Archives for the month of: August, 2015


For most of us work dominates our waking hours. It defines who we are and to whom and what we belong. Work is much more than a job that provides a livelihood, although for the fortunate among us the labor that brings out our best and allows us to contribute most to others also supports us.

Work looms especially large in retirement as we face the loss of it. We leave behind decades of identifying ourselves by what we do and others’ recognition of us. Whatever we have professed to this point, the work of living shifts.

The work of living is the key, for our work in this sense does not change. Our most recent job may be ending, but the task of delineating ourselves by the way we create and share meaning does not. There is no stepping down from the occupation of living. In fact, having more time enables us to explore and create new ways to express that unique set of gifts that is our vocation.

In the example of creating poetry David Whyte inspires us to pay attention to the arriving breeze of revelation, the meaning that is our work to discover for each of the days remaining to us.


Good poetry begins with the lightest touch, a breeze arriving from nowhere, a whispered healing arrival, a word in your ear, a settling into things, then like a hand in the dark it arrests your whole body, steeling you for revelation.

In the silence that follows a great line you can feel Lazarus deep inside even the laziest, most deathly afraid part of you, lift up his hands and walk toward the light.





Perhaps the greatest gift we can give another person is our undivided attention. Being fully present means listening with every sense we have. It means creating a safe container to hold and honor the other person’s vulnerability in sharing.

The gift of presence is easier to describe than to do, much less sustain. Care givers are particularly vulnerable. Whether they are professionals like doctors, nurses, first-responders, therapists, etc. or family members tending children, elders or those with special needs, care givers face two challenges.

Like all of us they must manage the endless ringing bell of arrivals to our in-box, the daily barrage of data that lure our brains to sort and file. Distractions are a hazard to holding presence.

Having coached many of them, I have also found that care givers have a proclivity for self-neglect. In his meditation guide, Moment by Moment: The Art and Practice of Mindfulness, Jerry Braza quotes a nurse whose favorite slogan is “I can’t do you if I don’t do me.”

What does it mean to “do me?” How we answer will differ for each of us, but our answers will have the same goal: the more we can be present to ourselves, the more effective we will be in being available to others.

We can do three things: be mindful of our own needs, give ourselves permission to meet them and make the time required. When we recharge our batteries with rest, exercise and spiritual practice; when we expand our minds, cultivate the relationships that are most dear to us and have fun, we are better prepared to extend and sustain the gift of presence.

What is one step you can take today that will help you most to “do me?”


Which is more effective in solving difficult problems, a group of intellectual superstars or a team of individuals who focus on building relationships? In his latest blog Alan Seale shares the answer.

Seeking to understand what makes some groups more successful and productive than others, researchers at MIT brought together hundreds of volunteers, put them in groups and gave them very difficult problems to solve. As was expected some were more successful than others.

Contrary to expectations, the highest achieving groups were not those made up of “superstars’ or people with exceptionally high IQs. Instead, the research showed the key to success was the social interconnectedness of the people within the group.

These findings are congruent with Alan’s own work on transformational presence and leadership, and I urge you to visit his website to learn more about his teaching and coaching. Being present to another person creates a container of safety that invites sharing and taps talent.

Embedded in Alan’s blog is a TED talk presented by entrepreneur and thought leader, Margaret Heffernan. In the talk she describes the MIT studies in greater detail and makes a compelling case for how building social capital leverages organizational effectiveness.

Describing the successful groups in the study, she used a phrase that sticks with me still: Bringing out the best in others is how they found the best in themselves. Given the fissures in relationships today, be they between two individuals seeking to strengthen their partnership or tribal adversaries who must learn to coexist, this is a compelling bridge to build.

Who or what brings out the best in you? When and how do you bring out the best in others?


Each of us belongs to many groups; among them are families, faith communities, professional networks, political parties, tribes of origin and nations. Some are given and some we choose. They are circles whom we influence and who influence us.

At their finest these groups recognize and affirm who we are. They bring out our best. They protect us and advocate on our behalf. They celebrate collective milestones and individual life passages.

Certainly, the power of groups can also have a dark side, but those dynamics are themes for another post. Today I celebrate the gifts received from one particular group.

Last September I retired from coaching students in a two-year certification program. Created by Melisa Pearce with help from Peggy and me, the Equine Gestalt Coaching Method enables practitioners to partner with horses in helping clients break through to achieve their full potential in life. The students and graduates of the program are a professional community.

Of the many gifts I have received from this herd – including appreciation of equine wisdom, lessons in leadership and follower-ship, trust, sharing, friendship, personal growth and professional challenge – I share one today that has enabled me to develop a latent interest. Thanks to their generosity I have been able to attend a series of workshops to learn skills associated with wood-turning. I have just completed my last session which resulted in the cherry bowl pictured below.

I share it as an expression of gratitude to the EGCM herd. For me it represents the challenge, beauty and nuance of any human endeavor inspired and nurtured by a special community.

What are the gifts that you contribute to and receive from your circles of influence?

Cherry Bowl (2) 080515 IMG_0226