| Read time: 15-20 minutes |
Would You Like To Experience Miracles Every Day?
Over 90% of my clients have reported that the perspectives work we do together is vital. It is why these are the interactions they seem to remember the most.
Perspectives work is about freedom, movement, core values and the power of choice. It gets us out of stagnation and into action, right action, meaningful action and aligned action. There are many reasons to do perspectives work. Among them, it gets us moving again, which makes it one of the most powerful tools in my coaching toolbox.
Wouldn’t you like to stop feeling stuck, and get moving again?
To illustrate that a shift in perspective is a miracle, below are two stories. Each demonstrates just how powerful and miraculous a shift in perspective is. This is true, however seismic or subtle the shift. One is about me bending spoons and the other is about my client, Gina, her business and a shift in her relationship with receiving payments for her services. Actually, it was about Gina feeling solid in herself and in the value she has to offer. Bigger picture, it was about helping Gina to step powerfully into the rest of her life.
During our last Mystery School module, in February, 2020 (when most of us were still traveling), we spent some time learning about bending spoons. We’ve been playing with the concept of bending spoons for a while. In fact, we’d done it a couple of times before. Most of us were not successful at it. Those of us who could not bend a spoon envied the ones who could.
I knew this was coming and was not looking forward to it. Why? Because I was one of the ones who was unable to bend a spoon. Since I’m a performer/achiever, not being able to do so was deeply frustrating. Not knowing why some of us could and some of us couldn’t bend a spoon was even more frustrating. As you might imagine, I dreaded the activity.
Guided by our teacher, who had taken a spoon bending course, we stood in a circle holding our spoons (and a few knives and forks) and waited for instructions. First, she told us to spin around, count to 10, stop and yell, “Bend!” Then she had us jump up and down, count to 10, stop and yell, “Bend!” Finally, she encouraged us to focus on an image for a minute or more, stop and yell, “Bend!” Another important instruction was, “Do not exert any force on the spoon; just apply a tiny bit of pressure when you feel moved to do so.” To be honest, I felt silly and very uncomfortable, but I played along.
Some spoons were bending. Some were not.
Squeals of Delight & Groans Of Disappointment
I followed their instructions, but could not get my spoon to bend. My frustration grew and my inner achiever was very unhappy. So I called on my more playful self, my inner child, to give me a hand. While she lightened things up and made it more fun, I still could not bend my spoon.
Carole, our leader, halted the action to ask Tomoko, one of our peers and a prolific spoon bender, to tell us what she was doing. Tomoko thought for moment and replied, “I don’t know!” And then she paused to go deeper, to really enter her experience and capture some of the wisdom within.
After a thoughtful moment, Tomoko said, “Well, in Japan, we have this thing called Aikido (a martial art, founded by Morihei Ueshiba, that focuses on harmonizing with your opponent to bring peaceful resolutions to situations involving conflict). She continued, “One of the key mantras with Aikido is to be here now, with what is. It’s how people break boards and giant cinder blocks with their bare hands. So that’s what I was doing…being with the spoon.”
I Had An Epiphany!
That made a lot of sense to me, especially since our teacher had been harping on that very thing – be with what is, not with your thoughts about what is – all week long. It was a constant refrain, “Be with the spoon/person/feeling/experience. Be vulnerable. And STOP thinking!”
Our group had fallen into a pattern of being with our thoughts about a person or a thing or an event rather than being with the person, thing or event, directly. Those are two very different things. Our job was to stop having a relationship with our thoughts and start having a direct relationship with who is with us and what is happening in the moment.
It is a challenge to think less and feel more, to become more vulnerable and present to our experiences, and to stay in the moment, in the relationship. Our relationship with power and vulnerability is often at the heart of these activities. So, as Tomoko spoke, I remembered the importance of these teachings and began to connect the dots.
As I did, I had an epiphany!
I’d Been Focusing On The Wrong Objective!
I was focused on bending the spoon, which was never the objective. The true objective was to be in the moment and in the experience. The invitation was to have a direct relationship with what was happening, with the feelings I was having, and, yes, with the spoon! I stopped spinning and twirling, counting and swirling, jumping and shouting, envying and withdrawing and paused to breathe and slow it all down.
