Self improvement: the irony of becoming a better person by doing something I do so poorly (day 14)

Driving home from yoga today, I realized that I am a much more patient, kind, compassionate driver on the drive home from yoga than on the drive to yoga.

Even though my yoga studio is a mile from my house, I almost always drive. And the past few weeks, I’ve tended to run late. I don’t fully stop at the stop signs and I’m impatient at the lights. And annoyed with myself for running late.

Taking the same route home, I’m present and fully stopped at stop signs, allowing others at four-way stops to go first. I enjoy the time at the red lights and praise myself for giving myself the gift of yoga.

Having practiced yoga for only a few months, I have yet to be able to do a pose exactly how it’s suppose to be done or for the full length of time. Quite humbling for a girl who likes to be great at everything! So, somewhere during each class, I let go of judgment, impatience and the need to be great. I surrender to whatever is. Even when it looks ugly and hurts – two of my least favorites!

And then I drive home in that surrendered bliss – how great is that?!?

Spiritual clarity: spiritual coach or business coach? (day 13)

My business mentor, Peleg, recently completed a client survey for me. For the past two weeks, I have been periodically reading and absorbing lots of information from the survey and asking Spirit to help me know whatever is most helpful for me to know.

No small task. A couple of times I got completely overwhelmed and had to stop.

While on personal, spiritual retreat in New Mexico last week, I finally reviewed everything piece-by-piece and felt some concepts integrating inside me.

Here’s the one I’d like to share with you today:  one of the comments in the survey indicated that I need to decide whether I am a business coach or a spiritual coach.

After initial annoyance, I am so grateful for that comment. 

I have chosen. 

I chose both.  More accurately, it’s less of a choice and more of a truth.  I AM both.  Spiritual coach and business coach.

How great is it to run our businesses from our spiritual foundations?!  I am privileged and honored to support people in growing themselves and their businesses at the same time. 

Spiritual coach and business coach.  Okay, I’m out of the closet.

And what great value to my clients: two for the price of one.  Spiritual coach and business coach.  (And, mentor coach to coaches.)

Glad we cleared that up! 

Spiritual retreat: observations and ponderings (day 11)

I’ve just returned from four days of personal, spiritual retreat with a meditation focus in the New Mexico desert. I’ve been on many such retreats and every time I’m there, I tell myself I MUST do it more often.

All that quiet, all that open space, all that natural beauty, all that allows me to drop into meditation as I walk, as I eat, as I contemplate . . . simply being there, breathing, walking, soaking it in . . .

When I’m there, I feel most naturally me. I know God in every moment, whereas in the city, I don’t tend to notice God in every moment.

Is it easiest to know God in nature or is it specific to each person? I would love to hear from you. Where and/or when do you feel most naturally you? When do you most notice God?

I also love spiritual retreat because I’ve given myself time to just be and then notice what I’m drawn to – usually in the form of reading, writing or projects. I feel as though I am challenging myself with, “Who am I without computer or television?”

On this particular spiritual retreat I found myself drawn to spending time to really take in responses from my client survey, asking Spirit to help me know what’s most important for me to know. What could I learn about what people most value and appreciate from me? What could that tell me about how I can better serve?

I also found that finishing Seth Godin’s book, Tribes, gave me some wonderful clues about leadership and how I might best lead.

On one of my walks, I spontaneously created the Ann Strong Roadside Beautification Project and collected 96 (But who’s counting?) cans and bottles from a 1/2 mile stretch. Great exercise and a beautiful outcome! And, more road to cover on my next spiritual retreat! Ah, job security . . .

And, I wrote a tribute.


The Earth’s Joy

Surrounded by the Earth’s unfettered
majesty and beauty,
I give thanks to the glory of God.

Cradled in Her presence,
Fed by Her bounty,
I give thanks to the abundance of God.

Rejuvenated by Her full acceptance,
Refocused by Her clarity and grounding,
I give thanks to the love of God.

Inspired by Her quiet power,
Awed by Her radiant simplicity,
I give thanks for knowing I am one with God.

Dedicated to Sunshine Valley, NM
Sangre de Cristo Mountains

On the eve of spiritual retreat (day 6)

I am so excited about waking up tomorrow morning, getting in the car, pointing it south and heading to New Mexico for four days of personal, spiritual retreat!

My intention is to take a spiritual retreat every season.  My last one in August, I feel hungry and overdue.

Here’s to all that wide open space and soothing silence . . . 

I’ll catch you on the flip side!

Spiritual inspiration: Obama calls me to a better version of me (day 5)

Listening to Obama address Congress and the American people tonight, I felt called to do my part for humanity.  I’m not a civil-servant type, I dislike groups and until Barack Obama somehow crossed my radar screen about a year ago, I had zero interest in politics.

What strikes me about him again and again: he was born to do this very tough job.  He is clear and unwavering in who he is, what needs to be done and getting about the business of doing it.  And, inviting each of us to join him in doing our part.

I’m so new to this political thing, I don’t actually know what my part is yet.  However, having the honor and priviledge of serving as a business and life coach, I am not new to calling people to the best version of themselves.

So, for now, I ponder the question, “how can I take a stronger stand for that in which I believe?”   

Spiritual inspiration: clearing clutter (day 4)

As I reflect on interviewing Ashi about her new book, “Bless Your Mess and Create a Home that Feel Fabulous,” I am struck by how clearing clutter is not just about stuff under my bed or piled high in the closet.  It also involves friendships I’ve outgrown, beliefs that no longer serve and appointments that don’t feel meaningful to me.

