On January 21 I started my day with a good bowl of cafe au lait while taking news of the world; I listened with one ear to CBC Radio-Canada; I read my emails quickly; I checked the news feed of LinkedIn; and it’s finally Facebook that captured my attention: a friend had shared that this was the International Day of hugs! Oh yes, really? I checked on Google and found a nice video about the promotional campaign free hugs (http://www.freehugscampaign.org)
Why am I telling you this? Simply because it takes some nerve to go out into the streets and offer hugs to strangers. When I browsed the history of the investigator of this beautiful movement, I understood how “visceral” and important this cause is for him, that it gives him the energy and motivation to live and share his compelling purpose: “to brighten the lives of people with a hug.”
This story had an impact on me. I do not know why, but that day, I went for a bike ride (I’m currently in Bonita Springs) because I had a real need to spend my overflow of energy. A word softly echoed in my head: “connection”, which is actually an important value that I want to fully honor during the year of 2015. I stopped on my journey to a small local market of fruits and vegetables, where a young Mexican family offered their fresh produces. The mother, who took care of me, spoke only Spanish. With some signs, smiles and the help of her youngest daughter, we managed to understood each other’s. I especially felt how much she was passionate about what she was doing and very proud of everything that surrounded her. I thought in my head; yes that’s really how I want to give life to my value: to connect with others in a simple and authentic way. I’m so excited (read ah ah moment), that my heart start to beat faster, and I say in English to the little girl, could you explain to your mom, that today is the International Day of hugs and that I would like to give her one. The girl simultaneously translated to her mom and I saw instantly a big smile appear! We gave each other a big hug, and with her hands she invites me to do the same with the whole family. Magical moment! I say goodbye and invite them to share hugs with other people who will stop at their market that day.
I ended up giving so many spontaneous hugs during the day that it became natural for me: to my neighbors at the RV Resort, to a young assistant at the Publix grocery, to a man who helped me to inflate my tires at the garage, to some people at the dog park… And it was fascinating to see the various reactions: surprise in the eyes, clumsy, discomfort, ignorance, obligation to comply, laugh…
I am also aware that honoring fully a value is a little more complex that to achieve a goal. Let me explain:
There are goals I want to achieve this year, which includes : lose 20 pounds, exercise every day (biking, yoga, Zumba, kayaking…), expand my coaching client’s base… A good portion of these achievements require me to follow a plan (my S.M.A.R.T plan) and be in action. As of early February, I have already lost 10 pounds; I do yoga or Zumba every two days and I bicycle every day; I expressed differently and more easily my message about my business coaching with tangible results. Not too complicated, not too many questions or adjustments either… However, trying to honor my “connection” value at 100% requires me to be more conscious.
- With people who cross my path: to give myself full permission to be 100% authentic. Clarify and share regularly my assumptions for more intimacy (“in-to-me-see”) and authenticity. In other words: no fake and no bullshit on both sides for more meaningful relationship.
- With myself, to check regularly on how I am doing: energy level, motivation, and inspiration. Keep an eye on my natural resources (strengths, values, qualities…) Question my comfort zones, identify what is there for me here and now.
- In what I do (projects, workshops, coaching …) become aware of what happens during the action mode by being curious and attentive to the entire space that surrounds me and by being responsible for the impacts that I create.
The challenge comes when I have to choose between honoring my value at 100% with the risk of having an extravagant cost to pay for this or adjust the volume of this value and not honor it fully.
Here are some examples of difficult choices:
- After nearly two years of feeding social medias daily on my professional pages (LinkedIn, Google Plus, FB, Twitter), I made the choice, since a few months, to almost stop to write posts or reply to messages that do not correspond anymore to what I’m looking for in an authentic connection. I confess that I now have a short fuse regarding Facebook: I won’t “like” on a message posted on a professional page so I will have a “like” on my page in return: no thank you. I won’t “like” a blog or comment it, so in return that person will do the same thing on my page: no thank you. I won’t write about nothing either, no thank you too. I want a simple and true exchange. I want some life, even if it is virtual. In this example, there is no compromise, I apply my value at 100%.
- For nearly nine months, my spouse and I live and work full time in a 40 feet RV (merci-la-vie.net). The confined space brings us out of our regular comfort zones. Who says confined space, says coalescing. This is true and it requires a lot of adjustments on both sides. To be 100% myself also implies express my emotions and accept those of my spouse. I also have to question myself about what is nonnegotiable, about my ability to give ground for love. And arguments… oh yes, there are! To be authentic is also to speak bluntly, it is to be seen and see the other, it is to give permission to “play” together, it is to accept myself as I am and ditto for the other. In our ten years together, it is now, shoulder to shoulder, that we live significant changes, and at the same time, we also live our dream. In this example, I really have to adjust the volume of my connection in order to prevent losing sight of our relationship, passions and dreams.
- My co-active coaching & leadership business: when I offer an introductory session to coaching, my message is very clear to a potential client: are you willing to commit yourself fully? Are you really ready to get out of your comfort zone by working with me and especially, are you ready to “play bigger” without bullshit? The price to fully honor my value: a smaller niche, but so special. Honoring my value of connection at 100% has also led me to end a partnership with one of my client. Yes, sometimes it’s not easy to be fully accountable!
- Last January I gave my first coaching workshop in a RV resort with the theme “we all have a story to tell”. It was a difficult start as some of the exercises did not really took off. I had underestimated the needs of young retiree customers. By adjusting my value to others, clarifying and sharing my assumptions with the group, I could better align myself with them, hear them better and receive feedback in order to ensure that all of us were winning.
My value “connection” invites me to become aware of my state of being. Yes, it slows me down because I have to take the time to really connect, and it helps me afterwards to take action to achieve all that is possible while remaining fully committed. The formula to remember here is:
Being + Doing = Balance
Without this balance, I would constantly be in the doing, executing, action, action, action… a frantic pace that I do not want and that disconnects myself from what is really important.
We’re already in February. How are things on your end? Have you asked yourself the question recently? How about your goals, resolutions, “Bucket lists”, and visualization… does it roll as you want, really? Are you able to reach a balance or do you find an escape in the doing – as the default mode of action?
Here and now with you dear readers, I am transparent, straightforward and honest with my words. I love blogging, sharing, inspiring, motivating, discussing … but without real connections, nothing holds up for me. I really want to share and communicate with those of you that wish too. All means are good to reach each other’s; we only have to simply allow it. I hope to see you or hear from you soon!
Christine Lecavalier, CPCC-ACC
Co-active coaching & leadership