Celebrating the Harvest: A Shift in Focus

Celebrating the harvest

Unquestionably, the year 2020 will go down in history as one of the most bizarre years on record, at least in my lifetime. Between COVID-19, murder hornets, heightened racial tensions, polarized politics and more, this has certainly been a challenging year in many ways. As the year begins to draw toward a close, our friends and colleagues in agriculture are reaping the harvest once again. For their essential service in providing over 400 commodities in California alone for human consumption, especially this year, we are grateful. We are grateful for the freshest, safest, locally grown produce in the world. Thank you!

Several years ago, I wrote about what harvest means to me, growing up in California’s Central Valley. In my small town of Lodi, California, harvest was a time of measuring performance, and in some ways, a time of reckoning: Had we sown the crops and tended the soil properly? Had weather conditions been favorable? Had we sufficient water for irrigation? In organizational terms, we might reframe the questions to ask: Had we been strategic in our planning and execution? How had the market and other external factors contributed? How did we manage our resources – human, natural, material – to deliver on the promises we made?

In times of crisis, many of these factors are out of our control. It is human nature to desire control over that which is in our power to control. For this reason, we have seen increased depression, suicide and emotional duress over the recent six months of restricted or limited social contact. While it may be tempting to focus on all the negativity, and secretly desire to fast-forward into January 2021, let’s take the opportunity to highlight a few of the blessings that have emerged from this complex and challenging time. In my coaching conversations with clients, I have seen a significant shift in focus, as measured by goal setting in coaching engagements, in these 5 Key Focus Areas:

Focus on Wellness. Whether it’s a mindfulness practice, an exercise routine, a coastal walk with a Blue Health Coach, or other mental health breaks, many people have not only expressed an increased interest in focusing on some aspect of self-care, but also integrated new kind of new routine to support this focus. Although this may be balanced by the increase in consumption of alcohol and comfort foods, these indulgences may play a role, as well. After all, sometimes we need to cut ourselves some slack. Long story short, leadership begins with self-care. One of the first lessons we teach Rescue Divers is, “You cannot rescue someone else by putting yourself in harm’s way.” The same is true for leaders. Leaders who are drowning in their own sea of uncertainty or inexperience are not in a position to help, direct or lead others. In fact, the very first module of our new Inspired Leadership offering begins with “Leading Self.” May we remember to continue caring for our own well-being in service to others, even when life returns to “normal.”

Focus on Family. With many parents working from home, and children engaged in a hybrid approach to online learning and home-schooling, more clients are reporting a return to family dinners, family walks, and other activities that are often squeezed out of our fast-paced lives. However you define “family”, more people are choosing to foster more meaningful interpersonal relationships, not only with loved ones, but also with long lost friends and family. The ways families have been engaging in celebration, whether it’s weddings, memorials, graduations, birthdays, are so creative! We are already beginning to hear the term, “COVID Baby” used to describe new additions to families during this time. It will be interesting to see how this return to family relationships impacts social and community issues in the months to come.

Focus on Community. In the absence of large scale public gatherings and events, people are finding creative ways to connect socially, while remaining physically distanced. A greater sense of community and compassion for our neighbors has emerged, such as deliveries of cookies on doorsteps, grocery and errand runs for the elderly, intentional efforts to support local businesses and restaurants. One of my favorite examples of this is local photographer, Lara George, who creatively began her “Front Steps Project,” as a means of reaching out, connecting with people, offering her services and simply bringing joy to surrounding communities. She posts on social media when she will be driving through a neighborhood, so families can come outside on their front porch, just as they are, and be photographed by her from the street for physical distancing. Be sure to check out Lara’s project, and show her some love.

Focus on Purpose. At least half of the coaching conversations since March 2020 have involved some discussion about re-evaluating one’s career or life path. While some are exploring retirement, others are considering a completely different type of work or field of discipline. Arguably, in some cases, this may be related to that normal stage of adult development we call “midlife.” In nearly all cases, the client is seeking something more satisfying, fulfilling or meaningful. Now, I thrive on these conversations, having experienced a bit of my own career re-evaluation not too long ago. More importantly, my clients are seeking a deeper sense of purpose, and choosing to leave a legacy for future generations on purpose.

