Identity aspect: gravitas

Posted on 12:00 PM by dave

Original image by Johnny Kruger:
I am firewolf.  

This is my identity.  
A lot of who I am can be understood by observing wolves.

While there are many aspects of wolves that I could draw upon for the content of this conversation--  their tribal tendency and territorial nature, just to name a few-- I'm going to focus on their inherent authority.

I've noticed a trend over the past decade or so that when I'm in an organizational context people LOVE my strength-- resourcefulness, provision, and protection-- but not my authority.  When I'm in a pack of humans, I naturally take charge with or without formal agreements... and this can be very disruptive.  

Notice something: I said naturally.  

Before jumping to narcissistic conclusions, consider for a moment that most of us are relatively unaware of how we show up in our own lives.  Perspective on our own personality and heart is difficult to see on our own which is why we need to have a community of others surrounding us.  Most of what I'm about to share has been the result of others speaking into me and seeing me, really seeing me.

When I show up, I don't need to assert myself nor does it take effort on my part to take the lead.  I don't need to jockey for position nor do I feel it necessary to play games.  When I'm standing in the strength of who I am, I lead.  And I don't lead from the sidelines or periphery, I lead from the front.

I'm an Alpha though I don't need to proclaim it to be so; it's simply how I show up.  I have a certain gravitas.  And this aspect of who I am either repels or attracts others to my leadership and leaves little room for middle ground.

This makes me dangerous.  Just like in Narnia, Mr. Beaver could say of me, "Of course he isn't safe... but... he's GOOD."  My heart of intent in all circumstances is always "to set hearts free."  This is the context of my leadership, the underpinnings of my authority: to set hearts free. 

It frustrates me to no end when for the sake of freedom I take the lead only to be boxed up or compressed into a smaller role.  In that place, I will bite when I'm backed into a corner.  I will fight because my territory is in jeopardy.  Freedom is at stake and I refuse to back down, to play small because it's safer.

Remember, I'm an Alpha.  I'm a wolf.  I cannot be tamed or domesticated.  I am meant to roam the wilderness lands with my pack.  Yes, my provocative howl strikes fear into the hearts of the timid, the posers, the wannabes... but it is for their unleashing and advancement that I am fierce and tender.

I am firewolf.
I am dangerous.
I am free.



Posted on 2:42 PM by dave

There is a purpose and intent to how everyone is wired.  Everyone is unique.  At times, we may resonate with the similarities in one another, but we are not identical.

This is by design.  We all have an intrinsic design that calls us forth, that beckons us forward.

Our habitat points us toward our design; our habitat is that space that exists where our heart comes fully alive.

Consider for a moment, Koi.  Koi are designed for freshwater and tend to reside in calm, shallow ponds.  The set boundaries and certainty of their surroundings is the prime environment for them to live peacefully and contently.  They are dependable.

Trout, on the other hand, occupy lakes, streams, rivers and, for some, the ocean.  They live for the rushing streams and myriad of options to swim for miles and miles.  Some trout live for years in the ocean then return to the lakes and streams of their origin.  They are quite the sojourners.

Dolphin thrive in the ocean.  The insurmountable depths and endless sea beckons them to frolic whimsically in the never ending ebb and flow of the tides.  They come and go as they please.  The vastness of aquatic options does not intimidate them.  They are playful explorers.

Each of these aquatic animals are uniquely placed in a habitat-- call it their domain-- where they most come alive.  They thrive in their domain.  It is as if they were made for it and it for them.

We, too, have a habitat, an environment, a domain in which our heart comes most alive.  It is this way by design.  For some of us, like the Koi, it's the trusted syncopation of our corporate career.  The certainty of our schedule.  The regularity of our existence.

For some of us, like the trout, it's the dynamic nature of our daily rhythm.  The ever changing pace of our job.  The fluctuation of our existence.

For some of us, like the dolphin, it's the boundlessness of what the day will bring.  The "anything goes" vastness of our work.  The limitlessness of our existence.

All of us have a domain that fits for us.  To expect a dolphin to thrive in a 1,000 gallon Koi pond would be ludicrous.  To expect a Koi to flourish in the salty waters of the ocean would mean certain death.

One of our goals should be to identify the type of environment that best calls us forth according to our design and the design of the people we interact with on a regular basis.  It would be toxic to expect someone who values structure, substance, and summary to be in a role or environment that requires imagination, fluidity, and adaptation.   The inverse is true as well.

How have you experienced this in relationships or at work?
What habitat makes you most come alive?
If you had a perfect day, what would you be doing?


The Audacity of Brilliance

Posted on 11:42 AM by dave

Image credit:

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

As a coach, life intrigues me. I find myself curious about people, buildings, conversations, architecture, landscapes, body language, texture, color, design, etc. I can't help it. We are surrounded by beauty and creativity and it captivates me!
People are the most curious of creatures. The way they think and emote, the way they gather and scatter, the way they connect and disengage-- it's fascintaing!
I had an uncle-in-law, John, who was known to say, "People just know so much," and it enthralled him. He loved a good conversation and enagaged others with a thirst to know them more deeply and true.
I experienced him like this...
Everyone is creative.
Everyone is an artist.
Everyone is a genius.
An engineer creates structures and substructures with intertwining layers of electrical, plumbing, fire suppression-- it's a genius art. A mathematician architects computational techniques and algorithms expanding knowledge and understanding-- it's a genius art. A photographer crafts a visual story bending light around a subject-- it's a genius art!
How many of us deny the existence of our designed genius? Or worse, how many of us have a hint of our genius but don't develop it? We don't lean into it living lesser than the fullness of what we have to offer?
Denying or refusing to acknowledge our genius or not developing it is arrogant and deprives the world of the gift of our design, our uniqueness, our art. This world needs our imagination and ingenuity.
Next time you're in conversation with someone, have an internal dialog with them and ask, "What is powerfully unique and true of you?" Get curious about what makes them come alive. Then, call it forth. Unearth the gold of this naturally creative person and admire it. Show them why they matter and name it.
We need more people like you with the audacity to call forth the brilliance you see and experience.


