Monthly Archives: July 2015

Why Not Run in the Rain?

rain

It was the last run of my summer before I returned to work as an instructional coach.   

It was early morning, the perfect time to turn on the podcast, hit the road and just “listen” to what my life was telling me in my pursuit of truth.

I put on my headset, turned on the podcast and said “a few sprinkles of rain” aren’t going to stop me.

About a mile and a half in, it was pouring.

No biggie. I could just run back to the car and finish exercise on the treadmill at home.

I arrived at the car, rain running down my face, clothes wet and started the car.

Then, something caused me to pause.

Why not run in the rain? 

Think of the advantages.  Sure, I couldn’t listen to my podcast, but I could feel the rain running down me (something we all love to do as kids) and finish my run.

So, I did. And I “heard” two things as a result of embracing that moment.

1) Why do we let “rain” stop us in life?  Sure, it was annoying to have my clothes sticking to me.  I couldn’t listen to my podcast. My run was interrupted. A bug even flew up my nose. But, there was great joy in the moment because I wasn’t going to let a curve ball thrown at me disrupt my plans. I ask again, why do we do that in life?  Let’s not let stress stop us.  Or doubt. Or fear. Or hard work. Or disappointment.  Instead, know what you value.  Know the investment and what it’s worth.  And embrace the struggles.  Who knows, you might even enjoy overcoming them.

2) I rarely stop to walk when I run.  I’m there to run, to push myself.  But, I felt compelled to walk in the rain towards the end of my run.  What I “heard” was “slow down and listen.”  So, I did.  You see this summer, I think, will be one of the biggest turning points in my life (the reasons outlined on this blog).  I was overcome with gratitude that an opportunity to recognize my root system and it’s impact on me presented itself to me this summer.  I was thankful I was drawn to that place in Franklin, TN.  Thankful for my facilitator, for the brief moment in time when he played a significant part of my life.  Not only that, but the revelations and people who “showed up” in my life after that; people with a message that would facilitate my journey further. And finally, thankful for my focus on the truth.  Life is filled with precious moments, moments that bring us richness so that we can then bring richness to others.  I walked in the rain and just felt the gratitude.

So, why not run in the rain, literally and figuratively.  Embrace is for all it holds. 

And, when life tells you to pause and listen, do so.

 

 

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Instructional Coaches: Let Others Pour Into You

boat 2

All successful people let others pour into them.

We all have those times in life where we look back and realize we just jumped a hurdle.  You look back in awe and realize  “that was hugely significant in my life!”  Learning that all successful people let others pour into them and living it by letting a life coach guide me was powerful beyond measure.

I’ve been an instructional coach for two years now. My first year, I had no clue what I was doing. I was making it up as I went.  And it was a position that was extremely isolating, as many coaching positions are.  My second year brought on new challenges as I entered a new district and had the opportunity to be coached to some degree.  Though the coaching I was given was limited, it was still powerful.  What I learned in the few interactions with my coach was the most important lessons I learned that year.  And, more importantly, it was during those times our students made the most progress.

Jim Knight talks about how one of the most important factors in the success of a coach is the professional development that they’re given.   If you’re an instructional coach, I cannot encourage you enough to seek out mentors.  Seek out coaches who have “been there, done that,”  because there’s few that really understand the struggles a coach goes through.  And, let me tell you, every single instructional coach has challenges that are hard to navigate through.

I’d like to highlight someone you can seek out.

kathy

Her name is Kathy Perret, an experienced teacher, coach and consultant and co-founder of the #educoach Twitter group.  I’ve had the pleasure of interacting with Kathy via Twitter.  Every conversation I have with her is one in which she is modeling growth in herself and facilitating it in others.  It’s obvious as I witness others interact with her on Twitter, that she is held in high regard.  Most importantly, she has a heart for helping others.

What should you do?

  1. Go to kathyperret.net and familiarize yourself with her philosophy and background.
  2. Peruse the options for customized coaching including initial training, on-going support, and immediate and focused virtual assistance.
  3. Don’t take my word for it, check out her testimonials.
  4. Consider the cost savings as virtual support eliminates travel expenses.
  5. Join the #educoach Twitter chat and see for yourself the community Kathy has helped build.
  6. Email her at kathyperret@gmail.com to see if she can help provide you the professional learning that all coaches need and rarely get.

Instructional coaching can be isolating.  It doesn’t have to be.  

Most of us that enter the realm of instructional coaching are not taught how to be coaches.  Reach out and build your capacity so that you can, in turn, build the capacity of others.

 

Connect, Gain Perspective, Grow

Connect, Gain Perspective, Grow

“Life is change. Growth is optional.” ~Karen Kaiser Clark

This was one of the quotes I put in my senior autobiography our high school English teacher asked us to write. I’ve always used this belief as a foundation on which to build my life.

