Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Practicing Choosing Power

The day I finally became the deepest female diver in the world, was the day I started to realise that there was something more to the story than just moving limits. Yes, setting a world record is an accomplishment and it required effort and commitment, but the journey was more than just a physical one. In fact, mastering the physical side was the easier of the challenges. Our society is geared toward learning facts and practicing skills. The real challenge came when I realised that being good at it was not going to get me my world record, there was something else I needed to be doing.

Now in my own mind I was the epitome of normality (albeit a little more stubborn than most and with a natural talent for scuba diving). Even today I do not feel different which means if I could break a world record anyone could ? Well maybe not a world record per se, but their personal equivalent of one.

Which left only one question, how ? How did I go from being ordinary, paralysed by fear and petrified of being visible, to the deepest woman in the world ? And could I use that journey to replicate that success in any area of my life ? What had I actually done ?
The answer it turns out was remarkably straight forward, three words in fact. I had practiced, choosing power. Let me explain.
Do you have permission to practice ? What if life was not about getting it right first time every time ? Who would you be if you had permission to practice ? Who would you be if you were supported ? What if it was nothing was wrong when you got it wrong ?
The key word here is practice and with that comes the freedom to learn, make mistakes and grow. It is a freedom that comes naturally when what you are doing is not ‘serious’. In the business world, permission to practice and get things wrong is most definitely not the norm. Yet, I have occasionally worked with people who did not expect immediate perfection and who allowed things to go wrong. That was normality for them and it was as if a huge burden was taken from me. These days I let go of the fear of being wrong and just allow myself the space to practice. What would happen if you did the same ?

Which brings us to the second word, choosing or Choice – there is always a choice, you just may not like it. The thing with choice is most of us have forgotten we even have it. I know I had. There I was sitting waiting to be rescued, wondering why the world was not falling all over itself to help me. I had chosen (albeit unconsciously) to play the very familiar and comfortable role of the victim and simply did not see that I had another choice.

I could wait until I was accepted by the male diving community and given permission to dive deep (a wait that had taken 6 years and showed absolutely no sign of ever being granted) or I could choose to let go of wishing things were different, accept what was and work with that. The concept of free will or choice is one of the hardest things for individuals to accept. It is far easier to just accept the carefully thought out and perfectly good reasons why you can not change. In fact, there are more good reasons not to do a dive that will break a world record than do it.
The last word is Power or rather Empowerment. Empowerment is not something you can be given, it is something you have always have. You have it right now, no-one has taught you how to use it. You become truly empowered when you give yourself permission to exist and practice, you exercise your right to choose. Power comes when you let go of the illusion that you are able to control the outcome. This is a lesson that most of us never get to learn in the ‘real’ world. It is however an essential lesson that must be learnt if you want to something as dangerous as break a world record.

You see, when diving sub 150 meters (in a water filled cave) you are doing something that a handful of people have done before. Of these, around 50% died on the dive. Yes I can practice my skills until they are instinct. Yes, I can discuss the theory with anyone and everyone to make sure I totally understand the risks (known and unknown) and have processes in place to manage those, but at the end of the day, diving sub 200 meters is something that only a handful of people have done. There is simply not enough experience on which to base decisions. Instead a large chunk of your knowledge is nothing more than assumption. Add to that is the very real fact that every human body is unique and that your body reacts to the same dive differently with no obvious cause you get a situation where you have to simply trust that you are prepared enough and then go and see what happens.

No matter what I did, how controlling I was, there was always that unknown factor that we could not predict, so, if I had no control over the outcome, what did I have control over ? This is not a situation that is unique to diving, in business, meetings, car accidents, life happens. You can not control some events and can not control other people, so what happens if you let go of control ?

If I am not focusing all my energy on maintaining control (or the illusion thereof), what am I doing ? Looking back at my world record journey I realised that I had spent years focusing on what I was doing or rather being better at what diving than everyone around me (sound familiar ?) yet I remained exactly where I was. It did not seem to matter that I was better or knew more theory. In fact, I was watching people who knew less and dived worse, overtaking me. Which is when I came to the realization that perhaps it is not only about skills, perhaps it is as much about who I am being, how I am behaving ? I may have no control over other people and the outcome of an event, but I did have free will. I could choose who I was being ? Which was a rather alien thought as I had spent 30 odd years of my life believing I was who I was and could not change that.

Was true empowerment, true power, really about my ability to choose who I was being? The thought did and still fascinates me. If I knew who I wanted to be in every moment, then would I ever fail ? Even if I did not get the outcome I wanted I still would have been successful because it had never only been about the outcome, it was as much about who I was being ? Even more importantly, when I looked back at my world record journey I realised I had spent years stuck trying to get deeper not because my skills were not at the right level, but rather because who I was being was not at the same level. I only reached my record when I started to act like a world record holder. When my being matched both my knowing and doing I was able to shift my limits!
To set a new world record I had let go of getting it right first time and give myself permission to PRACTICE. I had let go of controlling an uncontrollable situation and instead step into my power by choosing who I was being and how I was behaving. I had to stretch my mind (knowledge), body (skills) and soul (being). What could you do if you started to Practice Choosing Power ?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Habits of Being - Acceptance !

It occurred to me that not many of us truly accept who we are now never mind who we have been. Yet when I think about the possibility of not having to watch everything I say or do or having to apologise for who I am or where I have been... I get a feeling of immense calm. How grand would it be to be OK with who I am and who I have been ? How different would my conversations be ?

