Archive for August, 2008

Knowing your 80/20…

The ICF-Orange County Coaching Chapter published an article this week that I had written on the virtues of getting a virtual assistant, if you are interested you can peruse the piece here. I chose to cite Pareto in the article and this started me thinking about the different ways we can create space and time for the people and things we love.

The Pareto Principle came from a mathematical formula about unequal distribution… stay with me here… it is also known as the 80/20 rule, and states that the few (20 percent) are vital and the many (80 percent) are trivial. Apparently you can apply it to anything but in time management “it reminds you to focus on the 20 percent that matters. Of the things you do during your day, only 20 percent really matter. Those 20 percent produce 80 percent of your results. Identify and focus on those things. When the fire drills of the day begin to sap your time, remind yourself of the 20 percent you need to focus on. If something in the schedule has to slip, if something isn’t going to get done, make sure it’s not part of that 20 percent.” (Source – Management.about.com.)

It is an simple and intriguing principle, look at other areas in your life; do you wear 20% of your clothes about 80% of the time? Spend 80% of the time with 20% of your friends? Send 80% of your emails to 20% of your address book?… Have a look… you will be able to apply this to many things in your life.. and as you begin to recognize it how might you harness this knowledge and become more effective about it?

I was recently challenged to write a list of the things that I ‘could do’ but will choose to now stop doing, an interesting exercise for me given I so often help my own clients see that ‘just because you CAN do something doesn’t always mean you SHOULD do it”. Knowing what makes us happy, gives us purpose and keeps us moving forward is what is key here, letting go of the other ‘stuff’ is necessary to our growth and health.

As I think of similar philosophies I recall the mantra of Charles and Ray Eames, to ‘achieve more with less’, this philosophy bore some of the most beautiful furniture icons of the last century, they just concentrated on what was vital to them, the core.

Many entrepreneurs have used this principle and Richard Koch has made a living from teaching this way of thinking to both individuals and organizations; he has written several books including ‘Living the 80/20 way’ and you may want to check out his website at www.the8020principle.com, there is even a tip in there about writing lists on ‘what NOT do to today’, which I may well start using!

As we go into this holiday weekend consider your own 80/20… what is the 20% that you will dedicate yourself to and which is the 80% that you will stop worrying about and just let go? I know it takes a little faith but you will never know what you are capable of until you try it.

Off to decide which 20% to focus on today…
Candice

© The Red Barn Cooperative – Working together to nourish lives
A Red Barn Coaching initiative www.redbarncoaching.com

Would you like to read about nourishment in all its guises twice a week? We issue ‘Nourishing Conversations’ to our subscribers every Monday and Thursday, click here to subscribe by email or if you prefer to use an RSS reader you will find the orange chiclet up on the right…

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Finding your running mate…

Barack Obama found his running mate in Joe Biden. It has been reported that 65 year old Biden will bring ‘heft and foreign policy experience to the ticket’ but just by looking at them, how do you feel they complement one another?

When I coach relationships I look for the essence energy or emotional field that is created between people. I stop coaching the individuals themselves and instead draw back to see what the ‘relationship’ might have to tell us about a situation or challenge.

As individuals we all have our own essence but in relationship, whether that be with another individual or team we create a ‘third entity’. When we become aware of this entity we can begin to see why things can go a little awry or why things can be magnificent between people. Anyone can see this entity or even more importantly feel it.

Try it. Watch two people walk into a restaurant or along the street together, are they close girlfriends with lots of happy energy who look like they are endlessly colluding? Are they lovers who have a magnetic intensity between them, are they mother and child with that obvious unbreakable bond, are they two people who are silent but evidently fighting each other inside? Beginning to feel the picture? You may also have had the experience of walking into a conference room and feeling as if you are able to ‘slice the atmosphere with a knife’, ‘feel a chill’ or alternatively not keep the group focussed at all… this is the energy that is being created.

And the usefulness of this? Well being transparent about the energy is a good starting place. It may well help any ‘stand-off’ that is occurring, by talking about the third entity conversations tend to be less about what I think and you think and our differing points of view and instead can become a dialogue about what the common goal of the relationship is and what the relationship might be able to tell us.

Great essence energy should never be wasted! Are there people in your life who you just naturally get creative with? People who you have a grounded relationship with, people who when you are together you feel like you can do anything with? Well are you acting on it??

I have no idea if Obama and Biden felt a great essence energy between them but what I do see in the pictures so far is a little bit of a burden released and potential. If you were more aware of the energy you create with others and intuitively just stated what you felt about it, what would the impact be on your life, goals and the world at large?

