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Transcript 7: How to Shift out of Drama and into Power

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Episode #7: How to Shift out of Drama and into Power


Welcome to Allowed. I’m your host, Caneel Joyce. We’ve all been in those situations where we feel like life is unfairly happening to us and that we are just stuck and powerless. This is called being in drama. Last week on episode six we learned about the Drama Triangle and all of the different characters that can show up in our heads when we’re stuck in drama. I highly recommend going back and listening to that episode if you haven’t listened to it yet because this is part two, where we learn about how to shift out of drama and into power. Power is a place where we can resolve issues permanently, where we can learn, where we are free to create the life that we want, where we are responsible for our own actions and where we are deeply, deeply powerful, at ease, and in a sense of flow. You are allowed to be powerful in any situation.

It is a mindset. Today we’re going to learn about three distinct forms of power that are available to you above the line when you are being a conscious leader. These positions are the Coach, the Challenger, and the Creator, and up there in that state of flow, anything is possible. Let’s start the show.

Welcome back fearless leaders. It’s Caneel and it’s time to begin episode seven. As I’ve said before, I get so much inspiration and great ideas for useful content for you from you, my listeners and I wanted to give a shout out to those of you who have been writing reviews and offering me new ideas. There’s one here that really touched and I want to give a shout out to 22jem who says, “she walks her talk. Dr, Caneel Joyce is insightful, inspirational and most importantly walks her talk. Learning from those who have lived what they teach allows for deeper transformation and Caneel is so transparent and open. One can’t help but strive to be their deepest, truest self. I look forward to more and more from Dr. Joyce.” 22jem. 

Thank you so much. There is hardly a compliment higher than saying that I walk my talk. That’s something that is so important to me as a matter of integrity and professionalism and I really, really do strive to be super transparent and open about my own journey. I’m so happy to hear that that touches you and thank you for the encouragement because sometimes of course it is scary. In fact, even reading this testimonial about myself is making me scared to death.

I feel a little bit uncomfortable doing this, but I think is really, really important to thank you and that’s what I’m here for. So thanks again. If you guys have ideas for me, feedback questions, please write a review and leave it. You can also pop it into the Facebook group and I read all of these and it gives me ideas and who knows? Maybe you could come up with the idea for our next episode.

So last week we learned about how to spot drama from a mile away and we also learned that the fastest way to get into drama is to be right about something. So in the spirit of being a conscious leader, I’m letting go of the idea that I’m right, that I know exactly what you want to hear, how you want to hear it, and what you’re trying to learn by being in this experience with me.

I know your time is super valuable and the comments that you’ve left me so far on Facebook and Twitter and email and in your views have been really, really helpful in helping me learn how I can best serve you. And that’s what I’m here to do. I’m here to create a major transformation for you and you are my partner in that. That’s something we are co-creating together. So I invite anything that you can share with me. I invite all of that learning. Please keep it. Come in, ask your questions, tell me what else you want, tell me what didn’t work for you. All of it’s fair game and you can do all of that right there in the review. I will read all of those. Thank you so much for taking the time to do it. It’s super helpful.

So we learned about how to spot drama a mile away. We learned about the mindset of powerlessness, where we believe there’s a big threat out there and that threat is a problem. It’s a problem and we don’t want to feel our feelings about it. So instead we go into non consciousness. We go into victimhood, we go into villain mode and we go into hero mode. Whichever flavor of powerlessness we take on, we are stuck in the same place. We’re stuck below the line in drama and when we’re down there in the Drama Triangle, we cannot resolve issues permanently. We keep actually recreating them and issues recycle. This is why we often end up experiencing the same drama again and again regardless of the situation. The same problems with our apartment, even if we’ve lived in seven different apartments. We don’t realize that we are helping to create these situations when we’re in drama and so of course they keep showing up.

Really, I think this is our souls way of saying, “hey, wake up. Something’s here for you to change. There’s something better that you could be doing here. There’s something that you could be creating that you are not and you’re not claiming your full power.” So we know really well what it feels like to be in drama. It’s where most of us are most of the time. It’s just the human experience. But what does it feel like to be in a state of trust? What is it like to let go of the idea that we are right and to move into the idea that we are powerful, that we truly are the creators of our own experience. I want to tell you today about three different flavors of empowerment and then we’re going to talk about how we can access those, how we can shift from being below the line and in drama to above the line, to that way of being where we are powerful, creative, resourceful, and whole.

Where we can lead consciously, resolve issues permanently, take responsibility without any blame, have endless possibility and where we can learn. Not just incremental small learning. I’m talking about big game-changing, transformational learning. It’s mindblowing. It’s really fun. It’s exciting, it’s edgy, it’s daring and if you are along for the ride with me, Ooh, then we are going to have a good time. Here we go.

