Provision #438: Back in the Saddle

Laser Provision

Have you missed me? It’s been more than three months since I last wrote the lead article for LifeTrek Provisions, and I’m ready to get back in the saddle. Mike Alafaci’s series on Work / Life Balance Click has been a tremendous blessing in many ways. It has not only provided us with great, practical strategies for balance, it has also provided me with a refreshing S.T.O.P so that I could focus my creative energies on conceptualizing a new book. With all that behind us, we’re ready to start a new series • but not before I share some of the more spectacular moments and discoveries of the past few months.

LifeTrek Provision

In elementary school, we would often start the new school year by writing an essay titled, “What I did on my summer vacation.” Since I’m still a kid at heart, and since I’ve been gone from Provisions for about three months, I want to highlight a few spectacular moments and discoveries before we turn our attention to a new subject matter. A lot has happened in the past few months to inspire and inform life.

Spectacular Story:

Are you familiar with Ode magazine? Click A client gave this to me as a gift subscription and it has become one of my favorite commentaries on the world. Coming out of the Netherlands, Ode is an independent international journal that publishes stories which seek to bridge the gap between thinking and doing, rage and hope, rich and poor. They envision themselves creating an international network of inspiration and cooperation based upon respect, justice, and equality.

Their most recent issue features an interview with Bono, the lead singer of U2, which includes one of the more spectacular stories I have read in a long time. The story reveals much as to how we can best approach our work with others and our way in the world.

“Harry Belafonte is one of my great heroes,” Bono reports, and “he told me a story about Robert G. ‘Bobby’ Kennedy which changed my life. Indeed, it pointed me in the direction I am now going politically.”

“Harry remembered a meeting with Martin Luther King, Jr. when the civil rights moment had hit a wall in the early sixties (impersonating the croaky voice of Belafonte:) ‘I tell you it was a depressing moment when Bobby Kennedy was made attorney general. It was a very bad day for the civil rights movement.’ ‘Why was that?’ Bono asked. ‘Oh, you see, you forget,’ Belafonte continued. ‘Bobby Kennedy was Irish. Those Irish were real racists; they didn’t like the black man. They were just one step above the black man on the social ladder. And Bobby at that time was famously not interested in the civil-rights movement.'”

“‘So we were crestfallen, in despair, talking to Martin, moaning and groaning about the turn of events, when Dr. King slammed his hand down and ordered us to stop bitching.’ ‘Enough of this,’ he said, ‘Is there nobody here who’s got something good to say about Bobby Kennedy?’ We said” ‘Martin, that’s what we’re telling ya! There is no one. There is nothing good to say about him. The guy’s an Irish-Catholic conservative badass; he’s bad news.’ To which Martin replied: ‘Well, then, let’s call this meeting to a close. We will reconvene when somebody has found one thing redeeming to say about Bobby Kennedy because that, my friends, is the door through which our movement will pass.'”

“‘So Martin stopped the meeting and made them all go home. He wouldn’t hear any more negativity about Bobby Kennedy. He knew there must be something positive. And if it was there, he knew somebody could find it. So they befriended the one man who Bobby was very close to, who could get through to Bobby’s soul, and who could turn Bobby into their Trojan horse: his bishop. In fact, they sort of ganged up on this bishop, the civil rights people, and they got the bishop to speak to Bobby.'” It worked.

“Harry became emotional at the end of this tale: ‘When Bobby Kennedy lay dead on a Los Angeles pavement, there was no greater friend to the civil-rights movement.’ Whether Harry was exaggerating or not,” Bono concluded, “this story was a great lesson for me, because what Dr. King was saying was: Don’t respond to caricature • the Left, the Right, the Progressive, the Reactionary. Don’t take people on rumor. Find the light in them, because that will further your cause.” And that’s how we hope to work with people through LifeTrek Coaching.

Spectacular Runs:

In August I ran the Hood to Coast relay in and around Portland, Oregon. The twelve runners on our team covered 197 miles, starting 6,500 feet up Mt. Hood and finishing 26.5 hours later on the beach in Seaside. Our average pace was an 8:05 mile (or a 5:05 kilometer), which I was a little bit under, so my effort helped the team average. This was my first experience with an adventure race and I loved the camaraderie of our team. I nested in the back of our 15-passenger van, when I wasn’t running, and made sure to pay attention to both the sites and sounds of the race as well as the Pacific Northwest.

