Three Thoughts for Thursday – December 2020

It is this time of year I think about the winter solstice.  The dark nights are longer than the days, and here in Seattle, the rainy days this time of year often make the darkness seem ongoing. This year, a special event is set to occur on this longest night of the year.  Saturn and Jupiter will appear the closest together they have been in four centuries.  Known as the “Great Conjunction” Jupiter and Saturn haven’t been this close since 1623, during the Middle Ages. Appearing as a single star, these two plants will come within one tenth of a degree apart.

As I consider this rare event taking place in conjunction with the yearly occurrence of the solstice, it seems fitting that this coming together of Jupiter and Saturn happens as 2020 comes to a close.  This rare event marks a rare and wild year!  What does this event have to teach us as 2020 winds down?  I have been reflecting upon the title, “Great Conjunction”, given to the merging of planets in the sky. Conjunction refers to events happening at the same time or two planets or celestial objects appearing to be in the same place in the sky.  I have been pondering what other “conjunctions” have occurred this year that have demanded our attention or have provided some sort of light or illumination. 

Many unusual events have happened globally, nationally, locally, and in my own life bubble.  Several events have happened at the same time that have caused me to pause and reflect this year.  In this unusual year, as we end with this rare “Great Conjunction” of the Winter Solstice and the coming together of Jupiter and Saturn, I encourage you to ponder the year and the other conjunctions you have experienced or observed.  What new insights might you see?  Thinking of 2020 or 20/20, have things been made clearer through the lens of this year?  As you reflect, what are you seeing?  How is your view changing?  What clarity have you gained?  What has come together or connected for you?  What are you making of this rare year?  What rare glimpses of light have you been given that are serving you as you walk forward into the new year?

Photo by Akhil Lincoln on Unsplash

Quote or Passage I am sitting with, pondering and finding inspiration in:

If everything around you seems dark, look again.  You may be the light.

~ Rumi ~

Podcast I’m Listening to:

Ten Percent Happier with Dan Harris

Episode #246: Losing Your Patience? Here’s How to Get it Back

This pandemic is a colossal test of our patience – from dealing with family to interminable long wait times on calls with the unemployment office to just wanting this whole nightmare to evaporate so we can go back to the movies. We’ve got a special, two-part episode. In the first part, we bring on a pair of researchers who study patience. The good news: They have found that patience is a quality we can train and develop through meditation and other strategies, including cognitive reappraisal, transcendence, or just learning how to fake it until you make it. (Side note: we also fall into an interesting chat about the benefits of defensive pessimism versus strategic optimism.) After the researchers, we bring on legendary medication teacher Sharon Salzberg for a deeper dive into how to use meditation to increase our patience, especially when it comes to interpersonal stuff (which, let’s be honest, includes other people and ourselves). Our patience experts are Dr. Sarah Schnitker from the Psychology and Neuroscience Department at Baylor University, and Dr. Kate Sweeny from the Psychology Department at the University of California, Riverside.

Episode #250: Holding it Together When Things Fall Apart with Pema Chodron

Pema Chodron has seemingly been trying to prepare us for this pandemic for years, through a series of popular books, with titles such as When Things Fall Apart, Welcoming the Unwelcome, and The Wisdom of No Escape. But as you will hear, she is anything but gloomy.  Like all of the great meditation teachers I’ve met, she has a lightness and a sense of humor about her. Notwithstanding her chipper demeanor, she has worked hard to point out to her readers and students that groundlessness and uncertainty are fundamental facts of life – which are becoming increasingly salient in our current crisis. Pema Chodron was born Deirdre Blomfield in Connecticut.  She lived a conventional life, going to UC Berkeley, becoming a school teacher, and having a pair of kids. But after a rough divorce, she found herself adrift. During this time, she discovered Tibetan Buddhism, shave her head, and became a nun. Now in her mid-eighties, she lives in rural Nova Scotia, where she is the director of Gampo Abbey. We connected with her on an old-school landline. We talked about how to actually welcome the unwelcome. We also discussed how to befriend your demons, sympathize without being stupid, lighten up in th efface of fear, and embrace chaos as “extremely good news.”

Photo by Raychan on Unsplash

Book I am Reading and Reflecting Upon:

Immunity to Change: How to Overcome It and Unlock the Potential in Yourself and Your Organization (Leadership for the Common Good) By Robert Kegan and Lisa Laskow Lahey

Unlock your potential and finally move forward.

A recent study showed that when doctors tell heart patients they will die if they don’t change their habits, only one in seven will be able to follow through successfully. Desire and motivation aren’t enough: even when it’s literally a matter of life or death, the ability to change remains maddeningly elusive.

Given that the status quo is so potent, how can we change ourselves and our organizations?

In Immunity to Change, authors Robert Kegan and Lisa Lahey show how our individual beliefs–along with the collective mind-sets in our organizations–combine to create a natural but powerful immunity to change. By revealing how this mechanism holds us back, Kegan and Lahey give us the keys to unlock our potential and finally move forward. And by pinpointing and uprooting our own immunities to change, we can bring our organizations forward with us.

This persuasive and practical book, filled with hands-on diagnostics and compelling case studies, delivers the tools you need to overcome the forces of inertia and transform your life and your work.

I was introduced to the Immunity to Change program and work during my time in the Evidence-Based Coaching program at Fielding Graduate University. This fall, I finally took the opportunity to participate in the 3-day facilitator’s training program with Minds at Work. I was privileged to meet and hear from Dr. Kegan, Dr. Lahey and Dr. Helsing themselves as they led us through their process of transforming and becoming. This work, and their book, provide an insightful and unique path to illuminating the assumptions and beliefs that hold us back, as well as what is at the root of our goals and how to reframe our barriers to allow us to move forward.  I also found helpful, the way the map they have created, really encourages, requires in fact, authenticity and honesty, in order to put forth meaningful and impactful goals to help us create real and lasting change.  I am excited to be able to use this work and to pair it with Emotional Intelligence and coaching in both workshops and work with one-on-one clients to further serve to support lasting transformation.

Photo by Mishal Ibrahim on Unsplash

Hear me speak about my personal and professional journey, Emotional Intelligence and coaching on CloseUp Radio, December 17th at 9 am PST/12 pm EST, or listen to the recording of the interview. Please check out my latest blog posts on Lessons from the Run, Part 1: Mile 18 – Endurance, and Lessons from the Run, Part 2: Resilience, and Lessons from the Run, Part 3: Rest, as well as my post, See and Be the Light.  Stay tuned for my upcoming blog post on My Vision: The Power of EQ to Create Change!  If you missed my November edition of Three Thoughts for Thursday, you can find it here, on my blog as well. As always, thank you for your continued support and readership! Stay strong, stay brave, stay true to you!