Thoughts and Support

Photo by Aziz Acharki on Unsplash

You might have had enough emails or social media about coronavirus so far. Before writing this one, I really asked myself: do I want to add more to this? There is already so much out there, some I find very good, some I find not so good… And I also wondered “who am I to reach out and speak about this?”.
Then I remembered that the purpose of my blog is to share my coaching journey, my reflections, and whether I want it or not, Covid-19 is part of it. And I also realized that I was happy to hear from people that I trust and value in my coaching community, and if you haven’t unsubscribed, I assume you value what I have to say and might find some food for your own thoughts in my writing. So here we go with some reflections and some support offered at the end.

What I noticed
For over a week, I have been observing, reflecting, wanting to respond rather than react. That’s my default mode.

I noticed my own reactions, the waves of gentle frustration, fear and anxiety (not panic) at each new disruptive announcement (major events cancellations, then flights ban, then boarder closing, then school closing, then confinement, etc…), or when reading news about how serious the situation is, each wave then going away, like the water going back into the ocean. And the cycles will continue for a while I am sure.

I noticed that I fell into some sort of apathy. Apart from serving my current clients and the mandatory things I had to do, I felt a lot of resistance to follow my plan and achieve my tasks. I just felt like taking a break, maybe that was my own way to cope in this crazy week. I am now in the process of setting some actions in order to get back on track, get back to find some purpose, to serve others and keep working on my business with new rules.

I noticed a lot of judgment out there, including my own. It’s so much easier to judge how others respond than to acknowledge our own vulnerability and humanity. Fear is showing up in different ways. Its expression might be piling up an excessive amount of food, supplies, … and Toilet Paper. It might be denying the severity of the situation. It might be arguing on Facebook (although we don’t need to be scared to do that). It might be judging others for how they respond to their fear. Recognizing and acknowledging our own fear counter intuitively helps to be more serene with the whole thing and to be more intentional and empowered in how we want to act.

Switching from judgment to curiosity
Often in meditation or mindfulness, we practice observing without judging. This helps differentiate ourselves from our thoughts and emotions rather than “being” these thoughts and emotions. And this tends to naturally calm down and bring clarity. Right now, I found that observing and coming from a place of genuine curiosity about this unprecedented situation was helpful to stay grounded.
What have your learned so far from the situation? About yourself, about the world, about adaptation, about trust, about stepping into the unknown?

What do you Need?
We all need different things at the moment. Some need to take action, some need to be reassured, some need to reassure others, some need to serve, some need to laugh, some need to connect.

What do YOU need right now?

Offering some support:
I want to offer some support at no charge to anyone in my community (yes that means you) who needs it or just wants it:

  • 1 on 1 coaching call: I won’t tell you what to do, I don’t have answers, I have questions, paradigm shifts, distinctions that will help you be more empowered, figure out what you need to do and who you need to be in this period. I feel it is a great time to trust that each of us has what it takes to go through this and to draw out our best and unique ways to move on. If you’d like to have a coaching call, just reach out.

  • I’d like to start a weekly group coaching call on zoom to support entrepreneurs, small business owners and professionals to process,  brainstorm, get clearer on how to adapt, get out of their own way, get into action, and get some support from others in the group. If you are interested in being part of this, just reach out and I’ll keep you informed.

Eventually, I am sending you some warm thoughts to you and your families.

Take great care,

Intuition

Photo by Paweł Czerwiński on Unsplash

 

I wasn’t sure what I wanted to write about this week. So, I sat down, for 10min, 20min, 30min, closing my eyes at times, trying to be present to what was there for me to say. Some ideas came, that I had in mind for a while, but it didn’t feel the right things to talk about. Eventually, what felt good was to talk about this process of listening to my own intuition, or to what feels right.
I have been listening more and more to my intuition lately, both in personal and professional situations.
Using intuition in coaching can be very powerful to uncover roadblocks and clear the path to what the client wants to achieve, providing that it is just offered as a way for the client to explore and not to analyze them or to be right about it.

Here is what was said in a class I took about intuition:

Intuition is the human capacity to know without the use of rational processes or concrete information. For some in mainstream society, anything that cannot be verified by our six senses is viewed with suspicion; and intuition is sometimes understood as being aligned with spiritual things. Intuition may be the subconscious mind’s ability to take all the bits and pieces of information we absorb through our senses, process them through our mind and spirit, and refine them into a singular “knowing” about something. I personally like that possibility because it is still understandable by my scientific and rational brain.

