Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Case For Polite

I have spewed my share of expletives. Ask anyone who has ridden as a passenger when I am driving my car and they will attest to it. You could even check in with more than one of my former colleagues and they will tell you that within the walls of my office I have been known to use one or two of those  words that will get you fined if you utter them on public airwaves. Sometimes a good ol' four-letter word is the only word that will do.

But you will not catch me using swear words in this blog as a means to express my opinion. Profanity is not going to show up in a tweet or Facebook post. You will not find me cursing in a taped interview, a video clip or in front of a room full of people who may or may not be paying to hear me speak. As old fashioned or corny as it may sound I have my set of standards. I believe there is a time and place for everything. Yes, I may have a character in one of my novels use an expletive but that is my character's voice and not mine.   When I hear obscenities spoken carelessly with no regard to whom might find it offensive, I get a little crazy.

I am far from conservative on most issues but when it comes to the careless use and misuse of language that seems to be pervasive in these wild times I think that someone has to make the case for polite. So here it is.

In much the way most of us shut down when someone is yelling and pointing fingers, I stop listening when I hear or see what was once consider "dirty" words or "obscenities" dropped in a cavalier manner. If the person speaking thinks they are being cool or hip, I  don't. I think crude. I lose respect. I  judge. Yes, I don't often judge but I do in this case. I now have a picture in my mind of who and what that person is about and I don't like it.  I shut down and am not all that interested in hearing what that person has to say.

For example, when House Majority Leader, Eric Cantor is quoted as saying "the debt limit vote sucks" my already low opinion of him is solidified. I understand more why there has been no resolution on this issue. We have elected officials whose vocabulary is so limited that they cannot think of a more respectable adjective to describe how they feel. I wonder if they realize they stand in a public arena representing citizens of this country and not that on the stage of the Beacon Theatre delivering a comedy routine.  I wonder where their sense of decorum is but then I realize if they are limited to using words like "suck" to describe their feelings, they probably do not know what decorum is. Or for that matter professional.

I was taught to act like a grown-up in public. I coach what I was taught to others. If you are on a job interview or in the middle of negotiations with a big client, think about what you say and the words you are using. Be polite. It can go a long way.

We live in a time where in a flash your message can be communicated to the far reaches of the globe. And that, I happen to believe is a very good, very democratizing result of all this technology. But it does not  preclude common sense. It does obliterate knowing our audience. It does not mean that we can't pause for just a few minutes and think before we let the words fly out of our mouths, especially when there is a camera around, especially when we or someone else can take that sound bite to Twitter or Facebook. I'm not asking for much, just a little politeness and refinement with the goal of actually communicating with each other and perhaps getting something done.

Who knows, if the House and Senate tried practicing such behavior, they might actually find time to do their jobs instead of politically posturing themselves. They might actually start listening to what the majority of the American people want.  They might even see their way to resolving the debt ceiling issue.

What do you think about the careless use of language in today's viral world?
Would you like to see a little more politeness in the world?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Burlap to Cashmere

You all know how I love stories of reinvention. Well, I love them even more when I have personal acquaintance with the people involved.

Today's story is one of reinvention and second chances. It is about a band, Burlap to Cashmere. If the name sounds familiar you may remember them from their first album, Anybody Out There which was released in the late 90s. The band had a unique sound, a loyal following and a touring schedule that got the better of them. In 2001 they went on hiatus.

In 2005 guitarist Johnny Philippidis made the news, not for his music but for the beating he took within an inch of his life. Johnny was the victim of a road rage incident in which two ex-Marines and a female accomplice left him for dead just miles from his home in Brooklyn. It was one of those moments in life where you are given a choice. You can continue to play the role of victim or you can choose to revel in the fact you are still alive and recreate.

Johnny was lucky. He had a lot of family and friends surrounding him with love and support. One of which is lead singer and songwriter, Steven Delopoulus,who also happens to be his cousin. No one was sure, including the doctors whether Johnny would ever be able to play guitar again because of the damages he suffered. But Steven would visit him almost every weekend testing out new songs. At some point Johnny found the courage to pick up the guitar and see what happened. Turns out his talent did not need the 13 titanium implants  his face did.

The grandsons of two first generation Greek American brothers decided that it was time to start playing music together again.

Enter, drummer Theodore Pagano at his own crossroads going through a divorce and a subsequent decision to leave his job as an interior designer in London. He provided the organizational skills and drive to land the band another major-label record deal. That album, self titled, Burlap to Cashmere is available today wherever music is sold.

Their sound has a huge 70's influence that is reminiscent of Cat Stevens, Van Morrison and Simon and Garfunkel spiced with Johnny and Steven's Mediterranean roots. It's that sound that is rare today and so badly needed. The kind of music that just makes you want to sit and escape into it, get away from the incessant obsession with where Casey Anthony is and how deep Rupert Murduch's scandal goes and watch a sunset, drink a glass of wine and surround yourself with people you love.

