My little daughter had a birthday recently. Last Thursday I decided to buy a birthday cake so she can celebrate it with her friends at preschool.
We went to Waitrose (our local grocery shop) and picked a beautiful cake, some juices, paper plates, spoons, etc.
I prepared all my stuff for the check out and just before the lady at the case desk asked me for money, I realised that I left my purse at home.
I was about to cry…
Suddenly I heard a voice. Polish speaking lady that I have never seen before in my life said: “Oh! I noticed that you probably forgot your money, I know how you feel, it happened to me before. It would be so disappointing for your daughter not to have this cake. Let me pay for you, you will send me the money back to my account, it is not a problem at all.”
And she paid 40 pounds for my shopping!!!
I was absolutely amazed and so grateful! And of course I sent her the money as soon as I came back home.
What have I learned from that situation? Life can surprise you when you expect it the least.
Keep your eyes opened and allow little miracles to happen. Life is better than we expect.
Happy New Year!
One of my clients has a serious problem. After ten years of marriage, something started to change. She stayed at home with kids and he was running faster and faster in the corporate rate race.
Currently, he is a senior manager and she is still at home (already for a fifth year) with five, three and one year old kids. According to her feeling, he doesn’t treat her as a partner anymore. He is the smart one and she is just the “mummy”.
I am sad to say this, but such situation is less unusual than I would like it to be.
When we look from the outside we might assume that five years out of work might be long in case of some professions. We also note that it is not easy to organise the life of a three kid family with minimum help from the partner (he works) so if she lost some skills, she had to gain others at the same time. Etc. etc.
Let’s stop it here…
Does it really matter?
We are not talking about a boss and a subordinate. These are a husband and a wife. What they have lost on the way?
My client knows the best, however we all might have our own opinion.
I guess partnership, love, respect and maybe parenting is what should matter in this kind of relationship. The professional life, in my eyes, is not the central part of it.
Hard to achieve a change when you know that the only person you can change is yourself.
So, what can we suggest to my client and any other person in a similar situation?
This is the advice I heard from my husband that answers all my client`s doubts:
Work on your self-confidence, be yourself and keep going even if the steps seem to be smaller than you would like them to be. With time, your partner will appreciate it.
Should you need a mate on your way to more successful life, I am here for you.
My younger daughter announced twenty minutes ago: I am good now, I am not sick anymore. I checked her temperature and indeed, she had 37,4C. Few hours before I was about to start panicking when ibuprofen didn’t have any effect on her 39,8C fever.
I know this little lady, I know that she has to cook viruses or bacteria before she gets better. However it is still very difficult for me to survive the moment when she falls asleep because it is too much for her body.
My today’s blog is going to be short.
Appreciate what is important in life.
– Love and Friendship
– Your Dreams and Values
– Positive view of yourself
And first of all health.
Since my daughter “feels great now”, I will be back to work soon. And ready to meet you if you need me.
Bit less than three years ago, I was invited to a Google event at their London office. It was dedicated to women and the main topic was how to combine being a good employee and being a good mother.
The event had a form of a discussion panel among three successful ladies from major internet companies (like Spotify, Uber etc.) with a Q&A part at the end.
With the audience filled in 3/4 with women, we were informed that the combination of working full time and being a mother is just a question of good organization of time (and servants;).
The situation was funny because to make it possible for me to be at that event, my husband had to take half a day off to take care of our little daughters.
So I was listening to a lady – a living example of the approach she promoted. During last 13 months, she managed to give birth to two kids and come back to work full time (and work full time between two pregnancies)
My smile was rather bitter at that particular moment because not so long before, the same Google just literally forgot about me when I told them I was pregnant. After five (5) months of interviewing process and nine (9!) successful interviews and so many words how great I am:) Well, anyways…
So during the even, I was thinking if it is or it is not possible for a woman to combine being a fulfilled mother and having a full time professional life.
I needed some time to clarify my answer.
Now, few years later both of my kids are at school and I am back to work. I am ready to answer…
I assisted the first steps of both of my girls, I offered them their fist spoon of solid food. I have seen almost every little smile and tier, success and failure. It gave me huge satisfaction.
With time, I managed to build up a new career that helped me combine my ambitions and skills with the needs of still not so grown up daughters.
Now, I see no obstacles in working for myself, or any other great company if the possibility arrives, and raising kids at the same time. I really appreciate the fact because I love to work and I love to make a difference this way or another.
It’s a real pleasure to work and be a mother, to do meaningful things in life, at home and at work. The more complex, the better. At the end, that is why (expect for the money;) we all work, correct?
With a little more experience and solely from my own perspective, I came to the conclusion that it is possible to be a great employee and a dedicated mother, gradually.
When at first you focus on your baby so this little person becomes self confident and brave enough to give you space for dreams and development.
Because we can definitely have it all. We just have to be wise, patient and very determined while organizing it…
Should you feel a need for a discussion about your career or any other subject, remember that I am here for you.
I sleep a lot recently. Sometimes I go to bed with my daughters at about 8:30 pm and sleep till 7:00 am.
It happens to me periodically when I am stressed or have plenty of demanding activities. My body is just fine, but my mind needs to switch off.
In simple words, this means that I am mentally exhausted, so I go to sleep.
I learned to listen to my body and accept my “sleeping periods”. If I ignored it, I would probably get more stressed, nervous and unhappy. It is not good for anyone:)
Once I discussed it with my friend psychiatrist. I told her: it is not normal to sleep that long when you are an adult.
Her reaction surprised me a lot. She calmly explained me that most people have periods like this but only few are able to deal with difficult periods in a smart way.
In her opinion drugs or alcohol addictions are usually partly a result of long term non cured periods of exhaustion, anxiety and stress.
So if I am able to help myself by sleeping additional hour or two, good for me.
“Addiction” is not my favourite word and you have better things to do than to fight with it in later times. That is why I made a little research in my internal (head) and external recourses.
Please find a short list of easy (and healthy) techniques to reduce stress and tiredness that you may consider to use:
• Be more assertive! Yes! Think about yourself at first place, set up boundaries that will help you stay fresh and focused
• Look at you in the mirror and smile – fake it till you make it. Being positive really makes a difference
• Talk to someone – conversation helps us to clarify our thoughts and get rid of some of the fictional problems
• Exercise – I mean the way you want. I walk a lot, and if I have a lot of stress I just walk fast, or occasionally run. If you are more ambitious or less lazy than me – do something more demanding
• Have some rest – no you don’t have to carry on regardless! Remember that tomorrow is another day and you have to save some power.
• Try relaxation techniques– I do have to work on this one! At the moment I try to loosen up all my muscles before I fall asleep – well, I never managed to accomplish this task completely, which is a proof that it works perfectly;) However there are plenty of wonderful courses or even mobile applications that can be useful
• Keep a stress diary- first, it can help you anticipate possible problems, then as you soon notice, most of your “huge problems” will never become true
• Reduce your time online and get rid of other additions. Alcohol, nicotine or Facebook help in a short term but in a long term they bring much more problems than benefits.
• Help someone – it’s bit of a magic but definitely works – you help somebody and the universe helps you. Basically you just forget about minor problems…
• Accept the things that you cannot change – difficult but very effective- try to concentrate on the things that you have control over
The list is not full and is definitely opened for a discussion. In any case, it`s worth being considered during tough times.
What techniques do you use during the crucial periods? Please share them with all of us!
When you feel like it’s time to talk, remember that I am here for you, ready to listen and ready to challenge – depending on your situation.
Every time when I go visit my clients in prison, I ask them about the everyday life. I also observe the environment very carefully.
One thing is for sure, when the doors of the prison are closed behind our back, we are suddenly soaked into a different dimension.
The first word that comes to my mind when I say this is – time.
Inmates in most prisons have a lot of time. Plenty of time for sleeping and getting depressed, if they let themselves to flow this way. Or plenty of time for education, gym, work or getting involved in helping other prisoners if they decide to use their time actively and effectively.
Funnily enough, the prison staff also seems to have more time than the rest of the population outside. Many things happen in a different times than originally planned. Sometimes things do not happen at all and nobody seems to be excited about that.
I often find myself trapped in a situation when cases that are supposed to be obvious and prompt take ages.
The other word that describes the situation is – change. One of my coachees described it as follows:
“You have to change in prison, otherwise the prison changes you.”
Change in this case means to reinvent yourself in a very different environment. To face the fact that you have to cook your curry in a cattle and that the „brother” you have in your cell snores as hell and there is not much you can do about it. Change means also to use every second of happiness that visits you without previous warning. The “outside world” comfort zone is just a dream.
In my case, prison is also a good school of patience and ability not to take things too personally.
Each of my visits in this institution is a surprise. I never know when exactly I get to the proper wing of the building and how many clients I am going to meet at the end.
For example few days ago, one of my clients refused to get out of his bed at 10:30 and requested me to come back at 14:00. I saw him, I talked to him, but I was not worth enough for him to change his habits (he prefers to get out of the bed after 13:00). Did I came back at 14:00? No! I respect his decision but he has to respect my time.
But I still believe that effort is worth it. People have a choice and can change. And I will be there to assist them on this difficult path.
Should you want me to join you on your journey to a better life do not hesitate to contact me.
Last Tuesday, I was walking back home after I dropped my kids to school when I noticed a handbook in a shop window.
To be exact – a big black exercise book with a sign: “No rain. No rainbow” on it.
This is how my life looks like. Nothing is given for free. I always have to work very hard for every little moment of glory.
I repeatedly face obstacles that seem to be bigger than me. I am sometimes so tired that I think I cannot cope anymore. And at this very moment, another big challenge comes in my way and I find a power to survive again.
I am and you, my friend, are much stronger than we think.
Then, at the day when I start to loose my hope, the sun rises throughout the rain and I can admire a beautiful rainbow. Life is good. Not often easy, but good.
When the wind starts again and the first drops fall down, I try to accept that this is the nature of life. No rain. No rainbow.
I will be happy to hear your story. Remember to contact me when you are ready.
I visited Facebook twice this week, in both cases to post my new article. I also opened Twitter (once) and LinkedIn (twice) for the same reason. Surprise, surprise – I am still alive!
There is a possibility that I missed something that could change my life, but since my life is rather good even without that important thing, I consider the experiment to be very refreshing.
The few friends that wanted to contact me during this time easily found a way to do so. Now I can say for sure: there is life outside of the social media world 😉 Try!
I plan to follow up with my detox, you know where to find me. Outside of networks:)
However, this is not the only experiment that I arranged last week. I made another very pleasant one. I gave myself a day off from all the worries of the world.
I do not know too much about your habits, but I usually feel guilty for half of the things that I do and do not do. I do not read enough and if I do, then the books I pick are not as ambitious as they should be. My house is not as perfect and clean as I expect it to be. The food I prepare is supposed to be more nutritionally balanced and the time I spend with kids is meant to be better organized.
This Wednesday I gave myself a day off from playing Miss Perfect.
I didn’t have to go to work, so I had all day for myself and decided that this particular Wednesday I will not allow myself to feel guilty, not even once.
After dropping my kids at school I had a pleasant tea time with a friend, then I took a nice bath, read book, cleaned the apartment for two hours (because I wanted, not because I felt obligated to do so) and in the evening we made a beautiful collage with my girls. I ate a kilo of tangerines, drank a whole bottle of my favorite soya milk and ate many other yummy stuff.
At the end of the day I felt totally relaxed and happy.
I highly recommend you to try this on yourself! Nobody noticed that I am less perfect, few people suggested (my daughters included) that I look more joyful.
I do not want to live all my life without any attempt to become better every day, but from time to time I will definitely prescribe myself a day off.
