Many people don’t know this about me because I don’t talk about it much, but on August 28, 2018, I celebrated my “Soberthday,” my 2-year anniversary of being sober. Yay!
We all have our reasons to start living sober. It’s a scary proposition to change a habit because habits can be stronger than steel.
For me, it was about my health. I read somewhere that “wine is not a health food” and somehow that was enough to get me thinking. I told myself that at my age, as I’m heading into peri-menopause, I might make things easier for myself if I didn’t complicate my hormonal mix with alcohol.
That was probably a wise decision on my part, but I’ve also learned that there’s way more to living sober than I initially thought. Sober living is also a spiritual quest.
I used to love drinking wine. That was my go-to beverage. There was something about crisp white wines on sunny days and warming red wines on rainy days that kept me going year round.
I liked the romance of drinking wine and the socializing and the dinner parties. I liked the deep conversations that came after a few glasses of “truth serum.” I liked turning off the worrying and the anxiety for a few hours.
But I didn’t like the hangovers and the headaches and the mood swings and the foggy brain and feeling tired all of the time. I didn’t like not being able to drive my car home after a night out or carrying extra body weight or saying mean things to people.
And drinking’s expensive! I shutter to think about all of the money I spent on bottles and bottles over years and years, and on top of that, all of the time I had wasted sitting around and drinking and then recovering the next day.
I’m glad those days are behind me.
That’s not to say that suddenly my life became a breeze once I gave up the hooch. Not at all. In a sense, my life actually became harder.
These last few years have been difficult — not because of feeling deprived though — not drinking is relatively easy for me — I haven’t really had any wine cravings to speak of.
And I’ve had my share of opportunities to drink in the last two years. I’ve been to weddings and funerals and even on my worst days…
like when a celebrity cancelled a massage appointment within 2 minutes of me starting the session,
having my heart broken,
my cat dying,
not getting hired after job interviews,
betrayals from so-called friends,
all of the recent, crazy world events, etc., etc., etc.,
I didn’t really have to fight the urge to pour myself a glass of wine to help numb the pain or to cope. Somehow it didn’t occur to me to drown my sorrows with wine anymore.
My life has gotten harder because I am now on a spiritual path that is requiring more from me. My new choices are bringing all of the things that I had been covering up and avoiding to the surface of my life and now I have to face them head on so I can finally let them go.
I think the Serenity Prayer, as recited in Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, eloquently touches on the relationship between spiritual truths and sobriety and that’s why it’s so enduring and powerful:
Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971)
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time; enjoying one moment at a time; accepting hardships as the pathway to peace; taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it; trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His Will; that I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with Him forever in the next. Amen.
The Serenity Prayer acknowledges the spiritual truths of acceptance, courage, wisdom, being present, trust, and surrendering to a higher power, and these, among others, are the principles that I am learning to embrace in this new, healthier chapter of my life.
A spiritual life is not necessarily easy (though it can be). Unfortunately, most people, including me, have to struggle through suffering for awhile before we can enjoy our blessings.
The beauty is, there’s a wonderful life waiting for us on the other side of the obstacle course. We just have to keep going.
“You let time pass. That’s the cure. You survive the days. You float like a rabid ghost through the weeks. You cry and wallow and lament and scratch your way back up through the months. And then one day you find yourself alone on a bench in the sun and you close your eyes and lean your head back and you realize you’re okay.”
~ Cheryl Strayed, Brave Enough
If you’ve tried to make healthier choices for yourself, like living sober, but are struggling and suffering on your journey, and aren’t sitting on that “bench in the sun” yet and think it would be easier to give up and go back to your old ways, take a breath and keep climbing your mountain anyway.
“Hold on for one more day,” as the Wilson-Phillips song goes.
Ironically, suffering is life’s way of giving you an opportunity to break the chains from your past so you can move forward. Don’t suffer just to suffer. We are not meant to suffer in this life.
But if you are going to suffer, don’t let it go to waste. Use the suffering to propel you into a better, kinder, more compassionate version of yourself. Let the suffering and the sobriety be part of your spiritual awakening.
Would you like to have some spiritual guidance on this topic? Consider signing up for a Free Crystal Mapping Session with Spa Therapist and Spiritual Wellness Coach, Maria Koropecky. Subscribe to this Crystal Clear Coaching blog and book your free Crystal Mapping Session today.
Editor’s Note: I originally published this article on my Homespunspa blog back on September 19, 2015. You may still see the expired link when you do a search. I’ve decided to re-post the article here on this coaching blog because it fits better on this website.
Over the past few years, many people, who have been looking for a coaching school, have reached out to me because of this blog post and I think that’s great.
