Author: Bradley K. Ward, PCC

2020: A Year for Clarity

A few years ago, I brazenly gave up on resolutions and opted instead for a word that would be my guiding principle for the year. Coming up to 2020, I had initially chosen celebration as my word. But the longer I lived with it, the less I liked it. I know too many people whose experiences in 2019 made that word feel cheap and tone-deaf to the realities of our world today.

I struggled for a while. Then I heard myself tell someone that my word for 2020 was vision. I reflexively recoiled because it was trite and predictable. I immediately went back to the proverbial drawing board to reconsider what I would choose for 2020.

Nothing sounded right to me. I went through so many words that I can’t even recall all of them. I was putting pressure on myself to identify my guiding principle and feeling unsettled with how I would start the year. Then, it occurred to me that the searching was a key to my dilemma. And I finally saw it as plain as day:

Clarity

This year, I will invite, seek, and practice clarity. Not that I’ll be 100% successful – I’ve no such delusions about who I am. But I will think before I speak so I bring clarity to the conversation. I’ll ask questions rather than opining so I can hear what clarity others have to offer.

When I attempt to communicate and find myself failing, I will lean into clarity and ask the listener what I can do to make myself more clear to them. And hopefully I can do this by using empathy to put myself in their position for a moment.

When I hear myself becoming frustrated with someone else, I will step away from my impatience and ask questions that allow me to focus on creating shared meaning. That is, after all, the entire point of our communications with each other.

And when political discourse starts to take its inevitable destructive turn, I’ll remind myself that letting others speak with clarity is a critical part of understanding our differences.

But there’s more

What else is required of me if I’m in pursuit of clarity? I think it includes recognizing when I’m in a situation where I will not be heard and taking my leave from it. I think it includes letting go of the need to change an opinion of someone else. And I think it includes being present to the needs of the person or people I’m engaged with so that I respond to those needs in the moment.

As odd as it sounds, I think clarity isn’t always about being clear, myself. But it is also about giving other people the space to be clear for themselves. I’m really good at this as a coach, but don’t always make a habit of doing it outside of a coaching session.

A toast to 2020

Clarity. In 2020, I will seek clarity as often as I can. I hope your 2020 is filled with celebrations, moments of vision and clarity, and more love and laughter than you expect. Happy new year!

The Dignity of Human Nature

It is good to realize that if love and peace can prevail on earth, and if we can teach our children to honor nature’s gifts, the joys and beauties of the outdoors will be here forever.

Jimmy Carter

Earlier this month, Jimmy Carter celebrated his 95th birthday. I was a child when he served as 39th President of the United States, so I don’t remember much about his term in office. What I’ve since learned is how much wisdom he has imparts and what an excellent example of service to country he offers us, even at his advanced age. What I didn’t realize until I found this quote is how insightful he is about the survival of our natural world and the dignity of human nature.

Failure to notice nature

I think I frequently failed to notice the beauty of nature when I lived in a big city. It’s easy to do when you’re surrounded by tall buildings, endless concrete, and people rushing to their next scheduled appointment. Maybe it’s happened to you, too.

But since we moved to Palm Springs, I intentionally stand in awe of Mt. San Jacinto to the west every morning and evening when it’s time to walk the dogs. I make a point of looking up to the mountain to take in the beauty and grandeur of what nature has offered us. And I stop to think how grateful I am that San Jacinto is the protector of the valley I call home.

Imagine the consequences

But what if you never honor the wealth of nature around you? What if you fail to appreciate its beauty, vastness, or seemingly impossible stillness? Would you miss nature if it disappeared from view tomorrow?

What if you spend more than 8 hours each day sitting at your desk, not making time to look out the nearest window to take in the sky? What if your weekends are filled with errands and chores that render your free time void of any appreciation of the world around you? Would you miss nature if it disappeared from view tomorrow?

For a moment, imagine the impact of not teaching your children to honor the gifts of nature around them; the impact of teaching your children hatred and war. What kind of world would we hand the next generation?

The dignity of humans

Now substitute people for nature – what is the impact of failing to teach your children to notice and honor what people offer each other? What is the impact of promoting the idea that others are not important?

I hear people say they don’t want to live in a world where they pay for the mistakes of others. I can understand the sentiment, but the truth is we already live in a world where we pay for the mistakes of others. Likewise, we benefit from the successes of others – although perhaps not always in monetary terms.

Jimmy Carter’s prescient observations about nature are staggering to consider. And if you consider that people are an offering of nature, how much more staggering is the impact of failing to heed his words?

Bradley K. Ward, ACC is a leadership and transformational coach at The Mission Coach, LLC in Palm Springs, CA. Contact Brad to learn how coaching can help you do what you do, better!

Groovy New Location

Groovy New Location

Starting on September 1, 2018, find The Mission Coach at its new location in Kaptur Plaza. This stretch of buildings sat vacant and deteriorating for several years. But a small group of Palm Springs residents saved the building from demolition in 2015 because of its architectural value and its significance to the body of work of architect Hugh Kaptur. 