An easy and effective way to relax. And you do not even have to contact your GP or pharmacologist! No side effects:) I encourage you to give it a try!
However, should you need a hand to discuss or organize it, do not hesitate to contact me! I have more time now:)
Overuse of social media is one of the main topics among my clients.
It’s easy to start using them, just take one glance at new Instagram posts, few tweets or Facebook statuses. With every minute it is more and more difficult to stop. We all know that sometimes it takes us hours to finally say goodbye for today. And then, just another quick look before sleep, correct?
Social media give us an illusion of:
– staying in touch
– giving other people better sense of who we are
– and most of all being updated about all the new interesting and “so much needed” news from the world
Thereafter, when our access to social media is limited, deep inside we die with fear of missing something significant or start feeling lonely, bored or frustrated.
There is a social medium for any sociodemographic profile. Some people love Instagram others value LinkedIn, Snapchat or Pinterest. It is really difficult to avoid the trap. I personally do not know too many people that are not addicted to social media to some extent.
And we are all ending up checking our social media accounts for much longer than we originally planned.
All because of dopamine – some chemical in brain that gives us a great feeling of pleasure that is really hard to resist. According to many, even more difficult than to resist cigarettes or alcohol.
The question is: what we can do about it?
How to use the fact that social media are good servants but very bad masters? According to my clients:
–Understand our addiction
–Intentionally limit the time spent on social media (with a timer in our hand to make sure we do not try to cheat ourselves as addicted people usually do)
-Do detox from social media from time to time
All with the aim to understand that there is life outside of social media.
We will gain back many hours of time that we can spend on some productive activities when we take over the responsibility over our addiction and life in consequence.
Easy to say, more difficult to do. Therefore I decided to start with myself.
I am determined to limit my social media activity this week to an absolute minimum. Do not expect my immediate response. Should you want to contact me, send me and email or give me a call.
Sorry, I am on detox. Will you join me?
Let me know how it was!
However, in case you need assistance on any of your own journeys, remember that I am here for you. Even more focused and dedicated.
I probably haven’t mentioned that I finally have my own keys to prison. That means that I can go basically everywhere with the exception of prisoners` cells.
It gives me a lot of responsibility and some freedom while I am there.
Before I had obtained the privilege of holding the keys, I had to meet several requirements. After few levels of vetting by the British Ministry of Justice, the most important (from my perspective) was security training.
To start working in a prison you have to start thinking in a totally different way. There is no space for mistakes because some of them may cost you many problems (life included).
In short, most of your movements around prison are about keys. How to use each one, how to hide them (experienced prisoners can remember exactly the shape just from looking at it), how to carry them in a safe way (never ever hold them in your hand if you are not in a process of opening the door).
Other important thing is what you can and cannot take into the prison. You should have minimum of stuff obviously. Before you take anything with you, you should consider how likely someone can make a weapon out of it. Very likely because some of the prisoners are extremely skilled and inventive in these terms.
Good example of a weapon is a tape. Sometimes tape would be very useful during our workshops, unfortunately we cannot have it with us, it’s too dangerous.
You also shouldn’t take a bubble gum, umbrella, scissors, vinegar (?!?:) etc. etc. and obviously anything that is electronic. I once had digital thermometer (my daughter had fever) that was detected during scanning at the gate and the gate officers were not exactly happy about it.
During your work in prison you are not supposed to disclose any sensitive information about you. Preferably any information about you at all. Potentially the offenders can find and blackmail you, they usually have many friends outside.
Do not even think about taking anything in or out of the prison for one of the offenders. It might be a signal to escape, it could be drugs (very common way of smuggling drugs now are the cloth labels soaked with drugs).
To work in prison you have to be relaxed and very focused at the same time. It is worth it, from my perspective, because you gain understanding of a parallel space in our world and have a chance to help some lonely souls at the same time.
Imagine that you have just been accused of a cruel murder. You didn’t do it, but according to media and some “well informed” people, the situation is clear, you are guilty. All your assets were confiscated, family moved to Zambia, you have no place to stay.
Now, take a piece of paper and write down names of people you could call and expect that they would very likely give you a hand.
How many names do you have on it?
Few, I see. I doubt that everyone from this list would help, but let’s hope.
Now, when you have your list, look at it very carefully. These are your real friends. These are the people that you may consider while making your life decision. Them, and (probably) your closest family. That’s it.
Others people opinion should not matter. I will tell you a secret, most of them don’t even care about you anyway! In a good or bad way, they just do not care at all, have no time to think about you, they are busy living their own lives.
Of course, you may consider other`s suggestions, if you do respect them, however there is no reason to treat their opinions as a guideline for your life.
You are the only one that matters. Others come and go. There is no way to please them all anyway, so do not even try. It is a waste of time and energy.
Stop looking for acceptance in the eyes of people around you. Do not give strangers power over your life. They do not have all information to judge you. They have very different life and perspective. Sometimes they just do not care. Or simply do not like you, which is OK as well, as long as you respect each other.
The point is that at the end you have the sole responsibility over your happiness and wellbeing. So, be a (wo)man, accept who you are and live according to it.
So easy, yet so difficult. Absolutely worth trying. Start now!
If you have a problem with your self-acceptance, contact me. We can work on it.
When I look at people around me, I could clearly divide them into three groups.
Group number one lives in the past. Every time we meet they keep reminding me of their moments of former days of glory or hard details of foregone relationships or events. For these kind of people today is usually just a result of previous mistakes or an outcome of past success. This group spends a lot of time worrying that the past will never repeat again.
Group number two lives in the future. They are very much concentrated on building their career, saving for retirement, preparing for what is going to happen next. This group literally treats today as a preparation for their bright future. If they actually notice the existence of today. Downside of this approach could be (and often is) a really extended imagination of all the disasters that might happen in future.
Group number three considers today to be a meeting point between yesterday and tomorrow where they can benefit from experience with their eyes directed to the future. Depending on the circumstances people from this group switch often between past and future with all the pros and cons of this attitude.
On the first sight the third group possibility seems to be the classiest and now you probably think you belong there, correct?
Well, it is possible. But is it really the best option?
I would like to encourage you to start living just one day at a time.
Try to forget about all that happened before, because you cannot change it anyway. Yes, you can profit from the past but definitely there is no use in worrying that you have made some mistakes. Every saint has his past and every sinner has his future. And we are no better than them.
On the other hand, don’t borrow tomorrow’s potential pain and suffering; it will negatively impact you today. Remember, that 99% of all the things that you may be worried about will never occur.
The blessing and curse of life is that we live each moment only once. If you waste this “now” you will never get it back again.
So, even if you are not exactly happy, even if you are in pain or living through difficulties, simply try your best to face the reality of it.
With the same enthusiasm and devotion enjoy every exceptional moment of your today’s miracle. Make it so beautiful that it will be worth remembering.
Forget about becoming a member of any of the three groups mentioned at the beginning. Instead be yourself, be here and now. Yesterday is dead and tomorrow is blind.
Let’s live today with open eyes and mind.
Should you need to talk about your life, do not hesitate to contact me.
Last week I spent three full days in prison. We had two back to back workshops with young offenders, together eleven young men on board.
During our meeting we talked about very personal issues, for obvious reasons I cannot give you too much details. But I can tell you my observations.
The border line between success and total failure is very, very narrow. Triggers are most often a combination of poverty, easy access to drugs and family matters.
Between the most frequent factors that I hear about again and again, I can name:
– Absence of father
– Mother working two shifts
– Role model absence
– No quality time with parents (caretakers)
– Drugs, with cannabis as an entry door to other psychoactive substances
– Companion of other kids left alone on the street, most often united in gangs
– No value seen in education
– Money being considered as most important success indicator
– Violence observed or experienced as part of life style
– Undiagnosed behaviour disorders (ADHD, etc.)
Young prisoners often have a feeling that they are not responsible for what happened to them. They understand what they did, but frequently are not able to point out other solutions at the time.
Suddenly we (life coaches) appear out of nowhere with the crazy idea that they are the sole governors of their lives and there surely is a space for change, if they want…
“Watch your thoughts; they become words.
Watch your words; they become actions.
Watch your actions; they become habits.
Watch your habits; they become character.
Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.”
Are these young offenders going to change their lives after our workshop? I don’t know. Few of them, maybe. Let’s hope.
What should you take from the story?
– The most important thing you can give your kids is time
– Never underestimate the cannabis use for other than prescribed purposes. These guys usually sell cannabis at first and then shift to harder drugs.
– Be a good example. Kids do not learn from what they hear but from what they see and experience
Most of us have a reasonable life, ok parents and childhood without poverty. Let’s appreciate it. We do have luck.
At the end, remember that should you have any coachable problems you need to address, remember to contact me. I will be happy to assist you.
Sometimes you just sit in your ordinary world and think that your life is going to look exactly the same from now to infinity. You expect to stay in the same place, do the same job, meet the same people, just the familiar world that you are so much used to. Maybe it is not exactly your dream but allows you to stay in your comfort zone and not really think what is going to happen tomorrow.
Then it comes. Something unusual interrupts your ordinary world and suddenly you are forced to make important decision – this moment is it, the call for adventure. It can be something positive (e.g. love), negative (e.g. illness, death) or just an unexpected challenge that at the moment you are not able to classify. Your call for adventure may materialize as something substantial that is difficult to miss, or really tiny seemingly negligible idea with the potential to change your private universe.
The first decision that you have to make is if you want to accept or refuse the call. You are going to say that we are not always in a position to make a decision. And indeed, it may seem to be very difficult sometimes, luckily in most cases it is solely your choice if you want to accept the challenge or not.
After you put up with the call, the real adventure starts. Unpredictable period of deep difficult tests, surprises and fears or even almost death in some aspect. There are no free lunches in this world, everything has a price. Sometimes much higher than we originally expected.
So you have to make your decision very carefully. Is this call worth the change that will follow? Is the reward big enough? How to survive? What would it mean for your future to try or not to try?
The reason for my article today is that I have received a loud call for adventure lately. One of those that are difficult to refuse but you are not so sure if it is worth the pain.
At the moment when you are going to read this article I will be much closer to my decision. I have no idea if the answer is going to be “yes” or “no”. Are you curious what is going to happen? Oh! So am I.
On the other hand, what is more important to me personally, I know for sure that I am finally ready for a new crazy chapter of my life. And doesn’t matter at all if it is going to be this particular call or just another one. After a while on the ground I am able to fly, again.
Did you have time to think if you are ready for adventure? Consider it.
If you really want something, ask yourself…
Let me remind you of the old Greek myth about Icarus – so nice and sad, yet so full of hope at the same time.
Many, many years ago young Icarus wanted to escape from Crete by all means. To make it happen, his father Daedalus constructed wings for him from feathers and wax. The father warned Icarus not to fly either too close to the see, so water would not distract the wings, or too high because the sun could melt the wax.
Icarus was so fascinated by the fact of flying and the beauty of the firmament that absolutely forgot about all the warnings and went off aloft, very close to the sun. Hot rays melted the wax in the wings and Icarus fell into the see and drowned.
The conclusion we should remember from that story according to many is: don’t fly too close to the sun.
However, what if we look at this myth from a different perspective?
What if not the death of Icarus is the important message, but rather the flight without any limitation high up to the sun?
Dig down into your memory to find out how many times you have emotionally nearly died while being very close to the absolute happiness.
First love, moments when our kids were born, last kiss before the train departure of your closest friend, and many many others. We were so fascinated, so full of energy and endorphin first and so wasted, disappointed, nearly dead the very next moment.
Maybe those extraordinary moments were exactly the seconds when we were the most alive in our life?
