Thursday, July 22, 2010

cultivate the good

The other day I was in a session with a client who has a very strong habit of focusing on the negative and totally disregarding the positive. It's a familiar habit, one that I have definitely engaged in myself, and one that leads to nothing but bleakness, sadness, and truly bad train karma.*

I did what I could to help my client to see that focusing on the negative is only going to bring more negative (boooooooo!), and that focusing on the good is only going to bring more good (hooray!). One of the tactics we tried was imagining that she was living in a sci-fi world where goodness was dying out. And that she was one of the few people left who could cultivate and protect goodness. So any time she saw something with even the faintest tinge of good to it, it was her responsibility to take that goodness, plant it in a garden, and tend to it.

She lit up with this idea, recognizing that "goodness" was not a judgment about whether or not an achievement was reached or someone was "worthy" of being deemed good, but rather a quality that could inherently exist inside something -- a situation, a person, herself...

So I closed the session feeling like I had cultivated some good, once again proving to myself that I do an excellent job of living what I teach.

And then the next day came.

I found myself getting twitchy about not having heard back from a guy I am dating. And when I catch myself doing that, I immediately call my sister (my cucumber cheerleader) because I know she's good at easing my twitch.

And, without going into too much detail, do you know what I was doing? Focusing on all the negative, and completely disregarding the positive! With blinders on, I was zeroing in on all the things that seemed "wrong" to me, and paying absolutely no attention to the things that were there to inspire me or give me hope that he was, in fact, interested!

Boy did I feel like a dummy.

But instead of focusing on how stupid I felt about not catching myself doing something it was so easy for me to see my client doing, I looked at how awesome it was that a) I did catch myself doing it, and b) I called someone who could help me get back on my path.

Sure, I could use this experience to prove to myself that I'm a horrible coach and can't possibly offer anything of value since I can't live it myself, or I can recognize (and celebrate!) the fact that I'm human, that I'm living it, too, and that life happens moment to moment.

And every triumph is worth a celebration.


*the best way to cultivate good train karma? Focus on the times the train comes into the station right when you get there, and ignore the times you spend hours and hours waiting in the sauna for the train to finally come and then not be going to your borough. **

** I haven't gotten really good at this yet, obviously.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

playing the end of the game before it's over

Watch out! I'm about to use a sports analogy. (Yes, you are at the right blog.)

I've been enjoying some World Cup games recently, and last week there was a match that reminded me of, well, life.

In final moments of the Ghana vs. Uruguay game (before penalty kicks) there was a melee in the Uruguayan goal -- a shot on goal, blocked by the goalie, then a rebound shot, blocked by a defender, and then a third rebound, blocked by a Uruguayan handball, which, for those of you as unsportsly as I am, is totally illegal -- I mean, so illegal that the guy who had the handball got kicked out of the game and would not be allowed to play again in the tournament.

So, while he blocked a goal, he was mortified because he earned Ghana a free penalty kick, AND he lost his right to keep playing.

As he walked off the field, you could see how sick he felt, knowing he had just handed the game over to Ghana.

However, things didn't go so well for Ghana on that kick. The ball hit the crossbar at the top of the goal and flew out of bounds, leading the game into a shoot out, which, in the end was won by Uruguay.

The best moment captured on video, in my opinion, is of the player who was kicked out of the game (and it almost looks like he's been kicked out of the stadium) for a move that in his mind lost them the game, when, in fact, it didn't.

The plain truth is, whether in soccer or relationships or job interviews or auditions or family gatherings or asking for a raise or taking a risk, whatever the situation, you never know how it's going to end until it ends. And there's absolutely no value to beating yourself up for something you've done "wrong" because the game you're playing may be much bigger than the one you seem to be playing.

For example, this is only one game in that Uruguayan player's career. Maybe it sends him to the bottom of the soccer heap, and maybe it starts him on a road to stardom. Who knows? What we do know is that the game did not end the way he thought it would.

And the chances are good that yours won't either.