Posts Tagged ‘Dr. Rosie Kuhn’

I woke up from a dream this morning that made me question: “Really?” It was only the last few seconds of the dream that seemed so profound. It was a children’s choir – all boys, and they were singing a Christmas song. The only lyric I heard was:  “Gift me with my enemies and my ministers.” This is a pretty profound phrase, especially for a group of youngsters to be singing as a Christmas song.

My Enemies

My enemies infuse me with intense emotions – rage, hatred, vile condemnation and contempt. Judgments are automatic, so much so I don’t even know that I’m judging. How I respond, more often than not is a knee jerk reaction. I’m inflamed and my actions inflammatory. I want to violate them as they have violated me based on my sense of what’s right and wrong, good and bad. I want to wipe them off the planet so that I can live peacefully. However …

What I know is that my enemies are my best teachers. They reflect what I most hate in the world and most likely (like about 100%) they reflect aspects of myself that I do not wish to acknowledge or own. When my enemies are around, I have no doubt, I have something to learn.

My Ministers

Ministers are also my teachers, my coaches and counselors. They are my thinking partners, who also reflect back to me, through deep listening and questioning, how aligned I am with my highest truths and how I may be ignoring or distracting myself from the ways I’ve contributed to the very violence I hate in my adversaries. These wise beings bring my attention to the learnings so available for me by embracing the enemy as my long lost lover.

Sometimes, though, in the company of my enemies I retreat, hide and disappear into a myriad of disguises to protect myself from harm and from looking bad. I may throw stones from behind a barrier and pretend it’s not me at all who is engaged in warfare. I disown my anger, my feelings of righteousness and indignation. “It wasn’t me!” I exclaim with defensiveness and contempt for having been accused unjustly.

My ministers inquire regarding my actions, curious as to the origins of my behavior and the thoughts that precipitated them. What has me be blinded to my own truth – in denial (Don’t Even Know I am Lying) of my barbarous attitude and position?

We need our adversaries – our enemies to confront us. They bring out the worst in us and provide opportunities for us to truly reflect on the importance, value and priorities of our hierarchy of desires. We need our ministers, counselors, therapists and coaches to reflect what gifts are available for us by engaging with our enemies.

The Dilemma

Many of us love to hate! It makes us feel good to think violent thoughts and even go to war for what we believe to be right and true. How can we get even, or better yet, how can we be victorious? What if I consider the possibility that my enemies are gifts? What would that mean – what are the consequences of such a consideration?

I’ll tell you right now, I hate the thought of giving up my armor of righteousness and entitlement, because I feel safe, powerful and in control when I can wield them with stealth accuracy. Without them, I believe myself to be defenseless, exposed and vulnerable.

I ask myself – what is considered right? What is considered wrong? Who is responsible for the woes of the world? My ministers smile and with their eyes they inquire into my soul’s wisdom for what is true; and I then, for that moment comprehend that I am an accomplice in all acts of violence on the planet. Only by recognizing the seed of vengeance within me I’m able to receive the gifts of freedom from my enemy.

Through deep discernment and with the support and empowering nature of my ministers am I able to choose to choose to see myself and my enemies differently. Through the annihilation of my own pretence and the shattering of the barriers of them vs. us, am I truly allowed to realize I am my brother/sister’s keeper, and they are mine.

The dilemma as a choice-point shifts when I choose to honor my highest truth and risk losing my attachments, my position, my identity – perhaps even life itself for something much larger than me. I’m working on it!

I deny aspects of me that I know to be true – those dark shadowy aspects that if people were to find out about – well, it could mean rejection, humiliation and annihilation. It’s best that I pretend they don’t exist.

On the other hand I have a knowing of certain things to be true, yet I deny myself these knowings too. I live in doubt and uncertainty as strategies that diminish my potential power in the world, diminish my light and visibility. In past lives, I’ve probably been murdered or tortured for standing out beyond the norm. “Won’t do that again,” we say; yet living within the protective cocoon of our disguise and pretending is also torturous.

Many of my executive clients over the years have gone through a 360 degree evaluation process, whereby they ask for feedback from lots of people they work with and live with. An enormous about of information is generated, assessed and then returned to my clients so they can see how they show up, what they bring and what they perhaps want to consider bringing to the party.

These 360 processes are really valuable, and yet, my clients share that most of what is said isn’t new to them; they are already aware of what they do well and what they need to enhance, grow and develop.

I always find this fascinating that we know what we know, yet live and work as if it weren’t so. We wait to have our internal wisdom, knowledge and experience validated by the external world. WHY?

When people are doing bad things and are caught and brought to justice, they say “I knew it was wrong and is punishable, but spare me, please.”

This is crazy making; that we have the wisdom to know right from wrong. We have a knowing beyond what makes sense in the reality of the cause and effect world; we know this and yet we choose to deny our culpability and our God-given powers to be the fullest expression of the gifts of our being.

I finished a novel last week by Michael Sky, called Jubilee Day – A Novel. It is about our current circumstances regarding those who hold the power in the United States, how they use that power and the opportunity to choose differently. It’s a brilliant book!

Most of us use our power for egoic gains. We don’t stop ourselves. We also use our power to distract ourselves from the internal knowing that, if nothing else we are violating our own integrity and the dignity of our soul. We know and we pretend we don’t know.