If you’re trying to decide which coaching school to sign up with and you’d like to talk to me as well and ask me any questions about the Rayner Institute as a coaching school, please contact me, Maria, by email, anytime.
How I Found Out About the Rayner Institute
by Maria Koropecky, Wellness Coach
Secretly, I’ve wanted to be a life coach for at least a decade but it didn’t seem like it was possible for me. I would not have known where to go to get coaching training even if I had given the thought any serious consideration.
I hired a business coach back in 2005 and I loved our conversations about the spiritual laws of the universe but this particular coach made things more about her than they were about me (as the client) and after a few months, she pushed me away and that was that. We’ve not spoken since and that experience left a bad taste in my mouth about coaches in general.
I’m glad I didn’t give up on coaching forever because of one bad apple. Much has changed in the coaching profession in the past few years and life coaches are being recognized for doing some wonderful work for the people of this planet.
I wish I had had the sense to become a coach sooner but the timing wasn’t right for me. I still had a lot of living to do first before I could embark on this career. Like for example, I had to go to esthetics school in 2010 so I could awaken my healing and nurturing side and learn how to work with people hands on.
Had I just jumped ahead and gone to coaching school at that time instead, (which would have worked for other people), I personally would have been missing some key ingredients for my recipe and my coaching practice would not have flourished. I also would not have opened my mobile spa, which, as you’ll see, is integral to this story.
Anyway, fast forward to the summer of 2014. It was a challenging summer for me personally. My finances were not in good shape and on top of that, my Uncle, who was also my Godfather, died and then my friend from high school had committed suicide. In the bigger picture, you may also recall that in August of that year, Robin Williams committed suicide and Joan Rivers died as well. The world had taken on a serious tone.
Meanwhile, I got a call from a woman who was looking to hire someone to give her 90-year-old mother a manicure. So, I went to the seniors’ care home, just going about my business, and that was the day I met June, her daughter, Carol, and Carol’s husband, Peter. I had no idea how pivotal that day would be for me.
The manicure appointment went well enough that they called me again for another appointment and I started visiting June every five weeks or so. Often, Carol was present also.
In November, Carol mentioned something to her mother about going away for a week to upgrade her coaching training and my ear’s perked up.
“Did you say coaching???”
As it turned out, Carol is a coach and a facilitator at the Rayner Institute and she said there was a course starting in February, if I was interested. So I took her card and thought about it long and hard.
Eventually, in April of 2015, I took the plunge and enrolled in the Self-Actualized Coaching and Mentoring Program at the Rayner Institute and I have since passed my exams and graduated.
Currently, I’m going through the program again but this time as a Ride-Along where I get to hold a healing space for the new students and support them on their journey as they enter the coaching profession and become certified coaches themselves.
And last night during class, I had my own personal insight that made a big difference in how I see my life. Mark Rayner, the founder of the Rayner Institute, was coaching Carol to show the students the beauty of a transformational and transcendent coaching conversation.
(Normally, I wouldn’t share what goes on in a confidential coaching class but I will have asked for permission from Carol and Mark before publishing this post).
Carol spoke about her mother. She wanted to enjoy the time she spends with her even if it’s just flipping through a catalogue together. She said that 18 months ago, her mother became very ill and she was in hospital in Calgary for a month, and they didn’t give her much time to live. Somehow during that difficult time, they sold her mother’s house and moved her to Victoria.
As I listened to Carol describe the process of moving her mother to the Island where she would be closer to the whole family including her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren, I marvelled at how those events and decisions also affected me, someone they didn’t even know existed yet. It struck me that an act as personal as caring for an elderly parent could also have so much influence over other people’s lives, known and unknown, as well.
To me, if June hadn’t moved to Victoria and if Carol hadn’t gone looking for a manicurist for her mother and if Carol hadn’t mentioned coaching, then I would not have found the Rayner Institute and I would have probably postponed my dream of becoming a life coach indefinitely.
Suddenly, the timing was right. A lot of things had to happen behind the scenes in order for me to get to this place in my life and my point is, you can’t write this stuff, you can’t script it, and you can’t force it. You just have to follow your heart wherever it wants to go.
Also, and this was my insight last night,
you have no idea whose lives you touch even if you never, ever meet them directly.
That’s the beauty of coaching. You get to touch the lives of people and help them get to where they want to go just by being you and doing what you do. And in turn, the people who are getting coached are also spreading love and kindness and healing energy to the people in their lives and day by day, the world becomes a better place for all of us.
I’m truly grateful for June and Carol for leading me here and for my extraordinary coaching training at the Rayner Institute and now I can pay it forward as a coach to my friends and clients.
