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Self-Worth

What are You Teaching You?

By Coaching, Life, Self-WorthNo Comments

We consume books, podcasts, articles, workshops. We distill what we learn and try to apply it to our lives. We also share it with others – as parents, partners, leaders, friends. Sometimes we get paid to teach what we learn. 

The efficacy of all of this knowledge consumption is fairly low. For example, Simon Sinek’s TEDTalk has almost 49 million views – plus hundreds of thousands that have read his “Start with Why” book. Yet most businesses still start with WHAT in their marketing, culture, product offerings. This low efficacy applies to all aspects of life and business: health, personal development, psychology, leadership, business growth, finances, spirituality. 

I’m not saying to stop consuming content. Hell, I’m reading 5 different books right now and subscribe to a multitude of daily and weekly emails from thought-leaders. What I am saying is this … what are you teaching you?

Our minds, bodies and souls are tremendous teachers. Yet we often go looking for that outside guru or formula. What if we first turned to ourselves to learn? 

The mind mostly teaches through negative examples. Meaning, we learn what NOT to do from our minds. Things like distraction, habit slippage, obsession, mental noise. When we sit in the seat of the observer, we can see that the mind teaches us something every day. For example, I observed a continuum of my day. I start out contemplative, then creative and/or productive, but by 5p or so, I become quite consumptive. I will eat three tacos instead of two. I will watch multiple episodes of something on Netflix when one will suffice. I increase my screen time in the evening when I should be winding my mind down. Unto themselves, these are not necessarily “bad” things. But every unconscious behavior is teaching us where our mind is controlling us instead of the other way around.

The body is also a terrific teacher, if we listen. It will tell us exactly what it needs – either through positive or negative reinforcement. We westerners tend to treat our bodies as inanimate machinery. This makes our bodies become an abstract. Which then leads to all kinds of cravings. Recent science affirms the intelligence of the body: our hearts and our stomaches contain brain cells, somatic responses are often tied to untreated trauma, allergies and other non-pathological ailments are connected to emotional well-being.  My body is teaching me – the hard way. Since mid-January, I’ve had my third flair up of gout in less than 18 months. This one has been the most severe. It’s forcing me to eat much more clean, focus on improving my sleep patterns and recalibrating my relationship with pain. My left big toe is literally teaching me to be aware, choose what’s best for me and do what I can with what I have to work with.

Then there is the soul – the mightiest, wisest teacher of them all. To understand that the soul is a teacher will require either: a) some level of rational faith or b) at least some suspension of show-me-the-science. If the mind is the seat of consciousness and the body is the seat of matter, then the soul is the seat of Wisdom. Just as the mind and body use instincts to teach us, the soul uses intuition. This inner Knowing teaches us what to prioritize, when to rest, who to connect with, where to go. The soul has no biases, no filters, no need for form. It simply is the truth. This means when it teaches, it does so simply, concisely and directly.  My soul has been teaching me that soul/self-care is my highest priority. This is very difficult for my mind to grasp. I went through a time of great selfishness and hardness towards others. I remember that and mistake putting myself first as a returning to that dark place. My soul teaches me this is not true. That I must put my soul/self first so that I can do the work I’ve been sent to do. 

The best part of learning from ourselves is that each day contains lessons, tests, resources from and for mind, body and soul. We don’t need to wait until that mythical tomorrow or next week. Or the next book, podcast or webinar. We can learn from ourselves right now. We just need to be good students.

Four Narratives that Still Influence Me

By Life, Self-WorthNo Comments

Narratives are part of the human experience. It appears narratives are a feature in the ego-mind designed to keep us alive and safe. And to move as many of the narratives to an unaided, unconscious level to provide more energy for present state issues. It also appears that narratives can be both positive and negative – and are created primarily through experiences and social conditioning. 

Part voice-over of life’s events, part inner critic, these narratives have a tremendous influence on us at a subconscious level. 

