Friday, November 25, 2005


Sometimes the world seems very deliberate, as though everything in reality is happening, in an extraordinary way, as though everything conspired towards its creation and sustenance.

Is this, perhaps, what they call destiny?

Destiny is more than that. It is not only when that state exists, but also when you are completely conscious of it, when there is a calling deep within your soul that this is inevitable, that this is meant to be, that you cannot avoid it, however you may try, that this will be ultimately good, although now it may fight against your deepest feelings, your strongest convictions. Destiny is not mindless, nor predetermined. It takes an onslaught of will and courage.

Monday, September 26, 2005


I consider myself a panthiest - that there is some of the truth in every religious and spiritual practice. The details change, but the underlying spirit remains the same. With regard to prayer, some traditions such as Islam have a set format and method of prayer that often brings peace and inspiration to practitioners. For those who are not raised with such a tradition or do not resonate with such a practice, the following may be helpful to you.

One of my spiritual advisors once told me, prayer is a conversation that can happen anywhere.
Not having been raised in a particular tradition, I found the idea of regular, formal prayer and meditation daunting. Also my personality lends itself to weather-like patterns rather than steady, wave-like persistence. So her ideas were particularly reassuring.
This approach was completely different than my image of prayer, from mainstream practices, as asking for help in a set time and way. She said that prayer can happen anywhere - on a bus, while buying groceries, at work, in bed, while walking - and that prayer could be seen as a conversation as a friend about anything. No topic could be seen as too small or insignificant. She said to just start having a conversation when I remember to seek a connection with the spiritual, where ever I am.

With this practice, I find that my relationship with the spiritual can be small, daily, ordinary, and somehow more lasting, infused, and powerful than I had imagined.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

On Worry

One of the sources of excessive worry, besides biological factors, is self-centeredness. (Perhaps you could say that self-centeredness is a form of excessive worry.)

Sadly, some societies seem to promote self-centeredness as a virtue. I am reminded of a poem by Chrystos that about a disease called ICOTU (I am the Center Of The Universe). Living in the U.S., many people, including myself, sometimes suffer from this affliction until there is a shift in spiritual outlook.

Common signs of self-centeredness are thoughts that appear similar to the following:

  • What am I getting out of this?
  • When will _______ just do what I want (often known as "the right way")?
  • I just wish that __________.
  • If only __________.
  • I only __________.
  • Because if he or she ___________, then I would _____________.
Sometimes what can help is the thought, How can this situation be a genuine benefit to someone else?, along with a belief that there is a greater purpose, meaning, or unseen system at work.
What are your spiritual explanations for how things happen and why?

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

On Compassion

An armed carjacking took place on the street where I once lived. By providence, the driver ran from the car, taking a bullet in the hand and the leg, ran down the street and ended up in front of our house. The doorbell rang, then we heard pounding and shouting, "I've been shot! Call the police!" It was a dark evening, 11pm, both the porch light and the street light were out. We kept the door closed and talked to him through the double-paned glass window while calling 911. A few minutes later - after much of his shouting to call for help, his fears of the carjackers coming after him, the thieves driving past us on their motorcycles - the police arrived. We opened the door but could not see much. After replacing the light bulb overhead, the magnitude of the event was displayed clearly - an uneven pool of blood draining from the porch and stairs - the man's hand wrapped in a sweatshirt.

Do you ever wonder how you might react in such a situation? I help people to see themselves clearly, to take in their whole lives, their purpose, and to live in alignment with the world as they see it. What surprised me about this incident is the first reaction I felt upon seeing all of the blood - not horror, disgust, blaming, terror, or anger. It was a deep, genuine sadness; a pain about the intention of those willing to harm or kill another person for a living. Upset about organized crime that recruits those who think they have no prospects for the future otherwise, that hires young people to staff their criminal operations. This is how he pays for gas and rent, like anyone just going to a job.

Sometimes I have the urge to do something self-destructive; I was that way for many years. Because of grace and spirit, I am able to maintain a sense of calm and stay away from the shadow side, on the whole. Sometimes I want to say to people who are acting out, who are oppressed, you are already more powerful than your dreams, you are stronger than you realize, you are already who you are meant to be if you have the courage to face yourself and be calm. When you can be still within yourself, things begin to happen that are beyond your greatest expectations.
Perhaps, this man meant to come to our door that one night to find something that he also needed, something he didn't realize that he had.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

On Suffering

Suffering is a part of life.

