It’s a marathon, not a sprint :)

One of the misconception I come across about growth, wellness and goals is the idea that one day, we’ll have “arrived”. There is no such thing in my opinion. I believe we are in a constant state of change, evolution, or degradation, depending on what one is doing. There is a constant movement to life, which is another reason for me to love dance so much, dance is life.
That movement can go in various direction, hard, soft, long, short, positive, negative. It never stops though. How we move defines the outcome: did we get the result we wanted, or not.
It appears that as we incorporate new habits we get to a certain level that feels more comfortable and closer to the top goal. I’ll agree with that. I believe in celebrating milestones for what didn’t exist in our life before and is now here thanks to work and dedication. That can go away very quickly if it’s not maintained though. So as we grow and incorporate new things in our lives, we still want to maintain what we want to keep.
In business it looks like this: retaining existing customers as well as developing new markets. A business will not thrive on just one of those, we need both dynamics to grow.
I’ll admit that some things get easier with time and productive habits incorporated in the past can become the new norm. It’s always in good form to check in friends and coaches about where we’re at. Feedback is the breakfast of champions!
I’ll embrace the idea of plateauing for short periods of time, taking a vacation and enjoying the view for a little bit. Then it’s back to work.
We have a whole childhood, and/or past lives depending on your spiritual system, to clean up and own. There is enough there to keep some of us busy for a while.
Then we have our own dreams and desires: what do we want most, why do we want it, how will we get there? That’s an endless source of opportunities to learn new things, to grow in other areas.
Are you planning on not dreaming anymore at some point? Will you check out from the dream train and settle for whatever has been accomplished so far? If the answer is no, then you know there will always be work, always a new habit to incorporate, always a new star to shoot for. That’s the yummy stuff in my opinion: the endless possibility of a dream life, for as long as I live 🙂
How about you? What’s your dream? How are you going to get there? Share below!

Reach for the greatest version of yourself!
Paola
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“It’s my time now!”

For all the Al Pacino fans out there, do you remember that scene in the Devil’s Advocate with Keenu Reeves when Al’s character, the Devil, claims: “This is my time Now!” ? I’ve always loved that part. I believe there is a pivotal time for each of us in our lives, sometimes several times in a lifetime, that tips the scale and leads us to glory. I told a dear friends months ago: “this is our time now” referring to the women movement. The recent events have shown that this is going forward at an exponential rate. I’m beyond excited at the prospect of the feminine being more present in our world, there are strengths and skills to be shared that will make a difference. I also want to share some words of wisdom and caution for the feminine and the masculine.
The feminine may enter this new phase with assertiveness and gusto, and not always enough experience to express in a kind way what we have been repressing for so long. I think of myself as a rather vocal person, and I know I have learnt to be quiet because it was expected or because it required less energy than to convey my true feelings of frustration. As we communicate more freely, we may enter a phase called by Marshall Rosenberg, the “obnoxious phase”. Verbalization is taking place, not always as compassionately and productively as it could be. It’s part of the process though. It won’t be perfect, but at least, it will be happening. Keep going, tweak as you go.
The masculine will have a hard time too. Not for the obvious reason that the men used to getting their way no longer will, but for the kind men that unknowingly have raised themselves offering micro aggression and never knew they were a source of pain. That’s because they were never told. I request patience for the masculine that does wish to be part of the new movement but was never held to develop the vulnerability the feminine craves.I especially feel for them as they have actively supported the feminine, we just didn’t give them all the tools to do the ultimate job. We believe we must be kind and understanding. This is going to be a big change.
I applaud any individual that has the courage to look at life in a different angle and change their way to best honor their authenticity.
Regardless at which stage of your life you do it, know that you are victorious. Some people will die and never experience that glory. High Five to you!

Reach for the greatest version of yourself!

Paola
Grow

Curiosity

As  much as I want to keep politics out of my blogs, it has become obvious that the current climate is negatively affecting friends and family, regardless that their candidate won or not. A reported 78% of individuals feel more stressed now than a few months ago, that’s a big number.

One thing that has helped me a lot, and I hope it helps you too, is to be curious. It works at several levels too.

 

Being curious about other individuals, especially the ones we disagree with, let’s us put the focus on the human being rather than the label we associate a person with. By focusing on the humanity, we can find understanding and connection on neutral ground. We see some of ourselves too and that brings us closer. We can do this with just about anyone. We all want the same thing after all, how we get there is what sets us apart. Focusing on the goal rather than how we get there nurtures our similarities, not our differences.

