The Best (The Only!) Way to Get ‘Back on Track’?

The Best (The Only!) Way to Get ‘Back on Track’?

There’s an analogy that’s talked about in the coaching world and, I’m sure, elsewhere, that a plane is off-course 99% of the time (or maybe it’s 99.9% of the time?) and it only arrives where it wants to be because the pilot (or auto-pilot) is constantly course-correcting.

It’s used as an analogy for goals in that we should be constantly course correcting. Life never goes in a straight line, people say, and course correction is normal.

 

This Sounds Very Reassuring, but Is It Actually True?

 

I was asked this exact question on a video call this week. The interviewer, Brooke, was asking me about how we can make more impact with what we do, and, towards the end of the call, she asked me what I’d do or what I’d advise when someone to do when they found themselves off track from where they thought they wanted to be.

How do we get back on track?

she asked.

In that moment she asked me, I found myself puzzled; the question didn’t make sense to me.

Asking how to get back to something implies that there’s a ‘track’ and there’s a ‘destination’ and therefore we’re somehow off-course. Here’s what I said to her,

The question implies that there’s a ‘place’ to get back to. That ‘back’ is a real thing, like the cup that’s holding my tea (the visual works better on a video call!). And that being off-course is a bad thing — or that getting back on track is the right thing.

That isn’t how I see the world,

I continued,

and figuring out what the track is and how to get back to it isn’t how we create the most impact.

What looks true to me is that we make up that there’s a destination, and we aim for it, thinking that, when we get there, we’re going to feel like we’ve ‘arrived’. And somehow being in the place of arrival is better than being where we are now.

But how can we be other than where we are? Making up that we’ve somehow gone wrong or become lost is likely to lead us to judge the place we are now. And to feel that we have to be somewhere else in order to be OK. And that looks like a dead-end to me.

That doesn’t mean that we stand still, or we wander aimlessly. (Or, to continue the plane analogy, that we fall out of the sky!)

 

We’re Driven to Move

 

It’s as natural for us to take action as it is for my dog to run around as soon as we reach the park. We’ll always be going somewhere, but the destination emerges as a result of the steps we take, not as a result of us ‘deciding’ ahead of time.

In the video call we were recording, I talked about one of the projects I’ve working on this year, supporting leaders in international development non-profits.

At the beginning of the year I had an idea, I made some calls, reached out to some people, and the next steps emerged. The project took shape through conversations and through the interests of those people who put their hand up to participate. All I had to do was notice the pattern and continue to excavate until we had some cool outcomes.

I now find myself at a place where I want to take stock and put more structure and colour around what we’re doing — add more flavour, more form, more density to the project. I don’t know exactly what that will end up being, but I know that it isn’t my job to figure it all out and decide. It’s my job to listen to my inspiration, make a few suggestions, listen to what’s coming back and pull together the strands that seem to make the most sense to me.

I don’t see the fact of being at a reflection point as being ‘off-track’ in any way, because my destination was pretty vague. My intention was to have an impact on leaders in international development. I didn’t know exactly what that would look like but it’s enough of a touchstone to have guided me so far, and to guide me towards whatever’s next.

Even if I felt the project wasn’t achieving the impact I’d hoped for, I still couldn’t be ‘off-track, I’d simply be at the end of an experiment which hadn’t worked. #next!

The way I see the world (and the way I believe the world to be!) is less like I’m in charge of ‘figuring it all out’, choosing a destination and setting the course. It looks much more like I’m a co-pilot responding to instructions, flying the plane, but not really flying the plane.

I can trick myself that I’m in charge and that can be a lot of fun, like taking the rudder in a flying lesson, but there’s a sense of relief and reassurance to know that someone always has my back, telling me what lever to pull, what GPS coordinates to enter. Then I can really enjoy the ride, knowing that we’re perfectly OK wherever we end up.

With love,

Cathy

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What Does ‘Money’ Mean to You?

What Does ‘Money’ Mean to You?