Often, those in the human potential movement (who promote empowerment, enlightenment, spirituality, or some type of self-help) forget to mention that your suffering may diminish but never vanish. To say otherwise would be like someone telling you that you will never be sad again, and who would really want that, to be partially human.

But that is not a popular line to sell instant gratification - "Become at peace with the world - and still suffer, sometimes."

For those who wonder what happens when you come closer to your true self and self-transcendence, you do have more peace of mind. And yes, you still suffer.

Sometimes at this stage, the suffering can have a purpose, like a wildfire burning down an overgrown hill. Sometimes the suffering is incomprehensible. Sometimes the suffering is just suffering.

The main difference I notice, besides the ability to feel serenity and joy at times, is that it doesn't seem to matter as much whether or not suffering happens. Of course, in the current day U.S., the suffering endured by most is not of a dire or horrendous nature, in comparison to the types of suffering that exist. While some do experience this type of suffering, the rest of us struggle mainly with interior demons.

What can you learn about yourself through your suffering?

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Transformation - How Change Happens - Two

This blog is the second in a two-part series on "how change happens".

The previous blog discussed several characteristics of how change happens from the book Your Own Worst Enemy.

In my coaching work, I have noticed several other elements that block transformation.

  • Attachment to being right or doing things a certain way.

  • Unwillingness to imagine other possibilities.

  • Negative beliefs about one's own abilities or purpose in life.

  • Fear of change.

  • Unexamined beliefs regarding how change can or cannot happen.

  • Unresolved issues in another area of life or work.

  • Ignoring inherent messages (intuition).

Similarly, there are several attributes that promote transformation.
  • Willingness to take on the unknown.

  • Faith and/or a positive explanation of the universe (spirituality).

  • Tolerance for a typical amount of discomfort.

  • Ability to "step outside" of typical behavior and thinking patterns (meta-level awareness).

  • Balance of receptivity and action.

  • Persistence.

Next time you are facing the challenge to change something in your work or personal life, you may find it helpful to consider what factors may be helping or hindering your ease of transformation.

Transformation - How Change Happens - One

This blog is the first in a two part series on "how change happens".

One thoughtful description of "how change happens" was written in a book regarding underachievement. In Your Own Worst Enemy: Breaking the Habit of Adult Underachievement, Ken Christian writes a chapter that includes "Secrets of Change Revealed."

A few of these ideas that I have found true in my own experience are:

  • Change requires that you persist even when your efforts are having no apparent effect other than making you feel disrupted, inconvenienced, and bothered.

  • Change takes time, and early results are often unpleasant. Many attempts to change end because this is not understood or accepted. Change involves making adjustments to the existing system of thoughts and habits operating in the background of your consciousness, and you will have some temporary hell to pay for tampering with it.

  • Chaos and setbacks are proof that you are changing.

  • If you understand this, you will persist in the face of challenges that might otherwise discourage you.

  • Failure is necessary for learning.

  • You cannot change the past.

  • Change builds upon itself.

  • By making one well-selected change, you make another one more likely. ... Positive change thus creates two effects: along with a tangible improvement of some kind, you learn something about how to change.

  • Change requires that you become fully engaged for a period of contemplation, preparation, and decisive action, followed by continuing maintenance.

You may find some of these reflect your own experiences or that you have a different perception. How do you experience change? What are your lessons and knowledge of what works in your business or personal life to create change?

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Psychology and Astrology

Here is an interesting study showing the beginnings of convergence of science and astrology (in my mind).

Season of Birth Variations in the Temperament and Character Inventory of Personality in a General Population by Jayanti Chotai, Thomas Forsgren, Lars-Göran Nilsson, Rolf Adolfsson

Division of Psychiatry, Department of Clinical Sciences, University of Umeå, and Department of Psychology, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden

Neuropsychobiology 2001;44:19-26


Background: Since several studies show season of birth variations in morbidity, suicidal behavior and CSF (cerebrospinal fluid) monoamine metabolites, we investigated season of birth variations in personality in the population.

Methods: We analyzed by multiple logistic regressions the Temperament and Character Inventory (TCI) for 2,130 individuals taking part in the Betula prospective random cohort study of Umeå, Sweden.

