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Assuming that I still have a skill from years ago… and finding out that I’m rusty!

Have you ever had a situation in which you go to do a skill that you learned long ago, practiced, enjoyed, and see as part of your identity, and it’s like… you’re starting at the beginning again?

Just the other day my daughter and I decided to go to the town tennis courts, just down the street from us. While I still have my tennis racket, I can’t remember the last time I picked it up — over a dozen years ago easily. But I grew up playing tennis with my dad, that’s how we’d spend our spring, summer, and fall weekend mornings at the little, unassuming tennis club in Pleasantville, New York. I loved those early mornings, being out in the sunshine, playing hard, being in competition with my dad. Playing tennis with my dad, my husband, my daughter, going to the US Open every year (except this year), watching all the major tournaments on television, considering myself a tennis player—it’s a part of my identity.

When I picked up the racket and started striking the balls, the results were comical! It felt so familiar to stand on the court and anticipate playing—I loved it! When I tossed the ball to hit it to my expectant partner, it felt like I had never played before! My eye-hand coordination was so off! My wrist was wobbly, my sense of power and ability to hit the ball in the court, much less place it where I wanted to go, had deserted me. I marveled at my lack of ability. Happily, we were equally bad, and we just laughed and laughed about it.

As time went on and I stepped back from what I thought I knew about how to do this and approached the task as a beginner again, I saw progress. It took being shaken out of my habit (of tossing the ball in the air and then hitting it, to bouncing it and hitting it), to make me stop and think and therefore do better.

Truth be told, It was with a bit of gentle prodding from my daughter to bounce the ball before hitting it over the net—a technique that I saw it as too basic for my skills—that made me think about how I was doing what I was doing.

What about you?

How do your habits and expert mindset get in the way of seeing how things are in the moment?

I had another experience this morning as I was drawing an example for a colleague. I had drafted an example over the weekend but couldn’t find the slip of paper so I thought I would try it again. It was a combination of two icons. I wanted to dash it off and show it to her, so I just started drawing. I didn’t think of my mantra when I am in my Bikablo trainer role, which is, “size, sequence, and proportion.” So as you can guess my first two drafts didn’t look the way I saw them in my mind’s eye. I needed to slow down and get conscious about my process… then my drawing became close to my vision.

These experiences are such pointed reminders of how easy it is to glide along with our notions of who we are and how we do our work when in fact, when we take the time to look at how we do what we do, we can find new ways of seeing and doing.

“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.”

Shunryu Suzuki

 

Getting Un-Stuck!

What do you do when you’re stuck?

I was stuck the other day…

I took part in an online class, Day Schildkret’s offering on impermanent earth art, and found myself blocked—unable to move forward because of my preconceived notion of what I should be doing/creating.

Day’s beautiful work is symmetrical—and his creations often look like a kaleidoscope though they are made from petals, leaves shells, stones, and more. I entered my design stage of the workshop experience with a vision of what the final product should look like.

The vision of my goal got in the way of moving forward!

When I stepped back and looked at my materials, I felt symmetry would be impossible, certainly in the time I had to complete the task, maybe in any amount of time. With that revelation in mind, I turned to another aspect of the guidelines we had been given, and that was to think of to whom or to what I was dedicating the artwork. With a new lens for viewing the task, I had another avenue for interacting with my materials. I shifted my focus to meaning and not structure, and it led me to my final creation. (If you’re curious about to whom I dedicated my creation, visit my instagram page, @jillig to learn more. While you’re on insta, check out Day’s work too, @morningaltars.)

 

What about you?

When were you last stuck? How did you work through it to a successful result? As you reflect on how to move forward, does your approach depend on what kind of stuck you are? Perhaps you are

  1. feeling anxious about how to start a project
  2. a conflict with a colleague, friend, or family member
  3. a technique you are seeking to improve or master

In reflecting on just these few examples, I notice that I would use different approaches to get unstuck

  1. I’d work to move through the overwhelm at the beginning a project by referring to processes I’d used in the past or by taking a small step on the path that I have visualized. (I like George Kao’s thoughts on visualization of the process and not just the goal, in his book, Joyful Productivity)
  2. I would work to find some common ground with the person I’m having a conflict with, as suggested in one of my favorite books, Dynamic Relationships by Jacqueline Stavros and Cheri Torres. The focus on Appreciative Inquiry in relationships is powerful!
  3. In the instance of working with a challenge in drawing or facilitating with a group, I would keep putting myself in the situation of having to consciously practice new behaviors. Sometimes I ask a colleague for observations and reactions about what I’m doing well and how I might enhance my work.