I read a book recently by my friend and colleague Mary Schiller. It was about money. I don’t usually read a lot about money — it isn’t one of those topics I obsess — but the book was a short read, and I know it’s a topic a lot of people worry about, so I dove in.

One of the phrases she used caught my eye,

Thinking about money is like trying to catch water in a sieve.

I found myself laughing.

I talk a lot with my clients about those things we obsessively think about and we dissect which part of it is real and which part isn’t. Money comes up from time to time; we all have some preconceptions (mostly wrong), and we all have our favourite ‘coping mechanisms’ to make those go away (which most often have the reverse effect!).

I was curious to explore more and so I invited Mary to talk with me — a conversation I recorded and posted recently.

In this conversation, we talk about why most of us get it wrong when we think about money. We know, at some level, money won’t make us happy, and yet… it seems as if having more is a good thing to strive for.

 

Hmm, isn’t this a contradiction?

 

Well maybe, maybe not. And certainly not for the reasons we imagine.

Mary candidly shares her journey with us, admitting to being a bit of a ‘failure’ in the past when it came to money.

 

Until her moment of realisation…

 

If you feel you have money ‘handled’ then listen to this conversation through the lens of whatever it is you find yourself obsessively thinking about. A new job, your relationship, children… whatever’s on your mind.

You can hear the full interview here, and I’d love you to let me know what came up for you as you listened.

With love,

Cathy

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Why are Some Things ‘Hard’? (the nature of resistance and the universal solution)

Why are Some Things ‘Hard’? (the nature of resistance and the universal solution)

It struck me this week (not for the first time) that there’s a gulf of difference between things that appear ‘hard’ to me, and things that are ‘easy’, mindless almost, meaning that I’m not aware that I’m doing them or, if I notice, then it feels obvious that I’d be doing it.

 

Not Everything is Easy

 

I’ve been asked to record a live talk as part of a programme I’m participating in called ‘Emerging Voices’. I’ve been putting it off and putting it off. I don’t know why because I love being in person with a group — it’s one of my favourite ways to work.

Is it the fact it’s a ‘talk’ rather than an interactive seminar?

Or the fact it has to be recorded?

Or the fact that the recording will be seen (and therefore judged) by others?

Who knows.

I could make up a lot of reasons and some of them would even appear to be true. But it doesn’t look that useful to me to try to ‘figure it out’.

What I do know, though, is that, when I mentioned my assignment (and my resistance) to a friend, she immediately jumped in and offered that I come and talk to her group.

I wasn’t angling for a talk, I was simply sharing my observation of how much I was veering away from the task.

In a flash, this ‘thing’ that looked tough to me looked, not just easy, but hugely exciting and enjoyable.

I’ve done it many times in many different areas of life — some things appear ‘easy’, like putting on my running shoes and going out, even for just a short run. Versus giving up coffee, or becoming vegan, which look ‘hard’, or like they’d cause me a lot of discomfort (all future, imagined discomfort of course).

I know for sure I’m not the only one who experiences this.

 

Is the Solution in the ‘Habit’ Strategies?

 

Getting ourselves to do these things that are on our ‘should’ list is exactly why there’s a whole universe of habit strategies, productivity advice, tactics and techniques.

There’s a world out there of people who want to help you get more stuff done, to get over yourself and do the hard stuff, because “it’s good for you”. It’s an innocent mistake to look in this direction for a solution, but it’s still a mistake.

To me it looks true that the thing that looks hard has nothing to do with the ‘thing’ itself, and everything to do with the way it’s appearing to me in this moment.

If that statement really is true, then I have no need of strategies and tactics, because if something isn’t hard, then it’s easy. And why would I need help to do things that are easy??

 

If It’s Easy…

 

Sure, some things might be physically harder — like training for an Ironman, but people (me and you included!) do things that are physically uncomfortable all the time.

The real difference — the only difference in fact — is the amount of psychological hardship we experience — which comes from us — from how much of our thinking looks real to us — not from the task or the object.

