MARCH 25, 2020

An image highlighting one of our fascinating blog posts

As the coronavirus is wreaking havoc with our lives, I have been reflecting on what opportunities can be found in this tumultuous time.

One powerful idea from my Integral Coach training is the value of an interruption. When we are living our normal lives, we are adapted to our current routines. We don’t see a reason to change our habits, because the risk of change feels more scary than holding onto our current state, even if that state is sub-optimal. In some sense, we are living on autopilot without even checking to see whether the autopilot is taking us where we want to go. But an interruption in our lives shakes things up, gives us an opportunity to look with fresh eyes at our lives, and consciously review whether our routines and habits are serving us.

An interruption can come in many forms. For instance, my coaching clients reach out to me after realizing they are not feeling fulfilled at their job, or after not getting a promotion they were expecting, or sometimes after getting the promotion and realizing that they are being stretched in new ways with more responsibilities. Interruptions can also be personal in nature, including a relationship breaking up, or a new baby, or breaking your neck in a bike crash. In any of these interruptions, we may find that our “normal” way of being is not serving us in our post-interruption context, and that can be an opportunity for growth.

While we can’t necessarily control the events or interruptions that happen to us, we can control how we respond to those events. One possibility is to reject the new context and return to our habits and routines from before the interruption; however, this may lead to complaints that things never change (because we don’t let them). Another possibility is to decide what we want to do differently after the interruption, or what experiments we can try to test out new patterns that might work better for the new context. I find that the latter choice is more empowering for me, but it’s up to each of us to decide how we want to live our lives.

With regard to our current societal interruption, I don’t want to minimize the suffering due to coronavirus. In addition to the hospitalizations and deaths, people are losing their jobs and are dealing with unprecedented disruptions to their lives. If you are in that situation, please take care of yourself.

However, if you have the stability and resources to get through the next few weeks and months, my question to you is what will you learn from this interruption? What will you take away from the experience, and do differently as a result? Since your life is being shaken up anyway by coronavirus, now is a time when the barriers to experimentation and prototyping might be lower. How will you take advantage of this interruption opportunity to update your routines and habits (a.k.a. your autopilot software) to serve you better?

Eric is an executive coach based in Mountain View, CA. This post originally appeared on his blog, where you can read lots more from him. 

Photo by Jackson Simmer on Unsplash



MARCH 19, 2020

stepping in podcastIn this episode Adam talks with Bill Burnett, Executive Director of the Design Program at Stanford and co-author of the #1 New York Times best-selling book Designing Your Life

Bill helps us see how applying design concepts to decisions, our life becomes one of emergent reality, oriented more to possibilities than limitations. When it comes to success and fulfillment, things like passion and ambition are far less effective than emotional intelligence, resilience, and willingness to experiment. Bill outlines practical ways to begin to embody these qualities, shift our perception, and live in way that allows for more possibility.




MARCH 12, 2020

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A wrap around desk takes up at least three quarters of the room. We each sit some distance away from it on stacked meditation cushions, one of us on one side, one on the other, and two against an adjacent wall. There are enough of us that it is the desk, and not the meditation cushions, that seems out of place. On the outside of the room, students anxiously study for a biology test, a faculty member starts the copier, and a staff member punches the button to learn that she has no voicemail. Someone loudly asks someone else if the copies in the tray are his.

With a door shut between us and the noises, we are a trained coach, a deacon in an area church, a student, and the one who invited us: a guy working on a certification to teach mindfulness meditation. We also all work at a college, but at 7:30 in the morning, we aren’t the people who will be in classrooms and offices in a few hours. We are the people who sit for an hour, letting the outside pass through on its way somewhere else. In here, even with breathing and mantras, that outside world seems loud.

Plenty of workplaces endorse yoga and meditation. But our workplace doesn’t sponsor our meditation. We do. Perhaps even when something is workplace sponsored—like some yoga sessions that are available to people working at our college—it’s good for people to have their own commitment, done their way. This is two days after Super Tuesday and one day after a college administrator wrote everyone about how the school plans to handle the possible spread of a pandemic. There are plenty of reasons to run around, figuring out what needs to be done. There are equal or more reasons why we should sit still, or at least, sit.

