Focus on the moment, or, coach class

Another one of those multi-link paths today.  I had conversation with Ruth Seeley of No Spin PR, which led me to follow her blogroll to Fiona Walsh’s blog, where Walsh suggested a Marshall Goldsmith post on asking one tough question.

That question, asked of people too busy to implement changes they said they wanted to make, was “What am I willing to change now?”

I get uneasy around some coaches (and not just the ones in sports), so I was all the more surprised to read Goldsmith saying “do what you can do now…and make peace with what is.”

Each of those statements linked to yet other posts, so this was like three links out with a bonus.  I’ve been a bit frazzled lately, so it was good to be reminded of these things.

My most recent project really energized me.  I got to work with a skilled expert who’s been thinking about how to increase the skills of new people coming into his field.  He doesn’t think he has all the questions, much less all the answers.  I hadn’t had that direct contact in a while, nor such a free-flowing exchange.

So part of the “do what you can do” message is getting clear on what I’d like to be doing, or doing more of.   Stewart Friedman’s advice include being real (which I read as “true to yourself”), be whole, and be innovative.

As for the being at peace, the second link cited by Goldman, Annie McKee is writing about dealing with pressure and building things into your life to spark both psychological and physical renewal:

  • Listen to life’s quiet wake-up calls.  Maybe they’re just the small sound life is making in another room.  What’s happening (or not happening) while you want for Something to Happen?
  • Practice mindfulness.  This one’s hard for me.  I sometimes fell like Bill Blazejowski in Night Shift (“What if you mix the mayonnaise in the can, with the tuna fish? Or… hold it! Chuck! I got it! Take live tuna fish, and feed ’em mayonnaise! Oh, this is great.”)  I have to work at building this, the way you have to work at building muscle strength.
  • Find hope. The motto of Detroit is Speramus meliora–“we hope for better things.” Hope is a vote for the future.
  • Practice compassion. This isn’t a virtue widely prized in competitive culture, but it’s one I value.

This was a good shift between reports I’m working on and books I’ve been reading.

4 thoughts on “Focus on the moment, or, coach class

  1. As one of the Goddesses of Empathy I struggle with the difference between compassion and co-dependence. Glad the winding path of our conversation led to a blog post for you though.

    I think one of the things we are not taught well in either school or life (or weren’t when I was going to school) was how to set goals. Oddly, this is one of the things that becoming a strategic thinker has really helped me to do. When you realize that most ‘overnight successes'(in the sense of positioning someone as an industry expert) are the result of not only their own achievements but two years’ worth of hard slogging by a team of highly paid PR professionals, you start to appreciate the discipline of setting objectives, devising a strategy, and then of basically putting one foot in front of the other to execute the tactics.

  2. Ruth, I think one difference between compassion and codependence is that compassion, as I see it, can see what is (or seems to be) and just accept it, without necessarily approving of it.

    The non-tautological version of “it is what it is,” maybe. Matthew McKay and Patrick Fanning, in a more therapeutic setting, see three elements to compassion: understanding, acceptance, and forgiveness. They’re talking about individuals dealing with one another, or with themselves.

    As for goal-setting, I agree, not a skill often taught. Sports helps, I suppose, though when I was a kid most organized sports were school teams, meaning 90% of people were left outside.

    As for the one-foot-in-front, Carolyn Hax, who writes an advice column in the Washington Post, once phrase it as “doing is better than dwelling–on your sorrows, on your problems, on the couch.”

  3. Dave – I enjoyed your post very much! The Marshall Goldsmith blog resonated with me as I was in overwhelm and tying myself in knots trying to figure out how to get it all done. That article made me step back and decide on a few things to focus on and let the rest go. The world did not collapse and I found myself enjoying things more! As you aptly say, it is about getting clear on what you WANT to be doing, not what you think you should.

  4. Fiona, thank you for commenting. I think it’s important for people to admit that they can’t get it all done. As the noted management consultant Steven Wright said, “You can’t have everything–where would you put it?”

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