The Gift

“There is no challenge more challenging than the challenge to improve yourself”
- Michael F. Staley  

Sandra had been coming to see Vivian for three weeks. She’d made some progress, but because her marriage had failed, she’d lost several business clients, her grown son had recently moved back home and her mother’s health was deteriorating, Sandra appeared stuck and unable to move forward. Vivian recognized that Sandra was overwhelmed by her current circumstances. On their third visit, Vivian handed Sandra an envelope, which she reluctantly opened. Inside was a note with the phrase, Yard by yard, it’s very hard, but inch by inch it’s a cinch. She signed Sandra up for a quilting class.

A few weeks later, Sandra presented Vivian with a package. Vivian opened it to reveal a patchwork quilt that had been painstakingly pieced together. In the corner was a hand written square that said, “To Vivian, with appreciation and understanding in each and every inch”.

In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity. We often feel overwhelmed while in the midst of crisis. Remembering these situations are life lessons; they are here to teach us and encourage us to look inward and to look for opportunities to make us better people. As in Sandra’s case, perhaps she was trying to take on too much and learning to delegate or to merely say no was necessary. Not every life lesson will be resolved the way we expect or desire, but it’s important for us to remain open, flexible, find creative solutions and sometimes simply make the best of our situations.

Not all gifts are physical. Some of the best gifts we can give others aren’t things at all. Sharing knowledge, expertise, compassion, acknowledgment and validation are all valuable offerings. When we give someone these gifts we show them that we care about their well-being and care for their best interest.

The most valuable gift is one given without the expectation of receiving something in return. When it is about “us”, we may be apprehensive that our gifts won’t be well-received or even worse, unappreciated. When it is about receivers, when it is about “them”, we forget about the risk of being rejected and willing to give fully and freely.

A coach can help clients recognize which obstacles and issues may be standing in their way, and invite them to see those obstacles and issues as a “gift”. To see these gifts as opportunities for advancement helps clients to move forward and progress. Clients are encouraged to look inward and ask themselves: What is this trial, ordeal or struggle trying to teach me? What lesson am I supposed to take away? This helps clients to put things in better perspective. “You may not believe everything happens for a reason and for the best, while you can certainly find the good in everything.”

[Coaching Questions]

  • What are you gifts? What are your strengths?
  • What life lesson (s) are your circumstances trying to teach you?
  • What obstacles do you see as being in your way?
  • Is it about them? Or is it about you?
  • How do you find the good in everything?
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The Leap

The most important thing to remember is this: to be ready at any moment to give up what you are for what you might become. – W. E. B. Du Bois

Bungee jumping is one of the most feared activities out there. Most people dare not even try it. The mere thought of leaping into an abyss of air, without anything to hold on to, sends sweat to the hands and feet of most people. It brings about a fear of not knowing if things will go wrong when you are already in the air, falling. This reflects how life is for people – often surrounded by uncertainty, of things going wrong beyond their control.

Anyone can take a leap of certainty, but it takes much more courage to take a leap of faith. We may surround ourselves with things that are safe and comfortable to deal with everyday. We want predictable outcomes, guaranteed successes. But what give us true fulfillment? Probably not when we finish yet another mundane task and check it off from the list. It’s when we decide to step out of our comfort zone. It’s when we are courageous beyond what we could have imagined.  It’s when we take a leap of faith to follow our desires, our passion and our callings.

We must leave the dead weights behind  beofre we can jump.  Leave the negativities, the fears and the doubts behind. Drop the should’s and have-to’s. Most importantly, let go of the outcome. The leap is for ourselves, not for anybody else.  It may or may not turn out to be exactly as we hoped, while the leap alone makes the entire journey worthwhile.

Clients come to coaching often because they want something more, something less, or something different. They may not realize what they need is not a cosmetic remodeling, it is an extreme makeover home edition! They may have at one point dreamt of something grand for themselves, believing in the possibilities that life has to offer but have lost their zeal as they have settled for something faintly resembling the dreams they once had. A coach’s job is to paint the picture, hold the vision, display the confidence and invite the client to step into their own greatness, to follow their desires, their passion, their callings, to go after what they really want in life, to make that leap.