The Dilemma

For those of us who attend church every Saturday and Sunday, hearing over and over the importance of using our power in support of all people, not just our little ego self, too often we ignore opportunities to practice what we preach when we enter our Monday through Friday Church of the Almighty Dollar.

We are faced with a dilemma.

Do I do what I know to be in the highest good of all – my company, employees, my own soul, or do I act in alignment with my personal desire for safety, security and control.

There is so much at stake!

Each individual is teetering on the brink of personal devastation. It is only a reflection of the devastation that we witness in all aspects of our Global system. Where current and flow of the Universal and natural unfoldment is ignored, diverted or stopped, in service to our insatiable hunger to be powerful and invulnerable in every way imaginable, we will come face to face with the consequences of our choice-making. Funny how it works that way!

If you’ve ever been around adolescents, you’ve noticed that they have that attitude of invulnerability, impenetrable to attack – They have become a super power unto themselves. As parents of adolescents, hopefully we remember our own teenage years when we knew that we knew everything, and no one could tell us any different. As adults we know it’s a stage in the learning process and that someday there will be a day of reckoning when these teenagers will fall off their pedestal and realize they are just human, just like the rest of us.

I think about the European Countries who have been around far longer than the US. In their youth they built their empires and been super powers; and all have been demolished, have fallen into ruin, only to be rebuilt from a more mature perspective. I see the more dignified and wise one’s smiling at the US, knowing of our youthful attitude of “no-one will take us down.” It is part of the process of maturing that we lose what we’ve not rightfully gained, in order to cultivate right-relationship with our currency of resources – the earth, our people, all of it.

The dilemma we face as individuals is that we are committed to holding onto our super power ideation, yet, at the same time being conscious of the cost of ignoring that fact that we can no longer build skyscrapers in the air. We hope we’ll get away with it, but …

Pretending that choosing to choose not to choose will keep us invulnerable to our human frailties is adolescent thinking at best. Inevitably, our commitment to avoiding mature and wise choice-making will lead us to a phenomenal human experience called despair. Despair is when we realize that the reality of our own creation – our skyscrapers in the air, are coming down, detonated by our own ignoring – not ignorance.

All of us face dilemmas that inevitable puts us in the line of fire of our own humanity. It’s your call to make life-choices consciously or unconsciously. From my point of view, it’s far more fun to powerfully engage in life fully awake, conscious and mature – willingly acting from a ground of wisdom and knowing … you already know what I’m talking about. Enjoy the adventure!

Dilemmas of Being in Business #4: Growing Pains

by Rosie Kuhn on November 23, 2011

A client of mine, Hui Zhong, called me yesterday somewhat distressed. She is in product management as an information analyzer for an international corporation headquartered in Silicon Valley, CA.

A few months ago Hui Zhong, pronounced hoy-zong, began reading a book by Robin Sharma – The Leader Who Had No Title. She began practicing some of the exercises, which allowed her to stretch and expand her comfort zone to include more of her authentic leadership style. The dilemma though, is that as she exercises and stretches to expand her repertoire, she’s experiencing growing pains that bring with them discomfort, uncertainty, fear and insecurity. She is finding it distressful and uncomfortable to shift the way she is showing up in her work, uncertain if it will make her more attractive for promotions and all that goes along with them. She knows she’s on the right track with regard to cultivating greater professionalism and effectiveness, yet she is has doubts whether these traits truly make a difference in the corporate world where flash and charm often win the promotion. Is she really doing the smart thing if she’s wanting to gain more visibility and be acknowledged for what she brings to the role of leader? She’s in a dilemma.

As we change and grow – as we discard what no longer serves, we find ourselves in the midst of a leap. It’s very exciting and disconcerting at the same time; with practice, the long term rewards will be ease and agility in growing and in evolving in to the person and the leader we say we want to be.

There are those who expect that with the right education and the right connections it will be easy to rise to the top. There are those who play the game the right way and anticipate that the right way will get them the outcome they want. No one really knows for sure, and too often we lose our souls in order to find out.

As Hui Zhong lets go of her suitable education, connections and playing the game appropriately in service to exploring authentic leadership styles, she is getting triggered and collapses into feeling anxious, weak, vulnerable and unworthy. In the first few moments, she can hardly stand. She reports though that she recovers in a matter of minutes.

Hui Zhong is a model of resiliency. There are many who cannot stand being triggered into feeling vulnerable, weak and inadequate, and they do whatever they can to avoid this experience. Their unwillingness to cultivate and strengthen this essential capacity will suffer from the effects of no promotion. Hui Zhong is taking personal and professional risks, that on the inside feels, sometimes, like she’s failing and will never recover. It’s a debilitating momentary feeling, yet she knows that to do it any other way is out of integrity.

This intense practice develops muscles required for the type of leaders most organizations are truly hungry for. What’s at stake for Hui Zhong is her personal identity as a winner and as a perfectionist. She’s putting it all on the line because she knows the degree to which her egoic-self is influencing her choice-making, which doesn’t serve her team or her organization in the way that has her feel like a real leader – one who puts aside their own personal needs and desires for the sake of the people she works with and works for.

Even though there are tons of books on the market about leadership development, so few people actually take up the practice of shifting their personal perspective to something more. Personal gain vs. professional integrity; the experience and angst of cultivating self-awareness while developing leadership capacities that inevitably do lead to mastery; while eliminating manipulations and political motivations, which are inconsistent with corporate visions and statements of integrity.

