthe International Coach Federation meeting in October Talane Miedaner talkedduring one of the workshops about the dynamic of flow in life. Life is neverstatic, at least not until it’s over. Einstein proved that with his famousequation E=mc2. Not even solid rock is static. It’s actually abundle of enormous energy, interacting with other energies in its environment.

Soit is with all of life. Energy flows. Although sometimes it swirls around andaround, most of the time energy either flows back and forth, in and out, to andfrom (that’s true even in the swirl itself). Talane spoke of this in terms ofenergy drains and energy boosters. Energy drains sap us of energy. Energyboosters give us energy. The concept is that simple.

I’vespoken before in these LifeTrek Provisions about eliminating tolerations. That’s aCoach University buzzword for energy drains. They can be just about anything,and they’re different for different people. Don’t think of them in terms ofwhether you’re exerting yourself or not, whether you’re giving or receiving.Many people receive a tremendous energy boost from giving.

Thinkof them in terms of how they leave you feeling. Do you enjoy something? Thenit’s an energy booster. Do you notice something that you’d like to bedifferent? Then it’s an energy drain. That something can be as small as aburned-out light bulb or as large as a postponed major project. Eliminatingeven a few energy drains can have a major impact on your quality of life andyour overall energy level.

Manypeople fail to realize that relationships can be viewed through the same energydraining / energy boosting filter. Relationships may, in fact, be the biggestenergy flow of all. That’s why I include them in my list of 10 things you canchange to change your life. Toxic relationships need to be handled the same wayas any other toxic waste: we either need to clean them up or move away fromthem.

Iagree with those who suggest that cleaning them up is the first and bestoption. To move away just makes them someone else’s problem. And by moving awaywe fail to learn all that can be learned from them in order to avoid suchmesses in the future. When it comes to relationships we often end up jumpingfrom the frying pan into the fire. So instead of bolting at the first sign oftrouble, see what you can do to clean them up.

Failingthat, you need to think about moving on rather than spending a lifetime ofselling yourself short. A constant energy drain is no way to live. This is astrue in professional relationships as it is in personal ones. How many peoplesuffer, for example, with doctors they just can’t talk to? Or with bosses theyjust can’t stand? We allow ourselves to be intimidated by their credentials,expertise, or position rather than to engage with them around a project ofmutual improvement or to disengage with them altogether.

Whatare the toxic relationships that you are tolerating in your life? If you can’tsee them, ask your friends. They’re usually painfully obvious to those who areless invested but who nevertheless care about you. Toxic relationships may bepersonal or professional, but they all share the same quality of being: theytake more energy than they give.

Don’tunderestimate the negative impact of toxic relationships. Don’t put up withthem just because they’ve always been there or you can’t think of otheroptions. Improve them or eliminate them. Change your involvement with them. Change your expectations. See what can happen through your own concerted efforts at forgiveness and well-being. When all else fails, walk away. As hard as it sounds, you’ll be glad you did.

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

Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC

Provision #144: Change your Consumption

LifeTrek Provision

First, I want to welcome our many new subscribers andfriends. At the end of last year I invited my 300 loyal readers to send me thee-mail address of one other person who might enjoy receiving these tips. Your responsehas been generous, encouraging, and humbling. So far I have received anadditional 50 names and they keep coming in, just about every day. I’m pleasedthat so many people read these tips and want to share them with others in thenew year, the new century, and the new millennium.

Second, I want to remind everyone (especially our newsubscribers and friends) that you are in no way stuck on this weeklydistribution list. A simple reply, with REMOVE or UNSUBSCRIBE in the subjectline, will take care of things in short order. This is not spam but rather apersonal attempt to peel the onion of life in order to catch wind of its deepermeanings and mysteries. I hope you will enjoy reading them this year as much asI will enjoy wrestling with the topics and writing them out.

Third, after a holiday break, I want to remind everyone thatwe’re in the midst of 10-part series on simple things you can do to change yourlife. We’ve covered six topics already: change your handwriting, change yoursurroundings, change your name, change your focus, change your script, andchange your religion. For those of you who’ve not been with us throughout theseries, you can review these and other past tips at our web site, <ahref=”http: www.lifetrekcoaching.com=”” “=””>http://www.LifeTrekCoaching.com, where wemaintain an archive of all the past Provisions.