Focus on Perspective. Related to purpose, many people are taking advantage of the opportunity to press pause, take a deep breath, and consider their situations from a different perspective. They are wanting to see the “bigger picture,” and make sense of how it all fits together. We have seen more interest in Blue Health Coaching™ than ever before, as people discover their desire to have a deeper connection with their own lives and with the planet, specifically our marine ecosystems. If you are curious about Blue Health Coaching,™ try one of our “Toe in the Water” sessions to have an experience, learn about the science of blue health benefits, and meet some cool people in the process.

As we prepare simultaneously for an unknown future and a return to some sense of normalcy, I am optimistic that we may preserve some of these positive lessons gleaned from this season of uncertainty. Take heart and know that this too shall pass, and hopefully, we will have learned and grown through the challenges into wiser and more compassionate human beings, more patient leaders and more purposefully leave a legacy for future generations. What are you harvesting?

Develop or Become Obsolete: Part I – Your Personal Development

personal development concept on blackboard

Earlier in my career, I worked for a VP, Human Resources, who was fond of saying, “Develop or Become Obsolete!” He meant this for our own professional development, as much as for business strategy execution. While this bold statement initially caught me off guard, I learned that he was fostering a culture of continuous learning. He was challenging us to learn and practice as much as possible to stay competitive and successful. This quote has since become a staple in my own mental model of what it takes for business professional (or athletes, for that matter) to remain competitive and successful contenders at the top of their game over time.

Let’s face it! The world changes. The market shifts. Our customer needs and demands evolve. If we as business people are not prepared and even proactive about continuing to learn, develop, grow and expand our skill sets, we will be outpaced not only by customer demands, but also by our competitors. Another colleague uses a different metaphor: “Even if you are moving forward on the train tracks, the train will overtake you if you don’t outpace it.”

The same is true in learning and development. My coaching clients are typically focused on development in one (or a combination) of four domains: Personal, Professional, Leadership or Business Development. Over the coming weeks, I’ll address each of these topics in a four part series on development. Let’s start this week with Personal Development.

Personal Development

As much as we may try to “leave our personal stuff at home” when we go to work, the reality is we are whole human beings. Who we are outside of work – parent, spouse, partner, sibling, child, neighbor, community member, volunteer – is reflective of our identity, our values, our mission and purpose in life. Interestingly, it always finds a way to show up in our work lives, our leadership style and in our work performance. Similarly, who we are at work – leader, business owner, entrepreneur, professional – is also reflective of these aspects of self, including personality and aspiration. We are the common denominator in our own experience. The better able to reconcile these two aspects of self, the more equipped we can be to show up with our most authentic self when it matters most.  In fact, it is when we become clear on these intrinsic motivators and drivers, that we are able truly to unlock our highest potential.

Personal Development has to do with who you are as a person.  It often shows up in things like New Years Resolutions – lose weight, learn Spanish, exercise more, eat healthy. All of these are designed to create a better quality of life based on some intrinsic motivator, some value. What I find to be most interesting with my coaching clients is how these same motivators and values make their way into professional and leadership development conversations. When we attempt to separate or bifurcate our identities, we not only diminish all the good and right qualities we can demonstrate, but it also arguably leans toward psychological disorders and becomes unhealthy at its extreme.

Suggestions for Personal Development:

  • Give yourself permission to be a whole human being. Experiment with integrating your whole self into multiple aspects of life.
  • Meditate. Reflect. Journal. Pray. Whatever practice or methodology you choose, our brains require some form of “time out” to process, reflect, assimilate learning and grow. Brain research shows that similar to muscle development after a hard workout, the learning actually sticks when we give our brains time to reflect and process.
  • Set more challenging stretch goals for yourself. Then go achieve them! It’s amazing how alive it feels to cross the finish line on accomplishments, especially when you never imagined you could do it. It also sets a beautiful example to those around you.
  • Write down your goals and say them out loud. There is no greater accountability than when someone says, “Hey, I remember you were going to (fill in the blank with your goal here). How’s that going?” Tell people your goals, so they will celebrate with you when you achieve them.
  • Team up with someone to accomplish goals together! Join a team, choose a workout buddy, find an accountability partner.
  • Consider our Courage, Risks and Rewards Program, which we are offering at a special low price through the month of February.

Next time, I will continue the discussion with a focus on Professional Development. Meanwhile, stay connected with us on social media, contact us with your suggestions and feedback, check out our workshops or schedule a Complimentary Coaching Consultation to determine which solution best fits your needs.