Awe & wonder

Posted on 11:29 AM by dave

Expectation, temperament, etiquette-- there are many spaces in life that attempt to define what we are supposed to do, how we are supposed to respond, and how we are supposed to act.

"Supposed to"-- that phrase feels so... limiting, restricting, confining.
I wonder: is there more? If we could do anything, what would we do? If we had permission to respond without fear of judgment or condemnation, how would we behave? What would we say? If nothing held us back, how would we act?
My son is almost 6 years old and while he's learning the rhythms of our culture-- how to respect and honor others and himself-- there's a wild abandon in him that's almost barbaric... and I love that about him. His heart of curiosity and imagination guide him to think and act in ways that have the aroma of freedom that is untethered to the "supposed to's" that bind so many adults.
There are moments my son is playing with his Lego's that he spontaneously bursts forth with humming and singing; a theme song of sorts for the epic story being crafted in his imagination. Then, without warning, he collapses on the ground. Continuing in song but staring into the depths of the ceiling, he holds his creation turning it in his hand as he admires the intricacies of his invention.
As beautiful and carefree as this scene is, just try to imagine that was a 40 year old guy or a 32 year old lady. People would freak out and think that something was wrong with them! They'd have them institutionalized.
Yet, my heart longs for this type of awe and wonder; this wild abandon to the restrictive deluge of other people's opinions.
There are moments I want to run through an open field just because the Wind has beckoned me to come play with it. There are moments that I want to climb a tree or fence just to gain a fresh, new perspective. There are moments I want to flop down in the lush, green grass and just stare at the clouds getting lost in their ever vacillating, shape-shifting transit across the blue, oceanic heavens.
Welcome to my Barbarian value; a value that is wild, unleashed, and fierce. For me to truly honor this value, the "people pleaser" in me must be in healthy check.
I must grant myself full permission to simply be me and not adhere to the "supposed to's" of others.
I must cross lines.
I must not be contained.
I must think sideways.
I must be unique.
I must explore.
This value loves to hear the phrase, "To boldly go where no one has gone before." Hearing this, I gain a sense of childlike awe and wonder and my heart comes alive!


Creative Flow

Posted on 10:40 AM by dave

Creative flow and strategy may seem mostly foreign to artisans but it's value as an indicator for ongoing success and legacy cannot be overlooked.
Any musician will tell you that when they are "in the zone" practicing their craft that there is an innate flow to the harmony and rhythm of their creativity. They have great freedom of expression in the adhering to the syncopations and melody that they are conceiving.
Yet in all the organic cadences and tones, there is structure, there is process. This process must be written down in order to be repeated and replicated if they are ever to be given life again. This constant practice of process gives the musician further mastery of their technique. It is as if their practice makes a permanent process that in time becomes second nature to them.
When first starting a new creative endeavor, establishing a daily rhythm or process is extremely important. It gives us freedom to get our work done and allows for flexibility to adjust as needed.
However, the same is also true in dealing with clients. Having a process with clientele that can be duplicated further enhances their experience and understanding of our artisan craft. This perpetuates the DNA of the brilliance we bring to our clients and begins to establish a legacy of how we show up in our artistry.
What are you doing to establish creative flow or process into your work? With your clients?


permission to speak

Posted on 10:00 AM by dave

Have you ever found yourself in a conversation where it's encourage to "lay all your cards on the table" and speak freely?  I have and I love those moments!  It's simultaneously courageous and frightening to speak your truth.

There's only one problem... most of the time that I've been in moments like this the person granting the "open" conversation doesn't actually want this type of fearless transparency.  Herein lies the perplexity: the openness needed for true change mandates a courageous space for all parties with full permission to speak freely.

The degree to which a leader grants and honors this relational dynamic is the degree to which transformation will occur.  This is true regardless of the group size.

In coaching, we use an alliance to not only protect ourselves but to concurrently create a safe space where nothing is off limits and exploration is not only encouraged but embraced.  

The downside to operating without an alliance is that someone may feel as though they have been granted full permission to speak freely only to find out that some topics or strong emotions are indeed not welcome.  This closes down conversation and has the potential to squelch the values represented by any/all individuals which creates a culture of distrust, betrayal, suspicion, etc.

The upside to operating with an alliance is that the communication guidelines have already been not only established but also agreed upon by all parties involved. This opens conversation and honors the uniquenesses of each person allowing them to be fully present to co-create a solution together.  

What experience have you had where "permission to speak" was either upheld or simply jargon?  Sound off in the comments.  You have permission to speak freely. :-)


authority granted

Posted on 11:06 AM by dave

Whether we realize it or not, we have all granted someone authority to speak into our life.  In fact, it may be worse than that; we have most likely granted many people the authority to speak into our life.

This authorization is never taken and always granted.  We give others authority to shape and influence our thoughts and emotions.

Now, just reading that may freak you out a bit.  It freaks me out.

One litmus test of determining who has authority in our life is accessing our emotional response to them.  Strong emotions of resonance, peace, camaraderie, "we just click"; these are all indicators of positive influence and authority in our life.  Strong emotions of dissonance, tension, antagonism, "we just don't see eye-to-eye"; these are all indicators of negative influence and authority in our life.

Question: who have you given authority to speak into your life?  What impact does it have?