Everyone is intuitive. We may call it something other than intuition, but we all have experienced and benefited from this form of guidance.

Intuitive muscles are further strengthened by recognizing, trusting, and acting on intuition. Keeping an intuition journal is one way to collect evidence of intuition working in your life.

Intuition is blocked by poor self-care, distractions, fear, impatience, judgments, attachment to an outcome, and worry about others’ perceptions.

With practice, you can learn to discern intuition from intellect or emotion.

INTUITION OFTEN HAS TO COMPETE WITH OUR PRECONCEPTIONS ABOUT HOW THE WORLD WORKS, OUR BIAS IN FAVOR OF LOGIC AND OUR OVER RELIANCE ON THINKING.

While intuition is quite often correct, there are so many influences that can affect our interpretation or our understanding of what intuitive messages may mean. Never assume your intuition is always correct. Test it, offer it for review, but don’t insist on it being right.

What you may receive and relate through intuition about someone else may not always resonate with them. While sometimes it takes time for the other person to absorb what you intuitively tell them, it is possible that they never will. And, it is possible that your intuition does not match the other’s. Be prepared for this possibility, and merely offer your intuition. The other makes the final decision to accept and act upon it, or not.

The way I use my intuition is not so much a «what is this situation trying to tell me ? » sort of  way, but rather creating some space and time without forcing anything, to get a feel about a situation.

When I have an unclear situation, like a blur painting, or a decision that is difficult for me to make (which is often the case based on how indecisive I am…), I sit down, eyes closed. I try to feel things, or options. Sometimes I let my thoughts go away and come back. I try to narrow in on what is getting in the way, what feels or doesn’t feel right. And then the painting becomes clearer, I see things that I didn’t see before, or, in the case of a decision, a natural option emerges. And if not, then I switch to another activity and let go of this topic for a while, and then come back to it later using the same process. That has appeared to be very efficient, even more than to make pro and cons lists in the case of a decision, which is pretty much a thinking process.

I noticed that while I am becoming more and more comfortable to listen to my intuition about myself, I still struggle to trust my intuition about others or to trust the intuition others have about me (when I am being coached for instance). The voice in my head is saying: “Who am I (are you) to know more about you (me) than you (I) do?”. So, when someone is sharing something they see for me, even and especially when my first reaction is to not see what they are talking about, I practice being open to it, without being attached to it being right or wrong, just as a possibility that will help me explore. And I practice sharing what I sense about others without being attached to be right either.

I’ll leave you with a few questions to reflect on:

  • What experiences of intuition have you had at work or in your personal life?
  • What judgments do you hold about intuition?
  • What fears do you have about using your intuition fully? What holds you back from acting on your intuitions? (For me, it’s clearly to be wrong and then beat myself up for not reasoning more)
  • What will others in your in your world say if you reveal that you are acting on intuition?
  • Is there something that you are tolerating that is keeping you out of integrity or blocking your intuition?
  • What is synchronicity?
  • What experiences/evidences of synchronicity have you noticed in your life?
  • What messages do you need to pay attention to now? What are you stepping over or distrusting?

Take care.

«Forget about me!» the leader said

Photo by sydney Rae on Unsplash

I love sport and part of my activity is to coach athletes to overcome their mental roadblocks to perform to their full potential. I recently wrote a post to my “sport mental training” community and I thought I would extend this post to leadership in general.

I came across a video (sorry for a lot of you, it is in French) of the speech former San Antonio Spurs basketball player Toni Parker gave to his teammates during the half-time of the semi-final of the Euro in 2005 when France managed to beat Spain for the 1st time. At half-time, France was down by 14 points. In the locker rooms, Toni Parker, captain and leader of the team, had to find the words to motivate his teammates. “We are playing like if we were afraid, we are not physical enough …I don’t care what happens in the second half and if we lose, but we are going to fight”.

But most importantly, after other words, he eventually said: “Nothing to lose, let’s play. Antoine, if you have a shot, take it, Alexis, if you have a shot, take it”. And you know what?” he ended saying to the playmaker of the team, “announce plays for Nico, for Bobo … just 1 out of 5 for me … forget about me!”.