I have known clients who have kept agencies on retainer because of the energy of the agency team and not necessarily because of the individuals themselves. Consider that, what energy are you putting out in the world when you are out and about either as a family or as a business team? And just so we are clear here, you cannot hide your third entity, it is created the moment two or more people show up together, it is present at all times so being conscious of it will move you towards getting intentional about what you would like to create together, aid you with decisions about your relationship and maybe help you course correct during the length of your relationship.

I ask that this week you look for the third entity, the essence energy that is created when you walk up to someone. It might be really hard to put into words, and to be honest this is when you are really in the essence place.. the place before you start making up stories about what is going on between you. So as part of my request I ask that you not over analyze what you both feel, instead just get conscious about it, look for the pure potential the third entity holds for you; might you have found your new running mate?

Candice

© The Red Barn Cooperative – Working together to nourish lives
A Red Barn Coaching initiative www.redbarncoaching.com

Would you like to read about nourishment in all its guises twice a week? We issue ‘Nourishing Conversations’ to our subscribers every Monday and Thursday, click here to subscribe by email or if you prefer to use an RSS reader you will find the orange chiclet up on the right…

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The nourishment of being able to see the big picture

We use the term ‘meta-view’ in coaching when we ask clients to either step back and view their whole lives or ask them to zoom out beyond the immediate challenges and issues and look at their lives from above. To aid the visualization we will often ask the client to imagine looking down on their life from an aeroplane or hot air balloon and to explain the expanded view that they see… this is a very effective tool during those periods when we just can’t see the wood for trees and yearn for clarity.

While in NYC at the beginning of this week I was fortunate enough to have stayed in a 51st floor corner room where I had quite the view from above. I could view people walking purposefully around their offices while others popped out onto the lower roof gardens and balconies to take a quiet break, I witnessed the rhythm of deliveries to local businesses and restaurants and watched the tourists amble along distractedly whilst the bustling locals exercised their right to the ‘New York minute’ by spilling into the oncoming traffic to navigate around them.

I was transfixed sitting at that window on the world, watching and learning, considering the natural pulse of the city, reading the oversized billboards telling me about retirement funds, Broadway shows and the upcoming remake of 90210. Noticing that with M&M’s world and Hershey World positioned on opposite street corners their presence is a dominant one, I would imagine that any family with children would indeed find it hard to make it by without a purchase and the fact that yellow is such an essential color for Manhattan. But as I observed the architecture and activity the majority of my thoughts converged around the notion of how connected we all are.

From hundreds of feet above I could see relationships between people that the folks below who were merely inches apart were probably not even aware of and I could follow the flow of traffic and see how the sticking points could have been avoided if only the drivers had known I was watching and had the ability to read my mind! From my vantage point way up in the sky I had a new perspective on a much broader picture and found it both refreshing and useful to view things in this way; choosing to keep the experience front of mind as I take the elevator back down to street level to meet the throng below.

What might a meta-view offer you today?
Candice

© The Red Barn Cooperative – Working together to nourish lives
A Red Barn Coaching initiative www.redbarncoaching.com

Would you like to read about nourishment in all its guises twice a week? We issue ‘Nourishing Conversations’ to our subscribers every Monday and Thursday, click here to subscribe by email or if you prefer to use an RSS reader you will find the orange chiclet up on the right…

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The nourishment in familiarity

Saturday found me in Detroit, the city where my long term relationship with the US began. I landed at Metro airport the night prior and having continued to lead a team in Detroit even post my initial stay I know this large airport very well. As I made the drive north on Southfield through Dearborn past Henry Ford’s Greenfield Village, Ford Motor Company’s World Headquarters and with my first apartment close by I again felt comfort in knowing where I was going and the sense of the local vibe; very different to the feeling that I get when I go to someplace new.

My trip coincided with the 14th Annual Woodward Dream Cruise, representing ‘nostalgic heydays of the 50s and 60s, when youth, music and Motor City steel roamed Woodward Avenue, America’s first highway… The Woodward Dream Cruise is the world’s largest one-day automotive event, drawing 1.5 million people and 40,000 classic cars each year from around the globe—from as far away as New Zealand, Australia, Japan and the former Soviet Union. North American cruisers from California, Georgia, Canada and all points in between caravan to Metro Detroit to participate in what has become, for many, an annual rite of summer. ” (Source – woodwarddreamcruise.com)


A rite of summer indeed, to ‘go cruising’ means something quite different in Detroit this weekend, here it is a call to action – to take the roof off your car, put on your sunglasses and drive slowly down the 16 miles of Woodward Avenue with all the other classic car enthusiasts and keen onlookers. There are two lanes appointed for ‘cruising’ however based on enthusiasm around this event often the full four lanes of Woodward are comprised of the wonderful spectacle that is Dream Cruise.

