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Eight times it’s better to say less. And. Two times to say more.

I have so much to say that it often overwhelms me. And so I say nothing. Or I don’t know what to say, so I say too much.

Feel me?

But three things have happened over the past week that have lead me to this post.

1. Our daughter came home flushed with excitement by the challenge of writing the classic six-word story assignment derived from Hemingway’s "For sale: baby shoes, never worn."

2. I went out West and did three speaking events in as many days, reminding me about the power of presence and of saying less.

3.  It seems like the world is ripping apart at the seams, reminding me all that DOES need to be said.

Feel me?

So here is my newest cheat sheet on when to say less. And when to say more.

Eight times it's better to say less:

1.  Parenting – Listen more. So so so much more.

2.  Coaching – My job as a coach is not to advise. It’s to ask questions that invite you to find the keys to your massive capacity yourself. My job is to make my job obsolete. 

3.  Sitting with someone in their grief - While the silence can feel oppressive and it’s clear that you mean well, it is untrue when say that you know “just how you feel”. No one knows what agony lives inside that grief. Say less, listen more. Giving them a place and space to be with what is here without trying to transmute or fix anything is about as loving as it gets. And that’s all that’s needed.

4.  WritingKelly Diels told me this long ago: “Write like a lover, edit like an ex”. And while you’re editing, take out anything that waters down your meaning, your message, your power. Laura Belgray has a super useful resource on writing "non-sucky" copy that is super clear and concise and engaging. Remove all qualifiers that are cliché, redundant, ambiguous, pretentious or passive (aka, cut the CRAPP). And my pal Ben Borowski (a SIYSR retreat alum, BTW) wrote this fabulous piece on how words like obviously and simply are loaded with judgment and are super triggering. Just…don’t.

5.  Offering advice – Before you offer someone advice, ask yourself first: “is this piece of advice for them, or is it for me?” Is it true THEY need to have a hard conversation with their spouse, or is that for you? Wisdom we wish to impart to others is often a reminder our soul wants us to recollect. That’s what my #CueCards are all about. Trust me on that one.

6.  Apologizing – Don't justify, rationalize, or make excuses. Nobody's got time for that. And roads need to get mended. It’s simple: Own up to what you did with specificity. Accept responsibility. Commit to not doing it again. And – here’s the really important part - don’t do it again.

7.    And while we’re talking about apologizing, let’s take saying less one step further. Never EVER apologize for who you are. Just don’t. (And for some added inspiration, conjure this remarkable rabble-rouser.)

8. Speaking - I revisited my friend Julie's counsel every time I took the front of the room last week: "Trust the intelligence in the room". No matter how learned my teachings may be, nor how useful my processes are, nor even how impactful my words may well be, the REAL intelligence lives in the room. My job as speaker, teacher, facilitator, leader is to feel for it. Not to talk over it, but to make space for it. Trust it. That’s where the real resonance is at.

And two places you can’t NOT afford to say more:

1.    Injustice – Think there are no solutions for the shootings that we are seeing over and over, so often that we are getting whiplash from shaking our heads? Here are 25. And many, if not all have everything to do with us saying more. Intelligently. Head-shaking isn’t enough. “Our silence is not revolutionary” says Janelle Hanchett. Our silence is not benign.

Speak up, speak out and risk the vulnerability hangover. You will survive it.

2.  "I love you" - Life is short, friends. Be specific. Let's try this instead: 

“I love you because…”

“I love you because you want so much for me.”
“I love you because your empathy is everything right with the world.”
“I love you because your laughter lifts everyone up.”
“I love you because your soul work inspires my soul work.”
“I love you because you are truth and integrity and bedrock incarnate.”
“I love you. Because…”

I repeat: Life is short. Make every word count for something. Something like everything.

Feel me?

 

 

 

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Do it. You’re ready enough.

There are 12 lies of the Impostor Complex. Lie #7, “You’re not ready yet” shows up right after you’ve decided to do IT.

You can no longer unsee all the changes around you that need to be made. You have things to say, words to write, stages to climb and systems to take down and rebuild.

YES. You say. YES. I will be the one.

Then, immediately, the Impostor Complex sidles up to you, real cozy-like and saying:

Listen kid (yeah, it’s paternalistic as hell, that one).

ONE day you’ll be ready. But that day isn’t today. 

Maybe you’ll be ready when you get that NEXT degree. Or put another 10 years under your belt. Or made that discovery. Or won the award. Or got that client. Or got the nod from HER. Or lost the pounds. 

