Living It! Bring Haven Home!

imageI love leading, teaching and learning in groups whether it’s a Haven program, or our Be BRAVE Women’s group, leading a team transformation offsite with a business team, or speaking to an entire organization. I love the live, face-to-face contact.

For a majority of my career, I have been a firm believer in face-to-face interactions as the best way to create transformational experiences and learning. However, times have changed and much of life these days takes place online and with people miles (may be even countries) apart. This is true in organizations, on teams, in families and even for couples. Life happens from a distance. Sure I love my face time and that is no longer required for developing trust, intimacy and transformation.

Having now participated in a number of online learning programs, I have developed friendships and connections that are as life enhancing has those that came from face-to face group experiences. As a member of a working team, I have found I can stay up-to-date and clear with colleagues moving significant projects forward and never or rarely getting together in person.

This week, CrisMarie have been delivering week four of our Be BRAVE class to a great group of women,  coaching sessions, webinars and radio programs, all from our home in Montana. That’s been great because not only have we gotten feedback that the work as been solid and powerful – we get to hang out at home with our dog, Rosie!

Why am I writing about this? Because in about six weeks, Haven’s Living It program is due to start with a weekend intensive on Gabriola. Living It! Is the first and only blended, meaning in person and online program,  Haven has offered.  It kicks off with the Haven magic of engaging in a circle on Gabriola with an awesome staff creating a great container for transformational learning and then continues for two months after online through webinars, groups and an online community site. Last year was our pioneer group. We were small but dedicated and worked our way through the challenges of technology and being the first!

Over the many years I have been at Haven, I have heard people speak of the challenges they face going home. Having had an intensive experience with deep connections and trying to figure out how to maintain that aliveness and engagement once back home in their ‘real’ world. I know it can be a challenge. In part it is why I am so committed to Living It! I know there are other paths at Haven like Staying Alive and Haven Coaching that can and do support the integration process. But I love the idea of meeting the challenge of integration while still in a program. In other words, taking Haven back home for a period of time and really having the support to try things, check in and try again!

So this blog is a really an ad! If you know that Haven has been an awesome transformational path for you and you have been challenged or want to bring more of that Haven magic back to your ‘real’ life, then consider signing up for Living It! It is powerfully helpful whether you have done just a Come Alive or the entire phase series.

Click here to learn more and sign up.

I do believe this is the next level of self-responsible relational living – being able to relate and create intimacy in person and online!

Join us! You’ll be amazed at how your life improves!

The Silence Isn’t Quiet

There’s this knot that aches in my chest.

It goes away when I see my dog play at the dog park or listen to a piece of music, but it doesn’t take long to come back.

susie2When I turn inward that knot belongs to a little girl inside. I promised her I’d take some time to write. To see if words or telling her stories would help heal, or at least allow, the grief.

There is so much about my life now that I love! I love my relationship. I love our dog Rosie who thinks life is all about play. I love living in Montana.

It’s true, lots of my life is good! Very good. So where does the deep ache come from?

Maybe it’s hard to be happy when I see so many people suffering. There is so much that goes on inside as I watch the news, read about the shootings of black men, and of white policemen, listening as people around me talk about racism, sexism, homophobia, politics, being white, being black, being young, being old, just being human. I often stay silent. But I am not quiet inside.

Maybe it is about how all lives should matter, not just white ones, and how some people have to work harder to get that point across.

The thing is, I am part of all this. I am racist, sexist, homophobic.  I probably don’t know the half of it. The events of my life color how I put my world together, and I make judgments in a heartbeat. Sometimes I’m conscious of it, sometimes not. I believe it is how we humans are wired. It is the best of us and the worst of us.

And so, I can certainly educate myself about cultural diversity and learn about the history of systemic white privilege. It’s important to know. But unless I pay attention also to the very personal and emotional filter of my life, it’s not going to make much difference.

And so, when I hear that little girl screaming inside, I must pay attention.

She asked me to tell her story, to write my book, and I keep getting stuck.

Stuck living in this moment or that next one, and the book goes background.

Until a day like today, when she feels so angry because she hears that she was privileged.

My little girl doesn’t get it.

I tell my little girl there’s truth to that – that white privilege is real, and that my life really could have been worse.

She does not agree.
It’s not that simple.

