How I coach. What you can expect.
“I define connection as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.” Brené Brown
If you are considering doing Nature Rx 100 with me, this page may to help you decide if my services might be of value for you or your team. And by the way - if you'd like to fast-forward past this and get started - please contact me and let's arrange a time to connect! You can use the form on this site or text/call 1 503 610 0702
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We'll work as a team and it's important that there's a good match. It's a relationship and to the extent we can know each other's strengths and weaknesses, we'll produce success-after-success, ad infinitum. The process of the coaching is to identify your attributes, make an action plan and create the environment where you thrive.
It's about radical acceptance. It's about transcending struggle and catching lift. It's discovering a state of peak flow -- then staying there. Powerful. Elemental. Effortless.
My MO is action. I'm focused on objectives and measurable outcomes. As an author, I understand that the creative process demands brainstorming, openness and often - quiet deliberation. I find that an un-hurried, thoughtful and collaborative process, works well for most people I work with.
My clients often take on challenging goals. Sometimes there are set-backs. I recognize that sometimes we have to get-still, dig-deep or fight through, to protect the dream. Sometimes it's best to sit with decisions and sometimes - we let go.... I bring patience, robustness and resilience to the process.
Like many people - I've taken on challenges. I've succeeded in some and failed in others. Life, military training and mountain work, have provided opportunities to work in situations which occasionally have been extraordinarily taxing and sometimes created situations which dictate, "find a way or don't come back".
I think that sometimes, our darkness and wildness will save us, that we can always find grace in struggle and we can choose lightness -- even in the face of great difficulty. I know that opportunity is often disguised as something painful. I've found that truly owning my potential, can bring up fear that eclipses anything I've personally experienced on the edge of an ice-cliff or the middle of a storm. People I know share the same things with me.
I believe that vulnerability and courage deserve respect. So, I bring a gentle, compassionate and caring approach to the challenging stuff. I find it works best.
In preparation for Nature Rx 100 and to gain an objective viewpoint on what I offer. I surveyed clients and invested in personal-development coaching. I wanted to assess where I can be of most value and best use my skills/experience. I used Clifton Strengths-Finder and Myers–Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) to generate insights.
My MBTI type is INFJ.
Clifton Strengths-Finder listed my first five results as Connectedness, Ideation, Individualization, Empathy and Strategic. These have an uncanny correlation to the step-by-step approach to coaching which I was taught and use. They represent the essence of what I offer.
Thank you for your interest.
Strengths: What you can expect from me.
"When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe." - John Muir
I see connectedness everywhere and especially in nature. It's my experience that connecting with nature causes such deep reflection, such generative feelings, such a deep sense of peace and balance - that we cannot experience it without having a sense of beauty, order and peace. It seeps into us in ways that uplift and inspire us greatly. In studying the effects of being in nature - on physical and emotional health - I see the deeply healing and inspiring effect it can have. I've experienced these things myself, with friends, clients and family.
I imagine that if you are reading this, that you already feel some of the same things too.
I see the opposite of connectedness as separateness. And we see it everywhere in society. We pigeonhole people, ideas and even industries. We compare, categorize and demonize. We waste immense amounts of time trying to figure out, where to place our focus, which method is best, should we do that thing I want (what if I might fail?).
And in nature, it all falls away. Nothing is separate, everything is connected. Personally it's opened me, forced me to accept that the same is true in pursuit of wellness. Perhaps the full expression of wellness might well begin with a pain-point - an hindrance due to a physical or emotional problem, a dream that's been denied too long, some unresolved grief or a simple lack of permission to claim what we know is right for us.... Perhaps though, that pain-point - or simple urge - might lead us through a door to what we were really looking for - but can't know until we start.
It's my volition as a coach that we are all complete to begin with. This has been borne out hundreds of times working with people. What we need is inside of us. Largely the process of becoming fit and healthy is one of subtraction. Being in nature mirrors back to us, to me, in countless of examples of what we need - and what we don't need.
