Does Getting in the Middle Work?

Whether it’s in diplomacy or working things out in a family, being in the middle will rarely achieve more than a band-aid’s worth of value. Sometimes, our issues are no more than band-aids, but usually when we allow ourselves to be in the middle or look to others to get in the middle, there are significant expanses to traverse and inefficiencies to address that can be endemic. Creating a quick fix does not address the true impact of the gap. And that can mean that you are dealing with the same kind of issue again just weeks, days or hours later.

Sometimes we get in the middle because it is uncomfortable for us to deal with the friction of the conflict in our space. It’s truly more about us than it is about both parties moving on in the best possible way. If it stops, we are relieved. But like most fixes, it won’t stay that way for long, so even in a selfish way we are not doing much for ourselves, let alone the main parties involved. If we bring others into the middle regularly, then we probably have a great opportunity to expand ourselves and deal with conversations that we normally pull away from.

Encouraging people to do the hard things, to tell the truth, to work on their issues themselves without a go-between, to look deeply at their own responsibility for how things have gone instead of just helping them get over the hump of the problem, will always lead to a greater potential for growth. They may not choose to do that, but then they are left one step closer to addressing things head on, because one method of avoiding the consequences of working things out is now off the table.

If you are going to involve a third party and don’t want to wind up in the same place again, then be sure to be open to feedback, to look as carefully at what you are bringing to the issue that makes it go the way it is as you are looking at the other person and making it about them.

This isn’t easy, but facing the same thing over and over again without it changing fundamentally is a lot more difficult, we just are limited to only hindsight being 20/20. There’s no reliable way to tell the future and see that the issue you’re dealing with now is one you’ll be confronted by over and over again. If we knew, we’d see that the time to address things head on is right now.

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The “You Can Do It” Crowd

I’m a coach and serve the empowerment of people. Being that I’m a representative of this movement to some degree, I want to address hyper-empowerment and the impact of “look at me” empowerment.The look at me stuff usually involves memes about everything you can accomplish, how wide open this oyster’s shell of life is, displays of physical beauty or wealth by societal standards, physical acts of determination and public displays of gym activities.

None of those things are bad. Plenty of them are lovely, for sure.

But there is also nothing bad about not being one of those people that feels this way about life…yet, or ever.

It’s ok if you never climbed a rock wall.

It’s ok if you feel like there is someone inside of you that you could be but haven’t been.

It’s ok if you’re not a tough mudder or cross-fitter.

It’s ok if you don’t feel you resonate with messages of how amazing life is and can be.

And it’s ok to love and appreciate those whose lives do seem to look like this without feeling pressure to be anything like them.

Peace with who you are and are not is truly the great gift of the empowerment game. It’s the starting spot (not line because there is no one direction to go in) and it can take plenty of valuable work just to get there.

Nothing authentically powerful is available without the clarity that leaves “shoulds” behind. This freedom makes real joy possible, the kind that connects to who you are and have always been before there were any pressures to “be somebody”.

If you struggle with any of this, the pull of needing to be somebody, to be impressive or just to keep going in the same direction every day in this life you set up for yourself by following rules and doing the right thing, doing what your younger self thought was a good idea. If you struggle to find or hear your inner voice amidst all the noise of life and our minds, don’t let the (seeming) clarity of others get under your skin or make you feel like you need to be more like them. Spend that time and energy looking, discovering who you are and letting those voices fade out, whether they be mom and dad, friends or the endless stream of messaging we see every day.

It’s not easy, but it is worth it to find that peaceful center. True empowerment, where nothing at all has to happen. Here, our choices start to come alive, because they become clear reflections of who we have always been.

These are truly my favorite conversations. The ones where we get to discover who you really are (who I am, too!). It’s a front row seat to the greatest show on earth…freedom.

And you don’t need to want that, either.

Love,

Gregg

Becoming People Together

One of the most valuable things we can do is to disengage with the roles we play in our lives – child, boss, parent, spouse, co-worker, etc. – and practice seeing ourselves and others as just people.

Get out of the haze of the morning rush, of what has to get done, of the reactions to what’s not getting done and see these human beings in our lives as complex, vulnerable, sensitive, less than sure people who are trying to figure this all out, too. Just like us.

I’ve never gotten more hugs and kisses in my house since I started practicing this. Being seen as a person is a relief (no matter how little or how big we are).

