Brave Journey, a Reflection on 2016

What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared tow hat lies within us. Ralph Waldo Emersson

In 2016, I had the privilege of being in coaching relationship with one brave soul after another. Together, we experienced the incredible freedom that comes only in the tailwind of a great act of personal courage. Similar to the aerial dancer who flies from one tethered safety line to the next, these acts of courage often contain a breathtaking “no hands!” moment.

Photo by Sonia Cirse

Photo by Sonia Cirse. Edited by De Yarrison.

Growing forward always involves that confronting moment when we know we can no longer hold onto what’s been. We must let go of “the way it is,” leave our comfort zone, and take an untethered step out in the direction of what will be now. The vulnerability of that moment gives life to strength and courage that we may not have known we possess. How exhilarating!

I am grateful and blessed to have supported leaders journeying into and through that bold moment this past year! I’ve summarized below accounts describing some of the terrain we’ve crossed together and the essential shifts that resulted. I hope you will be as inspired as I am to get a glimpse of what’s possible!

We bravely faced our fears of failure and admitted our over-controlling behaviors.

Situation: A client was stuck in unproductive thought patterns and behavior patterns towards co-workers and direct reports.
Shift: recognizing and releasing self-judgments and unrealistic self-expectations. Learning to relate with compassion and acceptance towards oneself, which naturally led to relating more compassionately towards others. This has fostered more positivity, trust, and openness in relationships (both at work and at home).

We bravely faced self-imposed conditions and limits on one’s worthiness, i.e.: “I’m not valuable unless…” “If I don’t do _____, then _____ will happen.”

Situation: A client and small business owner was overwhelmed with busyness and exhaustion, which was taking a toll in important relationships.
Shift: Recognizing the fears that were driving behavior (fear of disapproval, of not getting things done, of failing). Shifting the inner conversation from one that placed conditions on self-worth, to one that is self-supportive and self-accepting. This is leading to the ability to honor one’s own needs and take better care of oneself physically and emotionally.

We bravely faced the uncomfortable truth that how we are regarding ourselves and our performance is not the way others’ may perceive us.

Situation: a leader was unknowingly perceived by peers as territorial, defensive, and lacking confidence.
Shift: Took responsibility to be intentional about one’s presence and one’s impact on others. Began asking the question: how do I want to BE in this meeting / conversation / relationship? And then self-managed thoughts, words and actions to make that so.

We bravely faced the incredible dichotomy of letting go of control in order to experience peace-of-mind.

Situation: a client was faced with life-changing circumstances that were neither desirable nor within her control.
Shift: Discovered deep inner strength, enabling a rich journey through frustration, fear, anger, and sadness into acceptance and hope in new possibilities.

Wow, huh!? Do you see yourself in any of the situations described above? There are typically common themes surrounding our individual stories.

Onward! 2017 with Intention

At the end of every day, we have a story to tell. We write that story moment-to-moment, through every decision made, each word uttered into our relationships, and how we choose to see or regard the people in our lives. In the situations above, change happened because individuals were ready to honestly look at the current story they were existing within. And upon realization that the story was not one they wished to continue, they tore off a fresh sheet of paper and began drafting the next chapter by reflecting on questions such as these:

What comfort zone am I hanging out in that is no longer serving me?
What unhelpful or unproductive thoughts am I giving my mental energy to?
What have I been tolerating that it is time to say no to?
What positive qualities am I ready to own and to express freely?
What must this next chapter of my story include? What are my non-negotiables? (i.e.: higher priority on my physical health, more authenticity or speaking what is true for me, invest more of myself into my relationships, practices that enhance my peace-of-mind, etc.)
When I look back on my work and life in 3-months, 6-months, etc. what do I want to see? How do I want to feel?

How about you? What are you ready to invite more of in your life this year? What is the untethered step awaiting you? I would be honored to support you as you ready yourself for that bold moment! Here’s to a courageous 2017 together!

All best wishes,

Click here to find out more about coaching with De.