The first position on the empowerment triangle, the above the line triangle is the creator. I’m going to spend most of my time talking about the creator role. I’m going to go into the most detail about that role here. And the reason for that is the entire empowerment triangle is pointing toward the creator role. So the creator is the essence of power, which is so cool because creativity is so fun. And the coach, their job is to see victims as creators and help guide and encourage the creator and all of us.

Whereas the challenger, their job is to see the victim as fully capable and to stand for, “you can do more” and to call forth greater creativity, to call forth that creative power in the victim and to say, “this is not serving you anymore.” Sometimes it’s uncomfortable, but that’s what they do. So I want to get mostly into the creator role because the essence of that role, you’re going to find it in the entire empowerment triangle and it’s the role that we most want you to be occupying. The other two roles are super helpful for applying to yourself and applying to others when you notice that there’s victimhood here.

So the victim turns into the creator and the creator is the one who claims all of their personal power to create the outcomes that they most deeply desire. How do they do that? Well, they take responsibility. They take responsibility for the choices that they’ve made, including choices about the beliefs that they take on and choose to believe in. Choices about the stories they tell themselves, choices about their mindset, the way they organize their day, the impact that they’ve had on others. You know, what was their responsibility in creating that impact.

Often we create circumstances without even realizing we’re doing it. Often the creation of any given circumstance or issue started happening years and years ago. We got on a path that ended us here. We didn’t realize we were doing it, but we did it and the creator is insanely curious about finding out where was I powerful and I didn’t even know it. Where did I have some hand to play in creating this exact situation? They approach this whole thing with openness, curiosity. They’re nonjudgmental. The creator also is really keen on creating a vision that is clear and compelling and sexy. My word.

So for me, I know that I’ve created a good vision that is one that’s going to help me overcome any resistance I have to changing my life. If it’s one that really turns me on, I mean I can feel it in my body. It’s the feeling of energy flowing through my whole body. It’s not constricted. It’s open, it’s swirly, it’s energizing. It’s interesting. And that’s that feeling of attraction that you have. You know, sometimes you’re walking by a cupcake shop and you see that yummy chocolate cookie and you’re like, Ooh, I want that. That’s how it feels when you’ve got a vision that is worth doing something for. So creators are great at focusing on and creating that vision and tapping into that passion. Now to tap into it, you need to be willing to feel it. So often, this means you slow down a little bit.

You get out of your head and into your body. So see, right now try this on. Can you feel what it feels like to want something? Think about something that you’re really passionate about, something you really, really want in your life, and if not much is coming to mind. Think bigger. If you could really have any way you wanted, something that you’d want to pop champagne about, what would it be? Get curious about this. Now, creators, they take responsibility for everything that happens in their life, including creating baby-steps, a plan, a plan of action, actions they can take, actions they can be responsible for, and that means actions that they can be in control of. A creator specifically is not trying to take action in places where they don’t have any control. They understand that that’s wasted effort. They don’t try to control things out of their control.

They’re really, really interested, however, in finding out even more elements that are within their sphere of influence within their sphere of control. A creator seeks out learning. They stoke their own curiosity. You know, I think one of the best programs that I know of for really bringing out the creator in you is Julia Cameron’s book, “The Artist’s Way”, and this is a really, really powerful and and fairly intense program. You certainly don’t need to do all of the parts of her program to get the most out of it, but she has a couple of concepts that help you tap into your vision, the sense of possibility and stoking your own curiosity. The two kind of fundamentals there are writing morning pages, which is a free form morning journal that you write when you’re still kind of waking up and just see what’s in there, what’s in the kind of semi-conscious mind, and then the second one is the artist date and then the artist date is a weekly date you make with yourself because you are committed to hanging out with your inner creative child.

The one in you who wants to play, who wants to create, and you asked that inner child, “what do you want to do this week? Where can I take you?” That’s going to be interesting and new and stimulating and fun. It doesn’t need to be something productive. In fact, that’s totally not the point, but where is a place that you go that you just feel that this really turns me on? I’m fascinated. I’m inspired. It might be going into nature. It might be, you know, for me, I love going to the hardware store. I love going to Fry’s electronics and looking at all the funky, weird computer parts, and painting with my daughter. There’s lots of things that I love doing that don’t seem to fit into, you know, my actual creative work, coaching and writing and podcasting. But they deeply feed my soul and they stoke my sense of curiosity.

