Having just completed our series on Appreciative Inquiry, this Provision almost wrote itself. Although coaches wear many hats and perform many functions, none is perhaps more important than finding things to celebrate with our clients. Large or small, past, present, or future, internal or external, on-target or tangential, deliberate or accidental, physical, psychological, or social • there is no end to the things we can celebrate. And, sometimes, that’s all a person needs to take the next step forward.
Bob: One of my favorite videos is, unfortunately, a video that most people, unless they were using it commercially, would not bother to purchase or rent due to its exorbitant price. Anyone can, however, watch a full preview copy online by registering with the copyright owner. Click Here to read about and to watch the streaming video. If you learn or do nothing else in response to this Provision, that will be enough.
This video really says it all when it comes to the meaning and measure of life. It features Dewitt Jones, a photographer for 20 years with National Geographic magazine. Dewitt extracts incredible wisdom from his time with the Geographic. As a professional photographer, he would be sent to places he had never been with the charge to find and to photograph the best those places had to offer. He believed the best would be there, and it would appear.
The experience taught Dewitt that Missouri • the “Show Me State” • has it backwards. Seeing isn’t believing; believing is seeing. What you believe about life controls your perception, and your perception becomes your reality. If you wait to celebrate what’s right with life until you see everything fall into place, you will rarely have reason to celebrate. If, on the other, you look for things to celebrate, moment by moment and day by day, then that is what you will find and who you will be.
Here is how Dewitt puts the challenge: “The more I shot for the Geographic, the more I realized what a powerful force our vision can be. As I celebrated what was right with the world, I began to build a vision of possibility, not scarcity. Possibility, always another right answer, a vision that showed me that no matter how bleak and desolate, no matter how dry and devoid of possibilities the situation might seem, that if I was open to it I could always find a perspective that would transform the ordinary into the extraordinary.”
“Incredible things happen when we’re open to possibilities, because the world is an astounding place. I first saw that on the pages of the Geographic when I was a kid. We can see it now, everyday, if we’re open enough to it. If we hold a vision that fills us with energy, takes us to our own edge, and gives us the courage to soar. That allows us to celebrate what’s right with the world.”
I hope you watch the video. I also hope that you make the connection between the video and what we do as coaches. With each and every call, we find things to celebrate with our clients. Sometimes those things are obvious, they are so bright and beautiful. Most of the time, however, those things are hidden from view. It takes not only appreciative inquiry but the steadfast love and confidence of a coach to bring them to the surface.
I remember one client who, as a chiropractor in business for herself, had the best of intentions to help and to heal people from their maladies. Over time, however, she grew weary of dealing with so many sick people who were either unwilling or unable to take responsibility for their own health and wellness. She would adjust their spine and, as she did so, she would listen to their complaints. From week to week and month to month the stories would be the same and her suggestions would be largely ignored. It made her feel impotent and frustrated as a doctor concerned not only with treatment but also with preventative medicine.
“Where do you feel that frustration?” I asked during one of our coaching sessions. “I feel it in my hands,” she replied. “I put my hands on their body and I feel the disease. My hands almost go numb. It’s as though I lose my connection to the art of healing.” So that’s where we turned our attention. Through conversation, she decided to focus more on her hands. To not just go through the motions of an adjustment, but to really feel what she was doing in the moment.
I’ll never forget her report just one week later. It was not all wonderful. There were still patients who did nothing but complain. But for the first time in a very long time she felt rejuvenated by her craft. “It was incredible,” she said, “with one patient I put my hands on their neck and I paused for a moment, just to experience the sense of connection. Instead of feeling drained, I was filled with energy. Afterwards, the patient thanked me for my best adjustment yet. It is a wonderful reminder of why I went into the profession in the first place.”
That was a celebration moment! And it became something we worked with for months to come. Mindful hands are what we came to call them. Hands that really touched people with the art of healing. In the process of becoming mindful, my client learned to celebrate what’s right with the world, not only in conversation with me, but in the living of daily life. By paying attention to her hands, she discovered that she could have at least one extraordinary moment each and every day. And that made all the difference.
Christina: I, too, had a client who would show up to his session and share with me all that he was not feeling so good about. He struggled for years with this constant nagging inner voice. At the end of each business day, this inner critique, reminded my client of all the work he had not finished or even touched. This habit was exhausting him and left little room for his value of success to feel fulfilled.
My client’s energy and perspective shifted to a far more positive and productive place when in one of our coaching sessions we discovered how he could begin to celebrate all that he does get to and finish during the day. The question stumped him initially and then he saw the limitless possibilities in that he could begin not only to focus on what he accomplished as opposed to what he did not get to, he could also embrace his accomplishments by celebrating their completion.
As my client completed important tasks and projects, he began to build in special celebrations into each of his workdays. He’d treat himself with walks in the park at lunchtime, his favorite coffee drink, dinner with his wife, and 18 holes of golf every now and then. Shifting his focus on celebrating the things he was getting done as opposed to focusing on the things he wasn’t getting to, made a tremendous difference in the life of this client.
Mike: During our work / life balance series, I was coaching clients who were pursuing absorbing goals but were finding their sense of happiness still eluded them.
