A Tribute to My Teacher

PBLIn the spring of 2013, Amazon suggested that I read The Mindful Coach by Doug Silsbee. I did–on a 15 hour plane ride to Hong Kong. I was so excited by what I read that the first thing I did upon arriving in my hotel room was to go online and find out if Doug taught in person. He did. And, the program, Presence-Based Coaching, sounded wonderful.

Doug’s work combined many of the things I was already exploring (mindfulness, neuroscience. adult development) with other domains I’d never heard of (somatic work, polarity management, and more ) in a way that was both fresh and familiar. I would be able to deepen areas I wanted to work on and gain new ways of putting it all together.

So began 5 years of study–in person at a beautiful retreat center near Asheville, North Carolina and through a variety of online courses. Throughout that time, Doug kept building, adding, growing and expanding his understanding of leadership, coaching, our place as humans on this planet. He was generous enough to include us in his journey. And I was fortunate enough to be his student.

Some of the most important distinctions and insights that I’ve gained came from my work with Doug, and his partner Bebe Hansen. (Bebe has recently taken the reins at Presence-Based Coaching–meaning that the work is in great hands.) The polarity thinking framework, which is central to my work as a coach, facilitator and human being, was originally shared by Doug. When, on the last day of one of our retreats, Doug offered up the polarity of humility AND confidence to replace the dichotomy of confidence OR arrogance, my life changed in a moment. I felt liberated. Similarly, Doug helped me name the “scarcity habit” that was getting in  my way–which was an opening to seeing it clearly and embracing abundance.

Doug has focused much of his recent work on complexity. He introduced me to the work of Jennifer Garvey Berger, whose teachings have powerfully influenced my thinking and my work as well.

Doug’s newest book Presence-Based Leadership:Complexity Practices for Clarity, Resilience, and Results That Matter is now available. I’d encourage you to buy it—because it’s bound to be an awesome book and because I really want to see him sell a huge number! (More on the why of that, below.) Doug has been talking about the ideas and frameworks in this book for several years. They have evolved. They are practical and profound (just like Doug.) They are the work of a lifetime for both writer and reader.

At the same time as this book is being published, Doug is dying of a rare form of cancer. He is now in hospice care. He continues to include us (his friends, family, students) in his experience–and to face this phase of his life with curiosity–and as a space for practice. A recent post began with these words: “I’m a beginner at this. Dying, that is. We all know death is coming, and we are all beginners.” I sat with that for quite some time.

If you don’t know Doug, read his books, listen to podcast interviews of with Amiel Handelsman him and with Coaches Rising. Perhaps buy his newest book today–or one of his older ones. If you do know him, then I’m sure you and I are having many of the same feelings and sensations. It’s wonderful to have a teacher and hard to lose one. I’m grateful that Doug is guiding us in the journey.

Update: Read the preface and first chapter of Presence-Based Leadership today and am even more wholehearted in my recommendation. Doug is, among other things, a wonderful writer.

Fall Reading

IMG_1001
In case you’re wondering where my newer posts are, I’m continuing to write for Actionable Conversations. It’s awesome to have a real, live editor and get feedback on what I write–and know that by the time you read my posts, they are better thought out, better written, and better formatted than what I could do on my own. Appreciating the power of partnership!

Here’s are brief descriptions and links to my last few posts:

Most recently, I wrote about distractions in a post called Taming the Distraction Habit, This is a very personal one–and also–I hope, one that will hit home for many of you. How do we stay focused even when there is so very much (especially in our digital lives) to distract us?

In my post on vertical development, I distinguish between developing our capacity as human beings and our leadership skills. This piece draws on adult development theory as a framework for understanding the trajectory of our growth throughout our lives.

After reading Mastering Civility by Christine Porath, I reached out to the author and wrote about our conversation in a post titled In the Face of Incivility: Thrive. Rarely have I written about something more relevant to our current political reality–which I think has spread into our lives in ways that we all need to pay attention to.

I wrote a couple posts that were focused on what leaders can learn from neuroscience I summarize ten years of reading and thinking about this topic in a post called Your Brain at Work: Managing Change by Managing Your Brain. I conclude that our brains are uniquely unsuited to the lives we lead–and that there is something we can do about it. I also draw on neuroscience research in a post on creating insights–and how we can create environments that are better suited for generating insight and innovation.

Last, but not least, here’s a link to my Actionable Books summary of my favorite book of this year, 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership. If you’re looking to dig into something that will help you to grow and expand your leadership, this is on my (very) short list.

 

Creating Good Days

Have a good day vector illustration. Chalkboard decorative banner.

In recent months, I’ve been blogging for Actionable Conversations and continuing to write book summaries for Actionable Books. Instead of writing something new for this site, I’ll just tell you a little bit about my most recent posts–and share them with you.

I’m also thrilled to let you know that, in addition to writing for Actionable, I’ve recently become an Actionable Consultant. This allows me to bring a new offer to my clients (and would-be clients) that is a truly innovative way to develop leaders and increase the quality of learning at work. You can learn more about what Actionable offers here–and if you’re interested in learning more–I’d love to talk with you! I’m a huge fan of what Actionable does and hope you will be too!

Now, to my posts:

One of the most exciting books I’ve recently read is How to Have a Good Day by Caroline Webb. The book is an encyclopedia of research that gives us insights into how to make each day better for ourselves and the people around us–especially if we are leaders. I share the bigger idea that really struck me while reading the book here, in my blog post. In short (though I hope you read the whole post)–I argue that having good days, consciously, is possibly the most important thing you can to do create a good, meaningful life.

While I have your attention, here’s a link to the other post I wrote recently, about promises, commitments and accountability. I dig into the work of Fernando Flores and explore the power of promises and requests–and the way we frame them–in this post.

And, if you like these, and want more, take a look at my post, A Medley of Resources, which links to more of my posts for Actionable.

Happy reading!