"When I embrace nature, I realize that I don't need; more effort, more money, more attention, more stress, more processed foods or to pack on more weight. In fact maybe I need less? If i simplify the process maybe everything will work better? Maybe I can afford to let go of limiting beliefs, negative feedback and fearful attitudes that hold me back. Maybe I can stop hiding my strengths and just let myself out of the cage?
In her book 'Wild, from Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail'. Cheryl Strayed had this to say
“I knew that if I allowed fear to overtake me, my journey was doomed. Fear, to a great extent, is born of a story we tell ourselves, and so I chose to tell myself a different story from the one women are told. I decided I was safe. I was strong. I was brave. Nothing could vanquish me.”
"I decided I was safe. I was strong. I was brave. Nothing could vanquish me".
She found her true self - in nature.
We all can. The reason that nature - and connectedness - is the foundation of Nature Rx 100 is because I ardently believe, based on witnessing others and my own experiences that we will find a freedom in nature that allows us to tap into the very essence of who we are. To the extent we can embrace a sense of nature on our lives, we can chose feel better, eat better, have more energy, lose the weight, lower the stress, recover the mind, find strength, endurance and effortless-flow.
Cheryl Strayed spent just short of 100 days on her quest, walking 1100 miles on the Pacific Crest Trail. She didn't do it perfectly. She started feeling broken. A different person came out of the forest than the one that went in.
One of the most satisfying aspects of Nature Rx 100 is that we can't know where we'll be in 100 days. Maybe our experience will be as profound as Cheryl Strayed? What if it will be only a fraction of that? In the past few years I've helped design walking vacations for people recovering from obesity and diabetes, international expeditions to climb big mountains, weight loss programs with natural food and natural exercise, park based programs for fitness trainers wanting to get outside of the gym. Everyone experiences different benefits and sometimes the subtlest gains are the richest.
A man I coached with in Seattle, (his name is also John), decided he had to get outside to recover from the awful feelings he was having as a result of chemotherapy. He is 78 and has later-stage prostrate cancer. His Doctors approved so he decided to walk at Greenlake. Sometimes (especially on the days post treatment), the walk was short. 100 or 200 yards. One day after walking two miles, he shared,
"I feel better than I've felt in years, Johnny. There's a chance the disease will probably get me, but right now all I can think about - is when I used to run around here every day. I feel that strength, I feel it right now. I feel at peace. ".
I look forward to learning about how you can harness the power of nature, or would like to. A couple of resources on this site that you may find of interest are.
Two pages you might enjoy:
"The highest form of human intelligence is to observe yourself without judgement." Jaddu Krishnamurti.
Ideation is the process of going from - zero - to idea - to development - to actualization. Guiding people through this process is one of my core skills.
It's possible to get flustered when we know what we want, but can't articulate it. As if we can't see the forest from the trees. Yet it isn't difficult to see the forest from the trees, if we have a mechanism to go back and forth, in, out and around, to see from above and be prepared to look at it from many angles, then retain what is important. It's the same with choosing a path. It might be right there in front of us, but obscured by debris. Ideation is the process of finding that path and deciding whether we want to go down it.
Also, through this process of pattern-recognition and discovery, we can work together to combine what often appear to be disparate skill sets, but when combined, all fit together like pieces of a puzzle that comes together as we lay the pieces out. It's a bit like making a map of your opportunities. It's fun.
As a coach, I often find that once we really understand the depth and breadth of our skills, we find that we already have 95% of everything we need to be successful. However, we might not see it! It's easy to tell ourselves that what we want to achieve will be difficult or complicated, but is it true? When we look deep and broad, to evaluate strengths and opportunities that are already in place, we can make a plan to transform seemingly-unconnected skills into concrete actionable steps.
It's true that becoming fit, or losing weight, or recovering from illness requires among other things; commitment, intelligence, planning, patience, diligence, support, feedback, measurements and accountability.
It's also true that being an engineer, flight attendant, attorney, physician, barista, parent, truck-driver, high school athlete, solider or _________ (fill in the blank) require many of or ALL of those same skills.