I suggest to Hui Zhong that she herself to be the experiment – an exploration. What makes her valuable to her company, in my mind, is that she is willing to be in the “I don’t know,” finding out what’s beyond the games, and political motivations and manipulations that actually limit possibilities within most organization.

She is learning that she isn’t supposed to know or have the easier or right way to move through a transformative process such that she is in – She is only to observe, witness and assess, noticing what works and what doesn’t; then make slight shifts in how she is being and what she is doing; and then, again notice, witness and observe. This is the path to mastery, innovation, inspiration, freedom and selfless leadership.

As anyone of us, like Hui Zhong, cultivates the resilience to move through this process we’ll be developing not only the wisdom and mastery but we’ll be able to empower others to explore, witness, and experiment too. This to me is the most powerful form of leadership – making space for others to explore, experiment and discover for themselves innovative styles of leading.

The dilemma – that choice-point between one type of success and the other, are each pulling Hui Zhong and keeping her on the fence, though this happens far less so than before. What she is currently practicing – where she is putting her attention, will inevitable bring her into the light, because she is acknowledging and honoring her highest truth. My belief is that this is the sustainable, healthier and more effective way to lead and will inevitable be recognized for its value – growing pains and all.

This is not an easy path, nor should it be. We will not cultivate strong and innovative leaders by having them travel the well worn path. To truly be a great leader, each of us will need to become the experiment, embracing the moments when our findings are thrilling and monumental in their effects.

I can’t tell you the number of times over that past few weeks that I’ve heard the term seeing the big picture. I pay attention when something is said two or more times; there’s something to be mined for myself and perhaps for others.

Seeing the Big Picture; what the heck does that mean? What requires one to see the big picture? And, what dilemma becomes apparent when considering the leap? “The Leap?” you might ask. Why would it take a leap?

I’ll give you a number of analogies that might be helpful:

The Fishbowl Analogy:

We are all immersed in a paradigm and reality, much like a fish in the water it swims in. A fish can’t distinguish itself from this water, just as most of us don’t distinguish ourselves from our thoughts, emotions and body sensations; just as most of us don’t distinguish ourselves from the work, roles and details we’ve been attending to, without considering the value of our contribution, the degree of fulfillment, toxicity or dysfunction we may contribute to, and the productivity gained from a business or financial perspective.

The Life Guard Analogy:

If I’m a lifeguard, I’m less likely to see anyone in distress if I’m in the pool swimming around with the rest of the swimmers. I have to be up above the pool in order to get more of a bird’s eye view; this way I can see much more activity and take actions more quickly.

Director of a Play Analogy:

If I’m a director of a play, I’d not be able to see the whole representation or gestalt of a scene if I were on stage directing amid the characters. Seated off stage in the audience or even in the balcony I can see the bigger picture of how the actors engage with each other, the lighting, the set design, the sound quality: I can see things I wouldn’t be able to if I didn’t set myself apart to view get the Big Picture.

In the business environment, getting the Bigger Picture is what Alon is wanting of his new CFO, Chantal; and it’s what she want from the manager, Marko, who she is hiring next week; and, it’s what Alon’s manager is wanting from him, too. Do these individuals have the capacity to see the Bigger Picture and then make leadership decisions that will support what is desired for all?

It’s challenging to pop out of your current fishbowl or context in order to see the Bigger Picture. Again, like a fish, we don’t know that there is a reality outside the fishbowl within which we are immersed. We say “What Fishbowl? What Bigger Picture?” It’s not that we are ignorant, it’s that rarely is there a context that allows us to get that there is a Bigger Picture to see.

Until Chantal was hired as the CFO, it didn’t occur to her that she would need to operate differently from the way she had been working just months ago. Most of us take our Operating Procedure Manual(OPM)  with us to the next level of leadership only to find that we are drained by juggling what we’ve been doing with the requirement of working as if you are holding the Bigger Picture; before you even know what that means. Chantal realized that in order to fulfill her roles as the CFO she’s got to let go of her limiting OPM and take the leap.

Like the woman on the flying trapeze, Chantal will have to let go of a known way of viewing the world. She’ll have to operate from a different and larger perspective, which requires a letting go of the known for the unknown. She’ll be surrendering her invulnerability, and the survival mechanism she developed, that worked well enough to avoid vulnerability. Like all of us, Chantal wants to avoid that moment when she meets the “I don’t know how to make that leap without possibly falling on my face and looking like a complete fool and failure.”

Everyone of us who aspires to something greater than our current fishbowl, our current job, position, role, or level of responsibility has to risk this moment of vulnerability and failure. What makes a good leader and someone who is more likely to get promoted over and over again is the willingness to jump out of the fishbowl, out of the pool, off the stage, in order to see the Bigger Picture from which to lead far more effectively.

The bigger the picture you can hold the more valuable you are to your company and organization

One aspect of being an executive coach that I love is that I’m in a sense a leader’s leader. I hold the bigger picture for my executive clients to live into. I give them a bigger bandwidth within which to experience themselves, their organization and the role they intend to play. I empower them to make the leap and while in the leap experience the transition from who they thought they were to who they are becoming. This noticing of what it’s like to be in the leap – noticing the various muscles that are used to engage, maintain and complete the leap is also an aspect of the Bigger Picture that we don’t think about when we ask our direct reports to shift or change their context in order to also see and act from the Big Picture.