Like a lot of people who first learned a sitting practice in coach training, I didn’t take to it immediately. I was meditating regularly after a while, but at first, it seemed antithetical to going to work, writing, obtaining practice clients, and preparing for something we didn’t call an exam, but that definitely felt like some kind of test. Now, any spiritual test in a training program—or in a degree, for that matter—feels like nothing next to days where the temperature is unseasonably warm, no one understands how to respond to what’s happening with national and international conflicts, and a person who coughs too loud gets a worried glare. All of this is to say nothing of the everyday conflicts that many of us face, where we go to work (or work for ourselves) and deal with someone unkind or face deadlines.

But we all are working on it, in some direct or indirect way. Getting up, talking to other people, and refusing to hoard hand sanitizer and alcohol wipes is working on it. Voting is working on it, and trying to do meaningful work is working on it. And so is sitting, particularly since some of us sit through some noise so that we can stand through the rest of it.

Christina uses her Integral Coach training in higher education. Her writing has appeared in several journals and anthologies including Crab Fat, BioStories, Big Muddy,  Sinister Wisdom, Hashtag Queer, Volume 3 and Is it Hot in Here, or Is It Just Me? 

Photo by Spencer Selover from Pexels



DECEMBER 31, 2019

An image highlighting one of our fascinating blog posts

When I was in college, a friend and I walked into an art gallery one night, looked at each other, and walked out. It could have been the fifth or sixth we’d been in that night. For some reason, we felt like something was off in that one. We both sensed danger in that building, and with it, we had an instinct, almost to run. We felt better outside, and better still, once we weren’t near it.

Plenty of people have talked about that kind of instinct. Today, even more people talk about PTSD and how people store atrocities in their bodies. We sadly live in a world where wars, lengthy military service, and atrocities make it likely that people carry negative experiences and places with them. We know this because it’s engraved in contemporary culture. We know this because it’s happened to us or people in our circles, and seemingly, people everywhere.

Lately I’ve been thinking about how we also sometimes carry better memories of place inside us, too. One day recently, I was sitting in the living room in Washington, D.C., and I could feel Fayetteville, Arkansas, a college town where I last lived more than twenty years ago. I’m not sure how I could have told a bystander, “This is Fayetteville.” I’m not even sure I could tell you what that feeling is, that intangible sense that I identify specifically with the place. It’s like an energy that shoots out of me, but it’s unmistakably also the town where I first got to be an adult. I wouldn’t associate it with anywhere else—especially nowhere else I’ve lived. In talking to those who study somatics for coaching practice, it’s what I would call the somatics of home. There might be an image attached, say the spot in the middle of the hill on the way to the UARK English Department coming up Dickson Street, or a song that I liked to play in my car when I was twenty-one and driving in the more elevated part of the city, looking at the stars and the lights from houses where graduate students generally didn’t live. I don’t think that’s it, though. It’s not so simple as an image or a sound. It’s a feeling, like comfort, happiness, love, and a hug, all tied up together, in total absence of anything that might have gone wrong while I lived there. I know the reality of my life there, and this feeling isn’t a lie, even though my life there wasn’t perfect. It’s more like I’m channeling Fayetteville’s Higher Self, the part that feels like home even though sometimes it was the place where I existed briefly on my way somewhere else.

I wasn’t born there. In fact, I might have spent three years of forty-five there. But I decided it was mine, and it has been, every time I’ve gone back to visit, and sometimes, when I’m sitting in a room somewhere else. My challenge—and maybe yours, too—it to physically call on homes when they are far away, and to know that whatever else we store, we store them, and they, in turn, meet and collect us wherever we are.

Christina uses her Integral Coach training in higher education. Her writing has appeared in several journals and anthologies including Crab Fat, BioStories, Big Muddy,  Sinister Wisdom, Hashtag Queer, Volume 3 and Is it Hot in Here, or Is It Just Me?