The You in Me, A Look At Projection

everything that irritates

To be a truly exceptional leader necessitates that I become vigilantly aware of myself in the moment. In the moment when I am facilitating a team meeting to figure out how to get a project back on track. In the moment when a co-worker enters my office for our weekly 1-on-1 conversation. In the moment of quiet reflection during an annual offsite.

In the video below, I overview a common, often unconscious, phenomenon occurring during these ordinary leadership moments, called projection. Projection raises my awareness to a certain behavior or quality, typically through a negative experience of this quality in someone else. Rather than simply being annoyed or frustrated by this negative experience, projection invites me to consider a deeper purpose. The quality or behavior that has captured my attention mirrors a part of me that is ready to step into the light and be seen clearly. Our projections, if we’re willing to acknowledge them as such, provide a pathway for our continuous growth and evolution.

Any given moment of my day has the power to become transformational as I courageously and honestly look:

  • at my silent opinions of others
  • at my judgments and criticisms of myself
  • at my assumptions
  • at the meaning I am attaching to a situation or circumstance

Watch the video below to learn more. Use the questions that follow to help you look courageously and honestly at the growth opportunities projection may be inviting you into today.

The Invitation: Owning Our Projections

  1. Call to mind the meetings, conversations, interactions you’ve been a part of today. Recall any person who may have caught your attention, whether positively or negatively.
  2. What were your thoughts or feelings about this person? Write these down.
  3. Take a look at what you’ve written. Could any or all of these thoughts and feelings be projections? Keep this list with you and commit to noticing yourself – becoming an observer of yourself in your daily interactions. Always asking, what was I thinking about him/her during that encounter?
  4. Remembering the purpose of projection is to call our attention to a part of ourselves which is ready to be seen more clearly, spend a few quiet minutes each day wondering what within you is wanting some attention.
    • Is it time for you to own a positive attribute that you’ve been denying in yourself (like in my example, my ability to keep myself calm and focused during difficult interactions)?
    • Is it time to own up to an undesirable attribute and take greater responsibility for your thoughts or behaviors?

Doing the honest work of taking back our projections can feel uncomfortable or unfamiliar. We’re entering uncharted territory! Precisely where we need to be if growth and transformation are what we desire. But you don’t have to go in alone. Want a trusted partner for your journey? I’ve got my galoshes on and we can muck through it together! Give me a call.

Let’s BE the Change

Be the change

“We must Be the change we wish to see.” We hear this quote so often. Recently, I wondered if I really understand what it means. Or if I know how to actually go about “being the change.”

I often think about what I want more of in my home, reflecting on what I’d like to see different or better within our family environment. Let me share a story that illustrates one way I “became the change I wished to see.”

My daughter, Abigail, had a tough school year in 5th grade. Math, in particular, was not much fun. Frequently, Abigail would lay in bed at night and tell me that she was worried about a particular class, a particular teacher, or afraid she would forget all the state capitals she’d just named earlier in the evening. Knowing what was happening in her heart and in her mind, I wanted for her to have more self-confidence; a stronger belief in herself and her capabilities. I also desired for our home environment to provide more affirmation for one another.

So I made it a point to regularly let her know that I believe in her. That I know, whatever she is faced with on any given day, she’s going to handle it. I set an intention to provide the confidence for her that she was unable to provide for herself at that time.

This awareness and intention setting on my part helped her inner dialogue change from “I can’t,” I’m afraid,” “What if…” to something much more affirming and reassuring. And her inner shift was made possible through conscious action on my part to BE those very qualities I wanted to see more of in my world.

How about a workplace example.

I was coaching a team the other day. After a couple of activities that surfaced undesirable aspects of the team’s dynamic, someone said, “They just need to stop talking and do more listening.” This was followed by a few more comments of what “they” need to do. I asked if anyone was familiar with Gandhi’s wisdom of “being the change” and what did they make of it. We used the opportunity to, individually, write down the 1 or 2 qualities that we each most wish to see more of in our “world.” And to come up with 1 or 2 specific ways in which we could BE that which we most wish for.