This came to the forefront after an experience this weekend.

Short version: in the final evaluation for a motorcycle certification course, I bombed a particular exercise. Immediately, the inner critic roared to life. I see this critic often as a drill sergeant; spitting slurs, invectives and disappointment in my ear. “You are worthless!” “You suck at everything!” “You have a weak mind!” “What’s wrong with you?!” – and so much more verbal abuse. 

I ended up passing the course, but the experience of having that inner critic play such a big role in the process got me thinking about these unaided narratives that still influence me. To be certain, I’ve left a lot of narratives behind. Narratives related to religious beliefs, masculinity, ideology, education. 

But a few remain …

  • The Planner. This narrative is all about what’s next. It is constantly scanning my calendar and my task list. It obsesses about time, directions, agendas – especially related to other people. Its main narrative is: “Control everything!”

  • The Critic. I already mentioned this one. The critic can arrive in several forms but is always an outside voice that condemns my being, my worth, my weaknesses. It can also turn on others with condemnation and rage.

  • The Therapist. This is the narrative of my relationships. It tells me that I have to be something other than I am to be seen as acceptable, cool, attractive, etc. It tells me that worry is the same as love. It tells me that roles and rules are important.

  • The Analyst. This is the narrative of trying to figure out other humans. The target of the analyst can vary. Lately, it’s primarily been about Trump supporters, right-wing Christians, far-left activists. The narrative is essentially, “What’s wrong with these people? Let’s figure them out.”

The main issue with these narratives is that they remove me from the is-ness of the moment. They create an out-of-body, out-of-moment perspective that is separate from reality. They truly are an illusion with little to no merit.

I know of only one way to remove a narrative: awareness. 

Awareness brings light and truth – which no narrative can withstand. Awareness brings the courage to examine the narratives and debunk them. And the additional courage to share them here – in the hope that this additional awareness will benefit both you and me.

Meet the Professor

By Life, Self-WorthNo Comments

Abe Weissman 

I have written and spoke at length about parts therapy and Internal Family Systems. (If you’re not familiar with these concepts, here’s an excellent article to read). 

In addition to identifying parts with an IFS-trained therapist, I have also learned to identify parts on my own. The starting point is to reverse engineer particular patterns or tendencies; to look for the driver or instigator. Almost always, it’s a part that was tucked into my psyche. 

I discovered a new part recently. I noticed a tendency to explain things. To pull from my polymath mind a nugget or tidbit and apply as an explanation. I first recognized this drive to explain is part of my ego. It has an insatiable appetite for information and form because that’s what keeps it alive. 

This part of me is often my master. When I’m confused, doubtful, uneasy, it kicks in. It is my internal expert. It uses my wide knowledged base and my ability to recall to provide The Right Answer in any situation. 

Diving into this tendency to explain, I met a part I call The Professor.

The Professor loves to be right. He loves to win with better, faster information. He loves to be told he is smart. He uses his intellect to try to dazzle people. He has an answer for almost everything. And is eager to share his answer with you. The Professor is most certainly a know-it-all – but he thinks the hyphens in that saying should be removed for him. 

He gets his identity from his knowledge, so Not Knowing is a direct threat. Matters of faith, spirituality, wisdom make the Professor nervous. He is deeply troubled by Not Knowing. So much so that the Professor’s incessant explaining and instructing often numbs intuition and faith. 

The Professor is constantly trying to explain away feelings and emotions by intellectualizing them. 

He is always trying to create the form of an explanation for situations, conditions and/or people he finds confusing or threatening. 

He is a bit of a moral relativist – especially with his ability to justify behaviors. Or judge the behaviors of others. 

He is constantly comparing his knowledge base and intellect with others. And when he meets someone with extensive credentialing, he gets either insecure or arrogant. 

He wants to control the information flow and the explanation of things. And when he can’t, he starts to become a conspiracy theorist. 