If you’re thinking about becoming a coach, I’d be happy to talk to you about the Rayner Institute. Also, if you’re thinking about hiring a coach, feel free to contact me to make an appointment.
We’re all connected and don’t think that what you’re doing isn’t affecting someone else’s life. The ripples in a pond are endless.
Did you know the term, “Girl Friday” comes from the movie, His Girl Friday (1940) with Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell?
A Girl Friday is:
a ‘go to’ girl;
someone who will help you get things taken care of;
a person you can count on to help you out with your to-do list;
someone you can rely on when you are in need of extra assistance;
an extra pair of hands on a big project; and
someone who acts as a ‘jack of all trades’ and is capable of doing almost anything!
Contact Maria Koropecky today. Services starting @ $22.
Life Coaching; English Tutor; Conversational English practice; Visiting; Reading Stories; Interviews (you interview me or I interview you); Speaking at conferences, events, & retreats; Speech Rehearsal.
Website Content; Blogging; Social Media Posts; Co-Author Books; Biographer; Journalism; Letters; & Resumes.
Creating; Updating; Content Writing; & SEO using HTML, WordPress, & Shopify.
Admin Assistant; Virtual Assistant; Event Planning; Organizing Collections; Trade show Booth Set Up & Sales; Shipping & Receiving; Estate Sales; & Personal Shopper.
Chair Massage; Relaxation Massage; Facials.
Food Prep & Catering Support
Menu Planning; Party Prep; Cooking Food; Serving Food; & Hosting.
Cat-sitting; House-sitting; & Dog Walking.
Pick up/drop off; Errands; Long Distance; & Car Washes.
Travel Companion; Tour Guide; Location Scouting; Packing; Photographer.
Fruit Picking; Weeding; Snow Shoveling; Gift Wrapping; & Home Staging.
Not available for:
Electrical, plumbing or any construction trades; Car maintenance; Nursing; Childcare services; Outdoor or high window washing; Exterior painting; Carpet cleaning; Hoarders’ trash removal, & obviously anything illegal.
There were some lovely Peonies growing in my garden recently so I decided to grab my camera and take some photos. Within a moment, I big Bumble Bee flew into my shot as if to pose just for me.
So I took a number of pictures and after a couple of minutes, the bee took off, headed a couple of feet to my left, turned around on a dime, and flew past me again. To me, this fly-by felt like she was telling me she did that on purpose! It was a beautiful moment and I really felt connected to my bee friend.
A couple of days later, I went for a wellness walk in my neighbourhood and sadly, on my short street, I found three dead Bumble Bees on the ground. It saddened me and I wondered if this was an anomaly. One maybe… but three in early June?
So, I contacted the Royal BC Museum by email. From a behind-scenes-tour I had been on in May, I knew that if I had ever come across anything like this, to let them know because it may be useful for their collections.
Claudia Copley, the Curator of the Entomology department at the Royal BC Museum replied promptly. She said,
“I would add them to the museum collection. I find them on my bike ride in to and from work and do the same thing. Please put where and when you found them (written in pencil) on a piece of paper and into a jar/container with them and pop that into the freezer to keep the specimens as fresh as possible. I’ll be at the museum again on Friday and next week, if there is a time that suits you to drop them by.”
So, I followed Claudia’s instructions and let her know that I would be coming on Friday to deliver the bees to her.
When we met, she looked at the bees and figured they were Bumble Bee Queen Bees. I asked about their lifespans and she said Queen Bees can live for a year or so while they build their colonies. Sometimes they get hit by cars, but more likely, these bees had ingested poisons from recently planted Bedding Plants in the neighbourhood.
Claudia said I wasn’t the only person to contact her about bees that day and to look up “Neonicotinoids” specifically. These are a class of neuro-active insecticides chemically similar to nicotine which were initially developed by Shell and Bayer Corporations in the 1980s and 1990s.
Controversial studies have shown that Neonicotinoid use has been linked to adverse ecological effects, including honey-bee colony collapse disorder (CCD). Claudia said the Western Bees are already on the verge on extinction and the Bumble Bees are close behind.
This is alarming news!
The relationship between bees and flowers and the rest of the planet is profound and we need bees for our food supply! It’s time to make bees a priority!
Ironically, I live in Elizabeth May’s Riding in Victoria, British Columbia, the Greenest riding in all of Canada. We love our gardens and we boast about our year-round growing season to everyone back East.
However, we need to be especially vigilant about our gardening practices and be mindful about where the plants we purchase for our gardens come from.
Instructions for Green Leaders!
From now on, please ask your nurseries if the grower used Neonicotinoids on their plants. If they did, or if they don’t know the answer, don’t buy them or plant them.
