Monthly Archives: June 2018

Pegs and Holes: Thoughts from the not so beaten path

I’ve been thinking quite a lot lately about systems.

The systems we create, rely on, and get stuck within.

As a business owner I have (somewhat unwittingly) created and bought into systems for efficiency and growth. As a society we innately reside within systems for the same reason. Efficiency, social construct, and organization of the masses.

Every single one of us is required to live within numerous systems, and abide by systems that have been predetermined. Think insurance policies, healthcare, government constructs, etc. We also have numerous self-created systems that most of us aren’t aware of.. how we react to pain, our process around relationships, and our systems behind day to day decision making.

In the start-up of my businesses I quickly realized problems within existing systems and set out to create solutions. That is largely how businesses start.. as a solution to a problem the masses have within existing systems. What I quickly realized, working with health related fields, is that there are copious amounts of systems that create more problems then good.. both on a global scale, and a local/individual scale.

More then once a day I think to myself (or, lately say out loud), “but.. why does it HAVE to be that way?”. Majority of us take comfort in systems. It’s easy to follow a set out pathway. It doesn’t require much thought, and generally it just makes intuitive- forward moving sense. BUT. Is the comfortable option always the best? If you’ve read any of my material, you’ll know my answer to that..

Current example.. in ongoing discussions with an insurance company we direct bill through who’s policy is to have exclusive provider numbers for each staff at each separate location.. and now requires me to send in individual direct deposit forms for each staff at each location. I have four therapists that we bill to them for, all of which work at each location intermittently, so now I am sending in the same form with the exact same information on it (the only different info would be the name of each provider), eight separate times… No big deal- just annoying and seemingly unnecessary if one could think just a micro-metre outside of the box they’d been placed in. I suppose in a round about way, systems and policies like this are just an attempt at job creation?

That is quite an inane example, but it did fit into the thought theme I’ve been on.

I’m not an in the box systems creator. Obviously. So much of my career so far has been about looking outside the box, thinking laterally, and finding effective and sustainable solutions for everyone involved. Often this happens unwittingly, just because I see a system that doesn’t serve whatever it was designed to serve any longer- and can’t force myself to not question it..

How many times in a day do you get caught in a pattern because that’s just the way something has always been done, even though there are likely ten different options to accomplishing the same task.. perhaps even more efficiently?

Let’s bring system thought into the perspective of our health.

Systems are a type A term for habits. A series of mental processes we follow until it becomes an automatic process carved into our neurology. Routines, for good or for bad, that we rely on to exist.

The system I see most frequently is one surrounding pain (mental or physical).

No matter what the issue physically or mentally we all seek out the system we see as the most efficient. We find resources/pills/remedies to alleviate the symptoms, and often begin to just normalize those symptoms as a part of life, and move along our merry way.

Yet, time after time, I see people follow this pattern down a road until decades later they stop and think.. is this making any sense? I haven’t corrected the problem, I’ve only masked it. I’m still uncomfortable, and this seemed convenient but now looking back.. it hasn’t been convenient at all as now nothing has changed and I’m still not healthy.

This same analogy can be transferred to humans and their careers/family/relationship goals. We have been raised in systems and conditioned to think there in a linear path to follow. Find a career, sustain your lifestyle, find a person, follow point A to B to C to D..

I’ve always had an inner question mark surrounding this. I haven’t always known where I was headed, but I also have rarely seen a need to know. Where others have pressured and found safety in formulating a plan to makes sense given the paths they were told were the “right” paths, I’ve felt claustrophobic. In times where I have found comfort in routine and “normal” systems.. it’s rarely been lasting before a questions comes up, or a different way becomes obvious.

 

There has been a lot of value placed on routines.Maybe it’s the number of times I’ve been lost traveling in foreign countries, or in my home city.. and been forced to figure out new systems to get to where I need to be without (but sometimes still) panicking. Maybe it’s my rebellious nature, but I find routine in flowing with what feels right in the moment. That is certainly not for everyone. With each personality comes a different way of operating, and what’s healthy and useful for one, may not serve the next. As a health care provider, this is an invaluable lesson to learn- though the formation of any successful system when it comes to our wellbeing will always come down to figuring out how to effectively help someone listen to their inner workings and react accordingly. A system can both assist in that awareness building process for some, or come as a result of asking inward questions.