Now, after many years I remember and I have smile on my face. I do not remember anymore about the pain in my heart that seemed to be broken when my big love decided for someone else. I already forgot about the pain of labor, I am still happy when I think about my best friends.
Deep in my heart I believe that Icarus died full off happiness and thankful for the moment when he could use his wings. When he felt like an eagle.
I appeal let’s use our wings little wiser than Icarus, but not to avoid flying up to our dreams. It is the essence of life.
Welcome back after a long summer break!
It was a wonderful time. Together with our girls (8 and 3 years old) and my husband, we have seen a big part of the world. We visited Moscow, Seoul, Japan, Hong Kong and Dubai. We have seen plenty of fantastic temples, museums and views. We met many nice and helpful people. First of all we have been together as a family for an entire month. Was it tiring? Oh, sometimes. Fortunately, in general, much less than I expected.
Summing up: we gained plenty of experience (for example that there are 9 hour flights without any food served:), we learned a lot of things about each other (my older daughter can swim as a little fish!) and of course we got a massive number of insights about other cultures. What an adventure that was! We even managed to lose our kids in one of the temples in Kyoto for about 20 minutes! Don’t worry – found them eventually.
I tried to work all the time during the trip. To make it comfortable for my clients, I had to wake up sometimes in the middle of a night. At first it was difficult to open my eyes at 2 a.m. but with a little help of a black tea, I was fresh (an hour later) and ready for a new fantastic journey. It was always worth it. I really enjoyed every session I had during summer. I consider myself very lucky to be invited into my clients` life and privileged to help them during their treasure hunting. There is always a big reword waiting for everybody focused on personal development. I am blessed to be a part of the exploring team.
Now I am back into my everyday reality in London. Kids are back to school, my husband has just started a new job. I spend a lot of time with my fascinating clients all over the world and young offenders in prison.
My blog is back on. I will do my best to publish regularly one article a week. I am looking forward to all your insights. If there is any subject you want me to wright about – please let me know, leave a message, send me an email, call me. If you do not agree with something – tell me. If you like my article – give me a hug or leave a note. The interaction is very motivating for me for further writing. I want to know that there is somebody on the other side of the screen.
Once again I would like to greet you at the verge of autumn and remind you that I’m here to help you make your life better, so in case of any problems give me a call!
As you already know, apart from working with my individual clients I also work in prison. I have passed a very demanding vetting process and now I am officially an “administration officer” in some London prisons. I usually meet young offenders (15-25 years old) that are at some point of their stay in this facility, usually for some relatively minor delicts.
My job in prison is divided in two main parts. During the first part my co-facilitator and I meet a group of young men and provide them with 2 or 3 day experience of a program called “Hero’s Journey”. The main goal of the program is to show these young people how to navigate through the tough time of change towards new, preferably better life. The second part of my work consists of several (up to 8) individual meetings with young people on their way out of prison and at the beginning of their stay in the outside community.
Coaching sessions in prisons are not very easy. First it takes plenty of time and effort to organize them. After you have got the permission to go into the prison you must find your clients – who usually rotate between cells. Finally it is time to find a place to work. The offices where we conduct our sessions are often very simple, not to say poorly furnished, not always exactly clean. And then you find yourself sitting in those very wretched circumstances to talk about such important issues. My most unbelievable session was in a segregation unit when I had to talk with my client via a little window in a door.
Alike in life outside the bars there are different types of clients in prison. Some of these young gentlemen have a clear plan, know exactly what they want from the sessions and their life. Others have problems to get out of bed for a meeting that we have not more often than every second week.
These are tough, strong men, that I meet. They have no fear of anything to protect their honour and family.
Then suddenly comes the day of their release. No matter how long they stay in prison it is a big day.
I had a unique opportunity to be with two of my clients on the day of their release. With one of them I was in the exact moment when he was asked to take his bag to leave the prison.
They were crying at the edge of freedom.
Both of them assumed that the time behind the bars was a good lesson regarding the importance of being free. Not the money, not the power but the freedom to watch the stars during a dark, windy night.
For us outside this brings three important findings:
–> Never ever limit the freedom of ourselves or people around us if it is not absolutely necessary, because freedom is the most important value.
–> Make sure that we notice stars above our heads, because we can.
–> It is OK to cry, when big things happen in your life.
And last but not least, remember to be really free when you are free.
This was the last article before my summer break. I wish you have wonderful vacation. See you in September.
A conversation with my client inspired me for writing this article. We spent an hour on a very thought-provoking discussion with the aim of findng out if and in what manner passion is important in our life.
Anna brought to my attention that “the whole Internet” is full of very convincing articles about brining passion into our professional life. It made me upset in a way. So far I noticed that according to “the Internet” we all have to eat avocado for breakfast, avoid gluten and read Orhan Pamuk and Elfride Jelinek (preferably in the original language) before going to bed. Now I learned about a new obligation – to make work a passion.
I will be very honest with you. I am not the biggest fan of these modern-days Instagram/Facebook/blog trendsetters that tell us what is and isn’t good. In the times when most people fight to pay bills it can be a bit annoying when they are told that being good at job, and liking it, is suddenly not enough.
But if we take it from the positive side, why not to try? The idea of making the work our passion is great, and even if somebody has to work as a garbage – collector, at the end, maybe the effort and strive is what really matters?
Then I realized that actually I know one concept that, in my opinion, may be the realistic answer to the need of work-life-passion-balance. It came from Japan, but probably other cultures use similar concepts. I know it under the name IKIGAI – a reason for being.
In short Ikigai is an intersection of what you are good at and what you love to do and can be seen as the convergence of four primary elements:
- – What you love (your passion)
- – What the world needs (your mission)
- – What you are good at (your vocation)
- – What you can get paid for (your profession)
It is beautifully explained on the picture that shows us how complex and easy the concept is at the same time.
The idea behind Ikigai is that instead of building routines, we should ask questions, never stop being curious and try new experiences. Never stop learning who we are and who we want to be. Listen to our intuition and inner voices that can help us find the way. Try to comprehend a little more each day.
We can start our journey towards Ikigai by preparing a list of our values, things that we are good at and things that we like to do. The cross section of the three lists is a good starting point for discovering own private reasons for being. And do not forget about money, it is of the same importance as other components of Ikagai.
As a reword of this long, and not always easy process of searching, we have a chance to become fully alive. Alive for ourselves and for the world to make positive difference.
So make a work passion – yes, but do not forget to live.
Usually on Monday I post my new blog post on LinkedIn and then on my Facebook page. I do not want my followers to get tired, so on Thursday I tend to publish just a nice picture or a short, funny story.
Last week I posted a picture of a couple that didn’t have enough money to prepare or buy a wedding cake so rather than to borrow money to impress people they decided to keep things real and offered their guests just a bread and butter. There was a nice picture of the people from their big day and short description of the situation.
In the statistics I noticed that that post reached only 1/3 of the usual number of viewers. Only 3 people reacted to it, just few clicked on the post. At the beginning I was surprised because that was one of the pictures that make you think. When I saw the picture for the first time my thoughts were: “I have to show this picture to my friends because we all complain about nothing.”
After a while I realized that maybe this is the reason why so few people dedicated attention to that story. We made it guilty pleasure to celebrate the little obstacles that life puts in our way.
Have you noticed that we all spend far too much time on being a victim of problematic situations?
What if we use the same energy on enjoying the loads of good things that happen to us every day?
At the moment I am looking outside of my window. Last rays of sun are playing on the surface of the Thames River and the sky is as blue as it can only be. It is a beautiful sunny evening. We are healthy. What else do we need?
Sometimes the distance between happiness and misfortune, good and bad is just a question of perspective. And we have the power to change it if we really wanted.
So, if you feel that it is a good time to talk about your perspective, I am here ready to help.
Let’s make a guilty pleasure out of being satisfied and happy like nobody around.
It must have happened about 60 years ago. My grandmother decided that it is high time to paint the walls in the bedroom. My grandfather however concluded that walls were still perfectly fine. Since they were both stubborn and convinced about their rights, my grandmother decided to realize her plan rather with a help of a handyman. At the same time my grandfather, who was sure that there is no need for the painting, was determined not to resign from his little pleasures in the meantime. My grandmother and the handyman ended up pushing a sofa with my grandfather reading on it, to paint the walls.
This is just an old family story, and I am not sure how much true is in it. However, it was my grandfather that gave me one of the most important lessons that definitely shaped me as a person. Every time when, as a kid, I told him that HAS TO do something, he used to answer: most of the things in life are just choices. I can do it, if you really wand me to, but there is no way to force me just because somebody said so. I HAVE TO die and respect other people’s freedom and that’s about it.
My grandfather came back to me in my thoughts when I was listening to a conversation of my friends. One of them was saying that in her (highly developed) Asian country, adult women cannot go out without a makeup. The other answered that it is pretty much the same here in the financial district in London. Then I realized that even in Poland or the Czech Republic some of my friends insist that there is a kind of an obligation to wear a make up to work. I am sure that there are few specific professions with that liability, but none of my friends has a job like this, they just feel they need to fit people around them. And in their environment everyone wears a make up.
Make up is just a symbol. People that I meet often “have to” do many things that from my perspective are just a simple choice that they make. Like wearing high heels, starting to smoke when young, drinking alcohol during a party or taking huge credit to buy an expensive car because everyone around already has one. Of course you can do all these things, but trust me… you don’t have to. You don’t have to try weed when everybody tries, you don’t have to stay in a job that you hate (when the unemployment rate is low like now;), you don’t have to follow instructions from your parents when you are 35 years old.
Although you can do all of that if you wish to – because it is your choice.
Sometimes I forgot how refreshing it is to be free. And then I meet one of the “have to” persons and send thanks to my grandfather again for teaching me that I can pick my own way.
So once again. You don’t have to but it’s worth to try. Be yourself, be free. Do what is worth doing, not what other people want you to do.
According to Eric Berne (the author of the theory of games) – at the age of about six, we make a preliminary decision what kind of person are we going to be when we grow up. We call it life script – unconscious but active decision what kind of life we are going to have.
There are three key life scripts that we can unconsciously follow:
- The winner – decides what he wants and achieves it. It is a person that is reliable and always meets his liabilities towards the world and himself. His language contains words like: I have decided, I am going to learn, sorry I made a mistake, I am going to fix it, consider it done.
- Non-winner – has the middle-of-the-road life script. He works very hard not because his goal is to win, but to end at least in a draw. Sometimes he sticks to his words, sometimes not, depending on the situation. Usually he doesn’t really believe he could be a winner in any game. We can hear from him: I cannot promise, almost, it’s not exactly what I wanted but let’s be grateful for that, I will try…
- Looser – is a victim of circumstances. He fails to achieve almost every goal, whatever it is. He has a lot of bad luck, makes improper decisions, picks demanding friends, often has no purpose in life or picks goals that are impossible to achieve. His words are: I have no idea, if, I do not want to, it’s useless, I forgot, it doesn’t matter at the end.
Marek Herman (2008) said that winner is a captain of the team and always has the most beautiful girl. Non-winner has the second beautiful girlfriend and is a vice captain, sometimes he wins sometimes not but it doesn’t matter because he is satisfied with an equal score. Looser never really had any girl and if he plays, he is always the first to loose.
Every one of us can pick his own league. You don’t have to play for Real Madrid to be a winner, you can be a captain of your school team. Being a winner is about desire and determination to win. Life script is a decision that we make early in childhood and somehow follow till now without a bigger reflexion.
As in many other similar cases it were our teachers or parents that in many ways suggested who we are. Fortunately, nothing in life is impossible, we can always stand up for ourselves and say:
With all respect, I know that I am a winner and I am going to do it my way and win!