For example, qualities desired included: positive, empathetic, non-judgmental, and curious about others. Specific actions identified included: be vigilant in my self-awareness to surface my own negative thoughts and criticisms of others, and to look for opportunities everyday to positively acknowledge a teammate.

This is the opportunity we have each day. To contribute to the desired environment in our relationships, our homes, our workplaces – not by simply wishing for others to change – but by BEING the change ourselves. By taking initiative to create what we want, rather than complaining about what we don’t want.

I want my household to be a more peaceful place, I start by being peaceful.

I want my team environment to be free of blame and judgment, I pay attention to my own blame or judgments (even when they’re unspoken), and I work to release them.

I set intention to let go of what’s undesired and step more fully into what IS desired. When I bump up my level of intention and engagement, I become an active force for the desired change. Rather than remaining a passive force for tolerating the status quo.

We, each one of us, have the ability to impact positive change. Our family, our team, our community, will become the desired family, team, community when each member embodies and personifies the desired change. So let’s – you and I – go first.

What is the change that you want to see in your world? More love? Gratitude? Trust? Forgiveness? Joy?

Let it begin with you.

Flipping my Lid

james allen thoughts

In order to get intentional about our leadership presence – how we show up in situations & the tone we want to intentionally cultivate – it’s necessary for us to become familiar with our reactive or automatic thought patterns and behaviors. You know the ones; something happens and I’m thinking this thought and saying these words before I even realize it! No conscious effort at all. That’s reactivity.

And it’s a pretty unintentional way to lead (and live!).

The alternative is responsiveness. To respond to the people or circumstances around me, rather than react to them, requires intention.

Responsiveness is being present and attuned to myself as well as to others. Responsiveness is calm, mindful, and intentional.

These two functions, reactivity and responsiveness, live in completely different parts of our brain. Take a look at this video clip of me talking about this to the women attending a leadership conference for mothers, called MOMCon:

And what about in our workplaces? What does “threat” look like in your workplace today?

A co-worker challenges your idea – Threat.
You’re behind on a deadline and not getting the cooperation you need – Threat.
You’re explaining a new process to an associate and he or she doesn’t understand and you’re both becoming frustrated – Threat.
You get the idea…

Fight or flight reaction is triggered, adrenals engaged, cortisol is flowing. Here’s the So What: all of this is very energy intensive and sucks resources away from my higher thinking, which goes right offline. As you learned in the video, we call this “Flipping my lid.” So now, just in that moment when I need more than ever to manage my emotions, to empathize and get curious about the other person’s experience, I literally CAN’T! That function of my brain is temporarily disabled!

I want you to watch for this happening over the next week. Watch for it happening in you and in others. You can literally see when someone’s lid is flipped and they’re working from reactive defensive mode, rather than open listening mode. Without that higher part of the brain available, it is physiologically impossible for us to listen fully to one another or to effectively reason. We must first get our whole brain back online. How? More to come…

In the meantime, the exercise below will help you tune in to your own reactive thoughts.

Exercise: Pattern Interrupt

Purpose: to become more familiar with your automatic reactions when in flight or fight mode. And to interject something new, something different, into all that automatic thinking.

  1. The first thing to do when you become aware that you are triggered and running in reactivity mode… Breathe. Taking a few deep breaths gives your nervous system a moment to calm down and allows your “lid” to close (i.e.: higher brain functions to come back online).
  2. Interrupt the flow of automatic thoughts by interjecting a self-supportive statement, such as “It’s ok. You can do this.” or “Slow down. You don’t have to say anything right now. Just breathe for another moment.”
  3. Once you feel yourself calming down and you sense that you’ve regained access to your whole brain, ask yourself a question to help you consider additional perspectives. Here are a few examples:
    • What’s significant or important to me about this? Do I know what’s significant or important about this to the others involved?
    • What’s my greatest concern or fear about this? Do I know what others are concerned about?
    • What assumptions am I making? Have I checked out my assumptions with others involved?
    • How else can I think about this right now?
    • What is the next wise action I could take?

