Coaching for Nonprofit Leaders

Based in Austin – Specialized in Empathy and Self-Compassion

Vic

Vic is the newbie on Seal Team Bravo, a character in a TV show I watch with my husband.

Vic has had a challenging childhood, missing love, acceptance, safety, a sense of family. When Vic is accepted into Bravo Team, he experiences brotherhood for the first time in his life.

In this episode, the team goes on a covert mission. Unwittingly, Vic throws a grenade in the room where the hostage is being held that the team is trying to rescue. The hostage dies and the mission ends in failure. The team faces serious scrutiny, maybe even charges. If anyone finds out about Vic’s mistake, his membership of Team Bravo will be in jeopardy.

So Vic makes his second mistake, he keeps his actions secret to stay on the team.

He makes his third mistake when his team sponsor and mentor Ray thinks that he, Ray, killed the hostage. We see how devastated Ray is when he imagines facing court-martial and being removed from the team he has been part of for the last 18 years of his life.

Vic chooses a strategy to meet his needs for belonging that violates his values of integrity, honesty, and responsibility. The error becomes a moral weakness.

Eventually video footage surfaces, and we see Vic was the one. Ray is off the hook. Vic is being dismissed from the team. Not only did he betray his own values, but his strategy didn’t even meet his needs. Instead of belonging to the team, he is discharged with shame and guilt.

Marshall Rosenberg calls that “a tragic expression of unmet needs”. We choose strategies to meet our beautiful, universal, human needs that end up sabotaging those very same needs.

I know all too well what that feels like. And you might too. Self-compassion helps with understanding the needs we were trying to meet. Honesty with personal growth when we see which values we violated. And support to discern which values are important and which needs would be effective to nurture those needs.

Would you describe yourself as someone who wants to honor their values and integrity, contribute to others, and nourish self-compassion?

Then you might enjoy coaching with me. I have 23 years of experience with and in nonprofits. And I have a personal practice of empathy, compassion, and mindfulness.

This is what Megan Elkins, Director, Talent Pipeline Success, Workforce Solutions in Austin says about working with me:

“I was just so pleasantly surprised at how much progress I could make. You know, being someone who pursues knowledge for my entire life, you know, I’m constantly trying to learn, constantly trying to self improve, I didn’t realize I had that much potential for growth. Both on like a social-emotional or an empathy scale, but also on a professional scale. I kind of didn’t realize that I had not yet peaked in my ability to communicate with others. And that’s something that was really insightful.”

If you sign up before June 1, you will be grandfathered in at my current fee of $100 per session. And because of Memorial Day, if you sign up for six, you will get one session for free.



What I am reading: Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl:

“Man’s search for meaning is the primary motivation in his life and not a “secondary rationalization” of instinctual drives. This meaning is unique and specific in that it must and can be fulfilled by him alone; only then does it achieve a significance which will satisfy his own will to meaning. Man is able to live and even die for the sake of his ideals and values.”

How my bougainvillea can help you understand the difference between needs and strategies

Imagine a bougainvillea. You can imagine any plant you like, and I take a bougainvillea, because I have two in a pot that are blooming excessively.

Image courtesy to David NayerSo, we have this bougainvillea and she has certain needs. Universal, precious, plant needs. She shares those with all other plants: she wants growth, personal development, nourishment, protection, support. Since she lives in a pot and is dependent on me for her survival and thriving, she probably needs to be heard, so I understand how to best take care of her.

It took me a while to understand her non-verbal signals what she needed, and now I can proudly say that I get them. I know exactly what she wants and I am willing and able to meet her needs.

Does the bougainvillea care if I am the one watering her? Would she mind if my husband did that instead?

I doubt it.

I would be surprised if the bougainvillea would say: “Hey, I want water, and I only want you to water me, not David.” Or: “I want to be in the sun, and I want you to place me there, not David.”

She just wants her needs met, and is not attached to who meets them. She understands the difference between needs and strategies. Since she is not attached to a specific person as the only strategy to meet her needs, she can flourish and bloom, even when I fly to the Netherlands to visit my family and friends. She will happily be taken care of by David.

Now, it might be that I know better than my husband how to take care of her, which would explain if she preferred me as a strategy to meet her needs. But as soon as my husband is up to speed in taking care of her, that attachment would dissolve.

What goes around for plants, goes around for human beings. We all have the same universal, precious, human needs, like connection, support, understanding, growth. But saying I have a need for connection with you is confusing the need with the strategy. You might be the best strategy for connection, because I know that you understand, accept, support me. And as soon as he is up to speed with understanding, acceptance, intimacy, support, he is an option too.

Once you understand the difference between needs and strategies, you have way more opportunities to meet your wonderful needs.

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You want help to find more ways to support your needs? Contact me 512-589-0482 to schedule a complimentary discovery session.

A holy journey into my fear

I get in my car to drive off for my salary negotiation. I feel anxious. A deep fear comes up that I have to face I’m not that important, that I don’t matter that much, that I won’t be heard.