They help me stay connected to that inner creative passion, that inner creative fire that really is the life force of all living things. Really important for your health and wellbeing. Not to mention it’s the path to being powerful. So the creator also seeks out fun and play much to the point of the artist’s date. Have you had fun lately? Really think about it. Remember what fun used to be like when you were a kid? I’ve got two little kids. Soren is eight and Arrow’s four and we’ve got a big trampoline in the front of the house. They go out there, they jump on it. You wouldn’t believe the tricks they do. They laugh, they giggle, they get in fights, they hit each other, they roll around on each other. They have this game they play where Arrow lies down on the trampoline on her back and she like holds her knees up to her chest.

And then Soren jumps up and down next to her and it’s called crack the egg. So bounces her and bounces and bounces her until she can’t hold her legs anymore. And then they like break open and then like the egg, the egg broke and then like “ha”, they just laugh and laugh. And the game continues and you go into the next round of breaking the egg. It’s such a neat thing as a parent to get to have access to people who are having fun and to see what that really looks like. I’ve also lived in cities, mostly occupied by very busy, stressed out grownups, San Francisco and for a lot of my life and not a place where there’s tons and tons of kids. But a lot of people that are high power in their career and very focused, always on, you know, what happened yesterday and what’s happening next.

And when we’re not in presence, we have a hard time having fun. We don’t play. If we want to really be a creator and step out of drama, then we want to get insanely curious about what’s fun for me and how can I play. There’s been a lot of great research done on the power of play. And in fact, I went to an entire conference on this at the design school, at Stanford, all focused on the power of play. Some of the research shows that one of the things that unites, unfortunately serial killers, mass murderers, is the striking absence of play in their early childhood life. Play is part of our DNA. It’s a necessary nutrient in the primate experience, not just humans. And when we are deprived of this sense of play, we cannot flourish.

We cannot thrive. And we become disassociated from ourselves. And I believe it’s really, we become disassociated from that creative life force that is part of all existence. We get disassociated from love. So this creative force comes out in play and from play we take things much less seriously. Play just means you know, the enjoyable act of activity that is non goal directed, non goal directed and enjoyable. Simple. So for those of us who’ve been, you know, high achievers for a long time and are always looking for how can I multitask and how can I actually achieve a goal while I’m playing, um, notice that one in you. Notice that little bit of a villain who’s judging you for taking some time and space to play. Ask that villain to step aside. Tell him, you know what play is good for me. I’m dropping the goal.

My goal is to play. That’s it. I’d love you to find a new way to play this week. Make that your project. Finally, a creator looks for relationships with other creators and this is one of my very, very favorite parts. My little company is called, Kickass Enterprises. And the fantasy that I have about my company is that it’s just a vehicle for me to play with my kick ass friends. I have so many friends that just impress the pants off of me and there’s so much fun to create with and they’re creators of all different kinds. And I love that my career and my company and this podcast really let me play with so many other creative individuals when we come together as creators, so much more as possible. Like neurologically speaking, if I take all of my ideas and I combine them with all of your ideas, the combinatorial possibilities are like, you know, exponentially greater than if I just sit there longer with myself.

So bumping into random ideas from other randomly minded creators is super, super important and super fun. So where can you find creators in your life? And guess what? You have an antenna built right in that helps you find them. And it also feels like desire. It’s sexy. You find someone who’s got some creative spark and you’re like, Hmm, there’s just something about you. I don’t know what it is. Let’s do something together. Let’s create together. Uh, let’s have a conversation. It can look like anything, but trust that instinct that there’s something there to be created. It doesn’t have to be art. It doesn’t have to be any kind of, you know, expression or anything visual. Your form of creativity might be creating strategies. It might be creating analytical tools or computer programming or you know, creating social movements. There’s lots of different ways that creativity can look and your repertoire and your skills are going to be massively increased when you have relationships with other creators. Co-creators.

So in order to master this role, which is essential to stepping out of drama, you must commit passionately to your vision. As my coach, Diana, has told me many times, find something that you can be in devotion to above all else. And when you are in devotion, everything falls into alignment. Huge part of being committed passionately is being willing to say no to everything that is not that thing to which you are in devotion. So a question might be, what’s the thing that’s worth giving everything for? This might be your message to give to the world. It might be a mission of yours, and I have to say, you know, it took me a very long time to find it. You might not have it yet. Let yourself be in devotion to finding it or just let yourself be in devotion to the vision that you in your life are going to be a creator who is in devotion to something that matters utmost to you.

The creator also uses their energy for creativity instead of drama. Now, I used to be pretty much a drama queen and I would spend a lot of my energy getting into overwhelming situations or drama, paranoia situations with friends. Even if friends were in a breakup, it became really interesting to me. I’d get really sucked into it, tried to help, and then that would become the thing that all of my energy took up. Before that it was like, Ooh, I kept making mistakes like, Oh no, another parking ticket. Ah, now my bank account is like running out. And I can’t pay it. So now I gotta go across town and like see if I can hustle this money this way and talk to this person. And it just was like, it got so complicated and it completely occupied my energy and I became really, really skilled at hustling and getting myself out of, you know, basically the errors that I kept making all over the place from not being in presence.