Practicing this “Pattern Interrupt” type of exercise encourages us to develop flexibility in our thinking and to think more expansively. And as the quote by James Allen at the top of this post implies, choosing our thoughts with care and intention, will positively impact the quality of our experiences.

With all good wishes,

The WHATs and HOWs of Leadership

leadership is an art
With regard to leadership development, I’ve become fond of telling my clients that all the low-hanging fruit has been picked by now. The world is full of 3-step processes, leadership style assessments, how-to books, and nothing else new under the sun. And the search continues for that leadership “magic bullet.”

I believe there are two undeniable aspects to becoming a truly great leader. And neither is easy, quick, or discovered by looking to external resources (i.e.: there is no magic bullet). Which is precisely what makes truly great leadership so elusive. It’s 100% dependent on you. And on me.

“If we really want to understand what leadership looks like, we need to look in the mirror.” – Richard Dillard

The Undeniable

Humanity. Leaders are human beings who are in a position to influence, guide, and inspire other human beings. We will never become a truly great leader until we become truly comfortable with this notion of humanity. Human beings come with free will, independent minds, emotions, personal desires, and a set of fundamental needs including acceptance, validation, and understanding.
As leaders will find out, human beings resist being controlled. Human beings are naturally creative beings. Resourceful beings, who thrive when asked to participate, to share their perspective, and when listened to. This does not bode well for ‘leadership’ that simply seeks employee obedience and adherence.

Attend to our HOW. Any leadership process involves 2 key components. There’s the task. The WHAT. A focus on the tactical: What are we doing? When are we doing it? Who is taking what step; who is performing which task.

And there’s the relationship. The HOW. How I am relating with you while we’re working on the task? How am I BEing? How is the quality of my presence? Of my listening? How am I inviting your opinions, concerns, questions and how am I addressing them?

Becoming a truly great leader means realizing that our HOW makes or breaks our WHAT. You may have experienced a scenario like this…the leadership team spent much time and energy creating a thoroughly planned out WHAT (a process re-design, a new marketing campaign, a change in a role or responsibilities, etc). Leadership communicates the new WHAT to team members through email. Individuals interpret what they’re reading in numerous and various ways, based on their individual filters and priorities. Rather than fostering a sense of curiosity and engagement about the new WHAT, we are now facing a sense of resistance and skepticism.

A poor HOW will undermine the best WHAT every time.

What comprises a poor HOW?

  • Poor quality of presence; that is: being in a hurry, being overly task-focused and inattentive towards people (glossing over or avoiding their concerns), coming off as inauthentic, having a judgmental or close-minded presence, feeling frustrated, etc.
  • Communication that tells, explains, justifies and does not inquire into others’ concerns, interpretations, needs.
  • Poor quality of listening. As Stephen Covey said “Most of us listen with the intent to reply, not with the intent to understand.”
  • Little or no attention on HOW people are feeling about the WHAT that’s been communicated.

So, what do we do? Or, perhaps a better question and in keeping with the theme of this post – How do we BE? I’d like to offer a few practical ideas or remedies for each of the “pitfalls” above.