Since identifying this part, here are some things I am teaching the Professor:

  • There is a time and place for you. In a classroom-type environment where lecturing is permitted. Or when doing research or trying to solve an immediate problem.

  • You can spiritualize the intellectual world. But you can’t intellectualize the spiritual world. No matter how hard you try or how smart you think you are.

  • Being loved and admired for your knowledge is temporary and fickle. Being loved for your soul, wisdom, love is so much better.

  • Not Knowing is part of the mystery of life. All the good stuff is in the Not Knowing. Trying to make it not so is suffering.

If you know me, you’ve almost certainly met the Professor. Do you have an equivalent? And internal expert or know-it-all? I would love to hear!

Re-Wiring Relationships

By Life, Self-WorthNo Comments

In recent years, non-traditional relationships have permeated every corner of my life and soul. They have become the new reality – replacing old roles, social norms, structures. There remained a lot of old wiring about relationships so in my recent personal retreat, I dove re-wiring relationships.  

Re-wiring comes in three areas:

  • Upgrading the language and narrative for relationships
  • Shifting to a heart-first approach to relationships
  • Establishing boundaries

In reflecting on this, I realized that I hadn’t yet upgraded my narratives and beliefs about relationships to reflect these current realities. I still had a lot of old language about what a relationship was. Much of which was based on traditional roles. In particular, the language and mindset around marriage and what that means. 

I realized that I have a head-first approach to most relationships.  The highest level a head-based relationship can go is either obsession or co-dependency. Head-based relationships contribute to an illusion that causes additional suffering; making the hard work of relationships even more difficult. What I needed was to shift to a heart-based approach to relationships. Heart-based relationships are limitless and transcendent.  Heart-based relationships run on unconditional love and freedom.

The question of boundaries was brought to the surface in a recent therapy session where my therapist made this brilliant, simple statement: “You can’t prioritize your boundaries and someone else’s feelings at the same time.” I realized that I don’t really know my boundaries. And further, I viewed that giving up boundaries was a requirement to love someone. I had the bias that boundaries created separation and separation was bad. 

I was sharing some of this with one of my dearest friends. In her wise way, she re-framed my observations as questions. The first five are her questions …

  • What are the two intersecting truths in each key relationship?

  • Where is evidence of growth in each key relationship?

  • What is the core motivating factor in each relationship?

  • What am I afraid of in each relationship?

  • Where do I not feel free in each relationship?

  • What are the additional boundaries that each relationship has?

  • What are the key questions in each relationship?

  • 13 years ago, I received the command to “LOVE MORE” (this is tattooed on my right forearm). In light of boundaries, what does this mean?
    • I need to express my wants and boundaries
    • I need to love without expectation
    • I need to serve and support
    • I need to remind others of their value

All of this pondering and reflecting and asking and answering revealed some new things …

  • Connection is at the top of the relationship hierarchy. Not chemistry, not compatibility, not beliefs.
  • From this connection a natural state of the relationship emerges.  The ego will fight against this natural state.
  • Every relationship based on connection has a specific purpose.
  • When there’s a connection, a new thing is created.
  • Masculine and feminine energy are required to create anything.
  • Soul-based relationships flex and change.
  • Soulful connections always contribute to each other’s missions.
  • Each relationship is represented by one of the 4 elements (water, air, earth, fire)
  • Cosmic relationships follow the 3 laws of physics (force, inertia and symmetry)
    • Force: they self-generate their own power
    • Inertia: they have their own forward momentum
    • Symmetry: harmony and balance are the natural state

Some final output for all this …

With introspection, I realized that I am wired (maybe we all are?) for relationships that are elemental: earth, air, water, fire. That I need all four and it’s extremely unlikely that all four (or even three or two) will come from the same person.

In all relationships, I want: freedom, sovereignty, connection, experiences, collaboration. Further, I don’t want my identity to be defined by my relationships.

