Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Post-Oscar Musing…Woody Allen’s Approach

I love Woody Allen’s movies.  In a WashingtonPost piece about him, Robert Weide, who made a documentary about Allen, attempts to dispel the myths about Allen as movie character vs Allen as director.  Apart from my great relief that no one so accomplished could really be that neurotic, I appreciate Allen’s view of directing according to Weide:

His theory… is to “hire the best actors, shut up and get out of their way.”

As coaches, indeed as psychotherapists, we are directors in a sense.  We are often admonished to get out of our client’s way.  Listen, contain, nudge, but let the client do their work.  As Weide goes one to say:

Many of the performers I interviewed spoke of the sense of liberation they feel when a director is confident in their ability to come up with the goods without micro­managing their performance.

Good advice for parents as well.  Our clients and children are whole, creative and resourceful people.  Lay the groundwork, provide the safety net, and let them do their thing.

Prior to the awards I heard, in an interview with biographer Eric Lax, that Allen wasn’t attending because he doesn’t believe that art can be judged.  No to mention, that if you start to believe others’ opinion of your work, you’ll begin to shape your work to impress them.  How often do you trust your own intuition and do the work of coaching, therapy or parenting in your own unique way?  We don’t have to impress, we just have to do our work.  But don’t expect anyone to call with your Oscar nomination.

Woody Allen at the Oscars, 2002

Saturday, February 18, 2012

What I Learned About A Half-Marathon

You know how you used to have to write about what you learned during your summer vacation?  Well I just had to write something about training for my half-marathon.  I started 4 months ago and it’s been a great treat.  Today was the big day.

The first thing you have to know is that it’s not about the running.  You could be writing your first book, playing in your first tennis tournament, seeing your first client, quitting smoking or starting a new business, to name just a few possibilities.  Consider these general principles.

Set a big goal.  I’ve run a 6.2 a number of times.  Never having run more than 8 miles, 13.1 seemed like a pretty big to me.  It doesn’t have to be big by anyone’s estimation but your own.  And you have to own it and want it.

Commit to it.  In my case, this meant joining a training group.  Even after that, I had to pay the fee.  Then I was all in.

Make the commitment public.  The more people you tell, the more you have to do it.

Use rewards.  The small rewards were a celebration for long training runs.  On those days I’d just kick back and relax for most of the day, and go out to eat a great meal.  It’s good to have a bigger reward at the end.  I knew I had to have the 13.1 sticker I’d seen in a running store.  For under $2, every time I look at it that sticker tells me how a girl that can run 13.1 miles can do anything.

Establish your training routines.  What I eat, how much I sleep and what I wear have become almost as important as how much I’m running and when.  Sticking to a training schedule really helped.  Figure out routines that work for you and they’ll keep you on track.

Enjoy the ride.  Note each milestone (pun intended) and revel in it.  Nine miles, then 10, then 12, 13, 14.  It was exciting realizing that what seemed quite distant was becoming closer and closer.  Once I’d done a couple of 14 miles runs, I knew it didn’t even matter if I actually ran the race.  I could run 14 miles!  I was stronger and enjoying the journey.

Notice the changes.  I started feeling more confident in other things.  Nothing seemed impossible or out of reach.  Runner’s high you may say?  I think it’s just the confidence that comes from meeting increasingly difficult goals.  You realize there’s something in you that you weren’t quite sure you had before.  It’s an I got this kind of thing.

Be excited.  When people commented on how cool it was that I was doing this, I began to accept their excitement and own it, instead of saying oh, no big deal.  It is a big deal!  When I went to pick up my race pack and saw people setting up the barricades and mile markers, I started to feel this overwhelming excitement.

Consider how you can apply these principles to your own half-marathon, be it running or another big pursuit.

Learning to Fly, Pink Floyd

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Photographs vs Experience

I just heard an interview with George Clooney in which he talked about how people aren’t prepared to shake his hand because they’re too busy taking pictures with their cell phones.  Can you believe that?  His comment:  I think that's too bad, because I think people are experiencing less and recording more.”

I notice that at soccer matches.  Yes, I want a picture of my kid scoring a terrific goal.  But even more than I want the picture, I want to really see him doing it.  The set up, his calculation, the goal, his reaction, his team’s reaction, the coach’s reaction, the other fans’ reactions.   I want to experience all of it.  Not to mention me jumping up and down and screaming.  I can’t do that through the lens of my camera.

The other thing I notice at matches is how people talking on their cell phones, or more often texting, interferes with the experience.  They miss things.  We see people everywhere who are so busy telling someone about their experience; they don’t actually get to experience it.  Kabat-Zinn talks about how, in observing a beautiful sunset, once you start to talk about it, you are no longer experiencing it, you are now experiencing your idea of it.

It’s all about being present, mindfully and getting the most out of each and every moment.  These are useful practices.  Now I just want to go on record and say that if I ever have an opportunity to experience George Clooney, and shake his hand, you better believe that no phone, camera or human being is going to get in my way.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Cultivating Patience

What is patience to you?  If you’re like most people, it’s either something you think you have or don’t have.  What if patience is something that can be cultivated?  What if it’s something you can have more of tomorrow, than you did yesterday?  What if you can grow it, like a garden?

Kabat-Zinn talks about patience in Full Catastrophe Living.   He says patience is a kind of wisdom. What I get from him is that patience involves:

*Letting little hassles go
*Not rushing
*Not trying to get someplace better than right now
*Accepting that things happen in their own way and in their own time

A lot of what we are all working toward every day involves change.  Change requires practice.  Practice requires patience.  Consider cultivating your patience.

Ask yourself:

*What’s the rush?
*Will this matter in a week? 2 weeks?  6 weeks?
*Do I need to let this go?
*How can I let this go?
* How can I be less judgmental of myself? Of others?

Try to:

*Relax your body and mind
*Be mindful; focus on the present and see, hear and feel everything around you
*Hit the reset button and look at things from a fresh perspective

Whether or not you have a green thumb, patience can be cultivated and grown.  Ask yourself the questions.  Try the strategies.  See what comes up in your garden.

Chasing Cars, Snow Patrol