She remembers how it felt when she was raped at four (and again over and over). She remembers how it felt when she spoke up about his horrible acts and was called imaginative.
She remembers that overly liked camp director who preached goodness and for years chose to do whatever he damn well pleased after dark.
She knew. She tried to tell. No one listened.
She screams, “It’s not fair!”
It isn’t.

He wanted her silenced.
She got angry and punched a hole in the wall.
The doctor said she had an anger problem and gave her drugs.

Life moved on.

There was school and the dyslexic issue. But being laughed at for misspellings and not being able to read – that was nothing. You know – sticks and stones and rape and broken bones – that at least had passed – words would really never hurt her.

Except they did.

Then there was fifth grade, where she was at a predominately black school.
Charlotte bullied her regularly.
She spoke up. No one did anything.
So she ran for Student Counsel President on the platform to stop bullying.
She got one vote – hers, which got broadcasted over the public speakers in homeroom.
She wanted to cry and ran to the bathroom.
Charlotte was in the bathroom.
Needless to say tears were not going to help.
But what are a few more bruises and bumps when you are privileged – or will be some day?

She moved on and found a path playing tennis, hockey and basketball. She had loved little league but you know – girls couldn’t play baseball once they hit age 9 – even if they were much better than the boys.

But she was fortunate to be athletic. Baseball may be out, but there were other games to play and ways to run, run, and run from feeling the ache beneath her white skin.

Ugly and athletic. That worked once she hit high school and was the only white girl in an inner city black school. Sure there are some down sides. Like being the poster white kid during the two weeks the TV Series Roots was on and getting beaten up each day for that great honor of being white and privileged.

She was a survivor, and really I think amazingly creative and resilient.

Of course, when being white might have finally been a benefit heading to college at University of Virginia, by this time she was, I’ll just say, different.

She tried to fit in and she did some things really well.

But still there was a lot about life that just kept hammering away at that creative spirit.

After a number of years of fighting cancer in her 20s, she did find a home, a place that welcomed her and made it okay for her to be different. She started learning to be self-responsible and relational.

Not that being self-responsible and relational were easy. Taking responsibility for her life was hard, lonely, hellish at times. But she found her way and finally found a way to integrate – not get rid of – her past.

She found her loving. She didn’t think that it much mattered that it was with a woman.  And it really didn’t, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t one more thing that made her different.

So back to me and today and my ache in my chest. Yes, on the outside I stand looking white, gray haired, and privileged. I get it. I am that white woman, who made it out of my past.

And I am privileged to still be walking this earth. But let me just say walking on this earth has not been easy. I haven’t often felt privileged and now that I do have a little taste of privilege, I guess I am not willing to make it wrong. I don’t have any desire to say my life matters more or less than anyone else.

My best friends in high school were black and when I needed people to stand by me when hate was running wild in a crowd – it was my high school basketball team that did. They circled me and the riot police circled them and we walked out of a crazy auditorium of people who wanted me dead. My all black team did not hesitate. We stood together, and I would stand with any one of them again.

I will stand with anyone for a while who thinks they stand alone. Sometimes that is enough to help someone find their own voice. People need to find their voice and legs again – to know they matter.

So back to my little girl, because, the heart of this story is for her – because she really didn’t think she was privileged.

And now it’s me that has to make sure she knows she matters.

When I do that I know that other people matter too. I don’t have an answer to all this pain, but I do believe that it starts by remembering that we are all much more than the color of our skin, our sex or sexuality. We each come with our stories.

The stories won’t go away, but we can take responsibility for what we do with our stories – and I think when we do that we can and will be much more curious, interested and loving when we listen to the story of another!

Don’t Confuse Issues of Velocity with Issues of Incompetence

35018330 - a car driving on a motorway at high speeds, overtaking other cars
Yes – We are moving FAST!

I want to write because each day lately seems to quickly get filled, and I have a backlog of material churning inside!

Over the past few weeks, I have traveled to Gabriola for faculty meetings and to lead a Couples Alive program, dropped into Seattle as a guest on Sunny McMillan’s radio show, had meetings with a few colleagues, written various blog pieces for our new program; BE BRAVE,  gotten our edits back on our book to review, launched and delivered my new MOJO Coaching program, trained Rosie (and mostly myself) using a sport collar for off-leash walking, tried to stay fit biking, running and playing a little golf!

I am sure I am missing some bits. I want to work on pulling some of the pieces together. Right now, I am dealing with what seems like fragmentation and diffusion, but I am curious if maybe the issue is more related to velocity than breaking apart!