Now, in full disclosure, I have more than personal acquaintance with this band. Johnny is my cousin by blood which makes his cousin Steven, by Greek standards, my cousin too. Johnny's grandmother was not just my father's sister and his grandfather my dad's best man but my godparents as well. And Steven's grandparents? I considered them as much my aunt and uncle as any of my blood relations. It is all very tangled in the most Greek of ways. So if I seem biased in how I feel about their music it might be my personal connection.

But I will let you decide that yourself. Here's is a sample from the new release. And it you like, I invite you not just to buy a copy but to spread the word through Facebook, Twitter or whatever your on line and off line social networks of choice happen to be.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Setting The Pace

     I've never been a runner, but I hold a lot of respect for them. By virtue of their preferred sport they are literally willing to go the distance, with few stops and all sorts of pounding and pressure against their joints. While I too am willing to go the distance I prefer a very fast walk and an occasional pause. It's less painful to my body.
     I'm fortunate to call Central Park my backyard, a place where I can walk for miles in calm surrounded by trees, great expanses of  green lawn and little automobile traffic, especially on the weekends.
     Unless of course that weekend includes a race. There are a lot of them this time of year. Which is why I generally avoid the park on a weekend morning. But today I forgot. In fact it didn't even occur to me as I entered at 7:50 this morning. Until I saw the cones and the people standing guard in their neon vests. And that big overhead sign.
     I asked when it was starting, hoping I would hear 9. That would have given me plenty of time to get in my walk and be gone before the herds started. But the man said 8. Ten minutes  was barely enough time to decide if I should go East first or stay West. I thought about turning around and heading straight to Starbucks for a coffee, but then I remembered this is my park too. I have a right to enjoy it. I would figure this out.
     Within no time the swarm of runners were next to me. I hovered as close to the edge as I could. But if you've ever been in a pack of road racers and not running, you can understand how people not moving fast enough can get trampled in a crowd. I got a little uneasy and stopped close to the Boathouse and watched.
     I thought if I waited the thickness would dissipate and I would find my own lane. But from the way things looked that might be around Noon and I did not have that much time.
     Then as I watched the faces staring straight ahead trying to find their pace, their numbers pinned to their shirts, it hit me that this was a great big metaphor for this crazy, busy world we are all living in. Everyone pointed forward, trying to stand in their own place, not necessarily caring to make room for anyone else, but trying desperately to get to the finish line in their best time. Some were running very fast and some running about as fast as I walk. Some had people cheering them on and some were doing it all alone.
     I'm not one to stand on the sidelines so when I saw my opening, I took a deep breath and I fell back in to my walk. No one seemed to notice I did not wear a number pinned to my t-shirt. No one seemed to notice much of anything except where their next step was and who was in their way. I kept myself out of the chaotic middle which is how I like to live my life. But I also kept myself in the game, at my pace in my time, and yes, walking not running, I reached my finish line. 

Are you setting your pace or is someone else setting it for you?
Do you hold yourself back when things seem to get too crowded or do you forge on?

Whether it's running or business, everyone who wants to improve their game will benefit from a coach. If you are looking to take yours up a notch, check out One on One Coaching!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Courage Is In The Eyes Of The Beholder

     The other night I had dinner with a friend who was in town after moving away last year to Hawaii. She is one of those people whose courage I always admire so I told her so. I know how hard it is to pick up and move to a new city where you don't know anyone. Add on that the new city is a14 hour plane ride away and I call that very brave.
     Her first reaction was to tell me no, she didn't feel all that courageous, but then she thought about it and saw the truth through my eyes.  Of course when she threw it back to me and suggested I too was brave, I had a digestion problem of my own.
     I strive to be. I have it written in my manifesto.  Be Brave. Have courage to do something different.  But I don't call myself brave. I think of it more as a way I want to be than a way I necessarily live.
     I am aware that  from the outside looking in I appear courageous. After all not everyone is willing to give up a 25 year career mid-life to forge a new one. But I'm also the same person who will avoid walking over the subway grates  even if it means stepping into oncoming traffic because I live in fear that one of them will get loose and I'll fall through onto the top of a speeding subway car. That is not what I call a brave person.
     So perhaps courage is really how you view it. The same person who might never leave their safe and secure office job will choose to  go sky diving on the weekends. Someone else might be brave enough to run into burning buildings for a living but still break out in a sweat over the thoughts of trying a new brand of toothpaste. For some that phone call  to the CEO they've never met because they want a job does not feel at all brave, yet dial their ex to tell them they made a mistake breaking up three months ago and want to get back together and they back out of the room with their knees buckling.
     We seem to know what we are afraid to do, yet acting with fearlessness and daring is barely a thought when it stems from our deepest truth. When my friend made the decision to quit her job and move to Hilo she took the first step and did not move forward thinking herself brave but simply doing something that felt like it was the only choice at that moment. I've no doubt it a similar sensation to what occurred in me when I said no more to corporate life.
    Sometimes our boldest acts of courage are indeed the easiest only because they ring so true that we know we have no other choice but to do it. And it is only in the eyes of those watching that we are reminded that we are indeed very brave.