I started walking around the room with my spoon, slowly, effortlessly; just being with it and what was happening all around us. When someone squealed with delight, I smiled in solidarity. And when I heard those groans, I frowned with empathy. In those unfolding moments, I did not care if I bent my spoon or not (okay, maybe I cared a little). Instead of focusing on the “goal” of bending the spoon, I focused on being with the spoon and all those curious people in the room. That shift in perspective changed the entire experience.
As I shifted my focus, what I cared about was having more fun and enjoying the experience both on my own and through others. I wanted to enjoy the moment and, in the process, I felt more free. I’d been torturing myself and for what?
My spoon and I kept walking. I realized that I was having fun and that my attachment to bending the spoon was waning. I caught myself saying, “Hello spoon, how are you doing today?” Each time I did, I smiled; and giggled.
And, then, something happened.
What Perspective Are You In & Is It Serving?
I felt something new. Heat, maybe? And and bit of softness. I applied a tiny bit of pressure and, voila, my spoon bent, completely and with ease. Now I was one of those people in the room squealing with delight. I did it! Actually, we did it, my spoon and me! I felt very protective of my spoon, couldn’t stop smiling and resumed walking around the room. I promise you, you would be smiling too!
I’ve shared this story before but with a different emphasis. Then, I focused on the importance of being present with what is happening and with who is right in front of us. That kind of presence is vital and essential. It is a part of this story too. Because real magic happens when we are present to one another and our experiences. Of course, the opposite is true when we’re not.
Now, I’m focused on asking, “What perspective am I in?” Am I in a receptive and playful perspective or am I in a resistant and frustrated perspective? Am I focused on an outcome or on the relationship? Could I focus on both the outcome and the relationship? And how might my experience, participation and the outcomes change from one perspective to another?
How often do any of us pause to ask ourselves these kinds of questions?
So Much Less Is Possible When We Are Stuck In A Perspective That Doesn’t Serve
So much less is possible when we are stuck in a perspective that doesn’t serve. It is a deeply disempowering state to be in. Most of us are unconscious to the fact that we are the ones who have chosen and are reinforcing these perspectives. For example, I did not pause prior to the spoon bending activity to examine my state of being, to set an intention or to check my assumptions. Instead, I fueled thoughts from an old story that reinforced an old belief that I’m not adequate to the task, none of which was true.
By letting my thoughts run the show, I was no longer in charge. And believe me, if we are not conscious, our thoughts are in charge. The perspective we’ve defaulted to is in charge. The voices aligned with that perspective, the old stories, grooves in our brain and default behaviors under stress are in charge. And we get the outcome they expect, which is rarely the outcome or experience we actually want!
It is humbling when we begin to see how much we are the source of our own misery. By not pausing to explore, choose and stand in a perspective that serves, we add unnecessary complexity and frustration to our lives. When standing in a perspective that doesn’t serve, instead of having the experiences we want or achieving the goals we desire, something else much less desirable or enjoyable usually happens.
This Is How We Derail Ourselves & Become Stuck
We become stuck because we fuel the stories we make up about the perspective we are in. Instead of having a relationship with my spoon and the people in the room, I had a relationship with my thoughts about it (and them). Our thoughts lead to feelings, which lead to actions and outcomes that are often completely unrelated to what we actually want and believe.
Before I even started the activity, I took myself out of the game, I lost any possibility of forward momentum or success, I sucked the joy out of the experience and, arguably, the relationships. And I created unnecessary struggles. I was doing that each time the spoon bending activity came up. No wonder I was in a rut and kept getting the same results – nothing.
Instead of having fun and being playful, I was angry and determined. When I couldn’t bend the spoon, I made myself wrong and the activity stupid. Every once in a while, I’d try to exert real force on it and nothing, absolutely nothing, happened! I felt defeated and didn’t want to play anymore. I proclaimed to myself that it wasn’t fun, it wasn’t “my thing” and disappeared myself in the process.
Of course, all of this was happening below my conscious awareness.
Is This The Impact You Want To Have?
While I didn’t say anything out loud, I’m sure people felt my negativity. Even though, on some level, I knew better, I kept fueling those disempowering stories and trying things that didn’t work. I was grumpy, kept trying harder and failing, and wasn’t really open to learning. What’s the definition of insanity? Trying the same thing over and over again and expecting different results!