 

Being curious about others puts us in a giving position: we give our time and our attention. Givers are winners that create more connections than the takers. Period. Being curious has been reported to be one of the most efficient way to build a successful business. By being curious about our clients, customers, friends, we can find out what they truly want and meet that need if we can, or introduce them to someone who will.

Curiosity is also a fun game. There is always something to discover. Are you bored about a situation? Ask questions, look for what you don’t already know. You may be delightfully surprised by what you unveil. The world is after all an amazing treasure, why limit ourselves to what we already see when there is so much out there waiting to be revealed to us. That’s an abundance mindset that has never failed me, I invite you to give it a shot 🙂

 

Reach for the greatest version of yourself!

 

Paola
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Patience

The beauty of the journey of personal development is that it’s unending. There is always something new to learn, always something to tweak.
As I journaled this morning, I realized that I need to work some more on my patience. I’m naturally passionate and eager, I love to make stuff happen, which are qualities I’m very proud of. Those character traits can also feed an impatient intention that is then counterproductive.

I went back to partner dancing in March of 2015 with one goal in mind: tango. As usual, I eventually got what I wanted, and then some. I wasn’t planning at the time to do it professionally but life has some invitations one simply doesn’t refuse. And I’m so glad I went with it.
In the process of becoming a dancer, an assistant teacher and a performer, I experienced the agitation, frustration and fears of not performing at the level I desired. I believe in excellence and delivering at a high level. I tend to forget that skills do require time to develop.
I compared myself (bad idea) to other dancers and my dance partner. I beat myself down regularly and experienced stress and fear due to it.
At the same time, I reminded myself of how much I had learnt in a short period of time, how fast I was learning,  and how dedicated and committed I was. that struggle took place for many months. I fluctuated from proud to ashamed, from satisfaction to frustration. As a cherry on the cake, I also projected those insecurities on my dance partner (sorry about that Darling). I’m delighted to report that after some work, and the help of my coach, I’m at a more comfortable level now. Although I’m fully aware of all the great work I have in front of me to become the dancer I want to be, I now go through the motion with faith and more patience. I know what I want, I know how to get there, it’s going to happen, eventually, period.

What I realized this morning is another area I need to practice patience in. Because I applied the process successfully with dancing, I can apply that process to other areas of my life. And I know I will be successful in those areas too, in time.
Patience is one element of the foundation of our dance teaching, right next to kindness.
We need to be patient, with ourselves and others. We must remember that we do our best, all the time, everyday. Growth takes time!

Reach for the greatest version of yourself!

Paola
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The Hurt

I have been requested to talk about individuals that are aware they are a source of pain to others but don’t seem to care about the consequences of their actions. The question I received was specifically about students, however, I believe it applies to everyone.

I would like us to agree on one thing first for the following to make sense. If you don’t agree with the next statement, stop reading, this may be a waste of your time. I would like us to agree that individuals seldom, ever, want to hurt people in purpose. There is no right or wrong, there is no faults, there are only unmet needs. This can be a very difficult idea, especially considering most of us have been brought up in the fear of punishments rather than the motivation to do good to others. For example, we typically avoid speeding not because we want to be safe, rather because we don’t want a speeding ticket.

When someone is confronted with the fact their action resulted in a negative outcome several things can happen: they fear punishment, they feel shame, they feel threatened, and may retrieve. The  biological response is the desire to protect oneself: we fight, we flee, or we freeze. This can result in an additional negative impact on individuals and our environment. How many times have we done something that resulted in a negative outcome? How many times have we hurt people’s feelings in our lives, and we were unaware we did it? Does that make us cruel individuals? Of course not. We were not aware, or we were distracted, or we didn’t know that the person in front of us had been triggered. Nobody’s perfect. We can only learn from our history and try not to duplicate negative experiences. We’re all doing our best, everyday.

Secondly, how the event was pointed out to us had a lot to do with our follow up response. Shaming and blaming are counter productive, period. I believe that by shaming and blaming someone for their action, we’re creating the hurt we want to avoid in the first place.
My dance partner and I have dedicated a lot of our growth in understanding and applying non-violent communication by Marshall Rosenberg, and studying Brene Brown’s research about shame and compassion. This exploration resulted in the method we apply in our dance classes to create a safe environment for all. By appreciating that there is an unmet need, and by responding to it in a compassionate way, we can discover why a person reacts the way they do. We can have a dialogue, we can create a connection.

