So it's time to give everything

Confession.  I've been hoarding knowledge.  I have built up a library of online links to places and people that inspire me.  At the back of my mind was a belief that the more knowledge I could compile, the better coaching I could deliver.  Today that becomes not true.  Today it's yours, for free.  

Challenging Panoramas - all Resources

 

Technical stuff

Click on the link, and it'll download a file - for me it appears at the lower left of this window.  How do you use this file? It's a list of bookmarks that you can import to your web browser.  It should be as simple as dragging the file from wherever you save it, to the bookmarks bar on your browser.  Let me know if you need help.  This is about sharing knowledge, not causing hassle.

Tell me what you like about this!

Time for a change? Really?

Lots of change this year. In my life, in my community, and in the world. I wonder if the future became a bit less certain for all of us this year. What changed for you?

Change for me

I changed career this year. I was a geologist from the age of 18 to 42. I still pick up rocks and wonder at mountain views. Since I swallowed that smooth stone as a small boy in the back of my parents' car, rocks have been in my blood. It never reappeared, you see. And my first half of life, my first career, will always be in my blood too. I will always be a kickass geologist. But it's not my focus right now. I have found my purpose helping people uncover their always incredible potential. 

Change for my clients

In the last couple of weeks

  • My clients in the upper levels of oil company leadership have designed new ways of communicating with their team
  • My clients in transition have dreamed bigger than the next vacancy and uncovered who they really are
  • Small business owners working with me have redefined their best customers and found new ways to reach them
  • I have helped and encouraged my clients who are struggling with marriage and illness, and overload and frustration
  • My clients who lead our local community have understood clearly where they are, and defined new directions to grow
  • Maybe best of all, I helped someone in a real-life situation on the other side of the world just reach out to their family for help. The smallest steps can be the hardest.

My clients design and accomplish their own change, being deliberate and seizing the reins of their life. 

Change in my community

Change is everywhere in my community. The downturn in Alberta's economy this year has challenged our town, and more people are asking for help. I have the privilege of working with the board of Cochrane Family & Community Support Services. The FCSS organization right here in town is the highest performing team I have seen anywhere, ever. Read that again. It has staff who care about our town, and leaders who care about their staff. I sit in board meetings and marvel at what's possible in organizations that care. Check out how FCSS cares for our town. And maybe that's my theme here. How do change and care go together for you?

Change in the whole world

Change is everywhere in the world this year. You don't need to read about that here. Change is usually uncomfortable, especially when it's on a national scale. We can't control it, and sometimes haven't chosen it. I recently read that event + reaction = outcome. We sometimes don't control events in our nation, but we do always control our reaction. The outcome is what we together create from the event. Love Trumps Hate.

So

The new year could be a time to redesign, and to take back control of your life. Maybe you're in a job where you wish it was Friday, every day that you're there. Maybe you're stuck in deep snow in an important relationship. Maybe you yearn to be more effective this next year. What if you could change how your 2017 looks?

My clients

  • Learn who they really are
  • Lead powerfully
  • Live deliberately fulfilling lives

I'm looking for two new clients who are hungry for change, to work with me for the first three months of 2017. If it's not you, who do you most want this gift for?

Ben@ChallengingPanoramas.com

Donald Trump is just like me

Donald Trump is just like me.

We all have strengths and weaknesses. I do, and you do, and so does Donald Trump. This post is not about politics.  It's about being deliberate about looking for strengths, even where weaknesses might be easier to see.  And it's about realizing and admitting that we're all just as flawed as the Donald, maybe in similar or different ways, and certainly with less scrutiny.  No one's suggesting he's perfect.  But a session with my coach this morning turned up a lot that Donald and I have in common. 

I spent yesterday climbing beautiful mountains with friends and ignoring the election.  I was horrified when I saw what had happened. Anxious, dis-believing, incredulous, stunned. Like, did that really just happen? I'm not a Trump supporter.

The anxiety and despair in the half of the media I often read wasn’t serving me.