While Tomoko was joyful and inspiring others, I was grumpy and isolating from others. That’s how you can tell when you’re in a perspective that isn’t serving. The signs are clear: you’ll probably feel stuck, you might be grumpy, and it’s highly likely that you are frustrated.
In addition, many of us start isolating and feeling mad or sad. If you are like me, you are probably fueling the stories without even knowing it and turning that anger inward, allowing your inner critic to take over. Even though I knew that the negative self-talk wasn’t true, I couldn’t help myself. I still listened to it.
This behavior leads to more and more of what we don’t want, which leads to growing self-doubt, second-guessing ourselves and, worse, self-loathing. I witness this pattern virtually every day, even with my high-performing clients at the heights of their personal and professional success. They “know” on some level that this isn’t “right” and is totally unproductive, yet can’t stop themselves. Just like me, they’re stuck in a perspective. It’s a recipe for deep disappointment.
Use The Simple Experiences To Prepare For The Complex Ones
While bending spoons is a simple example, it illustrates the importance of perspective. Imagine if the task before you was to decide which R&D projects to fund, or not, impacting real jobs for thousands of scientists. Or perhaps you are part of your company’s HR organization and trying to develop COVID-19 crisis plan. Closer to home, how might the perspective your are in affect a decision about whether or not to have another child, when and how?
When stuck in a way of being that isn’t serving, some of us go inward and mumble and moan, like I did. Others may express their anger outwardly and “vomit their vitriol” onto the nearest and most convenient projection screen, which could be you or me. Either way, staying stuck in a perspective that isn’t serving doesn’t work, causes harm and can weaken relationships. There are real costs to staying stuck and remaining unconscious.
That’s why the ability to explore shifts in perspective is such a vital skill.
Shifting From Stuck & Stagnating To Unstuck & Moving
With effort (and, usually, the support of another who can see what we cannot see), we can imagine and explore new perspectives. We can think about them, feel into them, and trust our gut responses to them. From there, we can locate ourselves, envision a new path forward, and, ultimately, make a new, more empowering choice.
I usually encourage my clients to choose a new perspective to inhabit for the next 30 days. Together, we clarify next steps and brainstorm what that means they might actually be doing. And then they do it.
Standing in a perspective that serves, getting really clear about what that means we’re saying no and yes to, and taking actions that are aligned with these intentions is empowering. When we are in choice, we move forward with greater confidence, clarity and conviction. We activate intrinsic motivation, which is like rocket fuel and helps us to stay in motion, taking meaningful steps forward.
Our successes and feelings compel us forward. And instead of stopping us in our tracks, our setbacks propel us forward.
The Gift That Keeps On Giving
That shift in perspective, first captured on paper, then in our hearts, minds and bodies, is how we transition from feeling like something is impossible to knowing that something is possible. It’s how we tackle the toughest challenges with joy, grace and ease. It’s also how we can have more fun.
Shifting perspectives is another form of self-leadership. We can model this for our employees and our family members, friends and neighbors. It’s one of the most powerful resources in my toolbox as a leadership, life and parent coach.
The moment we realize that we’ve been stuck in a perspective, a story or a belief, almost always of our own making, is the moment we can shift. For most of us, this is an incredibly vulnerable moment. It’s also the moment we become powerful again. Self-leadership of this kind takes a lot of courage, humility and effort. It leads to deep and sustained satisfaction and fulfillment.
When we make our inner work important, and our yes really means yes, perspectives work makes it possible to harness the power of clarity, presence, permission and choice.
Make Tapping Into The Wisdom Within Important
That moment, when Tomoko shared a lesson from her culture and the Aikido tradition, was when everything changed. I realized I could shift my focus from bending the spoon to being with the spoon and that that was the point! As I accessed her wisdom and made it my own, my body responded too.
My shoulders slumped, my belly softened, my heart rate slowed and I stopped trying so hard. I settled into the moment and began a whole new relationship with the spoon, the room, the people in the room, the day, the activity, the moments. The whole experience changed.
I became more curious, joyful and playful. I interacted with everyone else in the room. Suddenly, I felt deeply connected and joyful. Noticeably, I celebrated when people had success and felt empathy for those who didn’t. I was willing to try new things, pause now and then and just be with it all, observing and enjoying the experiencing.