Moments of Transcendence

Quite often we have moments of lucidity, where we get the big AH-HA! However, this moments of transcendence dissolve back into are reality that we call normal. Exercising the muscles of awareness through noticing, which constantly nudges one to stay awake and aware, is required for most of us to truly shift our paradigm to include this next level of the Bigger Picture.

The dilemma, which will surely arise is that we are generally committed to maintaining the level of comfort and invulnerability within which we don’t feel threatened and are in jeopardy of losing respect or losing face. In order to let go of the trapeze bar of one level of functioning in order to swing to and grasp another, you have to be committed enough to let go of what no longer serves. Some of us aren’t willing to do this unless we know that there is a secure and well-placed safety net below that will catch us unscathed if we do fall.

One distinction of a good leader is that they are willing to risk the scathing, the failures, and the vulnerability because they are able to see from a bigger picture that these potential risks serve the Bigger Picture. They are committed to this bigger picture enough. Without the ability to see the bigger picture they would not have the level of fearlessness required to make those hard choices.

Rising to the level of incompetence

Formulated by Dr. Laurence J. Peter and Raymond Hull, the Peter Principle states that “in a hierarchy, every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence,” meaning that employees tend to be promoted until they reach a position at which they cannot work competently.

Peter’s corollary states that “in time, every post tends to be occupied by an employee who is incompetent to carry out their duties” and adds that “work is accomplished by those employees who have not yet reached their level of incompetence.” “Managing upward” is the concept of a subordinate finding ways to subtly “manage” superiors in order to limit the damage that they end up doing.

With the Peter Principle in mind then, one perhaps rises to their ability to see the Bigger Picture and then be able to act with competence, fulfilling their duties. It takes commitment and a capacity to expand one’s reality. What are you willing to practice in service to seeing the Bigger Picture and perhaps meet your incompetence? Every great leader must face this exquisite and essential moment of reckoning. And, if they can learn from the experience they have a great capacity to empower others to do the same.

Enjoy the adventure!

You and a colleague, Harry are up for a promotion. You know you are the better person for the job, but Harry got the position. He’s pompous, arrogant and doesn’t have the leadership skills that inspire you to generate, well, anything. You scratch your head in disbelief that he was chosen over you.

Part of you, perhaps wants to sabotage Harry’s efforts and do whatever you can to expose him for the inadequate, incompetent individual that you see him to be; however, that goes against your integrity, and you may end up looking bad and feeling worse in the end.

For some reason, even though the whole office knows of Harry’s incompetence, no one seems to take action. He’s that one rotten apple that spoils the whole barrel.

There are a lot of Harry’s and Harriets in the business world. As an administrative assistant, manager or whatever your position, you know you are smarter than your boss. You deserve his salary and every perk that goes along with his position, because you are working your butt off and he’s the one that is looking good! AAARRRGGHH!

If you go above Harry’s head to his boss, Glenda, you might be not only aggravate Harry but also be making it clear to Glenda that she may have made a choice that is creating negative consequences far beyond any expectations. She’s already regretting her choice and knows there’s nothing she can do.

This scenario is not uncommon. Probably 30% of my business clients are struggling with at least one particular individual that is a thorn in their side. They question their own sanity and the sanity of those who put the Harrys of the world in those positions. What do you do?

It’s a dilemma.

Do you stay or do you go? Do you ask to get transferred? Do you stay and suck it up, because you need the job? Do you try to go around Harry, or do you do what you do best and ignore what Harry wants from you?

My job as a transformational coach is not to fix, heal or convert clients, so they’ll have the answers to problems that they face. My job is to be a thinking partner, empowering clients to unravel all of the complexities that are bringing him or her to this dilemma and this choice-point.

Our businesses systems are no different than our family systems, in that they are generated and driven by survival mechanisms that most likely operate from a fear-based paradigm. They have been cultivated through generations of personal relationships based on cultural, religious, gender and racial factors. Too often wisdom and common sense do not enter into the equation when it comes to how a business or family is operating. We take for granted and assume intelligence and maturity would be foundational to choosing directors, managers and leaders, but trust me, and you may know from your own experience, most people running businesses, departments and corporations function, to some degree, from the emotional intelligence of an adolescent. It makes sense that you are going to think you are smarter than your boss; in some ways you probably are; in other ways you probably aren’t.

Notice the Pattern

The trick is to notice this pattern of operating. When you’re feeling smarter than – what’s the quality of the experience? Are you feeling righteous and arrogant, contemptuous and condescending? Do you feel frustrated and discouraged? What actions are you likely to take from righteous, condescending, frustrated and discouraged? What do you do to compensate for feeling this way? How do you avoid, distract, ignore or deny your own part in this dysfunctional process? By the way, we are all participating in having the Harry’s of the world be where they are.

The questions funnel down to just one:

What is it you are here to learn that has Harry be in your life, in this time, in this way?

Answer this question and you’ll understand what it is you need to shift in order to facilitate the learning. I guarantee that while doing what’s required in order to make the shift, you’ll notice that Harry will either change or go away! It’s fascinating to observe what changes within our environment once we get our part in maintaining it as it has been.