France made an amazing come back in the second half and managed to beat Spain.

Not only did Toni Parker motivate his teammates, but he also didn’t let his frustration and ego take the wheel and want to save the whole team on his own.

Instead he trusted his teammates and asked them to forget about him, not because he was afraid and wanted to run away from his responsibility, but because he felt everyone needed to step up. So, by stepping down in a way, he created the space for them to step up, for them to take their responsibility. This is great leadership.

This applies to leadership at work. Great leaders create more leaders, not more followers.

Now this requires Vulnerability and Courage, because it is taking the risk to be seen as weak or escaping one’s responsibility, it is facing the fear of losing one’s leadership role.

It requires Trust. Trust that you are doing the right thing, trust your teammates and that they can step up and save the game.

And it requires to let go of the need to control everything, which is very counter intuitive for most leaders.

In his book Leading with Emotional courage, Peter Bregman says something similar and goes even a step further, by inviting leaders to do something most them fight so hard to avoid: being overwhelm, the ingredient to draw out leadership in others. Here is what Peter Bregman says:

Leaders like to be in control. They want things to turn out right and feel, often mistakenly, that if they have control over them, they will…. The more control you have over something, the less room there is for others to step into their own leadership.

Designing chaos into a process is the antithesis of what most leaders do. We try to focus on 1 thing, 1 concept, 1 conversation, 1 task. But in real life, in real organizations, nothing happens one thing at a time. And no one can be on top of it all (Evan speaking here: Yes, I know, that sucks to admit that. It is both very obvious and intellectually understandable, and yet, for people like me, the internal pattern is to act as if we could be on top of it all. Take the time to check in how that lands in you).

 If everyone followed their own impulse, stepped into their own leadership, wouldn’t that lead to anarchy? Maybe. It depends on the strength of their organization’s container. How clear is the big arrow, the vision, the values, the culture? If we know what we’re doing, why we’re doing it, what’s important to us, and how to operate then there will be trust, focused energy, and abundant, unified leadership. If not, there will be anarchy.

 No matter how much leaders would like to, they just can’t control everything. Trying to control the uncontrollable just makes things worse. People check out. They feel no ownership. They work minimum. And things fall through the cracks.

 Here’s the hard part: leading without controlling. Stepping into your own leadership while leaving space for others to step into their own leadership as well.

So, if you are a leader, what would Toni Parker’s request “Forget about me” look like for you? How can you step into your own leadership while leaving space for others to step into their own leadership as well? By doing so you’ll become a greater leader and your whole team will become better.

LETTING GO OF THE NEED TO PROVE ANYTHING

Photo by Greg Rakozy on Unsplash

Here is what I noticed lately.

If I come from a place of fear and want to prove myself, then:

  • My breathing is shallow,
  • I am only partially present,
  • My energy is one of debating,
  • Yes… But…,
  • I try to make my point,
  • I try to fix, advise, provide answers,
  • I try to reassure the other one but it’s actually just to reassure myself,
  • I please,
  • Less Connection,
  • Less Trust,
  • Possibilities are limited, or nonexistent
  • My impact is so, so.

Instead, if I let go of the need to prove anything, then:

  • My breathing is nice and slow,
  • I am fully present,
  • My energy is one of flow,
  • Yes… And…,
  • I am not attached to be right,
  • I am curious and OK to NOT KNOW,
  • I don’t need to reassure the other one, he/she is already reassured,
  • I serve,
  • More connection,
  • More Trust,
  • Possibilities are abundant,
  • My impact is increased.

To let go of the need to prove anything, I can ground myself, connect to my inner power, focus on the other one, practice all sorts of things and find all sorts of good reasons why I have nothing to prove, but in the end, I find it all comes down to TRUST.

Letting go of the need to prove anything requires a huge amount of Trust. And Trust is not something you have or give once you have all the data to prove you are right, it is something you do without any certainty which is why it is often hard.

And you, do you need to prove something? What would be different if you let go of that need? What is necessary for you to let go of that need?