My relationship standards (what standard I want to be held to and that I hold others to):

  1. Love
  2. Freedom
  3. Ownership
  4. Expression
  5. Mission

My overall boundaries in any relationship:

  • Sovereignty
  • Freedom
  • Respect
  • Truth

The Long Search for Permanence

By Life, Self-WorthNo Comments

False Narratives: The Dandelions of Consciousness

By Leadership, Life, Self-WorthOne Comment

Think of a behavior or habit you aren’t particularly happy with. You may assign some sort of negative feeling to that behavior like shame or judging. Yet you keep doing the behavior. Is this is some sort of character flaw? Maybe. But it’s way more likely it’s a false narrative manifesting in behavior. Or as Jesus said “Forgive them for they don’t know what they’re doing.”

Our mind contains thousands of false narrative — all of which come from external factors such as experiences and social conditioning. They shape our worldview about the important things in life (God, relationships, sex, money, health) and the unimportant things (hobbies, activities, which sports team to be a fan of). They lay embedded in our psyche — looping over and over every time they’re triggered. And more get added with every experience. No wonder we have so much noise in our heads!

False narratives unto themselves are neither bad nor good. But they are false — in the sense that they are illusory. And they have much more influence over us than we realize. Here’s how deep they go: a false narrative informs our mindset which produces a feeling which produces a behavior.

False narratives are the dandelions of consciousness: if you find one, there’s always more. Which is both good news and bad news. The good news is that you have awareness of them. The bad news is that there’s probably a lot of them and it will take a lot of work to get rid of them.

This work that needs to be done starts with deconstructing the false narratives — usually with a reverse engineering process. As an example, I will use fatigue. Let’s start with the behavior or reaction to fatigue. The most common is over-stimulating with caffeine. Fatigue almost always then produces a negative feeling — usually shame or self-loathing. This loop between behavior and feeling can produce its own set of mini-narratives: “What’s wrong with me?” “I’m lazy.” “I’ve got some unknown illness”. This produces a mindset that I’m defective. This mindset comes from several sources — chiefly, growing up on a ranch where grit was seen as the ultimate achievement badge. Other conditioning of this mindset came from football practice, exercise, being a parent, being an entrepreneur and now being a man in my late 40s. This leads us to the false narrative: I AM A MACHINE.

Rationally, I know that’s not true. But to accept that it’s not true is also to accept that I get tired. Maybe even get more tired faster than others. But now I can construct a new true narrative: I AM A HUMAN. The mindset is then around the husbandry of my physical being; that I’m worthy of self-care. The new emotions are love, gratitude, compassion. The new behaviors are going to bed and waking up at regular times, taking a short nap if needed, putting nourishing things in my body.

Phew. That’s just one false narrative. I see others in my lawn. About money. About religion. About intimacy. Time to work on those.

Eradicating Unease Ain’t Easy

By Leadership, Life, Self-Worth2 Comments

Even in a healthy state, the ego’s baseline is identity; typically an identity attached to a role, title, system or group (or all four). When identity is unattached from, the ego shifts into its intended role and more natural state — protection. This produces a varying but chronic sense of unease. The ego seeks to keep us in a state of unease to encourage us to attach to a new identity or re-attach to an old identity. Unconscious religious practices, busy-ness, obsessions are often adhered to in order to alleviate this unease. For starker cases, addiction, violence and nihilism will be turned to. That’s how powerful this unease is at driving behavior.

But it’s not real. It is a product of the mind. In Jesus’ parables, this is the building on the sand, the building of bigger barns, the seeking of higher seats. In Buddha’s teachings, it is simply called attachment.

So what is real? How do you take ownership over this feeling of unease? How do I find peace?

Discipline.

Former Navy SEAL, podcaster, author Jocko Willink says it well: “discipline equals freedom.”