Our future always depends on our decisions and desires, even if it means plenty of hard work on the way to our glory and satisfaction.
Sometimes to be back on track as a winner demands just a little reflection and self motivation. Oftentimes it costs my clients a lot of determination, energy and time but it is always worth it.
Should you need a guide on your way, it will be my pleasure.
How did you manage to deal with our little exercise from last week? Did you recognize any games around you?
Still not sure? Let me remind you of the basics.
Conflicts are part of our life if we like it or not. In an ideal word we would handle our problems with a lot of respect, listening and understanding. In our everyday reality, since we didn’t experience much of this nice behaviour in our childhood, instead of going straight to the point with love and desire to sort out the problem, we often start to play games.
During those games people use many different kinds of weapons, for example: critical comparisons (“look, Tony has more money than you on the same position!”), exaggerations (“you never keep your word, never!”), stickers (“you did it again, Mr. Forgetful!”), intimidation (“try, and you will see what is going to happen to you!”, or denial (“you have no right to say that!”). Few sentences as a bait and the game can start. Players pick their usual position of prosecutors, victims or rescuers and act with intensity and length corresponding to their actual state of mind. At the end they all stay appalled at the battle field with mixed feelings of win and loss, pervert satisfaction and disappointment.
But what to do to step out of the destructive drama triangle?
First step is to start being honest with ourselves. After we notify that we are also gamblers, we have to commence recognizing games in our own relationship and naming the benefits of game-free relationships. After years and years in a drama triangle, it is extremely difficult to step out of it. To make it possible we need to identify the pay off – reasons that would justify why to refrain from being a player. Habit is a second nature, but we can gradually replace it with a better habit.
You probably think that it is very easy, who would like to be a victim or a prosecutor? Then mind your neighbour from the 2nd floor that had beaten his young wife again, and she stayed with him. You would “definitely” stop that relationship ages ago, right? As just an observer obviously you don’t know that she was raised by her mother to be a victim and her self-confidence is so low that she doesn’t believe she can survive without her prosecutor. On the other hand, for him beating her is the only way he knows to confirm that he is a real man. Of course this is just an example, men can be victims and women prosecutors. Sex doesn’t matter, what counts is to understand the benefits people get from the unhealthy relationship to be able to step out of it.
To escape from the drama triangle – even if our triangle is much lighter than the one described above – we have to work on our self-assurance, to grow and find back the winner hidden deep inside of us.
And we have to face the fact that change will not come tomorrow. At the beginning we should try to avoid one game out of ten, then one out of five or three. Step by step we will start to savour days without games.
To make the first period easier, let me suggest you some techniques that can make your effort more effective.
–> Try to communicate without intermediaries – prepare for the difficult conversation, make a list of goals you want to achieve
–> Make sure you are in a mood for a win-win conversation
–> Sort out one problem after another – Rome was not build in one day, so if you have several issues with a particular person, try to focus on each of them separately
–> Be polite, fair and respectful, regardless of your partner’s behaviour – so easy yet so difficult, isn’t it?
–> Stick to the facts – no exaggerations, compare just facts
Experienced players would say that games are sometimes more effective than real conversation. My answer would be: yes, from a short-term perspective. It is always better to be yourself without any filter when you build healthy, long term relationship.
Drama triangle is quite a frequent topic of my conversations with clients. If you feel you need to dedicate more time to this subject, give me a call.
Few weeks ago we talked about games in human relationship, remember? Games were described as a set of transactions with certain rules that people unconsciously understand and repeat. They usually lead to negative feelings of both partners. Conversations that we call games are more likely automatic than deliberate, repetitive, include series of unconscious behaviours and unspoken patterns and usually make our life difficult.
So if you start yelling at your husband that he left his socks on the bed again and he answers with a few nice words about your lovely mother, you can be sure that you have just started a new match.
Eric Berne, the author of the theory of games, described plenty of them and named games aptly according to the prevailing behaviour of his clients during the therapy (for example: See What You Made Me Do!).
Stephan Karpmann, his successor in this field, went a step further and simplified the theory by splitting actors of the games into 3 groups and vertices of his famous drama triangle.
So in simple words we can recognize 3 types of players:
The prosecutor – a person that is commonly critical, sometimes aggressive (actively or passively), strict, stern and haughty. Very often operates from the position of a critical parent. The prosecutor basically knows what is best for everybody, and does it all for your own good, right? “Why can’t you be more tidy, are you a pig or something?”. The prosecutor will more likely torture you with drops of water running on your head than with a knife, but it is still going to be very painful. Why? Because he/she is frustrated with his own life but somehow convinced that he/she knows better how to live yours.
The victim – seems to be a powerless, seemingly fragile and innocent person. Well, at least at the first sight. All the tragedies of mankind concentrated in one individual. So much of bad luck! “I am so lost, he left me again and my boss is so awful to me as well!”. Is it even possible? Sometimes you almost start to regret and feel guilty that your life is so easy. The victim wants you to take care of him/her and take the responsibility for his/her failures. I am sure you know them, correct?
The rescuer – aspires to be a saviour. The rescuer is so noble, high-minded and helpful. He/she is going to run on his/her white horse to every hopeless case. Usually has the heart on his hand (especially in minor cases). The rescuer is so strong and willing that you almost not notice his huge fear of being left alone and determination to make you dependent on his kind offers. On the other hand, with time you might find that he is always the one who sets what kind of help to give so that sometimes you do not get exactly the help you expected, but you still feel obliged to be grateful (Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes – beware of Greeks bearing gifts).
If we look carefully we see drama triangles everywhere around us. Sit up when you talk to people who want you to read their minds, try to intimidate you or offload all the responsibility on you. These are obviously experienced players. Basically you can set as a rule that if you do not have a good feeling about the energy of the conversation, usually there is a game involved.
The challenge is that the only people over whom we have power are us, and we should be the first that deliberately and responsibly step out of the triangle.
It is so easy yet so difficult at the same time – we will have to devote a little more time on the subject. For the beginning I have a little exercise for you. Try to notice:
- What games do you remember from your childhood?
- What kind of problematical situations do you often see in your life?
- What position in the drama triangle do you usually take?
Be focused and have your eyes opened. Next week we are going to concentrate on the ways to escape from the drama triangle. The price at the end is big, game free environment is much easier to enjoy.
Or if you want we can come back to this conversation during one of our coaching sessions. Remember, I am here for you whenever you need me.
Instead of hiding behind my clients` backs, this time I decided to tell you something about me. I would like to invite you into my world before you take me into yours…
The most beautiful time of day is when my kids fall asleep. I can be looking at them for ages, admiring what perfect creatures they are. Tiny tummies are moving up and down with every breath, little eyes open for a while to smile and then come back deep into their dreams. Petite lips are half opened to murmur last important words they really have to say today. I look at them so proud to be their mother and am grateful for another day when they could be happy and safe.
The funny fact is that I am not a big fan of kids in general. Children are annoying. Most of them do not behave, make a mess and yell for any and no reason (mine included). I never even thought kids could change me and my life so much. To teach me how to love, hug, laugh through their entire bodies and how they can admire every flower as if it was the best of god’s masterpieces.
If there is no reason, kids are the reason.
This is me. Now.
Should you meet me 10 years ago I would say that the purpose of life is work. The adrenalin that you feel when your project goes well, fantastic people that you meet, challenges that you overcome.
25 years ago I would die for another day under the sails. To see flying fish, whales, dolphins and icebergs next to our sailing boat was one of the highlights of my entire life.
If I was to describe what these different periods of time have in common I would say desire, passion and maybe curiosity. To check what’s ahead of us. To be prepared.
I currently find myself in a situation when plenty of things and nothing happens to me at the same time. I can see many changes that are waiting for me over the hills, but they are still relatively far and unreal, which creates a perfect situation to clarify what is important for me personally and what makes my eyes shine.
Sometimes it is good to stop for a while, think and make sure our boat is going into the right direction. First of all, it is ok to stop and decide who we currently are and what we want.
So this is me. And who are you? If you fancy to start your journey into a forgotten dream, it will be an honour for me to be your guide.
We are such stuff as dreams are made on, and our little life is rounded with a sleep (Shakespeare). Let’s try.
Bronnie Ware was an Australian nurse working in palliative care. For several years she recorded conversations with people in their last 12 weeks of life.
Different people, diverse life stories and pretty the same answers:
1. I wish I’d had the courage to live the life true to myself, not the life others expected of me
2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard
3. I wish I had the courage to express my feelings
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends
5. I wish I had let myself to be happier
I bet you have heard about that research before. You maybe even read the most common regrets of people during their last days.
Did their words change anything for you personally? Did you learn anything?
I know, I know. We are not it the same position, right? We have our important limitations and of course we have many years of life in front of us.
How do you know?
We take our future for granted. But it is not.
Behind every decision we make, there is a choice. The choice that we make or do not make. As long as we are healthy, the number of choices is relatively unlimited. The problem is that we never know how much time we have left. And even if we had hundred years, why to waste them on half-living?
We have a fortunate and unusual gift of choice about what we want to do with our life. And we tend to spend most of it looking for excuses. We do not have enough time, money, courage, determination or we think that somebody or something limits us. And time goes on. Tick tack, tick tack. Never stops. Is there any deadline, age or achievement that would be a signal to start truly enjoying our lives? What about now?
What would be the first thing that you did tomorrow if you had no fear at all?
Now, do it! There is no time to waste, it is later than you think.
Megan, 29 years old: “- I really hated that flat! It was small and nasty, not to mention the neighbours. They were constantly complaining. Every single day. Can you imagine that I managed to listen to them for over two years? What was I thinking? I hated that place, I still hate it! I feel like an absolute idiot that I didn’t make a decision to move out far faster.” “- It was a very difficult experience indeed, when was it exactly?”, “- Oh, I moved out five years ago, now I have a beautiful, sunny place, but I cannot stop thinking how stupid I was to stay there that long. It was killing me. The worst thing is that I was doing it to myself, you know? I should have taken some action! I am not a ship! Don’t you think?”
This is a typical situation that I very often come across with a significant part of my clients. They have done something wrong in the past. They could have dealt with some situation better, but they didn’t. Now they regret they waited that long to change it. And they keep punishing themselves for some ancient guiltiest. Difficult situation.
Apart from my private practice I also coach in prisons. I meet young offenders that have broken law in the past, had served most of their sentence, and now are preparing to leave.
Notice the sequence: crime – punishment – freedom. Not every crime deserves a life sentence, really.
Let me ask you a few challenging questions: What if we accept the fact that it is ok to make (even big:) mistakes, as long as we learn from them? What if it is an even bigger mistake to keep punishing ourselves for something that we will never be able to change?
This is exactly how I work with my clients. We dance together around the problems to help find more acceptance, understanding and hope. To clarify what needs to be clarified, to celebrate what deserve a celebration and to move on over the things that we cannot change because they belong to the past. We use heavy weapons to fight their limiting believes and step out of the private, little prison that they have built.
If you are ready to change your life for better, be my guest 🙂 I am ready.
You have probably heard the famous words of Jim Rohn that we are a combination of the five people we spend the most time with. We might interact with many people but at the end we always have small inner network of closest friends that inspire us, support us no matter what and as a result have a big impact on shaping us as human beings.
Since we are not the same over our life time, our network changes as well. In our young days we aggregate people that can bring us a lot of positive feedback, so we can have fun together and appreciate each other’s ideas. With time and experience most of us tend to realize that negative feedback can be even more valuable because we can learn from it and we start to build a network of people that inspire us but also challenge our opinions in some ways and make us grow.