When I shared my resistance to doing a live talk with my friend, I wasn’t asking myself how to shift the feeling, I was attempting to shine a spotlight on my own thinking, the equivalent of asking myself,

“What if it doesn’t have to be hard? What if you only think it is?”

When my perception shifted, as it did in that moment, then the ‘thing’ itself shifted from hard to easy.

It’s in moments like those — when we loosen our fixed position about the hardship, that solutions appear. We often come up with our own new insights and ideas or, as in this case, something pops up in front of us and the stuckness dissolves.

In that moment it became easy for me to talk to my friend, find out more about her group, what the members are interested in and how that ties in with my recent insights. It became as easy, and as obvious as reaching for a glass of water when I’m thirsty.

And I know it’s the same for you.

When we see something as ‘hard’ then it can feel as if there’s a real thing called ‘resistance’ and we’re experiencing it. When we loosen our thinking, then we can see that believing the resistance is real is as unhelpful (or laughable) as believing in Santa (only not in such a magical way!)

In the instant you see that the thing that looked hard has no more solidity than an apparition, or a puff of smoke, or a jovial rotund man with a white beard wearing a red suit, then all the difficulty dissolves, taking its procrastination and lack of motivation with it.

 

Is THIS the Universal Solution?

 

It looks as if it’s something we did to get to that point and it’s a question clients as me all the time,

“How can I get myself to do X?”

Or

“How can I get rid of the feeling that something is hard?”

But, here’s why the ‘solution’ isn’t in what we do to loosen our thinking, and why I’m not offering this as a prescription…

You see, the real action isn’t in whether I shared my thinking with someone, or whether I asked myself ‘what might be possible if it was easy?’, or indeed anything I ‘did’.

Nope, the real solution came in the instant before those thoughts occurred to me.

And I have no control over those instants, or any thoughts for that matter, which is a truth about life that I momentarily forgot.

While I was focusing on the illusion of not wanting to do the talk, of looking only at my present moment experience of some imaginary future, then I lost awareness that the real action takes place behind the scenes.

The real action is whatever opened me up to share my experience with my friend; it’s whatever prompted her to make the offer; it’s whatever will propel us, without our needing to take control, towards the perfect outcome for us and for her group.

And life is sooooo much better when I remember that — when I see that ‘life’ has control, and there’s no need at all for me to worry or fret or believe in hardship and ease as real experiences.

 

Here’s the Truth about Hard and Easy

 

For I know, as a deeply immutable truth, that my experience of the world around me is an experience of consciousness. An experience that doesn’t exist, an illusion that takes my focus away from whatever I’m supposed to be doing.

When I remember that, I feel a deep gratitude and sense of awe for the way life is presented to me, and the way things always seem to work out.

And then, sometimes, I forget.

But, the more I look deeply at what’s true, the less I care about that forgetting, the less it matters how things appear to me in this illusion of life, the easier it is to get stuff done, or, rather, to do the stuff that is being presented to me, and the more time and energy I have to enjoy the view as I go.

Even if that view comes with a few bumps in the road.

With love,

Cathy

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Purpose: Is It Possible That Having Intentionality About What We Do Is Counter-Productive to Actually Achieving It?

Purpose: Is It Possible That Having Intentionality About What We Do Is Counter-Productive to Actually Achieving It?

In Charge, but Not Too Controlling

 

Most of us operate as if this equation has some truth to it. Fully or, at least, partially:

Intentionality = good

Inflexibility = bad

And yet..

…I’ve been considering the difference between these two words and whether, even though I feel as if I go through life with some intentionality (at least some of the time!), I’m not really as ‘in charge’ as I think I am.

And, I’m also questioning whether it’s simply my ego fooling me that I have any control whatsoever.

Because, when it comes down to it, life seems to be a series of randomly, guided events.

Here’s what this looks like to me right now…

 

Gotta Have a Purpose, Right?

