Monthly Archives: April 2014

The Art of Shift – Creating Lasting Improvement in Life

We are humans of change. What we wear today, the food we eat, even the direction we drive from one place to another changes. We change so many things so often that change has become the norm, and has little lasting impact.

When was the last time you took a self-improvement course, maybe your New Year’s resolutions (by now, most of us have long forgotten those). And as a direct result, you were going to change, and maybe for a short time you did. Did the change not last? Most fall back into that old habit/way of life.

And what of shift? From where I coach, it is all about shift. When shift happens, we cannot go back. For shift to truly occur, a few things have to also happen. The first is an awareness of  “fault line” within your BE-ing – a  place of weakness. Next, things happen and your world gets shaken up along that fault line, and movement occurs. And in this movement, you cannot go back. The weak structures collapse, and are replaced by new stronger structures.

Imagine wanting to quit smoking, then the doctor says they may have found lung cancer. In that instance a shift occurs. The smoker quits smoking instantly–wanting to live creates the shift space where smoking is stopped, NOW!

Or perhaps you notice you keep doing the same thing, getting the same result. You are tired of that result. You talk to and hire a coach, and suddenly you are experiencing a whole new world because shift has occurred and you don’t go back.  You have actually shifted, and you cannot undo that shift.

This week, take an intentional and authentic look at your life. Not from a judgmental perspective, but from an inquisitive space. Answer the following questions and see what arises:

1) What am I most happy about in life?
2) What is not working for me in life?
3) How much effort have I put into changing it?
4) How much have I done to shift it?
5) How long did it last?

Allow the inquiry to direct you. Our birthright is to be living an incredible life. Life is an adventure. And when you create a shift in your life, you just may be surprised at the joy that gets created in life.

Create an AMAZING week. If you have questions, please contact me, I’d be happy to assist you!

Contributed by Executive, Life and Spirituality Coach, Jim Pehkonen

Life Coaching on Skid Row

The LA Times recently featured an article about life coaching on skid row.

Life coach Wendy Newman was accustomed to Beverly Hills clients when she signed on for the gig. She remembered how much she enjoyed working with underprivileged youth in the past and decided to give it a go.

The result? This was nothing like working with those kids.

The women she met were hardened, scarred by tragedies in their past– drug addicts, criminals, women with very deep wounds and very thin skin.

Some walked out in the middle of sessions, other started fights, others just glared at the coaches. Finally after a couple months, the coaches seemed to be getting through.

The women were opening up. Understanding that while they may not have been born into the best of circumstances, their choices are what ultimately lead them to where they are today.

One said “I made mistakes. And I made them over and over and over. I could have had a career, a home….Even when it got me into trouble, I kept making the same bad choices again and again.”

Another acknowledged to being jealous of the relationship her four children have with her sister (their aunt) who has cared for them since their mother was put away.  “She’s taking them to basketball practice, to school every day. I gave birth to those four kids. I should be doing that.”

The problem for many of these women is that they suffered tremendous hardship and unthinkable abuse growing up, and nobody was there to help them. Their families were often the perpetrators and therefore having nowhere to turn, these women joined the rest of the world and turned against themselves.

Now they’re learning that they deserve better, and are working towards it by changing their thoughts and making positive choices.

This type of coaching is something every coach should experience if possible. Giving back to your community by listening to people who don’t have a voice is a gift to everyone, including yourself.

Being Self Serving in Life – In a Sacred Way

While out having dinner with a good friend, the conversation turned to his passion – which is getting music and arts back into the schools.

When he speaks of this, he literally lights up. We talked about the upcoming year and the potential from taking this from a local event with about 20,000 people (which occurred last year), to making it a global event within the next 18 months.

The conversation turned to not seeming self-serving and I laughed. Actually, it is time this project become self-serving.

“It is your passion,” I said. “Feed that passion such that you become the space to have your passion become real in the world.”

So I told him to begin telling everyone he was being self-serving with his project.

Initially, my friend just looked at me with a blank look on his face.

“I can’t say that.”  he said.

“Why not? This is your passion,” I replied.

I went on to tell him that he is doing this to serve himself. He believes the importance of bringing music and arts into schools as a part of a young person’s development. What if he told everyone he is being self-serving so as to take this program to the next level and being honest about his motive of having music and arts in every school in the world?

He gets to be self-serving, telling musicians, current and former clients, donors, sponsors, parents, and school administrators that he is committed to getting this program funded to a level so it is in every school, impacting every young person on the planet.