The generation I exist in is a hybrid of one’s past. With some of my peers staying comfortable in trust for systems they were raised in, and many of us having been raised in systems that clearly were broken.. we have started asking the “but, why?” question- and more often then not just pursuing our own path and working to create better options for a society that is full of faulty systems.

When I work with clients now, I feel a need to constantly challenge their inner workings. Usually if they’ve found their way to me it’s because they have experienced a broken system externally or within themselves- and knowingly or not need a shift. I’ve found that working with clients on this deeper level to help them rebuild their systems for themselves is what truly feeds my fire.

So- the next time you find yourself frustrated by a system.. in work, life, and love.. ask yourself a why. Does it HAVE to follow the linear system you have been told the situation must follow.. or is there a way to step off that track and create a different path?

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(Non)Judgement

Sitting looking over the downtown Calgary cityscape late this morning, reading Gloria Steinem’s “My Life on the Road” – I was routinely interrupted by thoughts of what felt like passive self judgement passing through my mind.

“You should be working on something”

“Go outside and move”

“Come up with some ideas”

?

^^ Yes, that last one was word for word a thought that crossed my mind. Which then made me stop and laugh- as if my mind stating “come up with some ideas” was going to help me “come up with some ideas”. Ideas for what? Where was this pressure coming from? Why MUST I be doing something on my first (albeit scheduled) day off.

I’ve often stopped and thought to myself while working with training clients to think “it might actually be harder for this person if I asked them to pause and do nothing for a few minutes (or, the horror, a full 45-an hour) instead of pushing them physically”.

The last few days I’ve been networking away at Spruce Meadows and around Calgary, with the next few days bringing me to other areas Alberta. My first venture into out of province work for one of my businesses, RideWell Performance, and taking steps for myself to get uncomfortable again with networking, branding, and see how far I can go with my dreams. Rebranding RideWell over the winter was essentially an attempt to keep my brain busy while my other business, Integrative Movement, went through some expansions that required patience. Now, here in Calgary, with some free time and the bulk of the immediate work for now done, I sit scouring my brain for things to do.

My response to those thoughts? A conscious amusement and then a two hour nap.

Thankfully, it wasn’t hard for me to balance those judgement-like thoughts with things like “the knowledge you’re absorbing from this book is going to serve you later on”, “this rest will mean more energy for the rest of the week”, “you absolutely need a day like today to catch up after the last few weeks”, “my body says this is right and I know to listen to that”.

It’s been observed many times that entrepreneurs, sole proprietors, and business owners are always hustling. I mentioned last post about how I’ve come to cringe at being labelled a “hustler” or as someone who is “always on the grind”. I understand most people mean those labels as a positive thing, and are often incredulous when they hear about what entrepreneurs do routinely to chase down their goals.. but it also skews the optics of success towards burn out levels of time management. It also makes it difficult for, especially younger, self-starters to internally justify rest days, days to be human, and days to just chill t f out.

Was I doing nothing today? Absolutely not. I was reading, learning, and resting. It’s become absolutely crystal clear to me that business development and success largely depends, if not solely depends, on it’s leaders and teams personal development.

What makes or breaks brands in today’s world is the culture that surrounds them, and the association it’s customers makes between the people within the business and their goals.

I’ve had business owners and high level managers as clients both in terms of therapy and training- and while they have a higher tolerance for stress (positive and negative), they often struggle to monitor their inner dialogue around self care and compassion- and this feeds into their decisions around business and people management. It’s easy to look from the outside in and say “if you don’t take care of yourself, how are you going to help others” but when you’re that person trying to do it all and be it all, the pressure can seem more then logic.