My number one value is “never stop exploring”. This morning, I see a blank sheet instead of policies. I choose to see possibilities. Stay with me. I see change. I see 57 million Americans voting for an uncertain future instead of boring predictability, even if that predictability could also be called safety and success. What could be, is always better than what is. That’s how I think about ambition, and how I think about the American dream. America has chosen to explore, and chosen a leader who (although I wouldn’t have voted for him) will explore the limits of what’s possible, who has already explored the limits of what a presidential candidate is and does. I ask my coaching clients to explore, to be bold, to not settle for what they know, to push the limits of what’s possible. I tell them that’s where the growth is. I tell them that’s who they find who they really are. Donald and I share this value of exploring.

My second core value is “challenge everything”. Is that really the best way to look for oil and gas? Can we use other new technology? Do we have to follow best practice? Is this what I want to do for my whole life? Can I really climb that mountain? Do I have to listen to that voice of reason? Why do you think that way? Donald Trump challenges our status quo. He challenges us to think again about how we think about national identity. And yes, not all his challenges are coherent. Nor are mine. More Americans do have jobs and health care than they did 8 years ago, and the Obama presidency has not actually left America in the worst state ever. But asking that question helps us think about what a successful America actually means. So there’s value even in incoherent challenges, as long as we listen with open minds. And as Hillary said in her concession speech, "We owe him an open mind and the chance to lead".

The strengths I choose to see in Donald are challenging, exploring, pushing, testing, deliberate, provoking and ambitious. The weaknesses I choose to see in Donald are sexist, racist, inconsistent, aggressive, power-hungry, difficulty with truth and alarmingly random.

The perspective I choose today is to focus on his strengths. Why? Because I want my family, friends and clients to focus on my strengths. My weaknesses have never been played out in a presidential campaign on 24 hour global media. I share some of Donald’s weaknesses. In patches I can be inconsistent, aggressive, controlling, appear random and can tell lies. I choose to believe many of the 57 million were voting for his strengths, and weren’t necessarily approving his weaknesses.

What do I do with my weaknesses? I need to work on them. They don’t serve me at all. I choose to believe that President Trump will do the same. It serves me better than anxiety, despair, uncertainty and throwing my hands in the air.

I’ve never written about politics before. But maybe this isn’t about politics. Making a choice about what we believe is a deliberate act. Choosing to believe the best about someone is hard. Choosing to believe the best about someone who is not like us, is really difficult. 

But if I can see Donald’s strengths and choose that perspective for him, why can’t I do it with everyone else in my life? What would be possible if we could all do that? Wouldn’t that be the ultimate expression of #lovetrumpshate?

Let me know what you think. This isn't about a political debate any more. How is your perspective on President Trump serving you? What does it teach you about you?

Coaching is a tool to help you understand you better, and I would love to help. Read more at ChallengingPanoramas.com

Is there life after being laid off?

That's a resounding yes. Life is out there just waiting to be lived. This is a message of hope for the thousands of people being forced from their business into a transition period, loaded with uncertainty about whether oil will ever recover, and whether they'll ever be needed again.

Now is the chance to do what you've always wanted. That seems confusing and overwhelming in the pain and head-swirl of being let go. I just want to do my old job. The grief cycle of job loss involves denial, anger, sadness, worthlessness and identity crisis. It's often played out on LinkedIn. It lasts months, years even, and there is no short cut.

Well-meaning career transition experts will teach you basic survival skills. They teach networking, interviewing, and to believe in your 30 second elevator pitch. But they know as well as you do that the oil industry has changed beyond recognition in the last two years, and they know as well as you do that there's no easy or quick way back. This sounds defeatist, and it is. I went through a year of defeat, and rather than being the exceptional geologist I thought I was, found that I was just normal. The defeat is normal. It's real.

So then what. You can choose to watch job pages and be depressed that there aren't any jobs. You can apply for the two or three jobs available globally, and you can deserve at least an interview, and hear nothing. As much as it builds character, it's pointless. You can give interviews to the press about how unfair it all is. You've read them; I did that too. You can wait in coffee shops for passing managers, and make them feel totally awkward by deliberately not asking for jobs. They know that you know. There aren't any for the foreseeable future. You can drink more coffee with friends who still work there and miss you. But the best result is walking away feeling not any more depressed than you were.