Entangled and embroiled in the cauldron of complexity of our work environment, its challenging to see all of this without a thinking partner or coach who can hold the bigger picture and who also holds you accountable for your participation in the unfolding of your life within this bigger picture. No coach or thinking partner? That’s okay. Just be willing to be truthful in answering the questions above. This alone will create a positive shift for you; and the Harry’s of the world will go POOF!

By the way, some of the Harry’s of the world are my clients too. Given an opportunity to look at what has them choose to choose to be how they be, they, too, willingly shift in support of a larger, more fulfilling outcome. Yey for us all!

Dilemmas of Being in Business

by Rosie Kuhn on October 26, 2011

The intention of this series is to introduce you to a way of thinking that empowers you to see more clearly how you choose to choose what you choose in regard to the work you do, the people you work with and with yourself. While in your work environment there is never a time when you are not in relationship with these three. You are always juggling, prioritizing and reprioritizing in order for you to feel a sense of balance, fulfillment and in charge.

How you choose to balance and prioritize is based on your hierarchy of commitments. Your top commitment is usually what you say out loud. At the same time, the other commitments, especially the other top three or four are also vying for attention and hence become more often than not, conflicting commitments. What this feels like to many of us is that we are stuck, frustrated, not getting ahead, anxious and stressed. Progress is happening too slowly and you haven’t been able to pinpoint the cause.

When we are able to distinguish the many aspects of life and work we are committed to, then we are able to make sense of the competing factors that have us feel pulled in at least two directions at once. This puts us in a dilemma. Normally, for most of us we don’t know what to choose or how to choose to choose, and so we sit in this dilemma, at the choice-point, waiting and hoping for something to steer us in the right direction. Regardless of your position on the corporate ladder, you are most likely sitting at this choice-point – waiting and hoping.

This series, called the Dilemmas of Being, will explore a number of aspects of corporate and business life, which will allow a deeper investigation of what could be conflicting commitments in your life and how to navigate this choice-point in service to your highest truth and the highest good of your organization and all of those associated with you.

I will share with you my model, from which I clearly distinguish the reality or circumstance as it appears on one level (Domain of Circumstance); the way we choose to act, think and be, regarding our circumstance (Domain of Self-Empowerment); the aspect of being that has us either feel inadequate, unworthy and unlovable, and continually on alert that we will be found out, and the aspect of our being that knows without questions that we are brilliant, creative, lovable and visionary – this aspect is continually pushing for our highest and fullest expression of self (Domain of Humanity). I also include the Domain of Universal Source/Oneness, from which we’ve all come and with which we are ongoingly relating. Also known as our higher power, God, Goddess, etc, it is that which we pray to, talk with, or, or for some, ignore and deny any relationship at all. It’s the unknowable, mystery.

Understanding that we are not our circumstances, we are not our choices, we are not even our humanity, gives us an opportunity to be with the questions – “If I’m not that, then what am I?”

It’s not as though this conversation isn’t going on inside you without your knowledge or consent. It actually never stops! It’s just that your hierarchy of commitments may have you ignoring and distracting this ongoing conversation you are having with yourself to the degree that it’s barely a whisper among the din of noise of circumstances, survival needs and pleasures sought.

I am a life and business coach. What I’m sharing with you here is much of what I share with all of my corporate clients. I empower them to empower themselves to acknowledge the current dilemma that has them have to choose between what they say they want and the conflicting commitments, which they want but not so much as their spoken commitment. How to choose to choose what they choose while at this choice-point is no different than how many of you choose to choose what you choose. Over the next six months we’ll have fun begin curious, exploring and experiment with the dilemmas of being – you in business.

As the Paradigm Shifts #Z: Zenith

by Rosie Kuhn on October 19, 2011

The Zenith, is described as the highest point or state, the summit, or highest level of development: To have ended and thus arrived at a final stage. It is also considered the culmination of all that has gone before.

From a spiritualists’ point of view, the zenith may be reaching enlightenment, or atonement (read this as at-one-ment): The Dali Lama stopped at a hotdog stand in New York City and said to the vender, “Make me one with everything.”

We’ve arrived at the end of this series and thus we are arriving at the Zenith, the culmination of twenty six blog entries on spirituality and business. Starting this, that many weeks ago, I didn’t see that the interweaving of concepts over the months could lead to an emerging process of development; one that could perhaps lead toward even enlightenment for the reader or for me, the writer. I watched as each letter and its word or words built upon what came before. One practice led to the next. In hindsight it all makes perfect sense.

The willingness (W) to allow and accept (A), trust (T) and practice (P); choosing to choose (C) in service to one’s highest good and highest truth, takes intention and integrity (I) to courageously face potential loneliness, taking the leap of faith (L) all by yourself – that’s the only way it can be done!

A Zenith can be that jumping off point; like a fledgling eagle, who for the very first time steps off the edge of its nest and realizes flight. A Zenith can also be the return from a practice or journey that has brought with it insights that have been life-changing; even transformational. This leads me to a story I’d like to share:

In service to growing myself professionally (and inevitably, personally), a year ago I stepped off the edge into the spiritual abyss, never for a moment considering that the fall alone would breakdown every reality I ever believed to be true. I thought I was spiritually and personally evolved enough (ego speaking here) that it would be a romp in the park, not a yearlong purification process that macerated every limiting perception and way of being I relied on.