So sit back, cool your heels and keep working it.

And so, you prepare and you train and you polish and you sharpen the pencil.

Because you have high standards of excellence and mastery. (That’s good. And reason #1 that you experience the Impostor Complex.)

But then it shows back upon the precipice of shipping once again, whispering:

The pencil isn’t sharp enough.

The pitch doesn’t gleam with startling shine.

Your thighs…they need to be more toned, taut and tanned.

You’re not smart enough.

Wise enough.

Brave enough.

Charismatic enough.

Gorgeous enough.

Spiritual enough.

Wealthy enough.

(And let’s not even get started on TOO smart, TOO wise, TOO gorgeous, TOO wealthy. Not today.)

Now, what your thighs and wealth have to do with how prepared you are to ask set up the appointment with the CEO or send your manuscript off to the publisher is something well beyond me, but this much I DO know, with every fibre of my being:

Do it. You’re ready enough.

The manuscript is close enough to done.

The pencil is sharp enough to write the words that can change everything.

Your voice is strong enough to say what needs to be said. (Even when it trembles. ESPECIALLY when it trembles.)

Two things:

As you sit down to make the call or write the book or step up to the mic to deliver the talk that will change EVERYTHING, think about how everything you have ever made, delivered, sold, created, drafted, crafted, survived, healed, and done is coming together. Right here and now. For this very purpose. For this very moment.

And?

No one was ever fully ready. For anything. The pencil tip can always be sharper.

The space in between systemic changes you want to see and the brave new world is your decision to rise whether you are fully ready or not.

Do it. You’re ready enough.

+++++

If it feels like everything you are reading of late is saying the same thing? That you  ARE ready enough? Believe us.

If you’re feeling the call to join me for a Step into Your Starring Role workshop next Friday and Saturday in Calgary, believe that. Because you’re ready enough.

 

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No dress rehearsal, this is our life

No dress rehearsal, this is our life. - Gord Downie (Ahead By A Century)
 

Canada is dead smack in the middle of a multiple-day hangover.

You see, on Saturday night, time stood still for our nation as we sang together and cried together as we watched the Tragically Hip’s final concert, streamed live from their hometown of Kingston, Ontario. Frontman Gord Downie was diagnosed in May with glioblastoma, an incurable brain cancer.

We were gutted when we heard the news. Gutted then stunned when he responded to the diagnosis with the courageous decision “to take his group on one last tour”, as Eddie Veder said in his tribute to the band on Saturday night in Chicago, inviting the crowd at his concert to send up energy and dedicating “Light Years” to Gord. A song, of course, about the death of someone close.

"Your lights reflected now, reflected from afar," he sang. "We were but stones. Your light made us stars."

From backyards and docks and, we tweeted #CourageForGord, shared our favourite Hip songs and memories and marveled at just how good he looked, in his shimmery metallic suits, feather boas and preposterously fantastic tall hats, our beloved unofficial poet laureate with his very own stage presence and that soul of a troubadour.

We reveled in the depth and breadth of the canon of songs he’s written, dotted with his brand of social and environmental activism, listening for references to uncertainty and endings.

We held our breath and gripped hands when he paused to dab his eyes with his handkerchief, then found his way to another rousing hit. We looked knowingly at each other as he looked at his imaginary watch, reminded as ever just how fleeting this time really is.

We sent him our silent prayers, that he know, really know the impact he’s had on us, the way his words helped form our identity. Our nation’s. Our own.

I came across this quote in an exquisite and well-circulated article about the collective grief around Prince's death earlier this year.

“[There] are individuals who managed to figure out the unique gift that the universe gave them when they incarnated, and they put that in the service of their goals…
And when we see these people, we invariably call them larger than life. Life is large, but most of us don’t take up nearly the space the universe intended for us. We take up this wee space ‘round our toes, which is why when you see somebody in the full flow of their humanity, it’s remarkable. They’re at least a foot bigger in every direction than normal human beings, and they shine, they gleam, they glow. It’s like they swallowed the moon.”

Yes. It IS like that. It most certainly is.

We didn’t get that chance when our Prince and Bowie left us. Or Garcia. Or Cobain.

We didn’t get the chance to thank them for being models of possibility before they left us. For embodying what it looks like to swallow the moon. For their art.

We didn’t get the chance to thank them for the way they shaped who we are and how we see ourselves.

Like millions of other Canadians, we gathered in a friend's backyard, turning outdoor spaces into private concert venues. (Top image, Gord Downie giving it his all. Bottom left, my daughter is transfixed. Bottom right, a Canadiana moment: a canoe filled with cheer.) 