  1. Pay attention to your presence FIRST. Our doing always flows from our being. Meaning if I am feeling rushed or frustrated, it will be nearly impossible for others to believe that I am open to their concerns or willing to take time for their needs. I wrote this post, which delves deeper into how to attend to our Leadership Presence.The post concludes with an exercise and an audio download for you.
  2. Ensure your communication involves plenty of listening. It’s been said that we have 2 ears and 1 mouth because we are meant to listen twice as much as we speak. I encourage my coachees to develop a habit of asking a question after each statement they make. For example:
    I’d like to talk with you about revising our process of _____ / adjusting the way we handle _____. When would be a good time for you?
  3. If the WHAT involves a change to something existing, be sure to share the reasoning behind the change and any back-story from your own personal perspective. Rather than saying, “Leadership has decided…” try “Joe, Sue, Sally, and I got together to look at the way we’ve been handling ______. We’ve had some concerns because the current process does / doesn’t _______. We thought if we could come up with a way to ______ that it might have a big impact on ______. Here’s what we’ve been bouncing around… OR Here’s what we’d like to try…”
  4. After sharing details around the WHAT, be prepared to spend time listening! Take the time right then and there to listen to how your communication was interpreted and to clarify any misunderstandings. Remember, the other human beings involved are hearing your words through their very individual filters. A misunderstanding or disparate interpretation does not mean someone is WRONG. It simply means someone is HUMAN and has a different brain/mind than you do.
  5. Conclude the conversation by placing your attention on the person him or herself.
    • What are you sensing in their facial expressions? Their body language? Let them know what you sense. “I’m sensing some hesitancy. Would you like to tell me about your concerns?”
    • Ask a question to get a sense of how they are feeling and where they are in that moment: “I realize this is a lot to consider. How is this landing for you?
    • Just listen and acknowledge how they feel. Don’t try to explain anything or talk them out of their feelings. Your sincere presence and authentic caring here go a very long way in building trust as well as commitment.
    • Ask a question that leads to a plan and mutual understanding for how you will both move forward: How can I support you as we take the next steps to move this forward?

Grab our download with a few sample questions to get you started:
effective questions download button
In closing, I’d like to suggest two resources that are helping others to humanize their leadership:

      1. Leadership and Self Deception by the Arbinger Group. Required reading for all of our clients. Click the book icon below to go to Arbinger’s website where you can learn more about this important topic,  read their white papers, and/or purchase their publications.
        Leadership and Self-Deception
      2. Take a look into our Essential Leadership Coaching Groups. Ten group coaching sessions, two one-on-one coaching sessions, curriculum designed to deepen self-awareness, excavate unhelpful thought patterns, develop greater interest in and keen awareness of others’ needs, and to provide instruction in areas including: emotional intelligence, listening fully for increased trust and engagement, question-asking to eliminate misunderstandings, mis-alignments, and wasted time, and taking action from a responsive – rather than reactive – mindset.
        Groups begin February 22, 2016. Each group is limited to 5 members. Click the graphic below to learn more…
        essential leadership button for homepage

With best wishes,

What If It’s Me and Not You?

everything that irritates

“My co-worker really made me mad yesterday. He was so insensitive to my concerns! You should’ve heard what he said. The way he blew me off was just plain wrong and really has me upset and angry.”

For many of us, our knee-jerk reaction to disagreements or conflict situations is to look at the other person. To cast blame ‘over there’. Away from me. I can clearly see what “his problem is” yet am blind to my own contributions and shrug off any suggestion that I might be part of the problem too.

In my work with tons of organizations and teams, I’ve rarely encountered the person who easily or automatically starts by looking for his or her part in creating a conflict. After all, self-preservation is hardwired into our brains!

Yet, blame, finger-pointing, stonewalling, triangulating, or avoiding, never serve any of us.

What if I did contribute to the frustration I experienced yesterday? What if I began by looking inward…

Read more →

Leading Myself

Lead myself

“Roughly 50-70% of how employees perceive their organization’s climate can be traced to the actions of one person: the leader. More than anyone else, the boss creates the conditions that directly determine people’s ability to work well.” Primal Leadership; Goleman, Boyatzis & McKee

Wow, that’s a heavy responsibility. As Shakespeare so succinctly stated:

“Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown.” – William Shakespeare

You and I, as the leaders in our organizations, significantly influence how people feel about their job. Committed to achieving great results or satisfied with meeting minimum expectations? Sense of team and camaraderie or every man for himself? A fan/cheerleader for your organization or bad-mouthing you behind closed doors?

Leadership Presence.

