Category Archives: Life Guidance

How do you limit yourself with either/or?

Think about it. How often do you fixate on “the way” or “the right choice”? When you know like this, do you notice that you can quickly list all the reasons why “this” is right and “that” is wrong? This way of thinking can drive a wedge between two people in relationship, each of whom thinks they are right and other is wrong. In business this can show up, for example, in one group focusing solely on quality, regardless of price, and the other insisting on cost control.

How do we move beyond these stuck points?

In the third chapter of The Zen LeaderGinny Whitelaw offers a helpful tool to expand our vision when we get stuck in this either/or  mentality. She offers a simple 3-step approach:

  1. See 2
  2. Map 4
  3. Manage the figure 8

I find that even just the first two steps are extremely eye-opening and powerful. Try it for yourself. Call to mind a situation where you know you are right and someone close to you has a different opinion. Draw this simple 4 square diagram:

Replace “MY WAY” and “YOUR WAY” with your dichotomy. Then, start in the upper left-hand quadrant and list all the reasons which positively support “MY WAY”. Proceed to the lower left-hand quadrant and, yes, list all the drawbacks to your way! Now, head on over to the upper right and list all the supporting factors for their way. Yes, you can do this! Now travel down to that lower right, a place you know well, and list the reasons why their way doesn’t stand a chance.

What did you notice?

If that was impossible, I encourage you to share this exercise with the other person(s) involved or with someone who holds the situation differently than you do. Open up and get curious! Be willing to see and hear the expressions from all four quadrants.

Where to from here?

If you value the relationship or the business, you will seek out:

  • the “win/win” that draws from both sides
  • not “mine” or “yours” but something magically different!

Or, you may check out chapter 3 in The Zen Leader and learn about “managing the figure 8”.

What topics lock you in to “either/or”?
Whose perspective do you refuse to see?
What’s possible when you explore the “wrong” way?

(*) If Zen Leadership is peaking your interest, check out:

The Zen Leader book discussions September-November 2017
The Institute for Zen Leadership


Flexibility, bending and stretching without breaking, is a valuable asset. In order to create the changes we desire in life, we must try new things, step outside our comfort zone, reach for something different. Imagine the rubber band. If not stretched enough, it isn’t very useful. If left unused, never stretched, it hardens and loses its “stretchability”. If we stretch it too far, it snaps. Somewhere in the middle, the stretching gives the rubber band its value.

What about you? In what areas of life have you flexed to the breaking point? In what areas are you afraid to stretch? Where have you become inflexible and rigid, hardened and ready to crumble?

What shift in flexibility is called for?

Release Expectation – Embrace Expectancy!

What do you hear in the word “expectation”? When you expect something from another or from life, what do you notice in your being? What happens when those expectations are dashed?

Now, switch gears for a minute. Replace “expectation” with “expectancy, abundant expectancy“. What is the energy now?

Here’s where I go with these two:

Expectations that I have for myself or another person or for the situation feel limiting. I notice tension as I wait to see if what I want, what I expect, will happen. There is smallness here as laser focus sees only “this” and “these options”. I am trapped in my version of how life should unfold. I have put a box around you and how I want you to be. Often, sadly, I expect the worst.
Continue reading Release Expectation – Embrace Expectancy!

Summer of Passion

Summer is upon us. This can mean a lot of things like vacation, longer days, more work, less work, kids at home, more joy, more chaos, …

Today, consider some visioning around the summer that lies before you. Step aside for a moment and ask yourself:

What vision will I create for this summer?
What do I want to see when I look backward on September 1?
What will make this a summer without regret?
What will make this a summer of passion?