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 "The winds of grace are always blowing, but we must raise our sails." Sri Ramakrishna

 

 


Key Benefits of Reading these Stories

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You will walk away with a new perspective of life and, hopefully, discover an assumption or belief that you are now protecting---which keeps you from knowing your ideal self and living a passionate life.

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You will learn about the importance of listening to your emotional brain in personal coaching conversations.

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You will understand why just tolerating life situations and people is not good enough for you.

LifeSignature Stories

They're Singing Your Song

by Alan Cohen author of "Living from the Heart."

When a woman in a certain African tribe knows she is pregnant, she goes out into the wilderness with a few friends and together they pray and meditate until they hear the song of the child.  They recognize that every soul has its own vibration that expresses its unique flavor and purpose. When the women attune to the song, they sing it out loud. Then they return to the tribe and teach it to everyone else.
 
When the child is born, the community gathers and sings the child's song to him or her. Later, when the child enters education, the village gathers and chants the child's song. When the child passes through the initiation to adulthood, the people again come together and sing. At the time of marriage, the person hears his or her song. Finally, when the soul is about to pass from this world, the family and friends gather at the person's bed, just as they did at their birth, and they sing the person to the next life.
 
When I have shared this story in my lectures, a fair amount of people in the audience come to tears. There is something inside each of us that knows we have a song, and we wish those we love would recognize it and support us to sing it. In some of my seminars I ask people to verbalize to a partner the one phrase they wish their parents had said to them as a child. Then the partner lovingly whispers it in their ear. This exercise goes very deep, and many significant insights start to click. How we all long to be loved, acknowledged, and accepted for who we are!
 
In the African tribe there is one other occasion upon which the villagers sing to the child. If at any time during his or her life, the person commits a crime or aberrant social act, the individual is called to the center of the village and the people in the community form a circle around them. Then they sing their song to them. The tribe recognizes that the correction for antisocial behavior is not punishment; it is love and the remembrance of identity. When you recognize your own song, you have no desire or need to do anything that would hurt another.
 
A friend is someone who knows your song and sings it to you when you have forgotten it. Those who love you are not fooled by mistakes you have made or dark images you hold about yourself. They remember your beauty when you feel ugly; your wholeness when you are broken; your innocence when you feel guilty; and your purpose when you are confused.
 
One summer when I was a teenager I went to visit my cousin and her family in Wilmington, Delaware. One afternoon she took me to the community pool, where I met a man who changed my life. Mr. Simmons talked to me for about ten minutes. It wasn't what he said that affected me so deeply; it was how he listened to me. He asked me questions about my life, my feelings, and my interests. The unusual thing about Mr. Simmons was that he paid attention to my answers. Although I had family, friends, and teachers, this man was the only person in my world who seemed genuinely interested in what I had to say and valued me for who I was.
 
After our brief conversation I never saw him again. I probably never will. I'm sure he had no idea that he gave me the gift of a lifetime. Maybe he was one of those angels who show up for a brief mission on earth, to give someone faith, confidence, and hope when they most need it.
 
If you do not give your song a voice, you will feel lost, alone, and confused. If you express it, you will come to life. I have also done a workshop exercise in which everyone in the room is given a piece of paper with the name of a simple song on it, such as "Mary Had a Little Lamb" or "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star." In the whole group there are perhaps eight different songs, and a half-dozen people have the same song named on their paper. Each person is then asked to mill around the room while they whistle or hum their song. When they find someone else playing the same song, they stay together until they find everyone who is singing that song. Thus they create small groups that serve as touchstones for the duration of the program.
 
Life is very much like this exercise. We attract people on a similar wavelength so we can support each other to sing aloud. Sometimes we attract people who challenge us by telling us that we cannot or should not sing our song in public. Yet these people help us too, for they stimulate us to find greater courage to sing it.
 
You may not have grown up in an African tribe that sings your song to you at crucial life transitions, but life is always reminding you when you are in tune with yourself and when you are not. When you feel good, what you are doing matches your song, and when you feel awful, it doesn't. In the end, we shall all recognize our song and sing it well.
 
You may feel a little warbly at the moment, but so have all the great singers. Just keep singing and you'll find your way home.


The Emotional Brain

In a recent coaching conversation, I observed the person being coached (pbc) articulate an issue that was bouncing back and forth between the pbc's limbic brain (the emotional brain) and the neocortical brain (directs the abstract mind--the cognitive functions of language, problem-solving, physics, mathematics). As personal coaches, we know much about the neocortex's power to weave and unravel abstractions. This article is about the limbic brain's function and why it is important to personal coaching interactions. The following information has been abstracted from the book, A General Theory of Love, by Thomas Lewis, M.D., Fari Amini, M.D., and Richard Lannon, M.D.

The limbic brain is the center of advanced emotionality. What one sees, hears, feels, and smells is fed into the limbic brain, and so is data about body temperature, blood pressure, heart rate, digestive processes, and scores of other somatic parameters. The limbic brain stands at the convergence of these two information streams; it coordinates them and fine-tunes physiology to prime the body for the outside world.