As I was reflecting today over the last 4-5 years, and particularly this last year, I am amazed at the opportunities for growth that came about in my life because of technological advances in our society.

I’ve wondered why mentors came in an out of my life and honestly, it has bothered me at times. With the lack of parental presence in my life, I learned to become independent at a young age. I was able to find mentors through athletics and my work.

As my life took a different path, I had to fill my yearning for wisdom and perspective elsewhere.

Books were the next logical progression.  These writers were my mentors, so to speak. Books like Tuesdays with Morrie, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, The Traveler’s Gift, Quiet and Awakening the Sleeping Giant (among many others) became guides for my life.

Then, technology advancements brought me podcasts (ie, Michael Hyatt, Dan Miller, Andy Andrews, Entreleadership, Chris LoCurto). From these podcasts I can get daily inspirations and perspective from those who have walked paths I haven’t yet walked, but will.  They provide answers from people who are passionate about helping others.

It was a podcast that led me to the doors in Franklin, TN where my life would be significantly changed as I took part in Chris LoCurto’s LifePlan event.

And, Twitter allows me to connect (on some level) to others who have a story and a message that provides further perspective.  It’s no exaggeration to say that there are days that the tweets I see coming from people like Joel Fortner, Chris LoCurto and Bruce Van Horn are exactly what I need to “hear” to wake me up. See this post for some of those tweets.

And recently blogs posts from Matt Ham have played a role in my life.

And, all this technology has given me the opportunity to have short conversations with people who can add value to my life.  People I never would have been able to connect with before.

We are all connected more than we ever have been before.  One person’a journey can now significantly impact another’s journey.  Of course, we had that before technology, but the opportunities for it now are only limited by those that don’t engage.

And, you don’t have to be an established coach or thought leader with a tribe.  You just have to have a message a story or a yearning to choose growth.   We all struggle.  We all have the opportunity to overcome.  We all have a story.  Now, more than ever, we have the opportunity to overcome.

Connect, because we are all stronger by sharing our message and gaining perspective through our own life and the lives of others.

I encourage you to click on one of the resources in this post or seek out your own.  These are just ones that have impacted me.

Find someone who has  a message that resonates with you and connect, engage, learn and grow.  Or, even consider sharing your own story. Don’t discount the power your story can have on someone else’s life. 

The Next Five Minutes

5 minutes

“Don’t worry about step 2 or step 222, worry about step 1. What is the next right thing you feel like you’re supposed to do?” ~ Matt Ham

One of my key strengths is listening.  Typically, it’s in regard to conversation, but today it’s in regard to listening to one’s life.  When I first read about listening to your life in Jeff Goins’s book The Art of Work, it really stood out to me. I instantly knew that’s what I needed to do.

What does it mean to listen to your life? That’s a question that could be a post in itself, but for today, it specifically means listening to those statements, oftentimes singular, but powerful statements, that are said to you that could profoundly change your life.

The statement above about focusing on just the next step is one of those statements.

The summer has brought a lot of contemplation about the future. So much so that I consistently awake in the middle of the night. I’ve never been one to do this. I wake with nothing specific on my mind, which causes me confusion as to why I keep awakening. I do think it’s in regard to the future, the enormity of it, what I want and need it to be, the possibilities that exist and the actions I need to take.

Thoughts like that can be both invigorating, but overwhelming.  Thoughts like this:

1) I want a marriage that is solid, strong and one that builds each of us up so much that we can them help one another, our kids and others.

2) I want to significant impact others so that they can live their best life.

3) I want to seize every moment with my son because I know the moment he is little is brief and precious.

4) I want to give all that I need to, all that I’m supposed to, before I die.

Though I think it’s important to take on those thoughts, it can cause us to lose sight of the next five minutes.

Take a listen to this podcast with Matt Ham and Robert D. Smith.  Robert speaks about it in a way that one can’t help but listen to.

Here’s what I believe: If we apply this concept every day, all these small moments will lead to those big moments in life we want to accomplish.  In fact, I would argue, it’s those small moments we need to celebrate because that’s when the change happens. That’s when we affect lives.  That’s when we live our best life.

So, on my list of my “next five minutes” today, I have:

1) Awake early so that I can have reflection and refuel time.

2)  Write this post.

3) Eat a breakfast this is a good balance of protein and fiber.

4) Have a focused and intense work session tonight to prepare for delivering professional development next week.

5) Proactively make the interactions with my husband in a way that shows that I cherish him.  Choose not to let the stress of being the wife of a business owner negatively effect me.

6) Be 100% present.

7) Choose patience, love, and light-heartedness as I interact with my son.  Know that it’s not the amount of time I get with him, but the quality of the time I do.