Throughout this time I witnessed over and over that “I’m not that, nor that, nor that.” in relation to my identity as a woman, as a highly credentialed individual with three masters degrees and a Ph.D., as someone who sailed across the ocean, wrote two books – all of the things I tried to be, all the things I hoped to be seen for, all the ways I pretended to hide, to avoid my own fear of invisibility and worthlessness. I wasn’t the anxiety, the anger or sadness; I wasn’t that which had given up my main source of income and continually depleted all retirement savings. I wasn’t any of it and it all had to go!

I participated in a shamanic journey the other day. The vehicle for this journey was a rattle being shaken consistently for about 30 minutes. I experienced the moment of death when I realized that none of what I achieved or tried to achieve mattered. As I experienced what it would be like to leave my body it was clear I would not be taking any stuff with me – none of it. Again, the question was: “If I’m not that, then what am I?” For a very long time I listened and waited, watched and experienced … nothing.

As I experienced this nothingness I came to experience myself as the space within the rattle, nothing more. I allowed myself to merge with this reality, exploring and discovering what it was like to be without my normal identifiers or ego attachments. It was unsettling to drop everything I’ve ever been attached to, in service to revealing a perspective, though spiritual and religious in nature that generally goes unacknowledged and unexplored. I was like the Dali Lama’s hotdog: one with everything.

Once comfortable with being the space within the rattle I became the seeds and the rattle itself. I was in the hands of that which shakes the rattle, creating sound and vibration, which ultimately creates patterns of waves and particles that make up matter – the me in physical form, my thoughts and intentions. Some trip!

Experiencing this reality in this way has been the culmination of so much of the spiritual work I’ve been doing for years. It is the Zenith of self-realization and self-transcendence and to some degree, enlightenment. I will never forget the experience of being just the space.

We are all this – the space, the seeds and the rattle that when shaken creates a distinctive vibrational resonance, which manifests as the unique beings we are. Quantum physics validates this perspective.

I believe that wherever we are in our professional career and development, we are each at the Zenith of our own creation – the culmination of all that’s come before. We’ve reached the pinnacle of success and fulfillment, given the circumstance and the belief system within which we’re currently operating. In this moment we are at an ending and thus have arrived; perched and prepared for a new day’s adventure.

Each day brings an opportunity to acknowledge the Zenith of our choice-making, a moment that reveals the manifestation of what we make important or essential. We can look around and observe how we’ve made a difference in the office, in our community, in the world. In this moment we can choose how to step into the paradigm shift that we are creating. I guarantee, your flight will have you soar beyond your wildest imagination.

In regard to your career, what has been your Zenith thus far? How would you define this point; what are the qualities of the experience that has this to be the highest level of professional development for you, yet?

Or, your Zenith may be that moment when you realize that everything you’ve ever accomplished, all the money you’ve acquired, the promotions, the power and prestige has no relevance to the quality of fulfillment and meaning you’ve experienced in your life. The culmination of everything thus far has brought you to this moment when you decide that this is your moment to begin anew – LEAP!

As the Paradigm Shifts #Y: Yin and Yang

by Rosie Kuhn on October 12, 2011

In Asian philosophy, the concept of yin and yang is used to describe how polar opposite and seemingly contrary forces, are interconnected and interdependent in the natural world, are equal qualities and how they give rise to each other in turn. Opposites thus only exist in relation to each other. Many natural dualities—e.g. dark and light, feminine and masculine, low and high, cold and hot— are thought of as manifestations of yin and yang (respectively).  They interact within a greater whole, as part of a dynamic system. Everything has both yin and yang aspects as light cannot exist without darkness and vice-versa, but either of these aspects may manifest more strongly in particular objects or beings, and may ebb or flow over time.

Further, whenever one quality reaches its peak, it will naturally begin to transform into the opposite quality: for example, grain that reaches its full height in summer (fully yang) will produce seeds and die back in winter (fully yin) in an endless cycle.

Yin and yang are bound together as parts of a mutual whole (i.e. you cannot have the back of a hand without the front). A way to illustrate this idea is to postulate the notion of a race with only men or only women; this race would disappear in a single generation. Yet, men and women together create new generations that allow the race they mutually create (and mutually come from) to survive. The interaction of the two gives birth to things. Yin and yang transform each other: like an undertow in the ocean, every advance is complemented by a retreat, and every rise transforms into a fall.

The inception of each organization or institution arrived within a thought, which moments before was part of the vast void or sea of unconsciousness (Yin); a place of mystery, receptiveness, openness, allowing that are essential in every aspect of life. The birth of every thought, idea, project, invention and organization are the gifts from this undervalued domain.

Most Westerners believe that it is our thinking, our reaching for, our interconnecting of thoughts that procreates and manifests – it’s the doing that generates what is (Yang), not the being (Yin). When we focus on the act of creation we may ignore the aspect of being without which life, corporation, financial and religious institutions wouldn’t exist (The Yin Factor). The womb is where inception takes place. It is where creation occurs, gestates and forms until birth.

The decline of our world powers and many of the structures that support the notion of human domination have been built through Yang-ness: Think. Build, Do, Grow. The absence of the Yin factor, ignoring it’s vital contribution to life has created such an imbalance that the inevitable is occurring – The Fall; and we are surprised, overwhelmed and unprepared!