One thing I’d like to point out: men in our culture may especially react in a disconnecting fashion when being pointed out counter productive behavior. It’s not because men care less than women, it’s because they’re often raised to showcase strength and force, not vulnerability and kindness. This is an unfortunate cultural issue we’re dealing with. I highly encourage you to watch ” The mask we live in” or follow their Facebook page of the same name to learn more about it.
Let’s be clear on one thing: this is not an easy-as-pie process. A lot of things get in the mix: education, personality, chemical balances, cultural and socioeconomic pressures, history, environment, etc.. That’s why I find it important to keep in mind unmet needs rather than cruelty. How we approach the situation in a compassionate and curious attitude can be a game changer in modeling what we are looking for. We can be the change we want to see by educating ourselves and modeling the behavior we are seeking in others. Keep Learning!

Reach for the greatest version of yourself!
Paola
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Next!

There is an upside and a downside to becoming aware, we’ll talk about the downside today: we become aware of the consequences of our actions. Why is it a downside? Become we need to own our decisions too, which is not always easy.

As long as we are unaware and we just react to what’s happening in life, we can be dismissive, we justify our actions conveniently and we disregard consequences. Becoming aware includes facing up. We’re no longer hiding behind our ego, which can be hard. We then know that the tough conversations do have to take place. We do want to live up to our full potential as a human being and we don’t want to regress. We’ve come that far after all, and going back is more painful than being there in the first place.

What I find really relevant in the state of awareness is when to call “Next”.
I’ve become in the last few years a dedicated networker. I’m all the more dedicated considering I’m a hard core introvert and I taught myself to network. Mingling requires energy and focus for me. I’ve worked hard at developing those skills and I’m all the more excited to use them often and successfully. I learnt to call “Next” after hours wasted listening to individuals showing up for themselves, meetings without the structure I was looking for or a group whose values, or food service, didn’t resonate with me. Regardless of the prestige or potential gain, I learnt to call “Next” to keep serving my authentic self, and therefore, offering to others the best version of myself at that time.
As I mentioned above, I have to own that too. I learnt to share why I no longer do business with some individuals, why I left the party, or the group, or how I felt about the food being served. And I did it in the most kind, non-judgemental and helpful way I knew at the time. That’s a lot of flipping work! And it’s so worth it!

Result? I’m the Queen of time management. I feel surrounded by love and appreciation, most, everywhere I go. And I can truly say that I’m living my purpose. I didn’t even used to give a crap about purpose 5 years ago. Comes to show anything is possible, if we reach for the stars instead of the gutter. That’s the upside of awareness: knowing anything is possible 🙂

Reach for the greatest version of yourself!

Paola
Grow

The Exercise of Gratitude

I mentioned a few weeks ago the difference between conveying gratitude and actually experiencing it. I still stand by that, however, I’m witnessing that many individuals right now are struggling with just finding any gratitude at all. These times are hard and the overall consciousness is gearing more towards negativity, fear and stress than positivity, faith and peace.

Experiencing gratitude has more impact on our life than just having a pleasant moment or enjoyable time with friends. Gratitude is the very foundation for connection and happiness. If we don’t find something to be appreciative for in our life, we’re disconnecting from it. I strongly invite you to stay connected, that’s so important!

What to do if you have a hard time with gratitude right now? Start small.

We all need something to believe in, right? What do you hold as absolute truth in your life that you can be grateful for? It can  be anything. It can be coffee, seriously, start with the fundamentals. Allow yourself to hold for true that coffee is always there for you, it always helps you and you can be grateful for coffee. The point is not coffee, or chocolate, or your best friend. The point is the exercise and the attitude, the approach and the practice. The thought process involved in being grateful for coffee is the same than being grateful for our job, the people in our lives and even the political climate. Gratitude can be found everywhere, it’s harder to find in some areas than in others, that’s all.

There are some things in life we stop doing, for one reason or another, and we go back to doing again at a later date. Like bicycling for example, the body doesn’t forget. Gratitude works the same way. We all know how to be grateful, sometimes we stop, for one reason or another, and we can get back on that bicycle just the same. It will take a little practice and awareness at first, I know you can do it though.

Reach for the greatest version of yourself!

Paola
Grow