I create the tone or climate around me simply by how I show up each day. Before I’ve said or done a thing, my presence alone communicates to others. My facial expressions, body language, pace at which I walk & speak, my attitude and the energy or “vibe” I carry into the room with me. It’s all information for those around me. And they will respond accordingly…

Imagine this…
It’s the beginning of the day and I’m sitting at my desk. A colleague comes by to say hello, and looks like he wants to chat. I stop what I’m doing, turn and face him squarely, and return his greeting.
IMG_9243What adjectives would you use to describe what you see or experience from me? When I do this demo in my live workshops, I often hear adjectives like: welcoming, genuine, warm, open.

Now imagine this…
It’s the beginning of the day and I’m sitting at my desk. A colleague comes by to say hello, and looks like he wants to chat. I pause what I’m doing, turn towards him with one hand still on my keyboard, and offer a quick “Hi.”

IMG_9250What adjectives would you use to describe what you see or experience from me here? At live workshops, this time I often hear: busy, stressed, better not bother you, focused.

All I’ve done is say hello (in one way or another) and we’ve got several different perceptions about me. And from each person’s perception flows assumptions, judgments and conclusions. Conclusions about how he or she will choose to interact with me today: how open or forthcoming she will decide to be about that project status, whether or not he will come to me for the support he needs, and what kind of grumbling or praising will be said about me over lunch.

I am the one who created the conditions for the environment and relationships I now find myself in.


So how can I do my best to ensure that the climate or tone around me happens ‘by design’, rather than by default?

Leadership Rule #1: The most important person I lead is myself.

Emotional Intelligence is all about being aware of MYSELF; and using my self-awareness to manage myself. Managing my thoughts, mood, body language, and behavior in order to intentionally influence what is happening around me. To ‘move others’ in a way that sends them in the direction I want and need them to go.

We know that we reap what we sow, right? Below are three self-reflective truths of a wise leader, that help us look carefully at our sowing and reaping:

  1. When reaping something in our team or organization that is unhelpful or undesirable, the wise leader looks first at SELF.
  2. The wise leader has the humility to recognize that he or she is somehow creating, contributing to, or at the very least, allowing the undesirables circumstances to manifest.
  3.  The wise leader asks him/herself questions to explore his/her role in what’s being reaped:
    • How have I been showing up? What’s the tone I’ve been setting through my presence?
    • What am I doing or saying that may be contributing to the undesirable circumstances?
    • What do I want MORE OF now (i.e.: collaboration, ownership/responsibility, positive attitudes)?
    • How will I intentionally BE in order to lead the way in creating more of what’s desired? (i.e.: how will I BE more collaborative; how will I BE more responsible; how will I BE more positive).

This is not to say that the leader does not also expect others to behave in more desirable ways.

Of course we do. And, in order to successfully reap what we want more of from others, we must first sow the seeds by modeling the way. As wise leaders, we are super intentional about our OWN thoughts, words, and behavior, ensuring that we are in 100% alignment with the expectations we have of others.

Exercise – My Leadership Presence

I’ve recorded a 9-minute audio visualization that will help you think about and envision your desired leadership presence. Download the audio file here. Download the accompanying worksheet here.

  • I suggest listening to the audio all the way through once WITHOUT the worksheet. Give yourself a 9-minute space to simply sit back, close your eyes, and envision the various aspects of leadership that the audio file walks you through.
  • Then get out your worksheet. Listen through the audio file a second time (if desired) to help you reflect on the worksheet questions.
  • The worksheet concludes by having you create a couple of “I am …” statements about your leadership. For example, “I am a clear communicator” Or “I am curious about others’ needs.” Choose one of your “I am” statements to be intentional about this week. Perhaps you want to work on your listening, or attentiveness, or balance of asking vs. telling. Whatever it is, choose the I am statement that affirms and reminds you of your intention. Begin each day, each meeting, each interaction by telling yourself, “I am listening fully” or “I am attentive to the needs of others” or whatever is true for you. By consistently acknowledging and affirming the behaviors I desire to exhibit more of, I am telling my brain that this is the way it is. My brain responds accordingly by creating the neural connections to support my affirmation. The net effect is that, over time, the desired behaviors become habits.

