San Diego Modular Coach Training Program Slots Open!

What invisible jet? I don't see any invisible jet.
Interested in flying in to San Diego?

As folks may know, I am an affiliate of Accomplishment Coaching (graduating in January, woohoo!). I can and no doubt will gush about the ways this training has helped me out, but for now suffice to say that their goal is to produce the best coaches in the world, and it’s a goal they take very seriously. They work closely with the International Coach Federation (ICF) to develop a comprehensive (and intense) training program designed to transform participants from the inside out.

Typically this program involves twelve two-day sessions, one a month over the course of a year and weekly calls with a mentor coach of your own as well. But this isn’t the only model they have– November 7th will be the first day of a “7 Module Program” in San Diego. Long story short: it involves the same number of hours of training as the regular program, but it’s condensed into seven sessions that are 2-4 days each.

If you’ve been looking to get into coaching yourself, this is a great opportunity to jump in! Given how intense the regular program is, I can only imagine what the 7 Module Program is like. I keep thinking of the difference between strong coffee and espresso. >.>

You can sign up directly on their website, or if you’d like more info you can toss me a line as well. I’d love to hear from you!

Iiiiiiiiii’m… Hooked On the Feelings!

Swear Trek: The Worst Year Ever
Image Courtesy of Swear Trek

I’m a coach. My job is to help people overcome obstacles and achieve their goals. And sometimes, shit happens. It does.

But sometimes, shit just keeps on happening. The client comes to me with something big and dramatic and important that they just have to work through– and it’s always a very legit problem, mind you– and we address it, only to discover that next week, the client has a new big and dramatic and important thing to address… Their aunt is in the hospital. Their credit cards were stolen. Their car randomly exploded, taking out the garage and breaking every window within a half-mile radius. Over time, if we let it, what started out as a fairly straightforward coaching relationship will turn into a crazy game of “whack-a-problem.”

And none of the client’s goals are being met. How could they be? The client has big, important, SUPER REAL PROBLEMS to deal with! What’s going on here?

As a coach, my assumption is always that you are the master of your own life, and that therefore anything that’s in it, is there because you are making something of it.

Just to be clear, I don’t mean that my disaster-stricken client is deliberately going out and poisoning their aunt, giving their credit cards to the first thief who wanders by, or dynamiting their own car. But the events taking place are just that– events. It’s what those events mean to you that gives them their power.

If your aunt is in the hospital, you have a choice: 1) spend your time freaking out about it, or 2) acknowledge it, maybe visit and bring her some flowers and a book to help her feel better (hospitals are boring as heck), and then get back to your goals.

If your credit cards were stolen, you have a choice: 1) spend your time freaking out about it, or 2) call the credit card companies to get them replaced, and then get back to your goals.

If your car randomly exploded… well okay, that one probably takes a little more dealing with, but even then you can reach a state of equilibrium and then get back to your goals.

“But these problems are real!” the client may object. “They’re important! They’re valid! They’re waaay too big for me to pay attention to anything else!” And the client isn’t wrong, but the client is still making that choice. Literally, as long as you can breathe and move and operate in the world, you have the ability to be working on your goals; and if you choose to spend your time freaking out about your problems– as real and valid as they are– then freaking out about your problems is all that will get done.

And, I mean, if you want to pay a coach to sit with you and freak out about all the crazy things going on in your life, I can totally do that, but you could probably get it a lot cheaper by inviting a friend out for coffee.

You might consider, instead, taking full advantage of your coach’s services: exploring possibilities, creating new ideas and moving in new directions, creating a new future based on what you really, truly want from your heart– instead of just taking the least-uncomfortable thing you think you can get.

That’s a conversation I’m much more interested in. How about you? 🙂

Your Friend In the Mirror

We all live inside a bubble. You’re in yours, I’m in mine, pretty much everyone you know is in theirs. And the inside of that bubble is a silvery mirror. The world you perceive is actually your own reflection.

This is hardly a new insight, I realize; I learned about the psychological concept of “projection” many long years ago. But until I started coaching, I didn’t truly understand it, nor did I realize what a potent force it could be in somebody’s life.