Several years ago we were involved in some Rich Dad, Poor Dad workshops. One involved a weekend journey to Australia! (That trip is a story all by itself. Such a wild ride and an amazing gift from saying,  yes! It still brings a smile!)

One of the learnings that stuck was the idea that people who are more comfortable with abundance are going to be faced with issues of velocity, and it can be easy to confuse issues of velocity with issues of incompetence! (That last part is my take.)

My memory of the lesson is that the more money you have, the more important it becomes to keep it moving. People who have great wealth must be able to handle velocity, meaning the flow of money. Most people are not comfortable with flow.  Expansion, yes, but flow is something different!

In this context, flow means keeping the money moving and that involves risk. The more flow – the more potential upside and downside. The level of money WILL go up and down. There will be times when all could be lost, or a significant amount, and the willingness to ride with that movement is what defines flow.

Flow is about going with both the expansion and contraction.

This lesson applies to much more than wealth and cash flow. This principle is related to anything energetic.  Since we are energy beings, it applies in all areas of our life.

I am learning for myself that it is important to notice the difference between an issue of velocity versus an issue of incompetence or possibility.

Let me try to explain.

Currently, CrisMarie and I are focusing on developing online programs such as BE BRAVE.  Previously we have done small online programs to our warm and committed clients.  Now, we want to expand our reach to new and more people. This seems quite challenging to me.

I have enjoyed how easily people get to know me,  and I get to know them sitting in a Haven circle or in a conference room working with a team. I am not as comfortable when I am marketing across the airwaves and beyond the comfort zone of my smaller pond! Yet, how can I reach more people if I keep going to the same people?

So, I am jumping into the bigger ocean, and frankly, it’s taken my breathe away a few times!

However, when I do breathe and reflect on the nature of the challenge, I am discovering it is much more about the velocity at which we are moving than it is about our level of competence.

We have a solid foundation of helping people develop relationships that thrive – both at home and at work. We have been doing this together for over 15 years. I would even be so bold to say that we are experts in this field.

However, we are challenged by reaching our ‘tribe’ or target audience who haven’t met us yet. We have been swimming in this challenge for a while. I would say for at least the last three years.

In the beginning, our efforts to become successful in online offerings was more of a competence issue than a velocity problem.

Now, launching BE BRAVE, I think we have the foundation and the basic skills related to marketing and sales AND we are facing velocity issues.

In other words, our velocity issue causes leaks;  not huge chasms and holes.

This is a different problem. However, the internal feelings are quite similar.

46594773 - kid with jet pack riding bike. child playing at home. success, leader and winner concept

I find myself at times collapsing into despair and wondering about my own worth and value as we move into a much broader and bigger market and presence.

Why don’t people sign up?  How could they not like our AD?

Those feelings of despair and questioning my value, are old and very internalized patterns from beliefs and story-lines established when I was much younger and with way less resources.

I don’t like the feeling of fragmentation. However, I get this time it’s isn’t life or death. But it can feel like it at times.

That’s when I need to take a break. The key here is learning when it is a velocity issue and taking a quick break really does help.

Also reminding myself that even though I might feel like I am free falling or too scattered, I am not. I am simply moving faster,  or have more energy, than I have ever had before.

When I realize this, I take better care of myself and become more responsive to my internal cues.

Velocity problems are indicators of growth and expansion! They are a good signs and one that can be attended to with presence and compassion!

It’s helpful to remember being in the flow doesn’t mean all is comfortable, sometimes just the opposite!

A new speed, a higher level of input won’t be comfortable AND that discomfort does not mean there is a crisis or a major problem. I just need to check for leaks!

Just in case you are interested. BE BRAVE is a 6-week program starting July 12th. It is for women who want to reclaim their energy, be empowered and have a felt sense of wholeness in their relationships both @ home and @work! Click here to learn more and join us to learn how to transform your relationships.

Living Life Full Out!

A few years back Kumi, a woman facing and living with cancer, came to one of our Come Alives.  She was inspiring because it was clear she intended to live fully!  She’s the one who shared one of my favorite quotes, “Live Life Full Out!”


I really like the intent of living life full out because it’s not saying live happily or lovingly or fearless.  Not that any of those options are bad – just somewhat idealistic for me.