There are stationary moments too, along the route sit many displays, either created from the ‘parking lottery’ system that enables you to park your classic car for people to admire it more closely and to get good sniff under the hood, to sponsored displays of the car companies; this year Ford had 45 Mustangs parked up together to represent the 45 year anniversary of the pony car. In support vendors sell their wares, from t-shirts to greasy sliders along the Woodward stretch that encompasses 9 different neighborhoods. As I walked through a section of Woodward in Birmingham at 10.30pm on Friday evening it was fun to see that even Jax carwash, a business that has been open since 1953 was full of people drinking cocktails spilling out onto the street, absorbing the atmosphere and action around them.

This weekend Woodward Avenue rewound time and paused, even the ever present modern police force with their brightly lit patrol vehicles paled against the impact of the history that surrounded them; it felt as if everyone was in unison, infused with nostalgia. Given my own state of familiarity I started to be curious about what being nostalgic actually meant and discovered that it describes ‘a longing for the past, often in idealized form’, and I wondered if that were true here. I wondered if this crowd of people brought together by this common interest in classic cars were actually longing for a day gone past or whether they were like me, just really happy and appreciative to get a glimpse into a time before our time or to get the opportunity to recall memories and share what had come before.

The visit to Detroit was a short one, I made my way to NYC last night and my feelings of familiarity were heightened, arriving in NYC always feels like coming home to me. Even though I only lived in Manhattan for a couple of years I had been visiting NYC for many years prior. But when I look, there isn’t a longing, it isn’t nostalgia, for me it is more about remembering who I was when I lived here, catching moments of my ‘other self’ in the walks I take, the buildings I see (or no longer see) and at the restaurants I choose to visit. I am offered familiar glimpses into the past which if I were honest I meet with both smiles and cringes. I now realize that my familiarity with places I have lived or have an affinity with is more than just about ease and comfort, if I look really really closely familiarity has a function for me; shining a light on milestones in my story and journey, becoming what I believe is a nourishing barometer of growth.

What do feelings of familiarity mean for you?
Candice

© The Red Barn Cooperative – Working together to nourish lives
A Red Barn Coaching initiative www.redbarncoaching.com

Would you like to read about nourishment in all its guises twice a week? We issue ‘Nourishing Conversations’ to our subscribers every Monday and Thursday, click here to subscribe by email or if you prefer to use an RSS reader you will find the orange chiclet up on the right…

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Nourishing Conversations – Forgotten flavors?

I think probably a good many people who happen to come across this blog via a search engine expect to find tips about nourishing food, instead they find interviews and thoughts about nourishment in all its guises, and I like to think that they dwell long enough to consider what nourishment means for them before they move on. Today however they will get just what they are looking for, that is if they are interested in heritage turkeys, heirloom vegetables and beans….

Have you ever noticed that when you first become aware of something you suddenly see it everywhere? Well for me this week it was the concept of biodiversity. ‘Biodiversity is often used as a measure of the health of biological systems’ and it seems to me that everyone is talking about it, or more likely that I am just catching on….

My awareness predictably started off through a few mentions on the TV food shows, ‘Emeril Green’ anyone? Emeril can now be found cooking in a flagship Whole foods store, walking the aisles with folks searching for healthy options and anti allergan foods and Sandra Lee was busy filling her slow cooker with great root vegetables to create wholesome dinners.

Then the daily tip site Ideal Bite sent me my daily tip about Heritage Turkeys… I had never heard of such a thing…the theory being “that preserving heritage animals preserves biodiversity – they may have beneficial genetics (disease resistance, climate adaptability) that more common breeds may not.”

This was followed very quickly by an article written by Melissa Breyer of Care2 sent to me via another web subscription ‘Cool Beans: Go heirloom’. Here Melissa educates us about the difference between heirloom plants and the manufactured supermarket ‘all too perfect’ variety. She has a point, I recently bought what some might consider ugly, but I thought rather beautiful heirloom tomatoes, not only did they look incredibly interesting, more purple than red with an amazing rosette of green, they tasted wonderful..

The Slow Food Foundation states that “30,000 vegetable varieties have become extinct in the last century, and one more is lost every six hours”…every six hours??? Now does that bother me more than the disappearance of the Polar Bear or of the ice caps themselves… probably not but I do feel that I am only just getting to know and love my organic heirlooms and it seems that it could be a brief romance… So I am still not exactly sure what this all means for me and my family but if I am trying to be pesticide free, be more loyal to the farmers market and more aware of our resources and food heritage then the idea of biodiversity is definitely food for thought.

