An Appetite for Folklore

Oh, the battles we wage…inside.

I once saw a meme that read:

Wolf soulI’m not so sure I’d describe my soul as “difficult,” but I take conflicts that arise there seriously. I try to use all my coachy, self-help techniques to evolve into a “better person,” whatever that may mean.

There is a distinct possibility I’m using my soul as a canvas, splashing pretty colours, making mistakes and gessoing over them again. Just waiting, hoping a worthy masterpiece will emerge. (click to Tweet).

There’s a tale I occasionally share when I work with leadership groups. This week, I’ve told it twice to artists, so I maybe I need a broader audience. Here it goes…

One evening, an elderly Cherokee brave told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside of people, even him.  He said, “My son, the battle is between two ‘wolves’ inside us all. One is evil. It is angry, envious, jealous, sorrowful, regretful, greedy, arrogant, full of self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.

The other is good. It is joyful, peaceful, loving, hopeful, serene, full of humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then he asked, “Grandfather which wolf wins?…”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one I feed.”

The one I feed.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about my own hungry wolves. The choice is mine which to feed. Sometimes, even knowing the consequences, I wander off the beaten path, into the thick of the woods and pitch a fine rib roast squarely in the slobbering jaws of the mean and evil wolf. Oh, how it feasts with delight! It becomes stronger, robust and is able to exert its power over the good wolf.

Sometimes I am a little wiser and remember to give the lion’s share to the good wolf. Things usually go well when I nurture the good wolf. He, in turn, protects me.

Consider yourself in the following circumstances. What is the outcome when the good wolf is in charge, verses the bad wolf? Their voices are quite different.

  • You are analyzing your work
  • You need encouragement to build a strong business
  • You seek courage to take risks
  • The outcome of a venture is unexpected
  • People you meet, perhaps difficult people, require your grace
  • You focus on gratitude for the gifts you’ve been given
  • You must patiently wait for an anticipated outcome
  • Others need the generosity of your time or resources

How do these situations vary given which wolf is being fed? How would the outcome be different if you fed only the good “wolf?” Could you even do that? It’s something to think about.

I, for one, am putting the ugly wolf on a diet. Lately, he’s a bit of a butterball (click to Tweet). If I do it right, maybe I can starve him, weaken him, cage him, enslave him…whoops, I think I went over the line. Well, awareness is the first step.

Feed your instincts!

Coaching

 

 

Michelle Andres is a writer, artist and coach who nudges, nay, shoves, her clients in the direction of their dreams, helping them to overcome non-productive behaviours and enjoy more success in their lives. 

Writer, Artist, CoachFollow her on  Facebook and on Twitter

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Fear Biters

Insecure Fear PeopleSome people are fear biters. You know, like dogs when they feel threatened…they bite.

Like snarling beasts backed into a corner, the fear biter usually begins the interlude with subtle signs. If you know how to read them, you are one step ahead of the game. If not, well, break out the band-aids, because you’re about to become kibbles and bits.

Subtle signs may include an invigorated interest, intense eye contact, retracted ears – no wait – that’s a dog, loud or energetic verbal response or barking and vehement protests with no real explanation or reasoning as to why. It continues with snarling and the imminent lunge at your throat.  Then they bite. Alright, they don’t ALWAYS go for the throat. There are those pesky ankle biters.

The bite stings, frightens and damages the unsuspecting approacher.  It is uncalled for!  Obviously, these people have issues.  Trust me, fear biting creates trust issues on both ends. (click to tweet)

Now, I’m sure we all have the capability to snap at others from time to time. Generally, this happens when we feel threatened, unfairly blamed or insecure. You know if you’re doing it, right? You feel yourself react, maybe even over react. Perhaps there’s a tinge of remorse afterward, or you notice relationships keep changing.  When behaviour is stable and two people are communicating well, the relationship feels solid. You can discuss the undiscussables.  When a person is a fear biter, it’s difficult to approach challenging topics because that person is defensive before the conversation begins. 

So what’s going on? In the head of the fear biter they wonder (mostly, I’m guessing here):

What is wrong with them? Why are people always going over my head/blaming me/ piling on/quitting/ afraid to be my friend/(insert your verb and noun here)?

What they really should explore is:

Is it me? Or is it me???

It takes courage and confidence to accept feed back, or listen to new ideas that aren’t yours when you don’t feel completely safe, valued or adept. You must be brave and open to admit your own mistakes (and make no mistake…we all make mistakes).  Admitting you’re at fault has a predictable outcome – people respect you. That’s right. 


It’s a display of maturity and emotional wellness.  It’s an interpersonal skill…eating from the hand of others without losing who you think you are.

