“We all have indelible moments, memorable occasions that live like video clips in our inner vision for a lifetime and become imprinted into our Being. These memories are enormously important to the warmth and camaraderie we show each other along the journey.” ~ Dr. Marilyn Atkinson from Flow: The Core of Coaching
On Wednesday of this week, I graduated from the University of Guelph with a Master of Arts in Leadership. This was indeed an “indelible moment.” The parchment is pretty awesome and it looks fabulous hanging in my office. But, the parchment is exactly that. It is a symbol that we can achieve what we set out to if we focus and believe in what is possible. The human spirit is truly remarkable with such energy and potential. It is there for the asking…waiting to give us purpose.
This photo of me shaking hands with Alastair Summerlee, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Guelph with well known scholar Peter Senge smiling in the background was a moment to be remembered. The memories and waves of emotion that come with that “indelible moment” however, are far more than a symbol. The memories created are beyond words and so, I’m not sure I will even do them justice but will try. They span across years past and a new understanding of years to come. They include building meaningful relationships with people who offer kindness and encouragement as a source of support. Being part of a community of like minded individuals who have a zest for learning…and for laughing! Learning that it is ok not to know the answer but rather just to trust the process. Learning as well, that often times “it depends” really is the answer. Having a firm belief that being a leader is not reserved for the few at the top but rather it is a choice available to each and every one of us if we so choose.
A heartfelt thank you to the faculty and staff at the University of Guelph and my M.A. Leadership classmates for this incredible journey and “indelible moment.”
If you have an interest in learning more about this life changing program designed for working professionals, I invite you to click on this link. It will change your life!
Glowing with pride and joy, Glo
(C) 2012 – True Bliss Coach Gloria Higdon
the wise gardener plants seeds of opportunity even when there is snow on the ground
In life and in business, opportunities and possibilities are abundant. Laying the foundation for opportunity however, requires vision, discipline, commitment and often forgotten but very important, patience. A clear vision of what we want. A disciplined mind to keep us focused on achieving what we want. A commitment to strike a balance between taking action and pausing. And this is where patience comes into play. Often times when we are planting seeds for new possibilities, we need to take a pause. The pause can be as important as the action. The pause is a time of reflection. It is a time for questions. It is a time for learning. The pause requires patience. And patience, as we’ve often heard, is a virtue.
We are all gardeners. Gardeners in life and or in business. And as gardeners, we need to find that healthy balance so that we are planting seeds throughout the year rather than making it an annual event. If we have a vision for what we want to accomplish, we need only to plant the seeds. Take the time to create a plan, to determine the resources we have as well as the resources we need to acquire. We need to be open to questioning our plan and our motives as we continue. This only creates further clarity. Take a pause when needed. Take stock of the seeds. Do they align with our vision? How might they be even better aligned to support our overall goals?
And then watch. I invite you to sit in the bigscreen theatre of life. To believe. To watch as our seeds sprout. Our “ideas” and “hopes” and “dreams” come to fruition but first we must plant the seeds.
Best wishes for healthy sprouts!
(C) 2012 – True Bliss Coach Gloria Higdon
For some strange reason, WordPress is not allowing me to post the photo for this blog at the top of the page as I “usually” do. I’ve always used this format because I am a visual person and so I like the visual right up front. This has never happened in two years of having a blog. My initial reaction was frustration but it’s New Years Eve and my main goal for 2012 is to diversify in many key areas of my life. So, now I’m thinking there is a reason for this new look in my last blog post of the year.
Many seeds have been planted during 2011 and many major milestones have been achieved. It has been a great year! There is much to celebrate and so much to look forward to!
Growth. Learning. Opportunities. Diversifying.
Often times it seems as though it is far too easy to be linear in our thoughts and actions. We use our existing skills and talents and map out our lives according to a straight line. But I must ask you, has your life to date represented a straight line? What might happen if we learn to diversify a little more? Branch out. True growth and learning happens when we learn new skills and challenge our existing patterns. Uh oh! This may cause our straight line to get kind of curvy with twists and turns. There is risk involved in this because we may fail. But there is always reward too, no matter the outcome. The reward is that just like this plant above, we are growing and with growth comes new opportunities.