The other factor that can influence who we spend most time with is our life situation. For example, when we start building a family and all of our friends are still single, it may happen that we look for support of other people that can understand us better in this particular period.
My husband always jokes that it is not us but the situation that chooses our friends. But that is not so true. We usually know exactly who brings positive energy into our life and who is the toxic frenemy from the old days.
These are facts. Much more important is how we deal with them.
I would like to invite you to do a short exercise. Close your eyes and think about the five people you spend the most time with. Are you really, really happy with your choice? What do you feel about each member of your team? Have you ever wondered what aspect of your personality they represent?
Indeed, it doesn’t matter if they are rich, fancy or beautiful but it is important whether your life is enriched in some way because you have them around. Look at your closest network carefully also because they are a mirror of who you are and who you want to be.
When you are ready with the exercise, take your time to be grateful for your closest friends or just make a change since there is no time to waste.
It is never easy to take the responsibility but it is definitely worth to be well aware of who has the key to our heart and mind.
If you feel like you need to talk about this with no strings attached I will be happy to listen. It is going to be a well spent time. Although you truly are a combination of the five people you spend the most time with, you are still unique and sometimes it’s good have to celebrate it.
Some people say that they always welcome and enjoy changes in their life. When one door closes many others stay opened to explore, they say. However, in case of major life changes, the journey from shock at the beginning to acceptance and moving on at the end is sometimes much more difficult than we originally expected.
In my private practice I often work with people that found themselves at the edge of a big change. They are not exactly sure what is going to happen next. Divorcing or having a first child is overwhelming, not to talk about a big loss or starting a treatment for a major disease.
My job is to be there for my clients and help them navigate through the tough times, since the good times will come eventually and we have to be prepared to accept and enjoy them.
You may ask why I have decided to work with people in such difficult situations. There is a very simple answer: even though each of us has a different life story, there are many patterns that we all have in common and I know for sure, that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Many years ago (in 1969) Elizabeth Kübler-Ross described our change journey as five stages of grief. How we walk through these stages depends mainly on us. One thing is certain – we just have to be patient and full of hope.
The man I am going to tell you about is 47 years old. Let’s call him Jim. When we first met he was extremely skinny. Few weeks earlier, Jim realized that his young wife decided to start her new life with someone else. And Jim stopped eating. At the time of our meeting, he was somewhere between the stages of a shock and a denial. “It was her who wanted to marry!” “It was her who wanted to have a kid and now she is leaving without a word?!” “It’s not fair! She has no right to do that!” The point is that she did. How is it possible that she did what she did?
Time passed and Jim started to look out for problems within himself. What if it was his fault? He was ready to forgive everything to his former wife just to have her back. Family life was always one of his core values. He cannot give up just like that! He has to behave like a man (bargaining of frustration stage). It took him several months to understand and to accept that there is no way back.
And then Jim met Anna. Just for a drink, he said (experiment), then another drink and some movies. The last time I met Jim, he told me that he is going to move in to Anna`s (decision), that after so many years with his first wife, he is not sure about anything, but he is going to give it a chance (moving on). And I knew Jim meant it, because at that moment he was a totally different person. Relaxed, happy, shining and with some kilos back on.
This is a Jim’s story, but I have heard it many times with some minor modifications. In case of some clients they went through a phase of a depression when they gave up on life for a while and they closed within themselves. Some others never hoped to avoid the problem or a grief (the bargaining time) but they knew that this stage is needed to start a new life.
I always work together with my clients to use the time of grief and experimentation to rebuild their sense of identity. This is so they can discover where they want to move onto when the right time comes. Because there is an opportunity behind almost every challenge, we just have to be prepared and accept it when it arrives.
If you’re on the edge of a big change and are unsure of how your life will look moving forwards, get in touch to arrange a free 30 minute chemistry session to explore whether coaching will help you.
Something to read today. An article on the blog of my school:
….so you don’t have to go anywhere :)…
It is Thursday evening. I am sitting with my computer feeling simultaneously exhausted and happy. I have just returned from the prison in which my colleague and I facilitated group coaching sessions for young men on their way to freedom.
The sessions started slowly. Coachees were distrustful and closed at the beginning of the group, but with every minute that passed their engagement and interest grew exponentially. At the end they stayed for longer than planned, to finish various discussions about their life and future and it really felt like a breakthrough. Thanks to coaching, there is a great chance that these young men will reform and stay out of prison. The impact of this is not only a step closer to a more positive environment for us all, but a group of young people are now able to think more positively to create a better life for themselves and avoid similar mistakes.
And this is the point: versatility and effectiveness are some of the reasons why I’m so fond of coaching. This exceptional mix of tools and techniques has a very high score of success, regardless of whether you coach high net worth individuals, mothers seeking a work-life balance or prisoners.
So, maybe it is a good moment to introduce myself. My name is Ewa Kubín and I am proud to say that I am a transformational life coach. I love the exceptional moment when my clients start to shine. It’s funny that for a long time I was not ready to realise that I work with a specific type of client. Then, suddenly I noticed that what fascinates me the most is a moment of change, of transformation and the point at which clients accept “the big new”. I am still amazed that such simple tools – deep listening and powerful questions – can help them to pass the bridge of change with calmness and positive excitement in their heart.
It all started many years ago when, as a manager, I had a chance to work with some great teams. I noticed that in a creative work environment especially, people need space and attention. They are much more effective and happier, when in charge of their work and life. Since my teams were big and diverse I couldn’t know the details of work of each of individual team member. As a result, I decided to give them a lot of freedom and positive attention. I simply asked carefully selected questions and then I listened to their responses. I was amazed with the results of this approach and started to feel that there must be a special name for it. Indeed there was – coaching.
Initially, I was afraid to became a life coach. I was of the mindset that If you are not a doctor, lawyer, or at least a manager of some description you do not have a real profession. Ultimately, I wanted to be proud of my job…
Being professionally fulfilled was always a very important part of my identity. But how could I be proud of something that seemed to be so unrealistic at that moment in time?
The second problem was the ‘not so great’ reputation of coaching in my environment. Since there is no strict certification required to become a coach, the bar to enter the profession is quite low. It just so happens that the loudest people that call themselves coaches cannot be sat further from the core principles and beliefs of the practice. Most of those so called ‘coaches’ devote their life to telling other people what to do. What to do to become happier, healthier, skinnier or more stress-free. I hate it when somebody tells me how to live my life! How could I do it to others?
Time passed and I found myself in a new situation. My kids grew up a bit and I had the space to start a new chapter of my life. Part of me wanted to find a ‘real job’, but the other suggested that if I want to try something new, then this might be the best moment!
After careful consideration and many discussions with my husband, I put the confidence in myself and went with my heart not my head, as a result my life started to change very quickly. During my first module with Animas I realised that coaching is not a new name for witchcraft but a real working knowledge with strong psychological and philosophical roots. Soon after this realisation I began to understand that there is a profound difference between coaching, mentoring and advising. I started to practice deep listening techniques and collating my collection of powerful questions. Oh wow, thinking back now that really was a great time!
In the end it took many hours of practice to be able to call myself a life coach. Surprisingly, not because of my lack of trust in coaching but the opposite! I understood just how great the positive impact our work could have on individuals, companies and the community. I wanted to be one hundred percent sure of my abilities before I started using the term ‘coach’.
One day it just happened. After a great session in which I could sense a profound rapport and see a deep trust in my client’s eyes, I decided that I was ready. It was an incredible and somewhat liberating feeling!
Since then I’ve helped many people by using that beautiful, pure coaching approach. Even now, I still feel thrilled when I see that extraordinarily unique experience of watching and assisting clients on their journey from chaos and confusion to clarity, acceptance and refocus. I love working with each and every one of my clients who come from so many different environments but have the same goal in mind; to start truly living every moment of their life. They are all so different, and yet so similar. We are all unique, yet at the same time we have so much in common.
Today I am proud to say that I am a life coach. I have the power to change your life with one simple question.
This time I was visiting an A category prison that was created for those whose escape would be highly dangerous to the public or national security. This particular jail was sometimes called the “British Guantanamo”.
On the first day it took us more than an hour to get to the classroom. I stopped counting the doors when I passed the door number twelve. There were many solid gates with big magnetic keys one after the other. They want to keep this place really safe. For a reason.
Before you can even pass through the first door, the officers take your fingerprints and you and all your belongings go through an “airport like” scanner. Officers check your ID and fingerprints several times during the day.
What is different to the first prison I worked in last time? This one seems to be newer, better organized and all staff are very polite and helpful.
The workshops went well. As usual the first day started slowly, but with time the engagement and interest of the participants grew exponentially. During this assignment six young men decided to work with us. Very pleasant number. Enough to have a lot of interesting interactions, but not too many not to be able to create rapport.
Usually when I start talking with someone about working in prison, the first question I get regards the inmates. Who stays in prison? Do inmates look strange? Have many tattoos? Crazy eyes? Behave aggressively?
First of all, I don’t care. Not that I do not take the risk seriously, but I am aware of the fact that these particular men that I am about to work with are going to be out very soon (usually in three to six months). That means that if you or me were to meet them outside, we would never wonder what past they have behind them. Even if they looked a bit strange.
However, and I will probably disappoint you, they look perfectly average. Your son could easy live in prison. Regardless on your ethnicity, you will not probably have a problem to find someone who pretty much matches you visually. Most of the men that I coach are Brits, often with roots in other countries, so they have various colors of skin, hair and eyes, but none of them look dangerous.
For example, this time I met a nice Polish boy. Eighteen years old, whole life in Britain, perfect English, handsome, clean and first of all intelligent, focused and calm. This one could easy be my son. Average, young white man.
So the visual side is not something that differs them from the men of their age that live outside.
The strange part is their approach to life. These boys are all about money, things, material world. The absolutely worst case scenario they can imagine is being poor. The idea that life could be more about being than having would probably be extremely difficult to accept for them. Most of them ended up in prison because they wanted to be rich, and hoped to have money immediately, this way or another.
What surprised me was that none of the inmates believe they are innocent. They are perfectly aware of their sins. If regretting? Not in the way we would think. More consider themselves silly for underrating risk.
One can assume that education, especially in terms of economic matters, math and law would be a very helpful factor for keeping them out of prison.
What also helps is getting more mature. At some point boys become men, grow up, notice the bad influencers, underestimation of risk and start to feel a need to try something new. They want to live different lives, but how?
The society doesn’t really care. Do you care? I doubt you spend too much time thinking about the penitentiary system. We all hope that somebody will take care of the problem. But nobody really does. For our own good we should do little more than to separate offenders from society and feed them. In my honest opinion it would be much effective and cheaper to work with prisoners and help them change their future, especially when they are young and still flexible.
And this is the area where we as coaches try to focus: helping young men overcome the threshold of change on their way back to freedom. We treat them as any other client of ours. Never judge them or ask for any explanation. They have already been convicted and are to serve their time in prison. Now it is time to help them to move on. Show these young men that life is full of opportunities and they can get what they want.
However, the price for staying out of prison is that everything comes gradually and after hard work. This is probably the most challenging fact our young coachees will have to face.
Rooms in England are often not much bigger than a bed. I know this for sure because while writing this article, I am actually lying with my little daughters in a bed which is 15 cm away from the wall. On the other side, there is about 80 cm of space so we can walk out of the room. Gradually. One after the other.
If I imagined the corpulent (in England people are very polite and try to avoid those far too saucy words like good old “FAT”) Potter’s cousin Dudley sleeping in the bed instead of me, there would be technically no space for Harry Potter in the bedroom!
