Tuesday, May 25, 2010

our lovely, imperfect selves

I was recently reading a post on the Sunday at Noon blog, in which matchmaker Marni Galison talks about how easy it is to fall into the trap of cutting off potential dates because they're not perfect. She says:

In most aspects of our lives, we can accept that the people we love are
flawed human beings but naturally we still love them anyway. Despite those
flaws, we recognize the qualities that make them the unique, wonderful people
they are and we cherish having them in our lives.

But for some reason, when it comes to dating, the minute we see that a new
love interest is less than perfect we rush to judgment. And often that judgment
is equivalent to the Spanish Inquisition – no one stands a chance from thereon

She goes on to encourage us to forgive each other for not being perfect, which might make dating a little bit easier. (See the whole article here.)

I'd like to take that action even one step further -- I'd like to encourage us to forgive ourselves for not being perfect. When we accept, embrace, and even revel in our own imperfections ("that's right, I can be needy sometimes!") we are likely to be more forgiving of perceived shortcomings in others.

One of the things I try to do to give myself perspective on perfection and the challenges that other people face is simple: I put myself in their shoes. Given their situations, backgrounds, friends, fears, needs, etc., how would I act? Would I be different? And if so, can I at least understand better why they are they way they are?

It's a carry-over from my acting days when I used to put on all those things on behalf of a character, and I find it expands my generosity and patience with others immensely. (Which can come in handy when one is dating...)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

identifying and changing habits

A recent article published in the Wall Street Journal talks about a study done to see what effect having "social support" has on peoples' willingness to get exercise.

"The study, conducted by Stanford University, belongs to a growing body of research showing that small amounts of social support, ranging from friends who encourage each other by email to occasional meetings with a fitness counselor, can produce large and lasting gains against one of America's biggest health problems—physical inactivity. Only 48% of Americans say they meet the federal recommendation for exercising half an hour most days of the week, and the actual percentage is believed to be much lower. Exercise researchers estimate that nearly all sedentary people at one time or another have resolved and failed to maintain exercise programs."

The story goes on to talk about how having accountability for her behavior led one woman to start an exercise program that, over time, just became a habit. And the results of the study showed that everyone who participated -- whether they had regular reminders or not -- was working out more often. However, those who were receiving calls from a live person had the longest-term success, almost doubling the time they spent exercising. "When you knew you were going to have to report back on what you had done, it motivated you," said one participant.

And this motivation is part of what coaching is all about. Creating a relationship that deepens accountability and responsibility. Working together to support you in your desire to change a habit -- something that you may not even be able to identify as a "habit" at the moment, especially if it just feels like "just the way things are" (or, more trickily, "just the way I am").

So, short of dropping me an email and signing up for a free sample session, what can you do? Well, there's a website called Habit Forge that will let you sign up for daily accountability emails. You simply tell the site what you want to achieve, check your email every day, answer the question "were you successful at achieving your goal?" and, if you answer YES for 21 days in a row, you go into "Monitoring Mode." A pretty painless way to give it a shot, no?

And it's free, so why not check it out? (And hey! A sample session is also free...)

Sunday, May 16, 2010

a handful of inspirational quotes

"I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something. And because I cannot do everything I will not refuse to do the something that I can do." -- Helen Keller

"Be yourself. Everyone else is taken." -- Oscar Wilde

"Half of the troubles of this life can be traced to saying yes too quickly and not saying no soon enough." -- Josh Billings

"The thing always happens that you really believe in; and the belief in a thing makes it happen." -- Frank Loyd Wright

"Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there" -- Will Rogers

"Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness, concerning all acts of initiative (and creation). There is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforseen incidents and meetings and material assistance which no man could have dreamed would have come his way..." – Goethe

"It is not in doing what you like, but in liking what you do that is the secret of happiness." -- J.M. Barrie

"So many of our dreams at first seem impossible, then they seem improbable, and then, when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable." -- Christopher Reeve

And my favorites:
"The future has several names. For the weak, it is the impossible. For the fainthearted, it is the unknown. For the thoughtful and valiant, it is the ideal." -- Victor Hugo

("And for Michael J. Fox," said my office mate Fernando, "it's the thing you have to go back to.")

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

on broken hearts

My friend John is a fabulous writer, and he recently wrote a piece about how to get over a broken heart. (The crux of his argument? Pina Coladas.) And, while his suggestion of bellying up to the bar isn't necessarily something I'd recommend to my readers (no offense, John) the way he describes the strength of the human heart really spoke to me, so I thought I'd share it with you:

"It helps to think of your heart as a piece of steel. Not chocolate or flesh or crepe paper. A shiny ball of steel. Which has a breaking point. But have you ever seen steel forged? It's heated in a volcano hot furnace until it glows white. It's so hot, the hard steel is malleable. Then it's hammered and hammered and hammered. Smashed into shape. Two pieces are clobbered to form one whole piece and then the steel is dumped into water. Once it's cooled, it's as hard as... well, you know. I've had my heart broken many, many times. And each time, I ended up stronger. My furnace? A Pina Colada. Maybe some Patsy Cline. A new friend, if just for that moment."

