June 2015

07:15. When I come down the stairs, our tomcat Binkie is waiting for a scratch behind his ears. Then he signals that he wants to go out into the bright spring morning. Barely 2 minutes later he reappears with an energetic trod from behind the beech, with a fat and fresh – still living – mouse in his jaws. Because I close the kitchen door abruptly, he decides to drop his prey within the boxwood fence in our kitchen garden. Of course he does not drop the mouse to let it go, but rather to catch it again. He seems to find infinite pleasure in chasing the critter time and time again. Until he has had enough, bites its neck and signals to come back in. There, that felt great, his expression seems to say.

I observe the scene in wonderment and with some admiration. Binkie has just started his day with something he excels at and in which he appears to find a lot of joy. I decide to take his example and start my day with something I like and which gives me energy, something that has been on my to do list for quite some time. So now I’m here, writing these words. I have not checked my mails yet, whereas this is usually the first thing I do. It takes some willpower not to open Outlook, get carried away in the daily “rat race” (pardon the pun) and postpone writing again.

I have to admit that writing also gives me energy and works wonders for my mood. Lately I have been dreading the start of the day – especially Monday mornings – but now I feel charged and ready to go. I promise myself to make a new habit of this (habits, another topic I want to write about). I challenge you to do the same in the coming days and do something important for yourself, your health, your career, your family, etc… in the first moments of your day, at home or at work. Share your experiences with me and the other readers by posting your comments below (click on the title of the article to activate the comment field).

A few weeks ago we unfortunately had to clip the wings of Pippa, Bianca and Frieda – our three hens. The enterprising ladies had been expanding their foraging territory and a few of our neighbours were not too happy with that – especially not with the little malodorant gifts they left behind. My equally enterprising husband fenced off our garden with a 60cm high wire, which we thought would do the trick. But it didn’t take long for ‘the ladies’ to be found on the other side of the fence again. We were baffled. Until our youngest son remarked that they simply flew over the fence, like any other rightminded bird with intact wings. We bought our hens with clipped wings a few months back, and since this is our first experience with poultry, we thought this to be a permanent condition. But we were obviously mistaken. So we took the scissors and now they stay nicely within boundaries.

Our wings are also sometimes clipped – or we clip them ourselves. We all have – consciously and unconsciously – quite a few limiting convictions and thoughts that stop us from living and working to the fullest. We all have these inner voices that sabotage us: ‘I was never good at that’, ‘I don’t know how to do this’, ‘Who do you think you are to…’, ‘I will never be able to do this’, … recognise them?

Rick Carson wrote an interesting book on this – ‘Taming your Gremlin’. The subtitle reads ‘A Surprisingly Simple Method for Getting Out of Your Own Way’. In other words: you can do something about it and take care that these ‘gremlins’ do not clip your wings until you are immobilised. As Carson explains, and as we deal with it in coaching, the first step is to identify these voices as saboteurs and not as something that is real or a given fact. It is rather something that others have made us believe, or more often what we make ourselves believe. Most people have a whole army of these annoying inner critics. The goal of these voices is to keep everything as it is, because that is the safe option. A difficult word to describe this is ‘homeostasis’.

During a coaching session you sometimes hear a client tell a whole story about why they can or will not do something. In order to break through these pointless lamentations and make progress with your client, you as a coach ask the question ‘Who is talking, you or one of your gremlins?’ In other words, you hold up a mirror to your client. It takes a lot of courage to make real changes to your life, whereby the support of a coach is more than welcome.

A nice end to our hen story: the ladies were not limited at all by their clipped wings. They had tasted the forbidden fruit on the other side and a few less inches of feathers were not going to deter them.  In no time they were back with the neighbours. The moral of the story: where there is a will, there is a way. Not only did we need to heighten the fence, we also had to close some gaps at the bottom where they managed to squeeze through.

I’m always curious about your ideas or opinion on this subject. You can activate the comment field by ckicking on the title of this article.

Talk to you in 2 weeks!