Everyone you meet is a mirror, and how you react to that person is how you react to the parts of yourself that you see in them (whether or not those parts are even “objectively” there). This is most often pointed out in the case of somebody who really gets up your nose. “Ugh! I can’t stand Rob at the office, he’s so self-absorbed and inconsiderate!” Well maybe he is, but the chances are you wouldn’t notice his self-absorption and lack of consideration, if on some level you didn’t recognize and identify with those less-than-nice traits in yourself.

But the truth cuts both ways– if there’s something you really admire in somebody, well guess what? You identify with that quality too. Love someone’s amazing sense of humor? It would be totally lost on you if you didn’t also have a sense of humor! Touched by someone’s kindness? The only way you can appreciate that is by seeing the kindness in your own heart. As a coach, I’m a kind of “professional mirror,” and seeing the awesomeness in my clients has been fundamental in teaching me to bring the awesome, myself!

I see many people (clients and non-clients both) who are eager to beat themselves up for their perceived flaws and failures. It’s trained into us from childhood, from parents telling us not to be too rambunctious to school systems designed to rank you from A+ to F. And since those flaws and failures are given so damn much attention by the world around us, we sometimes start to think of them as who we are. But when you think of your flaws and failures as who you are, guess what? They’re all you see in the mirror. Living in an environment that is constantly judging you, trains you to start judging everyone around you in return.

But you can break this cycle! You can be happier in yourself, and you can also be kinder with the people around you, which will in turn lead them to be happier and more positive with you. How?

  1. Be Aware of It. This is the first step on any journey of self-transformation. When you find yourself thinking judgey thoughts (about yourself or others), stop and be aware of it. Is this thought fact, or interpretation? Is it useful? Is it kind? Or is it a script that you heard when you were young and you’re just repeating now out of habit? Is Rob at the office actually self-absorbed and inconsiderate? What if he’s carrying more than he can handle and doing his best? What if he’s spent his whole life being told to “Look out for number one!” and is actually supremely lonely inside?
  2. Evaluate It. How is this thought serving you? How is it holding you back? What might be a better thought to put in its place? If it’s a judgement about someone else, what quality in yourself are you actually reacting to? We can all be self-absorbed and inconsiderate sometimes.
  3. Create the New Thought. Say Rob at the office really is self-absorbed and inconsiderate. Some people are! But you’re never going to make him not be self-absorbed and inconsiderate, are you? So you have a choice: you can sit and stew and not be able to stand him, or you can find a new way of being in which his self-absorption isn’t a problem for you any more. Route around him, minimize contact with him, think of ways to get what you need without him.
  4. Forgive and Let Go. When someone’s behavior isn’t a problem for you any more, let go of any lingering emotional attachment you have to it. They don’t have any more power over you than you give them at this stage. And the great thing about this, is the more you can forgive someone else for a thing that bugs you, the easier it will be to forgive yourself for the same thing. Forgiveness is also a habit and a skill that can be learned!

Being kinder to your friend in the mirror is being kinder to yourself as well. And can’t we all use a little more of that?

Passing for Human at #AnthroCon!

Coaching flyer for AnthroCon
“YCH” = “Your Character Here” 🙂

July is back and with it, for me, comes AnthroCon! One of the largest, and certainly the most famous of the furry conventions, this is a yearly pilgrimage for me to sell my comics, get commissions for new work, and reconnect to and re-energize my creative fires.

Friday at 3:00, I’ll also be hosting my Passing For Human panel, giving some quick tips on how to open up and make friends in a world full of strangers.

Pittsburgh is always great to us, and we love it there. Come check it out if you can! It’s a giant, happy party and we’d be thrilled to see you!

Operation: Awesome!

By no longer showing Looney Tunes, we are failing future generations.

The rest of this year will be a time of big changes for me. I have a plan, which in my usual humble way, I have dubbed Operation: Awesome! It’s designed to integrate my coaching practice and my creative pursuits into a unified, sustainable, and, y’know, lucrative profession, because I cannot very well make the world a better place if I can’t even put food on the table.