While there’s a saying, “How you do one thing is how you do everything” that’s not true of me… for me, it’s more nuanced. I endeavor to discover what the circumstances need and create differentiated responses.

What are your thoughts?

And if all this chat about a new lens for viewing you, your work, or your relationships feels important and worth your time and energy, please reach out to me for a complimentary call about my Appreciative Coaching work. I believe that this work and play of how we see ourselves, others, and the world is one of the most crucial and exciting challenges we all face.

What inspires you?

This very question leapt into my mind when I viewed the beautiful impermanent earth art work of Day Schildkret, on instagram in the wee hours of the morning yesterday. I’ve seen his work before and I am awestruck.

The experience led me to think about what inspires me, and by that, I mean moving away from what people generally say—heroic actions, speeches, quotations—to what is really meaningful, powerful, and energizing for me.

My shortlist of inspiring experiences from the past few weeks

Visual beauty

  • Mayumi Oda, Japanese American visionary, read about her work here
  • A particular walk in the evening in my neighborhood
  • Dave Schildret’s work, morningaltars on Instagram. I am taking his workshop this Sunday, perhaps I will see you (on Zoom) there?

 

Writing/visual imagery

  • When Death Comes, by Mary Oliver, (find it here)
  • At Home, from The House of Belonging, by David Whyte

 

Generosity

A colleague making time in her day to support me in new learning— and going even beyond our conversation to preparing information for me and following up with more ideas and advice.

 

Kindness

Bearing witness to people’s pain and strength. I am taking the course, Living Fearlessly: Facing the Inevitable, which is about preparing for dying and death though it is really all about living too. I am struck by the deep listening, caring, and compassion that people, who were strangers before they met in this course, show to each other.  If you are curious about the course you will find more information here.

Loving kindness meditation, helping me be more compassionate and caring toward myself, family, friends, those I find difficulty connecting with, and the world…

May you be safe

May you be happy

May you be healthy

May you live with ease

Learn more from Sharon Salzberg, here

 

I’d LOVE to learn what inspires you in your everyday life.

What circumstances have arisen recently that surprise, delight, excite, and stimulate you?

I hope you will get in touch with me so that I may learn what inspires you. Perhaps we’ll even start a conversation!

Summer is waning, what are your reflections?

Memories of long ago…

At the beginning of the summer, with the possibility of carefree days of vacation—camp, friends, sometimes a bit of travel—the idea of having to complete a summer project for high school felt like a burden. By the time the summer was over, with the project completed, I had a sense of accomplishment. As it was a time filled with fun and a bit of work, which was usually (mostly) of my own design… it was really not so bad after all.

What was your project this summer?

Was it making it through every day endeavoring to stay afloat —mentally, emotionally, and maybe financially too?  I hear you, these remain trying times.

Were you, your family, or friends touched by sickness? Members of my family and my circle of friends have been affected. Most have recovered but not all. 

Did it include thinking in new ways or maybe taking on new work? My work has changed in many ways—I miss being in the room with my participants and yet love the connections I am making across the continents too.

How are you feeling about what has changed and what remains the same? I am curious to know.

My summer project has blossomed into a coaching circle for women. 

Roots of Resilience grew out of my desire to synthesize my academic background, training in coaching, and experience across the fields of positive psychology, mindfulness, Appreciative Inquiry, Compassion, communication, and NVC/compassionate communication.

I started this project after listening to many of my women colleagues around the world talk about feeling tired, depleted, and sometimes pessimistic. I designed this circle for the folks like them and like me—women whose strengths feel buried by a combination of unforeseeable circumstances.

These have been trying times and I believe they will continue to be so for the near future. I believe it is a time to come together, share our knowledge and skills, and build them together so that we all emerge stronger, more resilient. Would being a member of a circle with women provide the foundation and the impetus to regain your resilience— to tap into your perhaps dormant knowledge and skills, and build on them?

If this work interests you, as a member of the circle, or individually, please learn more about it here. And if you are one of my colleagues who is an IFVP member, I made the offer at our annual conference this year and I will provide a discount for you. As a field, we have been hit hard by this pandemic. Scholarships are also available to those desiring to join the circle.

Please contact me with your questions. I am offering this experience in one-to-one coaching sessions too—for anyone who feels drawn to this inner work (and play).