As coaches, we help clients:

  • Realize their innate power to be the best person they can become.  We serve as encouragers so that our clients would have the mettle to seek for higher and more fulfilling things in their lives.
  • Embark on setting goals that will uncover their potential as human beings.  Coaches assist clients enter an introspective mindset and discern the new life direction they want to take.
  • Become empowered to undergo conscious transformation, with mentoring and constant feedback sessions.

[Coaching Questions]

  • What do you really, really want?
  • What are you willing to do to pursue your dreams?
  • What is stopping you?
  • What’s the leap that’s necessary here?
  • Are you taking a leap of faith?
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Repotting a Root Bound Plant

“Repotting a plant gives it space to grow. Repotting ourselves means taking leave of our everyday environments and walking into unfamiliar territory—of the heart, of the mind and of the spirit.”
- Heather Cochran, The Return of Jonah Grey

Any experienced gardener knows that while a potted plant may flourish with the correct amount of light, water and nutrients,  after some time it will outgrow its pot. When a plant is ready to be moved into a bigger pot, the roots are restricted, growing in a tight coil or ball – a problem which gardeners refer to as “root bound”. Since root bound plants rarely meet their potential for growth and success in terms of flowering or producing fruit, the gardener will ensure that when their plant is ready for a bigger pot, it is repotted.

In our own lives, we can apply the idea of “repotting” when we feel that we become “root bound”.  Leaving your old pot behind means leaving your comfort zone and moving into a new environment and while this presents challenges, it also allows us to grow, change and learn.

Susan’s story offers an example of how repotting paved the way for new growth in her life. To friends, family and colleagues she appeared to be successful – working in a busy newspaper office and writing a regular column for women. However, after several years of giving her job everything she could, Susan began to feel empty and constricted by the demands of her career. What was right for her when she started work no longer seemed to ring true with her hopes, dreams and ideals. The solution for Susan was to first consider what changes she needed to make to reawaken her passion for life, then to look at ways to implement them. Susan might decide to change her career direction by following her lifelong wish to write a book, or look for ways to work her way further up the career ladder.

As a coach, you can help to prepare a client who needs to repot their life by helping them to identify areas which have become stale and in need of growth space.  In many cases, a client may not realise that they are ready for the next step, held back by fears, beliefs or self esteem issues, and if these are not resolved the client will take these “herbicides” to the next pot (life situation). A coach is responsible for helping the client to work through the options available to them, so that they can decide on the best course of action to take. Your task is to help the client build a clear picture of where they are in their life and create a greater understanding of how to achieve their goals by -

  • Offering support as they make life changing decisions, and helping them to find ways to adapt to the new issues they will face when they move into a new environment.
  • Identify areas where growth is constricted by remaining in a limiting situation, and encouraging the client to find ways to take steps towards change.
  • Helping clients to decide which situations warrant making changes, and which situations need further consideration before taking action.

[Coaching Questions]

  • In which areas of your life do you feel “root bound”?
  • What challenges and opportunities does changing to a bigger “pot” entail for you?
  • How do you see yourself within one month and one year of making room for growth in your life? Are you closer to your goals?
  • What do you need to do to prepare physically, mentally and emotionally for the next step in your life?
  • What are your motivations for making changes in your life?
  • How will making changes in your life empower you?
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A Tree Falls in the Forest

If a tree falls in a park and there is no-one to hand, it is silent and invisible and nameless. And if we were to vanish, there would be no tree at all” — William Fosset

This saying was popularized by George Berkeley who believed that objects cannot exist without being perceived. If no one heard a tree fall in the forest, did it make any noise? If something happens outside the human perception, does it really happen?

Let’s talk about two inventors. One dreams up an idea for a new invention and shouts it from the rooftop. He talks about it to everyone he meets, and when he succeeds, no matter how trivial the success, he makes sure everyone knows about his passion. The other inventor also comes up with an idea; however, he does not tell anyone and keeps it to himself. His idea might have been brilliant, better and bigger, but he never told anyone. Did this idea exist? By not discussing his idea with anyone, the second inventor lost out on the opportunity to work together with those around him to make the idea come true. To make a difference in people’s lives, an idea has to be heard and realized.