How do you make yourself employable? By doing what you love. People who do that have a buzz about them. Buzzing people are more employable than grieving people. And what do you love? Has the oil industry sucked it from you? You might discover that the six-figure salary is a large shackle that has held you down and back for too long. It's time to get out there and play. Leave the city behind and go have fun. Cut your budget beyond what you think is possible, and discover you have spare change even after that. Stop spending money and break, gradually and slowly, the hold it has over you. Savings were meant for this time - they're to save you.

There's plenty of time to make false starts here. You'll look back and wonder how you were so crazy. Wild and wonderful business ideas, excited conversations with people you've just met, hobbies that briefly earn you money, volunteering nights with people you'd never thought real, and the freedom to just enjoy the summer. Madness, all of it! Beautiful, unrestrained, unshackled madness. This is real life. Not sitting in an office, getting bored, paid and old. And then eventually out of this madness, a spark of a word hits a touchpaper, and a fire lights inside you. A fire that burns away the greyness in your soul. A light that shines forward. No one can see the full length of their path: I've lost two friends of my age over the summer. But having a new passion, a new light shining, makes the next step exciting.

For me, the new passion is seeing people's lives transformed as they make bold, deliberate, empowered choices. They find out what really matters to them, and make decisions to have more of that. People choosing to thrive instead of survive, in difficult parts of life, by living their values cranked up to a 10. My passion is coaching: asking penetrating questions and being fully present to the answer, supporting and encouraging, championing and challenging, helping others discover themselves and designing their future. The new passion you discover may be different, but don't rest until you've found it. The life of getting bored, paid and old will seem incredibly pale compared to the satisfaction of deliberately living.

I live in a Green House

A year ago I painted our house green. It used to be dark grey.  Now it's the kind of green that stops groups of schoolkids in their tracks, the kind of green that people driving by back-up to double check.  I chose it to look like the colour of new leaves as the colour is one of the best parts of spring.  It's a colour that makes me smile every time I drive up to the house.  It's a colour that reflects into the neighbours' windows and turns the inside of their houses faintly green.  Our street is now the one with the green house on it.  There are no other houses in our town that are even vaguely close in colour.

A week ago my coach found out about this and asked me what the colour means to me.  Green means new, alive, happy, vibrant, exciting, growing, confident.  As I slowly worked through the answer to her question sitting in the sun outside the house, I realized that the list of words also applied to the new chapter in my life that began a few weeks ago as I began coaching. 

I want to be a bright green thing in my world.  I want to be different. I want to make people smile as they approach me in life.  I want people to back-up to double check who I am. I want to be the bright green guy, who reflects into those alongside me as a faint green coloured life.  I want to live a confident life, fully alive, secure, and to be actively growing. 

I know that "green house" can sound like greenhouse. A greenhouse is a place where new seedlings grow into plants.  It provides light, shelter, safety and warmth in a place where small plants are nurtured, cherished and cared for.  I love the thought of our green house being a place of growth for all of us, where two adults and four daughters can find a safe place in this busy world to be cared for and nurtured like seedlings.  

Parenting can be like fire-fighting and I might think more of it as plant-raising from now.  My daughters are beautiful little flowers beginning to bloom.  We're not good at raising actual plants here.  They get forgotten, dried-out, wilted and sometimes scorched on the hot deck.  I sometimes see those things in my daughters.  Isn't that gut-wrenching?  We need to learn how to take better care of ourselves as a family than our plants.

It snowed and rained here through May long weekend. In the middle of spring, with a grey sky, everything outside looks suddenly green. I went for some solitude to a wild river that runs through woods with my camera, and all my photos are green.  It's a time to move forward, to be excited and to grow.

Beginnings

Change for me happens gradually but ultimately leads to decisions that are made quickly, confidently and intuitively. And after I'd made the decision yesterday, I looked back on how I got there, and saw a path leading back several years into the past