©2017 Blue Horizon Solutions, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Give the Gift of Presence this Holiday Season!

5 Ways to Be Fully Present When it Matters Most

As we enter the holiday season, I am constantly reminded of the tradition of gift-giving as a means to celebrate prosperity, gratitude, family, love and many more personal reflections that accompany year-end. Whether you are making a list and checking it twice, or offering daily gifts over time throughout the season of lights, there is no greater gift than that of yourself. While there may be no tangible cost of sharing a bit of your true, authentic self with loved ones, friends, family, even colleagues and partners, it can require a bit of courage. There is an inherent vulnerability in exposing one’s true thoughts, feelings, and aspirations with other people, especially when the response is unpredictable.  However, the value of the gift is multiplied exponentially, and the returns are immeasurable.

Although the holidays can be incredibly hectic, stressful, exhausting and challenging at times, here are a few reminders to help you be fully present when it matters most.

5 Ways to Be Present during the Holidays

  • Equip yourself. Ensure that you are well-rested, well-hydrated and well-nourished, so that your physical being can support and sustain all of the emotional and mental demands that the season requires. This equips you to show up with your full and best energy when it matters most.
  • Be “there” physically, when possible. As the holiday song says, “There’s no place like Home for the Holidays.” There is something special about showing up in person, especially when it’s least expected. Wherever “Home” is for you, bring the gift of yourself and be there however you can. If that’s not possible, what is the next best alternative? a phone call? videocall? A personal, hand-written note?
  • Be in the moment. Disconnect from your devices. Step away from the smartphone. Set aside the agenda, the shopping list, the To-Do List. Focus on the people around you right then, right there, right now. Listen, observe, and absorb all that your interactions with others may offer.
  • Practice Mindfulness. Pay close attention to how you are experiencing the events as they unfold. Observe yourself in each situation and receive what it has to offer. Take a moment to reflect and gather your thoughts occasionally.
  • Learn from it. Every encounter offers a lesson. Some teach us how we can improve ourselves. Some teach us how we don’t want to be. Look for the lessons that help you to achieve your ultimate goals. Journaling or expressing these insights can also help in processing the lessons. Reflect on how you would like 2017 to be even more fruitful and productive.

Here’s wishing you all the hope, joy and peace you can handle throughout this holiday season and beyond. As always, please email or schedule time with me as needed. I look forward to reconnecting with you again in January for an incredible New Year!

Happy Holidays!!

How Well Do You Maintain Balance?

If trying to maintain balance in your life makes you feel like a tightrope walker, you’re not alone. Most of us have so many demands on our time and energy, life can feel like a three-ring circus. Take this quiz to see how well you are meeting responsibilities, while also recognizing and fulfilling personal needs and wants.

True OR False

  1. The only way I can successfully manage my life is to take care of myself physically and emotionally.
  2. Nurturing myself enlarges my capacity to help others.
  3. I eat healthfully and exercise regularly.
  4. I get check-ups, go to the dentist, and take preventative precautions.
  5. I set aside personal, quiet time for myself, whether I’m meditating or simply letting my thoughts drift.
  6. I experience the gifts of each season: ice skating, sledding, bundled-up beach walks; gardening, hiking, more time outside; camping, swimming, barbeques; harvesting the bounty, gathering wood, spending more time inside.
  7. Creativity nurtures me, too. I do what I love, whether that’s cooking, drawing, painting, writing, dancing, singing or another creative pursuit.
  8. Reaching out to others enriches my life. I spend quality time with family and friends.
  9. Contributing to the world provides connection and purpose, so I give my time, energy and experience where it is most useful.
  10. I notice and heed the emotional signals that tell me I’m out of balance: irritability, overwhelm, resentment.
  11. If I feel that I’m catching a cold, I realize I may have stressed my immune system with over-activity, so I stop and take care of myself.
  12. When I need or want to, I say no to requests for my time.
  13. I listen to and honor the requests my body makes for such things as a nap, a walk, green vegetables, hot soup.
  14. If I have something planned for myself, I don’t just toss that aside when someone makes a request of me.
  15. I’m busy, but I find time to do the things I want to do.
  16. I’m happy. I regularly experience well-being, contentment, even joy.

If you answered false more often than true, you may want to take a look at the questions to which you answered false and see if you can incorporate something of its message into your life. Please contact us if you’d like to explore this issue further.