Finally, we come to this week’s Provision: change yourconsumption. Following the annual spending spree that sweeps much of the globeat the end of every year, most of it in the name of a first century Jewishpeasant who would hardly recognize himself in all the festivities and carryingon, it seems appropriate to remember that excess consumption gets us into a lotof trouble. When we eat too much we get fat. When we spend too much we get poor.Neither one is very desirable.

Household economics can be boiled down to streams: money inand money out. Each stream can be divided into two tributaries: active income(or expense) and passive income (or expense). Active income, for example, isthe money you earn by working for it. Passive income, on the other hand, ismoney that comes in without your so much as lifting a finger. Interest at thebank and stock appreciation are two common examples.

This tip focuses on the other side of the equation: change your consumption. Active consumption is the money you consciously spend to buy something. Changing that, buying less or buying more, can be harder than it seems. Especially when it comes to buying less. Most of us reading this LifeTrek Provision suffer more from buying too much than from buying too little. There is tremendous pressure to consume more and more and more. Peer pressure and advertising are two of the most common pressures, with the Internet adding yet another venue to bombard us with the message, “Look! You can have all this instantly!”

It’s the pressure to consume that leads so many to pursuewhat Dominguez and Robin call “making a dying” rather than making a living intheir wonderful book, Your Money or Your Life: Transforming YourRelationship With Money and Achieving Financial Independence (Penguin Books• New York, 1992).• If you want goodpractical tips on how to do this, read their book. When we always want or needmore, it’s impossible to be happy with what we have and who we are in the presentmoment. So we go off to “make a dying” with our stressful jobs, crazy hours,and impossible expectations.

It’s this very pressure that leads to passive consumption:the money you unconsciously spend to buy something. This is the money thatburns a hole in our pockets. We spend it on impulse, without really thinking,to feel better about something, or just because it’s there. It’s also the moneythat slips away through credit card interest, hidden charges, unplannedemergencies, and other factors that we actually have more control over than wethink.

It’s time to stop the nonsense and to think more clearlyabout the life, and the things, that really make us happy. I doubt, when youdie, that you’ll be thinking about your toys. But relationships with people,the search for meaning, and the making of a better world • now those are thingsworth living for. And guess what? They don’t cost half of what we think theydo. At the end of the day, it’s a matter of attention, effort, discipline, andgrace.

The dictionary says that to “consume” is to “use up, waste,destroy, and squander.” When we change our consumption, when we change frombeing consumers to being citizens, we have the opportunity to “give back,rescue, create, and save.” Stop worrying about what the neighbors will think.Center yourself in your true values. Change your consumption. It may be hard atfirst, but you’ll be glad you did.

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

Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC

Provision #143: Change your Religion

LifeTrek Provision

How’s that for a tip, during this holiday time of year? No, I’m not on a crusade to convert you to my branch of Christianity. I am rather encouraging you to look at your underlying beliefs about life and to change them, if need be, into something less deterministic, legalistic, and oppressive. This can be done within any of the great religious traditions. So you’re safe on the score. But too many people adopt an attitude about their religion that’s simply not very helpful.

Robert Farrar Capon, a retired Episcopal priest, has written clearly and cogently about this theme for many years. He defines religion this way: any system that guarantees success in life(or death). Most systems, he points out, revolve around conduct (what we do),creed (what we believe), and/or cult (what we sacrifice).

With this definition, Capon argues that religion can be either sacred or secular. It is not confined to the great religious traditions of the world. Politics can be a religion: elect me and all will be well! Success can be a religion: make money and all will be well! Work can be a religion: work hard and all will be well! Self-help can be a religion: eat tofu, practice meditation, or organize your clutter and all will be well! Obviously religion itself can be made into a religion: believe this and all will be well! Live morally and all will be well! Sacrifice your first-born male child (or at least 10% of your income) and all will be well!

I use those exclamation points to indicate that most proponents of a religion do so with great enthusiasm. Ever meet someone who’s recently quit smoking or lost a lot of weight? They can be excruciating. Everyone had better get on board, or else, because their system guarantees success.

Success, of course, can be defined in many ways. Some religions wait until “death do us part.” Then and only then, when we go to heaven or get reincarnated, do we end up successful or not. Most religions also offer something in the meantime, such as health, money, or love(the title of Capon’s best book on the subject, now out of print, is Health, Money, and Love: And Why We Don’t Enjoy Them). There’s usually a simple formula • do this, believe this, and/or sacrifice this to get the goods.