What does courageous look like to you?

Courageous enough to enlist the help of a coach?
Check out One on One Coaching or Let's Get it Started!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Stopping on a Sunday

Do you ever just want to say STOP? It's all moving too fast. There is too much to do. You're tired of juggling. You're exhausted from the exhaustion.  And then when you give in to it and allow yourself the break,  telling yourself you deserve a little rest and relaxation you can't. You're too wired to keep it all going to stop. You feel guilty. You're losing time on your project. If you rest too long you're convinced someone or something else is going to beat you to whatever it is you have decided your claim to fame will be.

I do.

But that didn't prevent me from stopping today to languish in the glow of the summer sun. Dip my toe in the ocean, let the heels of my feet sink deep into the soft sand. To catch up under my beach umbrella with an old friend. The kind that knows you from when you didn't know you. The kind that you don't talk to but every so often, but when you do it was like yesterday you last chatted. The kind who never seems to age because in her eyes you see her sixteen-year old self and she yours. The kind you know that if you each live to be 100 you will still be friends. The kind worth stopping on a Sunday for.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Top Ten Things to Adore About Coaches

Dara Emerita McKinley is one of the really cool women I know that hang around the School of Womanly Arts. She calls herself, "a warrior for the creative and healing power of our feminine essence and the rise of emotionally brilliant folks." She blogs, teaches classes and writes books on the subject of "provocative and soul stirring feminine truth." 
She recently wrote a blog on the top ten things she adores about working with a coach. 
Here's what she said:

"The word “coach” usually elicits images of stressed-out, angry men standing on the sidelines. However, life coaching is all about creativity, nurturance and becoming. Thus, in my eyes this profession is 100% divinely feminine.
I hired a coach in November when I finally admitted that all the successful people I admired had one. It was one of THE BEST decisions I made in 2010.Thus, for your reading pleasure only, I compiled the top ten things I adore about coaching:
  1. Deepest Truth. Good coaches know they aren’t going to get anywhere unless the client is rooted beyond rooted in their deepest truths. Coaching is always on the hunt for “resonance,” unveiling and attending to all the things that make a client light up from the depths.
  2. Protection. Anyone who dares to live their genius is going to have some major (MAJOR) tussles with doubt. Coaches take on the task of warding off doubt. I can’t tell you how helpful it has been to have someone on my team who specializes in getting doubt to take a hike.
  3. More Protection. Not only does doubt have something to worry about when you have a coach on your side, but so do negative emotions and beliefs. When an emotion or belief somehow takes the center stage of my business, my coach is there to identify the culprit, find out what it has to offer and then position it to serve, not sabotage.
  4. Coaches don’t believe in the impossible. When I think I have hit a dead end, my coach shines her torch on all the other options that I was completely ignoring because I was so focused on the dead end. Coaches = possibilities.
  5. Coaches bring on the Vitamin See. Yes, as you can imagine, this is one of my faves and was one of my main reasons for hiring my coach. I realized I had dug myself into a professional hole of solitude and when you don’t have any reflection (especially if you are woman) you are taking the long, hard, and in my adorable opinion, destructive road.
  6. Coaches push creative edges. However I might think things are going to look and take shape, my coach always pushes my creative edge towards bigger, better and easier. Love this.
  7. Coaches are a well of resources. So I don’t get bogged down by all the minutiae I must accomplish, my coach offers wonderful referrals. Since we have regularly scheduled appointments, I have an “ask Tanya” list that frees up a lot of mental space.
  8. Accountability. Everyone who works their online biz from home (which is probably 99% of folks) knows that the dark side is all the potential distraction (Facebook, online shopping and Celebitchy are some of my faves.) Coaches provide structure, finish lines, someone to answer to and hold you accountable within the nebulousness of working from home.
  9. Coaching is on the phone. I don’t have to hustle across town, find parking or pay a meter. I just plug in my headset, find a quiet, kid-free place, and it’s on.
  10. Coaches CHEER YOU ON AND CELEBRATE! Since they are on the frontlines, they see all the big AND small accomplishments and insist that ALL of them are honored. It’s so fab and important.

Now, as a disclaimer, Dara is not my client. But I'm sharing her wisdom with you because I too believe that hiring a coach is critical to success. Depending where you are in your life the speciality of your coach might vary from health, to pleasure, to business ( like me). When choosing one you cannot underestimate your personal connection to the individual. So as Dara suggests, shop around. She has several suggestions to start with. Here is what she said about me.

"Joanne is a straight shot business and life coach. She had a 25 year LOVE affair with corporate America AND is a woman who lives from her deepest feminine powers. An indomitable combination." 

Thank you Dara. I am honored. 
For more on Dara Emerita McKinley please visit her website,  or follow her on Facebook or Twitter.