Helping Nonprofit Leaders Transform Conflict

Leadership Coach and Mediator

Inner mediation between my grandfather and my father, 3/3

(continued from June 9, 2014 Inner mediation between my grandfather and my father, 2/3)

Image courtesy to FlickrI take a seat on the couch, in between the grandfather-part on the right and the father-part on the left. I feel shy. I didn’t expect my grandfather to accept me for my Elly-ness. I didn’t expect my dad to understand that I try to live by my principles, not my considerations. I feel relieved. I have the acceptance and understanding I’m longing for. It creates the connection I want. It integrates different parts in me, which is healing and relieving. I have clarity about my next step: continue being me, just me. Do what I know to be life-serving. Have what I receive with love and gratitude.

Life is actually pretty simple that way: we are born, we live, we die. No matter what happens in between, we know we’ll die in the end, so we better live to our best. I once heard a beautiful saying:

At the end of his life, rabbi Zusha wasn’t asked “Why weren’t you like Moses?” He was asked “Why weren’t you Zusha?”.

The only purpose in life is to be ourselves. We achieve greatness when we fulfill our potential. We reach our potential if we let go of old beliefs, core convictions, and limiting self-doubt. I have found this inner mediation a fantastic tool to do that. I recommend it to anyone.


You want help to mediate different parts of yourself and reach your potential? Contact me 512-589-0482 to schedule a complimentary discovery session.

Inner mediation between my grandfather and my father, 2/3

(continued from Inner mediation between my grandfather and my father, 1/3)

Image courtesy to deviantart.netI-as-my-grandfather expressed to my father-part how much I love him and wish for him he would rest. I-as-my-grandfather wants to hear how this lands for my father-part.

I move to the opposite chair.

“You know, I don’t really know what to say. It’s been a long time since I (as-my-father) connected to you. I don’t really know what to say…”


“You know, I don’t want to connect. I’m noticing I’m angry. You made choices out of your sense of integrity and we suffered the consequences. We were left without support, reassurance, someone to lean on, someone to guide the way. I was left all alone…”

All of a sudden, out of the blue, a deep wailing comes up in me-as-my-father. I break down and sob for minutes, head in my hands, body shocking with waves of grief and loss. “I missed you, I so deeply missed you… I just wished you had been with us… I missed you.”

The wailing continues, for minutes. Then the sobbing calms down. Quietly, gently.

I-as-my-dad look at the chair my grandfather sat in. “I missed you, dad, really missed you… I love you… And I admire you. You put your principles first… You lived by them and you died by them… It was almost no choice, it followed naturally from your being. You didn’t consider the consequences, you followed your heart… Elly looks like you in that respect. She doesn’t know that I know how often she jumped in on street fights, making sure everyone was safe and cared for. She did that at the risk of her own safety. She makes the same intuitive, instinctive choices of compassion and care, inclusion and empathy. She doesn’t care much about the consequences either. It’s not that she assumes she’ll be okay, it’s just that it is her nature to devote her time and energy to those who are in need.”

My/his face lights up.

“My gosh, that’s why I am so worried about her. I’m afraid I’m gonna lose her, just like I lost you. Gosh, that’s just it. She reminds me of you, and I’m afraid I’ll lose her, just like I lost you.”

I-as-my-dad fall quiet.

“And she is not you. I realize that. Her circumstances are very different… I understand that… Thank you, dad, for listening. Thank you for being you….” He looks at the third chair. “I want to hear what Elly has to say.” (to be continued Wednesday, June 11, 2014)


You want help to mediate different parts of yourself? Contact me 512-589-0482 to schedule a complimentary discovery session.

Inner mediation between my father, my grandfather and me 1/3

Thank God for friends. Thank God for friends who empathize. Thank God for friends who participate in the Mediate Your Life Program. And my goodness, thank God for Leah Wolftal.

I am overwhelmed with fear about my poison ivy rash, our house, my income. I don’t know how to respond, and I need help. I ask Leah to mediate between different parts of me: my grandfather-part and my father-part.

Father and sonI start with my grandfather.

Hans, I love you… I love you so much. I see how worried you are about Elly. That she is not taking good care of herself, and doesn’t understand how important and urgent it is to make a living, to build up pension, to have health insurance. I see how hard you try to help her realize that she needs to put her own needs first…”


Hans… you’ve done enough.. It’s time to rest and relax and enjoy the remaining days of your life…”

A sudden sadness rises in me-as-my-grandfather. I start to cry.

I love you so much, Hans, so much… It’s time for you to rest. You have worked your ass off for 70 years. You took care of everyone after my death, as young as you were…”



You worked so hard, Hans, so hard. Under such horrendous circumstances…”

He continues to cry.

Oh, my God, and I wasn’t there for you to face the horrors of war and the desolate aftermath… I wasn’t there… I wished I had been there for you… To guide you, to support you, to reassure you… I care so deeply for you…I wish you would rest, let go, and trust that Elly is walking her Elly-path… I wished you would just enjoy your connection with her. Her laughter, her playfulness, her optimism… She has such a big heart… full of compassion and care. Standing up for those who are vulnerable, seeing the beauty in even the tiniest creature.”