The problem, of course, is that there are no guarantees. There are no laws of the universe that guarantee health, money, love, or any of the myriad targets of human ambition and endeavor. We’d like there to be such laws, of course, an inclination that Capon argues is built into the insufferably anxious constitutions of human beings. But just when we think we’ve got it all figured out, life has a way of reminding us that we don’t. We play by the rules (whatever they may be) and we still end up sick, broke, brokenhearted, or dead.

So what’s the point? The point is to live in the present moment without making it contingent on some future reward. Forget the system. There is no deal. Live now as though it may be the last now you’ll ever have. Learn to appreciate the biggest prize of all: life itself. If you run, run for what it means to you now. If you work, work for what it means to you now. If you fast, fast for what it means to you now. If you write, write for what it means to your now. If you give, give for what it means to you now.

Does this mean I’m against self-improvement? Hardly! That would put us coaches out of business. It simply means that self-improvement needs to be kept in perspective. First, there is no magic bullet, no one thing (or several things) that you can do to make everything come out all right. You can improve your chances, but that’s about all anyone can say. Second, there is no future reward that makes pain, suffering, and self-denial in the present moment all worthwhile. They may be worthwhile, but that worth has to be found in the experience of doing them rather than in the promise of collecting on them.

Are you working 60, 70, or more hours per week with little time for your spouse, partner, children, family, or even yourself? Don’t fool yourself into thinking you’re doing it for them, for their future, or for some great unseen reward. Do it, if you do it at all, for what it means now. Enjoy the stressful ride or don’t do it at all. Are you going to church? Training for a race? Going to school? Drinking filtered water? Living a moral life? Tutoring a child? Investing in the stock market? Memorizing the catechism? Saying, “I do?” Whatever you’re doing, thinking, and/or sacrificing, avoid turning it into a religion. There are no systems that guarantee success. But there is the present moment to be fully mindful of and grateful for the mystery and wonder of life.

Enjoy the holidays! The next tip you’ll receive from me will come about three weeks from now, when we can all breathe a welcome Y2K sigh of relief.

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

Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC

Provision #142: Change your Focus

LifeTrek Provision

Lastweek I made the observation that the average person has about 50,000 thoughts aday and that 95 percent of them are the same ones he or she had the daybefore.• Many of these thoughts arebenign reminders of what needs to get done and how to do it. “Shave. Change theblade. Turn the key. Go to work.” You know the routine.

Butsome of these thoughts are scripts that have been running through our head,every day, for most of our lives with profoundly negative consequences. I knowmany people who repeat the following “truths” to themselves over and overagain:

  • “I’ve never been able to lose weight and keep it off.”
  • “I just can’t remember names.”
  • “I’m terrible at directions.”
  • “I can never forgive myself for that.”
  • “I’m stupid.”
  • “I’m always right.”
  • “No one ever listens to me.”
  • “I’m tired all the time.”
  • “I don’t have enough.”
  • “I’m allergic to just about everything.”
  • “I hate myself.”

Soundfamiliar? Such repetitive, negative thoughts take a tremendous toll. Theybecome self-fulfilling prophecies. We are what we think. A great way to changewho we are is to change what we think about ourselves, especially those mantrasthat I call psychological zingers or scripts.

Oneof the first things I do with my coaching clients is I have them write down aclear set of personal and professional goals. Most people are comfortable withthat. I then have them rewrite those goals as positive, present-tenseaffirmations.

  • “I want to lose weight,” becomes “I eat and live like a thin person.”
  • “I want to be fast enough to qualify for and run well in the Boston marathon,” becomes “I am a fast runner who deserves to compete with the best.”
  • “I want to learn how to manage money and become a successful financial advisor,” becomes “I know how to manage money and I attract wealthy clients.”
  • “I want to turn this company around,” becomes “I make good business decisions and play on a winning team.”
  • “I want to feel better,” becomes “I feel better today than I felt yesterday.”

Manypeople get uncomfortable with this part of the exercise. “But it’s not true!”they protest, “I don’t feel better! I haven’t realized those goals yet. Itfeels like I’m playing games with myself. It feels like self-deception.” With alittle work, however, most clients make the shift from seeing these affirmationsas self-deception to seeing them as self-direction. Especially if they take thetime to do their homework: writing them down, fifteen times, every morning andevery night.