I know I need Systems of Discipline (what I call SoDs). But they need to be of my choosing and execution. I can’t truly find peace by following someone else’s system. Learn, absolutely. Adhere to, no. Further, I need to keep an eye on not worshipping or attaching to these SoDs.

For me, I need SoDs in specific areas of life …

  • Self-care
  • Productivity
  • Creativity
  • Mind mastery
  • Value creation
  • Time/energy management

These SoDs create freedom and flow for relationships, experiences, creative output, ideation, innovation — and joy. They create a soul-based operating model that is aligned with self-actualization rather than survival or acceptance.

For me, the SoDs are activated by awareness, physical discomfort and inciting incidents. I theorize that you will have the same activators but different SoDs.Without these activators, we will drift — back to old models and attachments. And forward to projections of future outcomes and feelings and reactions.

It’s being present, to be in the now, thwarts that unease. As such, discipline not only creates freedom. It encourages presence. It produces meaning. It reveals truth. With freedom, presence, meaning and truth, unease will be an occasional visitor, not your landlord.

Re-Wiring My Relationship with Life

By Life, Self-WorthOne Comment

This is essentially a cut-and-paste from a journal entry. It was a thread I began to pull based on re-examining and/or re-wiring some relationships. These relationships include with God, my life partner, money, my body. And my relationship with life. I am posting this because I feel called to show my work rather than deliver some polished and refined post. As I post it, I acknowledge a sense of terror — that I will be rejected, judged, mis-understood. Which are all signs to do it anyway.

Old system: Appointed time with God (going to church) to cope with my human-ness and conditions. Ritualistic prayer and reading of Bible. Followed this system because it was the only guaranteed system I knew.
New practice: Talk with God every day, multiple times per day. Time in nature. Connections. Reading spiritual texts. Meditating.

Old system: Seeing God as a dispenser of correction and punishment for being the way I am. Seeing Jesus as model that I found very difficult to follow and who I did not understand. Seeing the Spirit as something that is given/taken based off of my behavior. Tying failure and struggle to my indulgent behavior and my perceived lack of faith.
New practice: seeing God as a loving Father, seeing the Christ within, seeing the Spirit in everything — including myself.

Old practice: Lynna as a rescuer, soother, subsidizer and safe harbor to cope with my human-ness and emotional damage.
New practice: Loving her unconditionally as she is, not what I project her to be. Unfiltered truth. Freely together. Not looking to her (or anyone else) for affirmation of my worth.

Old system: Identifying with groups (church, Republican party, being an entrepreneur) to have a sense of belonging and meaning — although I felt like an outsider in all three.
New practice: Completely unaffiliated; belong to no groups. Focusing on connections, freedom, creativity.

Fitness (working out and eating) as an ego-fueled coping tool for confidence, acceptance, affirmation. All body disconnect issues.
New practice: Investing in my body because it’s worth of it. Includes clean eating and intentional movement — hiking, Hapkido, stretching, yoga (this is a new practice that hasn’t yet become a habit.)

Speaking, coaching, mentoring as ego-boosters; increasing my sense of worth and value.
New practice: sharing wisdom, asking questions, holding space from a place of abundance and service — most of the time.

Triggers

  • Misfortune, failure, losing
  • Physical conditions: pain, hunger, fatigue, sexual desire
  • Emotional conditions: lonely, depressed, desperate
  • Situational conditions: waiting, too hot, too cold, crowds
  • Relationship conflicts

Emotional Reactions

  • Anger, resentment, jealousy
  • Shame, guilt
  • Insecurity, unease
  • Fear, terror
  • Loneliness, isolation
  • Hyper-vigilance, sensitive
  • Over-thinking; obsession
  • Scorn, judgement
  • Hero worship

Old Coping Behaviors

  • Going to gym
  • Work harder, longer
  • Driving, travel
  • Binge watching
  • Avoidance — especially with those closest to me
  • Indulgence, impulsiveness — self-abuse
  • Over-planning, control, manipulation
  • Lying, telling false stories
  • Sleeping / staying up all night

