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Crisis Management is a Time for Reflection

How are you managing the rapidly changing environment created by the COVID-19 crisis? Maybe you’re overwhelmed, or maybe you’re feeling hopeless. I spent Monday and Tuesday in a deep funk, at times breaking into tears with the thoughts of uncertainty that pervaded my days.

Whether it’s grief or paralyzing fear, your experience is valid. What you’re going through is real. You’re not going through it alone – we’re all on a parallel journey through this mine field of reality that is our existence today. I encourage you to give yourself permission to feel the emotions that come along with a crisis like the one we’re living through. It may be unpleasant, but it could also turn into an opportunity to step into the next iteration of yourself.

The price of possibility is sometimes very high

You may be questioning everything right now, like I am. And you should – you should allow yourself to delve head-first into an existential review of who you are in order to emerge from the crisis with a degree of resilience and optimism about your future. In fact, it’s sometimes the only way you can create the future you want. But the price you’re paying right now feels extraordinarily high. That’s because it is. This period of questioning, discomfort, and loss (or even grief) is the human experience of crises like this one.

What you may not be able to see today is how this experience will turn into something positive. And here’s what I offer you to ruminate on: it will be OK because you’re going to make it OK.

If you’re struggling with how to make it OK, allow me to share what I’m doing in this very uncertain time: I’m borrowing from Burning Man. You read that correctly – Burning Man. More precisely, I’m using the Ten Principles of Burning Man to realign my practice with my core values. I’m also giving myself some guidance about how to remain emotionally healthy during this crisis.

The price of not changing may be even higher

Where the Ten Principles are a reflection of the event’s ethos and culture, you can use this time to reflect on your own ethos. Where they call on attendees to be inclusive, authentic, responsible, and immersive in their participation, you can use this time to consider what limitations you want to challenge, what assumptions aren’t serving you well, and where you’re taking short-cuts that keep you from growth.

You can do all of this if you commit about a half-hour a day to reflection and creating change amid crisis. Or you can emerge from this time of isolation unchanged. But what will you regret tomorrow if you choose to do nothing?

A model for reflection

If you need a model, borrow mine. I’ve listed the Ten Principles along with some of the questions I plan to use on this inward journey:

  • Radical Inclusion – What alliances can I consider to grow my practice post-crisis? Who have I avoided before and how can I be more inclusive in the future?
  • Gifting – Who needs my support now? What can I offer those around me as we manage this crisis together? How will my gift change when we resume life again?
  • Decommodification – What relationships have I over-valued? How can I better align them so they fit more appropriately into my values structure?
  • Radical Self-Reliance – What limits have I imposed on myself? How can I challenge those limits to break through their bonds?
  • Radical Self-Expression – How have I stopped myself from taking risks or acting boldly? What do I want to be known for and how will I make it happen?
  • Communal Effort – Who is my professional tribe? How can I build community in that group? How do I fulfill my professional obligations to them? What do I appreciate about them?
  • Civic Responsibility – How can I be a bigger contributor to my community? What changes will I see in myself as a result of doing contributing more?
  • Leaving No Trace – Where am I wasting resources? How can I be a better steward of the shared resources around me? What relationships do I need to repair and nurture?
  • Participation – Where am I not authentically participating in my life or practice? What changes will I commit to in order to rectify this?
  • Immediacy – Where am I participating in my life or practice at a purely surface level? What is getting in my way? What can I give up to be more immersed in growing my practice and my life?

A crisis can become an opportunity

Hopefully, you won’t be in this position again in your lifetime. It’s a crisis that no one wanted, but one that gives you an opportunity to focus on who you want to be tomorrow, whenever that day arrives. If you find yourself stuck on any of these areas or on a question of your choosing, please email or respond here and I’ll do what I can to support you through it. Now is a time to pull together so we re-enter our lives better for having gone through this hell.

