Thursday, June 24, 2010


I came across this photo in my folder today – it’s from one of our Family Retreat-Days’ (this particular one on Kauai). The game that’s being played in the photo is ‘Family Skiing’ – each family has 2 large skis on which to ski, with a foot strap on each ski for each family member. The smallest straps are at the front, which means the littlest family member has to be at the front ….. and lead! This can be a challenge for the older members of the family, as they all have to move in sync to get the skis to move. Of course, families always want to race other families! As you might imagine, the family with the best ‘team-flow’ usually wins, which means egos, willfulness, and whatever ‘normal’ family dynamics exist, have to shift and be set aside, and flexibility, generosity of spirit and ‘tuning in’ abilities have to be called forth! Ah, the challenges! It can be very difficult for some of us to learn, viscerally, what true collaboration means! We could probably all do with some of that kind of shift on a regular basis, don’t you think?

Friday, June 18, 2010

Emotions Determine What We Think!

 A client of mine, Mike, took his children to an amusement park one weekend. His youngest, four-year-old Kate didn’t remember her previous visit as a baby, so for her it was a completely new experience. The two older boys remembered very well and wanted to go on all kinds of different rides. Kate however, just wanted to go on the rollercoaster, so Mike said he’d go with her. Little did he know the longest wait in the whole park was for the rollercoaster! Mike had many virtues, but patience wasn’t one of them. He absolutely detested standing in line, but he did like to keep his word so they stood in line for a little while. Soon he predictably became impatient and began looking around for something else they could do instead. He tried to persuade Kate that the rollercoaster really was no big deal, but Kate was adamant and they waited some more. Finally Mike started trying to tempt her with other rides and things he knew she liked.  Eventually, he became so impatient and irritated he offered her a bribe, something that went totally against his value system and the way he wanted to parent; “If we go on another ride instead,’ he cajoled, “I’ll give you an extra ice-cream!” He was feeling pretty disgusted with himself, but somehow just couldn’t seem to help himself. To add insult to injury, Kate was not having any of it. She turned her little face up to her father and said ‘Dad, I have waited my whole life to go on a rollercoaster, I’m not going to give it up now!’
Mike looked down at his spunky little four-year-old with her tiny hands on her hips, looking up at him as if this was an issue of national importance! At first he just stared at her, incredulously. Then he felt the urge to laugh, and then suddenly, a surge of love for his little girl welled up in him. His feelings instantaneously shifted from annoyance and almost anger to love and laughter. When recapping the story to me, he concluded; “And you know what? After that we could have waited in that line all day and I wouldn’t have cared!”

To read full Article, go to

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Our Cat

Back in the days when I was still in showbusiness (my previous career, many moons ago!) we had a cat, Barnum. Barnum knew when I was stressed before I even walked in the door. He would hide under the couch or in the closet up to five minutes before I arrived home.

I eventually decided to learn to manage my stress (leaving showbusiness was a big step!) I began taking proactive measures, like de-stressing on the way home.

After some practice, I learned how to manage my emotional energy – the invisible kind - and I realized what had made Barnum hide….

I discovered I could also make Barnum purr; just by activating a good feeling inside - an 'inner smile', so to speak - not by ‘doing’ anything visible - Amazing! I wondered how else I could be effecting my environment, and the people in my life.... Many lessons later, I am still exploring & discovering.....

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

A False Assumption

We are born into this world with an urge to learn, grow and move beyond what we have already attained. This is evident in every toddler, every young child, - until and unless their curiosity is stymied, (by whatever means).

As a species, if we did not have this urge to learn and grow we would die. We need to learn about our environment and how to respond for our very survival; to defend ourselves against danger, to provide sustenance and shelter, to belong and be a part of a family or tribe. The brain is hard-wired to learn and to improve, to build a library of information from which to understand and respond to our world. Yet, it is interesting to observe how adept we as a society are at quelling this curiosity, this natural urge to grow and be better! Why? Because we operate from a basic assumption that children, and indeed adults, are innately lazy and do not naturally want to learn or do better.

As a result, we believe we need to direct, to coerce, to bribe, to threaten and generally to find ways to force learning, know-how, and proficiency. We do it in our schools, by coercing children to learn what we think they should learn, when we think they should learn it, with little or no regard for their intrinsic motivation, unique interests, or individual developmental readiness. We continue to compel and impose our agenda, removing any autonomy they might develop up through the years and into adulthood, as we insist on ‘managing’, often micro-managing employees and others, coercing them with incentives or ‘carrots’ to do what we want them to do – or penalizing them for not, as the case may be. All of this we do because we have this basic assumption; we assume that most human beings are innately lazy, unmotivated and need to be coerced and prodded if any learning or improvement is going to take place.

As I am sure I have in common with many of you, since I was a child, I have known this assumption to be false. And over and over again I have been witness to just how false it is. As those of you who have done my work know, the steps to freedom from this assumption are embedded in there! And now, great news, there is a N.Y.T. Bestseller DRIVE by Dan Pink, that offers the research and anecdotal evidence that prove it! At last, in mainstream publishing we have some really great arguments and a hugely persuasive case for autonomy – and for mastery (yeah!) and purpose (of course!). All completely intertwined with (yes, you guessed it) emotional intelligence. (I know I recommended it a few weeks ago, but it bears repeating.)

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us If you don’t have time to read the book, at least check out a 15 minute talk by the author: at