As a conscious, green consumer, you have a say! You can choose where to spend your dollars and therefore influence the global market and the future. Please do your part and help #savethebees!
I’m just putting the finishing touches on my “How to Practice Colourful Self-Care” talk and I have to say, I’m really excited about it! I’ve been thinking about this topic for years and now the pieces of the puzzle have finally come together for me and I’d love to share this talk with you!
“How to Practice Colourful Self-Care” combines everything I know about spa therapy, healing, coaching, spirituality, and wellness!
This talk is chalk full of colourful ideas on how you can sprinkle self-care into your day without indulging in a vice, or spending a fortune on the latest trend, or even if you’re super busy and you don’t feel you have the time in your day – and it all starts with colour!
Now it’s time for me to give my talk to as many people as I can and I’ve decided to start a 50 Free Talks Challenge!
My goal is to give 50 free talks in the next six to eight months — but I need your help. If you know of anyone who might be interested in hearing this talk, please introduce us! Thank you so much!
By the end of the talk you’ll learn:
What is self-care and why it’s important.
What each of the 7 primary colours mean.
A simple system of how to balance your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual needs using the energy of colour.
You’ll also learn one of the secrets of the universe!
And by the end of this “How to Practice Colourful Self-Care”talk, you’ll have an assortment of self-care ideas that you can use each day that will improve your wellness, allow peace of mind, and add quality years to your life.
How does that sound?
In my experience, practicing self-care on a daily basis is super important! But how do you choose which self-care activity is best for you to do at this moment?
In “How to Practice Colourful Self-Care” I talk about a colourful system that will help you get started!
By identifying and understanding how colours relate to your physical, mental, and emotional needs, you can easily perform a self-care activity that will help you address a weak spot and restore yourself to equilibrium.
You’ll get ideas for each of the different areas of self-care including:
Aromatherapy – Working with your sense of smell to feel better.
Crystal Therapy – Using colourful rocks, gemstones, and crystals for inspiration.
Spa Therapy – Applying natural treatments on the body to help with relaxation.
Nutrition – Choosing foods by colour and nutritional value to fuel your body.
Music & Sound Therapy – Listening to music and sounds to generate an emotional response.
Healing with Nature – Interacting with the natural world, including plants and animals.
Medical Check-Ups – Visiting health practitioners and specialists.
Athletic Activities – Doing specific exercises and sports.
Financial Self-Care – Managing your money.
Spiritual Self-Care – Finding meaning, being present, and expanding your awareness.
Meditation – Turning your focus within to feel calm and centered.
Affirmations – Deliberately repeating positive words to create change.
Fashion – Wearing colourful clothing and jewellery to change your mood.
Healing Space – Creating your own sanctuary with pleasing colours.
Relationships – Improving your relationships with yourself, friends, family, co-workers, and neighbours.
Creative Play – Letting yourself be silly.
If you’d like to dive deeper into the colours and learn more about practicing self-care, consider hosting this “How to Practice Colourful Self-Care” talk and inviting me to speak at your next event!
Having a successful workplace wellness program, corporate wellness program, or employee wellness program in your organization will help:
reduce workplace accidents
reduce stress levels
reduce long-term stress leave requests
reduce chronic disease that is driven by unhealthy lifestyle choices and stress
increase employee retention and
Healthy employees are easier to get along with and are more productive than unhealthy ones, so it stands to reason to implement a workplace wellness program and create a corporate culture that encourages health and wellness.
But what does it take for a workplace wellness program to go from ho hum to a humdinger?
If incentive gifts are part of your Workplace Wellness Program, you’re in good company. Many employers offer all kinds of perks that range from $0 to over $1000 – with $521 being the average per person – to motivate their employees and clients to stay the course and meet their health and fitness goals.
As a Wellness Coach and the owner of CruisingIntoWellness.com, I believe that providing incentives to your wellness program participants can really boost engagement.
People love free stuff – I’ve seen co-workers sell 19 copies of a cookbook just to get theirs free!
There are all kinds of ways employers and coordinators can add colourful sparkle to workplace wellness programs including having healthy snacks in the vending machines, offering group coaching, and using the latest fitness apps. Today, I’m just going to recommend giving merchandise.
At CruisingIntoWellness.com, I’m not talking about the all-too-familiar water bottles, pens, t-shirts, keychains, coffee mugs, or mouse pads. Instead, I’ve curated an assortment of fun, unique, and healthy products that I think your co-workers, employees, and customers would really use and enjoy, with the bonus of helping them stay on track with their wellness goals.