Stepping Into A State of Bliss
Joseph Campbell said, “Find a place inside where there’s joy, and the joy will burn out the pain.” That’s what happened for me that evening. The joy burned out the pain.
I began to notice things I hadn’t noticed before. How the tines on Rich’s fork were bent in all different directions. How he giggled with glee as he held up his fork and kept bending it and bending it and bending it some more. It looked like a woman with a wild head of hair.
I noticed the sun setting and the warm glow of candles in the room. I felt lighter, freer and encouraged as I glided through the space, pausing here and there. My face wouldn’t stop smiling. I wasn’t caught up in a goal anymore, I was just doing it, all of it. Perhaps this is what it means to be in the zone?
I enjoyed it all and was aware that I was enjoying it all. I was experiencing immense pleasure, even though I had not yet bent my own spoon. That was exactly when bending the spoon became possible.
A shift in perspective is, indeed, a miracle. It is when what seemed impossible a moment ago seems possible now. Perspectives work is how we jumpstart our lives, personally and professionally. It is how we step into what’s next with a sense of possibility, creativity and enthusiasm.
Speaking Of Enthusiasm, Meet Gina Cobb, aka Gina the Gemologist*!
What feels like an epic breakthrough or a quantum leap often comes from tiny little shifts in perspective, from nuanced and new ways of seeing. That’s how we can create excellence and experience bliss in all parts of our lives. That how we turn everyday moments and interactions into extraordinary events and memorable relationships. From spoon-bending to love-making to building a family or a business, it’s all the same. It’s the little things and seemingly slight shifts in perspective that change everything.
Take Gina, for instance. I want you to meet Gina Cobb.
Gina is a beautiful human being. One of those people who brings laughter and wisdom into the room and the relationship, all day long. Gina is committed to becoming an even better version of herself. She is a professional and a joy. We met through Jennifer Diepstraten’s Sales Mastery Circle, a year-long business development mastermind that I joined in January.
What’s Possible When We Say Yes & Try Something New?
As Gina spoke during one of our mastermind meetings, I had an imagination that I could be of service to her, that a shift in perspective might be helpful. I knew I could hold space for that. She was stuck in a series of beliefs about charging for her services that were getting in her way. As a result, she was giving away valuable services, resenting it later and judging herself harshly in the process. She assumed (inaccurately) that her past had everything to do with her current predicament.
Fueled by childhood events and, more importantly, her attachments to her stories about them, she was holding herself back. She didn’t know how to get unstuck or how to shift the perspective she was in. I asked her if she’d like to do some work with me and she said, “Yes!”
We did some perspectives and shadow work and I drew upon some of my training in non-violent communication. A key element of this work is to bypass the thinking state that derails us much of the time. Without a shadow buddy, accountability partner or coach, it is easy to get caught up in our thoughts about things and people.
This is no different than my attachment to bending that damn spoon!
We Might Have To Think Less & Feel More
Gina went on a journey with me through a variety of perspectives on charging for her services. She was surprised by the details, the storylines and the depth of emotion that emerged. Even more, she was surprised by her ability to be with those feelings and not be consumed by them. She gave herself permission to feel and be witnessed and everything began to shift in the process.
Remember when I was anticipating not being able to bend a spoon? As I did, my thoughts lead to feelings of inadequacy, a desire not to participate fully and a less than joyful experience. The more I fueled those old stories and disempowering thoughts, the less present and able I became.
This was what Gina was doing too. She was stuck in a perspective that was fueled by her past and the stories she’d made up about it. In truth, it doesn’t matter if those stories were true or not! What’s at issue is that she’s fueling the present with stories and messages from the past and then wondering why she’s stuck and unable to move into a new future and a new, more whole and happy version of herself!
We Might Also Have to Be Brave & Trust Another To Hold Us
Gina was courageous and curious and stayed engaged as one epiphany after another burst forth into her conscious awareness. This is the power of the coaching container. There is space for us to know ourselves and be pleasantly surprised by who and what we find. When we are able to access our feelings, directly, and stay with them, experience them and learn from them, many of our issues literally dissolve or become more available to be transformed.