And that became my art. And that was just really disappointing. Like that is not how I want to spend my life. I don’t want to put all of my creative energy into solving mundane problems. I want to do something big here. I want to, I want to create something meaningful that’s juicy to me that is, it feels like it feeds my soul. So stepping away from like, I’m going to put my creative energy into solving problems and moving it toward, I’m gonna put my creative energy into moving toward a vision that is really compelling to me. Creators also, they release their attachment to being right. And this is, this is kind of an interesting nuance and the listener who asked me a question at the end of our last episode, the question was, “how do you reconcile that there are bad things happening in the world and yet you’re saying that from above the line we let go of the idea that there’s a right and a wrong.”

That’s a great question and my response there, and same as here, is that you know, above the line as a creator, I might really want something, right? In fact, by definition I do. I’m really in touch with what I’m in a devotion to, what I’m committed to. I have strong preferences that I feel with my whole body. However, I’m not right about them. If I asked you to choose between a ham sandwich and a turkey sandwich and a peanut butter sandwich and you pick peanut butter, does that mean you’re right? No, you want it. It’s not a big deal and you can have that not a big deal sense about a lot of things, but you might still really, really want the peanut butter sandwich. So there’s a, an important and kind of nuance distinction there.

As a creator we really need to consciously choose where to put our attention. That’s probably the most important choice that we make as a leader. And we’re making it moment to moment every day. Am I going to focus on what’s broken? What’s missing, what’s not here yet? What’s wrong, what’s in the way, what I’m scared of? Or am I going to focus on where I’m going, what I care about, what I’m passionate about? And this present right here and now moment where all creative possibility exists. That choice about where to put my focus is everything okay? You know, imagine that the thing that you most want is at the top of a beautiful mountain and you are down here somewhere quite a ways below the top of the mountain. There’s a distance between you. Maybe there’s rocks and rivers and hills, trees, ravines. There’s all sorts of challenges there.

Some of them, which you can see and some that you can’t yet see. You’re just, you might imagine the one who makes it to the top is the one who continues to reset their focus and put it on the top of that mountain, on the vision on where you are going. The one whose eyes are down at their feet, avoiding the small rocks along the way, or where their head is just ruminating and anxious about what challenges are yet to come. That’s the one that is going to trip and fall or run out of energy or decide this is just not worth it. It’s too risky. It’s too hard. I’m too tired. So this choice about where to put our focus, it happens in very micro and very macro ways. So this is something that you can, you can easily look at even right now as you’re commuting or, or walking or you know, tidying up, where’s your attention going?

Is it going on what’s working or is it going on what’s not working? Could you practice consciously choosing to place your attention on that which you most desire on that which most works for you, which most pleases you? That little choice is you stepping into being a creator. As a creator, we engage with life in the spirit of ease and playfulness. It’s not hard. We might work hard, but working hard is not hard because we see ourselves as powerful. We know that there is infinite possibility and because we trust our own power, we do not need to push down or avoid any emotions and sensations that might arise. We can keep our focus on what we want, but we can allow any emotion and feeling to move through us by moving through us. It cannot bog us down below the line in victimhood, our whole entire shtick is trying to avoid our emotions and feelings and sensations and creators.

It’s the opposite. We allow them, we allow them. We are allowed to feel them. We are allowed to feel any emotion whilst being completely powerful. Now powerful doesn’t mean that I’m right that I’ve got the right way. In fact, because I’m so powerful, there’s no one or two or 17,000 beliefs that alone define me. I’m not defined by any one thing. I can in fact curiously playfully, creatively question each and every one of my beliefs, I can ask myself, Hmm. You know, it seems like I’m holding onto the idea right now that my company needs to have $200 million invested in it so that I can have hundreds of thousands of users all over the world by the end of next year and get my face on the cover of fast company magazine. As long as I’m holding onto being right about that, I might miss a lot of possibilities about how else it could play out that would help me get to my vision.

Now, if my vision is only self focused and is not a being of service, I’m going to get narrow-minded quite easily. As a creator, I want to question all of my beliefs and I want to create from passion not from scarcity. And because I see myself as powerful, I am comfortable with the unknown. Comfortable can include the feeling of fear. Seems like a paradox, but in fact, as I’m creating and I’m moving through the unknown, it’s very possible that fear will be my partner. Fear just means I don’t know what’s going to happen. That’s it. I don’t know what’s going to happen next. I’m going to learn something.