Here’s how incentive gifts work:
When your employees sign up to participate in your wellness program, give them a swag bag full of treats and goodies to help them start off on the right foot.
When your employees show they’re making progress towards their wellness goals, CELEBRATE and offer them their choice of an incentive gift within a low to medium budget range. Repeat often.
When/if your employees start showing signs of wavering and there’s a lull in enthusiasm, draw for prizes to boost their spirits again.
And when your employees reach their big milestones, CELEBRATE and offer them their choice of an incentive gift that they’ve been working towards all along, (keep a list of their preferences on file) within a medium to high budget range.
Here are 19 Popular Incentive Gifts For Your Wellness Program Participants from our Incentives Collection @ www.CruisingIntoWellness.com.
by Maria Koropecky, Wellness Coach & Spiritual Teacher
On February 13th, I had the joy of attending “The Power of Your Words” presented by Caroline Myss at the University of Victoria.
When I woke up that morning, I had no idea I was going to be at UVic by the end of the day. It was a completely unexpected and welcomed surprise. To me, it was a little miracle how everything came together and interestingly enough, Caroline lightly touched on that idea in her talk.
In essence, she said each day is a new day, a new start, a blank slate, and we get to choose our reality, and what we experience, and it starts with the words we use. We have no idea what the day will bring so why not nudge it in a good direction with our words.
I love that Caroline Myss said, “Words are our Magic Carpet!” I must be choosing some pretty good words these days!
I’m grateful to my best client and friend Linda for gifting me the ticket!
It was a big deal for me to go and I actually wore a dress, heels, and make-up to the event. I also decided to wear my rose quartz heart Christmas tree ornament necklace and rose quartz bracelet because it was the day before Valentine’s Day. More on that later…
Seeing Caroline Myss in person (from the balcony) was significant for me. Her book, Sacred Contracts, which I read around 2002-2004, explained so much to me spiritually and I even made my own set of Archetype cards from her list.
But more than that, I feel like I’ve been on a deep and profound spiritual journey of awakening and for the last year or so, it has been intense. Lots of crying, lots of letting go, lots of shedding my old ways. To help me through this process, I’ve been studying the work of Eckhart Tolle.
I’ve been searching for answers to the big questions of life and it’s been very emotional and some people told me that I was depressed and that I needed to talk to a therapist. Caroline Myss explained that people often confuse depression with spiritual crisis but we don’t have the language to express and articulate what’s going on with us, so the depression gets the attention, but not the spirit or soul. Both depression and spiritual crisis can show up similarly, but if you sense you need to find the meaning and purpose to your life, then that’s a clue that you might be having a spiritual crisis this time.
I thought, yes, that’s what I’ve been going through this past year: a spiritual crisis.
That’s good news!
Here’s my opportunity to push through into a whole new dimension of living life and I’m really excited about this breakthrough!
Instead of letting this spiritual heartbreak be my excuse to keep me unconscious, I’m going to use it to help me awaken into consciousness.
That’s the message that I keep hearing from spiritual teachers. Eckhart Tolle says the most important thing we can do for humanity is to be conscious and present.
And Caroline Myss explained that back in the 1960’s, with the introduction of nuclear weapons that can potentially destroy us, “we unleashed a darkness into the world.” However, around the same time, the world religions were also stepping up their presence. The East and the West were talking to each other and big changes were taking place. There was a counter force to the darkness that was also emerging. It’s like two sides of the same coin, one balances the other. In the midst of this darkness, there is also light.
At this point of the talk, this is where Caroline Myss really lit up! I don’t know if it was the stage lighting or something else, but I saw violet light surrounding her. It was like a purple, misty shadow trailing behind her movements. Violet is the most spiritual colour. It’s associated with the Crown chakra, our connection to the Divine, so I knew she was speaking Spiritual Truth.
That’s what we’re called to do. As generations living in a dark, nuclear age, we’re called to be the light!
This reminds me of Bruce Cockburn’s song, “Lovers in a Dangerous Time,” where he says, “You’ve got to kick at the darkness till it bleeds daylight.” We are lovers in a dangerous time — lovers in the sense of bigger picture lovers of humanity, not necessarily romantic couples, as I once thought.
But how do you fight the good fight and shine your light when you’re living in fear and pain?
Caroline says there’s no archetype for people who have been wounded but have somehow moved forward, yet still have remained vulnerable. It’s an interesting mix — wounded, vulnerable, and strong. We’ve all been wounded one way or another, on a personal level and on a global level, and we’re really good at re-telling our victim stories over and over again.
But we can’t wallow in the victim role anymore!
