Friday, October 26, 2007

Isn't it Ironic?

It’s like rain on your wedding day, the good advice that you just didn’t take.
Ironic, Alanis Morisette

How we struggle with life’s ironies. Or as we say in psychology, hindsight is 20:20. The key is to be able to move on. Preferably, we’d like move on and learn something.

I’ve heard a lot about unhappy endings this week. Actually, I hear a lot about unhappy endings most weeks. There are ways to look at these endings, whether it’s the end of a relationship, the manuscript rejected, or the job interview flubbed, in healthy, positive and productive ways.

Unlucky (not worthless). I’ve borrowed this from sports. It wasn’t a bad shot, it just missed by a hair: unlucky. The pitch was a little more inside than planned, but not terrible, just unlucky. It wasn’t stupid to try the relationship, it just turned out unlucky. The manuscript wasn’t awful, the editor didn’t like your sense of humor: unlucky. You didn’t totally blow the job interview, the interviewer just didn’t think you’d be a good fit: unlucky. I have a folder for certain editor communications called…you got it, unlucky.

Where’s the learning edge? Now that you’ve accepted that you’re not a worthless individual who doesn’t deserve a relationship, to be published or to have a job, it’s time to consider what you might learn from the experience. What is it about this relationship I do not want to repeat in the future? Similarly, what did I like that I would like to see in the next relationship? Do I edit the manuscript to change the tone, or just try another editor? Preferably one with a sense of humor more like my own. What was I weak on in the interview and how can I improve on it? What did I do well?

What opportunities does this present? As most of us acknowledge at the end of a relationship, it probably wasn’t going to help our happiness much in the long term. The manuscript rejected might be improved or it might force me to send it someplace that’s a bit of a stretch. If the interviewer didn’t care for me, I might not care for the company. And a better opportunity might come along tomorrow.

If all else fails, remember: whatever doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.

And remember, even when you’re focused on the pain of it

Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end
Closing Time, Semisonic

Saturday, October 13, 2007


To obtain the full benefit of this entry, while reading, listen to Changes by David Bowie.

I love it when a client says words to the effect of: you know, I just don’t care about [fill in the blank] anymore. It could be the job, the boyfriend, the thighs.

I love it when people say things like: you know, all of a sudden, I just did it; I couldn’t understand why it seemed so hard before.

That’s how change happens. It can be so easy, in that vaguely surreal way that some things simply seem to come to us. There is a confluence of events. Things collide, collude, conspire even, to make change happen. You feel different, you do something different, and almost immediately, there are ripple effects.

Why something is so isn’t as important as recognizing the need to change it, and making the change happen. Later, you can worry about why. If you still care.

I believe people have an amazing ability to make change happen. It might be controlling your anger, it might be getting sober, or it might be writing a book. It’s risky though. If I’m not angry, people might listen to me, and maybe what I say isn’t important. If I’m sober, I might have to have real relationships with people, and maybe I'll get hurt. If I write my book, maybe no one will read it, or if they read it, maybe they'll hate it.

In other words, if I try something different, I face the possibility of failure. But if I don’t, then something is lost to me. The choice between safety and risk is always a difficult one. I believe that we can take risks to live our dream. Sometimes we need a helping hand to get there, or a gentle kick in the pants.

Coaching and therapy generally ask that the client plunge deeply and quickly into the sometimes murky waters of change. My interest in therapy and in coaching both stem from my passion to facilitate change in people on an individual basis. And my belief that such change is infinitely more possible than many think.

I still don’t know what I was waiting for
And my time was running wild

Monday, October 1, 2007

Slow Starts

When I attended my first workshop in life coaching, Ben Dean, one of the life coaching gurus, said, if you don't get on this in the first two weeks (or four, or some ridiculously low number of weeks) chances are you won't become a life coach. Two years later I took my first life coaching course and I've been at it ever since.

I note that I started this blog in April, then no post til December, then a flurry since July.

Sometimes you have to break the rules.

Take smoking. One study showed that it takes people an average of approximately seven tries to quit, without treatment. For some it may be only one or two tries. For others, maybe nine or ten. That means that if you're in the nine or ten group, you ought not quit trying to quit. You can still get there.

Often I find myself interested in something and I'm all over it in no time. You may be like that as well when it comes to some things. The key is to try not to be so predictable that you can't think outside the box.

I am not a big fan of never and always. As in, oh he'll never stop smoking, he's already tried half a dozen times. Or, serious writers always write daily.

What's my point? I suppose I'll have to disagree with WC Fields', if at first you don't succeed try again. Then quit. No use being a damn fool about it. I'd go more with Mason Cooley's, if at first you don't succeed try again, then try something else.

If you want something, keep going after it, or something like it, until you get it. Break rules sometimes and do the unexpected. Sometimes you get disappointed, but perseverance pays off. To quote Maya Angelou: Nothing will work unless you do.