This isn’t a bad thing. It’s part of the Universal laws of change. For an apple tree, from winters gift of rest, comes a life force in Spring that manifests as blossoms that over the seasons transmutes into fruit which fully ripens then falls to the ground, where, if not eaten will decompose and rot, nourishing the tree, while its own seeds will generate new life. There’s nothing bad about this cycle and we wouldn’t consciously want to change a thing about this; however the one-pointed focus on production and rewards has left us unconscious of the other essential half of the equation. We’ve ignored the necessary yin-ness of our being, pushing so hard that we’ve exhausted our resources, and just like the apple tree after creating its bounty, we too need winter to rest. We too need to focus our attention away from production and allow ourselves to be immersed in the experience of the fall, just like the apple at the moment of full impeccability, just like a fetus in the womb, just like the moment before a corporation goes public, something happens (Yinness – the great mystery), the fully formed organism has to detach from its source. The birthing process has completed itself and the fertile ground is ready to receive and engage with this new creation.  Inevitably growth and decline and death are intertwined for every single entity, thought and institution. Those focused on the Yangness of life distract and deny the essentialness of the decline and death.

Steve Jobs’ life and death are a beautiful reflection of the Yin Yang principle. The quote that I’ve included in this piece reflects that wisdom of including the intuition, the knowing that resides in the fecund void. “Have the courage to follow your heart and your intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become.”  His brilliance wasn’t born out of his intellect alone (Yangness), but was nurtured and nourished through his openness and receptivity to an illogical and irrational aspect of life (Yinness). His famous speech given at the 2005 commencement ceremonies at Stanford University encouraged listening to and embracing our own highest knowing, acting in our own highest good, for in doing so we are acting in the highest good of everyone and everything. Balancing our intellect with the heart and the soul – through which the Great Mystery reveals itself we will organically fulfill our life purpose and contribute in our own unique way to the unfolding of the Universe.

We want our lives, our projects, our creations and our business to come to their full fruition – and we expect that they continue to sustain that level of fruition, however we continually ignore that all things have a growth phase and a decline phase – Its true of Universes, Galaxies, Stars, planets, plants, animals humans and their creations. Engaging consciously with this reality will allow all of us to allow and except what cannot change and to cultivate the courage to engage with life in the way we can. We will rest in winter’s embrace, renewing ourselves while incubating unknown possibilities, which will contribute to the much needed balance of yin and yang principles required, as the paradigm shifts.

As the Paradigm Shifts #X: Xenophobia

by Rosie Kuhn on October 5, 2011

Xenophobia is defined at Wikipedia as “an unreasonable fear or hatred of foreigners or strangers, or of that which is foreign or strange”.

My sense is that we are all xenophobic. We are all wary of new people, new things and ideas that, though proven by research to be effective means to improve bottom lines, financially and in every other aspect of life, we are too afraid to let go of our inflexibility and invulnerability to try something new.

It’s not uncommon for those who experience xenophobia to fear losing their roles, their positions and identity. We can be suspicious of other people’s activities and sometime be aggressive; desiring the elimination of the other’s presence in order to secure a presumed state of stability. What this does is supports a foundation built on worry and anxiety, which is an unstable platform upon which to build a survival strategy; it will topple under the slightest tremor.

Even with global economic and environmental instability pressing down on us to face what could be the extinction of our economic system or worse yet the extinction of our species, we are too terrified to look beyond our current context and explore those means that will create a paradigm shift. Xenophobia sets off denial as a way of avoiding what we don’t want to face – it’s too scary!

It doesn’t even have to be about the global situations; it could be about bringing more effective processes into management and leadership roles. It could be about recognizing that it’s intimidating to be human in a work environment that isn’t tolerant of its human resource because we are sometime unpredictable, uncontrollable and fallible. It could be about entering into a dialog with yourself about what you are afraid of and how you are being at work in response to that fear. These dialogs reveal many interesting patterns of being that aren’t pathological; they are just ways of being that we’ve not been allowed to be curious about.

We are afraid of being afraid. Under the scrutiny of others, we could be found out as weaker and inadequate, that we are replaceable, or that we have no value what’s so ever. We are all afraid of being found out that we are not who we pretend to be. When faced with strangers or new people, we are fearful that they may be able to see what we’ve been hiding all along.

Spirituality is a frightening concept to many. Though sought after by millions, it scares the bejesus out of us. We don’t understand it, it makes no sense to put trust and faith in an unseen source, and yet people find comfort when engaged in practices that support spiritual development. It makes people feel better about themselves and others, the energy shifts – there’s a calmness and peace in the environment and people are more product and happier when cultivating spiritual awareness. Why not invite this into the workplace?

Any phobia starts with a seed of thought that we make believe is real. We cannot overcome any fear until we distinguish the underlying belief we chose to be true. 85% of our fears are irrational and have no evidence to support them in the current paradigm. Most of these fears we took on in our childhood years and never stopped to assess the degree of truth upon which they were based. Our cultures, religions and economic institutions, in general, support the fear-based reality within which we operate and stifle any development that will threaten their position. I believe we are encouraged to be xenophobic. Alternatives to western medicines, fossil fuels, capitalism and fundamental religions, regardless of decades of research that point to the value they bring, are feared and made to look as though they are serious threats to our well-being.