Eating my vegetables voraciously.
Candice

© The Red Barn Cooperative – Working together to nourish lives
A Red Barn Coaching initiative www.redbarncoaching.com

Would you like to read about nourishment in all its guises twice a week? We issue ‘Nourishing Conversations’ to our subscribers every Monday and Thursday, click here to subscribe by email or if you prefer to use an RSS reader you will find the orange chiclet up on the right…

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Patrick Brady – Man of all seasons

In the comings and goings of my everyday life I pass by an apple orchard. I am fascinated by how it changes, it has so many faces; Spring, beautiful white blossoms fill the trees. Summer, a massive sea of green. Fall, children running through it’s rows, smiling as they reach up to pluck that perfect apple to put in their bag. Winter, stark barren branches.

Today I am walking through it’s rows, eating apples and sharing a cup of tea with the Steward of Raven Hill Orchard, Patrick Brady..

Patrick, you live in a teepee in the orchard. How did that come about?
As the Steward of the orchard I need to be available; to be in contact with the orchard, with whatever is going on, it was also about the notion of permanence. Fires come every year and if Mother Nature brings her production to town I can have this down in an hour. It has given me a different perspective on my own relationship with the earth. It’s a much more harmonious connection with my surroundings. It’s my place of rest and rejuvenation…

Patrick you say that you are ‘the observer here not the master’, what does mean for you?
Adaptable, flexible to the winds of nature, if not I’m going to break. Last spring we had strong west winds that blew constantly. I tried to resist the winds, finally I decided to go with it. So I took a trip up the mountain to be with the wind.

What lesson has the wind taught you?
Mother nature cannot be ignored or overlooked. The orchard demands awareness, presence is necessary. To be present without awareness would be so overwhelming; the orchard has it’s own clock, and to be here one needs to set their clock to orchard time.

Did you have trouble setting your clock?
No not really. In the previous seven years in New York I went through so many experiences that I learned from. The journey was like a river, I worked through a lot of illusion; it’s not all about stuff. This life needs a different language.

This has become so much more than a job, I love the mystery and the challenge with mystery is the more you try to define or describe it the more fleeting it becomes.

What are some of the activities that keep you busy?
Activities are varied, its an intuitive sense. Hopefully one develops a ‘oneness’ and harmony with the environment, sometimes the activity is going out and touching the trees. I find it necessary to have physical contact with each tree through pruning branches thinning apples or just checking on the condition of the tree, after all it is a living being, sometimes activity means running to the top of Volcan (a near by mountain)..which gives me a whole other perspective…a blessing itself…..

What does caring for the trees give you?
Caring for the trees is such communion with Mother Nature, a direct personal intimacy with earth and its creation; each morning first thing I do is stretch my arms out to the sky above push my feet into the earth below and breathe deeply while stretching my body as much as I can while inhaling the pure fresh oxygen from the wind moving through the trees the actual transfusion is from the trees caring for me.

When people come and pick apples here, what does it bring out in them?
First I notice the opportunity to be together in a natural environment, the evidence is the camera; I get so many requests from people, “would you mind taking our picture?”…..its light hearted and fun, wonderful memories to take into the resting time ahead. It is also one of our oldest ventures…..’hunting and gathering’…..there remains the love for collecting food and providing for ones family…

What is your favorite part of being the Steward of this beautiful place?
My favorite aspect of being here in the orchard is the sense of belonging I get; belonging to life, belonging to something so much greater than my individual ‘self’, nowhere have I felt the connection so profound than here, witnessing the miracle of life’s evolving cycles bringing home the ‘secret’ that this IS the incredible journey and makes it known…’Seasons circle round the sun and all the many roads are one’.

Thanks Patrick for sharing what inspires you.
Penny

Raven Hill Orchard is located in Julian California, it has approx 8000 trees, with 7 varieties of apples, that you can have the fun and pleasure of picking yourself.

You can check the Julian Chamber of Commerce website for opening dates, www.julianca.com or call
Raven Hill Orchard at 760-765-2431

© The Red Barn Cooperative – Working together to nourish lives
A Red Barn Coaching initiative www.redbarncoaching.com

Would you like to read about nourishment in all its guises twice a week? We issue ‘Nourishing Conversations’ to our subscribers every Monday and Thursday, click here to subscribe by email or if you prefer to use an RSS reader you will find the orange chiclet up on the right…

The Nourishment of teamwork aka ‘When is a team really a team?’

The Olympic opening ceremony is tomorrow night and with 550 Americans making up the ‘US Team’ alone, you know why it takes approx. 3.5 hours to get everyone competing at the games into that field to celebrate the arrival of that torch.