Ongoing coaching helps us to become more self-aware, turn our insights into real and relevant actions, embrace our feelings and let them inform our choices. Before we know it, we are the person we always imagined we could be. Coaching creates space for the kinds of breakthroughs Gina experienced and helps us to sustain new behaviors born of these insights, new thoughts, feelings and actions.
This is what builds the new grooves in our brains; it’s how our default behaviors can and do change.
What If Every Day Can Be Better Than The One Before, No Matter What Life Brings?
When we anchor these behaviors in practices that serve, we can transform and enhance the quality of our lives, experiences and relationships forever. This also makes room for deeper healing and vitality. Gina is one of the most vital people I know! Her aliveness and joy are palpable, as is her intensity and capacity to go to the dark places. We all have this. The question is, can we be with all parts of ourselves?
That is some of the work Gina did. As she played with various perspectives, she got to know some of the very active voices running her life, both the ones that should and the ones that shouldn’t have a say anymore. This led to other epiphanies, more healing and growth. And, of course, the right person was in charge, pricing her programs, making offers and delivering her services, about which she is masterful, a true subject matter expert.
Joseph Campbell said, “We’re not on our journey to save the world but to save ourselves. But in doing that you save the world. The influence of a vital person vitalizes.”
Are You A Vital Person Who Vitalizes?
There are many benefits to tapping into our true feelings. By acknowledging our feelings, we are better equipped to calm ourselves, access the wisdom within and choose powerfully. We become leaders, at the very least, in our own lives, a joy to know and a source of inspiration. As we inspire others, we expand into our own abundance, creativity, capacity to love and succeed. It is a delicious upward spiral.
Gina’s growth is tied directly to her capacity to be who she actually is, love that and lead her life from there. No more stories, no more apologies, no more “slapping a happy face on it,” and no more excuses. How cool is that? She gets to be herself and love that! This is self-leadership.
Thankfully, Gina was willing to trust me as her guide, to do a deeper dive, and allow herself to feel her feelings while exploring a nagging issue that was keeping her feeling stuck (in her business). In the process, she owned her own experience, stepped into a new perspective, learned a new set of skills, got clear about which parts of her needed to be in charge, and had a series of epic breakthroughs.
She fell in love with her life and her work in the world and has been operating from that beautiful and heart-centered space within ever since.
Here’s what Gina had to say:
A Call To Action
Gina didn’t just do a session of perspectives work, she began applying the learning in her life every day. She did the homework, brainstormed actions, and turned a few of them into practices that served. She allowed the spark within to grow and kept looking for more.
Perspectives work is a perfect place to begin. It leads to meaningful breakthroughs, gets us out of our heads, into our hearts and into action. We can’t just think about bending the spoon, we have to have a relationship with the spoon and let it bend us. Perspectives work is the doorway into depth work and the opportunity to fall in love with who and what you are.
If you are like Gina and want to explore what’s keeping you stuck, stagnating and playing small, call me. If you are feeling frustrated and constricted and are ready to expand and be inspired by your life again, let’s talk. All it takes is the willingness to say “Yes!” to yourself…and become an explorer again.
You Do Not Have To Do This Alone
Please know that you do not have to do this alone. After you say, “Yes!,” I’ll be with you every step of the way. Rest assured, our work will honor and enhance the life you are in. By giving herself permission to do the deeper dive, by saying yes to her future, her potential and exploring what’s possible, Gina’s life has been transformed. Yours can be too.
By starting with perspectives and focusing on what’s possible, you will:
- Expand into the abundance, creativity and potential that you know is within you.
- Grow your ability and capacity to love, succeed and serve others.
- Create more time, space and freedom, joy, grace and ease for yourself, your business/career and your relationships, and,
- Inspire others to do the same.
And, maybe, just maybe, you will bend a few spoons!
May you find all the inspiration you need to live an abundant, authentic and whole-hearted life…and lead, live and love from there.
*Shared with full permission. Gina Cobb is an independent jewelry consultant and subject matter expert. I know, from personal experience, that working with her will create a satisfying memory that adds value to the jewelry itself. Gina wants you to “LOVE” your jewelry and ENJOY the whole jewelry-buying experience. She brings intelligence, a designer’s eye and expertise to your collaboration. One of Gina’s specialties is ENGAGEMENT RING SHOPPING. If you are in the market for rings, or know someone who is, I highly recommend giving Gina a call!