These skills are transferable. Yet, we forget our strengths. Worse sometimes, we sell ourselves short. For instance; completing a degree, or raising a child, or working as a teacher are much more demanding and more complicated than getting-in-shape, or learning how to run, or losing weight. However, while what we do everyday can seem so straightforward, the thing we've not yet been able to achieve - can seem terribly hard - or even impossible.
The obvious problem is that sometimes, we forget we can succeed. More of a problem is that when we try and fail, we can create a negative-feedback loop that reinforces the mis-truth that we can't succeed. It's true that success breeds success, so one aspect of ideation is to find examples of where we have been successful, then use these examples to replicate the situations and habits which created those results.
The first step, is to start a conversation about strengths and opportunities. Among other techniques and skills - I use focus, attentiveness, thin-slicing, a combination of intuitive and deliberative processing along with a healthy dose of (to borrow a military term) 'coup d'oeil'.
The ideation challenge is to figure out what are the favorable conditions for success, then to decide how to match your unique talents with a plan to get results. When we do this well - things become straightforward. Clients often tell me that, "It wasn't that hard", "Everything just clicked into place" or "That was easy".
Ideation can seem a soft-skill sometimes, or a dark-art - and there's no manual. Effectiveness in coaching this process has been helped greatly by practicing in situations where solid evaluation was critical to making high-consequence decisions, sometimes under duress, and often in arduous conditions. In mountain guiding, military training and wilderness rescue situations; the ability to figure out the problem, create opportunities and consider a plan all the way to it's conclusion - can make a significant difference to outcomes. My goal is to bring this experience to my work in useful ways. Time spent earnestly in this step can create a rock solid foundation for success. People ask, "How long does it take", partly in jest I think about the analogy of not being able to fidn your car keys at home. You're going to find them eventually, right? Sometimes we might have to go through every room, pocket, draw and under the couch.... Other times, they are right in front our eyes. We don't need to worry about whether we are on track. Our intuition will guide us to the conclusions that'll give us the keys to where we want to go and time will allow us to gauge when we want to course correct. Importantly, after this phase - we'll have overcome any inertia and be well on the way to creating momentum.
I think of two contributors on this subject, Nelson Mandela said, It always seems impossible until it's done" and Salvador Dali who pointed out to his students, "It's either easy, or impossible".
My attitude is, "If you can dream it - you can do it". Yes, things are possible - and despite our doubts, the process oftentimes is not as difficult as it might seem.
"Hide not your talents. They for use were made. What's a sundial in the shade?" Ben Franklin
I want to take time to consider your unique strengths, wants, concerns, likes and dislikes. Many training programs require you to change in order to fit parameters of the program - so then you get someone else's training program. That's no good. In order to get the best results, the program ought be tailored to you.
I want to know what inspires you, what scares you, where you feel confident, where you could use support. It's my experience that if we can get down to what moves us, then we can channel that energy, we can find motivation.
I've found that knowing what I'm capable of, can take me far. Knowing why I'm doing it will take me all the way.... I want to explore these things in coaching because ultimately, it's not the hours, skills, techniques, discipline or effort which is going to make the difference, it's knowing ourselves, what's true - and what motivates us.
Conventional teaching often suggests we need to be better, to work harder and that it won't be easy. It's more effective to move towards a state of peak-flow because when we operate from that place we are grounded, calm, in control of our body and mind. We're not effected by surface feelings and emotions, we let our strength dictate results and we let momentum carry us forward.
When we can transcend the noise, misinformation and past programming, to find that place of peace, euphoria and confidence -- we can get up on that horse -- and ride it far.
"You are important."
Graduating from Royal Military Academy Sandhurst (RMAS) UK as a 23 year old Lieutenant in the Parachute Regiment (UK). I had the Queens commission, a set of wings on my shoulder, a team of highly athletic soldiers and a machine-gun. I felt invincible. This biggest lesson I learned though, was that empathy was the key to success as a military officer and team leader.