Like millions of other Canadians, we gathered in a friend's backyard, turning outdoor spaces into private concert venues. (Top image, Gord Downie giving it his all. Bottom left, my daughter is transfixed. Bottom right, a Canadiana moment: a canoe filled with cheer.) 

Gord Downie and the Tragically Hip gave us that chance. Our brilliant, extraordinary, glitterstar of a man, with the shit-eating mischievous grin of a small town rascal and the eyes of an ancient sage, who sang and danced and pantomimed his way through pain and emotions few of us could even begin to fathom. For him. For us.

Our Gord.

So today and for the coming days, forgive us if we don't get the budget reports in on time. Or if we don't return your call straight away. Or we take an extra long lunch. I think you’ll find us hydrating. Reflecting. Deep in awe. In sorrow. In wonder. In gratitude.

And I can only hope, with an eye out for the unique gift that the universe gave US when we incarnated, so we put that in the service of our goals.

No dress rehearsal, my friends. This IS our life.

 

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Big skies know big things. So let’s go to Big Sky Country. Together.

I’m away from the city for a short while as I spend time with family, count stars, eat cherries, write words, breathe clean air and sing by the campfire. 

In a word: glorious.

Usually, I settle into the pace up here quickly and familiarly. This time, I can’t help but notice how I’m resisting said gloriousness. Too much going on, in my world, in THE world, back “home” to…relax. Which is about as counter-productive as it gets.

But I’ve finally recalled the structure that brings me to my actual home. A simple and sacred structure: I look up at the big sky.

Every time I feel the weight of the things I read from my computer screen, I look up at the big sky.

Every time I feel the pull of guilt of things not done, I look up at the big sky.

Every time I feel the pang of worry for things to come, I look up at the big sky.

Every time I doubt and fret and sweat and panic, I look up at the big sky.

And every time I feel like I am avoiding the weight of the things, the pull of guilt, the pangs of worry, the doubt and fret and sweat and panic by LOOKING at the big sky? I blink hard and I look up at the big sky again.

And she says:

Sweet Child, do what you can, but more importantly, do what you must.

Be brave enough to look at your shadows. Don’t try to douse them with light. Look at them for what they are.

Be with the weights and the pulls and the pangs and doubt and fret and sweat and panic.

They are here to be heard. They are here to bend you, shape you and to help calibrate your next steps. They are here to teach you, but they are not here to define you.

You can no more unsee the injustices by tuning out the world than you can deny the privilege of your very existence. So don’t. See them. Feel them. Choose to do better.

Don’t short cut your way to your purpose.

When you feel weak, get stronger. You know how. You’ve done it before, you startlingly magnificent creature, you.

When you are faced with the next battle, don’t seek comfort. Seek courage.

Don’t look for proof. Feel for truth.

Trust the love you feel in your cells.

When you are ready to make the leap that transcends your story, jump high and hard and with all of your fracturedmended heart.

Big skies know big things.

It’s under big skies that I remember all that I’ve ever known. Which brings me right back home. Wherever that may be.

I want the same for you. Join me under the big skies of Alberta this September.

We’ve crafted a unique, intimate, big-heart-opening one-day retreat in glorious Athabasca, on September 15th. This day is for anyone who wants freedom from the Impostor Complex so that they can step into their Starring Roles. In their leadership, in their life and in their life’s work.  

Think wide open spaces. Crisp NORTHERN air. The immersed experience of sweet relief when you finally walk towards and claim the role you’ve been desiring. Soul connections. Prosecco. And big BIG clarity. 

We’re keeping this one-day retreat very small this time so there’s even more space for processing, being and feeling the wisdom of the big sky. Register by August 12th and receive two bonuses: The Step into Your Starring Role Playbook and an hour of coaching with me – additional value of $600 USD. 

Looking for a larger group experience? Join me at the beautiful Yoga MCC in Calgary for a powerful workshop with like-minded healers, seekers and leaders. Three ways to play: a quick shot of activation on Friday night (16th), a full day workshop on Saturday (17th), OR both. While there will be plenty of time for integration, we’ll going strong and deep. (It is a yoga studio after all.)

I do so hope you’ll join me in Alberta.

Until then, look up at the big sky and feel her wisdom cool your furrowed brow.

Love,

TG

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What happens when you decide you’re writing a book about the Impostor Complex?

What happens when you decide you’re writing a book about the Impostor Complex?

Well, let’s go back a ways.