I feel inspired to notice if the meal I’m eating, the conversation I’m having and the keyboard upon which I’m writing feel nourishing and wonderful or if I’d like to choose something else that feels great to me in this moment.

Wow, this is big.  What do I most love?  Who do I most love?  How can I love what I don’t love so much anymore as I release it to its greater good?

Okay, as the experiment unfolds, more on this later, I’m sure! 

Positive mental attitude – not just a concept (day 3)

While listening to Michael Beckwith this morning, the concept of choosing my reality soaked into my bones a bit more.  He said something like, “Circumstances don’t create our reality, our attitude does.”

This may be the thousandth or ten thousandth time I have heard or read this or some variation of it.  Yet, today I got it that I want to choose my attitude even when it’s more challenging for me. 

I almost always have a fantastic attitude with my work – except if something technological malfunctions, or even hiccups.  Then I am sure my world as I know it is coming to an end.  I almost always have a superb attitude in my personal life – until my sister or my sweetheart says or does something I don’t like, or worse, something I judge.

So, what if I took the opportunity with a technology hiccup to breathe, know that all is well and take a short walk?  What if I focused on the opportunity to learn about that technology or the opportunity to connect with the techno genius helping me?  What if I focused on the opportunity to love even when I don’t like?  What if I examined my judgment of another to see what is crying out for love in me?

What if I consistently and consciously make the choice for freedom, rather than bondage to situations that don’t seem to be going “my way?”

Twenty-five years ago, when I read Victor Frankl’s book, Man’s Search for Meaning, I first came to understand the importance of choosing our focus and thoughts.  If he kept himself alive in a Nazi concentration camp by focusing on hope for the future, surely I can hold a positive mental attitude when my email goes down for a few hours.

I’m now challenging myself to override my initial, knee-jerk reaction to consciously choose a positive mental attitude every time I start to fight something/someone. 

Ah, that may keep me busy for awhile . . . 

My StrengthsFinder™ Strengths

As I have imagined how yet another blog could be useful to small business owners and solo practitioners, I realized I could share processes and ideas that have changed my business and my life.

Who do I love? The Gallup folks who spent 25 years and millions of dollars to identify the most prevalent human strengths.  They discovered 34 dominant themes/strengths, defining a strength as consistent near-perfect performance in an activity.

I first learned about the StrengthsFinder™ in 2001 when I read the book, Now Discover Your Strengths.  I then used my personal code from the back of the book to take the online StrengthsFinder assessment.

Here are my top 5 strengths from my StrengthsFinder™ assessment:

  1. Maximizer
  2. Empathy
  3. Connectedness
  4. Activator
  5. Individualization

The short version of what this means about me: I love transforming strong into superb; I sense the feelings of others; I know that we’re all connected and things happen for a reason; I make things happen – turning thought into action; and I love supporting people in their uniqueness and in living from their strengths.

When I first took the StrengthsFinder™ assessment, it made sense, felt right and then I forgot about it.  For a few years.

Until I read StrengthsFinder 2.0 a couple of years ago when a lightbulb went on (Connectedness) and I got it that I wanted to orient even more of my work around my strengths.  I began having my coaching clients take the StrengthsFinder™ assesment (Individualization) so that I could better support them in putting their strengths into play more consistently (Maximizer and Activator).

So naturally easy for me, so fun, so fulfilling – what could be better? 

And, my clients love learning and more fully using their strengths.  Gallup has surveyed more than 10 million people worldwide about how positive and productive people are at work and only one-third “strongly agree” with the statement: “At work, I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day.” 

As a Maximizer, Activator and Individualizationist, that breaks my heart.  So I’m doing my part.  I am thrilled to have created a business in which I do what I do best every darn day!  And, I am honored and excited to support others in creating and developing their businesses so that they do what they do best every day. 

Who do I love?  StrengthsFinder™!

No accident that this blog’s named Strong You, Strong Biz . . . 

Deepening spiritual awareness while slenderizing (day 2)

In my fourth month of practicing kundalini yoga, I find myself extremely physically challenged. And humbled by being so bad! Yet, every time I’m rolling up my mat to go home, I know I have surrendered to some deeper spiritual awareness. Strangely, I’m not entirely sure what that means . . .

I just know I must keep going – for my physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being. In the process of this spiritual awakening, I’m losing weight and belly fat!

Today, my teacher actually told me to get a hold of myself when I fell over while attempting a pose. She’s usually nurturing and encouraging, so I don’t know where that came from. Oddly, it didn’t offend me or hurt my feelings. And, I knew I would not be getting much together any time soon!

Ah, the rocky road to enlightenment . . .

Hey, I always thought that meant I would be more radiant. Maybe it means I’ll weigh less, too?!?

Twenty one days of spiritual inspiration . . . (day 1!)

“They” say it takes 21 days to develop a habit.

So I’ve decided to combine keeping my commitment to two important Winter 2009 promises to myself:

  • deepen my connection with my own spiritual foundation.
  • begin blogging, after a couple years of thinking about it!

For the next 21 days, I’m going to listen each morning to a sermon from one of my favorite spiritual mentors, Michael Beckwith. And, I’m also going to engage in one other spiritual activity each day. Then, I’m going to share my experiences with you!

Today, my spontaneous spiritual activity involved reading and living my own darn affirmative prayer:


Through Me

Oh Great Spirit,

I affirm my ever-increasing awareness
of your omni-presence.

I appreciate you always at my side,
Working through my hands,
Speaking through my voice,
Loving through my heart.

I delight in you.
I delight through you.
I delight as you . . .


Okay, yes I am spiritually inspired!

Until tomorrow . . .