I do have many happy moments.  I have actually become someone who does a good job of smelling the roses.  Meaning, I get great pleasure from visiting the dog park, watching a herd of horses, reading a good book, or just having a great cup of coffee (best on the porch but inside still provides the joy factor!)

I am also someone who lives through my loving.  Now, my definition of loving isn’t always about being sweet and nice. My form of loving is being honest and true, which sometimes creates discomfort.

Also, my face doesn’t make my loving all that obvious.  An earlier post Being a Grumpy-Faced Leader talks more about my face. Not that a smiling face as anything really to do with the depth of one’s loving, but I do sometimes wish my wasn’t quite so intense.

Fearless, me? Well, no. Most of the things I love to do the most, bring up fear!  I just feel the fear and do the best I can with it!

But that’s why Living Full Out – makes so much sense.  Living full out includes the fear, the pain, the anger, the joy!  Kumi knew that and so do I!

I have added my own lines regarding how to:

  • Connect with curiosity
  • Love wholeheartedly

My tag lines or how to’s  came from my years at The Haven.  It was at The Haven that I first discovered the power in curiosity.   Since then I have used my curiosity over and over again to help me connect to people who think and live differently than me.  I have come to believe it really is the secret sauce in any relationship.

Living wholeheartedly – well my heart can hold a lot – cracks and all.  To me, the wholeheartedly means embracing the cracks, the sorrow, hurt, and anger that is a part of living and loving.  The human heart is much like a lava rock – it can withstand tremendous heat!

I am writing about this today because sometimes living life full out isn’t easy.  Since returning from leading the Living Alive Phase I have been struggling to find my Montana rhythm.  But riding through the melancholy is just as important as riding the big waves of joy, especially if I want to live full out.  Got to love the dark spots too!

Leading and Following

The Movement Between

Sitting reflecting. I am a week into Living Alive Phase I, just after finishing The Haven Leadership Summit and I find myself reflecting on leading and following.

For some this may seem a bit to Haven focused. Bare with me, or better yet, apply to your own experiences with being deeply engaged in learning, work or some aspect of your life that has been very familiar and involves discovering that you as leader might need to grow and yet also stay in some ways the same!

During the Summit the idea of leadership and followership had come up and I was intrigued and reminded of how much my own journey as a leader has been about discovering the dance between leading and following. There is both an internal aspect and movement that occurs, as well as the external shift from being in a role as leader and as follower.

For me, as I have become more comfortable in my own skin, and to be clear this can be comfortable in discomfort, I find myself much more fluid in leading and following.

Of course there are moments when I am struck by my own strong agenda or vision for what I want to have happen. I like that about myself. I like having a vision and being willing to stand forth and offer a direction. It’s a bit like my belief about judgements. That I am judgemental, I like. I enjoy using my ability to imagine, assume and discern. I also enjoy meeting and ‘clashing’ with new information and someone else’s assumptions. I notice when I am okay in my beliefs, I am quite open to the bump of a new view and can integrate the new information. When I am not so okay with myself, I can tend to fight or flight in some attempt to stay right!. I am finding this is a similar dance in leading and following.

Over the years as a faculty member at The Haven, I have had strong views on what is important and foundational, what needs to stay the same and what seems ‘special’ about our way of approaching group dynamics, aliveness and energy. I recognize that I have at times been defended and quite unwilling to embrace something I judged to be outside of the playing field I called Haven.

I have shifted in more recent years. Some of the shift has come from my exploration of new ways of thinking and experiencing growth. Some of the shift, as been because I keep hearing that others want something different and as someone in a role of leadership I want to be open and receptive.

At the Summit, I noticed so many new faces, new voices speaking up about diversity, leadership, youth, eldership, training, counseling, educating and embodiment. I found myself integrating much of the input into my understanding of The Haven, filtering new theories or thoughts into ways of thinking and embodying that have been so useful to me over the years.

At times it was exciting and I could feel the expansion and inclusion happening both inside me and around me in the room and online. Other times, I noticed my own contraction and fear that there was too much desire for change or something new. At times I spoke of my resistance and at times I simply sat with myself and wondered.

Of course with the Living Alive Phase starting hours after stepping out of the Summit, I have had an opportunity to notice what am I including now as I lead and what might I have dropped.

In truth, I love the Living Alive Phase I format. I find both structure and freedom in what has been a core Haven program for well over thirty years. Yet, I also have moments of wanting to introduce something new or noticing someone is leading us into something new and I have that choice to follow or not.