Becoming!

I don’t know about you, for me, the word “becoming” hits me in the gut. It references who I am today, that I got myself here, for good and for bad and that who I become is up to me. It’s a choice who I become and it may mean I need to be ready to let go of some things about me. I get emotional thinking about that.

I started with a client just before the new year and at the time she was in a challenging place. Wanting to divorce, wanting some new experiences in her life. By the time we were finished with six months of work together, she had a new, exciting man in her life, they were living together in a penthouse apartment, completed the divorce and decided what she really wanted her already successful career to look like going forward while taking some steps to get there.

When I review our early emails, what stands out to me was that in our first session she gave herself permission to have, to grab a “hot, sexy life”. Those were her own words. She knew who she wanted to become and it was so real even without the evidence showing up yet. It was juicy and easy to want that for her and to partner with her to make it so.

Her request of life reminds me of Rumi’s words – “Life is a balance of holding on and letting go.”

Life still happened for her, daily life, ups and downs, but who she decided to become was a form of letting go. Letting go of the idea of who she thought she had to be, from years of lessons from family, society and religion. Letting go of that peculiar inertia that exists tempting us to make today and tomorrow so similar to yesterday. Letting go to herself, the spirit inside and the games she wanted to play with this precious time on earth.

Being a coach in this playground is like surfing and trusting the next wave will always come. A mishap in dating, some emotions, some trepidation, but we return to who you are becoming. Some setbacks in the divorce process, again emotions and other impact and she gets support to get back on the board and paddle out. The next wave comes, a better ride but still bailing because it and we weren’t just right.

Becoming has grown stronger in her, though, more of a part of her. She truly is becoming now. Then someone enters her life, is drawn to who she has become and continues to become. Now that wave and the rider are one. There is intention there, sure, but the letting go is complete, the dance is truly happening and beauty is made that could come about no other way. Not only did these results come, but now she was a different person. Still much like herself, but  now this new life was just a part of her. Fully integrated. She became.

Having an audience to your becoming, someone who is a big, fat “YES!” to it can be very helpful. Especially if they are willing to come along on the ride with you. Sometimes there is fear and trepidation about who we want to become. Oftentimes, it’s a secret (shhh!) and we’re barely comfortable thinking of it, let alone saying it out loud and creating plans and taking actions to bring it about. The more we feel it in our bodies, feel this acceptance of what we want our life to look like, an excitement for it with an ability to taste it no matter how far it seems from here, the more likely you are to take ground and get there and the better a tool a coaching relationship will be for you. If you’re not there yet, I know the feeling. It can be built, too.

The best part for me as a coach (other than the joy of seeing my client transform and succeed) is that I’m expanding, too. I’m becoming right along with my client. The wave is so real and pungent and you need to be able to ride it too to grow that energy and have it lead to actions. It’s a trip that is so great to be on with my clients.

Who are you ready to become? An even better leader? A woman who has it all? A mother and a lover? A success on your terms? Truly happy with yourself? I’d love to hear. Just telling me (or anyone ready to be that big, fat yes! for you) will be the start of it coming true. Let’s make it real.

We Need Permission

REALLY wanting someone to understand something, especially when you think it’s for their own benefit, has nothing to do with them getting it. In the end, how much you want them to get it is what may impact them the most and usually puts our (work, family, friend, romantic) partners in defense, reaction and protection.

The willingness of your conversation partner is the most valuable currency there is in relating to each other. Cultivate it wisely and know when it hasn’t been offered to you.

Sometimes there is no in door. Knowing how to love and take care of ourselves when the door we want to be open is closed can be the most valuable currency for our own well-being and finally takes the pressure off the other person to take care of you by letting you in.

Stuck In Our Own Creations

This is an amazing part of life. We create something, a relationship, an organization, a partnership, a commitment and eventually it can start looking like a trap, a situation we don’t know how to get out of or something we see is taking over our lives.

This usually comes down to one thing, or two related things, bad planning and the gift of learning.

Bad planning usually comes down to naivete. It’s not on purpose. Learning is usually a good thing, but not so much when we’re unwilling to make the changes our learning asks of us or to see the learning available in the first place.