Infants are early masters of detecting and expressing emotions, which may help to explain their inborn fascination for faces. If you want to capture the attention of an infant, you will have more luck using an expressive human face than any other object in the world. Babies have an intrinsic appetite for faces: they look at them, peer at them, gaze at them, stare at them. But what exactly are they looking for?

Researchers now know that babies are looking at the expressions on the faces they fix on. In studying what attracts infant attention, researchers rely on measurements of gaze, because babies will look longer at novel objects than familiar ones. One can demonstrate in this manner that infants just a few days old can distinguish between emotional expressions.

An infant can detect minute temporal changes in emotional responsiveness. This level of sophistication is coming from an organism that won't be able to stand up on his own for another six months. Why should a creature with relatively few skills be so monomaniacally focused on tiny muscular contractions visible beneath the skin of another creature's body?

The answer lies in the evolutionary history of the limbic brain. The limbic brain specializes in detecting and analyzing just one part of the physical world--the internal state of other mammals. Emotionality is the social sense organ of limbic creatures.

Within the effulgence of their new brain, mammals developed a capacity we call limbic resonance--a symphony of mutual exchange and internal adaptation whereby two mammals become attuned to each other's inner states. It is limbic resonance that makes looking into the face of another emotionally responsive creature a multilayered experience. Instead of seeing a pair of eyes as two bespeckled buttons, when we look into the ocular portals to a limbic brain our vision goes deep: the sensations multiply, just as two mirrors placed in opposition create a shimmering ricochet of reflections whose depths recede into infinity. Eye contact, although it occurs over a gap of yards, is not a metaphor. When we meet the gaze of another, two nervous systems achieve a palpable and intimate apposition.

It seems a strange irony that we need science to rekindle faith in the ancient ability to read minds. That old skill, so much a part of us, is not much believed in now. Those who spend their days without an opportunity for quiet listening can pass a lifetime and overlook it altogether. The vocation of personal coaching confers a few unexpected fringe benefits on its practioners, and the following is one of them. It impels participation in a process that our modern world has all but forgotten: sitting in a room with another person with no purpose in mind but attending. As you do so, another world expands and comes alive to your senses--a world governed by forces that were old before humanity began.

 


"Adults spend most of their waking lives in organizations. Whether they are schools, hospitals, communities, business organizations or government, we spend most of our waking lives in some organizational setting. We do this not just to produce products and services. This is the environment for human growth and development.

"One way that people can develop is being part of an organization that actively encourages their self-development. An organization can be enlightened enough to create infrastructure systems and processes such that individuals are drawn to look at themselves, develop themselves and evolve. If we can create that kind of environment for individuals to grow and evolve, we will have people who are further along in terms of their self-understanding. Therefore, they can contribute more of themselves to the organization." by Ralph Kilmann (www.Kilmann.com), author of the new book, "Quantum Organizations"


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Why Think About Just Tolerating Your Next Job?

 
In medicine, one looks at how "well tolerated" a drug will be related to its side effects.

In job hunting, many people look for job requirements that can be well tolerated. 

 
Yet after life, most people don't want their tombstone to read, "He tolerated stuff for people who paid him." Especially, when you realize that you can make more money doing work that engages your passions. Life is too short doing work you don't like or working for idiots. The "well tolerated" approach to job hunting usually results in resumes, networking conversations and interviews that are fuzzy and not easily read by the other person. Job seekers taking a "well tolerated" approach need to wake up and get a career coaching makeover.

 

Here are some resume and interviewing tips from The Wall Street Journal article (May 21, 2002), "Job Search 'Makeover' Reveals Tactical Flaws":
 

1. Narrow job goals to emphasize your strongest assets

Don't expect prospective employers will read your resume 5 or 6 times to figure out what you can and want to do. Have a focused direction--not a potpourri of "I can tolerate these other things, too."

2. Widen your list of potential employers

Don't let your personal perceptions limit your job hunting success. Being uncomfortable with different industries or work roles can prevent you from getting to where you want to be.

3. Clarify and polish your resume

Highlight your most valuable and specific skills and competencies. Remember the summary is the most important part of the resume because most hiring managers only assess a resume for 10 seconds.

4. Hone your interviewing and follow-up tactics

Be sure to review your weaknesses, as well as your strengths, in both the interview and thank you letters to interviewers. By knowing who you are and what you are meant to do, set you above most job hunters.

 
 For some more job hunting tips, click here.


Why People Tolerate Roles of Others

"I was impressed by how many women in the study eventually found kind, caring husbands who truly loved them…. Marie, who had been wild during her early- and mid-twenties, described this interaction in vivid detail. 'He just wouldn't be drawn into my stuff,' she said. 'He wouldn't let me manipulate him. He tolerated it, but remained himself. He was a center for me. I danced all around. He was on to my tricks. I tried everything I usually do with guys, but it didn't work. He said, 'Forget it lady, I'm here for keeps.' That was ten years ago. We've been married ever since."

— Judith S. Wallerstein, Julia M. Lewis, and Sandra Blakeslee, The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce: A 25 Year Landmark Study


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