Caroline said “Coddling doesn’t serve anybody.” We’re past the point of coddling each other through the pain. I’ve decided I’m not going to entertain those victim stories, either from myself, or my coaching clients, or my friends, anymore.
The better question is, “what strength is emerging” or “what is the gift?” It’s not about the adversity, or our history, it’s about how we respond from here that counts.
And this is what I got from Caroline’s talk: It’s time to retire those victim stories and poor word choices and step up in this critical time in history. Crazy world leaders, missile warnings, and natural disasters are the wake up calls!
It’s time we take our head out of the sand, or put down those distracting devices, or resist those numbing addictions, and instead, be present!
If you feel like you’ve been going through a spiritual crises, as I have, and you’ve been called to shine your light in this world and do something really amazing, then do it! The only one who is stopping you is you. You are in charge of your reality and it’s up to you! The words you say to yourself and out loud will create your path. Choose them thoughtfully!
And that’s exactly what I’m doing starting today. Hearing Caroline Myss speak affirmed in my heart that I’d like to join her and Eckhart Tolle and many others and be a spiritual teacher as well. I’m open to working with a mentor, if you know anybody!
And I’d like to put forth a new archetype, that I like to call Green Leaders, that represents people who have been through the trenches but have also emerged as conscious and awakened leaders with heart. Just because you’ve been through it, doesn’t give you the excuse to be miserable, and mean, or to fall back into unconsciousness. Let the adversity be your doorway to enlightenment.
Let’s define the Green Leader archetype together so we can enjoy Mother Earth for many, many thousands more generations to come! What do you think, Caroline Myss?
The title of this post is, “Don’t lose your heart.” That’s my message for today. Although things may seem bleak, remember, we’re still in the game. Don’t lose faith. Prayers are always heard and answered and miracles happen every day. Caroline finished her talk by praying, “May God hover over us.”
As I was leaving the auditorium, I grazed over something with my shoe. I looked behind me and it was my pink quartz heart necklace on the floor. I quickly retrieved it and as I was picking it up, a woman who saw me said, “Don’t lose your heart!” and she was stunned a little by what she said, so she said it again, “Don’t lose your heart!” and I said, “Noooooo!”
Talk about the “power of words!”
I believe this anonymous woman was speaking on behalf of the Universe in that moment. “Don’t lose your heart, Green Leaders!”
Thank you anonymous woman in the auditorium, and thank you Linda for the ticket, and thank you Caroline Myss for coming to Victoria! Come back anytime!
To further inspire you to be the leader you were born to be, here are four more traits to add to the list.
1. Many leaders are born in the month of January.
2. Many leaders are the first born in their sibling birth order.
3. Many leaders are above average in height and/or are considered tall when standing next to others.
4. Many leaders are left-handed.
Let’s talk more about these traits.
1. Many leaders are born in the month of January.
Because of how the school year is set up, kids born in January are often more mature and athletic than their younger classmates. Being the oldest in your class by up to 11 months in your early years can make a big difference in terms of development and can translate into lifelong leadership abilities down the road. One study suggests that even the NHL favours players who are born in the earliest months of the year – most notably, Wayne Gretzky, born on January 26th.
2. Many leaders are the first born in their sibling birth order.
First born children are more likely than their siblings to become leaders because they already have many years’ of practice on their belts. They’re also used to being looked up to by their younger siblings, both literally and figuratively, and they’re the first to go out into the world and report back to the others what they’ve learned. They also tend to be more responsible and protective in nature. They’re also known for being bossy.
3. Many leaders are above average in height and/or are considered tall when standing next to others.
Have you ever noticed that many leaders are quite tall? Being “head and shoulders above the rest” allows visionary leaders to see above the crowds and to focus ahead into the distance. Also, being tall allows the group to see the leader in the crowd from afar, as well.
Oddly, it has been observed that in 67% of ALL U.S. presidential elections, the taller candidate has won the popular vote, even before the days of televised debates.
If you look at evolutionary psychology, this makes sense. We may prefer taller leaders because our ancestors used height as one of the cues of physical formidability and when our ancestors had a big, tall, resourceful, strong, and formidable friend on their team to help them with their survival (like procuring food, shelter, and territory), they had a relative advantage against the elements and a better chance of living another day.
4. Many leaders are left-handed.
Although lefties make up 10% of the world’s population and have been historically shunned, being left-handed can have its advantages. Left-handed people tend to be more “right-brained” and therefore more creative. Growing up left-handed in a world that has been designed for the logical, right-handed among us, can be quite frustrating and challenging – just try using the wrong scissors – but this lefty trait can also make you more likely to think outside-the-box, to see things from a different perspective, to be more intuitive, and become a visionary leader.