Additionally if you are not wealthy (Dursleys didn’t look rich to me) and live in London, in a house, you may expect it to look more like a doll house, at least from the perspective of someone who lived on the continent (just to support your imagination my one bedroom apartment in Prague is slightly larger than our fiends` two bedroom house!!! I am currently in).
In this situation, we should not ask why Potter lived under the stairs, but how the hell did he fit there?!?
Now when we are done with the crazy idea of bringing Harry back into the room, we can deliberate whether that theoretical possibility would do any good to him?
Would perfectly happy and loved Harry Potter ever go to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft? No! Harry would probably live a happy life in a “Muggle” secondary school right behind the corner. Would Harry meet his fantastic friends and the love of his live? Never! He would merry one of these boring, ordinary girls from the same neighborhood and kick the ball with fellows from his class in the meantime.
Who is willing to change something that works? Very few people! No „under stairs situation” to overcome, means no call for adventure to accept and Harry’s venture life would become a never fulfilled dream.
Most of us perform the best when being out of our comfort zone. This is a reality!
So next time when life (or boss) tells you to move to a cubbyhole, smile and say: challenge accepted!
Then show them the art of changing a challenge into an opportunity!
Last Sunday my family was out. I was taking cups out of the dishwasher and watching “My old lady” movie on Netflix. Suddenly I heard the words that touched me so much. I stopped the movie, rewound it, took a piece of paper and wrote them down for you:
“You look in the mirror and you see an adult. But you have to look more carefully. There’s a big piece of you that never grew up. It might have grown tall, but not up. You spend your life waiting for your parents to come and make it all right. But they don’t come back. It’s not all right. You have to somehow move past them. You have to somehow convince yourself that you don’t need those people. Because you don’t.”
Easter is coming, time when family meets and we so often come back in our minds to people that are no longer with us. In my case to parents. They both passed away many years ago, and there is still so much I would like to tell them, ask them for explanation. They had such tremendous impact on my life. There are so many “whys” to ask.
But on the other hand, do I really need these answers? My life is here and now. Whatever happened, happened. We have to move on.
Last December we went for a trip to Morocco. Together with my husband and two little daughters we visited Marrakesh, Rabat, Fes, Casablanca and other beautiful places. To make our trip more exciting we lived in riads in the centres of historical medinas. Riad is something half way between guest house and a boutique hotel. There are no windows looking outside. Passing by the riad you would probably thought that there must be some very poor neighbourhood behind the wall. When you pass the door you often unexpectedly enter a real palace. Every time we were stepped into a new riad we were offered simple but tasty meal: boiling-hot sweet tea and various hand made biscuits.
That day we arrived to Fes. Nice gentleman picked us up at the parking and shown the way to the riad hidden somewhere in the middle of the old town. He opened the door, sit us in spacious hall and disappeared for a minute. When he arrived back he brought traditional snack. Plate of sweets and 4 glasses of very hot tea.
And than it happened.
Our 3 years all daughter moved quickly and poured the extremely hot water all over her leg. I mean all leg – from hips to the food. Zu started to scream very loudly. I took her immediately out of the riad, my husband started to pour cold water at her leg and our host at lightning speed brought some ice to help cooling down the skin. Then we transported her to the room and spend long time with the leg under the cold water.
It was horrible. Little Zu was roared like an animal for the next 20 minutes non stop. The burn must have been very painful. However we did a really good job! She ended up with 2nd degree burn on significant part of her feet, the rest of the leg looked ok after the treatment.
20-25 minutes later Zu suddenly stopped crying. I looked at the horribly looking foot and asked if she is ok? – “oh yes, I am ok”, she said. “It is still painful, but little less and I want to go for a walk”. We covered her little foot carefully, put her in a pram and went to discover Fes medina.
For the next few days we couldn’t even put her shoe on, because the wound was still open.
To our surprise Zu never opened the conversation about her burn again. Whenever we asked her if it is still painful she answered with a smile: “Just a bit. I am just fine, ready to go out!”. We were and still are amazed with the way she deal with the accident, especially that it didn’t let her down for even a minute longer than it was needed. She wanted me to comfort her when the pain was really hart, but then she stood with her hand up, with no intension to interrupt the excursion for her or for us. Sometimes kids are just smarter that we are.
What is the lesson we should take from the story?
Be real, be present. Cry laud when it is really painful, and laugh loud the rest of the time. Do not let your problems let you down for two long! Life is good!
P.S.Zu’s leg is absolutely fine now, she just has bit darker burn mark, but it is getting better and better now. She hardly remember what leg was hurtJ
A trigger occurs when certain situation or thing (it can be a smell, sound, word, anything) brings you back to a moment of trauma from your past.
Sometimes it can look very strange for the outside observer. To make it more difficult, triggers are very individual and other persons are often not able to identify what caused your very emotional reaction. Then you are left with your awkward feelings, with your reaction that is surprising even for you and with incomprehension of people around you. Very stressful situation L
Unfortunately most of us have triggers that make us jump out of the skin. Good news is that we can approach them as a challenge and in a way to get back more of our emotional freedom. If we want.
Listen what happened to me some time ago.
There was an event that costed me much more energy and, let’s face it, life, than it was all worth. I was attending a presentation and how to say it – the presenter and the form of it was not really my cup of tea.
For a long time I was constantly thinking what went wrong. Why am I not able to process it? There are good events and bad events so why is this one making me so frustrated?
The fact was that the conference couldn’t be further behind my expectations. But was it really a reason for being frustrated for such a long time?
With a little help from my friends (thank you P&J!) I started digging into myself and I realized that my overreaction was caused by two, at the end quite obvious, triggers with roots in my childhood:
- I have very hard time dealing with laud or aggressive ways of speaking – I am basically scared and have a need to defend myself!
- I have a real problem with being grateful for something that I am not ok with – the problem is even bigger when I like and respect the donor but I have a profound problem with the present itself.
The combination of these two triggers made this situation extraordinarily difficult for me do deal with.
Time passed and I hopefully overcame my problem- let’s now change it into an opportunity.
I dag through my smart books and the internet, and what I found as most helpful in similar situation can be summarized in a five step process of liberation from triggers (by Marcia Reynolds).
Ready? Steady? Go!
The 1st step – is to accept the fact that you are responsible for your reactions.
Basically you have to accept yourself as a person that can make a difference in your own life. You are the one that can change your feelings (so am I!). Imagine how much easier would it be if you controlled your reaction better?
The 2nd step – is to recognize your emotional reaction as early as possible Do you know that moment when your breath starts to be faster and you can hear your heartbeat? Yes, this is the moment. Look at your feelings, name them. Do not judge, just recognize so you can then work with them.
The 3rd step – try to determine what triggered your emotions.
Try to recognize if the threat is real. Do you really need to feel fear, anger or sadness?
The 4th step – your turn to choose what you want to feel and do.
It is not that easy to feel totally free from the trigger – but at least you can stop your chain of reactions fast enough to decide what you want to do, not to let your emotions decide for you:)
The 5th step – change your emotional state. Try and gain your emotional freedom. Change the emotion when you see it arise.
Uff these theories! At first sight it seems to be bit complicated but it really isn’t at the end. Sometimes we just have to look at ourselves as our best friend would do and say: “It is ok. I know it is not easy. But you have all the powers to change it.”
I have a feeling that every psychological theory is about the same at the end. To be able to take responsibility for your own behavior (just yours, not others) and deliberately behave the way you consider to be most appropriate.
The same with the triggers, it will probably take some time to be healed from them, but it would be a pity not to even try. It never does any good when your past is in charge of your future.
Since I updated my profession to coaching on LinkedIn, everybody wants to help me. I receive tens of messages from specialized coaches or agencies. They of course, have a very special offer prepared just for my needs and are ready to help me with approaching new clients, preparing fantastic emailing etc. Salesmen explain me step-by-step what I need to do on my way to success.
Some of them are ready to give me an immediate solution how to make tones of money in no time. It’s so kind of them! And since I am a nice person I am happy to share it with you. For free! It´s really, really easy: you just have to prepare an exceptional offer and send it to perfectly targeted audience. Wow! One would never guessed that. It is brilliant, don’t you think?
Others send me offer proposals immediately. Long, long (boring) letters with no real melody or form that I never care to read to the end, even though I usually read even inscriptions on a can of fish.
You know what is so funny about that? So far just one of these salesmen asked me what I want. They never bothered to read any of my articles to learn how I think. They were not interested in my offer and me. Their only interest is themselves (???!)
So let’s make the time you spent on reading their massages useful and let`s all of us learn the lesson number one from the manual of a good salesmen: ask your clients what they need before you start presenting your offer.
So easy, so difficult. When you get to know and care about my dreams there is a chance you would sell me yours. Not sooner.
I am on my way to the prison for the first time. HMP X is one of the biggest prisons in the United Kingdom. HMP X is a category B men’s prison. That means that inmates do not require maximum security, but escape still needs to be made very difficult. Am I afraid? No. I plan to follow security instructions very carefully. This is what I can do. I tend not to worry about the things I cannot influence. Definitely I am curious.
I am almost there. Five bus stops to go. And then I receive a call that due to organizational reasons my first day in prison was canceled. Too bad. Whenever I asked other coaches from our NGO what the biggest challenge about working in prison was, they answer: “the system”.
My second attempt on the way to get into prison. My gate pass is already arranged so everything should go smoothly. One never knows. The yesterday’s training was entirely canceled.
Mission accomplished! I was there!
This time everything happened without major delays. They awaited me at the gate, prison officer checked my ID and confiscated my mobile. I was handed a prison ID and the journey started. We had to wait for couple of minutes until the first automatic gate opened. Another officer, second ID check and light door to pass. Then my colleagues had to pick up keys from special closed and coded wardrobes. Another few minutes of waiting until they opened next high security gate. We passed through some kind of a yard and a tunnel between extremely tall metal fences. Another key, door, key, door again, corridor, then next two huge metal doors to open. Stairs, light door and finally our workshop door. You need to have a key even to go to the toilet!
How the main, let´s call it residential, part of the HMP X looks like? Exactly as you know it from the movies. It is an old fashioned prison similar to those you know from Prison Break or Shawshank Redemption. Rooms are located around the bigger lounge and are accessed from an outside corridor. I am sure there is a special name for it but I just do not know it.
How was it?
Great! Better with every minute.
Prisoners started to arrive few minutes before the start of our session. At the end it was five of them. Age 21 to 24. From two months to seven years still to serve. All in gray sweat suits. The session started slowly. At first they didn’t really want to talk, with time they started to open up.
We do not know their crimes or full length of sentences. For security reasons we are not allowed to tell them anything specific about us, they just know our names. It creates a bit tricky situation because we want them to trust us and give us their souls on the plate but we cannot offer anything even slightly similar. It works anyway. Don’t ask me why. Just trust the process.
I am on the way to prison, again. It is so early that the tube is full of workers with dirty shoes and t-shirts. I am also dressed very modesty. I am a women, even though 20 years older than most of the trainees, I still have to avoid any sign of being attractive. I am going south; the train is partially empty. Lucky me, I can sit and prepare.
Done. Great day! One person from yesterday did not turn up, which seems to be normal there. Other four participants were absolutely enthusiastic, cooperative and involved. They talked a lot about themselves and I have a feeling that they understood the whole idea around the hero`s journey. It is easier to be a victim of circumstances, but to be a hero of your own life story tastes so much better!
I had to leave before the end of the session to pick up my little one from school. It was ok because my co-coach was very experienced and could easy handle everything by himself.
The last part of the session before I left was very powerful. One could literary see the sparks in the boys` eyes. I like the idea of helping young people on the way out of prison. If it changed life of one of the boys one day, I would consider it a great success!