All right, so when we in that role of creator, we want to actually welcome those feelings of fear rather than resist them. When we resist fear, fear makes us a victim and that’s our choice. Are we going to resist or are we going to allow sometimes no easy task because we’re not used to running that much fear energy through us and we have to get our bodies used to it.

It’s a process. It is a practice. It takes time. Be patient and gentle with yourself and allow yourself to be a human. You are going to toddle and you’re going to fall and you will find yourself falling back into victimhood frequently and that is welcome. That experience every single time you slip, you get to learn. And the creator is much more interested in learning than they are and being right. So if we’re in creator mode or we feel that fear coming, sometimes we might, yeah. Accidentally start using some coping mechanisms that’ll send us deeper into victim of it. And I just want to name what they are because they’re so familiar and they’re fairly automatic, they’re hardwired. You’ll recognize all of these instantly.

So, okay, I’m creating, right? I’m creating my own life. I’m leading my company, I’m making my podcast. I am literally making dinner for my family. I often am like, Oh geez, I’m scared. What criticism is coming my way from my picky child. Uh, and you know, I, if I make a lot of meaning out of that, I might go into victimhood. I might do these things that are going to deepen it. And a lot of this is very physiological, right? I might choose to fight either myself, like I might fight the fear or fight the belief. I might fight the world around me or other people. Um, I might flight, I might try to avoid the situation in some way. I might freeze or I might faint. Any of these resisting tactics, and by faint it just means I’m going to go blank. I’m going to go non-conscious, I’m going to numb myself. I’m going to opt out of dealing with the situation directly. Any of those strategies is going to deepen my sense of victimhood because I’m disengaging from my own personal agency.

I’m disengaging from my ability to create and from I’m taking my focus completely away from the vision and I’m moving it onto a problem and I’m taking that problem really, really seriously. Another thing that’s so easy to do is to start holding your breath or to have a tense body position. So if I begin to hold my breath, I kick in my sympathetic nervous system, which is my fight, flight, freeze response. And that is over time, very, very taxing on my body. And the short term, it creates a stress response and my adrenaline starts going, my cortisol level raises. And which is really good for sometimes getting out of a genuine threat, genuine trouble. But inherently, inevitably it narrows my focus. So when my focus is narrow, I’m going to be much more likely to think I’m right, they’re wrong, or I’m wrong. They’re right.

Or if there’s a threat here and I’m going to stop seeing all of the many possibilities that are here, I’ll be focusing on how am I powerless versus how am I powerful. And if I’m not being powerful, I don’t have any ability to create anything new. A couple others that I’ll just list briefly here and if you’re interested in learning more about these, um, please, you know, send me the question about it. One would be avoiding uncomfortable sensations. So I’m sitting in the chair, I’m starting to feel a little bit of fear. I noticed I’m clamping down on that fear and now I’m feeling a lot of body aches. I keep trying to get away from the body aches. My back is achy. I’m shifting all around. Ooh. I don’t want to feel that. I don’t want to feel that I’m creating tension in my whole body by trying to escape a feeling that is here.

I’m disconnecting from reality. The reality of my sensation. We can do this equally as well with maintaining any addictive behaviors. It’s the same. It’s, I am trying to avoid an uncomfortable situation or you know, I numb out with the TV. I know I’m out by fighting and avoiding the thing that’s actually bothering me or I’m really trying to control a lot of things. These are all just ways I’m numbing that are going to deepen my sense of victimhood. So as a creator, the invitation is allow those feelings and sensations to come through. Remember that you are powerful and that there’s possibility here and focus on that vision with an insane sense of curiosity and passion. Like really letting yourself feel is huge and then you can play and have fun with it. So that is the creator role and above the line, the victim becomes that creator. And that’s really the essence of the above the line experience.

The second flavor in the empowerment triangle is the challenger. And what the challenger does is they apply loving pressure and they sometimes use discomfort to provoke others to take action. They call forth something new. And this can look like, “I believe in you.” I see something more in you than you are taking ownership of right now and I see that it’s possible and I stand for you bringing that forth. I stand for you owning your power. I stand for you taking responsibility. I stand for you courageously becoming self aware or aware of your impact, aware of the many things that you have control over. And often this comes out like, “grr, I’m angry.” And the anger can really be of service. If it’s not coming from that villainy position of blame and criticism.

Instead it’s coming from more is possible. Bring it forth. The challenger is looking to change patterns that are no longer serving either that person or this situation. They do this by encouraging and kind of holding that mirror up and saying, “you need to face what’s no longer of service here.” They’re not defending their own beliefs, but they’re raising up that mirror and saying this is no longer of service. They’re all about action. So when we’re in challenger mode, we are interested in facilitating action that is kind of, that takes responsibility for outcomes, right? We want to encourage people who are in victim mode to go into that creator mode. So we want to find limiting beliefs. Like what’s the thing that’s in the way to say that I’m challenging someone who’s in victim mode, which is one of my favorite things to do as a coach.