2012 is the year to diversify and broaden my reach. I will coach and teach. I will be a student and a teacher. I will enjoy my existing relationships and develop new ones. I will read for fun and for knowledge. Most importantly, rather than choosing between either/or, I will be open to both/and.
“We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called “Opportunity” and its first chapter is New Year’s Day.” ~ Edith Lovejoy Pierce
Best wishes to you for an AMAZING 2012! When we openly share our goals, there is more liklihood to reach them because publicly sharing establishes a sense of accountability. It also provides us with the opportunity to receive support and encouragement from others, and to stay motivated to achieve. Care to share some of your goals? I’m very interested…please leave me a comment!
(c) 2011 – True Bliss Coach Gloria Higdon
One could say that miracles are like magic. Some believe, some don’t, so what. Well, the so what factor happens to be very telling. It is telling of who we are as individuals. What our personal values are. What brings meaning to our lives. It is telling of how we make decisions.
Life today is complex yet simple. Business today is chaotic yet inspiring. Tiny miracles pop up out of nowhere it seems and surprise us. These miracles create small change and massive change in both individuals and in organizations. These tiny miracles create insights often leading to wisdom.
The laws of nature … describe the ways in which the world—including, of course, human beings—works when left to itself, when not interfered with. A miracle occurs when the world is not left to itself, when something distinct from the natural order as a whole intrudes into it. (Mackie 1982: 19–20)
But alas, you must believe. You must believe in what is possible. You must accept that it’s ok not to know the how part of the equasion. A difficult task no doubt. You must get comfortable with not being right. Easier for some than for others. Not everything in this world is a result of cause and effect. For instance, you must believe that what you say and do truly matter. And it matters because at the heart of what we say and do is our personal integrity. But to believe that anything is possible, that miracles do occur and often when we least expect them, because a butterfly flapped it’s wings in another part of the world, this is to believe in miracles.
“There are two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” Albert Einstein
Miracles are all around us. We just need to open our eyes and hearts in order to see and feel them.
Note: Many of the ideas from this post were generated through the work of Margaret J. Wheatley’s, Leadership and the New Science.
C (2011) - True Bliss Coach Gloria Higdon
“One key to successful leadership is continuous personal change. Personal change is a reflection of our inner growth and empowerment.” — Robert E. Quinn
I came across this quote by Robert Quinn and it reminded me of a personal change that I’ve experienced over the last few years as a result of being coached and then becoming a coach. I’m sharing this story as it may help you too. This change came from a combination of focused effort and conscious choice. It relates to the contrast between ruminating and letting go. It is all about the power of freedom and finding inner peace.
Like many of us I suspect, I used to spend time ruminating…also known as the worry gene. Rather than looking back as part of the learning process, I would look back and worry about all sorts of things that I could not change no matter how much energy I put into it. Then one day a few years ago through my coach training, I did a values exercise that changed my view and opened my eyes to a few things. For one, I realized that I value freedom. Freedom has different meaning for each of us but for me it means having inner peace. Yet, I was worrying. About what I said, what I did, what I didn’t do or say. What happens in this situation is that you end up living in the past in many respects. And when we live in the past, we miss out on such awesome things about the present. Through coaching, I learned to live and breathe in the present. This has created space in my life and in my head. What a true gift.
Now, I’m not saying that I never worry about anything anymore. I do. And I do because I care. I care deeply about people. I don’t however, give as much energy to worrying than it deserves. You see, I think worrying is overrated. I give my energy to where I live and breathe which is in the present. I have learned that I can still care about what truly matters and live in the present. My husband and I have put into practice a new way to think and to live and it’s really working for us. We have truly learned to “let go” and it is wonderful. It is absolutely empowering in fact. The past is used to learn from and that is all. You want to talk about freedom? This is freedom. Not only is it freedom but it is living according to our values and with personal integrity.