Old Stories:

  • God is punishing me; bad things happen to me because of who I am
  • I am damaged beyond repair; something is wrong with me
  • I am unworthy of anyone’s love
  • My body has failed me yet again
  • I’m terrible with money
  • I don’t go to things
  • I don’t belong anywhere

What I accomplished despite all this:

  • Lynna and I still together after 30 years
  • Great dad and co-parent; great relationship with Logan (and Sarah) and Caden
  • Been self-employed since 2003
  • Been to all 50 states
  • Authored two books
  • Created a following of people that I inspire
  • Discovered my personal mission
  • Went on a journey inward; burnt down everything, questioned everything
  • Gave Lynna space to become her true self
  • Created an amazing creative partnership, business and team with Emily.
  • Took dozens of great risks; tried many new things.
  • Moved to Austin
  • New circle of great friends; but still a few old friends that love me unconditionally and I them.
  • A real relationship with my mom
  • Witness to more miracles and magic than I knew was possible.

THE PRESENT

Reminders / new stories

  • God neither punishes nor rewards based on who I am
  • Physical pain doesn’t mean failure
  • More control doesn’t reduce anxiety
  • Shift perspective/response to “What will happen today?” from negative (doom) to positive (mystery)
  • Discomfort (hunger, temperature, pain) is not a threat
  • I don’t need an enemy to feel important
  • My old life is gone but the coping mechanisms, triggers remain.
  • I’ve matured from a victim/follower to creator/mentor

I don’t need coping mechanisms anymore. When living in joy and acceptance, there is very little to cope with.

I don’t need coping mechanisms but I do need life practices:

  • Rest
  • Nourishment
  • Movement
  • Connection
  • Awareness
  • Creativity

What I want out of all my relationships …

  • Connection
  • Vitality
  • Abundance
  • Joy
  • Peace
  • Adventure

Mystery Me

By Leadership, Life, Self-Worth2 Comments

I was recently asked what I write the most about here. My response was that if Tim Ferriss does productivity hacking and Dave Asprey does bio-hacking, then I guess I’m a self-hacker. A DIY self-improver.

After many years of being externally focused, obsessive about the future and resentful about the past, I began a journey inward about 5 years ago. I hacked my self. My ego. My personality. My soul. I learned the power of awareness. I learned how to observe my thoughts and feelings with minimal judgment. I learned healthy non-attachment.

I’ve come a long way. I’m happier, more whole than I’ve ever been. But as I turn 48 in a few weeks, I’m very aware of a few of my idiosyncrasies and dichotomies.

In the spirit of self-hacking, here are a few mysteries of me that befuddle and bemuse …

  • After 10+ years of being committed to working out intensely and regularly, I’ve lost my passion for it. I literally get tired on the way to the gym. I have some sort of mental block in this area that I can’t seem to move. Yet, I feel that my desire for healthy, fit, energetic body is sincere. But I can’t seem to: a) recover that same drive and b) link behavior to desired results.
  • I remain a control freak, over-planner. This is not uncommon for survivors of trauma. We obsess over environmental details and conditions — especially related to time and plans. This produces a series of odd behaviors. I can’t go to a concert and have people behind me. So I either stand in the back of the room or find a pillar to put my back against. I argue with Google Maps on best routes. Then obsessively watch the progress. When arriving at a coffee shop or restaurant, I worry — every single time — that I won’t find a place to sit. My faith is strong. My belief is deep. Yet I can’t let these little, trivial things go.
  • The closer I am to you, the less likely I am to tell you how I really feel — or ask for what I really want. While I’m getting better about this, my first reaction to most emotions directed at someone I care about is “Will they still love me if I share what I’m feeling with them?” I know that I believe in truth and that it should be expressed at all times. Yet, I still hedge my bets, protect my emotional flank, with those closest to me. I still try gauge and sometimes even control their responses.
  • I still have a strong tendency to compare myself to others. This is a pretty basic and old feature of the ego, so it’s extra difficult to re-wire this one. I compare up (they’re better than me) and down (I’m better than them). The comparison doesn’t last long, because I’m disciplined about being aware of it. Yet it’s still the first reaction many times. I know I believe in loving more (literally tattooed on my body!) and loving unconditionally. Yet comparison is all about conditional love — of others and myself.