Take care,

INTENTION vs IMPACT

Photo by Alex Perez on Unsplash

Photo by Alex Perez on Unsplash

If you happen to give talks in front of people, it may have happened to you to see someone in the audience frowning, looking severe, like they didn’t like or agree with what you were saying, whereas they were just very focused and trying, understand and absorb what you were saying (by the way I am one of these guys when I am listening to a talk). Or someone who looked bored and almost sleeping and suddenly asking a brilliant spot on question. If so, you’ve experienced the fact that the Intention of someone (in this case listening and willing to understand) is often different from the Impact (making the speaker feel like something is wrong or not interesting with his/her speech).

And the thing is …

We judge ourselves based on our INTENTION; Others judge us based on our IMPACT.

INTENTION vs IMPACT. A lot of conflicts come from the fact that these two are confused. And the fact that our impact is often different from our intention and that we are not aware of it is due to various things such as:

  • Our blind spots: we don’t really see ourselves operate; we can’t see what others see about us
  • People live from their own perception which means they see the world differently than us. Literally. We kind of know that and yet, we forget it every day. People will interpret what they see /hear/feel based on their own values, education, experience, biases and therefore will receive what you send with their own filters and you will receive what they send with your own filter.
  • Eventually, we are not taught/educated to be present to our impact. It is really a practice.

A few years back, my 2 oldest sons Luca and Noa locked themselves in their room to prepare a surprise to their younger brother Elio. Very kind intention. Now when he saw that, Elio tried to enter the room to see what they were doing and to play with them and didn’t like to be kept outside. The impact was actually that Elio felt excluded. Totally different from the intention. On the other side of it, Elio’s intention was to play with his brothers, very reasonable intention too. And so, he insisted to get in. The impact was that his brothers felt confronted and upset that their brother was crushing their plan, especially when it was to make him a surprise. The impact was also not the intended one. And it became a nice, energetic argument. Because they were all coming from their own good intention and couldn’t see the impact they were having on the other side, the situation circled negatively. Even telling Elio that they were preparing him a surprise didn’t have him calm down and agree to let them finish, either because his desire to feel included was stronger than getting a surprise, either because too much cortisol (stress hormone) had been released and in that state, the brain is just not open to any other point of view, no matter how rational. Only after a long talk about this insightful experience were they able to sort things out.
This is a rather obvious illustration but there are more subtle cases. For instance, someone with a positive intention of doing a good job, helping his/her teammates might, because of a lack of confidence, show a strong self-assurance (a mechanism to “survive” with a low self-confidence) and the others will only see arrogance.

Now, what can you do about this?

  • Regarding the others’ impact, you can:
    • Assume a positive intention in others, even if the impact on you is not positive at first (I know it’s hard). We are all human beings and most people have a positive intention, just playing their role at work, protecting their team, wanting to take care of their family, etc… And often, these good intentions might be hidden by protective behaviors unconsciously generated from a place of fear and insecurity (we all have this, and if you don’t see it for yourself, I’m inviting you to take a deeper look).
    • Share what the impact others have on you, without wanting to fix them.

 

  • Regarding your own impact, you can:
    • Be intentional and build your muscle of being present to what your impact is in the moment and after an interaction.
    • Ask for direct feedback to relatives, colleagues, managers or direct reports (on a professional level, doing a 360 is a good way to do that) AND… the hardest part… don’t justify yourself. It doesn’t matter why you are doing this or that (this is your intention), the result is the impact you are having. It might be useful in a conflict that everyone shares their intention but not as a way to dismiss their impact.
    • Do some videos, watch yourself speak and get present to your impact (yeah, I know that hurts…)

Last but not least, looking to be present to your impact also has the advantage to have you see when your impact is actually aligned with your intention. It will validate what you are doing, build your confidence and move you forward.

What is your impact? Is it aligned with your intention?

Take care,

I wish all the athletes an amazing year … and some challenges and setbacks

Image by Fathromi Ramdlon from Pixabay

A brief post for any athlete today.

I want to wish you an amazing year, full of great PERFORMANCE AND FUN in your sport…

AND, even if that may feel counter intuitive, I also wish you to have some challenges and setbacks. Yes. Because that’s where you will learn the most, where you will build your resilience and your determination to continue, to be willing to fall, get back up and move on in your journey as an athlete.

Most of the champions say that what they are most proud of is the journey they have been on to achieve their success, their surpassing themselves and their interior adventure, not the medals in themselves.