This is just one example of how we can change and grow while remaining true to ourselves. Sometimes we need someone on the outside to help us look inside. This is the value of great coaching. Coaching provides us with the support to define and achieve our goals of personal change.
Wishing you a peaceful day. Glo
(C) 2011 – True Bliss Coach Gloria Higdon
It must be October. It is a chilly and overcast Sunday afternoon. The fireplace is on for the first time this season. Marc is making my favorite soup (mulligatawny). The dog is snoring away in front of the fire. And I am reading this most amazing book. The kind that you can’t put down. The kind that has you going back to re read a specific passage or jumping ahead to take a quick look at what is in store in the next chapter.
Ironically, I received Leadership and the New Science by author Margaret J. Wheatley for Christmas last year from our son, Tom. It has been sitting on my night table ever since, waiting patiently. Waiting for that right moment in time when reading oodles of new journal articles for my research paper would become less urgent. I had read one chapter of this book last fall during one of the courses in my program, Leadership of Organizational Change. It was on the list of recommended reading by our Professor, Dr. Jamie Gruman. I enjoyed that chapter so much, I wanted more…and more I got…
This isn’t a book review. I simply wanted to share with you a few quotes that have my mind churning with possibility, curiosity and hope. Not only as a leadership coach, but as a lover of life and people. If it inspires you to purchase the book and to read further, enjoy…I know I certainly have.
“I find pleasure in letting these new ideas swirl freely inside me. Like clouds, they begin as mist, then take form, then dissipate. Clouds themselves are self-organizing, taking new shape as thunderstorms, hurricanes, or rain fronts depending on changes in their environment. We are capable of similar transformations; new ideas can emerge as powerful insights if we allow them the freedom to self-organize. And there is much we can learn from clouds. They are spectacular examples of fluid and responsive systems, structured in ways we never imagined possible: ‘”After all, how do you hold a hundred tons of water in the air with no visible means of support? You build a cloud”‘ (Cole 1985, 38) (Wheatley, 2006, 90).
“In all types of organizations, too many filled with people exhausted, cynical, and burned-out, I have witnessed the incredible levels of energy and passion that can be evoked when leaders or colleagues take the time to recall people to the meaning of their work. It only takes a simple but powerful question: ‘”What called you here? What were you dreaming you might accomplish when you first came to work here?” This question always elicits a deep response because so few of us work for trivial purposes. Most people come to their organizations with a desire to do something meaningful, to contribute and serve…If we are asked to recall that inner belief, and if we hear our colleagues speak about their own yearnings to make a small difference, we feel new energy for the work and for each other. The call of meaning is unlike any other, and we would do well to spend more time together listening for the deep wells of purpose that nourish all of us” (Wheatley, 2006, 133).
Hoping these may have resonated with you and possibly elicited thoughts of learning, change and engagement. Back to my book…last chapter…this time around.
(c) 2011- True Bliss Coach Gloria Higdon
The term back to school has different meanings for a few of my family members this year. My niece Jenna (left) is a second year student at The University of Western Ontario commonly known as Western. (Can you tell I just copied the uni name directly from her facebook profile?) Jenna is doing a B.Sc. honours with a specialization in biology also known as she is a science brainiac. I will never forget how excited she was in high school to report dissecting some strange rodent. Gross! What is new for Jenna this year is that she is no longer in residence making university life a completely different experience for her. She is sharing a house with 4 other girls and lovin’ it. Now don’t get me wrong. Jenna isn’t exactly “slumming” it in London! She and her roomies have created a pretty cool haven for living the good life with a little bit of room for studying. Jenna has been a continuous source of encouragement and inspiration for me during my academic journey. When I was taking Research Methods (insert I failed Grade 9 math), it was Jenna that I reached out to for support.