Operation: Awesome! has four major components:

  1. The coaching practice itself: paying clients at various tiers, pro-bono clients, and side projects such as speaking engagements
  2. Blog income: ProudToBeAFurry.org; a coaching blog I’ll be launching later this year
  3. Art/comics/convention income: AnthroCon, Midwest Furfest, book sales, etc.
  4. Patreon: new goals and reward tiers, expanding my reach

Creating the plan for Operation: Awesome! was much like planning a car trip: I decided where I wanted to be, and when I wanted to get there, and then worked backwards to figure out the route, creating “milestones” along the way that would let me know I was on the right track.

Next, I made a list of the resources I had on hand to get me started on the journey– including my own skills and material resources; my network of friends, family, and social contacts; and services I could call on. Since I was planning from the future, this part was particularly important because it showed me what I didn’t need to “go shopping for” as part of the plan.

Finally, I created a timeline based on my milestones. Here’s a chunk of it:

Project Awesome! A small piece.

Notice the “income source TBD” chunks. This is a working roadmap, not set in stone, and I fully expect to tweak, alter, or revise it as things change. I don’t know where that “$2,200 TBD” in August is going to come from yet, just that I intend to figure something out by then. I might be making that much in blog income by then. I might come up with a great idea for group seminars. I might have blown the doors off my $300 Patreon goal. But the point is, now I know that I will need to work on that.

At this level, the project plan doesn’t include “action items”– that’s deliberate, because it’s where a lot of people get mired in details and sent into overwhelm. The plan is a roadmap, not a turn-by-turn set of instructions. Once you have the plan in place, you only create action items for the next milestone.

July is two months away, and my situation or needs may very well have changed by then, so coming up with action items for then might very well be a waste of energy that I could better spend on what I’m doing today. Right now, I’m aiming for the May 31st milestone, so I have created a “to do” list based on that and started to put thought into June. August and September aren’t even on my radar.

Anyone can come up with their own project plan, but honestly I recommend getting someone to go through it with you. Project: Awesome! was a collaboration between myself and my own coach. It requires a certain amount of time and brainstorming, so in my own coaching practice I like to devote two sessions to it. But the benefits are huge, and well worth the time investment.

With my project plan in place I am more confident of success, I am more aware of potential pitfalls and how to avoid them, and I have a clear vision of what “success” will look like. By planning it from the future, it feels like “Future Me” has reached backwards in time and told me how he got where he is, and that I am now calling that into existence by putting in the work.

Let’s rock this thing. 😉

Passing For Human at #FurMore18

Just some of my books!
This weekend is Fur The More 2018 in Tysons Corner, Virginia, and I’ll be there! Most of the time you’ll find me in the Artist Alley, with copies of issue six (“Ready to Rumble!”) and the first Rough Housing collection “Giant Enemy Crab!”.

Sunday morning will also be the first running of my new panel, “Passing for Human.” Drawing on my training as a success coach (and backed with a lifetime of experience convincing people that I am in fact a human being), the panel will cover the basics of meeting new people and making friends, how to handle yourself in public situations, and how to build positive and healthy relationships while avoiding some of the traps that can afflict a fandom. It will also address positive ways to meet and interact with artists and other creators within the fandom, as well as avenues to get out there and become the sort of person other fans will want to meet.

So in you’re if the Washington D.C. area, I hope you’ll come on by! My panel is Sunday morning at 10:30 in the Madison meeting room, and the rest of the time, you’ll find me in Artist Alley. See you there!

Your Own Captain’s Log

The U.S.S. Enterprise in orbit.
Keeping a journal is one of, if not the easiest and most effective tools to keep your goals on track. You can’t very well tell where you’re going without knowing where you are and where you’ve been.

The trap that many people fall into that prevents them from keeping an effective journal is that they approach it as a literary exercise, instead of a productivity tool. Poetic insights and vivid descriptive detail are great, and if you want to do that for its own sake, more power to you! But that’s not the purpose. The kind of journal we’re talking about here is a place to keep tabs on what’s going on, and something you can refer to later to refresh your memory and help you see what progress has been made. A shipboard log, of the type kept by Captain Kirk, was the age of sail’s equivalent to a black box, and is a lot closer to the kind of journal we’re talking about here.