I think many of us have already learned the hard way that burning out, getting sick, or just getting discouraged by fatigue and pressure is REAL and is a real dream crusher. I’ve experienced more scary level moments of “why am I doing this” leading towards “I do not want to be doing this anymore” in the last couple years. Luckily for me, I have figured out a way to change my scenery up (both physically and mentally) when this happens to keep me obscenely passionate about what I do. Moments like this have forced me to be creative and pursue lateral thinking for all my ventures and the people within them. It’s why I’m in Calgary now, and it’s why some expansions have happened. However if I had followed the alternate route down a more negative burn out road- I might not be where I am now.

We’ve been conditioned as a society to always be on the go- to always be pushing for more. To the point where we’ve seen the birth of industries based around scheduled and invested in down time (think meditation classes, certain styles of yoga, spas, etc etc). These are not bad things- but why can’t we accept for ourselves a simple quiet day to develop in others ways, instead of what is perceived as “the hustle”.

The great Thomas Plummer said it well:

“What made you successful is often the very thing that prevents you from staying successful.”. Hard, endless pursuit of more needs to be contrasted with recovery, rest, and time spent inwards. Without that, you may find you lose the purpose behind what you think you want.

We do not HAVE to do anything. Not in the societies most of us live in, with the afforded comforts we’ve been given. There is ALWAYS a choice and choices do not have to be concrete. Doing or thinking something because it’s always been perceived to be the way things are, or because others around you are seemingly doing the same thing is not a reason to hold the same expectation for yourselves.. and, more then likely, those perceptions aren’t the entire reality. We all generally think and go through similar things- and rarely do you find judgment for taking care of yourself if you are honestly doing just that.

What does self-care and non-judgement towards yourself look like?

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Realization

“We all wait for a mirror to show us who we are, to validate us. When we hear something about ourselves that we have never heard before, it feels like a blessing, and it gives power.”

For months I’ve been receiving reflections, projections, and deflections from those in my life. Reminding me who I am, who I was, who I am becoming. I learned to not take them personally, just to grow from them where I could and leave the rest for the individuals to figure out for themselves. I grew strong in retaining the lessons necessary and expressing gratitude for all of it… yet all of a sudden, a new phase of less reflections and more observations as to what I’m doing, who I’m becoming, and where I’m headed are coming at me. Not in a way that is negative- just in a way that is factual- I’m hearing people describe me and having to adjust who I think I am and where I think I stand (in good ways). The first few times it happened, I accept with gratitude and move along assuming I am at the level I’ve always associated at.. However, a new wave of realization has hit me. I’m not at that level anymore. I, myself, without really quite noticing it fully, have grown up and forgotten to take note of the new stage of things being hurled at me at brand new velocities.

I’ve written before about a sense of power that is new to me. In the last few months I’ve been challenged and pushed in new ways, mostly in relation to my businesses and professional practice. It’s provided a stark reflection on how much operating and developing professionally as a therapist as well as a owner/operator is a mirror of my own personal development.

The last big shift I had was about realizing my values and what I envisioned my professional endeavours to stand for. Figuring out my whys and letting that lead me towards a how.

Figuring out how to shift cultures and grow communities, how to take myself out of my brands and grow them for a larger vision, using my strengths and weaknesses as the toolbox- one of many key parts of the puzzle.

I feel suddenly like I am stepping into a new world, one that I’ve created by putting so much gosh darn belief into it happening that it now exists. In real time. And I’m not the only one seeing it. It’s REAL.

I’ve also written and reflected lots lately on faith. With the acknowledgment of internal power came a newfound solidity in my faith.

Never in my life have I believed as much as I do as of late that things are conspiring in my favour. The more I frame in gratitude (because of course things are not always rosy, but if you reflect long enough they always have a takeaway), the more all I see is opportunity and what once were my wildest dreams becoming fast approaching reality.

Recently I have been aware of little snippets and pieces of my day that feel like small words of direction or guidance. Sometimes it’s in the form of an actual conversation. Often it’s a gut feeling (that I know now never to ignore). People are surfacing to offer the precisely needed words, tools, or presence and I’m all of a sudden seeing community blossoming around the intentions I’ve put out there.