What will you do with your next five minutes today?

 

Gift of Grace

roots

Perhaps to extend grace to someone, we need to consider not only what we don’t about them, but what they don’t know about themselves. 

In a previous post, entitled “What Grace Allows,” we explored some of the things grace allows. LifePlan with Chris LoCurto’s company profoundly impacted me because grace was extended.  And because of that experience, I’ve been able to reap the benefits of perspective, self-awareness and learning.

And, just as importantly, it is allowing me to give that same grace to others.  This has me thinking, what are some ways we can proactively extend grace?  Is it as easy as saying we should?  I don’t think so.  If so, there would be more grace extended to people.  (I hear a lack of it in the grocery store, over lunch at work, with family, friends and colleagues.  I even fail to extend it in heated discussions with my husband).

We know this old adage:  Before you criticize, walk a mile in someone’s shoes.

Sure, we know this, but do we REALLY do it?

Does extending grace go deeper than that? It  does.

It’s called someone’s root system.

What’s your root system?  This podcast outlines it for you.  (Seriously, if you have not listened to this podcast, put a pause on reading this post and listen. It is powerful).

The “what” of my root system included poverty, dysfunction and an absentee father, all of which I had moved past emotionally, mentally and financially.  However, LifePlan showed me how it still affected me, without realizing it.  Why was I hyper focused on achievement?  Why was I hard on myself?  Why was I stuck?  Why did I feel guilty because I wasn’t a good enough coach, mother, wife, and athlete?  Because of my root system.

Every single person not only has a past, but a root system that impacts them every day.  It determines how they make decisions, how they communicate, what type of mindset they have, etc.  The list goes on and on.  Their behavior is not just attributed to the “what” of their past, but them understanding the why behind who they are.

This root system and  “the why” is something I had the privilege of working through.  Not everyone has.

This has made it easier to extend grace.  Before I interact with someone, that is honestly in the forefront of my mind.  I just don’t know their past and they don’t even know how their root system affects them.

If you’re interested in seeing how your root system profoundly affects you and every relationship you have, first take a listen to the podcast above.  If it speaks to you, consider checking into the work of Chris LoCurto and his team.

The beauty of LifePlan is it changes your life, but it also helps you positively impact the lives of others.  One of those ways, is by extending grace like you never have before.

 

 

 

Defining Achievement: Part 2

Achievement path

One of the biggest revelations I had during LifePlan was that I got my self worth from achievement. What I’ve realized now is I have to figure out what achievement means to me.

The previous post, Defining Achievement, Part 1, began my journey in defining what achievement means to me.

I had an idea swirling around in my head for part 2.  There were two parts to it:

1) Achievement isn’t what society/culture tells me it is.

2). My definition of achievement in the past may have worked for me, but it doesn’t have to be my definition now.

I re-listened to Christy Wright’s video message about life balance.  I heard something there….something that’s leading me to my definition.

She described what she believed “life balance” to be:

1. Being 100% present

2. Living from your values

3. Living a life that is reflective of what matters to you

One of the most powerful statements she said: Put your time, money and energy in the places that matter to you, because trying to keep up with the demands others have for you will lead to inconsistencies in your life. Then, you’ll be frustrated and bitter.

How many of us do that?  I know I did in my yearning for achievement.  I felt such a pressure to do more, give more, work hours after hours at the expense of my health, my family and my values.

So, I’ve learned to say no this summer. In all honesty, are there times I still feel guilty?  Sure. Because I’m in a transition of living in a way where I allowed culture to determine what and how much I should do; And now,  I am deciding.  That’s a big jump.  Don’t get me wrong though. I allowed that to happen. I’m not pointing my fingers at others, but I do think this is a challenging aspect to our culture, especially if you are someone driven to succeed in work life. I’m also not saying you don’t have to work hard; work ethic is one of my top values.  (I would venture to say I’ve worked more this summer than others. I’m just saying I proactively decide the amount of work I do and where I devote my energies. The result: I am happier.

So, in an attempt to further define achievement, could I say this?  Achievement is not jumping from accomplishment to accomplishment.  It is not letting guilt get to me because I choose to say no to some aspect of my life and yes to another.  Achievement is me being true to myself, living by my values and life purpose (as was outlined in LifePlan). It is being present where ever I am. (Something I struggled with a bit in LifePlan–I was overly concerned with the time and making progress during the event.  So many times, my LifePlan facilitator said: “The only thing that matters is the conversation right now.”)

Achievement is living a life that is reflective of what matters to me.  I wasn’t doing that FULLY prior to LifePlan. 

Defining Achievement: Part 1

Defining Achievement- Part 1

I felt a pressure on me, a self imposed one, to achieve.