What do you think of this list? Which of these traits do you have? As for me, I’m slightly taller than average for women and I’m left-handed.
These four curious traits of leaders come from my own observations and research and aren’t carved in stone. Most likely, you won’t have all four – though that’s possible – and if you do, please tell me, I’d love to meet you and ask if you consider yourself a leader as well.
I’m just offering this list to help you recognize your inherent leadership abilities and to see yourself as a natural-born leader (in case you don’t – yet).
If you by chance don’t have any of these particular leadership traits, don’t worry, leaders come in all shapes and sizes. Good leadership skills can be learned. These four traits just give you a bit of a head start.
Regardless of where you’re starting from now, whether you have zero, one, two, three, or all four of these curious leadership traits, and if you’d like to be a better leader in general, please contact me. I’d love to be your wellness coach and mentor.
Have you ever wondered why all of a sudden, more and more people are calling themselves coaches these days? Where were all of the Life Coaches, Spiritual Coaches, Career Coaches, Leadership Coaches, and Health & Wellness Coaches even 20 years ago, back in the 1900’s?
While there are plenty of socio-economic reasons that address why we’re big into coaching these days (which I won’t get into in this blog post), would it surprise you to learn that coaching has actually been around for 2500 years?
Although the modern coaching profession is booming these days with many people throwing their hat into the ring, the roots of coaching, as practiced today, can be traced, in my opinion, all the way back to Socrates and his Socratic Method.
I said, “the roots of coaching” and not “actual coaching” as we know it today, because there is ONE BIG DIFFERENCE that I’ll get to in a minute. So stay with me.
This Socratic insight dawned on me while I was watching the BBC TV series, “Genius of the Ancient World,” a show where historian Bettany Hughes investigates three giants of ancient philosophy – Buddha, Confucious, and Socrates.
“By daring to think the unthinkable, [Socrates, Buddha, and Confucious] laid the foundations of our modern world. I’ve always been intrigued by the fact that these men, who lived many thousands of miles apart, seemed spontaneously and within 100 years of one another, to come up with such radical ideas. So, what was going on? I want to investigate their revolutionary ideas – to understand what set them in motion. This time, Socrates,” ~ Bettany Hughes.
I had my own aha moment while watching the episode where Bettany travels to Greece to learn about wise Socrates, a man who lived 2500 years ago in Athens, during a time of tremendous upheaval and transformation.
I realized that during my coaching training at the Rayner Institute in 2015, I was actually learning a version of the Socratic Method! So, in my mind, Socrates was the first Spiritual and Life Coach! To me, Socrates is the father of modern coaching!
A little bit about Socrates
The son of a midwife and stonemason, Socrates was born in 469 BC and grew up in the suburbs of Athens, Greece, during a time of great social unrest.
Socrates believed that living a virtuous, happy, and flourishing life was within reach. He emphasized the importance of caring about wisdom and truth and improvement of the soul, rather than seeking status and stuff.
He favoured oral communication over writing.
He was all about asking good questions.
He also “played the fool” in the sense that he didn’t pretend to know more than the person he was talking with, which allowed them to have their own insights.
Socrates also said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.”
Here’s a look at the Socratic Method in play
Fortunately, in case you missed the airing of “Genius of the Ancient World” on TV, you can still watch the whole video on YouTube.
The whole hour is very interesting but if you don’t have time to watch from beginning to end, I recommend starting at minute 24:42 when Brittany (BH) has a conversation with writer, Apostolos Doxiadis, (AD), who in effect plays the role of Socrates.
Here’s the 5-6 minute transcript:
Bettany Hughes narrating: “His Socratic method worked something like this – Socrates would engage someone in the street… He’d ask them an ethical question… The person would attempt to define the concept, but Socrates would find inconsistencies in their answers… They would be forced to withdraw their definition and to reformulate and refine their ideas… This process would spiral into a dizzying round of question and answer. Socrates likens his role to that of a midwife, who helps to nurture and deliver the thoughts of others. But it was never an easy birth.”
Minute 24:42. AD: “So, Bettany, I understand you’re here to do a documentary about Socrates.”
AD: Why are you making this documentary?
BH: “I can learn something more about Socrates and I can share that knowledge with the people who are watching it.”
AD: “These are big words – ‘knowledge’ and ‘truth.’ Shall we take one of them? What would it mean…? So what is this thing – knowledge – that you want to impart?”
BH: “In my book, knowledge is love of what it is to be human.”
AD: “So, knowledge is love?”
A.D: “OK. So, if you wanted to have an operation for an appendicitis, would you go to a woman who was full of love, but knew nothing about surgery?”