What happens when you decide you’re writing a book? Any book?

Your inner critics go ballistic. After raving inarticulately for a manner of time, they start to rhyme off all the reasons you can’t (and probably won’t and definitely shouldn’t) write the book with startling conviction. Like they’ve been waiting their whole existence to filibuster “Project Don’t Write The Book”.

What happens when you decide you’re writing a book about the Impostor Complex?

Well, you’re met with the same (somewhat generic) inner critics to be sure. You can’t. You won’t. You shouldn’t. Blah de blah. But you’ve been doing the work of inner critic management for a while, so you’re able to stand in, “Oh no you don’t. I am totally going to write a book”.

But then it gets even more specific and personal when the second line of offense shows up. These guys have placards directed at you that may not be catchy, but they are clear: “Don’t Write That Book about Overcoming Feeling like a Fraud because you Actually ARE a Fraud, you Fraud.”

Their case is really compelling. You don’t have the clinical background. You don’t have the degrees. You may not even have the writing chops. And while your stories are good, yours is not the really fascinating backstory to end all backstories. You just have this little thing called a burning desire that feels like a second beating heart. (You can’t recall which clever writer, far more clever than you, came up with that metaphor, but you know it feels true. So so true.)

So, you hide out. Behind your vocation. Behind your beloved clients. Behind the other writing and speaking and family and obligations and house maintenance and friends and more family and you feel lucky and privileged and really well graced. And a touch…incomplete. And then decide you should feel guilty about that. Because everything else has been tended to and you still need to hide out some more. And truly, guilt is a fabulous way to kill time. And of course, you have nothing but time, right?

Ba-BUMP.

Ba-BUMP.

Ba-BUMP.

Ba-BUMP.

Ba-BUMP.

Ba-BUMP.

But you’re serious about this. You’ve been talking about it with your small corner of the world because accountability is key. Also key? Doing what you say you’re going to do, so you send your family away for the long weekend, and try to write through pangs of missing them and longing for wide open lakes for stand-up paddle boarding and campfires and s’mores, but you know it’s for the best and it’ll be simple focused because you’ll drink smoothies for breakfast and eat popcorn for dinner and then start to realize within three short hours of your solitude that the infuriating cursor on your screen is not actually blinking, but rather beating.

You can’t.

You won’t.

You shouldn’t.

You can’t.

You won’t.

You shouldn’t.

And it’s like the tell-tale heart beating under the floorboard so maddeningly that you can’t take it any longer and want to shout your confessions to the Fraud Police who will invariably show up at your door. (You of course stop trying to write to go read Poe’s work, because…procrastination. The calling card of the Impostor Complex. Along with leaky boundaries, perfectionism, people pleasing and comparison.)

And then you start to finally see in the fourth hour of staring at the page that your own Impostor Complex is so far up your grill you don’t even know where it ends and your grill begins. (And then you start to wonder what a grill is in any case and so you go off to research that because…procrastination round two.)

At this point, you start to empathize with poor Jack Torrance going nuts up there in the Overlook, only to realize that he’d been writing for months and you’ve only been at your computer for five hours now.

And then you start an email to your writing group who invited you to go into the belly of the beast of your Impostor Complex this weekend to tell them to go to hell, but stop because you love them and know why they have asked you to dig deeper. They want this book in the world. The border guard wants this book in the world. And you want this book in the world. You NEED this book in the world. And besides, you know that email would be round three of procrastination (and you’ve learned better by now) so you simply email them: “Sending you love from the belly of the beast”.

And as you press send on the email you realize, holy shit. You KNOW how to do this thing because you live and breathe the Impostor Complex and know it inside and out and see it’s silly tricks and games and in fact, don’t just know it, but know it better than anyone. And that’s a fact. You are the world-class expert on this very thing, your own Impostor Complex and its funny little quirks and own special brand of beration and you have actually already written the manual on how to overcome it. And that you have plenty more wisdom to share. More than plenty.

So you re-blend the breakfast batch of smoothies that’s been on the counter since this morning and get back to writing, and write and write and write and eventually look up to see it’s been seven hours and you’ve written thousands of words. Good, smart, and true words that tell the stories that need to be told because your secondary heart said so.

And you realize as you shut down the computer and go to fire up the popcorn popper that all along, that blinking cursor’s been saying:

Write on.

Write on.

Write on.

Write on.

Write on.

Write on.

++++++++++

Signing up for my posts will show my publisher that there is enough interest in my writing to bring it to light. Bring it light with me, will you please?

 

 

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