So how do you deal with the fear biter? Well, first you determine whether they’re worth the effort. Yes, I did say that.

“Sometimes you have enough garbage in your can and you don’t need it spillin’ into the street, so to speak.” (click to Tweet)

So, if you feel it’s worth your time and energy to take a chance on the fear biter, here are some things you might try:

1. Be patient – trust isn’t built in a day – especially the trust of those who do not share it easily.  It’s going to take some compassion, patience and time.

2. Listen and also be heard – Make sure you get the facts right and the person is understanding what you’re trying to convey. Misunderstandings unravel delicate situations.

3. Build rapport – Show yourself as non-judgmental and interested in the betterment of all in the given situation. Honestly, everyone has their stuff – a lot of good comes from accepting that fact up front.

4.When the going gets sticky, remain calm and ask open-ended questions – Have you considered….? What would happen if….?  What would you like to see happen when….?

5. Resolution trumps blame – When someone is making you work hard for things that normally go easily for you, it’s tempting to give up or to blame. Remember, resolution moves your world forward and blame keeps you stuck. There is a lesson and it will be worth it when you finally break through.

6. Pitch ideas very softly – It’s slow pitch, people. Soft lobs. (Get the ball, get the ball!). Some people are more agreeable when they believe the idea was their own. What difference does it make as long as the result is beneficial to both of you?

7. Celebrate winning outcomes together – Express your gratitude and appreciation that you were able to work together well. Here’s a treat…that’s a good boy!

Now, before I get a lot of hate mail let me confess. I know I’m being a tad snarky here. Adjusting communication STYLES to communicate more EFFECTIVELY – well, that’s what GOOD communicators do. We might as well have a bit of fun with it. Say “Woof!” if you agree.

Belly Rubs All Around – and Don’t Bite!

Coaching

 

 

Michelle Andres is a writer, artist and coach who nudges, nay, shoves, her clients in the direction of their dreams, helping them to overcome non-productive behaviours and enjoy more success in their lives. 

Writer, Artist, CoachFollow her on  Facebook and on Twitter

For a free gift that will help you boost personal productivity “Join the Tribe” and subscribe to this blog!

 

Walking the Tightrope

Ritual and Routine

 

When you work on your own, it’s easy to get into an unproductive rut. The demands of everyday life can pull you off track. Soon, you find, you’re taxiing kids, doing the laundry or waiting for repair people. Did you get into the studio? Nope. Take care of that upcoming marketing piece for your event? Nope. Did you write your newsletter? Heck, nope…and that’s not all. It’s not that you’re not “working,” it’s just you aren’t working on your stuff. Your life has become a circus!!!

“If you don’t spend your time delivering your own package, other people will use your time to deliver theirs.” (click to Tweet)

This kind of “off-tracking” and generosity may feel like flexibility to you, but what it really does is zap your productivity. What’s more, it can suck every bit of creativity out of you. Schwwwwooooopppp!

   

So, how do you develop a healthy routine that boosts production and allows creativity to thrive? Can your free-spirited self ever be happy with the bridle of routine? You might think it feels, well…constricting.

It’s unrealistic to expect our days will be spent doing only the things we love to do. Ooooh, did I sound like your mother?  Sorry!  Sure, the bulk of your work should be something you’re passionate about, but realistically, we all have parts of our work we don’t thoroughly enjoy. If we want to sip the sweet nectar of success, we have to drink the bitter medicine, too.

The key is to create some balance. If we only do the tasks we enjoy and put off the others, we run into a big pile of procrastination. Life can be like the bigtop, so here are some tips to get a foothold on that tightrope, and create some happy, predictable fun and routine in your days.

Start with a Solid Program – When creating ritual and routine think of the things you enjoy…what are you passionate about? This is your foundation for the day’s journey. Make sure your passions are really your own…unique to you.

Artfully Schedule the Acts – Identify your peak production hours. Schedule hard hitting stuff for the times you’re most energized. For example, if you’re a morning person, do your heavy lifting in the morning. If you are energized after lunch, schedule demanding tasks in the afternoon. Schedule your days with the activities you most enjoy in strategic time slots to kick off the day. Keep momentum by scheduling some “duties” that don’t squeal your wheels, but need to be done anyway, in between the times you’re doing the fun stuff. Need some time management tips?

Sweeten the Deal Think of it like cotton candy. If you’re doing a task you don’t enjoy, sweeten the deal by playing music you love, or performing the task in an enjoyable spot. For example, go out to the garden with your laptop to create marketing material, or play your favourite artist during your clean up phase in the studio. Sip a favourite beverage while doing your books. It works!