All good wishes,


Ordinary Treasures

Cultivater gratitude

November is my favorite month of the year. I think of it as the Gratitude Month.

While I practice gratitude all year long, I find that November offers an extended opportunity for me. Besides the obvious – Thanksgiving –  November is also my birth month.  And the cooler weather means hot tea, wool socks, and fleece blanket; all providing perfect impetus to spend time reflecting on my year. What has been birthed in me or through me this year? in my work? in my family? Who and what am I thankful for in my life?

This November in my gratitude practice, I became acutely aware of the Ordinary Treasures in my life. My Ordinary Treasures are all those little, everyday things that make up my ordinary, and yet special, life.  For example, the warm, sunset glow that fills my workspace at home (I painted the walls a lovely apricot color a few years ago). Or the connection and gratitude I feel after a coaching session with a client. Or the sound of my kids making pancakes together in the kitchen.

It is my ordinary treasures I would most miss if they were suddenly gone from my life.

Researcher and author, Brene Brown, interviewed hundreds of people who have been through awful tragedies such as losing children, genocide, and violent personal trauma. She reports that she heard a consistent theme in her interviews, over and over and over again: “I don’t miss the extraordinary moments I’ll never have because of this loss. If I could go back in time, I’d be grateful for all the small, ordinary moments that I overlooked every single day. I didn’t realize the meaning they held until they were gone.”


As we approach Thanksgiving, I invite you to reflect on the ordinary treasures in your life. What are the moments, the people, the places, that make your ordinary life uniquely yours? The view from your kitchen window, the sound of little feet (or big feet!) walking across your house, the ability to run, work you enjoy, hot beverages, prayer time, fleece, music, your pet, a new book to read…

During this Thanksgiving week, keep your camera close by and snap a few pictures of your ordinary treasures as you notice them. Compile your favorite photos into a collage.

My collage is below. I set it as my screensaver so I will be reminded throughout the day, of what makes my life so wonderfully ordinary.

Wishing you and yours a very blessed Thanksgiving!


The Truth of Sufficiency

beauty of sufficiency smaller

In one of my women’s coaching groups last week, we opened up the topic of “I am not enough.”  “I am not enough” is a message of “The Lie of Scarcity.” The lie of scarcity tells us we are not enough: not pretty enough, fast enough, productive enough, don’t have enough money, don’t have enough time, didn’t get enough sleep, on and on and on. And, let’s remember, this is a LIE. Author, speaker, and activist, Lynne Twist writes about 3 myths of scarcity in her book, The Soul of Money. The three myths are:

Scarcity Myth #1: There’s not enough. Not enough to go around. Not everyone can make it. Someone will be left out. What’s one of the first games we learn as children? Musical chairs. Someone will be left out – there’s not enough chairs for everyone. We’ve defined our world, and ourselves, as deficient, as lacking.

Scarcity Myth #2: More is better. More of anything is better than what we have. Wherever we are, it’s not enough because more is always better. More Is Better drives competition, accumulation, acquisition, greed, heightens fears and quickens the pace. And none of it makes life more valuable.

More Is Better distracts us from living more mindfully & richly with what we have. We miss or overlook our immeasurable inner gifts. All the great spiritual teachings tell us to look inside to find the wholeness, the fulfillment we crave.

Scarcity Myth #3: That’s just the way it is. And there is no way out: There’s not enough, more is definitely better, and the people who have more are always people other than us. That’s just the way it is can leave us feeling helpless, hopeless, and cynical.

We must let go of “that’s just the way it is,” even if just for a moment to consider there is no “way it is” or “way it isn’t. There is only the way we choose to think & act and relate with our circumstances.