If you are hoping to have only wins, only Personal Best, always do well in practice, you will be very frustrated, discouraged, maybe resigned as soon as it gets harder, when the setbacks and challenges start to show-up. And they will arrive at one point.

Instead, you can expect them, which is a first step but may be still acting from a place of fear. You know it will happen but you don’t want it.

What I am actually inviting you to do is to shift your perspective entirely, and wish some challenges and setbacks to happen. In this case, you won’t be afraid of them anymore. Paradoxically, because you will be more “free to fail”, you will perform better. And when the setbacks happen, your experience will be totally different. You will welcome them as a gift. You will learn more from them, and bounce back faster. Remember that overcoming them will be a significant if not the most rewarding part of your journey as an athlete.

And if you are a coach, wish your athletes some challenges and setbacks. And observe their reaction. For some of them, knowing that their coach is not only expecting but even wishing them to encounter some setbacks can have a huge impact on their ability to race/play more relaxed, to trust their skills and their practice more and in the end to perform better.

Take care,

What are your words for 2020?

Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

As I send and receive best wishes for 2020, I can’t help but feeling that we miss half of the equation. When we say Happy New Year, may 2020 bring you X and Y, we are addressing the part that we can’t control, the part where life is happening to us. And this part is real, I don’t want to dismiss it. But there is another part, where we are responsible to create what we want in our lives, where we happen to life. And so here is what I want to wish you today:

I wish you a Happy and Healthy New Year. AND, may you create and design 2020 as you REALLY want it to be, filled with dreams and possibilities, achievements and personal fulfillment.

You have probably read and heard about creating a Vision, setting Goals, setting up the Structure to move efficiently toward these goals. What I’d like to invite you today is simpler. It is to find power words that capture your intention, or mindset for 2020.

I use this with the athletes I coach on their mental games when preparing for an important competition. I ask them “what are the words that come up for you that capture your intention/mindset for this meet. Some might say: Confidence, Toughness, Determination. Others might say: Confidence, Commitment, Fun. Then I have them repeat these words over again and again, internally and / or out loud so that their intention is always at the top of their mind and they really embody these words in their doing but also in their being. It’s a way to simplify, to get straight to the point, to bring the essentials back when negative thoughts and self-doubts rise, a trigger to refocus.

I’d like to invite you to do the same regarding your intentions for 2020. What words come for you for this year? Listen to and trust your intuition (something I have been working on lately and that I might share in future posts). Find a quiet place, without any distraction, close your eyes and see/feel what words come for you for 2020.

Last year, I had shared that my words for 2019 were DISCOMFORT (I felt I needed to get more out of my comfort zone, which I did in different ways, the most challenging one being some weekly Facebook videos) and IMPOSSIBLE (because I felt I was limited by some roadblocks regarding what seemed impossible, for me and for my clients, and I had to work on this which I did by, for instance, joining a program called creating the Impossible with Michael Neil, that really stretched my perspective on this topic).

For 2020, the words that come for me are:

  • POSSIBILITY: My word for 2019, Impossible, actually transformed into Possibility through some coaching work. Our brain tends to focus on the words that we think of and if I think Impossible (although the idea behind this is to make it possible), my brain will only see “Impossible”. So, instead, I want to focus on POSSIBILITY. My rational, analytical, engineer left brain tend to kill any possibility as soon as it doesn’t see the path to reach the goal or find thousands of reasons why “this won’t happen”. I started to practice last year to leave the possibilities alive, without being attached to them happening, accepting the not knowing how, not even whether they would occur. And I want to continue to build that muscle this year, and invite my clients to do the same. That is absolutely a game changer to create the life we want because that helps to keep moving in the important direction with momentum and motivation as opposed to giving up on our dreams.

 

  • CREATIVITY: Last year, I started to be more and more present to the creative part in me, even artistic, which was a little unexpected for me… I believe our creativity tend to be shut down because of societal norms or corporate rules. I come from a place of learning and reproducing what I learned, modelling, usually trying to make it right. I haven’t been used to or trained to create my own thing, my own way and it is a both exciting and scary to lean into this and bring more of ME.  I’m not sure where it is going to take me, but I definitely want to let it out more, whether on a personal level or on a professional level (for instance by creating a unique event/program that would combine different skills and passions of mine). And I want to help my clients develop their own creativity.