I am aware of my tendency to get swallowed into my world of The Haven and lose contact with the much larger world around me. So on a day when I have some extra time, I enjoy pulling myself out of my Haven world of leading and following and checking to see what is happening in the world around me.

I would love to hear from you and what does leading and following mean in your world. Is leading a role? Is following a different one? Do you dance in your own life between the these concepts? Are there areas of your life that are working and could use some new and fresh ideas? How do you grow and keep what works?

I’d love to hear from you.

Learning About Leadership From Horses

I love watching a herd of horses. There is so much going on and yet it can all seem so subtle.

Today, I sat and watched a herd of geldings for thirty or forty minutes. There were 15 in the herd. Their space had recently been downsized due to a need to seed an area for future use.

Thirteen of the horses were gathered in relatively small area. Most were standing with their front legs locked and shifting the weight on their back legs. They almost seemed asleep, were it not for the flick of a ear, usually directed at me. Yes, they knew I was watching as soon as I had moved towards the pasture.

I settled and took in the larger scene. Two of the geldings were off from the herd, grazing. Their ears were also trained on my position. It is amazing how subtle and keenly perceptive horses are to any movement in their environment.

When I first started watching horses I would hardly notice the little movements. Now, I was getting much better at picking up when one of the horse would make a very small shift backwards, pushing the horse behind him ever so slightly. Today, I could see that the signal was not at all subtle to the horse receiving it.

Pretty much everything about the arrangement was an intricate communication network where there were clear lines of dominance and order. Where boundaries were being set with minuscule gestures and smaller connections were well established even if undetected by the my human eye.

I realized as I was watching, I was learning a great deal about leadership. I have often thought of leadership in terms of dominance, who had the loudest gestures or offered the loftiest vision. We as humans tend to think of leadership in those terms.

But really leadership has a lot more to do with who amongst us is really the calmest, clearest and most embodied. In a herd of horses, there may be a dominate horse but that has little to do with the leader. No the leader in a herd of horses, is the horse that is calmest, and most embodied. It may not always be the same horse, in today’s gathering there was one gelding that stood slightly away from larger group between the cluster and the two grazers. If any of the others, made a slight move in his direction, his tail would swish and the advancing horse would move back. Nothing big, nothing loud, just clear. This horse was in many ways the most settled and defined – not through dominance – but just presence and space. I knew he was the one who would pick up any signal that truly needed the herd’s attention and would ignore any other type of intrusion.

Leadership can seem almost boring when watching these horses until my eyes adjust and I begin to see just how incredibly advanced and intricate the interplay and communication has become.

In the world of horses, leadership is about safety and living well together. It’s about ensuring that each member has a place and contributes. It’s about each member being able to express needs, desires and getting clear signals about what works and what doesn’t. It’s about making sure that when one horse is resting, other’s are aware and watching.

We could learn so much about leadership through observing and watching how horses and other pack animals communicate and live together.

Yet, for the most part we don’t. Wouldn’t the world be a better place if leadership wasn’t about who is dominate – but instead about who is calmest, clearest and is able to notice when real danger is afoot. Imagine a leader like that. Wouldn’t that be great!



Putting Action Foreground At The Haven

onlineslide-words-jumpingJust wrapped up our in-person day with the ESG (Education Steering Group) at The Haven. Was a very productive day as usual.

As is often the case, we spent a good portion of our time looking at programs and educational direction. However, one piece that came up and I am really excited about working on going forward, is emphasizing putting action foreground in The Haven models.

So what do I mean?

Well we spend lots of time focusing on program content and what happens at the Haven. We got to talking this time about how could we start talking as much about what happens next! Meaning how do people take action with their learning and experiences at Haven.

Haven really isn’t just a center for personal development. It’s a center for self-responsible relational living and that has a lot more to do with how people live their learning than just how they get it!!

I know for myself. I love coming to The Haven and taking a program or connecting with friends. But really what I love and value most about The Haven is how I have transformed my life, my relationships and my world outside of The Haven as a result of engaging in the programs and living that learning when I left!!!

For me, I changed my relationship to my cancer and my relationship to the medical model. As my health changed, I focused on building relationships that were based in open, honest dialogue. This has lead me to leadership at The Haven but also out in the world with my work and life partner CrisMarie through thrive!

I transformed my relationship to my family, where for years we did not speak, Now we have deep connections based on who we each are as people. All of this came from learning about self-responsible relational living and taking action!!