Man, that’s so true. The truth is, I’ve always felt this pressure and even thrived off of it. It allowed me to academically excel through school.  It allowed me to be a leader through performance and example on the softball field. It allowed me to earn several scholarships to attend college.  It allowed me to change the cycle of poverty that I grew up in.  It allowed me to enter leadership positions.

It was my motivation….to jump from achievement to achievement, from “end point to endpoint” and say “what’s next?”  I was always thinking ahead.

I appreciate the role achievement has played in my life.

However, I’m wondering now, if achievement is defined differently, post LifePlan.

This question came to me after an early morning run that lasted 70 minutes.  (It’s been at least three years since I’ve ran that much at one time). What I felt after that run was different than what I used to feel after I “achieved” something.

I think previously I would have made a mental check mark in my head and it literally took pressure off of me. Whereas, if I couldn’t mark something off my achievement list, my emotions, my  mood, my drive suffered and I questioned myself.  Not outwardly, but inwardly, I beat myself up.

My definition of achievement is not yet solidified and perhaps this post will help me navigate that.

So, if I attempt to describe how I felt after running this morning….did I feel a sense of accomplishment?  Sure, but I didn’t bask in it. I felt like I was being a good steward with my body and health.  And because of that, I could then invest in others better. My impact on others would now be more than if I would have slept in and ignored my physical health. I didn’t make a mental checkoff, but instead, I had a sense of a higher purpose, much higher than that one achievement. I was ready to invest in others.

Perhaps, before LifePlan, it was about the achievement itself.  And, now, it’s what the “achievement” allows.

I’ve always believed in serving a higher purpose and that has been a big part of my motivation.  But, now, I’m truly living it. Truly feeling it.  It’s about the journey and the impact, not the achievement.

So maybe achievement defined for me is being a good steward with all that I’ve been blessed with so that I can serve a higher purpose, more than I ever have before. It’s not a destination, a goal, or an endpoint.

 

 

Do You Fight with Your Children? By Matt Ham

I read a blog post the other day that was perhaps the most important piece I’ve read in a long time. I could try to introduce it, but instead I will just encourage you to go to the link below.  It is powerful beyond measure.

Do You Fight with Your Children by Matt Ham

LifePlan: The Deeper Why

LifePlan- The Deeper Why

Why make the LifePlan investment?  I had to answer this.  

I have said it was because I was discontent, despite a seemingly “successful” life.  That was true.

But, the “why” was much deeper than that.  Honestly, I think I’m still discovering the why.

I can also say it was because I wasn’t living my best life and I honestly didn’t know what the roadblock was.   That was true.

It was about me.  But it was also about so much more than me.  It was about my three-year-old son.  As most parents do, I feel the weight of responsibility to raise a son who is happy and adds value to the lives of others.  I have no doubt my husband and I will have conversations with him about this.

However, I am reminded about how my high school softball coach wrote about me in my academic and athletic recommendation letters for college.  “Annie leads by example.”

I’ve thought about this off and on through the years.  We live in a society that celebrates the extroverted leader.  Don’t get me wrong, we need those extroverted leaders, but I think there’s much to be said about the person who is quietly and courageously leading their life in a way that is am example of how we all should.

Parenting is the same.  We can have conversation after conversation with our son about how to live his “best life.”  But the message he will hear more is the message in our actions.

This is one reason why I needed to do LifePlan.   My son needed to know that I’m not afraid to confront my limitations and have the courage to move beyond them.  There’s no reason to hide behind them because that’s not living my best life.

What are your actions communicating to your children?  Are your actions speaking louder than your words?

 

Your Best Life: Gratitude

child

Part of the beauty of children is what they teach us. 

I received a text from my husband this morning with a picture of construction equipment.  He explained how enthralled our three-year-old was and how he could have watched all day.  In the next text, he admitted he soaked in the moment as well and had “fun” himself.

Children see the “small” moments in life and simply rejoice in them.

Can we, as adults, do the same thing?

As I think about living my best life, there’s all kinds of things I want to do, all kinds of people I want to impact.  I’m on a journey that has ups and downs and lessons along the way.  But, what happens when I get too focused on that journey is this: I miss the small stuff.  Those moments that are oftentimes so quick that we just skim over. And when I do that, I have less gratitude.   As Matt Ham has said before:

“It’s not the circumstances which drive our gratitude; it’s our gratitude which in turn drive the circumstances.”

Are you discouraged by where you’re at?  Are you not discouraged, but simply wish you were farther along?  Are you just stressed?  Do you feel stuck?  Choose gratitude then circumstances will improve.  You’ll bask in the simple moments and have a much healthier perspective of the big picture.

What small moment will you rejoice in today? 

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