The inventor of the wheel must have shared his invention to someone in order for it to be known and used by others. Where would we have been without wheels now? By involving people in a discussion, an idea can evolve and become more than just an idea. It can become something that can add value to the world around us. Think of all the inventions that are based on the simple concept of the wheel. How many people have used that one invention to further develop new products? It was a simple idea that one person allowed the world to see and experience when it started, and now it’s something we cannot imagine to live without.

In life, some people put their heads down and work so hard to cut down trees, but never look around, hoping that someone may hear it one day. But NO, good ideas did not promote themselves, and they get so frustrated and angry that no one acknowledges their accomplishment, feeling unfulfilled and self-doubt.

At the other extreme, some other people are so focused on been seen, been heard, justify their success “in front of an audience”. They even go so far to fake “sounds” so others would say, “Oh, he just knocks off another tree, great job!” Their success depends on other people, and they are insecure, inauthentic and fear that one day people will find out that they are imposters. Living on other validation and approval is formula for insecurity, pain and unhappiness.

A coach’s job is to be able to see the potential, to see the falling tree even if it is buried in the deep forest. A coach holds the vision and helps the client recognize and center on his/her highest self, and partners with the client to bring it out and to realize their dreams.

[Coaching Questions]

  • Are you a lone ranger?
  • How do you share your ideas with the world?
  • What does it take to make your dream a reality?
  • What’s stopping you from taking the first step?
  • Do you want to feel better than others, or to feel connected?
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Early Birds or Early Worms

“I think we consider too much the good luck of the early bird and not enough the bad luck of the early worm”
- Franklin D Roosevelt

In the tranquil hours of dawn, the natural world comes to life, and while most of us are still in the land of nod, birds are busy taking advantage of the peace and feeding on the abundance of tasty morsels on offer. Those birds which start their day the earliest get their pick of the juiciest worms, which is why someone who arrives first to make the most of the opportunities are often referred to as early birds. However, little thought is given to those early worms – they don’t fare very well in this deal – their reward for getting up early is to become someone else’s breakfast.

The metaphor of the early bird and the early worm applies in many ways to human life choices and behaviours which will you may recognise in your experiences and those of people around you. While being punctual is a commendable trait, the key to success does not always lie in being first in line. Consider John, who is seeking a job, and hears of a golden opportunity with a local business. He rushes to arrange an interview, believing that a quick application will increase his chances of being selected for the role. However, in his hurry to present himself,  he neglects to prepare by taking time to learn about the company – and falls at the first hurdle when questioned by the interviewer on what attracted him to the position.  In essence, John becomes that ill-fated worm.

Or how about Susan, who has problems in settling into a secure relationship. She has a pattern which repeats itself over and again: she meets a new love interest and throws herself into the partnership wholeheartedly, before she has really gotten to know the person. Perhaps this is due to an insecurity – if she doesn’t get that commitment from this fantastic new person, someone else might snatch them up. A  few weeks or months down the line, the relationship inevitably sours. Susan’s behaviour has suffocated their new partner by asking for too much too soon, or the partner has turned out to be quite different in personality than she initially thought. 

Both of these cases would benefit from understanding that every situation merits time taken to look inside and become “ready”. John could have taken time to ask himself questions like “what do I hope to gain by taking this role” and “what inspires me to do this particular job”. Susan could benefit from taking time out to resolve the issues that occur in her relationships and ask herself what she could learn from previous partings.

 A successful coach can help their client in a number of ways :

  • Encourage the client to ask themselves questions to clarify their goals.
  • Establish the client’s need to look at the bigger picture as well as paying attention to details – there is no point in being on time, if you are in the wrong place.
  • Help the client to think ahead that what are the consequences of their actions.
  • Improve the client’s ability to assess situations and decide what preparations are needed in order to succeed.
  • Allow the client to gain new perspective on areas of their life and learn from where they could have taken a different approach.
  • Suggest techniques that the client can use to take away something positive from any situation and ways which lessons learnt can be applied.

 [Coaching Questions]

  •  Are you an “early bird” or an “early worm”?
  • Are you ready? How do you prepare yourself and get ready?
  • What specific results are you looking to achieve as you strive to meet your goals?
  • How do I direct my energy to get there?
  • What did you learn from this experience?
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What’s in Your Wallet?