In October I led the 4:45 pace team at the Baltimore, Maryland marathon and, for the second year in a row, we won the perfect pacer award for finishing closest to our goal. This year the competition was stiff, since another team finished within 4 seconds of their goal. Our team of pacers, however, all finished • hand in hand • within 1 to 2 seconds of our goal. The weather was beautiful during the race and throughout the weekend. Life doesn’t get much better than sitting under the stars, on the breakwall of the Baltimore harbor with my wife and a friend, after a well-run race.

Several weeks later I was mentioning this to my cardiologist, during a routine checkup of my heart-valve murmur, and she was at once impressed and pleased for my having run such a race. What I viewed as an easy and enjoyable pace she viewed as a sign of inner peace and control. “You can run a much faster marathon, right?” she observed. “Anyone can push for the fastest time possible. But not everyone can slow down, especially in those final miles when you just want to finish already. If you can do that, then you are taking good care of your heart.” And with that, she proffered • for the first time • that I did not need to come back to see her for a whole 12 months. That was a good run, indeed!

Spectacular Books:

Not having to write Provisions gave me lots of time to read, and read I did. In fact, the reason I write Provisions, according to my wife, is to justify buying any book that interests me. Here are a few of the more spectacular books that I have read or reviewed in the past three months:

The World is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century Click by Thomas L. Friedman. If anyone should know about the flat world, it is me. I often feel as though I stand at the vortex of a worldwide conversation, from one hour to the next speaking with people East and West in both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. At times the experience is breathtaking. Even so, I learned a lot from Friedman’s book. Who knew, for example, that some fast-food restaurants have outsourced to India their drive-through ordering kiosks? Having read the book, I felt even smarter for having done so when my son, majoring in Systems Engineering at the University of Virginia, told me he had to read it for one of his classes.

The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference Click and Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking Click by Malcolm Gladwell. Although Gladwell’s first book is now about five years old, I had not discovered him until recently. And what a discovery! I share this man’s curiosity with how things work and how things can work better. The first book was picked up by Seth Godin in another book I read, Unleashing the Idea Virus Click. Little things, like a bird flu virus and the idea of a bird flu virus, can slay millions of people and mobilize billions of dollars. Gladwell’s second book, Blink, is all the rage, especially as people come to terms with the flat world. Instinctive intelligence is perhaps more important now than ever before.

Looking for the Good Stuff: A Guide to Enjoying and Appreciating Life Click by Bob New and Kathleen Rich-New. Although this book is overpriced for what you get (certainly no more than four Provisions), it is well written and it correctly recognizes the application of Appreciative Inquiry to personal development. My favorite quote: “Is the glass half full or half empty? The pessimist would say half empty; the optimist, half full. The appreciative individual would not only say half full, but also that it looks cool and refreshing.”

Motivational Interviewing: Preparing People for Change Click by William Miller and Stephen Rollnick. If coaches are anything, we are change agents. People and organizations hire us because they want to make changes in life and work. They want to do better. They want to realize their goals in a satisfying way. They want to get unstuck, if they are stuck, and to pick up momentum, if they are moving. This book, which summarizes a 20-year-old body of knowledge growing out of addiction therapy, has taught me more about how to assist people to change than most of the coaching books I have ever read. And that’s a lot of books.

You, The Owner’s Manual: An Insider’s Guide to the Body That Will Make You Healthier and Younger Click by Michael Roizen and Mehmet Oz was recommended to me by a friend and client who also ran the Baltimore marathon. Except for their indefensible aversion to running and other impact exercises, these two medical doctors have written a great book about health and wellness in easy-to-understand English. I recommend it to anyone who wants to know more about what’s going on inside and how to take care of their body.

Pain Free: A Revolutionary Method for Stopping Chronic Pain Click by Pete Egoscue. Written by an anatomical physiologist based in San Diego, this book suggests simple postures and stretches that can assist people with joint pain or other musculoskeletal problems. The chapters correspond to body parts (feet, knees, hips, backs, shoulders, etc.) so it’s easy to go right to where it hurts. Whether you suffer from a sports injury or a chronic condition this book is worth a try before surgery or other invasive procedures. For a preview of the book, go to Egoscue’s Website Clickand point to where you hurt.

The Sibley Guide to Birds Click by David Allen Sibley. OK, this is not a book that you sit down and read from cover to cover. But as people who were introduced to birds late in life • after moving to the shores of a lake in a bird sanctuary • this book, given to us by a friend after visiting our home for a few days, has proved to be invaluable resource as we get to know our feathered friends. We also recently saw the movie Winged Migration Click, which is an incredible adventure with birds on every continent and in every climate. If you have ever wanted to fly with the birds, find a way to watch this DVD on a large screen with surround sound.