I’m going to be looking for how are they holding themselves back? What’s the self-limiting belief that’s at play here? You know, a lot of people have a belief like, “I can’t because I never have before,” which is absurd because the only way that you can is if you do something you never have done before. It’s the only path through. Also, it’s absurd because in fact you have done it before. I just took a different form. So there’s always some like analogous experience to draw from. Maybe you weren’t a CEO before, but you were, you did organize a birthday party. There’s always something that you can draw from. And as a challenger I’m going to be standing for, “you do have the resources, you are complete and whole. You are resourceful, you’re creative, you’re whole. And you can bring, you can bring all that power forth.”

They’re insistent and rigorous about making conscious what was previously unconscious. And this can be quite uncomfortable for the victim who’s receiving that challenging. It’s one of the reasons why, you know, I do recommend if you’re looking for a coach to find somebody who is a very skillful challenger because without that ability to be able to stand in that sometimes uncomfortable space of growth where something that was previously in the shadows and unconscious is becoming conscious. People just stand there, you know, without going to blame. And also without getting scared and seeing you as a victim and shying away like that takes quite a bit of character and resilience and skill actually. So looking for who are the people in my life who are willing to do that for me, who are willing to say, here’s a blind spot.

And if you’re interested in playing this role for others in your life. What I found in my own personal experiences, if I hold on say that I noticed that you’ve got a self limiting belief or there’s a big blind spot, there’s something that’s seeming to be kind of operating non-consciously for you. And I’m interested in you becoming conscious of that because I think that that pattern is not serving you or, or a situation. If I hold on to that belief too long, that story too long in myself and I don’t act on it by challenging you, I might slip into villain hood or I might slip into seeing you as a victim or I might see myself as a villain and I might start blaming myself for having that thought. There’s something really imperative. In my experience about when you see an opportunity to challenge, checking in and being like, “am I above the line right now? Am I seeing them as a villain or am I seeing them as a creator?”

And if the answer is creator, immediately I go for it. And I just trust and I, you know, one of my own pieces of personal integrity as a coach is I want to go into every single coaching session willing to be fired because if I’m not willing to stand for you becoming fully conscious, I am not doing my job for you as a coach. And in general, this has served me really well. It often stirs things up. It’s tons of fun. We all learn, and then we become really good friends. You’d be amazed at the challenges I’ve given and how deep those friendships have become now. So it’s really possible to do this role in a way that’s very, very loving. The key I think for me is I really trust myself that I’m in integrity and that I’m coming from love.

I don’t work with people that I don’t feel that with. If there’s something that’s triggering to me about that person, I know there’s something going on non-consciously over here in me and I’m not going to try to resolve that on you. Uh, you know, that’s a professional ethics thing for me. I seek out opportunities to challenge those that I really feel I feel myself staying in that state of love and that state of trust when I’m with you. And there are lots of people, all of us have in our lives that we love. And it’s an important thing to look at those we love and say, “is everything here serving them? Is everything serving you?” Is there something else that, that you’re really wanting from them, really wanting for them and helping people, giving people just, you know, loving feedback, that you’re wanting something different, that you see something more is possible, is a way to tap into your authentic anger, to help someone to really clarify what they want and to motivate their action.

Doesn’t mean that you’re right about your challenge, but the energy that you come from there of that loving challenge is that’s what empowers people to begin to see themselves as creators. So don’t worry so much about the content of your message here, but it’s so much about the energy. Are you coming from above the line? So to just put this in contrast, you know, a challenger is one who questions any and all beliefs in judgments for them. There is no right and wrong, good and bad. You know, black and white, the villain on the other hand is really, really convinced they’re right and that and that there is a wrong and that you are wrong. The villain has an incredible sense of time, urgency, whereas a challenger is spacious.

They might want it, they might want it now, but they’re not panicked. They don’t, they’re not convinced they’re right about the timeline and because they see others as whole as opposed to as victims, they can give people space with that presence of challenge to come to their own, um, growth and realizations on their own. Essentially here the challenger has an embodied skill of being able to stand in the face of uncertainty and discomfort and strong emotions, both theirs and others. And just stand in those with ease and presence and awareness and resilience and love. It is courageous to challenge and it is loving to challenge. And if you tell me a person who’s changed the world that is a challenger, it’s a role that in our culture we do not exercise often enough. We are so quick to go into blame and we often blame the challenger thinking, “oh no, it’s really important that we keep the peace. We shouldn’t make anyone feel bad.”