“A father carries photo memories in his wallet, knowing his money was well spent.”
-Tom Baker

There was a man, who was given the opportunity to take an ‘all expenses paid’ trip around the world. The man spent weeks eagerly researching the sites he would see, reviewing his itinerary, and gathering the personal items he needed for the journey. Finally, the long awaited day arrived!

As the man set out on his trip of a lifetime, he became preoccupied with the thought that he might lose his wallet, and everything it contained. All along the journey, and practically every few minutes, the man would check, and re-check, and check again; to make sure that the wallet and its contents were still safely in his possession. Sadly, when the man returned from his trip, he realized that he had no memories or recollection of the fabulous sites he had visited along the journey, because of his obsession with the preservation of his wallet, identification, passport, credit cards, and cash.

Wallets are a convenient means for carrying ones identification and valuables. Yet, the contents of our clients’ wallets can be revealing. Their ‘identification’ can reveal much more than just your clients’ name, address, age, picture, and physical description. The amount of money and the type of credit cards (Black, Platinum, and Gold) your clients are carrying, can reveal much more than their shopping preferences and habits. It’s been said that if you want to know ones priorities in life, take a look at their checkbook register.

One pitfall is that our clients associate their uniqueness, their value, and their contribution to the world, by the style, size, and contents of their wallet. They may feel that having a designer wallet, which contains all of the popular credit cards, proves to everyone that they have ‘arrived’ and that they have accomplished great things. Yet we all know persons, who have tattered and empty wallets, who have achieved great things, and persons with a decent wallet, who are unfulfilled.

Another pitfall is that clients can become so obsessed with the status quo, they are afraid to take risks, even if it means they’d experience the life they’ve always dreamed of living. One final pitfall  is that clients become so preoccupied with their wallets that they miss out on sites along their marvelous journey…and at life’s end; they’ll have no photographs or fond memories of where they’ve been.  

[Coaching Questions]

  • What’s in your wallet?
  • Do you, or does society, let what’s in your wallet define who you are?
  • Are you so preoccupied with the style, size, and contents of your wallet, that you are missing out on living life to the fullest?
  • If your wallet is empty, how do you still have value and fulfillment?
  • What can you do if your wallet contains the ‘right things’, but your life still feels empty?
  • Do the photos in your wallet reveal ways your money was well spent?
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The Two of Pentacles as the Juggler

“The trick to juggling is determining which balls are made of rubber and which ones are made of glass.”
- Anonymous

Once there was a man who made his living as a juggler in his tiny village. The local children gathered every afternoon to watch his performance. They cheered, clapped, threw down a few coins and asked for more. The juggler was happy to oblige and continued his juggling tricks long after sundown.  Although the juggler provided a great deal of joy to the village children, his bills were late, his children were hungry and his wife was very unhappy.

So the juggler set out for the neighboring villages to perform his juggling act. He worked long hours to build his juggling business and before long his skills became legendary and were in great demand. The juggler was happy to be able to send home large sums of money, until he received word that his crops were dying, his wife had fallen ill and the children missed him immensely.  

Looking at the Two of Pentacles above we see a man concentrating on balancing two spheres. As one ball goes up, the other comes down and we’re left to wonder how long the process will go on before the juggler tires, gives up, or drops one or both globes. In the background are two ships at sea. They smoothly ride the waves of the ocean, or cruise the ups and downs of life.

Many of us feel as though we must be master jugglers, often struggling to find a happy medium between work, family and play. The process of constant multi-tasking can take a toll on our health and quality of life and relationships. The willingness to delegate some of our responsibilities to others is often a frightening proposition. We worry that no one else is capable of taking adequate care of our business, home or family.

The Two of Pentacles reminds us that maintaining balance in our lives is important. Flexibility is crucial, as we often see our lives going in one direction, but circumstances can force us to quickly change course. There’s a bit of childlike playfulness in the way this juggler performs his balancing act. Life often presents us with challenges, but if we see these challenges as opportunities to grow, improve and advance it will ultimately benefit us greatly.

Coaches can expertly help clients decide which balls to balance, which to delegate and which to drop by assessing, organizing and prioritizing professional and personal responsibilities. A coach should suggest and encourage that clients consider restructuring, delegating or even abandon unproductive methods.