Tochange your script, to break repetitive negative thought patterns, one has toreplace them with repetitive positive thought patterns. Writing out positivepresent-tense affirmations every morning and every night is a precursor torepeating these affirmations mentally throughout the day. And thatself-direction or self-coaching is a precursor to being and becoming the personyou know yourself to be. Try it for 30 days. Make the shift. Change yourself-talk. I know from experience that wonderful things will begin to happen.

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

Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC

Provision #141: Change your Focus

LifeTrek Provision

Whilepeople may have different amounts of money, we all have the same amount oftime. And most of us have more or less the same amount of conscious time, whenwe’re awake and paying attention to life.

What’sthe focus of your attention? Attention is like a spotlight. You see what youshine it on; the rest is hidden in darkness. It’s really up to you. Considerwhere you are spending your attention. There are an unlimited number of thingsthat you can “pay” attention to, both outside (in your environment) and inside(in your being). Where’s the spotlight of your attention shining right now? Ifyou’re not happy, or if you’re stuck in a rut, it may be time to change yourfocus.

It’sbeen estimated that the average person has about 50,000 thoughts a day and that95 percent of them are the same ones he or she had the day before. That meanswe’re all in a rut, paying attention to and thinking about the same things overand over again. If we have developed the habit of spending our attention on thethings we don’t like about life, rather than the things we do like, it’s easyto become jaded, cynical, and pessimistic.

Doyou know anyone like that? Are you like that? Bored with life?Complaining all the time? Appreciating nothing? Grouchy? Interested in nothingother than yourself, and sometimes not even that will do? Unable to hear or seeanything good? Routinely critical of others and of life itself? Overwhelmed anddepressed?

Allthese problems stem from an attention deficit disorder • not ADD in theclinical sense but ADD in the spiritual sense. We are literally payingattention to the wrong things and it’s sapping us of everything good, joyful,and true. Change your focus, shine the spotlight of your attention on more,less, or something else entirely, and you may just find the answer you’ve beenlooking for.

Takethe people with whom you share your home and work life. Do you focus on theways they annoy, hurt, or disappoint you? Do you spend your time thinking abouthow you would change them if you could? Change your focus to the things youappreciate, the qualities and behaviors you would miss if they were gone, andyou may experience dramatic changes in the quality of your relationships.

Thisshift represents shining the spotlight of your attention on more of the picturethan you’re used to seeing. It’s like zooming out or looking through awide-angle lens. Whatever you’re going through, there’s always more to thesituation than you’re paying attention to right now. Illumine more of thestage, see more of the characters, and you may find a blessing where you hadthought there was nothing but a burden.

Shiningthe spotlight of your attention on less of the picture than you’re used toseeing can sometimes work just as well, particularly when there’s too muchcoming at you. Zooming in on the one thing you can do or take comfort in canmake you feel amazingly good in the midst of crazy, mixed-up day.

Reallybad situations require a total shift in focus, shining the spotlight of yourattention on a different stage altogether. I once heard a minister describe hisordeal as a victim of terrorism and torture. The unspeakable things that weredone to him were enough to make any person jaded, cynical, and pessimistic. Butby repeating passages of scripture to himself, by shifting his focus to theinner world, he was able to think about something other than his pain andsuffering. This enabled him to not only survive the situation but to comethrough it with dignity and grace.

Changeyour focus to find the blessing. It’s there. Zoom out, zoom in, or turn aroundand look the other way. Shine the spotlight of your attention on the simplepleasures and positive aspects of life. Cultivate an attitude of gratitude,view life as a gift rather than as a burden, see the glass as full enough, andbefore you know it you’ll start attracting the good things that make life worth living.

May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.
Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC

Provision #140: Change your Name

LifeTrek Provision

The conversation continues about the impact ofhandwriting on the deeper levels of personality. One reader replied, “I’mskeptical as well but I will try it in the spirit that (1) there is no risk,and (2) I have everything to gain if it works.” Especially, I might add, if youhave sloppy handwriting.