What would you have to do to truly accept who you are and who you were ? For there to be nothing to hide from or apologise for

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Pillars of Creation - Knowing, Doing, Being

How do you create limitless being… limitless abundance and limitless success ? Albert Einstein believed you could not solve a problem using same thought processes that created it. Society today would have us believe that success is a function of how good you are. Our lives are geared toward collecting the right skill set, yet how often do you hear people bemoaning a lost promotion, wondering how he got it with his inferior skill set. Companies seem to be filled with people who excel at what they do but never seem to rise up the corporate ladder.
So if is not only your skills that bring you success, what is it ? Could the difference between you and the corporate mover be who you are both being or to put it a more popular way, your attitudes ?
In 2004 I became the world’s deepest woman with a dive to 221 meters. I had created an impossible dream yet I could not transfer that success from diving to the rest of my life. Which is when I started to take a serious look at how I got my record. After all if I could do it once, I should be able to do it again..and again.
So, what did I learn becoming the deepest woman in the world ? That to shift limits you need to align all three parts of your being - your body, your mind and your soul. Or put another way, you need to ‘Know’ (mind), you need to ‘Do’ (body) and most importantly you need to ‘Be’ (soul)!.
The first two are familiar to us all - getting and practicing new skills. Diving was a passion of mine so I focused on my skills and really getting to KNOW how to dive. I wanted to be a good diver so I practiced that knowledge. That combination of knowing and doing got me to the point where I knew I could break the record, but for the life of me I could not get deeper. Something was in my way.
Now you may be thinking that because I broke a world record I am somehow fundamentally different to you. The truth of the matter is that when I started my journey I was probably less suited to be a world record than many people I knew. I was confused, lost, miserable, defensive and paralysed by fear. Hardly attributes you would attribute to a world record holder. I did have two things on my side though, I knew how to dive and could do any dive thrown at me. Yet I was still stuck.
The turning point came on New Year’s Eve, 2000. I was looking back at yet another year of not going anywhere. I was tired and miserable and had had enough! I needed to either give up on my dream or do something different, so I decided then and there that 2001 would not be a repeat of the last 4 years. I made a commitment to do whatever it took to get one meter deeper, no matter how petrified I was. In one simple step, with one simple New Year’s resolution, I fundamentally changed my life. I started to learn the Art of Being!
Until then I did not even realise that I could choose who I wanted to be. I was envious of people who seemed to be born with the ability to ‘be’ successful and resigned myself to the fact that I was not borne that way, so I could never be that. I am what I am and that is unchanging and limited , or so I thought. The idea that I could choose to behave differently and so experience different results was one I came to in desperation. I started to act as if I was already a world record holder so I could go out and do the dive that would actually get me the record. In essence what I was doing was living two habits of being, Courage and Trust. . I chose to trust the whisper that was telling me I could do this and ignore the torrent of voices who declared I could not. I chose to practice courage by doing what I wanted rather than giving in to fear. I did not have to get it 100% right, I just had to practice and not give up.
Hardly aware of who I was being, I was practicing choosing who I wanted to be and the results blew my mind. In the space of 4 months I had done the dive I had been avoiding and with that found a corporate sponsor and had a world record attempt planned for November.
These days when people talk to me about how stuck they are I ask them if they know who they want to be ? Do you ? Are you even aware of who you are being ? I am not talking about labels or job descriptions here, but rather core habits, call them behaviors or even reactions. An example perhaps ? When something goes wrong who are you ? Are you judgmental ? Do you punish ? Are you kind ? Do you accept that mistakes happen and focus on how to fix it ?
Which set of reactions is going to get you the results you want ? Now, what if you could choose your reactions ? What would open up for you if you could create new habits of being ?
Keep it simple! Think about a situation that keeps coming up for you. Now think about who you would like to be in that moment. If you were an actor what words would you be using, what emotions, what thoughts ? Ignore the thoughts that tell you that is not possible for you to be that or that it is too hard. Get it clear in your head, so clear you can write down step for step who you are being. Now summarise that into one or two key words. Some of my favourites are “Acceptance”, “Patience”, “Forgiving, “Non Judgemental”, “Tolerance”, “Kind”, “Calm” and “Gracious” . They replace habits like “Fear”, “Anger”, “Defensive”, Intolerant, “Punishing”, “Controlling”, “Insecure”
My key words are Acceptance and Kindness. Every day I practice treating myself with kindness. I give myself permission to get it wrong. I give myself permission to exist. Every day I practice accepting where I am, who I am. Nothing is wrong. Every day I practice giving love and kindness to everyone I meet.
Some days I do better than others and that is OK because every day I am practicing who I want to be. I no longer measure success only on attaining material things, so every day I am successful because I gave myself permission to BE!
What if it really were that simple ? What if by focusing on all three parts of your being, your mind, your body and your soul you can create a life you want to live ? Who do you want to be ?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Who Are you Being ?

So what if, through all the coaching and courses, books and shows we are just missing the point ?

What if it is not about what you are doing, the job description or even the dream you have ?

What if it is really only about one thing, who you are being…the rest is all a game, designed to see if you know who you are and who you want to be !

What if the rest is all just ways to practice ? And enlightenment is when you can truly choose who you want to be in any moment. Then the rest is pure free will and design and you can truly create whatever you want! This is the point where you are free. No longer attached to who you need other people to be or what you want from others to feel safe and secure and OK. In this moment you are able to let go of what you want and make it about what the other person needs…and in that moment you give the other person space to give back what you needed…only now you no longer need it, it exists inside …because you know who you want to be. You are free!

And when I talk about who you are being, people look at me blankly, they know their labels, their roles, not their essence. What do I mean ? Well, imagine you want to be ablet to handle difficult meetings, conflict and negotiation. What traits do you need to using to succeed ? Patience ? Tolerance ? Acceptance ? Trust ? Who are you choosing to be ? No matter what ? And what changes when you focus on that and let go of the outcome of every event ?