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  • I have the best Executive Coach one could ask for. She's the one who introduced me to Cowbird. Need I say more? You know me - I will, anyway!

    She has always encouraged, and been a champion of, my story-telling. A year ago, she and I co-facilitated a workshop at an executive leadership renewal conference/retreat, on "Story-telling and Leadership." I probably wasn't at my best conducting the workshop, as I was also running the entire 3-day conference, and I learned a valuable lesson. Never try to do both! Pick one, and do it well - either run the conference or lead a workshop. But, it was still a real joy working with her on it, and she made up for my slight lack of focus and it was a good workshop.

    Two summers ago, I had taken on a big challenge at work, turning a very dysfunctional division around. Customer service was lacking, morale was in the toilet, and the general work environment was in desperate need of a shot of adrenyline. I had made a lot of progress in my first 7 months there, but I returned from a family vacation in the middle of the summer, when the DC area heat and humidity can really be opressive.

    While most of my goals were being achieved and the division was making a remarkable turn-around, faster than I had expected, I’d hit a wall, and just wasn't "feeling" it. I was feeling like nothing was happening, that morale was still low, and that I was failing. I was mired in the “doldrums” of summertime.
    I'd shared in a session with Maureen how I was feeling about things.

    "You do morning meditation, don't you?"
    "I try to. Now that you mention it, though, I've been short-changing myself on that lately.” And I really had been. I’d made that fatal mistake of, when things were going along great, I slipped out of the habit of doing those things that I do to keep centered, to maintain the even keel. I was being seduced by my own press clippings, as one boss used to like to call it.

    A very simple suggestion by Maureen reminded me of what’s most important, and I got back into my morning reading and meditation, instead of watching the reruns of “Hill Street Blues” in the morning. (I loved that show). Within a day or two, things were back on track, and I found my center again.

    Over the past year and a half, I have been on a whirlwind of “details” in my agency. I guess I’ve developed a reputation as a “fixer”, and they keep sending me to trouble spots to fix them, or stop the bleeding, or turn things around, and I have a ball with it. I love hearing the word “impossible”. I have developed this funny listener – when I hear that word, what I hear is “challenge”.

    There was trouble in the Financial Management Division, so they sent me there for 5 months to turn it around and stabilize it. Then, no sooner did I get back to my “day job”, the executive leading my program left the agency, and I was sent down on a 4 month detail to that office. Then, before I could get back to my day job, they asked me to represent the agency on a special workgroup looking at a massive reorganization proposal. Then I got assigned the role of fixing the agency’s fractured relationship with its union. Then another executive left and I found myself detailed back into the front office to help run the large program, while continuing my work on the labor relations.

    Through it all, I’ve had my monthly sessions with Maureen, and my morning routine remains the most important thing I have going on. We always wind up talking about where I am, in relation to “center”, and what I’m doing to stay there, or close to there.

    How many Executive Coaches get that? I don’t know, but I am so grateful that mine does. She’s the best!

    I mentioned one of my morning reading books to her last session, “Pocketful of Miracles” by Joan Borysenko. Sure enough, she went out and got it, and now we talk about that when we meet. She’s the best!
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