The Power of 2%

Sometimes, the coach needs some coaching of her own.

During my training to become a ministry and leadership coach, I remember learning about 2% shifts—those small changes that can make a big difference down the road. It’s like prying open a stuck window, just an inch or two. It doesn’t seem like much, but it’s enough to give you leverage to heave it open further. Plus, you get a peek of what’s on the other side, and sometimes that glimpse is vision enough to inspire you to deeper action. 

But it’s one thing to know something intellectually, and another thing to internalize it enough to do it.

Like many of you—and I know this is true because you tell me—I have felt utterly saturated with news, information, and commentary. The constant onslaught of 24-7 news, much of it negative, has left many of us feeling weary, depleted, maybe even helpless and despairing. As Bilbo laments in The Fellowship of the Ring, "I feel thin, sort of stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread.” (Can I get an Amen?)

Meanwhile, with three children, a spouse, a calendar plump with speaking engagements, and a growing coaching practice, I’ve been gravitating to a spirituality of motion. Quiet, still spaces are in short supply; instead I try to be attentive to the flow of the Spirit amid my activity. It works, for the most part, but has felt insufficient of late. A trusted friend recently suggested 5 minutes of silence each day. I have to admit, I shrugged at the suggestion. It seemed way too small a practice to make any difference. What’s 5 minutes amid 1,440 daily minutes of perpetual motion? (OK, I do sleep for some of those 1,440 minutes. Still.)

But my friend rarely steers me wrong, so I downloaded the Insight Timer app, picked out a couple of chime sounds that I liked, set it for 5 minutes, and breathed. 

I skipped a couple of days after that, and then I did it again. And again the next day. And over the next couple of weeks, a few more times. I decided to sprinkle a few of Insight Timer’s guided meditations into my practice. In the spirit of #WorldsOkayest, I’ll admit I’m tending to these brief silences maybe 30% of my days. And I'm stuck in the 6-10 minute range; it's all I can manage.

And still, it has made a difference. I can’t explain it. Five minutes is so small, you see. But I feel ever-so-slightly more alive, more grounded. More alive means I’m awake to my life in a more satisfying way, though I have a long way to go. More grounded means I’m able to read the headlines of the day, however dismaying they may be, with greater peace, and a more abiding sense of defiant hope and faith that bad news will never the final news.

A 2% shift. A pried-open window.

As if on cue, a friend posted this short video of Mr. Rogers talking about the gift of a deep, quiet, unhurried breath. Perfect:

I wonder what 2% shift you are being called toward? I would love to hear about it. Maybe we can encourage one another!

Onward,
MaryAnn

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Friday Link Love

Away we go! ~

Winners of the 2012 Wildlife Photographer of the Year -- Colossal

Lots of goodness here. My favorite:

Cristóbal Serrano / Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2012

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If You're Too Busy to Meditate, Read This -- LifeHacker

Yesterday on the Sabbath blog I wrote about the benefits of Sabbath on children, in the hopes of coaxing parents to think about the practice as beneficial for their kids' overall development. LifeHacker appears to be taking a similar approach here:

People say the hardest part about meditating is finding the time to meditate. This makes sense: who these days has time to do nothing? It's hard to justify. Meditation brings many benefits: It refreshes us, helps us settle into what's happening now, makes us wiser and gentler, helps us cope in a world that overloads us with information and communication, and more. But if you're still looking for a business case to justify spending time meditating, try this one: Meditation makes you more productive.

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The Power of Quiet -- Susan Cain and Molly Crabapple (video)

This is one of those scribble videos that are all the rage right now---and one of the better ones. Susan Cain narrates some insights from her book Quiet and Molly Crabapple illustrates. Powerful stuff.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=rUaj7rj6MI8]

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Winner of the 2012 Juggling Festival -- Colossal

I posted this video earlier in the week just for the joy of it. It's 6 minutes---if you need to watch an abbreviated version, start at minute 3 or so. Yanazo is amazing. Screw you, gravity! I'M THE LAW NOW!!!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Dze9jG7wsao]

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How to Get Paid What You're Worth and Other Negotiating Tips -- 99U

This is a growing edge for me as I negotiate honoraria and speaker's fees:

Money isn't the only factor in a negotiation. If we make it all about money, the negotiation only has one measure of success. In a 2001 Harvard Business Review article, Harvard professor James Sebenius advises us to recognize the other factors that may be less blank-or-white.

For example, when negotiating a project with a client, price isn't the only thing on the table. You can discuss deadlines, delivery methods, communication preferences and a host of other options. Give a little on deadlines, but propose a higher rate. The more variables you can negotiate, the higher the likelihood that both parties will feel like winners.

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Homework: A Parent's Plea for Quality over Quantity -- Ellen Painter Dollar

I'm not going to excerpt this article---if you care about this issue you should read the whole thing because it's stellar. We have the girls' parent/teacher conferences today and I'll have this post in my mind as we talk.

In other news, as a writer I covet Ellen's name. Totally distinctive, yet completely straightforward. Easy to say and spell.

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A Teen Confronts Her iPhone Addiction -- WaPo

Good for her:

When a friend jokingly challenged me to one week without my phone, I questioned whether I would be able to do it. I realized that I needed to prove that I could live in a world without iPhones. So the next night I shut it off, hid it in a drawer and began my phoneless week.

Deciding to do it was probably the hardest part of the whole experiment. It’s not that I was scared, but I was unhappy about it. I expected the week to be boring, slow and frustrating at times, especially when trying to get in contact with people.

But this was not the case....

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Our weekend is cray-cray, with a variety of kid activities scheduled such that we have these bizarre two-hour windows of free time between them. A long stretch of Sabbath will be hard to come by... I think instead we will strive to go about these things Sabbathly---with mindfulness and care, with an eye for delight.

What's your weekend like? Will there be Sabbath time in it?