Another reader replied about the interconnectednessof life, with specific reference to chaos theory. “Like the butterflies in NYimpacting winds in Japan.” There’s no way to change any part of who we arewithout changing every part of who we are. It’s all connected. For moreinformation about chaos theory, read Chaos: Making a New Science byJames Gleick (Penguin Books, 1988).

This same reader observed that her son had recentlydecided to “write like an A student” in order to enhance his experience atschool. Both of them are now exploring the connection between handwriting andpersonality. You can contact this reader, a professional coach herself, throughher Web site (http://www.educoach.com).

On to this week’s tip. Everyone should have theopportunity to do this at least once in his or her life. I’ve done it twice:change your name. What can be simpler, yet more profound, than changing yourname?

In ancient times one’s name was a window to thesoul. One’s name could express kinship, thanksgiving, wishes, divinity,acknowledgment, trust, occupation, or personal qualities of being. Knowingsomeone’s name was a source of power. When Moses asked for God’s name, Godrefused. Why? Because revealing the Holy Name was too personal, close, anddangerous. Because it would compromise God’s freedom, initiative, and mystery.

Over time, the ancient significance of names becamehidden, lost, and ignored. “A rose by any another name is still a rose.” So whocares about names? This LifeTrek Provision argues that you should care.

When I went away to college, 27 years ago, I changedthe pronunciation of my name, back to its original Swiss-German roots. When Igot married, 23 years ago, I hyphenated my name with my wife’s name toemphasize our vision of the relationship, the partnership, we were about toform. But this wasn’t the only option. We thought seriously about picking aname that represented our core values and hopes for the future.

I know people who have done just that: legallychanged their name to a more descriptive appellation. I know others who’vechanged their name after baptism or divorce. I know still others who’ve changedtheir name to honor a living or deceased relative. Then there’s the easiestroute of all: develop a nickname.

Whatever the circumstances, the important thing isnot the name that gets chosen but the conscious act of choosing one’s name.When that happens, it becomes very much a window to the soul. Instead of beingsomething that’s just always been there, without much thought or significance,it becomes something that has true meaning and power in one’s life. It goesbeyond a statement of one’s ancestry to a statement about who we are and who weare becoming. Claim the name and you end up a different person than you werebefore.

Keep this in mind when you’re choosing names forchildren. You may want to choose names based on meaning rather familiarity. Insome cultures, children are called by their birthday until they demonstratetheir personality. Then a unique and meaningful name is chosen. However we getthere, unique and meaningful names can be simple yet profound agents of personal transformation.

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

Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC

Provision #139: Change your Surroundings

LifeTrek Provision

Whiletwo readers thanked me for last week’s tip on changing your handwriting, ordoing what Ron Scott calls GraphAerobics, two other readers voicedskepticism that this tip would actually work.

I wasskeptical too until I heard Ron speak. He presented impressive first-handanecdotal evidence after working for two decades in the area of handwritinganalysis for major U.S. corporations and after coaching many individuals on thepractice of GraphAerobics. Although it may seem like hocus-pocus, Ibecame persuaded that changing your handwriting can change your life.

Beyondthe personality impact, sitting down to write carefully a few repetitivesentences every morning and every evening has the value of pausing one’s day,making one mindful, and improving one’s legibility. Let me know if you try itand experience positive results.

Lastweek was the first week in my series on “10 Simple Things You Can Do To ChangeYour Life.” This week’s tip is even easier due to its “set it and forget it”quality. Change your surroundings.

Onecan hardly overstate the impact of the environment on the body, mind, andspirit. Everyone knows, for example, that living on a toxic waste dump willproduce a higher risk of cancer. The same is true for any environmental toxin,not just radioactivity. Are your surroundings ugly? Are they cluttered, stark,boring, or depressing? Change your surroundings and you can experience animmediate improvement in your quality of life.

Environmentalchanges can range from the simple to the extreme. Moving your furniture aroundin the room and buying a new set of dishes are two simple examples. Moving yourfurniture changes the pattern of where and how you walk. This change may beenough to dislodge a stubborn pattern you’ve been otherwise failing to change.Getting a new set of dishes with a pattern you truly appreciate and enjoy maybe enough to brighten your day.

Biggerenvironmental changes will, of course, provoke even bigger life changes. You canuse artwork and interior design to create different themes in different rooms.Once created, these rooms can become places to meditate, pray, stretch,exercise, journal, and think based upon your mood at the moment or yourambition for the day. They can become energy boosters rather than energydrains.