Hectic, stressful lives can often get the better of many of us. Celebrating the progress made, as well as the encouraging guidance offered along the way will be the reward to both client and coach in the end. 

[Coaching Questions]

  • What responsibilities do you see yourself juggling?
  • What, if any, aspects of your professional and personal life are being sacrificed by your juggling/multi-tasking?
  • Which jobs, tasks and responsibilities would you classify as rubber (resilient and durable)? Which are glass (fragile and delicate)?
  • As a result of your juggling act, which problems do you see as the most damaging to you, your business or your family?
  • Which tasks do you feel most comfortable delegating to others?
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Candle or Candlelight

In the right light, at the right time, everything is extraordinary.
- Aaron Rose

People who hold candlelight vigils for loved ones know the significant difference between a candle and candlelight.  A person’s candle can burn out long before their candlelight will ever be lost in the hearts and minds of those they’ve touched. The glow of candlelight only then shines brighter and grows stronger with each passing moment that the brightness is shared to the benefit of all. Candlelight is a powerful form of energy that enters the earth’s atmosphere from its source, the candle.  Once this energy is released, it spreads all over the planet being absorbed in one form and emitted in another, but never lost.

On the other hand, every candle is limited by the density of wax encasing the wick and sooner or later it must burn out.  Many individuals, without thinking, play games with their lives and align their love and future happiness with the fickle antics of a candle, unwilling to share the light from this candle with others because their deeply ingrained mindset is crippled by the thought that sooner or later the candle will burn to nothing. 

A candle is a finite object that knows that as soon as the first flame ignites its wick, it is just a matter of time before the circle of its life is completed.  If we think and behave like candles then our first instinct is to cower and conserve, saving ourselves for fear that we would not be prepared for any rainy day emergencies.  This conservation is manifested as an incredibly selfish attitude towards everyone and everything around us.  This stinginess works against us because it acts as a fuel, combining with the flame and quickening the burning process that causes us to complete the burning cycle even faster.

True strength within our being comes with a deep spiritual understanding that we are the candlelight that will be manifested by the candle as soon as conception lights the wick.  Candlelight is limitless, the more you share, the stronger it grows.   In whatever you do, learning to become the candlelight ensures that you and everything around you will become supernaturally extraordinary.

You become the candlelight whose bright and powerful beams radiate its supercharged light through the darkness.  Nothing in life is entirely trustworthy but as your candlelight contribution increases by growth, you will begin to trust yourself knowing that you are growing stronger in all aspects of your existence and you are on the road to a truly exemplary life.  

Find the right light, now is the right time to believe that life is already extraordinary!

[Coaching Questions]

  • What lights you up?
  • Who lights you up?
  • How do you see your life: a candle or candlelight?
  • How do you share your light with others?
  • What’s your legacy?
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The Bus Driver

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

We know it’s true. When we are doing well on our life’s journey, it seems there is no shortage of people who want to ‘go along for the ride,’ but it’s a whole different story, when we hit potholes in our journey, or we are ‘stuck’ in traffic.

This is true for our coaching clients, as well. Take for example, the woman, who comes to you for individual coaching. She may not know it, but she is a bus driver.  She is coming to you for help driving the bus, which is her life. There are many things which must be established with your bus driver in order to have a successful coaching journey.

  • Is your client aware that she owns the bus and is responsible for it? Her bus journey is all about choices; choices for which she alone is responsible.
  • Does she realize that as a coach, you are only the GPS system? You can help her navigate her journey, but she is responsible for the bus, the bus route, the speed, and direction. You are only there as a guide. She cannot depend on you to drive the bus.
  • Does your client realize that her coaching sessions are just one aspect of her on-going bus maintenance? Coaching can serve as a periodic tune-up, but she may need the help of doctors, mental health professionals, clergy, family, and friends to operate her bus efficiently, and lessen the chances that she will have a break-down.
  • Does she realize that the passengers on her bus will come and go along her route? While some of them will ride along with her forever, others will leave her bus, and move off in other directions. Some of her passengers will only ride her bus on cold or rainy days, while others will be with her rain or shine. Occasionally, she will encounter an unruly passenger, or someone who wants to ride her bus, for free. Is she interested in devising policies and strategies for dealing with these passengers so that they don’t take her off her intended route?
  • Is your client willing to devise short term and long term goals to help her keep from getting stuck in traffic?
  • Is she willing to understand the importance of parking her bus, to take much needed breaks for refreshment and relaxation along her daily route?