Spectacular Ideas:

In September my wife and I participated in a challenge discovery course that included both high and low adventures. We were invited to climb poles and traverse cables with protective harnesses and ropes held by our team members. Talk about a leap of faith! It was both invigorating and instructive. The low adventure was to get our entire team on a giant teeter-totter without letting it ever touch the ground. We lost our balance on the first try, and succeeded on the second try. Which confirmed what Mike has been writing about for the past three months: balance is a hard thing to achieve and to maintain.

That experience, combined with Mike’s writing, gave me the governing idea for my book which is now coming together quite nicely in outline form. More than balance, I am going to focus on the vital rhythms that make for success and fulfillment in life and work. You won’t be reading this material in Provisions, since it is going to press, but I’m sure you’ll pick up bits and pieces along the way.

Spectacular Conferences:

I have attended two conferences in the past few months: the 4th International Positive Psychology Summit in Washington, DC and the 10th International Coach Federation (ICF) Conference in San Jose, CA. Although both conferences took an asset-based approach to human and organizational development, there was a definite difference in tone and orientation between the two gatherings. The former was more academic and research oriented while the latter was more humorous and application oriented. Coaches sure know how to party when they get together, and this year the ICF Conference was sold out with a record attendance. Perhaps it was the nightly live entertainment!

The two conferences converged around the ICF’s Research Symposium, where I and four other authors presented a paper titled “Relational Flow: A Theoretical Model for the Intuitive Dance.” The paper looks at the coaching method and why coaching works in terms of the relational dynamic between coach and client. When the dynamic is right, when we enter a zone where we are fully challenged at a high level of skill and awareness, it’s as though we are dancing together in an inter-developmental and co-creative partnership. As coaches, we know how it works and we know how it feels, but it is a challenge to find the right language to describe the process. Our paper was an attempt to do just that and it was well received.

Another intersection between the two conferences was the body of knowledge known as Appreciative Inquiry or AI. Growing out of the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, AI has proven to be a valuable strength-based approach to organizational development. The approach works so well that I plan to make this the focus of my next Provisions’ series. Whether you have leadership responsibility in an organization or want to take personal responsibility for your own life, AI offers a dynamic and proven technology for doing more of what works.

That summarizes the highlights of what I have been up to in the past few months. As always, it has been a precious and dynamic time. In the next few months there will be even more excitement, including a visit to New Zealand. What better way to appreciate life than to share it with you, the readers of LifeTrek Provisions.

Coaching Inquiries: What has happened in your life during the past few months? Have you noticed anything spectacular? Were there any half-full glasses that were also cool and refreshing? How could you become more appreciative of life? How could you pick up your spirit when life gets you down? Who is on your support team for change?

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 just caught the tail end of Mike’s series on Work / Life Balance and I enjoyed the recap. As a long-time student of the art of finding happiness, it is all beginning to come into focus. Like buying a new car and then suddenly seeing the same one a few times a day, placing value in being responsible for one’s own happiness has found articles and books manifesting everywhere. Thanks for being a part of my journey. I also believe in the “ripple effect” and hope that somehow you are rewarded for your contribution.

I am writing because I have been reading LifeTrek Provisions weekly, and I want to use some of the publications in my office for team building and self improvement. May I receive written consent to pass some of your information along to my co-workers through presentations? Of course I will give credit where credit is due! You have a wonderful staff that is really helping me create a good life/work balance in my young career, and I want to share your resources with my team. Thanks so much for all of the hard work you do. (Ed. Note: Consent granted! Just be sure to include our Website URL,

I found your website via subscribing to it on my AvantGo PDA program. Thank you for the work you do. I’ve recently moved from an area where I had many friendships and family around to now being isolated and little to no one to turn to. It seemed hard at first but then I realized life’s journeys make you better. I went into this move with the mind set that I need to grow and be stronger. I think this was the best thing for me. I’ve been through this before, a long time ago, so the second time around is easier. Thanks again for helping me realize there are still 23 hours left in this day and I need to live them to the fullest.

I have recently started a walking program. I have encouraged coworkers to join me twice per week. I feel this does double duty. I can enrich relationships while getting some badly needed exercise!

I don’t see Scotland on your list of countries. You may know that Scotland has its own Parliament now and has completed a vast new colony of business offices, conference halls, and a really great government center. Scotland may very well be a Country unto itself once again in short order. Therefore be on the forefront of this important happening and list Scotland in the list of countries. (Ed. Note: Scotland has been added! Hopefully we won’t get in trouble with the Queen!) 

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

Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC

President, LifeTrek Coaching
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School
Immediate Past President, International Association of
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a TimeOnline Retailers

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