I think sometimes I can forget to talk about just how important the action part of the Communication model and the Selves Model really is!

Sometimes in a program, I may not talk enough about what comes next. I know I do usually mention my favorite motto: It’s not what you do – but what you do next. For me that motto is immediate and intentional in regards to taking whatever I learn into what I do next!

When people ask me, what does the Haven offer. I often answer with information about the programs and that may be the intent in the question.

But really what Haven offers is so much more than the program.

Haven offered me a choice in how to live my life and face whatever came my way by responding – not just reacting. Now I don’t always do that! But I do get I have a choice! Sure I still make a choice to react, to blame, to self-hate …. the list goes on. However what The Haven offered me was the opportunity to fully own my choices and basically with that comes freedom.

My relationship to myself and to the world around me becomes something else entirely when I really get the meaning of that!!

Indeed the programs at The Haven are amazing but what is really even more amazing is what the people who have come through the Haven have done next! I do believe those stories are worth sharing. Those stories are about how Haven is changing the world.

Tell me – how did you take action with what you learned at The Haven! What did you do next!! How have you changed the world through self-responsible relational living!

I would love to know!!

Next Up At The Haven:

Living Alive Phase 1 – April 17, 2016 with Toby Macklin

Also check out my new Leadership Mojo Intensives – Equus Coaching in Montana!


Find Your Leadership Mojo (Magic Power)

me & zoey“I want to find my mojo, my magic power, my inner sense of much-ness, and take it back to Montana!”

That’s what I shared as my intention introducing myself to the circle of Koelle Institute of Equus coaches and coaches-in training at the practicum taking place at Apache Springs, AZ last weekend.

Most of those gathered were there to fill in their learning gaps and  get ready for their certification review.

Not me.

I am already certified and could be promoting and working as an Equus Coach right here in Montana.

But I am not.

Instead, I continue to practice, volunteer at other Equus coaches workshops, and see clients for free.


Well, I spook myself when it comes to saying – “I’m a good enough Equus Coach, and I would love to offer you a chance to discover the magic in learning more about yourself and leadership through engaging with horses.”

I tell myself, this is because of my fear of horses, but that was true two years ago, not today. Yes, I still can spook myself when I am out there demonstrating some of the possible ways to interact and play with a horse, or when I see someone not be sensitive when they move in too close behind the horse.

I tell myself, I need to get beyond my fears before I really launch my own Equus Coaching practice.

But let’s be completely frank, this spooking business is a well-worn habit of mine.

I remember, over twenty-fives years ago, stepping in to lead my first Come Alive at The Haven. I was scared – terrified – on the inside! No horses there – just me and my fear of stepping into leadership!

But I did it and have been doing it ever since.

Even with all that leading under-my-belt,  I can still at times feel that doubt and/or fear rise to the surface before the start of a Come Alive or Living Alive Phase Program. However, I have learned to acknowledge and work with my fear and self-doubt, not wait for the fear to be gone. No, my path is to acknowledge that place of self-doubt and lead anyway!

In many respects I actually like that place of vulnerability and uncertainty. I am more real and transparent when I work from that space.

Still, there are times when I wish I was always confident and had no doubts about leadership or what I have to offer as a person or as a coach. However, that would just be hubris and frankly not very effective.

Mastery is about riding the waves of my fluctuating self-confidence, having faith in both my own inner knowing and faith in not knowing and allowing the universe, my soul, to guide me.

I am best when I am transparent and acknowledge what I am really thinking and feeling – and sometimes that is the underlying fear and sometimes it is an inner sense of knowing and presence.  It’s in the willingness to acknowledge both that I often discover I am not alone. In other words, I connect deeply to the world around me.

When I come from a place of hubris or over-confidence that connection is not there, instead, I am relying on what I know – not tapping into the greater resources of the universe! The same is true when I deny my abilities or wisdom as a coach or leader.  Both ways I shut my connection to the energy from my soul, the universe.

But back to finding my mojo and bringing my work home to Montana.

Sure, I could wait until I become consistently comfortable and confident around horses. I could see if my confidence could rise and carry me out into the world as an expert coach and equine facilitator. However, that might take a little too long, and frankly, that’s all ego and has very little to do with what becomes possible when I don’t have to be perfect.

In fact, I just have to show up; vulnerable and real. The real me, a horse, and another person are quite enough for ensuring that transformation and magic can happen.

