Tuesday, December 11, 2012

You hereby have permission to forgive yourself.

I was working with some pros the other day in early season training, and we were talking about the idea of meeting someone where they needed to be met.

One of the people in the clinic, (we'll call him Fred, but that's not his name) has been teaching on Aspen Mountain for almost forty years. He has a depth of experience with customers that is awesome, he builds relationships beautifully, he is well respected in the ski school.

One day, about twenty five years ago, Fred had a customer whom he couldn't connect with. He tried several different things, and none of them seemed to work. He passed the client on to another pro, who was very successful with her.

Rather than pointing a finger endlessly, look in the mirror, find the lesson.
Since that time, Fred has wondered what went wrong. He has been carrying forward a feeling of guilt at not being able to connect well with this guest. He failed in his attempt to build a relationship with her, and it has been haunting him.

In the clinic, Fred realized that he hadn't been able to let his client have as much control over their relationship as she wanted, and so she wasn't able to walk toward him. He couldn't see where she needed to be met.

And that's okay.

Over the next couple of days, I realized that there was a common theme emerging here. Ski instructors are a group of incredibly dedicated, talented pros. They work hard, they love their clients, they give their clients everything they have to ensure a great lesson experience.

When it doesn't work out, it hurts. The instructor feels like they have failed. They feel like they are wanting for some reason.

In this moment, you have choice. You can choose to see the lesson you need to learn, and take it, and grow from it, or you can take your "failure" and push it in front of you from that moment forward.

That's called letting your story define you. Lots of times we do this because we feel obligated to acknowledge our lack. We don't want to put down the mistake we made because we need other people to know that we know we made a mistake, and we are truly sorry.

The problem with pushing your story in front of you, and letting it define you from that moment forward is that it keeps people from seeing you, and it keeps you from growing. You are stuck. Behind this moment in which you didn't behave the way you wish you had. That's a heavy burden, and it doesn't help you.

If, instead, you are willing to look at that moment, and search for the lesson, (perhaps in Fred's case it would have been "Look carefully at what she needs in order for her to be able to hear me. Decide if I'm willing to give it or not."), be willing to "take the hit" of ownership and accountability. This will sting for a moment, maybe even for a few days.
My story defines me, and I need you to tell me I'm okay.

But if, at the same time, you can thank yourself for being willing to look honestly at what you can change in order to do a better job next time, and truly embody that moment, let that lesson shape your future behavior, you can grow.

And the act of being willing to learn can give you permission to forgive yourself. "I wish I had done that differently. But I didn't. The lesson is X. From now on, I will be more cognoscente of X when it shows up."

If you can look at guilt as your conscious asking you to learn the lesson, once you have agreed to learn it, you can let go of guilt, shame, and wishing. You can fold your growth into your understanding of who you are and how you function, and you don't have to push your story ahead of you, being defined by your mistake forever.

When we push our stories ahead of us, let our stories define us, we ask everyone in our sphere to continually re-define us so that we might take the power away from our own self judgement. We build a need for constant contradiction of that judgement, in order to feel good about ourselves.

Unfortunately, what this does is make the guilt feel deeper, feel secret, and we begin to feel like a fraud. Even if it was a mistake that was only made once, or made many times, but now we have made a change in our behavior, having people validate that we are good, when we secretly think we are bad makes the problem worse.

We begin to rely on the feedback from others as our only compass of our self worth, but we don't actually believe it is valid and true, so no matter how many validations we get, we are left wanting.

How, then, do we heal?

That's better. Be a good parent to yourself. Take the lesson and live again.
By accepting who we are, and what our experience was and is in this moment. It is okay that you had a learning experience. It is okay if you don't feel great in that moment. You are allowed to go through the spectrum of emotions, but once you have found your lesson, forgive yourself. Let go of your need to feel guilt, to cary your story forward. Let the mistake go, like a helium balloon, floating up into the sky. Keep the lesson. Lose the guilt. Grow.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

What's next for Kate?

Three days before 2012 Alpine Team Tryouts. What a ride. 
I've been wondering that myself. And I've made a decision. For the last three months, I've been working with my little sister, Liat, and my team from Skiing in the Shower trying to figure out, what is the next step? And then, how do I take the next step?

The first thing was to figure out what it is that I want to do, simply. What am I passionate about? What is it that I do best, that I love doing most?