[Coaching Questions]

  • How are you enjoying your bus ride?
  • Are there unruly passengers aboard, who you need to deal with?
  • What are the alternative routes you can take to avoid potholes and getting stuck in traffic?
  • When was the last time you parked your bus?
  • Are you driving aimlessly, or do you take time to notice the scenery passing by your window?
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Going Sailing

“If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favorable.”
- Lucius Annaeus Seneca

 

A true sailor’s definition of going offshore is not measured by the distance traveled from the coast but by the length of time spent at sea.  Prolonged voyages are marked by the time that the captain and crew spend away from supplies and professional assistance, building self reliance, learning accountability and perfecting mechanical expertise to weather any oncoming storms. 

Pre-passage preparations for setting sail are of the highest priority and are based on an inner acknowledgement and respect for the tremendous power and dynamics of the wind and water, even in favorable conditions. 

Absolutely nothing is taken for granted! 

The sea worthiness of the vessel is put under close structural and mechanical scrutiny before it is allowed to leave port.  Every inch of the vessel is inspected and if there is any doubt as to any part or device’s ability to hold strain under pressure, its replacement part is quickly installed.  Taking chances in this area is not an option.  Just one weak part could jeopardize the entire voyage.  The crew’s ability to manage the vessel with this weakness in extreme conditions would be compromised and an unnecessary element of danger would be introduced if the vessel gets caught offshore in severe weather conditions.

Storm force winds can only be conquered by the confidence of a crew that knows the vessel in which they are sailing is structurally strong and has been completely prepared for a prolonged voyage, no matter what the conditions.  The crew relaxes in the knowledge that following all the age-old basic sailing guidelines will bring them safely home.

Sailing directly into the wind, stalls the boat and requires a greater effort to restart.  A good sailor when in uncharted waters must never fight the wind. 

The only way to get back on course is to harness the natural forces of the wind and water, tacking back and forth and sailing just off of the wind to reposition their destination.  The elements drive the sailboat in a natural direction that is often contrary to where the captain wants the boat to go.

Losing sight of the destination brings added dangers.  While working so hard to keep the sail boat under control, the boat sometimes drifts so far that the shore can no longer be seen.  Captain’s instinct backed up with a trusted compass, sea charts and other sailing equipment ensures that there is always a disaster recovery plan.  A good sailor always packs emergency supplies and extras of everything, just in case the voyage turns out different to what was originally planned.  Taking mental note of the starting and ending point coordinates means that under pressure, the information is at their fingertips. 

Too much water adds to the onboard weight and this would eventually sink the ship.  A good sailor must always carry a bucket or container on the voyage to get rid of any excess water that may inadvertently get on board during the storm.  Excess water must be tossed overboard quickly.

Plain sailing only comes with practice.  Good navigation consists of charting a well planned course to a destination and measuring progress at consistent intervals, to compensate for any deviations. Navigating a sail boat takes experience that paradoxically only comes after many navigation trials. 

The resilience of the human spirit can never be underestimated.  Building a career or charting the direction of one’s life is like sailing across an ocean. 

You must know to which port you are sailing, your vessel must be voyage ready and all the training materials must either be in your head or at your fingertips for quick reference.  Thorough preparation will always meet opportunity.

The power is within all of us to drift aimlessly along taken by the tides and the winds or cruise with additional motor boat power on board or race to the finish line.  External forces influence our course if there is no plan or direction and we quickly lose our focus as to the purpose of the voyage in the first place.  If we are in control, we can arrive at our destination with skill and some maneuvering, varying only the speed of the voyage.  If we are fear-filled, we make excuses and never leave the port.

[Coaching Questions]

  •  Are you ready for the voyage?
  • Who are you on the voyage with? Who’s weighting down the boat? Who’s going to help you carry the boat?
  • What are you taking to cross the water? Sail boat? Canoe? Kayak? What difference does it make?
  • How do you stay on course in the middle of the ocean?
  • How have you prepared for weathering the storms of life?
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