With that said, I am opening my Equus coaching practice here in Montana. I’d love to work with you. If you live here great, it will easy. If you don’t, well I am offering Leadership Mojo Intensives and those will involve horses and other ways of mastering your connection to yourself and the world around you.

If you aren’t too sure about me and horses – well come to Haven and join me for a Come Alive or Living Alive Phase Program.  I think you’ll be wanting more!

I’m ready. I’m may still have moments of fear and I have my mojo.

Come discover yours and even if you discover it’s not that perfect, confident version of leader you might like – just know that the real gold is in the soft spots – it’s where you discover the power in connection!

What you may not know, leading is never a solo experience!

Living Well Together

My theme for this year is Living Well Together.  onlineslide-hand-circle

I jumped into 2016 taking a program called Passionate Ease with Dr. Lawrence Conlan in Boulder, Colorado. One of his messages that stands out to me is his constant reminder that “Resistance is the way.” He means to enlightenment.

I know, right?!

Spiritual Awakening

This is a radical concept in the realm of spiritual awakening. I confess, I have not been interested in spiritual awakening. Over the years I have stayed far, far away from programs and paths that hint of transcendence or what I judge to be spiritual by-pass. Let’s just say, I don’t like experiences that encourage moving beyond this human experience without owning up to it!

Conlan’s mantra is radical in the world of spiritual seekers, and it’s also been the message at The Haven for well over thirty years.

The Haven has always been about creating richer connections with ourselves, each other, and in our communities. Not through transcending but through becoming curious and fully engaged in living well together, just as we are. In other words, being human, accepting the messy, and fully realizing the spiritual in each of our human beings – embodied!

Enlightenment or Embodiment?

So for me, Conlan’s message isn’t about enlightenment – it’s about embodiment!

But what if those two concepts really were not that different!

That is something I am very curious and interested in pursuing! Which brings me to my current theme for 2016: Living Well Together.

This is a Haven tagline. One that presents as quite simple, yet I find there are many layers worth exploring.

Fractures and Gaps Between Us

First there’s the obvious. As our headlines and news stories reveal, we aren’t really living all that well together these days. There are so many fractures and widening gaps between countries, cultures, sexes, races, people and even us and our planet!

Why is it so hard to live well together?

I am a believer that what happens on the outside is a simple a reflection of the inside!

Meaning living well together isn’t just about me, living well with my neighbor – no it’s also about be living well with all of me – the many parts of me.

For example, when I attempt a new challenge, some part of me is excited and feels courageous. Then there is another part of me that is full of self-doubt terrified of failing. Often, I want to banish that part of me. It is unattractive and gets in the way of me moving forward confidently. It is my resistance in moving forward. This is the part of me that is often difficult for me to accept, yet, both of these parts are inside me and need my attention and care.

Accepting and Embracing Me First

Most of the time, if I am honest, I have an easier time living with my neighbor than accepting all the messy, scary, unattractive parts of me.

The project of living well together is first a project about embracing and accepting my unattractive, uncomfortable parts. Then, I have much more room for embracing and accepting other people.

It is easy to see all the pain and separation in the world and think that is the problem. I do agree that there is work to be done “out there.” However, I find that the outside work is much more effective if it first comes from the inside out.

Living Well Together from The Inside Out!

Join me in making this year one that is about living well together – both inside and out!

I’m imagining some of you spiritual seekers have already clicked through to the Passionate Ease Retreats. Of course, I recommend one of Lawrence’s programs.

I am also assuming many of you were intrigued about having richer connections and stronger relationships so clicked through to The Haven and Come Alive.

Whichever, gets you started – just do it!

Especially if you notice any resistance because indeed resistance is the way – to embodiment, enlightenment, AND, most importantly, to living well together – from the inside out!

Iron-Fisted Power Is Not Leadership

Many years ago my friend, Susa Holt, told me I had to meet CrisMarie Campbell, an Olympic rower.  I could hardly wait to hear first hand what it was like to be an Olympian!

Yet, when I asked CrisMarie about the Olympics, she almost bit my head off, saying “I don’t like to talk about that – I was a loser!”

I was a bit stunned.   I know all to well how our heroes are often the masters of self-hate!  Fortunately, I met her as she was just heading into a Come Alive, and I figured this was a ripe area for her to do some great work.