It turns out it is personal journey and relationship building! (Shocking I know.) Understanding interpersonal communications and helping people identify what is keeping them from moving forward. How to see obstacles both internal, in our understanding of ourselves, and external, in our understanding of others and how we fit in to, and define the relationship.

My challenge (as you can see from the last paragraph) is a verbosity issue. I need focus and distillation. Not just with the information, but with my approach to doing it as a business.

Now what?

I realized this personal growth thingy was my bag a few years ago, but I didn't really know how to package it. giving talks here and there, writing proposals and clinics, but it wasn't quite gelling. Because it wasn't sorted into small, sticky clumps.

I spent about six years writing from a personal perspective, which taught me a lot about my own journey.  This, in turn, made me realize that my journey, fundamentally, is the same as everyone else's. We all want to know where we fit in and how to feel safe, secure, and happy while growing and contributing something meaningful.

Lots of people teach this, and talk about this. What sets me aside? Is there room for another teacher in the personal growth field? This path is rife with mine fields of inauthenticity and ego. Ew. How to navigate?

Enter my INSPIRATIONALLY organized surprise teacher, (my little sister). I taught her how to stop spilling her milk, and she is teaching me how to organize my thoughts and beliefs in a way that holds true to my core values. She is helping me before we even get to talks, books, blog posts and eBooks, with the foundation. Who am I? What do I bring? Who is my audience? How do I reach them? What am I helping them with? What's the best way to deliver the message? I'm so excited, I've never gone this route before.

This is a fun and scary challenge for me, I've lived in a first draft world for a long time. I've lived from passion, which has been a great teacher. I'm a putter out of fires and a plate spinner. But mostly because I didn't plan so that I wouldn't have fires to put out. Now, I'm learning new skills and moving into strange, new, uncharted territory of information wrangling, which requires a much broader-spectrum vision, patience, persistence, and a lot of introspection.

I wondered if I should shut down Skiing in the Shower, now that the six year experiment is over. Is it a distraction now?  Does it take me away from my goal of developing this material into something concrete and deliverable? I don't think so. Skiing in the Shower is one of my favorite places to connect with people who are on their own journey. Its my reality. Its my truth. I'm grateful to go at it, embark on my unsure journey, knowing I'm not alone. I cherish your comments, your stories, and your growth.

I'm so glad to know you are there, on your journey, while I'm here, on mine. 
So I have decided to keep Skiing in the Shower going, as a personal blog about the experiences I have and the lessons I learn as I take this next journey.  I have some friends who worry that being so personal might be detrimental. But I think its a fundamental truth of who I am, I like to work things out out loud, writing helps me do that. And its given me the gift of a relationship with a likeminded community. It keeps me facing the honest truths, it keeps me accountable. I wouldn't let that go for anything. We started this journey together. Lets not chicken out, now.

There will be a new website and blog that center around my consulting business, which I'm tentatively calling "Making the Jump" (I'm going to say that's it's working title, its a bit "corp speak" for me. If anyone has another idea, let me know...)

So here we go, again, gentle reader. Another ski season is upon us, and this year I have a different challenge, a different focus. I've been invited to present some materials on Trust Building for the Ski Company, and other fun topics, and so my focus isn to sift through my material with clarity, extrude it into its foundational pieces, and split it into digestible, easy to understand chunks that can be understood easily and taught by anyone.

I am building a business, from the ground up, new mission, new biz plan, new financials, new materials, new talks, new books, and it all starts with a clear idea of my brand, a clear strategy to spread that brand identity, and an open heart to my teachers while I'm learning new skills.

Its funny, I've owned a business before (several actually), and I've learned a lot each time. But I always have gone at it from a place of passion, with planning happening almost in real time. I function well under a heavy deadline. But that's not a recipe for longevity.

This time, I ALMOST did the same thing I often do, (because I'm eager and excited) but I've decided to open my ears and find my leverage points. So. Liat, Weems, Jonathan, Andy, Kurt, Peter, Megan... I'm listening.  And I'm so grateful to be launching from the ski industry, for all the lessons and mentors I've had to this point, and all the ones to come in the future.

Next Tuesday's blog post: Being willing to learn your lesson. (Eat your peas!)

I loved this business, I had it in Pasadena for about eight months. It was called Prelasser, the Relaxing Bath. All passion, no planning. Very soothing. A vision of what it could turn into without a plan for how to get there.  

Thanks for coming along on the journey!