I began to think about the nuances of what ‘team’ really means at the Olympics given so many of the sports represented are in fact for individuals. To be a team whether that be in a sporting context or otherwise there are some things that need to be true-

1. The common goal
In a team sport this is pretty clear, but how often in the workplace or within a family unit is that goal defined and understood by everyone ‘on the team’? If there is not a clear understanding of objectives and parameters the team can very quickly become scattered individuals all pulling in different directions with different priorities.

2. Clearly defined roles
This is critical, when roles are not clearly defined instead of a coordinated effort there can be duplication resulting in frustration, roles that are poorly occupied resulting in blame and overall team paralysis often resulting in conflict. It is important to note that ‘roles’ are NOT ‘people’. Roles can be shared, distributed, taken off and re evaluated over time.

3. Clear boundaries
This goes hand in hand with defined roles, what are the boundaries? Who has authority to make decisions? Who is empowered to do what and to which point? Be clear about boundaries within teams, it will actually help the team flourish.

4. A clear understanding of how the team will work together
I touched on this in the post on ‘Designing Alliances’; how will the team communicate, how will they want to be together in good times and more importantly in not so great times e.g. when the pressure is on? If this conversation takes place expectations are set as are consequences and rewards.

Making sure that the team has all the correct and relevant resources and acknowledging them is also paramount to success and what is really interesting here is that if these core ingredients are in place you are no longer just relying on the individuals having to like each other. The idea that team building exercises HAVE to be about discovering more about one another and likeability isn’t true, in fact depending on your company culture it could actually just instill that conflict is a bad thing and create more pressure when two people are really just not built to see eye to eye. Instead if conflict is seen as an aspect of diversity and there is appreciation for the role that each member plays you can still have a productive and happy team.

So back to the Olympics.. I wondered what the common goal is for the 550 athletes on ‘Team USA’ as it is called across many of the sponsoring and broadcasting websites and found that there are indeed medal counts and expectations to be met and it looks as if across history the US has won more gold medals than any other country, but what is fascinating are small asterix marks next to all of these statistics saying that the Olympic committee do not count the medals in this way… so just for kicks I went in search of the Olympic Charter and discovered that not only does the IOC not count the medals for each country they don’t even recognize its value, as far as the Olympic Charter is concerned “The Olympic Games are competitions between athletes in individual or team events and not between countries.”

The UK’s daily telegraph reports that the Brits have ‘team’ medal expectations too –

“The figures are important as they are monitored by the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee, to ensure that “value for money” is obtained for government spending on sport. Gerry Sutcliffe, the sports minister, told the BBC it was “vital” the British team reach not just the 35 (medals) but the 41 figure. “That is a serious target,” he said. “We want it to be achieved.” Of those medals, UK Sport expects 10 to 12 to be gold. Mr Sutcliffe hinted that funding depended on success. “It’s vital in the sense of the investment that’s gone in,” he said.”.

Now to me that sounds more like an ‘expectation’ of a collective of individual talent and not a ‘team’ deliverable at all..yes each individual can absolutely play their part in doing the best they can, so in that respect roles are clearly defined, abeit more consistent with parallel paths than an integrated team system.

What might happen if each country’s ‘team’ didn’t walk into that opening ceremony together? Would havoc reign? What might be different? Is the use of the term ‘team’ just being used to earmark a group of talented individuals for want of a better term? Does this happen in your place of work too?

Hungry for more information I looked up what is called the ‘Fundamental Principles of Olympism’ to find out what the Olympics is beyond inter country medal trumping and return on investment and found the following –

1. Olympism is a philosophy of life, exalting and combining in a balanced whole the qualities of body, will and mind. Blending sport with culture and education, Olympism seeks to create a way of life based on the joy of effort, the educational value of good example and respect for universal fundamental ethical principles.

2. The goal of Olympism is to place sport at the service of the harmonious development of man, with a view to promoting a peaceful society concerned with the preservation of human dignity.
(source – The Olympic Charter)

I will now be watching the sensationalized Olympic coverage with eyes focussed on joy, good example, respect and human dignity and looking out for moments when teamwork is truly evident.
Candice

© The Red Barn Cooperative – Working together to nourish lives
A Red Barn Coaching initiative www.redbarncoaching.com

Would you like to read about nourishment in all its guises twice a week? We issue ‘Nourishing Conversations’ to our subscribers every Monday and Thursday, click here to subscribe by email or if you prefer to use an RSS reader you will find the orange chiclet up on the right…

The Red Barn Cooperative

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