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A Trail Guide to Thriving on Your Core Driven Path

August 25, 2014 | Issue 08.2014

In This Issue

Note from the Trail
In Charge… of What? [Feature Article]
Recommended Resources

Note from the Trail

Hello, Trailblazer!

Today is the first day of school for most of the schools in my area. I recognized that back-to-school is more of a beginning for me than the new calendar year when I read a piece by self-employment guru and self-proclaimed “gypsy teacher” Barbara Winter. Barbara explained that, since her early career was as a high school teacher, she still tends to see the beginning of school as the beginning of a year.

I’ve been on a school-year based schedule most of my life. I was in school consistently through my masters degree, my first professional position was in a school district, and then I worked in a residential program for kids, where the school calendar guided the schedule.

The school calendar also reigned while I was a private practice therapist with kids and teens and was also training and consulting in a preschool and child care center. I was co-owner and program director of the center when my wife and I adopted our children.

Of course, as a parent, my schedule has continued to be guided by the school calendar. This is my son’s sophomore year, so I wonder if the rhythm of school will seem less important after he graduates. I bet I’ll still have the anticipation of the first chill in the air as summer winds down, fall nears, and football season begins!

The changing of the seasons is one of many things that are beyond my control. I can anticipate and plan for the predictable ones and develop my agility and resilience for the unpredictable ones, but I can’t take control of any of them. That message is in the feature article this month.

I can’t make the cool fall weather come sooner, but I can anticipate my enjoyment and plan ways to savor it when it arrives.

Let’s look for beautiful leaves as they change colors and share them on the trail!

Stephen Coxsey, MA, LPC, PCC
Positive Psychology Coach and Trainer

P.S. A very special Welcome! to those of you who have signed up since the last issue went out. I’m glad you’re here! As a subscriber to The Trailblazer, you are part of my Advisory Board. I count on all of you for feedback on what you want to see more of and what you want to see less of in future issues. As you read through this issue, please remember:

If you like what you see, please tell your family and friends.
If you don’t like something, please tell me!

In Charge… of What? :::::::::::: Feature Article ::::::::::::

A sign on the wall at our local Jimmy John’s sandwich shop says:

“If You Do Everything You Need To Do When You Need to Do It
You’ll Be Able To
Do Everything You Want To Do When You Want To Do It”

That may not be precisely accurate, but if not it’s a very, very close paraphrase. It speaks to the idea addressed in last month’s article: responsibility-handling-ness. That was about the importance of developing your resourcefulness, agility, assessment, and decision-making skills to get good at being in charge of things. And that theme keeps showing up for me.

It even showed up in a spot I heard on NPR’s Morning Edition. Titled “For a More Ordered Life, Organize Like a Chef,” the story focused on a mindset and skill set called mise-en-place, developed in the regimented French system of culinary training. Mise-en-place literally translates as “put in place,” but as a philosophy it better translates as “everything in its place.”

Mise-en-place is the orderly arrangement of a kitchen work station so that any person using it knows exactly where to reach to find specific tools, equipment, ingredients, and so forth. It means placing things to minimize motion and create a more efficient workspace. It means 6 hours of preparation, in terms of cutting and chopping and mincing and mixing, to be ready for 3 hours of intensive cooking.

It’s a powerful idea, and a delicious reminder that keeping any area organized requires both order and tidiness – a place for everything, and everything in its place. It’s an elegant way to talk about planning, preparation, and design, and you can expect to see this phrase in future articles.

But it can go too far. In the radio piece, chefs and culinary students use mise-en-place as a verb. When they “mise-en-place” something in their lives, it means they try to make it precise and orderly. Like the stereotypical military drill sergeant at home, a chef trying to “mise-en-place” home life can come across as a control freak.

That’s because not everything is under our control. Yes, the e-workbook that many of you received when you first signed up for this newsletter is called Take Charge and Make It Happen, and the article in the previous issue of this newsletter was about how to pursue excellence at being in charge. But we aren’t in charge of many things, and we have to let go of our efforts to control those things.

We can’t control other people’s feelings or behavior. We don’t even have much control over what feelings we feel, just how we relate to them.

We can’t “mise-en-place” the weather or traffic. We certainly can’t “mise-en-place” geopolitical events or natural disasters. Much simpler things like crowded parking lots and long lines do not yield to our efforts to “mise-en-place.”

We can learn when parking lots are more likely to be crowded and lines more likely to be longer and plan to go at a different time. But that doesn’t really control the outcome. It’s just a proactive way of improving our odds of a better outcome.

It’s important to develop your discernment about what you are in control of and what you are not. It’s important to get good at handling what you’re in charge of. And to make this just a bit more complicated, it’s very important to learn that, just because you may have control over something doesn’t mean you are in charge of it or that you should exercise that control. I like to think of this as a new twist on the Serenity Prayer especially for people in charge.

The Serenity Prayer for People In Charge

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot control,
Agility and resourcefulness as I control the things I can,
And the wisdom to know which ones I really do need to control

And which ones I can release.”

But even that may be an illusion. Maybe we’re really not in control of anything at all! A meme currently circulating on social media sites includes a tranquil background picture with this message written across it:

Relax. Nothing is Under Control.

That’s definitely worth a ponder.

What shows up for you when you read that message? Is that freeing to you? Terrifying? Or maybe nonsensical? Whatever it is can teach you a lot about your relationship to the notion of being in control and being in charge.

Application: Take time every day for a week to notice how much control you have over different parts of your life. Recognize where you are trying to have control but maybe only have a little influence. Recognize where you do have control but aren’t using it. And recognize where you have control but don’t need to exercise it and don’t need to be in charge.

Question: When you hear, “Relax. Nothing is under control,” what response shows up in you? What does this response teach you about the story you tell yourself about being in control?

Recommended Resources

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About Steve

Steve Coxsey guides leaders and people in charge to custom design a plan to optimize their success and well-being. Through coaching and training powered by positive psychology and neuroscience, they develop resourcefulness, agility, and resilience to thrive on their personally meaningful core driven path.

Steve partners with people who want to bring the best of who they are to their leadership roles in their personal lives, professional lives, or businesses. He helps people cultivate their strengths and natural talents so they can take ownership of their productivity and creativity.

Then they become powerful, breaking free of other people’s boxes and cubicles and living and working in alignment with who they really are. They design their lives around their values, their purpose, and their natural way of being. They tailor careers that use their unique strengths and talents and complement their life design.

Would you like that to be you? Get started with a no-risk 30-40 minute consultation. It’s complimentary, so all it will cost you is a little bit of time. You can schedule the complimentary call using this online tool. You can also call 817-416-8971 or e-mail Steve@SteveCoxsey.com to set up the call.

Click here for more information than you could possibly ever want to know about Steve.

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