It’s important for us to understand and be able to separate these myths from what’s REAL FOR US. From what is internal, authentic, and aligned – the Truth of Who We Are. Our Truth lies in Sufficiency. Sufficiency – what a beautiful word! Enough. You are enough. I am enough. I have enough. God is always enough.

Sufficiency resides inside each one of us. It is not a measure of more than enough. Sufficiency is not a quantity or an amount at all. Sufficiency is a consciousness, an intentional choosing of how we will relate with the circumstances of our life. Sufficiency is engaging in life from a sense of our own wholeness. Lynne Twist writes, “I suggest there is enough in nature, in human nature, and in the relationships we share with one another to have a prosperous, fulfilling life, no matter who you are or where you are in the spectrum of resources.”

I created a 2 ½ day women’s retreat which looks in depth at the topics of Shame*, Scarcity, and most importantly, Sufficiency.

More to come about my retreats, along with the Fall/Winter retreat schedule.  For now, please know that your Truth resides in Sufficiency, not in Scarcity. Spend time each day noticing where you are/when you are indeed enough – because I am 100% certain that you are.


* Scarcity – I’m not enough – is at the root of a deep emotion called Shame. Shame goes deeper than a feeling of failing at what I do. Shame is a nagging sense of failing at who I am. And shame seems to be the universal companion of women.  A great book on the topic of shame, scarcity, and sufficiency is by Brene Brown, “I thought it was just me, but it isn’t. Making the journey from “what will people think” to “I am enough.” That title says it all, huh!?)



Change starts with confusion

One constant we can always count on is that life will not remain constant for long. Here are a few of the transitions happening in my world at the moment:

  • My kids’ school year has ended
  • My church Pastor is retiring at the end of June (yay for him, sad for me)
  • My husband just started a new job
  • My little sister turned 40 yesterday! (Yikes, I feel old).
  • My niece is having a baby.

I’m sure you have a list of changes or transitions occurring in your world too. Life is not a static event, is it?

Change is inevitable. Change is also often associated with words like: hard, difficult, stressful. Have you noticed this? Our human brains like predictability and familiarity. And when we encounter the inevitable uncertainty and unpredictability of change, our mind works to make sense of the new feelings, new faces, new structure.

I watched this process unfold within my 8-year-old son recently. Several days in a row, in the midst of any random activity (dinner, homework, playing with his sister), he started crying. When I asked him what happened or what was wrong he said, “I don’t know. I just feel so sad.”  So I cuddled him up and sat with him through his sadness and tears.

It took me a few days of this to realize that his tears and sadness were a reaction to the impending end of the school year. And while, of course, he could not wait for summer vacation and for school to be over, this presented him with a lot of uncertainty. For the past 180 days (not counting weekends and holidays) his daily doings were structured for him. Full of predictable patterns, events, & people.

Here’s the “so what.” Even when the change is something we’re looking forward to (summer vacation), our organism still has a reaction to “different.” Our reactions might include discomfort, concern, worry, fear, as well as excitement and anticipation. That’s a lot of energy and emotion moving!

How about you? What is your default thinking or default reaction to ‘different’? How are you at balancing your desire for certainty with your ability to be ok in uncertainty?

As with most everything, the process begins in our own minds. Here an exercise to leave you with:

  1. Uncertainty and change = something will be different. Different is neutral. Different only becomes something other than neutral when we attach thoughts of good, bad, worry, negative, positive, etc.
  2. Tune into your inner conversation around change. What is your inner dialogue like when something unpredictable happens in your day (i.e.: something gets canceled, someone needs something that you were not planning on providing today, someone in your life has their own plan for the day that seems in conflict with your plan, etc.). Write down the words or phrases you hear yourself thinking when you are presented with change or “different”.
  3. Look at what you wrote. What impact do these words/thoughts have on your emotions, attitude, behavior? Is that impact ok with you? If it’s not, what new thoughts or words would serve you better?

With all good wishes,
De Yarrison, CPCC