Results: The personality dimensions were correlated significantly with age and gender. We stratified the data according to age, gender and the season of TCI measurement. By the median split in each stratum, a high-value group and a low-value group were obtained for each of the personality dimensions. Those born during February to April were significantly more likely than those born during October to January to have high NS (novelty seeking) among women, particularly the subscale NS2 (impulsiveness vs. reflection), and to have high PS (persistence) among men. Temperament profiles also showed season of birth variations.

Conclusions: We discuss the associations in the literature between personality and the monoamines serotonin and dopamine, and suggest that our results are compatible with a hypothesis of season of birth variation in the monoamine turnover. The personality traits are likely to be influenced by several genetic and environmental factors, one of them being the season of birth.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Artistic Obsessions

I read once that each artist has obsessions that she tries to convey in her artwork. (I also call these key artistic themes.) Only when these obsessions are expressed and understood does the artwork appear meaningful. Regardless of how skillful and beautiful a work of art may be to others, I believe that unless one of these key artistic themes is expressed in one's art, that the art lacks satisfaction and purpose to the artist. Intuitively, the artist understands the obsession and conveys deeper meaning to a work of art than is known consciously. This brings an internal logic to the art that acts as a mirror to reflect a world greater than itself.

What are your key artistic themes or obsessions?

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Faith and Business

Running a business based on faith may sound on the surface to be an irresponsible idea. Ironically, faith is one of the most powerful factors that can influence an entrepreneur's ability to work well. Faith promotes optimism, a well-studied factor of business success.

From The Mount Vernon Review from Morrissey & Company:

Optimists and pessimists operate very differently, and business success is a direct result of individual actions. Optimists take more risks and try more new things – they cheerfully deal with problems head on, rather than withdrawing in presumed defeat. They view failure as something changeable, something that can be overcome. Pessimists blame themselves for failure, attributing it to some permanent characteristic. Because of this, optimists are more successful in negotiating our world of constant change.

In more than 30 years of research on the topic, Dr. Martin Seligman, a noted psychologist, revealed that optimists:

  • Set higher objectives and have a stronger commitment to their goals.

  • Are resilient – they have the staying power for long-term success.

  • Demonstrate persistence – they believe challenges can be overcome.

  • Are flexible, enabling them to effectively manage new circumstances.

  • Recover quickly from rejection and setbacks.

  • Focus on how it can be accomplished, rather than why it can’t be done.

  • Are more secure with themselves.

  • View success as permanent – each success motivates an optimist to achieve higher ideals.

  • Believe they influence and control their results, motivating them to try harder.

  • Are capable of managing their motivation during difficult times.

  • Consistently produce more than pessimists, particularly in challenging situations.

  • Are healthier, physically, so take less sick-time from work.

  • Are less likely to quit their jobs.

Next time you find yourself facing a challenge in the workplace, try turning your focus on what isn't working to the spiritual side of having faith that everything will work. You may be surprised by how the challenge seems easier to manage effectively with this focus on faith.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Extraordinary Ordinary

What makes an extraordinary life? Sometimes we think that the extraordinary can only come from high profile positions, such as those in acting, politics, fashion, and the like. As witnessed by the interest in memoirs over the past several years, the extraordinary can also come from a keen eye to the miraculous in an ordinary person's life. The man who finds meaning in his brother's accidental shooting death during a hunting trip, the woman who finds the history of her immigrant grandparents, the teenager who struggles to navigate the complex social landscape of high school. Finding insights about the human condition may be a matter of perspective.

What extraordinary light can be found in your ordinary life?

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Presence in Illness

This cold/flu season gives us an opportunity to take time to become aware of a deep life force experienced in the context of illness. Whether a minor or more serious illness, having to surrender to the body's inherent power to heal itself is the most humbling part of illness, to see the underlying strength and desire to live in the present. When I am lying in bed resting for hours as per medical advice, I begin to lose track of time. Future and past are blurred by my body's present-focused attention. More than on an ordinary day, I can see the sunlight dappling leaves on a tree in a carefully-orchestrated chaotic beauty and another tree past the branches in the distance, blown to move like ocean waves. A piece of furniture can begin to take on depth if we can observe it for its true nature in the moment. With awareness, illness can connect us to our higher nature and spiritual forces.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

My Coaching Blog

This coaching blog (web journal) is designed to share my thoughts about coaching, business, effectiveness, and spirit.