For a moment, let’s look at the impact of this program. It will create funding to bring music and arts back into public schools. A lot of schools with funding problems cut the art and the music programs. The children suffer.

My friend has always been very big in music. It is his passion – and the talent he has managed, the amount of financial reach he has in his phone address book is very deep. And he is humble. It is time to be the space for his dream to become real in the world. It’s a big deal. It likely will be his life’s work and legacy.

Are you feeling intimidated or inspired? Let’s bring this back to you. What is your passion? What would you do to have your passion become real in the world? Are you willing to admit it is self-serving? And by feeding this passion inside you, chances are the world will benefit. You see, by being truly self-serving, chances are you will serve the world.

If you know you have a message or project that could transform some part of the world, but you are hesitating to start because it feels a bit self-serving, please set aside that feeling and those thoughts.

This week, identify that passion. Write it down. Get it out of your head and into a space of action. Tell someone. Send an email. Be in action with your idea. Do it for you. Your inspiration may just shift the universe.

Contributed by Executive, Life and Spirituality Coach, Jim Pehkonen

The Perfection in Your Imperfections

Another yoga class and the Sage spoke to the perfection and imperfection of life. What if we got how perfect our imperfection really is? I smile as the industries that live upon our doubts and fears around our imperfections would collapse if we accepted our imperfections as perfect.

When I say perfect, I mean really stepped into that we are so perfect, especially in our imperfections.

Do you accept the all of who you are? Including the imperfections? Including those places where we are human, making mistakes and errors? What if we don’t look as perfect as the Photoshopped models in the ads?

Two examples are listed at the bottom that show the Photoshopping process, with the before and after. These are typical examples of how the imperfections are removed and the result is the comparison against which most judge themselves.

I think of children here. They have no problem making mistakes and errors: falling down only to get up again. Then falling again and just looking to see what the big people think. If no one notices, they just get up and attempt again. They are completely OK with being exactly as they are, attempting and failing, crying until the pain is gone and then laughing, often with tears still on their faces and giggles on their lips.

Children at an early age are not judging themselves and others – they are just accepting of themselves and everyone, often asking the obvious questions when someone is different or not like they are.

We learn imperfection right around the time we learn to judge and assess, often of ourselves first and then of the world around us. The world becomes a colder place when we do this.

This week, what if you began to notice the places you judge yourself? Where are you hardest upon yourself? Can you take a few seconds to first see these places? And what if, just for this week, notice these places – not from a place of judgment, but from a place of awareness?

Awareness is key. When you can begin to see the impact on your point of view, you can see how deep judgment affects our experience of the world. And that is the key point: affecting your experience of the world. Awareness of judgment leads to the choice of judging the same, more, or less. When we judge less and accept more (a choice), we shift our experience of our world.

This week, see what arises. Whenever you have a positive impact, note your experience and keep those behaviors intact.  Have this be an experiment. Maintain where you see a positive impact. Create your own variation on this game. Write me and tell me what arises, I’d love to hear!

And, if you want to see examples of photo shopping, go here and here.

Create a perfect week … especially through the imperfections …


Contributed by Executive, Life and Spirituality Coach, Jim Pehkonen

Lindsay Lohan and her Life Coach

As you may or may not have seen in the news (er, tabloids) recently, Lindsay Lohan’s docu-series on Oprah’s OWN network has been airing to mixed reviews.

(In my personal opinion, Lohan has a lot of deep issues that will never be dealt with so long as she is surrounded by enablers.)

However, the point of of this post is not Lohan, but her life coach, A.J. Johnson.

In the latest episode, after an emotional disagreement with Lohan, Johnson quit.

In an on-camera interview Johnson said:

“Sometimes it’s best to leave before it gets ugly… it’s not personal, it’s just not really the time to dig in and do the help…”

This is an important lesson all life coaches should consider. Whether you’ve been faced with this decision in your career or not, chances are you will at some point. Obviously, you want to get through to even the toughest clients, but at what point do you draw the line?

When you recognize your client is not being responsive to your coaching, or worse- reacting negatively- do you stay the course or go your separate ways? Do you know when it’s time to quit?

The right time to quit is going to be different for every person and every circumstance. Some coaches may feel quitting is a sign you’ve failed your client, but on the other hand, perhaps severing ties is a sign that you truly see your client and what they can do in the moment.

Maybe it’s time to rethink your thoughts on what it means “to quit.”

The decision to part ways from a client is both a personal and professional choice. Where do you draw that line?