I stop.

Image courtesy to ajunglescientist.files.wordpress.com

Image courtesy to ajunglescientist.files.wordpress.com

I do a quick self-connection practice. Breath. Physical sensations. Feelings. I relax. What, if I view this conversation as a holy practice of loving speech and deep listening. What, if I see this as an invitation to meet my inner demons? What, if I use this as a journey into my fear of conflict, disconnection, and not mattering, like my tree climb was a journey into my fear of heights? What, if I commit myself to stop, breath, and connect to myself as soon as fear arises? And trust that our connection offers support, so I won’t fall? Imagine that my friends are here to be my belay to catch me if I do fall, so I won’t hurt myself?

I relax. A peace comes over me. I can do that. It’s not about a salary raise, it’s about the practice of sharing honestly what’s alive in me, what I want, and hearing deeply what’s alive in them, what they want.

And about using every sign of anxiety, fear, discomfort, as an invitation to connect. To myself. To take good care of my fear. To own it, and be responsible for it.

I walk into the conversation with an open heart and a clear mind.

I walk out of the conversation with pride and appreciation. For all the times I shared honestly from my heart, vulnerably. For all the times I caught myself being scared and stopped talking, breathing into my fear and letting it be. For all the times I listened to really get what my employers are saying. For all the times I captured their message and reflected it back. For the level of integrity and courage I showed to myself.

I leave my employers with appreciation and gratitude. For all the times they expressed themselves directly. For all the times they listened. For the offer they made.

And the salary? That is just a strategy to support our needs for contribution and to be seen for our contribution. We can work that out. Easily.

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You want help to negotiate? Contact me 512-589-0482 to schedule a complimentary, discovery session to see if and how I can help.

Freedom and Choice

F. Dostoevsky

F. Dostoevsky Русский: Фёдор Михайлович Достоевский Suomi: Fjodor Mihailovitš Dostojevski (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Saturday was my day off. It is the day of the week that I have designated for “me” time. It is the day without schedule, without ‘have to’, without commitments. It is the day that I only do what I want.

Usually I love these days. I have time to read books, call friends, hang out with my husband. I play “Jesu, joy of men’s desire” over and over again. I go for long walks in the woods. It is my weekly mini-retreat.

Last Saturday I hated it. It was horrible.

Dostoyevsky writes about the burden of freedom and choice in the Brothers Karamazov. One of the three brothers, Ivan, tells his younger brother Alyosha the tale of Jesus and the Great Inquisitor.

Jesus returns to Sevilla, during the time of the great Inquisition. He shares His compassion, He listens, talks, helps and heals. People all over follow Him.

At the peak of His ‘popularity’ He is put in prison. He is sentenced to death by burning. The Great Inquisitor visits Him the night before His execution. He offers Him life in return for His willingness to perform a miracle, forsake God, and accept power over the kingdoms of the world. Jesus refuses.

I have always loved this story. I feel compassion in how Dostoyevsky writes about both.

The Great Inquisitor cares deeply for ‘his’ people. He blames Jesus for offering freedom. In this freedom people have nothing to hold on to, nothing to hide behind, no excuses for their choices. They are the only ones responsible for their thoughts, speech and actions. And for the results they create. If they fail, that’s their responsibility. If they succeed, that’s their responsibility. Jesus takes away their scapegoat, and the people are left naked in their vulnerability of ambiguous conscience.

The Great Inquisitor claims that he offers the people a more compassionate alternative. He presents himself as the authority and judge of good and evil. He tells the people how to live. As a result people are free from the burden of choosing. They are free from second guessing, doubts, and regrets. Within his constraints, they can live happily ever after.

In return, the Great Inquisitor carries the burden of choosing, and accepting responsibility and accountability for his choices. He thinks that better than Jesus’s alternative of letting people make their own choices and suffer from regret, doubt, self-blame and insecurity.

As I sit on the couch, wondering if I should participate in the teleconference, or not, if I should go to the Hanukkah celebration, or not, as I end up just sitting, I am reminded of Dostoyevsky‘s parable. I feel consoled. Making choices is tough. Dostoyevsky says so.

Day 9 My Journey into Wholeheartedness

Yep, I changed the name.  Rejection doesn’t ring true to me.  I don’t believe there is something like rejection, just someone who says ‘no’ to what we ask.  And it hurts, because we think it is about our worth.  We think we are not worthy enough, that we don’t matter enough to receive a ‘yes’.  That’s a misconception.  Our worth has nothing to do with it.  It is just someone whose needs are not met by our request.  That’s all.  We can  find another request that works better for them, or we find another way to get what we want.

And that’s where wholeheartedness kicks in.  I commit myself to have the courage to stand up for my truth, to express myself authentically and to ask for what I truly, truly want.  I honor my own vulnerability and chose to live a life based on my values and dreams, not my fears.

That’s my journey into wholeheartedness.