To get around this trap, I recommend a Five Minute Journal. As the name implies, is something you write up quickly in the morning to start your day, and then update quickly at night before going to bed. You’re not writing beautiful diary entries here, you’re just creating short, bulleted lists, so you don’t need a gorgeous leather-bound tome. Just grab a cheapy spiral notebook and get moving!

A Five Minute Journal is updated twice a day, when you get up and before you go to bed, so you could keep it on your nightstand if you like. Your morning update creates your day’s mindset and sets your intentions for the day, and your evening update reviews the results and looks for improvement opportunities. So for example, this morning my Five Minute Journal would look something like this:

APRIL 2, 2018 – MORNING

Today I am grateful for:

  1. COFFEE
  2. All the fun I had this past weekend. 🙂
  3. Payday!!!

What will I accomplish today?

  1. Make an appointment with my accountant.
  2. Get a haircut.
  3. Write a Coaching Blog post. ;P

Daily Affirmations. I am…

  1. …bringing people happiness and self-realization directly through coaching or indirectly through the creation of inspiring and enduring stories and works of art.
  2. …making healthy choices and taking care of myself.
  3. …fun to be around and I naturally attract positive relationships into my life.

Total time it took me to write up these lists: five minutes. Hence the name, “Five Minute Journal.” Tonight, my followup might go…

APRIL 2, 2018 – EVENING

Three Amazing Things That Happened Today

  1. Completely cleared my to-do list, as well as finished the rest of the script for my next comic (bonus!)
  2. New haircut makes me look like a million bucks
  3. My cats were ridiculously adorable

How Could I Have Made Today Even Better?

  1. I wasn’t really enjoying those YouTube videos I spent my lunchbreak watching. 😛 I could have found something more fun there.
  2. I miss my buddy out in California. I could have called him today.
  3. Eat more chocolate. >.>

Again, five minutes. Super-simple, but remarkably effective. The morning entry gives you a roadmap for a productive day and puts you in the right frame of mind to carry it out. The evening entry gives yourself a pat on the back for doing a great job, and also gives your subconscious things to chew on while you sleep and points to things you might put on your lists for tomorrow.

A nice added bonus to these lists is that you can go back and re-read them later when you’re short on motivation, when you’re having a bad day, or even just want to review how far you’ve come and all the things you’ve accomplished. It can also serve as a reminder– “Oh yeah, that project I was working on six months ago kinda got stalled, I should really finish that off!”

The Five Minute Journal works especially well in combination with a Bullet Journal– but that’s a big topic that I’ll get into another day. In the meantime, if you’re interested, check out BulletJournal.com to get started.

Now get moving! Grab a notebook, make your first morning entry, and put this tool to work!

Sound helpful? Interested in learning more tools to get things done, or want to put the power of my coaching to work for you? Contact me via direct message, or send an e-mail to john@bringingtheawesome.com to set up a complimentary session today.

Creativity Coaching Slots Open!

Louis, after some creativity coaching!
YOU CAN DO EET

As folks may know, my day job is a success coach. I work with people in lots of different walks of life, but my native tribe is, was, and ever shall be creative types! 🙂 To that end, I’m opening three slots for artists or writers to get 90 days of coaching at no cost.

YOU GET: 1-hour weekly sessions via phone or internet hangout where we look at where you are in your creative pursuits, what obstacles you are facing and how to overcome them, and the possibilities that will open up for you to get you where you want to be.

WHAT I ASK IN RETURN: Feedback! I want to be the awesomest, most kickass coach ever– which means I need to learn what I’m doing right, what I’m doing wrong, and how I can do it better. 🙂

NOTE: This service is coaching– i.e., helping you reach your goals; not art tutor, editor, or similar services. Adults only, please. 🙂

Send me an e-mail via john@bringingtheawesome.com if you’d like to set up an intro call to talk about nabbing a spot! 🙂

-The Gneech

What’s In Your Way?

Gandalf will start his next project as soon as he deals with this thing that came up.

Defense mechanisms are sneaky buggers. They’re totally internal, but they disguise themselves as being external. Do any of these sound familiar?