Springtime and Tending to your Mental Garden

“As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.”  ~ Henry David Thoreau

Maybe because spring is here, the Sage was speaking about tending your physical being, and for me it brought up how we tend and feed our mental garden.

Since spring is a time of renewal, let’s look at the best ways to cultivate mental renewal this year. The most powerful aspect of mental renewal is in the realm of thought.

What thoughts do you empower that do not serve you?

Thought is powerful. Our experience of our world is created through our thoughts. When disempowering or negative thoughts fill our mind, our world view is tainted. You have the power to select the perspective by which you create your experience of living.

An example: Life is great or life is not great. Each time you think of it either way, note that it merely is a thought. Depending upon which thought you select, your view of that moment (and your world) is impacted. If you select “life is great,” you will see things which have life appear great. If you select “life is not great,” you will see those things which validate life is not great. And with those life is not great thoughts, you may tend to spiral down into a state of anxiety and worry about things: worry/anxiety begets worry/anxiety.

A thought is just a thought until you tag an emotion to it. In the example of “life is not great,” most people normally tag a very low vibration emotion to it. The emotion feels real throughout your entire body. We then think the thought is real, we feel it – completely.

The best mental garden tool to pull from the tool belt is awareness. Become aware of your thinking as though you are looking at you from a third-person perspective… Just see the thought. If it is a low-vibration emotion tagged to your thought, see it. When you become aware of your mental state, simply let that thought go. THAT is ALL you have to do: let it go. The beauty of the mind is that another thought will be right there. Be aware literally that you have tens to hundreds of thoughts to choose from. Thought is just a choice.

Perspective is the other tool in your belt. Notice that you can see all the thoughts: the great to the good to the dark. Know they exist. When I am working with my clients, we get to a space of knowing the whole range of thoughts exist, and with that knowledge, I empower the thoughts that inspire me. The other thoughts still exist; knowing that means I am aware and I have power to let these thoughts go when I choose them.

One of the most powerful exercises is to quietly sit and become aware of the river of thought. Notice how you can select a thought and how you also can let thought flow. Soon you learn thought empowerment in all perspectives.

This week, simply become aware of the range of your thoughts. Notice when you choose empowering thoughts and non-empowering thoughts. Notice the activities that have you be empowered in your thinking and those which have you be dis-empowered.

The closer you come to knowing that you alone create the world of your experience, the more vital it becomes for you to discover just who is doing the creating.
~ Eric Micha’el Leventhal

Contributed by Executive, Life and Spirituality Coach, Jim Pehkonen

Enjoy Your Day…If You Choose

As I was getting up from my desk to leave for the day, my fellow co-worker in the office across the hall from me miserably said, “Well, since you’re leaving, enjoy the day for me.”

I looked out of the window to see that the sun had begun shining on a lovely snowy day. I can’t wait to get outside and enjoy the fresh air, I thought. Looking back at my co-worker, I could tell that she was feeling drained– stuck behind her desk for four more hours of work. In an attempt to uplift her spirit, I simply replied, “I can do that. I will enjoy it FOR you.”

This little exchange of words gave me a new perspective when I exited the building. I left the confines of my work station feeling like I was entering the big wide world. I was free. I could find so many enjoyable things to do. It was my choice.

While I appreciated that my co-worker helped me redirect my thoughts to the idea that I was free to enjoy the rest of my day, as I walked away I realized that I couldn’t do what I had promised her. I couldn’t enjoy the day FOR her. I could only enjoy the day for me. She could enjoy her day – even if she was stuck in her office. It was her choice.

After we’ve been in a certain position at a certain company for a while, it can be easy to forget that we actually chose to be there. It can be easy to fall into a rut and take on the idea that you are chained to your desk for a certain number of hours a day with nothing really enjoyable happening in your life.

The truth is, the only really enjoyable things are things that we choose to see as enjoyable. The next phone call you receive can be the most unwanted interruption or it could be the most delightful conversation you’ll have all week. The next task on your to-do list could be soul-sucking or it could be the thing that opens the door to more opportunities. Your desk can be your own little oasis or it can be a box-like prison.

It’s not actually the activity, the location, the job, or the work that is enjoyable or not. It’s how you choose to look at it. So whatever is on your agenda today, choose to enjoy the day for yourself. No one else can do it for you.

Amy McGrath is a certified Frame of Mind Coach who helps sensitive professionals in a career depression experience the good stuff in life. She’s a strong believer that when you develop the ability to focus, you CAN have your cake and eat it too. You can reach Amy at