 

It looks as if intentionality is good. (or, it’s probably more true to say that it can look as if…)

If we have a purpose, a direction, a vision, we’ll know where we’re going and we’ll be able to get there. And that’s good, right? (and, surely, what’s at the heart of the search for clarity that shows up for some of us.)

Yet, it also looks as if inflexibility is bad. Inflexibility equates to rigidity; a refusal to consider, or even see, other perspectives and opportunities, a lack of willingness to enter into discussion.

So how can we retain intentionality and not allow it to get in the way of us feeling fulfilled and satisfied in our lives?

 

How it Works

 

There’s really only one answer to this question and, for me, it comes from knowing that my intentionality has nothing to do with where I’m going to end up.

It’s a throw of the dice; it’s a step forward; it’s like saying

Yeah, I’m gonna join the game, not sit on the sidelines.

The rest is up to whatever it is that’s guiding my life.

Intentionality is all very well, as long as I know enough to not let it get in the way of life.

I dove a little deeper with this topic in a recent audio (it’s #5 of 5 if you want to go straight to this topic).

I’d be curious to know what your view is on this.

Do you think that having a purpose, or some intentionality as I’ve called it, is essential to having a wonderful life? Is it merely interesting, and diverting? Or could it actually inhibit us from having a wonderful life?

With love,

Cathy

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Clarity Audio Series: Answering Your Questions About Clarity in Life and Work

Clarity Audio Series: Answering Your Questions About Clarity in Life and Work

 

Clarity: Your Questions Answered…

 

I took some time this week to record some short audios for those of you who signed up for the Clarity Masterclass.

I asked you what was your #1 question about having more clarity in your life and work and I’m honoured by the responses I got.

I’m not ‘giving advice’ in these audios, I see them as a way of pointing to how you can find that elusive thing we call ‘clarity’ in response, not just to the specific question you asked, but always, in any situation, whether it seems large or small.

If you’d like to be kept in touch with more content like this then join the email list by signing up to the box at the bottom of the sidebar >>>>>>

 

Audio 1: Trying to Make Sense of the Future…

 

In this short audio I look at why it makes no sense to try to analyse, predict and plan for the future. Yet still we do it… especially when we have a ‘big’ decision. 

Click on the play button to listen…

 

 

 

Audio 2: Getting Below the Noise…

 

In this audio I look at what one of my subscribers laughed at as a ‘technique’ to use when making complex decisions. It’s an unusual way to access clarity but I think it’s a perfect way of describing what it is we’re doing when we settle into that state of inner peace, flow and ultimate confidence. 

Click on the play button to listen… 

 

 

 

Audio 3: The Real Reason We Want Clarity (and, therefore, the ultimate solution…)

 

In Audio 3, I dive into what is is we’re doing when it looks as if ‘clarity’ (or whatever word we put on it) is the solution. Because when we see what’s going on then we’re able to immediately get the perspective we’ve been looking for.

I also talk about future-proofing your ability to tap into this quality.

Click play to listen…

 

 

 

Audio 4: Is It a Problem?

 

In this audio I ask a very simple question to help you differentiate whether you’re listening to the right signal and what you might be making those signals mean. The last thing we need is more ‘problems’ in our lives and it might be that a simple shift in perspective is all we need to get to the clarity we’re looking for — and therefore take action rather than worry about what to do and how we feel.

Click play to listen…

 

 

 

Audio 5: Two Final Questions…

 

In this final audio, I give you two questions to consider that I think will be helpful in retaining a sense of clarity.

I also consider the difference between intentionality and inflexibility. It looks as if one is good and the other not so good. It looks as if finding our intention, our purpose, our direction, is the solution to this thing called ‘clarity’ that we’re searching for.

And, yet….

…what if it’s also something that will cloud opportunities and block the fulfillment, satisfaction and happiness that’s what we really want?on. 

I’d love you to listen in and let me know what you hear.

 

 

Enjoy the series 🙂 

With love,

Cathy

 

 

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