She did.  Over the years, I have been a witness to CrisMarie’s reclaiming her Olympian.

_I8P7019-EditShe now uses her rowing stories as great examples of the difference between simply a boat of champions, the 1988 Olympic boat,  and a Championship team, the 1987 World Champion silver medal boat.

Today is a new chapter.  Her collegiate and national team coach made the headlines this month.  His long tenure at the University of Washington ended when the current team of rowers challenged his leadership style.

Here is the link to the Seattle Times article:  Firing of UW Rowing Coach

CrisMarie caught the news and wanted to reach out to the rowers.  The headlines presented a story line that seemed to imply the biggest issue was “an age gap” between the coach and his rowers.  The paper even went so far as to imply may be the rowers were pampered.  Really?

Well, CrisMarie had a long history with Bob and wasn’t about to stay silent. She wrote an opinion letter to the sports editor of the Seattle Times. He opted not to publish it.

I like that CrisMarie spoke up.

I like that she reflected both the brilliance AND the iron-fisted misuse of power that is all to often called leadership.

Mostly I love that she challenged the real issue, Bob did not want feedback and that is simply not leadership.

Below is her opinion. It is one woman’s story and perspective.  Regular readers know, that I am a big believer that there is never one side to any story.

However, I also believe silence in the face of popularity and power are deadly in so many ways.

 CrisMarie’s Opinion Letter, December 11, 2015

I am compelled to speak because of the apparent prevailing opinion that Bob Ernst was an excellent coach who deserved a better send off. No doubt Bob made Washington rowing more successful; however, as a leader of people, he failed.

First let me speak to my own direct experience with Bob. I rowed at Washington from 1982-1986, won the ’84 and ‘85 National Championships, and was the ’85 stroke and Team Captain. I went on to a silver medal win at the 1987 World Championships and then to the 1988 Olympics – all with Bob as my coach. I was, by many people’s standards, a winning rower. I was strong, smart, disciplined and hard-working. I credit Bob with making me a successful rower.

Bob is brilliant and was a revolutionary rowing coach– but not because of his leadership style. While he advanced Washington and Women’s Rowing, both at the collegiate and national level, Bob was not an effective leader of people.

In my six years of rowing, I only lost two official competitive races, and yet I walked away feeling like a loser. Why is that? My experience with Bob was that I was only as good as my latest win on the water. His strategy included blaming rowers for losses, and when we did lose, treating us, I felt, as unworthy human beings. He also used ultimatums to drive compliance.

When I injured my back training for the Olympics I considered missing one practice of our regular “two-a-day” sessions.  Bob yelled: “either she’s in the boat every day or she’s not in the boat at all!” I got in the boat. While the choice to get in that boat was mine, it is important to underscore the power a coach has over team members to make them perform. And when we lost at the Olympics he blamed me for losing the race by getting in the boat with injuries. Really?

His pronouncement of blame was demoralizing in 1988, and I was shocked to hear him repeat it ten years later. When a coach or leader devalues the team his power becomes abusive and the coach ceases to lead.

As a result of my experience with Bob, I have dedicated my career to helping business leaders produce high performing teams that are both smart (“winning”) and healthy (people matter). Team success is often a result of the leader’s willingness to step out of the “command and control” style and get feedback from the team. This drives team engagement and better team results long-term.

In reading the details of what transpired with Bob and the team, he seemed unwilling to be either vulnerable or curious with the team. Bob could not find a way to use the conflict to create a better outcome both for the team and himself. It wasn’t the job of the UW Administrators to do that, it was his job as a leader.

Marlow Mizera, the coxswain who spoke up to Bob, is a hero of mine. She is a leader. She had the courage to stand up to the most powerful coach in Washington Rowing. These women wanted to give their coach feedback on the impact of his style; they wanted to work with him. Unfortunately, he was unwilling to lean in and hear the feedback, which is sad. They did something I wish I could have done 30 years ago.

This is not about an age gap between Bob and the new generation of rowers. This issue has gone on a long time – it’s about confusing iron-fisted power with leadership.

I do wonder if Bob had been willing to hang in, hear, and honor some honest feedback, whether he and the team could have turned this conflict into a win for both him and the Washington Women Rowers.

CrisMarie (aka Chris) Campbell  Co-founder of thrive! inc., works with leaders and their teams to transform conflict into innovative results. Her TEDx Talk is: Conflict – Use It, Don’t Defuse It!