I’ve almost forgot. One of the boys told me: “you are good people, Miss”. Thank you G!
“My parents open their mouths only to yell at each other. And trust me, it is not even a real conversation, they always keep talking about same things! It is like a theatre! I can write a screenplay. They never come to any positive conclusion! Can you imagine that?” (Miriam, 15 years old)
Oh yes, I can. I can even name it. This is a classic example of GAMES. Eric Berne (1964) defined them as a “series of complementary ulterior transactions progressing to well-defined, predictable dramatic outcome”.
Bit too fast? Ok, ok. Transaction is basically any communication between two people. There are three basic types of transactions: complementary (you somehow expect what is going to happen next: – Hi Miriam! – Hi Ewa!), cross (when you feel bit shocked when hearing the answer: – Do you want an apple? – Oh! Even you think that I am fat!?) and ulterior (people say something that on surface means one thing but you can feel the real meaning underneath: – Oh! I noticed that you finally got rid of moths in your drawers, how nice!).
We all communicate because we need somebody to notice our existence and we require to feel that on regular basis. For those reasons, sometimes even negative communication is better than none (Miriam’s parents quarrel because they do not have anything nice to say, but they still need an interaction). At the end, how we communicate depends mainly on our life positions – the answer to a question if we consider ourselves and people around us to be OK or not OK.
We already understand that Miriam’s parents are playing games. What is so dangerous about this special way of communication? First, games are unfair, dishonest and damaging by definition, they rarely bring anything good to our life. Second: most of us are compulsive gamblers, we feel it but didn’t have a name for it so far.
After we sorted out the basics, we can focus on discovering which of our own conversations could be named games. Let’s start with checking how many of our recent discussions meet the following patterns:
– Repetitiveness – if you keep discussing the same problem (for example: toilet seat, homework, the way you park your car, socks) again and again without any result – it was probably just the game not a real problem solving conversation.
– Automation – your experienced opponent usually knows exactly which button to press to make you jump out of your skin, even if you promised to never ever step back into the same river.
– Sadness and off balance feeling – after the conversation you feel that your partner and you failed, again.
– Underneath – you somehow know that there are more meanings under the surface, and that you’ve just hurt somebody’s feelings and your feelings were hurt.
Bit upsetting, isn’t it? We do play games all the time. Is there anything we can do in this situation? If you are not afraid of challenges, the answer is yes! We can limit the number of games we get involved in and with time stop playing them. For those who need a shortcut I suggest to contact me immediately (email@example.com, (+44) 7484297277), so we can discuss this even today. For the rest of you I suggest to read my articles during next weeks, because I am going to follow up on this fascinating subject.
And Miriam? Miriam is a very intelligent, young lady. We had a nice chat that was refreshing for both of us. She understood really fast how games work and that there is not much she can do when her parents start their match. What she can and should do is just to step back, use her time on something more pleasant and kindly suggest her parents to start to behave more like adults – which is one of the key skills on the way to stop gambling.
Btw being an adult as a full time job is going to be a topic of one of our next articles. Stay tuned 🙂
E. Berne, Games People Play, 1964, Penguin Random House UK., 161p,;
T.A. Harris I’m OK – You’re OK, 1967, Harpers Collins Publishers, 286p
I decided not to prepare a regular article this week to have space to do something much more important. To thank you.
If I was to mention by name everybody who I am grateful to, my note would be much longer than the Oscar speeches so I will try to be short.
At the beginning, I would like to say thank you personally, you reading my words now, for your everyday support. For viewing my Facebook page, reading and reacting to my articles, being on my side. Thanks to you, I know that I am not alone. Almost every day I receive so many nice little-big gifts! Short emails, texts, remarks, even calls. There are no proper words to explain how important your encouragement is for me!
I also would like to say thank you to all my wonderful clients. Real, beautiful, vulnerable but strong people, who bring light and meaning into my life. I learn from you all the time!
Many thanks go to my close friends – you know who I am talking about – for reminding me every day that I have to keep going if I want to succeed.
And at the end there are two men that I would like to mention by name:
Robert – my husband and a great friend – that happens to be my biggest fan and supporter. Even though he is very busy and often tired after his work he gives me time and space to work. Robert is the very first reader of my articles and he likes them so much that he never, ever forgets to like them on LinkedIn! And he didn`t kill me so far, for being me:) Strong man!
Last but definitely not least I am very, very grateful to Honza Tesarek – the creator, designer and producer of my most-beautiful-in-the-world website: ewakubin.com. At some point Honza decided that it is time for me to have my own web page – and he created one just like that! If you decide to have your own page – Honza should be your very first choice (firstname.lastname@example.org). Honza is the designer that you need!
Happy Valentine’s Day to all of you!
Michael (45), Vice President at a bank, London City:
“I was invited for an interview at one of the world’s biggest banks. They set up the time for Wednesday 11 a.m. even though I told them this is the least suitable day of the week due to a number of meetings that I had. Ok, I took a half-day off. The headhunter called me on Wednesday morning to confirm the meeting. I attended of course, since the position was very attractive. When I came to the reception of the bank, nobody knew that I was coming. The gentleman I was supposed to meet with was on vacation. He just forgot to update his calendar. Ok, I said. We set up another time. To be honest I didn’t expect too much, kind of “sorry for Wednesday” would be just fine. The interviewer did not say anything. For the next 45 minutes this young man (about 10 years younger than me) was checking my detailed knowledge of definitions. I knew them all, obviously, banking is my life. But I have achieved a bit more than knowing definitions in my career! When I went out of the building I was laughing, with no intension to come back to this institution again.”
This is a story that my coachee told me the other day about his experience from an interview he had few days earlier. Michael was confused and upset because of the way he was treated. No wonder, who wouldn`t be.
Thank you Michael for a great example of a manager who suddenly met one of my favorite Murphy`s laws saying that: almost every manager sooner or later enters a position that is too senior for him or her.
If I was to point out the two most stupid mistakes of the new-to-the-position managers, I would say:
–> Lack of respect
–> Urge to do something just because they can
In my eyes, both of them are fails of early beginners or compulsive idiots.
Let’s focus on each of them.
Lack of respect
From a long term perspective, lack of respect will surely not pay out. Our behavior testifies mainly about us, so if we behave as assholes, sooner or later we will be treated like one. Lack of respect to other people in many occasions means that we do not respect ourselves. Do you know anybody who would like to have a leader that does not have confidence in his/her own abilities and has to play hard? In this particular case our young manager can never be sure if his next interview is not going to be with Michael. Who knows? The world is surprisingly small.
Urge to do something just because we can
Young manager from this example surely did not have to apologize for not meeting with Michael on Wednesday. However, by doing so he would show respect to Michael and first of all he would confirm his own seniority. I have seen many personality transformations after promotions to higher positions. People started to behave arrogantly, suddenly did not have time for their former colleagues (now subordinates), sometimes tended to pay back old wounds. I am not saying that it would definitely stop them in their career growth, probably not. But as I mentioned in my former article (the King) there is a big difference between playing a leader and actually being a real leader. Good to know where you are heading before you start your journey.
If we come back to our Michael, we can assume that he was very lucky at the end. Would this young interviewer behaved more decently and with some respect, Michael might have taken the job. Then the young manager`s personality would probably come out later on anyways: for example, by bullying Michael at the workplace or doing other crazy things that are out of place in managerial positions in a bank. It this situation our protagonist will stay for some time with his current employer, maybe for little less money, but in a little healthier environment.
I appeal to create a new quality mark for corporations, something like “Mr. Murphy-free environment”. I wonder how many corporations would be able to get this certificate of excellence 😉
It’s Saturday evening after an adventurous week. I am sitting with my tea and trying to digest all the information I got over the last two days of an intensive training. I have just read the security reminders, system descriptions and other content of a coach kit. It looks like I am really going to start visiting prisons and coaching young people on their way to freedom. Wow!
It has all started one long night in September. Few weeks of consideration, and bum! I finally decided to try. It was about 1 a.m., I sat down and answered a long, long questionnaire. No proofreading, no advices from anybody, just go!
Two weeks later I received an email with an interview confirmation. I had a wonderful Skype conversation with the lead of the recruitment project. Soon after, they invited me for one of their all day long assessment centres. The assessment had a form of a group coaching session with twelve other coaches on board. It is hard to imagine twelve people that are more diverse than we were. Everybody in their on specific way. Various accents, skin types not to talk about personalities. During the interview trainers asked us many crazy questions such as at what time do we like to wake up, how tolerant is Donal Trump or how strongly we believe people should be imprisoned and why. We also had some sample coaching sessions with the clients they provided.
Another few weeks and a decision. I was chosen to participate in the next stage of the process – five days training. The last day was on Thursday. From twenty four coaches that met the original criteria we ended up in a group of nine. Absolutely crazy party. Big, short, black, white, serious, funny, energetic, calm, quiet, loud. Each of us is an individual.
However, this training was not about us. We met for five days over the last three months with the goal to learn how to effectively help young people unlock their potential on the way out of prison. The program was designed for 15-24 year old man who are about to come back to the outside community. This is an age when people are still flexible and have the biggest potential to change. The problem is that without a helping hand, the transformation is not very likely to occur. The national average reoffending rate is about 45%. 45% of those young people is going to the prison again and again after a short visit to the outside world. Many of them dream about regular life, family and work, but have no hope that it is possible in their case. Nobody ever wanted to hear their story but everybody had an opinion on how they should live. They do not see the possibility to change things.
We believe that past should not determine the future so much. Thanks to the two step program offered by this organization, the rate of reoffending falls to about 10%. Young people get their power and hope back again.
The whole idea is concentrated around the Hero’s journey. A concept which was created in 1871 by an anthropologist Edward Taylor that noticed common patterns in hero’s myths and stories of different cultures. According to his words, in all stories of this kind there is always a hero who goes on an adventure from his known world to the world that is absolutely new and unknown to him. He has to fight his own fears while passing the threshold of a change. Then there is always a period of deep crisis, death and rebirth. After that difficult time our hero comes back changed and transformed bringing gifts to the community he arose from.
Our job in prisons would be to organize small group workshops that let young people to experience that they have a choice between being a life-long victim of circumstances and hero of their own successful hero’s journey. During the workshops, the coachees have a chance to understand how the change happens and how to navigate it.
Thanks to the 1-to-1 coaching that follows, the training participants learn how to identify and challenge their own limiting beliefs and negative self-talk. They develop greater resilience and self-awareness; build a more positive self-identity and identify future goals that excite them.
Now I wait for my vetting to be finish. Before I start my little helping program I need to be approved by the Ministry of Justice. Who knows what time will bring.
I wanted you to know about this idea because I feel that we often forget how gifted we are by having a family, good work or just a one real friend that we can talk to. I would like you to think about these young people every time you feel blocked, unheard and hopeless. I know, that they are in prison for a reason. But there is also a reason behind our problems, it can but doesn’t have to be totally our fault.
Let’s try to treat our problems as the difficult part of our own hero’s journey. And if we currently are perfectly happy, let’s send a thought or a penny to those who at the moment have little less luck or opportunities than we have.
Our little help could be a turning point in somebody’s life.
According to biblical sources (Hebrew Old Testament scripture), the first open-ended question ever recorded in history was spoken by God to Adam and Eve. To be precise: after the two ate an apple from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, God asked, “Where are you?” and “Who told you that you were naked?”.
I am not sure that at that moment God was in a mood to listen deeply, so we date the beginning of coaching some centuries later.
It might be the teaching of Confucius (~600 BC) who taught about personal morality, justice and sincerity. There are also ancient Greeks like Epictetus (~150 BC), Plato (~400 BC) or Socrates (~450 BC) that started to emphasize the ethics of self-determination and inner integrity, and many other wise men later.