One of my clients, I’ll call him John, was a passionate and high performer. He always achieved a lot, and was passionate about his work and the tasks that lay ahead. The only problem was that John didn’t feel as happy and he wanted to. He realized that it was the promise of happiness that kept him going, harder and harder.
During our work together, John started to see the difference between what the Dalai Lama calls Happiness versus Pleasure. John realized that his pleasure was created by a sense of achievement, winning a deal, buying a new piece of technology and so on, but the pleasure caused by these things didn’t last long enough. This left him with a need to keep on achieving if he was to feel good.
I asked John how it felt to be in that cycle and he said it felt like an addiction that made no sense (the hallmark of any self-respecting addiction). John jokingly called himself a “pleasure seeking missile!” and promptly decided we needed to coach on the subject of happiness.
In deciding where on earth to start, we zoomed in on John’s addiction with achieving every task set before him and that he could not feel happy until he had achieved a task. John realized he was dependent on “doing”, and never stopped long enough to count his blessings and achievements.
As we started to look at that together, John began to see that happiness was a decision he made, rather than waiting for something else to decide for him. His first decision was to stop and celebrate his blessings and achievements. He learned to celebrate and deeply enjoy his life in the greater scheme of things. In doing this, he started celebrating all sorts of things. He celebrated other people, the weather, he even celebrated his ability to celebrate and the happiness he was now feeling.
John’s performance at work grew exponentially as did his relationships and sense of happiness– just by stopping to celebrate.
Erika: We live in a “What’s next?” culture. Our appetite for the next biggest thing is insatiable. We drive to get to the next goal, the next challenge, and miss all of the wondrous sights on the roads in-between.
In such a climate, we often forget to celebrate. In fact, sometimes we even need to learn how to do so. This seems especially true when a client has the goal of losing weight. Clients come so focused on the big dream that they are unforgiving of themselves, and the bumps in the road, on the journey there.
One of my clients has come to experience the joy, and usefulness, of celebrating along the way. When we first began working together, this client had a significant weight loss goal, and had come to coaching as a last effort to overcome the challenge she had been facing for many years. The initial approach of this client was “all or nothing.” In other words, the client wouldn’t allow for celebration unless the ultimate goal had been achieved. In concert, the approach to the goal was “all or nothing” – cutting all unhealthy foods, cold-turkey.
This approach tended to be devastating in terms of its emotional consequence and motivation to the client. Each failure • an extra piece of bread or a missed workout • lead to intense disappointment and a sense of defeat. And, small wins • not taking the extra piece of bread or working out 10 minutes instead of none • went unnoticed.
A great shift occurred when this client shifted perspectives about the importance of celebration and began to intentionally recognize what achievements were being experienced in the present. Instead of “What’s next?” and “Where did I fail?” the questions became “What is can I celebrate now?” and “How have I honored myself today?”
Some clients have learned to do this on a daily basis, proudly displaying the list on a board, for all to see. Some have learned to do it symbolically, through charms on a bracelet or daily entries in a journal.
The point is that there is something worthy of celebration each day. Whether it be the victory of wise choice or the opportunities for better choices that come with the next sunrise. Don’t wait until the achievement of the goal that is “out there in the distance” to begin celebrating; acknowledge the everyday victories that edge you ever closer.
Coaching Inquiries: What do you have to celebrate? What is right with your world? Who could you share the celebration with? How could you shift your attention in a positive direction? Are there addictions that you need to break free from? What is the truth that you, perhaps, have been unwilling to face?
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..
Wow! Sounds like those endorphins were really flying on your training run last week Click. May this final week of R&R before your big run on April 8th recharge your batteries, legs, glycogen reserves and neurotransmitters to enhance your extraordinary experience. Leslie and I will be thinking of you and wishing you well from Idaho next Saturday.
I read with great interest your Provision regarding running “your own race” Click. I want to wish you the best of luck in the Bull Run 50 Miler. I know you can do it.
I will be running my first marathon this fall in Chicago. Recently I had the pleasure of meeting and run/walking with Jeff Galloway in Portland, ME. He’s convinced me of the benefits of walk breaks and I plan to employ his techniques during training and the race itself.
As I work to tweak my training schedule I’m faced with one logistical problem of getting in my final long run for Chicago and running a half-marathon with my son in October. It will be my son’s first race at that distance and I’d love to share it with him. Your Provision offers me the perfect solution: why not design my own race to start running before the half-marathon begins and meet my son at the start line. Sounds like win/win to me. Thanks for showing the way.
I recently read an article suggesting that humans are evolving. What I took away from this was the thought that some of the items on the •do not eat’ list of the Paleo diet we may well have evolved to happily include. What’s your take? (Ed. Note: It’s my understanding that we have not evolved much in the last 10,000 years in terms of our nutritional requirements. One thing is sure: we have not evolved to where junk food has become health food! 🙂
May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.
Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC
President, LifeTrek Coaching International, www.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformation, www.SchoolTransformation.com
Immediate Past President, International Association of Coaching, www.CertifiedCoach.org
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a Time, Online Retailers
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