Keepin mind that there’s no such thing as energy neutral surroundings. Even if youdon’t notice the flow of energy in a particular room or place, the flow isthere. It’s there even when you are asleep. It is the nature of energy to move.There is no other way. Energy flows. This is as true in the mental / spiritualworld as it is in the physical world. Your surroundings either build you up ortear you down, whether you’re mindful of their impact or not.

Thinkabout this every time you come to occupy new space, whether at work, home, orany other setting. Don’t accept the space as it is with mindless resignation.Instead, become deeply mindful about its impact on your body, mind, and spirit.Remember that it will impact your psyche whenever you’re in the space. How doesit feel? Can it be changed to feel right? Does it provide or is it capable ofproviding such basic qualities as safety, beauty, and peace?

Makesure you think about your surroundings at work as well as at home. Many peoplespend more waking time at work than at home. Sterile and stressful workenvironments with fluorescent lights, sealed windows, and ugly views take atremendous toll. Changing your surroundings at work and walking outside on yourbreaks can mean the difference between a good day and a bad day.

Theancient Chinese practice of Feng Shui (pronounced fung shway) has madeextensive study out of manipulating the environment to eliminate stress, createbalance, and improve the quality of life. It all revolves around the simplenotion of changing your surroundings to change your life.

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

Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC

Provision #138: Change your Handwriting

LifeTrek Provision

This week I begin a new series of LifeTrek Provisions that I call: “Ten Simple Things You Can Do To Change Your Life.” Over the next 10 weeks we will explore each one in detail. None of them requires an enormous amount of effort but they all have the potential to make an enormous amount of difference. How’s this for a simple one? Change your handwriting.

I was introduced to this concept last month at the annual meeting of the International Coach Federation in Orlando, Florida. There I attended a breakout session on GraphAerobics by Ron Scott. As my own coach observed, that was a curious choice. It was certainly not the most popular breakout session. But I’m glad I had the opportunity to hear what Ron had to say.

He started out by making two seemingly obvious points:

  1. The conscious mind impacts what we write, the content.
  2. The unconscious mind impacts how we write, the form.

So far there’s little to argue with. When you sit down to write (whether at a keyboard or with a real pen and paper), you think about what you’re going to write; you don’t think about how you’re going to find the keys or form the letters. That part, you might say, is on autopilot. It has become so much a matter of habit that you can literally do it without thinking. The analogy to riding a bike comes immediately to mind.

Ron went on to make a third point that I had never considered, even though it seems just as obvious. The connection between handwriting and the unconscious mind, he asserted, is a two way street. If the unconscious mind impacts how we write, then changing how we write impacts the unconscious mind.
This assertion explains his trademark term, and book by the same name, GraphAerobics.

Changing how we write is aerobic exercise for the unconscious mind. Some find it to be as taxing as running a marathon (which I intend to do tomorrow at a Boston qualifying pace). Nevertheless, with practice it can become positively therapeutic.

Ron suggests that we practice GraphAerobics when we first get up and then again before we fall off to sleep. At these times the unconscious mind is closest to the surface and most impressionable.
So what changes should you make? It depends on who you are. For example:

  1. Want to be more optimistic? Consider writing uphill on unlined paper.
  2. Want to have more self-esteem? Consider raising and lengthening the cross bars on your lower case t.
  3. Want to be more confident? Consider forming your lower case t and d without loops.
  4. Want to be more empathic? Consider writing with more of a right-hand slant (whether you are right or left handed).
  5. Want to be more romantic? Consider forming your lower case g, y, j, z and p with large open loops.
  6. Want to be less inhibited? Consider expanding the space between the humps in your upper and lower case m and n.
  7. Want to be more decisive? Consider writing your lower case a, c, o, and m with blunt final strokes.

These are just a few of Ron’s many recommendations. Remember, content doesn’t matter. The point is to change the form. If you want work on your self-esteem, a random sentence with lots of lower case t’s will work just as well as a meaningful one. For example: “I heard the pitter-patter of the little kitten’s feet” would be a great GraphAerobic sentence. Write that 10 or 20 times every morning and night, with high and long t bars, and you’ll end up with more self-esteem in no time.

For more information contact Ron Scott , H.C. 3 Box 512-C, Payson, AZ 85541.

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