 

  • ADVENTURE: someone once told me his definition of adventure was when you don’t know what is going to happen. And I like that definition. I would add to this that it is when we discover new things and when we do extraordinary things in the sense that they are out of our ordinary (which is different for everyone by the way). Not knowing, Discovering and Extra-ordinary would be my definition of Adventure and 2020 will be adventurous in this way.

This is not meant to replace any other work around goals and structure, just another way to raise your awareness of where you are and where you want to go, and to simplify (Note: you may do this any time, like every quarter, or for any particular event you attend, any project you conduct).

So, what are your words for 2020?

I’d love to hear from you if you want to share.

Take care,

 

When Discomfort is actually more of your Comfort

Confort zone

You have probably heard about the value and importance of getting out of one’s comfort zone in order to grow and create success. Discomfort was one of my word for 2019, I got really uncomfortable at times and one day as I was running (I often get insights as I run…), I realized that there are 2 types of discomfort. And one of them is actually still in the comfort zone. Let me illustrate that.

I can get really uncomfortable by pushing myself physically, doing some High Intensity Intervals or racing in running or swimming, sometimes just hiking hard in the mountains, or biking up hills. It is hard, it hurts, and it might look like getting out of my comfort zone. But it is not. I know how to do that. I swam at national level in my high school years practicing twice a day, 6 days a week, I have always found fulfillment in pushing myself physically. So, doing High Intensity Intervals, pushing myself physically is actually just more of what I know and am comfortable with, even when it doesn’t feel pleasant. If you are someone already very structured, reliable to deliver, to be accountable and very committed, preparing more, delivering more, committing to more, although it can seem like getting out of your comfort zone because it requires more work and feels like pushing yourself more, is actually still in your comfort zone. Not that it’s wrong and can’t be useful, but it just has a limited impact on your growth and on what you are creating.

On the other hand, doing some Facebook videos (live or not) during the first part of the year was really out of my comfort zone. You see, I had never been on Facebook until I wanted to share my coaching journey, and my first posts were very challenging to put out there in the world. These videos were a much bigger leap. It was not so much during the video that it was uncomfortable but rather before and after, with all the self-doubts and fear of the judgment of others. Although at that point I didn’t do it for marketing purpose and I didn’t intend to make it “professional”, but just to practice pushing myself in this discomfort while adding value to those watching, I had to be with the feeling of not being good enough, feeling vulnerable, feeling shame, feeling judged. This was real discomfort for me. And this is where transformation happens, where you learn to feel what you are usually avoiding and that is holding you back, this is how you unblock some limiting beliefs or shift your way to operate in the world in order to create the life you really want.

I haven’t arrived (I actually will never because it is a never-ending process), but I am now more comfortable with imperfection, I am more comfortable with improvising, not being fully prepared. I recently joined a toastmaster group (to practice public speaking) and I was surprised how little scared I was for my first speeches, even during one I had to improvise because we were running out of speakers. And I am now ready to do more professional videos when I decide to.

Where are you deceiving yourself by thinking you are playing out of your comfort zone but are actually just doing more of what you know and are comfortable with?

Where do you need to get REALLY uncomfortable?

Take care,

What Skydiving taught me

Snapshot_2

It’s been a busy last month, full of traveling (to Washington DC) to provide some coaching/training to a client company in partnership with other coaches and with also new local adventures, and this took me away from writing. It’s time to get back to it, and today I want to take you up in the air.

At the end of the summer/beginning of the fall, I decided to skydive again after a 14 years break. I had done more than 50 jumps when I was between 21 and 28 years old. I had always been attracted to this, to the sensation of flying and had followed through with this dream in my young adult life. Then I stopped and had not really considered jumping again. Until last year. I started to feel a strong desire to go back up there, and to experience these sensations again. It started without really being too serious about it, but then the idea made its way and I got more and more determined to go for it, despite the fear. Because indeed, after 14 years, I had a lot of fear.

The way we show up somewhere in life is usually representative of the way we show up everywhere, and due to the intensity of the moment, which amplified everything, it got me present to some very insightful things that I want to share with you. And if you just want to enjoy the jumps without the insights That’s Here (these were the 3rd and 4th recovery jumps, from a bigger plane than the 1st and 2nd jumps which I mention here below).