Find us at
650 E. Tahquitz Canyon Way, Suite 2
Palm Springs, CA 92262

I’m excited to be in a vibrant office space surrounded by people making Palm Springs a wonderful place to live, work, and play. See you soon!

Brad

MissionCoachLocation2
New Location of The Mission Coach, LLC
MissionCoachLocation3
Find The Mission Coach at 650 E. Tahquitz Canyon Way, Suite 2.

Bradley K. Ward, ACC is a leadership and transformational coach at The Mission Coach, LLC in Palm Springs, CA. Contact Brad to find out how coaching can help you do what you do, better!

Turning the Page to 2018

December 31; the last day of our calendar year. Today is a great day to look back, reflect, smile, laugh, cry, or simply be present with what happened over the last year. It’s also a great time to give yourself some words of encouragement for the year ahead.

We’re each a bit wiser for the experiences of the last 365 days and, hopefully, a bit more tolerant of the humanity in ourselves and others. It’s possible one of those humans will  ask you tonight about your hopes and plans for the coming year.

Resolutions aren’t for everyone


If you’re not one to make a resolution (like me), then what will you do to keep your year moving in a direction that you intend? Consider an alternative, such as a word or action that will ground you in your purpose for the year. You don’t have to do anything cheesy or silly, unless that’s your thing, to keep yourself focused on your chosen word. But I think it’s important to find a way to keep that word present in your thoughts and actions if it’s to be a meaningful part of your year.

I’ve chosen a word to remind myself of what I intend to cultivate at home, among my clients, and in others.

My word for 2018 is THRIVE.

The last couple of months I’ve been planning 2018 and the word thrive kept showing up in my reflections. It came up too frequently to ignore, so after a few years of working on the foundation of my practice, I’ve decided it’s time to grow!

An appealing thing about thriving: it’s contagious. People who are thriving are easy to be around because their enthusiasm readily connects with the people they encounter. It inspires others to find their own sense of vitality and fulfillment. And so on, and so on.

Here’s to a 2018 filled with wonder, joy, and opportunity to be inspired and to inspire others. Happy New Year!

Bradley K. Ward, ACC is a leadership and transformational coach at The Mission Coach, LLC in Palm Springs, CA. Contact Brad to find out how coaching can help you do what you do, better!

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to you!

I grew up celebrating Christmas with my family. As a kid, I learned that giving is the purpose of the season. But it was as an adult that I came to realize what that means and how much I appreciate giving to and for others.

In the spirit of giving, I offer you this wish for the season and the coming year.

I wish you abundance.
I wish you joy, peace, and prosperity to sustain your soul.
I wish you laughter and good company to lighten your spirit.
I wish you motivation and intent to eat well and stay active.
I wish you disruption and discomfort to urge you into action to change the world for the better.
And mostly, I wish you love and compassion to share with those you encounter.
Merry Christmas to you and those with whom you share the world!

Brad

Bradley K. Ward, ACC is a leadership and transformational coach at The Mission Coach, LLC in Palm Springs, CA. Contact Brad to find out how coaching can help you do what you do, better!

Redefining Gratitude

There’s no shortage of social media posts about gratitude – it’s that time of year. Gratitude comes easy in November, but what about February or August – how do you sustain it all year long?

I’m a word nerd, so I did some quick internet research on the origins of the word gratitude. The GNU Collaborative International Dictionary of English (GCIDE) entry includes a handful of definitions and suggests Latin or French origin. The second definition, “warm and friendly feeling toward a benefactor,” is what I think of this time of year. It conveys a sense of awe for the force or deity that works on our behalf.

That was the kind of gratitude I grew up with and was reinforced by parents who told me it was important to be grateful in all things. That was a heavy burden for a young child. Maybe it would have felt less burdensome if I’d learned to recategorize it in my mind as the third definition from GCIDE: “kindness awakened by a favor received.” (Reference)

It’s much like the distinction I make between happiness and contentment. Happiness is something I initiate, but contentment comes from simply being present to the people and experiences that make my life full. Thinking about it in similar terms, gratitude is something I initiate, but kindness awakens in response to something I’ve received.

Living in gratitude takes practice. I still have bad days, as you likely do. I encounter people who behave badly and I sometimes behave badly in response. Then I find myself feeling far less than grateful. I used to let those bad experiences define my day, but I’ve learned to do something in service to someone or something when I get frustrated. It’s an instant mood lift for me when I’m doing something to awaken kindness in someone else.

I’ve given you two of my secrets about gratitude – redefine it when it starts to become work and reconnect to it after having a bad experience. But there’s one more thing you can do to allow more space in your life for being grateful, and that’s to practice forgiveness. Nothing gets in the way of gratitude like resentment. When you start to notice it creeping into your head, pay attention. You may need to forgive yourself or someone else in order to experience full-on gratitude. It might even make your Thanksgiving Day meal more pleasant.

So, please join me in redefining gratitude this November. Let kindness be awakened in you by virtue of a favor you received. And let kindness sustain you all year long!

Bradley K. Ward, ACC is a leadership and transformational coach at The Mission Coach, LLC in Palm Springs, CA. Contact Brad to find out how coaching can help you do what you do, better!

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