To be clear, perfection is a myth and imperfections make life interesting. So this isn’t about perfection, but it is about improvement. About owning that which I have control (supposedly!) over. About continuing to work on the ultimate fixer-upper … me.

Two questions …

Any tips or insights on working through any of the above?

What are your dichotomies and dissonances?

Lessons in the Non-Transferrable

By Coaching, Leadership, Self-WorthNo Comments

Socrates. Asking questions. Not giving advice.

If I have 100,000 hours into anything other than just life, it’s in coaching others. Countless hours of crafting curriculum, learning techniques, expanding my skills. Then countless more hours in coaching sessions — cajoling, encouraging, challenging.

Coaching, like any practice, is accepting a state of continual learning. (I jokingly say that when a coach stops learning is when they become a consultant. I’m only half kidding.) What shifts the most over time is where the learning comes from. For me, about 10% of my learning now comes from formal study, structured programs, etc. The other 90% is what I learn in an actual coaching session. The students (client) have become my teachers. Which, in turn, the next student benefits from and contributes to.

I have learned enough about and from coaching to fill a book. But this is what I’ve learned the most …

Most important things are non-transferrable.

Here are just a few …

Belief

Faith

Motivation

Action

Wisdom

Perspective

I could list a dozen more …

In each case, I can’t transfer these to another person. I can’t make you have belief. I can’t give my faith to you. I can’t motivate you. I can’t make you take any action. I can’t transfer wisdom. I can’t transfer my perspective.

In this, I’ve discovered the hallmark of being a true coach. A true coach does not give advice, nor provide a formula to follow. Advice and formulas are strongly biased towards the assumption that all or some of the above are actually transferable. I think this creates disservice to the client. It encourages co-dependency. It keeps the client a victim of their circumstances rather than a creator of their future. It perpetuates the problem they hired you to help them solve.

So where does that leave me as a coach? What can I do? What is transferrable?

I can ask good questions. Questions that challenge assumptions, challenge the bullshit we all tell ourselves, hold up a mirror of examination. This is an ancient principle that is easily forgotten because we are awash in information, books, podcasts, e-courses, systems, formulas. None of which are more efficient — and more integrous – than asking good questions.

One of our mantras at Root + River is “love ’em where they’re at”. This means extending to a person unconditional love and acceptance in whatever state they come in. This why true coaching requires the coach to see the soul, not the role. The role(s) a person plays is an important part of their identity but they are not the soul of a person. And it’s the soul that needs to be loved where it’s at.

I can distill. I can take an idea, a fear, a hope, a vision and begin to extract and analyze it’s meaning in a collaborative way with the client. I can hold it up, let them examine it and decide whether or not to accept it.

I can give voice to what I am hearing from their soul or observing from the sub-conscious. But I might be wrong. Because I’m human and I have my own biases, assumptions and need to be right. So giving voice is never done without permission from the client.

I can encourage. Or a better word is “edification” (which) is an under-used word these days). My definition of edification is to remind people of the truth they already know. In this reminder, there’s a return to the two main powers that every human has: 1) The power to choose and 2) The power to create.

I can co-create with the client a path forward. Not a formula for them to follow and then judge them against. But a co-created plan that contains milestones, accountability, reward that we mutually agree to.

So I have no answers, no prescriptions, no judgement, no pre-conceived outcomes, no pre-determined solutions. I just have a heart, a mind, ears, intuition, words — and 100,000 hours of learning from you.