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Archive for June, 2010

I held a grudge against Exxon for over a decade because of the way they handled the Valdez incident. I wouldn’t buy gasoline at an Exxon station, and I wouldn’t invest in any mutual fund that held Exxon stock. I can hold a grudge (i.e., a righteous indignation) for a long, LONG time. You might think I was angry about the environmental damage, but that wasn’t it. I was angry because Exxon’s first reaction was, “It’s not our responsibility.” Yes, it was their tanker; yes, it was their oil; yes, it was their employee at the helm; but, no, it was not their responsibility that the oil ended up in the ocean. That was the captain’s fault. They shouldn’t be expected to clean up what he spilled.

I didn’t see it that way. I still don’t. I did, however, over the past few years, use the incident and my strong emotional reaction to it to explore my own inner world and to get a better glimpse at some of my own dark shadows. I asked myself, “Where am I not taking responsibility? … Where am I blaming someone else?” I thought I had done a pretty good job of sorting through all of that until now.

Now there’s British Petroleum, and the shadows are back. I was pleased when I heard the company spokesman say, “We take full responsibility.” I thought, “Good for you!”

And then I remembered that I own BP stock. Instantly, I wanted to dump the stock. I didn’t want to suffer financially for something “they” did. After all, “it’s not my fault”!

“You sound just like Exxon,” said a small, quiet voice inside. “You are part owner of the company; what makes you  think you’re not responsible?”

My inner wisdom tells it like it is; it can ask some pretty tough questions. It  takes my own self-righteous indignation and holds it up as a mirror. There I am, squirming and wiggling and trying to find a way out. Just like Exxon.

Oh, I could find a multitude of justifications and rationales for selling my stock. But the real bottom line for me is this: I invested in BP because I thought it was a responsible company. And now, as they are taking responsibility, there is a part of me that doesn’t want to have anything to do with them. What a hypocrite!

So, I have made a decision. I’m holding onto my stock, and I’m going to do my share. As part owner of BP (no matter how infinitesimally small that part may be), I, too, will hang my head in shame and regret. I, too, will say, “I’m sorry.” I want my company to do whatever it can to make it right, even if I lose every cent of my investment. My integrity calls for me to put my money where my mouth is. It’s time to hold myself to the same standards I want the rest of the world to live up to.

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The other day I was unloading groceries from my van and dropped a quart of fresh strawberries onto the garage floor. I wasted no time picking them up and heading to the kitchen. As I climbed the stairs, it occurred to me just how undramatic the incident had been. No words were mumbled under my breath, no cursing, not even a minced oath (egad!) It was with efficient, fluid motion that I simply retrieved the berries and continued with my day. The thought brings a smile to my face because, for me, this is a reliable indicator of personal progress.

I’m reminded of Wayne Dyer’s question: “When you squeeze an orange, what comes out?” Answer: “Orange juice … because that’s what’s inside.” And when I “get squeezed”–when I am under pressure–what comes out? Anger? Frustration? Sadness? Surrender? If I want to know “what’s inside” on any given day, I can observe my reactions to the small pressures: a dropped spoon, my misplaced car keys, the inevitable computer glitch. When those things happen, what comes out?

When I’m over committed and stressed, I may react with impatience or anger. I may direct it inward (poor me!) or outward (poor husband!). It’s shamefully true, I can be very mean to myself and others when I’m stressed.

Lately, though, I’ve been starting my days with purposeful solitude. I’ve been setting an intention for a day of flow, which requires from me a higher level of compassion, acceptance, and vigilance. Slowly I’m learning which choices move me in the direction I want to go and which ones drive me off course. There are many opportunities throughout my days to get a glimpse of what’s inside. That’s why I’m smiling now as I remember the spilled berries. I do have some peace and acceptance inside, and it’s affirming to see it emerging more often.

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These are the musings of the Earth-Ship, Coach Barbie. Her first-year mission: to explore strange new perspectives; to seek out new possibilities and new ideas; to boldly go where she has never gone before … physically, mentally, spiritually.

And so begins my first experience with blogging. [Some dramatic theme music here would be nice.] Am I going boldly? Probably not by Star Trek standards, but certainly by mine.

My last year has been a series of changes and firsts. Blogging is yet another first on the motley mental list that’s been begging for months now to be transferred to a lined legal pad. Not making a list is a first in and of itself. [A special thanks to my Mastermind Co-Creator Deb Eibner for pointing that out to me!]

I love lists. I have lists for everything:  for things to do today, things to do tomorrow, things to do next week, next month, next year; groceries to buy; books to read; places to visit; web sites to explore; people to invite to dinner. I even have a list–91 pages long–of every time I’ve worked out on my treadmill since May 16, 1998. Who would I be without my lists?

As a coach, I am constantly challenging my clients to try on new ways of thinking as well as new ways of being. I ask them to challenge their self-limiting beliefs and create for real the life they say they want. And with every challenge I offer to another, in my quiet, reflective time, I offer it to myself as well. How can I effectively ask others to step outside their comfortable ruts unless I know firsthand what it’s like to be ” listless”? Or at least to be one list short of a tome?

Over the next several weeks and months, I’ll be writing about my journey into a life of flow. It’s what I’ve said I want. It’s an important element of my vision for a joyful, fulfilling life. But flow requires being in the moment, being flexible, and being willing to set aside a list when using it feels like paddling upstream through rapids. I want to keep what works and gently allow the rest to fall away, without regret, resentment, or judgment.

I invite you to take this journey with me. Explore what it’s like for you to go places you’ve never been before, to think new thoughts, and to eventually become a whole new version of yourself. Feel free to post comments here, or contact me directly at Barbie@CoachBarbie.com … Oh, and be sure to  join my newsletter LIST!   😉

(You can sign up at the bottom of the home page at www.CoachBarbie.com)

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