Integrative Movement transitioned into two new expansions this spring. One was one that spoke to me on a new level. The other expansion was one that challenged me to shift my thinking and acknowledge some old anxieties and fears before the clarity came forwards.

One was easy and seamless, the other required me to dig deeper mentally to reap some rewards I had sowed seeds for years ago (unknowingly at the time of course!).

Both transitions, had they become possibilities even 6months earlier then when they did, would not have been ones the business, nor myself, were ready for. The timing in which they did occur, even though it meant months for me of mental exhaustion, faith testing, and peering into what I truly saw for all my projects longer term- was essentially ideal. I realized this as I was scraping latex paint off a vinyl desk installed into the wall of one of the new spaces. I, as a business owner and professional, was not ready for this until right in that moment.

It dawned on me recently that I am no longer building a small start up style company, but that I am all of a sudden adulting and beginning to be a semblance of owner/operators/entrepreneurs that I’ve always looked up to. Yes, I have all of a sudden realized that I am making real shit happen and I’m not just an amateur fooling around with ideas and big talk anymore.

It’s a little mind blowing to sit back and realize that, not going to lie. I’ve had a few stark moments of sitting with myself, totally washed over with gratitude and realization of what is here and what is coming towards me quicker then I could ever have guessed, absolutely flabbergasted.

As I write this now, I am sitting overlooking downtown Calgary- 12hrs away from my first vendor show during a Spruce Meadows tournament. RideWell Performance is slowly but surely expanding across the nation, as I had dreamed it would a few years ago (before I even had a name for it). Within 6months of dedicated effort, my rebranded branch off equestrian focused practice is gaining real traction. The simple fact of building a network and a client base in Calgary, a city I’ve always wanted to spend time in routinely, is all of a sudden very, very real.

As I’ve shifted through some transitions of my own the last few months, I’ve come to realize that there are very few limitations on what I can do. On what anyone can do. I’ve always been a bit hesitant to use the words “hustle” and “grind” to describe what I do for my businesses or my visions- because, in all honesty, a lot of the time I feel like I operate at a minimal level compared to what I could be doing.

That statement isn’t meant to be self-deprecating, rather, I just know that when I get real motivated and energized about an idea I do the bulk of the work immediately (I joke that I can launch an idea in 2min flat, but it’s not really a joke.. RideWell was rebranded and launched in a couple hours (website, media outlets, and network initiation) because I was impatient with some slower transitions Integrative was moving through so needed to distract myself..) and then work with what comes out of the cultivation.

Hustling and grinding, to me, imply a forced effort. Even in some of the most exhausted, burnt out moments I’ve had with any of my chosen endeavours- I don’t feel like I’m having to force effort. Things become intensely simple and easy when they are fulfilling the why, or purpose, behind the overall vision.

Driving out to Calgary yesterday, from Winnipeg, I smiled almost the entire 13hrs. I was being hit with memories of all the times I’ve thought to myself “why not do it this way”, or “why isn’t anyone doing this”, or “I can’t imagine doing things any other way”. In the past, I’ve been hit with fear.. surrounding financial commitments, time commitments, and the pure insanity that comes with just following the beat of your own drum sometimes (often). I’ve said before that being an entrepreneur, business owner, lateral thinker, whatever is about accepting the unknown, embracing the fact that money as a concept is designed to ebb and flow (mostly ebb when you’re building), and understanding that just because not many people understand how or why you do what you do doesn’t make you the crazy one.

This life is designed to be lived with purpose. If you haven’t found yours yet.. start asking questions around why you do certain things. Be open to the tiny little suggestions the Universe gives you. Notice subtleties in how you feel around daily routines and tasks. Tap into what you’ve always seen beauty in. Follow it. Even if the directions don’t make any sense… they will eventually.. and the scenic route always has treasures you’re grateful for (whether in hindsight or in the moment).

Stay tuned for more from my adventures out West!