What if it was easy?

August 18, 2010

I have had the privilege of receiving some re-tooling in my life through taking life coach training at the Coaches Training Institute (CTI) in San Rafael, CA. After several wonderful career adventures in teaching and local government management, I found myself at a crossroads with a burning desire to help people, well, at a crossroads in their lives. Suddenly it became compelling for me to help others realize that, in fact, they can access a more fulfilling life and they even have ideas about what that looks like. Since completing my training, amongst other issues I assist clients with, I have been thrilled to hold sacred space for people around what will enable them to live more fulfilling lives.

Clearly this is not the end of the story, as your screen appears to have more words beneath this very sentence! One of my favorite new tools in my toolkit is the art of making deep inquiries. This life beyond “yes/no” questioning is nothing short of amazing. To give you just a simple example, which question makes you think more, “Are you enjoying the work that you do?” or, “What work would feed your soul?” My experience so far with the coaching world has been that some incredible gems are mined when these deeper inquiries are posed. I so love mining!! As a coach, one of the ways I keep sharp for my clients and myself is that I also have a coach lobbing some pretty incredible inquiries my way in any given month. Sometimes I even wonder, can I handle it? Seriously, sometimes one question can keep me musing for a week!!!! (And, if you have yet to hear it before, the rumor is that the mind can be a dangerous neighborhood!!) If you have ever read, listened to or watched author and speaker Byron Katie, here is a woman famous for asking a known series of four questions, not the least of which can stop us all in our tracks: “Is that really true?” There are days when the ability for that one simple question to whip me into shape is so likely, that I try to duck because I know what the darn answer is.

Another such question has come up for me in my recent leadership training experiences and I just have to share it with more people before I burst. That question opened this post and is “What if it was easy?” I have an article I’d like to write for a number of magazines and have not yet braved that world; many things come up for me around “what if no one likes it?” Or “what if it doesn’t fit the genre of the magazine?” “What if it is crappy?” and the like. Typical artistic angst. Were I to posit to myself “what if this was easy?” my approach would be so fundamentally different. While this is speculative, let’s just follow through with this. Let’s just suppose I take that as my new default approach and I start taking actions to write the article, edit it, find the contacts for submitting it, and send it off. How bad would that be? There is nothing in this scenario that would indicate blockages, barriers or defeat. It is kind of like another coaching tool we use which is to ask people to “Act as if….” (fill in the blank). So in this case it would be “Act as if it is easy to submit an article to a magazine.” The irony would be that you would “act as if” and in the process, actually take the steps and then there you are, on the other side! Add a little healthy detachment to outcome and you have an effort well pursued!!! Alas, something in our inner hard wiring with a less than healthy assist from our culture seems to get way too much pleasure out of making things hard. If it’s not hard, it must not be good. How screwed up are we? As if there is some redeeming quality to the hardest route, some “bigger prize” at the end. Me thinks not. And, thanks for nothing!

I have one more example of this new inquiry at work from a real life situation. Recently I teamed up with a fellow coach from Calgary (Leah Halvorsen) and we set out to deliver a workshop aimed at teaching people how to “claim their bigger selves.” We started with the very simple premise that people often have smaller versions of themselves than who they really are and why not give them a chance to get ‘right-sized” and show them the huge magnificence of who they really are? We had a very short timeline in which to do this, we had geographic constraints in terms of meeting in person and relied heavily on all our lovely technology to fill the gaps, we had limited resources for elaborate marketing schemes….you get the picture. And very early in the process, Leah dropped the big question and said, “Hey, Jen, what if this is just easy? Why don’t we just approach this whole thing from what if this is going to be easy?” And I thought about how easy it is to make things harder than they needed to be, a habit of a lifetime, and I thought, “Heck, I am so in!” And off we went. The two of us had never co-lead anything like this in our lives before and I tell you what, there wasn’t an hour that went by when our new default program didn’t serve us immensely. It made for levity, forgiveness of missteps along the way, for learning and for all-around being human!! We were able to live that which we were about to teach others! It was incredible, AND, you DIDN’T have to be there to get it.
You can get it in your own life. Think of one thing that is heavy on your mind right now, one event or relationship that is laden with intricacies and obstacles and thick with “there’s no way” energy and then ask yourself, what if, instead, this were easy? I would love to hear your comments on this blog post because my sense is that if any of you dare to try this, your stories will serve as even more compelling evidence to encourage all of us to give it a try. It can apply to absolutely ANYTHING so keep that easy too. After all, what if it WAS easy?

What if it was easy? (version 2)

You don’t even need to know what “it” is when you are examining this question. If there is anything at all going on in your life with a relationship, a work or volunteer project, a situation in your home, real or imagined…anything that has you even remotely stuck, what IF it were easy? Can you even imagine changing your default in this manner?

Let’s have some fun with this. Let’s say that you are really bogged down by the amount of research you need to conduct in order for a product, idea or project to launch. All you can see is mounds and mounds of work to cull through. That work is somewhat of a static thing, or at least quantifiable. Before we wave a magic wand and make it into something fantastical, what if that mound is in fact a mound of all easy? If we are going to slap a label on it, well, why not for grins just label it “that easy mound” of research? If we can infuse a glass, gallon, tub, lake or ocean full of water with love, joy and beauty (via The Hidden Images of Water), can we not do the same by calling the mound easy? I wonder.

You have a gigantic mess in your garage, there are boxes and bags of things in every room of your house of things that need sorted, routed or thrown away, your entire house is complete and total chaos. Culling through it and confronting the monster is overwhelming and incomprehensible? What if, for say, a week, you walked around the house saying to yourself, “What if this is easy?” What if this mess, which by the way could care less what you call it, accuse it of or otherwise deem upon it, was an easy mess? Like someone is going to come to your house and check on what you are labeling it? Surely you are labeling it, so as long as you are in the labeling business, I suggest you invest in a few labels that include the word EASY on them. Don’t you wonder if the energy will shift? Can you imagine creating a whole new and different relationship with the MOUND (of research, unspoken words, mess in the house, etc.) that is based on ease? Hello, world, let me introduce you to just exactly what ease NOW looks like!!! It looks like this. This is ease and it’s cousin, easy.

I completely dare you to try this exercise, as they say, at home. Instead of “don’t try this at home,” I very much want you to try this at home (and the office is ok too). Try one thing. ANY thing. Anything. Did I say anything? And tell me how it goes. See if there is anything here or if it’s just another one of those crazy coaching games those crazy coaching people play. Or, you could just go along and keep making everything hard. Your choice. Have fun being easy!

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