I can’t make anyone feel bad, that’s kind of up to them. But I certainly can support someone by raising their self awareness and sometimes that might be uncomfortable. And in fact, discomfort is a huge ally in changing. So if they want to change, I can be an ally for them in helping them to have a safe space, to feel that discomfort of self awareness and to realize there really is something new that I want here. So I think this is one of the most exciting and exhilarating roles to play. It’s certainly one that most of us are not super practiced in and haven’t seen role modeled very, very well. So I really encourage you to learn more about this role and read more about it. And I will post some very useful resources in the show notes, including a couple of books and videos and I have some handouts there that you can download as well. So that’s going to be on

Let’s move on to the third and final flavor of the empowerment triangle. The coach. Now by coach, I don’t mean someone like myself who is a professional coach and gets paid for that as their job. I mean you, I mean that part of you who encourages invites people to see themselves as powerful and facilitates people in making progress, helps them get clear on what they want and what actions might be involved in getting there, helps them make baby steps, helps them create plans small and large, but things that are practical and grounded in reality. How can you make it real, but also can you dream bigger? And can you see all of your resourcefulness here? A coach can help people identify resources that are internal and resources that are external. And one of the things that this podcast is offering you is a, you know, I’m standing here as somebody who believes that you are powerful.

I believe you are creative and you are whole. I’m trying to offer you baby steps that will just help you along the way and also invite you to create a plan of your own baby steps of your own. I want to be here to challenge you but also to encourage you. So as a coach I can work with somebody who’s in a victimhood mentality, just in drama below the line. Like all of us are often as humans and I can see, I know that you don’t see yourself as powerful right now, but I do and I’m going to help you by being curious and asking questions. I’m going to help you begin to get curious about what is all the power you’ve been leaving on the table. You know, often as victims, we like to think that none of it’s our fault and that all of this is happening to us and we had no part in playing it.

And it coach can help you identify what are all of the things that actually are in your control. And sometimes that might mean how can you take responsibility for creating these here circumstances, this exact situation. How can you take some responsibility for this situation even if you don’t like it being here right now. And could you even appreciate yourself for creating it? In my world, we believe we create situations often subconsciously to design learning experiences for ourself. So I may not like that this happened to me, but in some way I helped create it because I’m trying to wake up to something. My soul is trying to learn something and I’m sick of the pattern I’ve been stuck in before. And many of you have heard in earlier episodes, we talk about the challenges that I faced with my back and my back pain was certainly, you know, it played a challenger role in my life.

For a while there it felt like it was a villain. I only began healing when I recognized that that was a challenger for me, that that was something they’re asking me to wake up to. How did I create this situation? What did I do to create that body pain that I was in and the way that it really, kind of shut down my life and my emotions for awhile. And when I was able to see it that way, I was able to work with all of the learnings there. In retrospect, I realize I was a brilliant learning designer for myself. I mean, to give myself that big of a learning challenge at age 25, I am so grateful that I went through that at age 25 and not at age 50.

I learned so, so much about my body and myself, my emotions. So these learning situations, the coach helps the, helps a victim to begin seeing that they were the creator of these learning situations. And that helps you to find all of your unclaimed power. All of the stuff that you could take responsibility for. Friendly coaches are really great at creating satisfying sustainable results, not temporary results, not little quick fixes, but a sense that you’re building something stable while you’re building brick on top of brick and that there’s something here that’s going to be lasting for you. We want to be careful as a coach that we don’t fall back into that hero role. That is our below the line role here. A coach is not ever trying to fix, we don’t see a problem that needs fixing. We see a person who has created a learning situation and is completely capable of creating a new situation and of learning from this one.

So instead of trying to create solutions, we help by asking questions and helping people to identify what they really want. A hero might be really focused on diagnosing the problem, whereas a coach is really interested in clarifying the vision for the future, the vision for the solution. They’re also interested in what can we learn here like that, that’s a really, really fun activity for a coach. Whereas a hero might be actually trying to steer away from the learning to avoid any discomfort, any suffering, a hero would avoid conflict. Whereas a coach sees all dialogue, all debate as another opportunity to learn, not something to escape from and essentially they can do that because they believe that the person they’re working with is a creator. They’re not a victim. The coach appreciates that value, the value of pain and suffering. They appreciate the value of the challenge of learning and by really having that genuine appreciation and the genuine curiosity, they can call forth that creator in all of us.

So these three roles, the coach, the creator and the challenger, they make up the empowerment triangle, the above the line triangle and these are the rules that we can occupy when we are in a state of trust. When we find ourselves in drama and we find ourselves really feeling rigid and stuck and powerless, we can test out and see as any of these rolls going to be a useful path out for me. I want to mention that also there are additional paths to shifting into these roles. One set of these paths is something called shift moves. And in a future episode we’ll dive deeper into shift moves. The shift moves include simple things like taking, you know, doing some deep breathing exercises, wiggling your body around, organizing a drawer, acting out a silly persona that you notice is at play.