  • The more you do something scary, the less scary it becomes.

    And the less you do it, the scarier it becomes again. This is obvious, but worth remembering though. My first 2 jumps after 14 years, I was super nervous and scared. And progressively, I got more confidence, my skills came back pretty quickly, my awareness during the fall increased (I could even see my neighborhood in the distance 😊) and I could really enjoy the last 2 jumps in October. Whatever it is that you want to do but are scared of doing, do it, again, and again, and again and the fear will fade away (although it won’t completely disappear and it’ OK).

  • Trust and Commitment:

    As I often tell the athletes I coach, once you have prepared and have done all you need, you have to trust and commit (and go have fun).

  • Trust others: I had to trust the person who had packed my parachute, I had to trust my instructor, I had to trust the pilot of the plane. It’s the same for you: in any adventure, project or work, at some point you have to trust your colleagues, your partners, your friends, etc…And it’s not easy specially when you like to be in control. Trusting others is a practice.
  • Trust ourselves: I had to trust that I knew what to do and how to do it despite the stress, trust that I had listened carefully, trust that in case of malfunctions, I would know how to react, etc…  And it’s not the easiest thing to do either.
  • Commit: commitment is the fuel that helps move forward through the fear and challenges. How much are you committed to whatever you are moving toward?

     In skydiving, all this comes to one singular instant, when you lose contact with the plane. This is the point of No Return, which can be the worst or the best moment depending on your perspective. In that particular moment (which is such an intense feeling), Trust and Commitment are at their peak. I like to think it’s the same in life: the moment you click to send an important email, the moment you start a difficult conversation (before that you still have a way out but once you have said the first words, you’re all in), the moment you go on stage to speak, the moment the gun goes off in a race. I invite you to bring trust and commitment to those key moments and see how that changes your experience.

  • The importance to have someone by your side

     When jumping from a small plane, the worst part (or best part once you are used to it) is when you make your way onto the footboard of the small plane, holding to the wing, 12000 feet (4000m) above the ground, with the wind pressing on your whole body…When I was on that footboard, ready to go for my first recovery jump, I gave a look at my instructor. I can still remember the eye contact, and seeing his reassuring face, smiling and confident. In that particular instant, I measured the importance of having the support of someone in the face of fear, adversity, challenge. My “Hercules” syndrome which I talked about in a previous post usually tends to take over and make me think that I don’t need support, but in this moment, I was able to see that I actually needed him to be here for me. And in some way, that’s what a coach does with his clients: be there for them, with an unconditional support, in the face of fear, adversity and challenge.

  • Take a deep breath, Relax, Smile and have fun!

     That’s what my instructor told me to do right before my first jump, and as I was on the small footboard, ready to let go of holding the wing, that really helped me go and enjoy (plus if you want to be stable in the air, you have to be relaxed). And I highly invite you to do the same whenever you do anything scary or stressful: a competition in sport, a presentation at work, any new thing that scares you. Seriously, do this: Take a deep breath, Relax, Smile and have fun!

  • “If you are willing to feel everything, you can do anything” (Peter Bregman in Leading with Emotional Courage)

     Part of my coaching journey has been to develop my ability to feel (and invite my clients to feel too) because what often gets in our way is our avoiding some feelings. And I must admit that skydiving is a great way to feel: the fear of course, the excitement, the shame/guilt of doing something dangerous, the joy when the parachutes opens properly, the feeling of being intensely alive…. And beyond the Fear, the feeling of Bliss and Freedom of flying.

  • Take responsibility, YOU are in charge

     The instructor made it clear when going through the course. He could teach, recommend, be close at the beginning of the fall, but in the end, it’s the skydiver’s responsibility to pull the handle and then fly the canopy. Once you leave the plane, you are by yourself. You are the only one in charge. And some decisions were not obvious to make, like if the canopy opens and have a small hole but you can fly and control the canopy. You might want to leave it this way because it’s flying, or you might want to cut away and open the reserve parachute because you are not sure how the hole is going to evolve. The instructor shared what he would do, but that it was our decision in the end. And I don’t like that… I prefer to be told that “this is the way you have to do”. During this process, I got really present to my usual tendency to try and find a way out of taking responsibility, maybe someone or something to blame if things don’t work out the way I planned, find excuses and reasons why it didn’t work, etc… I think it is related to not willing/accepting to fail. But in this case, it was clear that there was no way out. I had to take full responsibility; I was in charge of pulling the handle, I was in charge of flying the canopy and I was in charge of making the decisions in case of malfunctions. Period. That’s probably my biggest take away. It was both challenging/scary AND very empowering. I believe if we are willing to take the risk and feel the fear of owning who we are as a whole and take full responsibility for our actions and decisions, that will not only improve our experience but also improve our leadership.