(You can read the rest of the article here.)

It's easy to think that you're not up to a challenge, or that you've been hurt so badly that you'll never recover. But keeping this image of an invulnerable heart in your mind, remembering that no matter what you throw at it, it will only get stronger... well, it works for me.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Failure Is NOT An Option? (Well, Maybe It SHOULD Be!) by Rebecca Soulette

I'm sure you've heard the (supposedly) motivational words, Failure Is Not An Option , as a way to inspire people to do great things. It makes great ad copy when selling sneakers or gatorade, and it ALWAYS makes for stirring interviews when people like Donald Trump, Olympic gold medalists, and award winners from every walk of life say it.

The Failure Is Not An Option perspective is a state of mind that can be extremely useful in helping us to keep moving forward no matter what setbacks come our way. But it can also do the EXACT OPPOSITE.

For those of us who were born (or raised) as perfectionists, or for those of us who overwhelm easily, the Failure Is Not An Option mentality can actually paralyze us before we even begin.


Because if we're trying something new, by definition, we're ATTEMPTING something we've never done before. And if we've never done it before (or if we currently suck at something that we're trying to improve at it) we don't know how to do it well yet. And expecting ourselves to be perfect at something we don't actually know how to do well yet can be A LOT of pressure.

Just imagine if you're teaching a baby to walk. Little Junior has started hoisting himself up to a standing position on the coffee table and looks JUST ABOUT ready to let go and take a step or two toward you. Now, imagine if your words to him were, "Okay, Kiddo, Failure Is NOT An Option --let go of the table and walk over to me. Don't screw up! And, whatever you do, you CAN'T fall down!"

Luckily, most children who are about to take their first steps are too young to even understand what you'd be talking about if you were to say that to them, yet, isn't that what we're saying to ourselves when we imagine that Failure Is Not An Option; that we have to perform perfectly?

Everyone knows that MOST children, on letting go of the table and lunging forward, trying to take a step will end up falling on their butt on the floor--if not during the first step, then during the second or the third--and even if they successfully walk, they are bound to fall again the minute they start adding speed, turns, or enthusiasm to the mix. Not to mention that most babies don't even know what they did to make themselves walk the first time they do it, since they're so surprised it worked, they don't always know how to repeat what they just did.

The step that the idea Failure Is Not An Option MISSES is that there IS no success or improvement without failure. Yes, occasionally, we may be lucky and the first time out trying something new. We do well (and label it "beginner's luck" not "beginner's solid and completely dependable talent"), but MOST of the time we WILL screw up, fail, fall, or, at the very least, have a type-o. And what's GOOD about that (Yes, it's good! I swear!!!!) is that THAT is how we learn to do better. We can't course-correct if we don't go OFF course first. We can't refine anything until we do it just a little bit wrong. And we can't learn what to do unless we become absolutely sure about what we DON'T want to do. It's all part of the same process that leads us to success. And to put the kind of pressure on ourselves that we're NOT ALLOWED to screw up is counter productive. How can we learn if we can't screw up?

If I had fallen as a baby learning to walk (which, believe me, I did!) does that mean I should have quit and never tried doing it again because I didn't do it perfectly the first time? Absolutely not. With that logic, I'd still be crying, flat on my diapered butt by the coffee table in our old apartment, never having learned to walk.

So maybe it's time I (and all of us) try on the idea that not only IS failure an option, it may even be a REQUIREMENT on the road to progress and success.

This week, if you're like me and get paralyzed by the idea thatFailure Is Not An Option I invite you to turn that idea on it's ear and see how much easier it may be for you to take strides forward if you let yourself see failure for the learning and improvement tool that it actually is!

About Rebecca Soulette, CFLC III ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Life Coach, Rebecca Soulette, CFLC III, is a senior level coach certified through the Fearless Living Institute. She is an expert in helping her clients to live the lives they were born to live. She is also the creator of http://www.lifebeyondcelebrity.com/ , where she helps celebrities and others in the public eye create balanced and fulfilling lives beyond their fame. Rebecca Soulette, CFLC III, also offers teleclasses, private 1:1 and group coaching. To help both celebrites and non-celebrities alike live the lives the were born to live. Learn more now at http://www.rebeccasoulette.com/ .