When the picture changes, when our marriage or our business requires more than we thought it would, more time, more resources, more attention, a more evolved version of ourselves, this is GOOD NEWS. The key is making sure we don’t respond by increasing our own suffering. There is always a win, we just may need more help than we think, there may be more foundation-building to do, we may need to grow or let go of our grip, our image of what it’s supposed to be.

If we can do this humbly and let go of our ego and get to work of learning and incorporating that learning, then we can really start to make life and our commitments work, and everyone has a chance to win.

This is something coaches and other people we empower to put a mirror up to us can help us make a huge difference around. They support us creating the humility to see what our traps are teaching us and the courage, conversations and accountability to grow into who we need to be to take necessary action and succeed.

Success Has Failed – Osho

Osho was a controversial seer. He stirred the pot and gave people a lot to look at and consider. I pulled this quote from listening to one of his talks, probably from the 80s. It provides an excellent example of how insight is born. Insight is the opportunity for freedom.

Much like the scene in War Games where the computer discovers the futility of global thermonuclear war by playing the game over and over and over again, leaving no “winner”, the futility in this statement – Success has failed – gives us a chance to truly examine what we are up to. Living inside of a futility, of a pattern in our lives that exists without true satisfaction, is like a death, a small death, an abdication of the possibility of our lives. Our life examined may sometimes look like a collection of these small deaths, which is why this investigation can be so freeing and perhaps even necessary. For a moment, we can put how we live our lives aside to investigate what else may exist outside of how we are defining success, happiness, the purpose of our individual and collective existence, even.

Is the outcome of our 401Ks truly success? Is the promotion? Is consumption, the next gadget, the next day meeting your fitbit goal? Is the down payment, the next client? Is it the next win over whomever you feel is in the wrong? Is the next escapist binge the thing?

We get caught up in the day to day. If we let our definition of success drop for the sake of discovering our own definition, testing each new thought for futility as well so we keep ourselves from the next trap we can fall in, we give ourselves a chance to redefine and reframe our lives. To get off the hamster wheel. Is the life we are working towards or even admiring truly what we want?

I think the Kardashian thing (not sure what else to call it) is our own creation designed to help us get the message that some of what we have been idolizing, like fame, celebrity, obsession with ourselves and wealth for it’s own sake is absolutely futile, is not an attractive destination.

This is just a nudge to look for ourselves and drop out of our collective trance born from societal conditioning, media, our own reactionary ways (wanting something better than what we have or have had to deal with in the past), etc. A chance to investigate what truly moves us and how we would create our lives straight from our hearts.

I just want success, on your terms, from your own experience, for you.

What It Takes

Working with a couple right now and it’s a challenge. Supporting two people who have experienced a ton of hurt, who are not trusting out of fear of more hurt, who have a young child together, who, underneath the fear probably love each other but the old wounds and the fear makes it hard to say out loud.

Sometimes it can be hard to outright choose to support them in a possibility that at times I see more clearly than they do. I know the triggers, I know how to support people getting past them, but maybe they would just be fine being apart. Probably stuck in the same patterns in new relationships, but at least not having to face all of this fear right now and what it puts us through, the ravages of the thoughts and reactions, how exhausting it can be, what it really takes to grow out of them.

It really all hinges on how much you want something, what you’re willing to face to get there. I’ve seen courage and love grow as patterns subside, as people realize that they can handle their own feelings, but it doesn’t make it any less of a challenge to support until we get there.

Thanks for listening.

People do things differently

Holy shit, this has caused me so much agita in my life. This tendency I have to control, to think I know best so often. People doing things differently is a real test for some of us. It defines the experience of some relationships. It can be incredibly pervasive. It can help us see how anxiety and being in the unknown goes in our lives.

It seems so simple, but this phrase makes me pause. It’s truth. It’s a mirror. People do things differently.

Our relationship to people doing things differently is something we can look at as leaders, managers, partners, employees, friends, family and of course, romantic partners. If we’re the controlling type and we get intentional about letting people do things differently, we really have to deal with ourselves. It’s a highly meditative act, to notice what we go through when we just let people “do them” and expand our comfort with it. It can be powerfully transformative to isolate this distinction and practice it on purpose.

If we’re working with someone on something and letting them be, then we need to just let clear expectations and standards do their work and let go of “the how” around how they get there. If we make the how more important than it has to be, then we’re going to transfer our pain from anxiety to them and create a fairly miserable situation. We will also likely miss out on any learning that others’ creativity can provide and have little patience for people’s own process and learning curve. People are not people anymore, they’re “do it right-ers” or they become a problem for us.