Next up is my niece Katie (right). Katie is a 30 something first year film loving student at York University in Toronto. She is enrolled in the four year honours program for film studies which also means she watches all of those movies that the general population has never heard of! This has been a big year of change for Katie and the changes aren’t finished. She went to New York and to Europe for the first time, moved in with her boyfriend and most recently gave up her job as an admin to go back to school and pursue her love of film. I secretly wonder if this photo of her looking up at the statue of Napolean in sheer awe is simply a precursor to her new journey with university life! She too, has been an amazing sense of encouragement and support. In fact, I believe Katie was the first one to say “you should do a PhD!”
Soooo…speaking of PhD…this is something that is on my mind these days. I must admit that it comes and goes though. Presently I’m doing a research paper towards completion of an M.A. Leadership degree at the University of Guelph. Yup! Even though I was scared to death and I REALLY was, I went back to school in my mid 40′s to pursue a university degree and to enhance my learning as an executive coach. I have never looked back. It has been a very challenging yet rewarding experience.
Back to the flip flop…Because I am so passionate about my research topic (using executive coaching to increase employee engagement), there are days and fleeting moments when I don’t want it to end. I want to be able to take my topic and the “coaching for engagement” model that I have developed and take it to the next level. But hello! We’re talking about four years here and there are SO many things to consider! Fortunately for me, my amazing husband Marc, is 100% behind me.
While I am contemplating this massive decision and researching what it “truly” means, I also have a new view of back to school. I am a Teaching Assistant to the new cohort in my program for Leadership of Organizational Change. Teaching and the education system seem to run through the veins in my family. My Mom was our elementary school secretary. My Dad completed his university degree while working full-time in the military. My sister Anne, is a teacher who completed her teaching degree with two young children in tow. My sister Deborah, is a teacher who has just experienced her last back to school and is retiring in June 2012 to pursue her love of travel and LEGO (not necessarily in that order!). And my sister Linda is pursuing her Chefs diploma while juggling a very busy career and family life.
Along with my sincere love for coaching and genuine desire to see people do what they love, I would be honoured to teach someday and to live a life of continuous learning. I have no idea if I will go further in my studies or if there is a doctor in this house but I do know this. If you have ever thought you might like to go back to school or try anything new for that matter, but were scared for fear of failure. You CAN do it!
If you think your life can’t change in the blink of an eye…think again. We, as humans, are powerful creatures filled with potential and possibilities. We just need to believe it!
Cheers to you and your journey whatever that means to you.
Photo credit: Miles Bossons
2011 (C) – True Bliss Coach Gloria Higdon
“Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down.” – Oprah Winfrey
Oprah said it well. Having supportive family, friends and colleagues in our lives can make a major difference in how we perceive our life to be. Demonstrating support is possible in many ways however it often includes listening, empathy, creating a safe and non-judgemental environment where we feel that what we say is important, and that we are valued. People who demonstrate these qualities show us that they care, that they are in for the long haul, and that they believe in us. They are demonstrating leadership. Limo or bus, it makes no difference because they are along for the journey, not just for the ride. And life is certainly a journey…
One of the very best ways to gain the support of others is to first offer your support to them, genuinely. Reach out to them. This is the amazing thing about humanity. We, as humans, have the ability to offer support to others through the expression of kind words often left unspoken. To show gratitude for what they bring to our lives. And the simplest gesture can change a persons entire outlook for an otherwise average day. That new outlook can cause a shift leading to new insights and possibilities of what may be.
This seems most applicable in our personal lives but this is true as well, in our professional lives. We may be the type to rush around from call to call and meeting to meeting without stopping for a breath let alone to acknowledge who might ride the bus with us. This holds true for family, friends and colleagues alike. Who can we count on to be there when we really need them? And more importantly what might we do or say to show them how very important they are to us?
You are important to me. I’ll be waiting at the bus stop for you. The cool IKEA one of course! Will you join me?
(C) 2011 – True Bliss Coach Gloria Higdon