  • “I can’t get anywhere on my print-making business because I’ve got too much work around the house to do this weekend.”
  • “Once I get this credit card paid off, I can finally move out of this crappy apartment.”
  • “I have this book idea I’ve been messing around with for a while, but every time I start to get somewhere on it, a big project comes up at my day job and I get knocked off track.”

Most of us human beings are amazingly good at putting up roadblocks at the end of the driveway and then complaining that we can’t get anywhere because the road is closed. And most of the time we don’t even realize we’re doing it.

Something that’s come up with my clients– not to mention something I’m guilty of, myself– is the trap of Being Busy.

And why not? “Being busy” is seen as virtuous in our culture. Being busy doing things for other people, even more so! Nobody would fault you for calling your mom, spending the weekend at work for a crunch project, taking care of your sister’s kids for a few hours, driving your brother to the doctor, helping a friend get the kinks out of that amazing prop he’s building to take to the next convention, and putting in a few hours of volunteer work at the community center. I mean really, they need your help, aren’t you kind of a jerk if you don’t do those things?

When you’re in the trap yourself, it seems so reasonable and natural… but when you look at it from the outside, it’s obvious what’s going on. By constantly having something SO much more urgent than your own project, that you just HAVE TO do today, not only do you get to stay snug in warm in your comfortable present situation, but you also get to pat yourself on the back for being Virtuously Busy.

And by some amazing coincidence, there’ll be a whole new set of things to be Virtuously Busy with tomorrow!

This is where a coach comes in. Your coach prioritizes YOU– not your mom, your co-workers, or your friend’s amazing prop-making hobby. All your coach cares about is whether you’re getting anywhere on the goals YOU want to achieve. And as an outside observer, your coach can see the Virtuously Busy trap for what it is, and help you navigate your way out of it.

Now some of these external things may very well have real consequences that need dealing with, but even there your coach will help you sift through and figure out which ones are essential and which ones are just fear wearing a rubber mask.

Sound helpful? Need a guide to help you out of the Virtuously Busy trap? Want to put the power of coaching to work for you? Send an e-mail to john@bringingtheawesome.com to set up a complimentary session today.

Officially a Coach! …Now, Where to Start?

This weekend was my first full training session with Accomplishment Coaching. It was an intense crucible for everyone involved, bringing up a lot of intense emotions, but also providing the coaches-in-training with some powerful and useful tools, not just for the nitty-gritty administrivia of contracts and billing, but more importantly for jumping right in and providing value to clients immediately.

Of course, before a coach can help clients, they need to find some! This being Day One, my docket is currently empty, other than peer-coaching sessions with the rest of my team-in-training, and I am still building the framework for the business. I have some mid- to long-term plans around this (including a practice name, URL for a future website, and so forth), but as of today I am still grinding away at the basics– things like liability insurance, arranging an accountant, getting my billing methods in place, etc. As of today, my most visible step has been to update my LinkedIn profile, but hey, ya gotta start somewhere.

At the end of the weekend, we set declarations of intention around what we were going to build before the next session (March). Figuring that finding two clients would be a “safe bet,” I declared that I would get four. In my mind, for better or worse, that’s the “pass/fail” number. But I have also set a “stretch goal” for myself of actually getting six.

So… hey! Anyone out there looking for a success coach… or know anybody who is? Here’s a quickie synopsis of what coaches do (c/o the International Coach Federation):

Professional coaches provide an ongoing partnership designed to help clients produce fulfilling results in their personal and professional lives. Coaches help people improve their performances and enhance the quality of their lives.

Coaches are trained to listen, to observe and to customize their approach to individual client needs. They seek to elicit solutions and strategies from the client; they believe the client is naturally creative and resourceful. The coach’s job is to provide support to enhance the skills, resources, and creativity that the client already has.

And that’s what I do! I’m champing at the bit to get started, so seriously, I’d love to hear from anyone who wants to connect about it. Shoot me an e-mail via john@bringingtheawesome.com and we can schedule a call or chat to figure out how to start bringing the awesome. 🙂

-The Gneech