You know, I too, sometimes wonder if her magical trust in the power of her subconscious mind is helpful. Of course I do! I was different that way. And yet, that is exactly what makes Elly Elly. Childlike. Trusting. Innocent. Seeing goodness where others despair. It’s a special quality and I’ve come to appreciate it. I hope you will too. I hope you will honor her for whom she is, without worry. She has survived so far, and will do so in the future. Just like you. Differently. And the same. A relentless worker… Trust that she’ll get there, so you can rest and relax. You’ve done enough.”

He falls quiet. Leah reflects him back. He feels relieved, he’s been heard and mediated between my father and me. I feel touched by his deep love for both of us. (to be continued on Monday)


You want help to mediate different parts of yourself? Contact me 512-589-0482 to schedule a complimentary discovery session.

Everything always starts with connection

You want to ask for a raise. You have been working in this job for several years, and you feel confident that you add value. You want appreciation for the unique qualities you bring to your clients, acknowledgment for the results you’ve accomplished, and support for your financial sustainability.

You feel anxious even thinking about it. Expressing yourself vulnerably, is just not something you’re good at. You have some shame around your feelings and needs, and you fear rejection, ridicule or simple lack of interest. How can you ask for support for your needs?

It starts with connection.

Everything always starts with connection:

Sharing your feelings and needs. Your fear, your anxiety, your vulnerability. Your needs for acceptance and support. Maybe just your needs, if your boss is not a touchy-feely person.

You can ask for a reflection to make sure that the message intended is the message received. The other person might hear blame, or that you’re playing the victim, or a demand, even if that was not your message. Asking for a reflection allows you to clarify your message.

You can also ask for a response. Maybe she feels irritated, upset, or embarrassed. Maybe she needs understanding, connection, or acceptance. Giving her space to tell what’s going on for her deepens the connection.

This connection creates a context for your request.

Well. That’s easier said than done!

At least for me. I so often struggle with asking for what I want, that I often don’t even try.

The Mediate Your Life Intensive helped me.

We did a neat exercise: ‘the need behind the no’. You share your need for appreciation, acknowledgment, and support. You share your vulnerability and anxiety. You make a present-tense, action-oriented, positive-language request: “I want to earn $20 an hour starting next week.”

Your practice partner says ‘no’.

Hum? That’s not what you want! You’re stuck… Now what?

Well, the simple next step is to ask your partner which needs would be unfulfilled if he would say ‘yes’! Invite him to think of something that would support his needs and your needs!

To you it probably sounds as simple as 1+1=2. For me it was an eye-opener.

Engage your partner in a collaborative effort to brainstorm solutions that nurture ALL needs.

Not just his, not just yours, but everyone’s.

I’m gonna practice this right now with you, hoping to support your need for choice, and my needs for connection, acceptance and support.

It’s about my blog. I feel tender, excited and honored when I imagine you subscribe to my blog, because you find it funny, interesting, and encouraging. More subscriptions help me build an ‘author platform’ and -eventually- publish my book. Are you willing to decide today if you want to subscribe? I post five blogs a week, it is free, and you can always and easily end it. And if not, are you willing to share in one sentence why not? To support our need for understanding, and hopefully connection?


Mediation between kids

Friendship“Informal mediation is sticking your nose into other people’s business without being asked.” (Marshall Rosenberg)

I often do informal mediation between my two nanny kids, with more or less success. Today I applied what I just read in the Mediate Your Life manual. When you mediate on the spot, between two parties who didn’t ask you to do so, you make quick, short, snappy empathy guesses and you go back and forth without asking the other party to reflect.

This suggestion turns out to be very helpful.

My usual process is to spend minutes empathizing with one kid, before listening to the other -often leaving the one not listened to more and more agitated as they hear their sibling say things that are totally different from their experience. Today I ask Maya to tell me the most important thing she wants me to hear. I listen to her frustration and upset, I listen to her needs. I get her. Then I tell her that I’m gonna ask Kiran the most important thing he wants me to know, before I get back to her for her second message. She is willing to wait. Knowing that I’ll be back is enough reassurance that she’ll get the listening she wants.

So I listen to him. I hear his feelings and needs. I get him and tell him that I’ll listen to Maya’s second message, before I’ll return to him.

Maya asks what Kiran said. I tell her that I’m not doing that yet. That I first want to understand the most important things of both of them, one message at a time, before I ask for reflections and responses. She settles in. I empathize a little bit more with her frustration and upset. I get her need for fairness. She relaxes into the experience of listening and support and waits patiently for my return after my second Kiran-round.

Kiran doesn’t have a second message. He is ready to play.

When I come back to Maya, she has received so much listening, acceptance, connection, understanding and support that she, too, is ready for something else.

And off they go, to color pages.

Life is so sweet when you have the tools to mediate conflict.


You want to learn to mediate conflict? Contact me 512-589-0482. I think I can help!