Gratitude for the Little Things & Happy Holidays!

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From all of us at Bounce-Forward Consulting Group, may this season bring you lots of joy, laughter, moments to cherish, and peace.  

The short video (link below) reminds us to not lose sight of the little things we might otherwise take for granted each day.  After all, it’s largely the little things we experience on a day-to-day basis that influence the quality of our overall being.

Enjoy & happy holidays!

The invitation:  During this crazy-busy time of year, and as you prepare for 2017, spend time each day reflecting on the things for which you are most grateful.  Don’t forget the “small stuff” that impacts the quality of your day-to-day existence.  How might these insights shape your preparations for 2017?

More than a Conversation

By | Coaching, Presence, Relationships | No Comments

I am a coach…

I don’t just listen to what you say.

I feel into the space between your words.

I look into your eyes.

I notice your energy.

I see your shape.

I lean into your emotions.

I sense your intention.

I hear what you don’t say.

I interpret your silence.

I feel you, the real you.

The one underneath the social expectations.

I call you forth to speak your truth.

I am a coach… it’s more than just a conversation.

~ Jane Warrilow ~

These are the words shared at the end of our last 2016 International Coach Federation (ICF) Chapter Board call – how appropriate as we, individually and as a team, reflect on the work we do.  As I consider not only the coaching profession but the world at large, the ability to be truly present for and with others is needed more than ever.   And, no, it’s not easy.  In the midst of our busyness, technological distractions, and competing demands, showing up fully – in body, mind and spirit – takes effort.

What would it look like if each of us, in our own special role – as parent, friend, colleague, citizen, leader, and, dare I say, politician – took time to slow down? To show up for others?  Without judgment?  Without an agenda?  Without the need to control?  No doubt the world would be a more compassionate, supportive, productive, and healthier place.

The invitation:   Consider your own relationships – at work and at home.  In what relationship(s) would being more present, open, and a better listener make a difference?   When’s the next time you might call on your “inner coach” to cultivate more than just a conversation.

Ever Striving

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Daruma Doll

This is a picture of a Japanese Daruma doll.  I received one, very similar to this, as a gift several years ago from the wonderful owners of my then dojo or karate studio.   The Daruma doll is one of the most popular talismans of good luck in Japan and is frequently purchased during the new year.

The armless, legless, and (upon purchase) eyeless doll is traditionally made of paper mâché and is weighted on the bottom so it stands, even when knocked down.  (Think:  weebles wobble…or, errr, am I showing my age?!)  Daruma dolls embody the Japanese proverb, Nanakorobi Yaoki, translated to mean “seven times down, eight times up.”  The characteristics of the Daruma doll have come to symbolize goal-setting, perseverance and resilience.

The tradition of the Daruma doll is simple:

  1. Set a goal.
  2. Upon defining your goal, fill in just one eye of the Daruma doll.
  3. Place the doll in a location where it will serve as a reminder of your desired outcome.
  4. When your goal is attained, paint in the second eye.

Again, simple, right?  I’m embarrassed to say that, after several years of having my Daruma doll on my book shelf, it is still one-eyed.  Years after giving my little guy partial sight, I never felt I had attained sufficient success to complete his vision.

Looking back, I can see that my goal was probably not specific enough.  And, I could have done a better job of chunking down my wish into a much smaller objective.  What’s striking to me now, however, is that I never took time to pause and consider any successes or progress along my goal-driven journey.  If I did, perhaps my Daruma doll would have full sight today!

This “ever-striving” syndrome is true for many of us as individuals; it is also pervasive in organizations.  Our focus is on what remains to be done, on what is left incomplete, and on what we have yet to attain.  One project leads to another; our to-do lists always evolve.  In this world of relentless demands and change, it’s easy for our success line to be elusive.  In the state of striving, we never arrive.

One of my favorite neuropsychologists, Rick Hanson PhD, describes this phenomenon in this manner:

“The focus on the future – on endless striving, on getting the next task done, on climbing the next mountain – can get confused and stressful.  It’s confused because the brain:

  • Overestimates both the pleasure of future gains and the pain of future losses. (This evolved to motivate our ancient ancestors to chase carrots hard and really dodge sticks.)
  • Makes the future seem like a real thing when in fact it doesn’t actually exist and never will. There is only now, forever and always.
  • Overlooks or minimizes the alrightness of this moment – including the many things already resolved or accomplished – in order to keep you looking for the next threat or opportunity.”

So, yes, by all means, define and pursue wholesome goals.  But, let’s not forget to take time to pause and reflect on our small wins regularly.  This strategy promotes long-term goal achievement and emotional health along the way.   It encourages learning (yes, we can learn just as much from our successes as our failures!) and builds our internal resources for resilience.  These minor boosts can have a cumulative and lasting effect.

What successes might you be overlooking?  What small wins never made it to your radar screen?  In what ways have you “already arrived?”  Take a moment now and reflect on them.  (Feel free to share!)  Your one-eyed Daruma doll might just thank you!

Got Stress? Get Grounded!

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Got Stress?  Yeah, I know…a silly question.   In today’s busy world, stress seems to be an inherent part of our daily lives.  As a leadership and life coach, what concerns me is that most people accept chronic stress as part of their daily lives.  In fact, according to a recent article by Dr. Oz (, “stress is the top reason why women are aging faster, getting sicker and dying before their time.”  The article further states that “chronic stress impacts 3 vital organs – the brain, the stomach, and the heart; it weakens the immune system and increases your risk of cardiovascular disease, musculoskeletal problems and possibly even cancer.”

Geez, not a pretty picture.  So, what’s a person to do?

First, recognize that while stress may be normal in today’s crazy world (and, certain levels of stress are actually necessary and healthy!), chronic stress is not necessary.   By telling yourself a different story about stress, it opens up possibility for new and different action.

In my work as a coach, I encourage people to consider taking action in the domains of body, emotion, and language (or thought).

There’s lots you can do to fight stress by taking care of your body.  Eat well, exercise, and get sufficient sleep.  Yes, sometimes easier said than done.  But, taking steps to improve your physical body goes a long way in supporting steps you can take in the other two domains.   You don’t have to dig deep to find great resources about specific foods, vitamins and sources of exercise that might support a healthier lifestyle—including reduced anxiety, stress and depression.

In addition to watching what goes into your body and how you physically take care of yourself, try slowing down.  We’re overloaded, distracted and pulled in many directions.  We’re constantly on the run and, as a result, we feel disconnected and disengaged from many aspects of our life.  People often feel the need to speed things up during times of stress, feeling they have to work longer, harder, faster to get things done.  Ironically, this is the opposite of what we often need to operate at our best.  Slow down, breathe (deeply!), and ask yourself:  “How am I feeling right now?”  Assess your stress level, label your emotion, and reflect.

As you reflect, try grounding yourself in a powerful vision of you at your best.  Some refer to this as a “best self” image.  To do this, you need to have a high level of self-awareness.  Really take time to consider:  What do you care most about? What are your personal, core values?  Are you living your life in a way that’s consistent with these values…and in a way that provides meaning and fulfillment? What are your unique gifts—those strengths and assets you can draw upon when faced with challenging situations as well as opportunities?  What difference do you wish to make in your own life as well as the lives of others?

By taking time to answer these questions before charging off mindlessly to address your next to-do, my guess is you’ll not only reduce stress but take steps towards living a life of greater balance, happiness and wellbeing.