You notice yourself kind of acting like a drill Sergeant. You could make that way bigger and act it out, especially in front of people is really, really funny. Um, anything you can do to create levity and laughter and that sense of play can help you to shift above the line. These shift moves can help you find a little bit space so that you can identify, you know, are you really, really willing to shift above the line? And often the answer’s going to be, no, I’m not. We don’t want to fool ourselves into believing that we are above the line when we’re not, because then we’re really missing out on the opportunity to learn whatever it is that we’re trying to learn by being below the line. So I want to encourage you guys not to rush this. There’s no right or wrong place to be.

It’s not right to be above the line. It’s not wrong to be below the line. And like we learned in last episode, the second I believe that there is a right and wrong place to be. Boom. I just landed myself right down there in the Drama Triangle because I’m in that black and white right and wrong boat. So the key is can I really just love myself wherever I am and like some of this more body oriented shift moves, they can help me find that sense of space around a perceived problem so that I can reconnect with my present self, like my present moment and in that I can access more of that love. And the curiosity that will let me learn. The best framework that I know of for shifting above the line are the practices laid out in the book, The 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership.

And this is a book created by The Conscious Leadership group and in partnership with Kaley Klemp, it’s written by Kaley and Diana Chapman and Jim Dethmer and it’s a fantastic book, really rich. It combines practices from a whole bunch of different streams of work and gives you a really solid toolkit for how you can work on shifting. And this is a great deal of the work that I do with my clients and we’re going to have lots and lots of episodes that cover different tools in this, in this toolkit. I’m including a lot that I’ve adapted and invented on my own. And I really highly recommend checking out their website, which is and it has lots and lots of tools for resources and some excellent videos. And there you can learn about these three roles and some of the shift moves that I just described before we go.

I want to reiterate a point that is foundational and we’ve talked about it before on this podcast. It’s certainly in episode one and it’s the concept of willingness. So once we’ve learned this tool, if there’s above the line, below the line drama triangle, empowerment triangle, it can be really tempting to walk around the world, judging self and other for being below the line and saying, “Hey, like get above the line.”

Really important for all of us as we step into a coach role to remember that there is no change without willingness. You know, only coach the willing trust be in a state of trust that each of us is here on our own personally designed learning experience and that each of us is going to take our own time and learn things in our own pace. And that there’s no right or wrong way to do that.

There’s no right or wrong place to be. We can help each other to stoke our willingness to become more conscious, to stoke. Our willingness to shift into a creator mode. I can relish your vision with you. I can draw out more details. I can help you find that the passion again of being a creator by sitting in that space with you and helping you envision it. I can coach you and reaffirm that I am encouraging you. I see the power that you have. I can help you reclaim that. And as a challenger, I can hold up the mirror and help you see the things that you haven’t been wanting to see that are limiting you. But I can’t make you willing. I can’t make you willing. I can simply stoke your willingness and I got to trust that on your own time you’re going to get there. So it’s very easy to, you know, kind of weaponize this work and I want you to hold it with great care. It’s an extremely powerful toolkit, one you can certainly apply to yourself and is best applied to yourself first and foremost.

Before really working on others, work on yourself. I’ve worked with many CEOs who are eager to bring this work into their organization and we don’t really allow that until they’ve done some of this work on their own.

All right. I’m sure you’ve got lots and lots of questions. I can’t wait to hear what they are. I would love you to leave me questions in your review on iTunes. We’ll dive more into these topics with more depth later on in future episodes. And in the meantime, please come and download some tools to help you find the willingness to shift above the line and to occupy these awesome roles in the empowerment triangle. Go to

Now, I hope to stoke your willingness by enticing you with the subject of next week’s episode, which is how to live in your Zone of Genius. I remember when I first heard that term Zone of Genius, it just tickled me and I felt that instant, “Ooh, what is that?”

And did you know what? Everyone has one. Eeryone has a Zone of Genius. Above the line, I’m committed to living in my Zone of Genius. That’s one of my key commitments and what that means is I’m going to spend most of my time and most of my energy in areas that feed me, that feed my soul in the areas where I am naturally talented and skilled and where I find myself getting more energized, more life giving, or I’m in creative flow where I lose my sense of time. These are activities that I would do even if I needed to pay to do them. So the key here is we’re going to discover what our Zone of Genius is and then we’re going to get committed to living in it. This is something that we’ll talk about in many episodes and I cannot wait to dive into it with you next week. Come back and let’s get into your Zone of Genius.