Sometimes, though, it’s time to train. Training creates effective uniformity and is necessary in some environments. Training really requires agreement, otherwise it’s force and struggle. Training always has some resistance to it, but ideal training is you and the trainer partnering together around expanding your own resistance. When we take responsibility for making training look this way in our lives, we can be grateful for being trained, grateful for the expansion that comes from it. When we take responsibility for this agreement as the trainer, we get to let go of one rival and love our trainee for their courage, commitment and integrity. Resistance is likely to show up, but we can go back to that relationship with the trainee and walk through it together.

Unfortunately, our first exposure to training included no such agreement. It couldn’t. We were babies. We couldn’t choose our trainer and we didn’t know about the idea of agreeing to this training relationship. It was just thrust upon us and it likely created our relationship to training and being trained. By looking to this agreement, choosing it, empowering it and continuing to be responsible for it as we grow up, we can cut that initial conditioning of how it went out of our lives. If we don’t, we’re just likely to repeat our initial relationship to training and being trained.

Getting clear on what is happening in a relationship – allowing each person to do things how they do them or choosing to be trained in certain areas of the relationship – can make a huge difference, cut out some unnecessary pain and create an intimacy beyond control where we can truly appreciate each other more as human beings.

Whew, that feels better.

I call this post Loving Zombie Freakout Bitch

This is what I love about coaching conversations. People keep it REAL. A client of mine today was looking at her cycle around disappointment and called her own reaction Zombie Freakout Bitch (ZFB moving forward) with zero regret or self-consciousness. We were laughing and enjoying every bit of it. IT WAS FIERCE.

We took an unfortunately unconventional approach to working on this. Unfortunate, I think, only because it is not more widespread. We let ZFB just be. We looked at how natural this feeling is and just let it be, without making it wrong in any way. We also looked at the consequences. So many men, especially, get scared of this way of being. I was afraid of every version of it (quiet and withdrawn, raging fury, side eye, saboteur…) for years until I saw how useless that was. I was trying to control my friends, family and wife. It was all around me and in the end the person that couldn’t hang was me. I made up a meaning to it that I was no longer loved and that was terrifying, pervasive and WRONG.

What we looked at was what would it take to leave ZFB to be what it was and incorporate this way of being without needing to control it. What would it take of her partner? What information would she give him so he could, from a connected place, wait it out and not need to have a negative reaction to it and where would that leave them if they were successful. Because at the end of a ZFB moment she saw that there was usually creativity, partnership, clarity and eventually love, as long as it could take it’s course. It would take this understanding of the cycle and some practice to get there.

In the end, is ZFB here to ask us to expand? Are we infinitely more capable when we are not scared of this way of being, when we can stay present and open and not be triggered into fear? What does that bring to the rest of our lives and relationships if we have gotten that far?

My mind and heart opened to this the more I read about Hindu spirituality (I’m no expert, here). The value and understanding placed in energies we normally judge as wrong, as embodied in some feminine deities. It helped me embrace what I may have originally pushed away as wasteful or damaging. It helped me start to add the title “awesome” to energies I would formerly cower in front of. There is a lot of possibility here in being able to embrace energies as cosmic realities instead of thinking we can judge and control our way out of them. And I found that when I put this into practice and after a while my appreciation started to truly come through, it really worked, for everyone.

Personally, I’m sick of the “bitch” title (unless we are using it playfully like my client was, devoid of self-judgment). We so rarely look beyond it or at the potential value of a woman’s reactions to our own growth in ability to allow these energies or even the truth in whatever the cause of the reaction is. If we pass this test and can become masters amidst this energy, think of what we become capable of (moving towards fearlessness) and how we can really welcome women’s contribution and whole being more fully. Not every woman would be comfortable with or warrant the title ZFB (and we sure as hell better not give it to them!), but we all have our own picture of what upset looks like. When upset is no longer a threat, when we can bring the kind of empathy and true appreciation to it that is not self-serving and designed just to make it end and our misery along with the behavior we are judging, then we may be unlocking something very creative and powerful.

Oh, and men (like me) can be ZFB’s too. Where my bitches at? 🙂