AD: “OK, So I would say that the definition of “knowledge as love” is not good enough. So, let’s try it again. Is there one kind of knowledge, or many kinds of knowledge?”
BH: “Knowledge is one thing…”
AD: “Take your time. I don’t know the answers to this.”
BH: “Maybe knowledge is one thing, but knowing is many things.
AD: “To know how the stars move and to know how the liver operates is the same thing?”
BH. “No, they’re not the same thing.”
AD: “Does the person who possesses knowledge in the big way know everything? Between those two, who is probably the best stone maker?”
BH. “Er… The one who…I don’t know! I give up, I give up!” I have to say that the one thing you’ve proved to me is that I know nothing.”
AD: “Ah, no, no. That’s me! [LAUGHTER]. I am the expert at making other people know things, but I’m no good – I know nothing and that is the only knowledge I claim for myself.”
Coaching and the Socratic Method
As you can see, a question leads to an answer, which leads to another question, which leads to an answer, and so on, and so on.
There are many similarities between the Socratic Method and Coaching but again, there’s a big difference, which I’m getting to…
Here’s a continuation of the conversation between Bettany and Apostolos, essentially describing the Socratic Method, with some hints pointing to the coaching process as well.
BH: “That Socratic method is fascinating and stimulating, but it is also infuriating.”
AD: “Yes, because it’s in an oral context, the way we do it, and Socrates famously believed in the supremacy of the oral over the written and that also stirs up the emotions. First of all, in his pretence of being the fool, the ignorant man, of knowing nothing. Yes, and because that is his tool, that he turns, in fact, against his friends – or opponents, as you may take it – and makes them admit to things that they don’t want to admit to, by playing essentially the fool, saying, ‘I know nothing, I know nothing. I can only ask you to tell me, because I know nothing.’ So, he laid an emphasis on the definitions, then on what he called “diaeresis” – division – of breaking down a problem into little parts, analyzing parts, analyzing it. And then, attacking each one separately and then trying, inductively, to group them back together into a more general concept.”
Did you catch the big difference between the Socratic Method and Coaching?
While both methods start off with a blank slate, and use verbal communication to exchange ideas, and are about asking good questions and listening to answers, and breaking down the topic into smaller parts, observing them, and putting them back together again in a new way, the spirit of the conversations are much different.
With the Socratic Method, it’s more of an interrogation rather than a conversation. It’s more of an argument where eventually someone will paint themselves into a corner. It’s a handy technique that lawyers, and detectives, and journalists use all of the time.
On the other hand, with coaching, the spirit is much more convivial. From a coaching session, you’re meant to feel safe to express yourself, to take something away from the conversation, to have more clarity, and to feel stronger, rather than feeling more lost, confused, and frustrated than you were when you started.
So even though Socrates wasn’t intending to create the profession of coaching, he did get the ball rolling, and over generations, just as children build on the ideas of their parents, coaching has grown from it’s humble beginnings, and has taken the art of deep conversations and introspection, to a whole new level.
But still, where would we be today without Socrates and his Socratic Method?
BH: “So, Socrates uses that to make people become aware that things they consider simple, and elementary, and basic, and that they know – they in fact don’t know. And what about the modern world? Do you think we could have the modern world without Socratic debate, without questioning what it is to be human and what it is to be human in the world around us?
AD: “Well, I think that the best way to accept, to find Socrates’ place in it, is to see that the opposite of the Socratic method, essentially, is fanaticism and dogmatism. And in that sense, the modern world very much needs an antidote to those things, at every level.”
Bettany Hughes narrating: “The Socratic method was cathartic. It got difficult issues out into the open and defined concepts with much greater precision. Socrates’ tough questioning, with his trademark irony, was conducted in public, causing a stir wherever he went. He was inviting everyone to seek knowledge of the human good, to identify fundamental truths. But people could only do this for themselves by constantly interrogating their actions and most deeply held beliefs. “The unexamined life,” Socrates said, “is not worth living.” Minute: 29:37.
Enter, today’s Life Coach, Spiritual Coach, Wellness Coach…
“Socrates might have been infuriating, but his tenacious questioning of what it means to be human still has absolute resonance. By stating that the ultimate evil is ignorance and that a good life is within our reach, he challenges us all never to be thoughtless,” ~ Bettany Hughes.
So that’s why I think Socrates is the father of modern coaching. What do you think? Let me know in the comments.
Like Socrates in ancient Greece, we’re also living in highly charged times and we’re still wrestling with the same questions about the nature of life and death.
If you’ve reached a point where you’re interested in examining your own life and exploring life’s big questions, consider working with me, Maria, a Wellness Coach. Feel free to email today! Let’s talk!