This truth was further ingrained ten years later by one of my guiding mentors and Everest guide, Vern Tejas. "You gotta know how everyone is feeling - all the time", were his words of wisdom. He was right.
Working in both roles involved being responsible for people who were going to face very real and practical hazards. I found the that to create an environment where people can clearly and honesty communicate feelings verbal and non verbal - is paramount to success and safety (physical and emotional).
The same exists in the coaching process. My clients tell me they feel safe, cared for, respected and able to communicate without having to worry about judgement. I recognize, that often, when people want to explore new ideas and goals, that there is very real fear about owning the dream or goal. And I've been through it myself. The good news is, that in a supportive and safe environment, we can try things and that if they don't work out, we can reverse direction.
Oftentimes, it's not the storm on the mountain, or the broken ankle, or the lack of funds that is going to stand in our way... it's the nagging doubt in the back of my mind that says, "I'm not good enough", or "I don't deserve this". And it creates fear no different from the fear of looking down an ice-cliff or being out in a lightning storm. So I have deep respect for how difficult it can be. I've benefited greatly from that acknowledgement. I know it's OK to have fear, I know it's going to happen.
In my coaching I've begun to practice the concept of 'radical-acceptance' and I find that when we can see things as they are - neither right or wrong, good or bad, positive or negative - we can quickly sort it all out and decide what's helpful and what's not? Then we can move ahead.
I've coached people who are on top of their game, people who are on the downside of luck and many people in-between. Empathy comes naturally and has been a cornerstone of my coaching.
In my personal life, I've experienced depression, PTSD and alcohol addiction. While the lessons from these had often seemed crushingly difficult, they've also brought me to profound awareness of my human limitations and shown me to how to refrain from judging myself or others. They've shown me the possibilities to recover health and wellness from seeming impossible circumstances. It's not a path I'd recommend, but it is part of my story. I've learned that it is possible to let go of what holds us back. If you are reading this and in that cave -- Try to find a way to remember that there's light outside - and there are ways out.
In addition to empathy. I two other things I bring to the process are compassion and resilience. While not the same things, they do seem inextricably linked. I've never met a person who hasn't had a tough day, and nearly everyone can relate to experiences of adversity. I bring compassion in the form of understanding and resilience in practical, pragmatic tools which can be used to overcome obstacles.
Even the most direct path to success has twists and turns. Whether the goal is improved health, fitness, weight or emotional condition. Empathy, compassion and resilience are robust tools for progress.
"Every champion was once a contender that refused to give up." Anon
Strategy might not be sexy, but it's critical to success. Meticulous planning comes easy to me. I enjoy it because it ensures that we will succeed in meeting goals. People I've worked with tell me I take the leg-work out of creating the plan. Either way, I take responsibility for maintaining the records, you don't need to remember it, just check in on your personal webpage on this site.
To ensure results, I take a thorough approach. Using what we've learned from our evaluation, I use a 10 point approach that really serves as a checklist for to create the road-map for success. The steps are natural and flexible and following the process gives a sense of security that we're not missing important details. For interest, I've listed my 10-point list here.
- identify aims, purpose, direction and vision for the 100 days
- define the activities
- identify support systems; resources, people, processes, systems and tools
- create the plan to achieve the task(s) - including measures, timescales, strategy and tactics
- establish responsibilities, objectives, accountabilities and measures by agreement
- set standards, quality, time and parameters
- direct and maintain activities against parameters
- monitor overall performance against plan and maintain momentum
- report back and forth on progress towards the goal
- review, re-assess, adjust plan, methods and goals as necessary
A final word on strategy. I was taught that flexibility is key to planning. It has to be built in and as a coach, I always build lee-way into programs. It's about progress not perfection. Rarely have I worked with anyone who has followed a plan perfectly. So, I design plans to achieve 100% of goals at about 80% effectiveness. It means we can miss a day here and there and still achieve all of the goals. It means we can shift direction and change course and overcome challenges while still staying true to the goal.