Offering my shoulders to stand on

I feel too excited to write a post. I am booked on a panel at SXSW, the biggest film and music festival in Austin. The panel is about responding with compassion to online harassment. (Thank you, David, for recommending me.)

I have about 15 minutes to speak and my mind is racing with ideas.

  • Key idea: “Every behavior is an attempt to meet precious, universal needs”
  • Secondary idea: “We might resort to protective use of force, if the other party is not willing to include our needs.”
  • Bring jackal ears.

    Jackal ears, Image courtesy David Nayer, 2014
  • Bring giraffe ears.
  • Edit feelings-needs list with David.
  • Make mind map and review with David. (Gosh! It is all about David!)
  • Renew business cards.
  • Practice in front of mirror.
  • Rehearse with David. (David who?)
  • Be ready to be invited to do SOMETHING REALLY BIG! Become famous? Get ready for TV!


I pause and focus on my breath. I check in with myself. TRUST. My key word for 2016. Can I trust that I have more than enough inner qualities to contribute? Can I trust my inner compass to focus on what the audience needs, how their lives could be enriched? Can I trust that I can cocreate a space with the audience, where we explore how to respond with compassion and empathy to online hatred? Can we combine our collective wisdom and walk away with insights beyond our imagination? Am I willing to be humble enough to offer my shoulders to stand on, so my audience can look beyond my offerings and see what is possible in our world? Just like others offered their shoulders? Marshall Rosenberg, Thich Nhat Hanh, my husband David?

I pause. I feel super excited about that. It is a different kind of excitement. Less frantic. Less mind boggling. More open. More tender. More from the heart.

You want help to offer your shoulders to stand on? Contact me, 512-589-0482 for a free, discovery session.

Thank you, David Nayer, for your excitement to collaborate on nurturing compassion and empathy in our community.

Standing in line is a wonderful opportunity for connection

“I choose the wrong lane. The other lane is way faster.”

I hear the woman behind me in line for the airport security check sigh deeply. She clearly wants a response. The 100 people around us remain silent.

She tries again “What’s wrong with this lane? We’re not moving at all.” Another sigh, a bit louder. Still no response.

“I’ll miss my plane!”, she says angrily and anxiously.

bildeI get irritated. What does she want me to do? Push the person in front of me? Yell at the staff to work faster?

Then somehow I remember my commitment to work on proactivity. To create a space between the stimulus and my response. I ask myself how I might want to respond: from my reactive annoyance? Or from my most empathetic and compassionate self?

I pause to notice my breath, a simple practice to remind me to come back to the present moment. This woman wants support and maybe understanding for her anxiety. She might want the people ahead of her to let her go by. That certainly would speed up her security process. I can be the first one to offer my place. I turn around and see the face of an anxious and tired woman. “You’re scared to miss your plane?” “Yes, I only have an hour.” “You want to go in front of me?” “Yes” she says with a deep sigh. I can see her relief. Someone understands her predicament and wants to help.

And in her relief, I see a woman, not an annoyance. I have transformed my enemy image with compassion.  She is a human being with the same needs and feelings that I have, someone with whom I might enjoy more, not less, connection.

And so we connect! I discover she is also Dutch. We switch to our native language to add more comfort and connection. In no time we form a group of five people talking about our own languages (English, Dutch, German and Spanish) with big smiles on our faces.

And then, all of a sudden we’re not standing in line, we are a hub of connection. We’re almost disappointed, when we’re done with security and go our separate ways.

That’s the result of proactivity: more connection and joy.

I feel deeply satisfied and inspired.

You want help to practice proactivity? Contact me, 512-589-0482 for a free, discovery session.

Thank you, David Nayer, for your willingness to edit this post last minute.

Lent and proactivity

For the first time in years, I feel excited about my commitment for Lent. I don’t experience it as punishment, discipline or deficit.

As I brainstormed what I wanted to do for Lent, I wondered what my intention was. Is it about creating a challenge? Forcing myself to succeed for success’ sake? Fasting because I think I have to?

Or do I want to use Lent to create clarity about my future self? To figure out how I want to show up in the world, even if my habits urge me to do things that might conflict with what I value? Is it about prioritizing commitment over pleasure, long-term vision over short-term gratification? I now realize I want to use Lent to deepen what Stephen Covey calls proactivity:

“The commitments we make to ourselves and to others, and our integrity to those commitments, is the essence and clearest manifestation of our proactivity.” (Covey, S., The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, 2004, p. 99)

When I set my goal for Lent, I create a little crucible for myself. A little sanctuary of six weeks where I elicit all the feelings that come with letting go. To feel my feelings when I don’t grasp for food out of habit, boredom, anxiety, fatigue. When I set my goal for Lent, I invite myself to look into those feelings, listen to them and understand the (un)met needs that are hidden in them. It offers me the opportunity to brainstorm other strategies to meet the precious needs behind the habitual eating. It is about choosing what I value, instead of what I crave. I might find out that instead of eating, I rather go to bed, or do a mindful walk for 10 minutes, or pause and breathe into the feelings that come up in my little crucible.

Lent is not about enduring craving for six weeks and counting down the days to return to the interrupted pattern. It is about looking deeply into myself and inviting myself to open to all the strategies to meet my needs. Not only the habitual eating, also the newly discovered ones during my Lent. And then making an open-hearted choice that supports my values: the habitual eating or this new path?

I believe proactivity is not about force, it is about choice.

You want help to practice proactivity? Contact me, 512-589-0482 for a free, discovery session.

Thank you, David Nayer, for role modeling the value of collaboration by editing this and many other posts with such delight.

Building a Life (3/3)

My work aligns with my values of loving-speech and deep listening and supports my aspiration to see our interdependence.

When I look at my business as seeing our interdependence and contributing to empathy and compassion, my shyness about marketing my services melts away. I transform my thought that I am a beggar, grasping for clients, into a contributor who creates value and solves problems. I bring a service to the world. Without arrogance, without false humility. From a place of joy and pride that I found the sweet spot between what I love to do and what the world needs.

Building a business is ultimately also about creating a life. Not just about making a living. Creating your life and building your business become synonymous with finding the sweet spot between what you love to do and how you can add value. And then do that with all your heart.

“If it falls to your lot to be a street sweeper, sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures. Sweep streets like Beethoven composed music. (…) And sweep streets like Shakespeare wrote poetry. Sweep streets so well that all the hosts of Heaven and Earth will have to pause and say, “Here lived a great street sweeper who swept his job well.”” (Martin Luther King in: Cornel West, The Radical King, Speech delivered at Barratt Junior High School, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, October 26, 1967)

When I look at my business from the perspective of offering my services wholeheartedly, because they uplift humanity, I get super excited. I love listening to people and asking questions to deepen understanding and self-connection. I love helping people understand each other from a place of compassion and empathy. And I love facilitating dialog in group settings, certainly when there is conflict involved. Why? Because I value connection, I value harmony and I value understanding and support. I believe we are better off as a team, than as individual players, and we get more things done when we collaborate.

You want help to Build a Life? Contact me, 512-589-0482 for a free, discovery session.

Thank you, David Nayer, for role modeling the value of collaboration by editing this and many other posts with such delight.