As you can see saying that life coaching is a modern invention is a bit of an exaggeration. You can also notice that being a coach means to be, in a way, a part of a quite high society 🙂
But what is coaching and how can a coach can help you?
Life coaching is a combination of techniques, methods and behaviorous that help you increase your potential and live the life you have always wanted.
The starting point is a belief that you have much more power than you ever expected and my job is to help you find it. Yes, YOU. I am not kidding!
In practice coaching is a very unique conversation. What magical tools do we use? Simple but very effective! First of all I was trained to listen. It’s not a joke. It is really an art to focus on a different person and listen deeply, actively, intuitively with all your senses.
I also ask a lot of questions. Thanks to them we explore your beliefs, values, expectations and underlying assumptions that are creating your model of the world. We are learning who you are and who you want to be.
We – because on this journey the coachee and the coach are partners. Together we are there to recognize and name your needs and dreams and highlight the most effective way to get them. And believe me, you will feel the changes because you are going to drive them!
Since I am the biggest fan of your success, I am not afraid to confront you with questions and observations you never wanted to hear. Yes, even those that your friend were not brave enough to tell you. I am boldly honest, trust me.
I do it respectfully since my goal is not to convince you to think more like me, but to help you to think more effectively yourself. And this is actually one of the major advantages of a coach over a friend, wife or parents in general. We are here for you and your success with no hidden agenda.
So a coach`s job is to help you find new perspectives and fresh energy so you can recognize, explore and achieve your goals. And also to open up to the fact that you are the only specialist and master of your own life.
Your job is to make a commitment, take responsibility and do what is needs to be done if you want to succeed. It is not easy because it requires a lot of your self-discipline, determination and venturing out of your comfort zone.
But you are not alone anymore! We will be there together with your ups and downs on your way to take off and fly.
Oh yes, fly. Because the whole idea of coaching is not about helping a caterpillar to become a better caterpillar, but to help the caterpillar to become a butterfly.
We just have to find out what flying means to you, first.
Resources: sparkinside.com, www.motivationeer.com, www.animascoaching.com, J. Starr “The Coaching Manual”, Harlow, 2016, p. 357, H. Herman “ Najdete si sveho martana”, Olomouc, 2014, p.234
During the last two months I had few coachees with pretty much the same problem. They were new to their managerial position and they had somebody in their team with deeper knowledge of a particular subject.
All my coachees mentioned the same concern: they are a bit lost, upset and feel threatened by the fact that they are not perfect in every subject their department covers. Can they still be good leaders?
Dear young managers, during the extensive training you most likely went through, you were taught how to give feedback, draw all those sophisticated hockey stick graphs and many other useful information. But there is one secret most of the experienced managers do not want to share. Even worse! Many of them do not know it themselves.
A manager is not a specialist!
– No, a manager does not have to serve as a replacement for every member of his team.
– Yes, it is more than ok to rely on your team members
– No, you do not have to know the answer to every question in the world. You just have to admit that you do not know. It doesn’t hurt.
There is a unique set of skills that you need to have to become a real manager and they are very different from those of a specialist. Basically a manager and a specialist are two totally different people!
You think it’s obvious? It should be. Unfortunately, it is not.
– one of my coachees on a really senior director position in a headquarter of a bank had to correct his power point presentation 23 times before his boss was finally satisfied. 7 pix left, 4 pix right
– other coachee who is in charge of an important department, has a boss that apparently would like to serve as a press officer and never allows him to present his own plans on managers meetings
– manager of another coachee tries to substitute every person off sick and doesn’t have time to do his job at the end.
Don’t tell me it doesn’t sound familiar!
From a general perspective, to manage means to forecast and to plan, to organize, to command, to co-ordinate and to control (Henry Fayol).
From your team perspective, to manage means to help your team do their job properly. Motivate, reduce obstacles and create environment that helps them work efficiently. Your people want you to do your job, they will manage their responsibilities. That is actually a great news that someone is better than you.
At the end you are only as good boss as the worst member of your team.
I have heard about few people that never complain about their in-laws, however somehow I didn’t have a chance to meet them in person 😉
In general we can assume that usually there is some kind of a quiet competence competition between wives and mothers-in-law.
I am no different. I would be able to prepare a long list of pettiness regarding my mother-in-law, that I could then easily blow to the size of an elephant if needed.
But there is something I totally admire about my mother-in-law. Her absolute, not pretended calmness and self confidence in professional life.
She was a manager from the old school. Clear no nonsense approach, strict but human attitude, deep knowledge. Sometimes her people hated her but then loved her even more because she was usually right. I had a chance to meet a few of them and they still admire her even after many years in retirement. Living legend.
It reminds me one story from theatre I was told; it is easy to be the King on the stage, you don’t have to do anything, it’s the other actors who play it for you. In real life there is a big difference between managers that are playing the king (because their subordinates have to pretend that they respect them anyway) and real leaders.
Real leaders have a deep sense of integrity, loyalty and service. Touch of humor and humanity is also welcomed. But first of all most of them love their job and the teams they lead. It is not easy to be one, because you have to watch your own standards at the first place.
My mother-in-law was the real King.
Ups, I did it again! I looked briefly at one of the internet horoscopes for 2018 and surprise, surprise, 2018 is going to be a very challenging year. Again.
Fortunately, it’s a great news at the end! Let me tell you why…
It started, I believe, in 2012. It was the year of a fire dragon and since I am a dragon in fire according to Chinese horoscope, I hoped and believed to be a great winner that particular year. Yeah, I was not! Horoscope said that it is going to be very difficult time. Indeed, 2012 was an absolute disaster. Bad, bad year…
Ok, I survived so I had great expectations from the 2013 horoscope for a change, but no! The horoscope suggested another difficult time. I said to myself: no fucking way! No more 2012! This year is going to be much better than they are implying! Let it happen!
And you know what? It was better. Not easy but definitely more balanced year. I had good days, I had bad ones, but something happened to me inside, I was a winner again!
Since that time I check my new horoscope every year. I noticed that every time it tries to threaten me. Be careful! Take care! Watch your back! Have your eyes open! Be patient! It is not going to be easy!
Ok, ok, I will be careful and everything, I promise! But I am not going to be afraid anymore. I will not anyone let me down. At the end I am not a simple dragon, capricorn or apple tree. I am me – a unique person, born in a special moment. I have no clue if the whole idea of horoscopes is valid or not. It doesn’t matter at the end. If it is, definitely not in a form of brief article at no-name website that feels obliged to put every scary disclosure into my horoscope, to be able to say” I sad so” at the end of the year.
And first of all, I am sure that far in the sky, there is a little lucky star created for a single purpose, to protect me and enlighten my way. This star is created from choice, bravery, will, optimism and hard work. It will help me make the most from 2018 and any upcoming year. It will. And I am determined to do my best to help it with that job. Let it shine!
Happy New Year to all of you!
Washing machine is in service. My husband just took the girls for a walk to see the beauties of London getting ready for Christmas. Fruits are arranged on a plate, house is clean and tidy. I have time. Perfect time for me to work.
Will I start working immediately? Hmm…
If I would not have started writing that article I would probably make a cup of tea, then consider eating an apple or two apples? Reading a short article on the internet would follow and maybe a last check of the Facebook messenger as well. Oh, wait! Shouldn’t I clean the bathroom today? No? So what about baking a surprise cake for my kids?
Do you also have that “mind chat” whenever you are supposing to start doing something challenging? I had that since I was a little girl, not to mention preparing for exams at university! A set of little tasks that I do before I finally notice that I am procrastinating my day and force myself to focus.
For a long time it made me very upset with myself. Luckily at some point, I noticed that even though I sometimes do crazy things before I start working, I always know exactly when I do have to start the designated task.
What would I do if my system failed one day? So far it was enough to ask myself 3 simple questions: 1. What is the real problem? 2. What am I avoiding? 3. What am I afraid of?
Confronting myself with my fears always helped so far. It also helped me to reduce the preparation time. At the moment I consider the “procrastinating dance” to be a little treat for myself.It is very healthy to eat apples, don’t you think?
I have a new coachee recently. He is a wonderful person. Interesting, calm with a sparkling sense of humour. The only thing he is really struggling with is self confidence. In his opinion since he doesn’t have higher education, he does not deserve the job he has and basically whatever good happens in his professional life, he considers it to be a lucky coincidence. Well, with this amount of good luck he should better play “Lotto” since he has been constantly winning for the last 15 years!
Usually the milestones of coaching happen between the sessions. So it happened in case of my new coachee. According to his words, he focused all his power and kindly asked his boss for raise. He got it immediately with words of thanks and appreciation.
During our next session coachee mentioned his great success between the words as if it was something obvious. I asked him how he felt about that meeting with his boss: – “it was absolutely fantastic”, he said, “I felt great and so proud of myself! and suddenly it looks so easy after I did it!”. “It was easy because you decided to try. YOU made it possible, remember?!”. “Indeed”, he answered, “it is so easy to forget how difficult the first step was. We should appreciate more what we achieved in our life”.
Well, we should. Let’s appreciate!
As a coach I should probably be as calm as a summer sea or at least as a cucumber, as my daughter adds. Well, I am not. I can go from 1 to 100 in about 10 seconds. And to be honest, my husband is not particularly happy about this personality trait. But there are millions of other things he probably likes about me. And the same here. We are not trying to pretend that we are perfect and our relationship is far from being perfect as well. However, after 17 years we still love to talk to each other and spend our time together as a family.
There were times when I was complaining a lot about my husband to my girl friends. About our problems and discussions. You would be surprised how many times I was asked: why am I still with this horrible person? Why don’t I try to look for better relationship? I was answering that I do not consider my relationship to be bad, I just tell how I currently feel.
Was my husband so bad? Of course he was! And I was as well. Who is not, sometimes?
Well, probably not most of my friends’ hubbies. Their partners were always “so sweet” and “perfect”. They would never call them in other words than “my honey”, “sweetheart” or “my dearest”.
Ten years passed by. We still live in our “Italian style” relationship and we still complain about same things. We managed to fix some problems but there is still a lot of others we have to work on. But guess what happened? Most of the girls from “perfect relationships” are already divorced, some close to that decision.
In most cases when the real life started, with kids, mortgage and all that nice but annoying stuff they all become less sweet and somehow more tired. Unfortunately, they were not used to communicate about tough problems. With a time, frustration was replaced by anger, silence and feeling that something was broken.
Now I hear from the same girlfriends that “I am lucky to have my husband”. Of course, I am, but it doesn’t mean that he (or me) is perfect now. The fact is I have never expect him to be.
One of my clients told me today: when I am not prepared, I am really stressed. If I am afraid of something, I tend to postpone the preparation. And then? And then, I am even more stressed.
I have a feeling that we all have the biggest fear before something bad happens. And that fear is our real enemy. It is the worst of it. Often much worse than the problem.
I was the same at the beginning of my career. Every second day, I was dying with fear that I could do something so unimaginably horrible that my bosses will fire me immediately. I was waiting for that day and could not sleep because I was so scared. One day I came across an old motivational book. I found an advice to make a short note with a date and a description of the problem every time I came across the issue I thought would cost me my job. Then, I was supposed to hide all these notes for 2-3 months and check what happened.
Nothing happened. Absolutely nothing. Nobody ever noticed my “horrible failures”. I fixed some of them immediately, some others turned out to be a successes at the end, the rest just didn’t leave any result.
Since then, every time I am dying with fear at work, I make a note. I still have those notes, sometimes I look at them and smile.
Nothing is eaten as hot as it is cooked. Fortunately.