Cleaning the Eaves

Are you a conduit or a flower box?

When your mind is clogged with old habits, behaviors and beliefs, like a rain gutter, it’s of little use. New ideas and fresh perspectives can’t get through. You can grow seedlings in the old muck, but they’ll never become trees. Practice letting go of any excuse that comes to your mind and watch things flow again,

Are you a conduit or a flower box?

Are you a conduit or a flower box?

3 Good Uses for a Coaching Session

3 Good Uses for a Coaching Session

  1. Use a coaching session to get something out of your head so that you can see it without all your filters on.
  2. Use a coaching session to get some fresh eyes on a situation (someone who is not invested in the outcome.)
  3. Use a coaching session to have someone critique your strategy and test your ideas before you employ them.

The most helpful thing I can do for you is point you back to your innate wisdom. It’s like a shaft of light when you see it for yourself.


Easiest Way to Change

To change, you have to LET GO of an old belief or habit of thought. But how? I’ve found that the easiest way is to look at something else. We distract toddlers when they fall down and start crying, rather than dwell on the startling event which has disrupted their activities. We try to engage them with a toy or a new goal. Soon, they are happily on their way again. It works for adults as well. You can dwell on what’s not working for you, or you can change it up. Distract yourself. Stir your coffee in the opposite direction or head up the stairs leading with the opposite of your usual foot. Any conscious choice will alter your trajectory.


This Is A Warning

One day I noticed a piece of black electrical tape over one of the warning lights on the dashboard of Dad’s old Bronco. He explained that the problem could not be diagnosed by himself, nor the dealer, and he was sick of looking at it. Confident that the light did not indicate an actual problem, he blacked it out with a piece of tape. Dashboard lights are like people’s opinions. Don’t let them distract you. If the experts, gurus, doctors, pundits, or anyone else is telling you how you should live your life, listen to them with full awareness of their agenda. Better yet, notice how you feel when you listen to them. This is a warning.


The Sunk Cost of Identity

After we’ve been in a career awhile, we have created an identity. That identity might include credentials (a college degree), experience and accomplishments (resume highlights). The more time we’ve spent creating an identity or brand, the more attached we become. And the more attached we are to those labels, the harder it is to reinvent ourselves.

If you’re ready for a change, perhaps it’s time to unmoor from the past. The sunk cost of your identity does not have to sink your future. Is it time to try something new?


How You Block Your Genius


Your beliefs are made from your repeated thoughts. You stack them up, thought by thought, brick by brick, to keep you safe from your fears. But this wall also keeps out a lot of good stuff, new perspectives, fresh ideas, and undiscovered talents. Over time, you plaster over the brick with your accomplishments (and your failures) until you find yourself a prisoner of societal labels and self-selected pigeon holes. When you chip away at the facade and expose the bricks in the wall, you free yourself to create a new life. Every day. Sometimes it’s hard to see it on your own.

The First Question You Ask In A Crisis


Things move quickly in high tech. The competitors never sleep, the clients need it yesterday, and the platform you’re working on is often shifting. We hired a new salesman who used to be a firefighter. He watched us running around, super stressed out and offered a piece of wisdom from his former job. “When we arrived at the site of a call, the first thing we asked was, ‘Will there be a loss of life here?’”

It gave us perspective. What we were doing was important to us and our clients, but likely no one would die if we didn’t deliver ASAP. Besides, if you ratchet back the tension, people work better and creativity flows more easily. We hung our salesman’s old fire helmet in the hall to remind us that when things get hot, it’s good to keep a cool head.


How to Defrag Your Mind

When disk space was not as plentiful as it is now, we had to periodically defragment our disk drives in order to get larger chunks of usable space, like pushing all the books to one end on a bookshelf to create contiguous space. Our minds are blasted with messages every waking hour and we find ourselves distracted by alerts, alarms, and notifications because we can’t trust ourselves to remember. Here are three ways to defrag your mind, in order to make room for the important stuff and increase your ability to focus.

  1. RECENTER. If you don’t have a meditation practice, just closing your eyes and taking a few deep breaths is helpful, especially before an important meeting or working on something creative. This signals the body that it is time to pay attention to something new now.
  2. REAFFIRM MEANING. Why are you doing this? Does it move you toward some larger goal? What is your intention?
  3. REVIEW. After the task, or meeting, or creative session, are you complete (for now)? What is your next step?

The benefits of taking these few minutes are manifold.

  1. You’ve let go (at least temporarily) of things that inhibit your efficiency.
  2. Your work becomes more meaningful, and therefore so does your contribution.
  3. By thinking about your next step (no matter how small) you haven’t lost momentum. You can pick up where you left off. 



You’re Not Alone

I saw Alan Mulalley give a speech to some engineering students while he still worked at Boeing, the biggest employer in the Seattle area at the time. He told them that 10% of the people design the aircraft and 10% of the people build them. So what do the other 80% of the employees do? They communicate between Engineering and Manufacturing. When you watch an exciting movie or TV series, do you hang around to watch the credits? How many people made it possible for you to live every aspect of your current life (with its running water, smart phones, and parking spaces)? What are you doing to make life better for others?


Be Irrational

In order to get fresh thinking, sometimes you have to be irrational. Chuck the old logic and imagine life beyond the present circumstances. Henry Ford said that if you asked people what they wanted, they’d tell you, “a faster horse.” What if there was no horse at all? What idea are you hanging onto that is limiting your creativity?


Don’t Quit Too Soon

We had just started up a scree field, a chute of loose gravel where, for every step you took, you’d slide back a half step. Sometimes life feels like a slog, where the progress is slower than you’d like, but remember, the odds are in your favor. Stick with it, and like an airplane flying into a headwind, you’ll still get to your destination. Don’t quit too soon.


Face Forward

A pilot friend of mine once told me, “Runway behind you does you no good.” It’s useful to look back to see how you got here, but that is not necessarily a predictor of what’s ahead. Keep your eyes on the horizon. Everything is in front of you.