  • A world of possibility

    Eventually, a big part of the coaching process is inviting us to live in a world of possibility. Instead of letting our usual thinking and rational analyzing kill any possibility as soon as we don’t see the exact path to our dream/most important objectives, we learn to leave that possibility open and take tiny steps toward it. A part of my brain still doesn’t believe we can jump out of an airplane and fall with only a small backpack with a piece of fabric that will almost magically unfold and hold you in the air. So skydiving, in a way, illustrates perfectly what a world of possibility is. If I can jump out of an airplane with only a backpack, what could get in the way of my achieving my dreams if I am really committed to them.

And you, what possibilities should you keep alive?

Take care,

Personality assessments as a starting point, not an ending point

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Personality Assessments are everywhere, from the usual DISC or Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) to less known assessments like Highlands, CVI, Kolbe, Birkman, 12 motivators, HBDI, Strong Interest Assessment, and many more.

These assessments can give us indications on our tendencies, our values, our ways to operate in the world and put the light on some aspects of our personality we didn’t really see. They can help us understand others a little better, maybe adapt our communication style and ways to interact with them.

But there is a downside to these assessments, at least if we are not careful.

  • First, they give some indications based on the answers given in the test. That’s it. And as so, they shouldn’t be seen as the ultimate truth about ourselves, just the interpretation of a set of answers, at a certain time.
  • They tend to put us in a box and reinforce our self-image, our sense of being X or Y and if we are not careful, they might reinforce a fixed mindset (we are born with some traits and can’t evolve, we are good at this and bad at that, etc…) as opposed to a growth mindset (we can evolve). And whatever it is we believe to be true, we will create that as our reality.
  • We are more complexes than that. I personally have a hard time fulfilling these tests, especially now that I have transitioned from an engineering/project management job to a coaching career, as a business owner and engaging into a personal development journey that makes me pause, reflect, be more present to some of my core values, realize the way I operate in the world and choose differently. The answers to some  assessment questions, and therefore the results, might depend on whether I think of a situation in my past career or a present situation.
  • They also give us way out to not confront what is scary. We may use this to justify why we don’t do what we are afraid of. And they limit our ability to expand our range. As an example, my default mode is to overthink, plan, create a strategy, and this is great. But I would miss so much by not expanding my range, which I have done in the last couple of years. Practicing stepping in the unknown without any clear plan, instead of justifying that I couldn’t do something because I didn’t have any data to make a decision, has significantly moved me forward. It has not become my default mode and natural tendency but I can now tap into that way to operate when necessary.
  • Eventually, these assessments might decrease our curiosity, which is actually an alternative tool better than an assessment. As Peter Bregman writes it in “Leading with emotional courage”, a book I highly recommend to leaders of any sort:
    • Personality assessments simplify complexity. They offer the illusion of understanding at the coast of truth and freedom.
    • As soon as we label something, our curiosity about that thing diminishes. Once we know something, we are no longer curious.
    • But it’s hard to let go of the comfort that comes from thinking you’ve figured someone out.
    • Even more than a skill, curiosity is a way of being in the world. Curiosity asks us to stay, often longer than is comfortable, in the place of not knowing.

As one of my mentor coaches who use assessments say: it’s not about the wand (the assessment), it’s about the wizard (the coach/consultant). What you’ll get from an assessment depends on the reflection you will have rather than the results themselves. If you do an assessment, reflect on what surprised you, what you think makes sense, what doesn’t seem true, what you liked about the results, what you didn’t like, what are the benefits, what are the costs, what you want to do with this, etc…

As a conclusion, personality assessment are useful tools that should not be considered as the absolute truth, an ending point with a fixed conclusion about ourselves or others, but rather as a starting point leading to further reflection, further curiosity, further personal and professional growth.