Be the Ringmaster – Of course, you have an audacious “To Do” list! You also have a calendar. Use them both. Schedule 60% of your time and leave 40% free for life to happen. But when you schedule it, make sure you honor your commitments to yourself and do what’s on your calendar. It’s important to schedule time in the day to take a break and recharge. This is essential to your creative flow. You can find some tips here.

Hold Regular Dress Rehearsals  – Spend time on the tightrope every day. Repeat the ritual and routine. Keep it predictable…well, as predictable as possible. Let those around you know the road you’re traveling, so you can reclaim your time for yourself and decline their requests until you’re free. If you get up everyday and repeat the same positive behaviours, you can’t help but increase your productivity and creativity. You’ll be flying through the air with the greatest of ease.

By consciously filling your days with both things you love and activities you MUST do, and being committed to the schedule, you create ritual and routine. Inform others of your plan and schedule their time separately…then they can’t clown with your calendar. Be committed to your own success by claiming your own time and stepping into the spotlight. Be the star of your own act.

Take a Bow,

Signature

 

 

Michelle Andres is a writer, artist and coach who nudges, nay, shoves, her clients in the direction of their dreams, helping them to overcome non-productive behaviours and enjoy more success in their lives. 

Writer, Artist, CoachFollow her on  Facebook and on Twitter

For a free gift that will help you boost personal productivity “Join the Tribe” and subscribe to this blog!

Habits

HabitsNuns wear habits. The Monastery of the Angels, a website of Dominican Cloistered Nuns, explains it this way:

“A “habit” tells who the nuns are.  Nuns are women of prayer who have dedicated themselves to a life of prayer, penance and sacrifice.  They do not keep to themselves the fruit of their contemplation, but share it with others.”

Plain Ol’ Sinners like us have habits that are like this…sort of. Stick with me for the stretch. I promise to try to tie it together.

Our “holiest” of habits require a commitment, sacrifice, occasional penance and the fruit they produce is shared. Good habits are a blessing that we nurture from the seed of an idea.

Then there are “unholy” habits. Gosh, where to begin? I’ve got some unproductive, self-indulgent, fear based, lazy-assed habits myself. They feel wonderful when I’m fully engaged in them, like a cuddly ol’ horse hair shirt, but I almost always regret it later. It’s like good and evil fighting for possession of my soul! You devil, Rocky Road ice cream!

They tell people who we are. They demonstrate our dedication to certain practices. Our habits reflect our values, our self-esteem, our passion, our “fire” and our mental disorders. Excessive hand washing, anyone? It’s cold and flu season, you know?  Some of us hold tight to our habits…religiously.

One thing is for sure – our habits create our days, our lives, our careers, our futures, our friends and families. They are POWERFUL! (click to Tweet).

Habits
“Wave” 12×12 Oil By Jill Christian

I was recently chatting with my art partner, Jill Christian (sounds like she would wear a habit) about the value of goals. You remember goals? I drilled you about them towards the end of last year. Jill was tossing around the idea that habits may be more important than goals for creating the lives we want. It’s a compelling conundrum. Our audacious goals need the right habits to fuel them, AND, being the hedonist I am, I think we really ought to throw in some fun, maybe a couple “soft/bad” habits, to take the drudgery from all those good habits. We don’t want to end up with too many “shoulds,” after all!

The cousin to habits is most assuredly “Time.” I’ve addressed the issue of time management.

Poor habits can gnaw away at time, the same way worry sharpens its teeth on your well-being (click to Tweet).

To create the life you desire you have to get a handle on time and use it as the starter crank to your good habits.

So, just a little communion wafer for thought, this week. Are your habits helping or hurting you when it comes to creating the life you desire? Is it time for a self-check? A couple minor adjustments? Cornette a little crooked?

Okay, I’ve said my sermon. I really not sure whether to ask forgiveness or just bow my head in reverence.

Can I get an Amen?

Coaching

 

 

 

Special thanks to Jill Christian for being a great artist and a great thinker. Thank you for contributing your beautiful artwork to this post. Find Jill at www.facebook.com/jill.christian.art  or on her website.

If you would like your art featured on my blog, please send a quality image in a jpeg format with the title and permission for use. If the appropriate topic fits your image, I’ll credit you and publish a link to your site!  

Michelle Andres is a writer, artist and coach who nudges, nay, shoves, her clients in the direction of their dreams, helping them to overcome non-productive behaviours and enjoy more success in their lives. 

Writer, Artist, CoachFollow her on  Facebook and on Twitter

For a free gift that will help you boost personal productivity “Join the Tribe” and subscribe to this blog!