Stay safe. Practice social distancing. Care for those around you. May we all emerge from this crisis with greater clarity about what matters.

Bradley K. Ward, PCC is a transformational and leadership 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!

Recognize the Good Around You

Recognize the Good Around You

I declared 2020 to be my year of clarity. What’s coming into focus is I haven’t been good at recognizing my own contributions to my profession and to people beyond my spheres of influence. Fortunately, there are people out there who have done exactly that. They have picked up on something I’ve contributed or some work I’ve done and given me a moment of recognition. And I’m grateful I’ve caught their attention!

Someone noticed me. Now what?

I didn’t know I’d have any influence beyond the borders of the US, but technology has made that possible. However, last month, MSN Asia picked up one of my tips in a piece about sustaining a happy marriage: https://www.msn.com/en-xl/asia/life-arts/the-50-best-marriage-tips-of-all-time/ss-BBZ0qmU.

And earlier this month, Brandon from Life Coach Path interviewed me. He’s facilitating a series of conversations to help coaches in training understand what it’s really like to enter the profession of coaching. I’m honored to be among some distinguished folk in my profession. Find my interview at http://www.nationalcoachacademy.com/coach-interview-series-brad-ward.

Notice what people are doing around you!

I’m taking away from the experience of being noticed that it’s important to recognize others. I don’t have to be someone’s manager to offer a compliment or tell someone I appreciate their work. And if they feel as rewarded as I do by simply being recognized, it’s a worthwhile endeavor.

I’ve seen how unexpected recognition or gratitude can change someone’s day for the better. So I’m challenging myself and you to make that a practice at least once a week. Rather than looking at my phone while I’m waiting in line, I can look around me for people going out of their way to do something kind or thoughtful. But it takes more than noticing, it takes recognizing the effort to the person doing it or to the person I’m there to see.

Imagine what the world would be like if a few people made the effort to notice and recognize the work of others. If you’re picturing a place you’d like to live, join me in watching for and calling out the unnoticed good you see around you. Even if you don’t return to that place, you’ll leave behind a positive experience for someone. And who wouldn’t want to do that?

Bradley K. Ward, PCC 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!

My 2020 Guiding Principle: 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!

Preserving Nature and Human Dignity

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 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 our role in preserving it.

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.

Here’s an example of how we benefit from the successes of other people. Not too long ago, Elon Musk opened for all the technology behind his electric vehicles that was previously patented. He did so to make it easier for vehicle manufacturers around the world to make cars that do not burn hydrocarbons. His innovation can now benefit us all.

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!

We Need More Love in Our World

Love TheMissionCoach

Jackie DeShannon made popular a song, “What the World Needs Now is Love” written and produced by Hal David and Burt Bacharach. The song conveyed a simple idea – that we’re surrounded by nature, light, and beauty, and yet, some people remain unloved. Sadly, the same could be said of our world today. Simply put, we need more love.

What’s the solution? Perhaps the question should be reworded. Maybe it should be a more personal, introspective idea that propels into action the love that lives within each of us. Try this: How will I show love today?

The traits of love

Whether you adhere to the teachings of the Bible or not, there you’ll find some qualities of love eloquently enumerated. It is patient and kind. Love does not envy, boast, or dishonor others. It is not self-seeking nor easily angered. Love doesn’t keep record of wrongs. It detests evil and resonates with truth.

Love protects, trusts, hopes, perseveres. And it never fails.

Pay love forward

Love exists within you. And because of that, you can show it to others, if you’re willing to put aside the things that thwart it. You aren’t going to experience romantic love for everyone you meet today, but you can be kind or patient. Or you can show someone a moment of honor or respect, even when they haven’t earned it. You can smile or offer a kind word.

But perhaps the best news of all is that in addition to showing love to someone who may feel unloved, you will embody it and it will permeate your body, mind, and soul. And who doesn’t need that?

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!

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
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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!

© 2020 The Mission Coach, LLC
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