Within our business environments how is xenophobia encouraged? Your institution may be a rare example of being free from such a mechanism; however, the truth is that the barbs of fear that we carry are so unconscious that we don’t know that we don’t know about the underlying fears from which we operate. Only through inquiry and direct confrontation with ourselves are we able to unconceal fearful patterns of being that originated from a single moment that birthed a single thought that started the ball rolling.

All organizational dysfunctions originate from one human being whose fear-based choices permeate throughout the whole. Fear is highly contagious; the remedy is alternative in nature, for as Einstein said, you can’t to solve the problem with the kind of thinking that created it. Fearful thinking begets fearful solutions.

How do we be with our fears in a way that allows them to be recognized for what they are? We can’t overcome our fears until we discover the underlying beliefs that trigger them in the first place. As long as we continue to pretend that we are not afraid and there’s nothing to be afraid of in the first place, we’ll never stop having to pretend.

What’s possible through this exploration is that we recover truths and clarify realities by which to re-choose what we choose to believe in and act from. Without such an expedition, our business environment will have no way to recover itself and be optimal in its ability to create and produce from a highly functional perspective – something untenable in a xenophobic environment. When we realize that we are all unique to each other and that our ways of being and the ideas and gifts we bring to the table are reflections of a larger, more expansive source of these ideas, we are then empowered to be curious, willingly mining for the nuggets of gold that support true innovation and exponentially empowers the essential paradigm shift.

As the Paradigm Shifts #V: Vulnerability

by Rosie Kuhn on September 21, 2011

You must have seen it coming: after all of these weeks …

From the moment we are born we are vulnerable to – well, to everything. Very quickly, and as best we can we begin to tap into strategies that keep us invulnerable to starvation for nourishment and nurturing. We begin to calculate –developing strategic ways to get what we need and perhaps what we want. Our parents can tell a cry that means a diaper needs changing from a cry that says I’m hungry. We learn very quickly how to take care of the situation and minimize vulnerability.

As calculating as we can be, there comes a moment when we are whacked upside the head with the proverbial  2×4, which knocks us senseless and into an even more shrewd way of being in order to avoid any further vulnerability. We continually build on this until we’ve well established, what Tracy Goss calls, our winning strategy. She calls it a winning strategy because it keeps you winning at getting what you want, when you want; until it doesn’t. At some point it becomes clear that this winning strategy limits what’s possible and though you remain invulnerable, which seems like a good thing, you are unable to access what’s necessary to have what you say you want. The only way to shift this process is to willingly risk being vulnerable – only in service to what you say you want.

Remember earlier when I talked about that moment when you decided to be invulnerable? In that instant what occurred that had you make that decision was too painful and too challenging for a little kid to handle. As a kid you had no one to tell you that you are going to be okay. In that moment you were all alone and alone you made that choice to protect yourself at all cost.

At some point in each lifetime we are required to meet again that moment when we have to be willing to risk what we couldn’t risk as a child. We have to trade invulnerability for what we say we want. Now, being an adult, we’ve had plenty of experiences where we calculatingly traded our invulnerability for vulnerability. Trying out for various sports, asking someone for a date, applying to colleges and jobs, asking for a raise; each of these were instances where you chose vulnerability in order to get what you wanted. This is a very good thing and indicates you know how to stretch and strengthen the muscles required to take the risk. What has us be able to risk some times and not others, in other words what has us be more vulnerable in some circumstances while not in others?

In the world of business the majority of us are walking around limited by our winning strategies, remaining invulnerable. This keeps us safe, secure and stable but also most of the time unfulfilled. I’ve begun working with a new client, Patricia, who has phenomenal skills in her line of business but is scared to death to risk losing the stability she’s created, even though she is terribly miserable in her work. She is not alone. Approximately four out of five individuals feel the same way as Patricia.

When Patricia thinks about quitting her job and changing careers she feels like a tiny incapable human being. In that moment she’s calling up the young child to be vulnerable. Think about it for just a moment. We approach this moment of risk as if we were that young innocent child, not the grown up that has risked many times before and come up successful.

The evidence is stacked up in your favor that you will survive taking risks. At the same time you hold on to that one instance in your life when all was lost (because you were only a little kid and didn’t have the wisdom of a grownup to deal with the fallout). You were lost and not yet found. Yes, not yet found.

When what’s at stake is more important to you then the safety of the prison you’ve built through the practice of invulnerability you are, in that moment, given the opportunity to find yourself. Lost or left behind, you can re-member and reclaim any and all aspects of the you, you left behind. It is an exquisite reunion, one you’ll never forget.

Patricia knows that hiding out within the walls that protect her will never replace the feeling of fulfillment she knows exists outside. In this moment, while you are reading this, she is calculating what’s at stake and if it’s worth the risk.

Our business, the work we bring to the world, I believe to be the most crucial aspect of self-expression. And, I also believe that self-expression, in whatever form that takes, is essential to thriving. To empower yourself and others to step out beyond the walls that only seemingly keep you safe, you create an opening in the current reality for a paradigm shift. You have no idea the positive repercussion that follows such an act. Even the slightest movement in the direction of what you want, which requires risk and faith, will reward you with a sense of accomplishment that is in itself a beautiful remuneration. Give it a try – what have you got to lose?

There is great value in investing in a thinking partner for yourself or for those you want to empower. According to statistics, hiring a coach is crucial to growing yourself and your business. Reading pieces like this is a start, yet without action nothing changes.

Enjoy the adventure!