Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Learning Good Judgment

“How does one learn good judgment? Experience. And how does one gain experience? Bad judgment.”

-Adam Kahane; Solving Tough Problems

As painful as it is true, I can’t help but smile at this statement. It’s no wonder most of us would rather not relive our teenage years.

Too often I find my clients beating themselves up. Too often I find that we link our mistakes too easily with being “a failure,” and all of the negative pictures that our minds draw for us. We don’t forgive ourselves. We become stuck, down, and unable to move in any meaningful way. Man! What a drag.

This thought is especially important for those who are trying something different, or new in their businesses, careers, or responsibilities. A reframe around gaining experience – as painful as it may be – is crucial.

Here are three questions I use with my clients to help with the reframing process:

1.What is the ultimate take away here? How did this experience serve me?
2.What would your wisest, inner-knowing self say about what happened? What guidance would you ask him or her for?
3.Reread acknowledgments you have received from your clients, co-workers, and mentors. What is it specifically that they see? Remind yourself of your greatest, natural talents.

Then take another step. It is only by learning – and making HUGE mistakes! – that we can really know what it is we need to know. And the more we do it, the more we’ve learned to love ourselves in the process.

Thursday, October 2, 2008


“I don’t want to talk about dying. I want to talk about living.”
-Madeline R. , 5 years old

I just received this message from Madeline’s parents in their Caring Bridge journal. Last year, Madeline was diagnosed with pleural pulmonary blastoma, a rare childhood cancer. It has now invaded her brain in the form of a growing tumor.

How is it that children, like Madeline, get it? We read her statement and say “Yes! That’s the spirit!” And secretly: “Man, is she brave!” “Would I do that?” “Could I do that?”

Because let’s face it, friends. We all talk about dying. Dying not just physically, but in our careers, our relationships, our businesses and our busy-ness, our financial pictures of late. It’s dreary business.

What is particularly interesting is that Madeline makes a conscious choice. She would rather focus on living while she is alive. Madeline loves swimming and baking cookies with her friend, Marcus. Can you imagine if we would greet our days with: “How do I want to live today?” “What is important to me?” “What would make me feel alive?” Imagine creating from a place of “what brings me joy.”

I know it’s a choice, and some days are so much better than others. So here’s how I choose today. Catching up with an old friend, especially ones I haven’t talked to in a long time, brings me immense joy. Going for a run because it’s a beautiful fall day. Writing an email to an old colleague of mine. And hugging my kids a little closer.

Pray for our friend, Madeline. She is wise beyond her years.