Tag: courage

Facing Your Fears

Good day, team.

Today is Mother’s Day, and in honor of the day, I want to share a wonderful piece of writing that my stepdaughter Sari, shared on Facebook recently. It was written by her friend Angela Schuler. Sometimes the very thing we fear most happens and changes everything. I am grateful to Angela for her heartfelt and honest message and to Sari, my stepdaughter for sharing it.

“Before I had my children, I never wanted children. I also was frightened by other people’s children. I knew they were smarter than me and would see right through my insecurities and blurt them all out to everyone in their precious, honest-to-a-fault little voice! Man, I’m glad my life isn’t up to me! I started to transform into the person I should have always been once Linc came along—not while I was pregnant with him (I was still petrified) but the second he was born. I could feel it happening. People who had been around me before and after commented on it, and all I could say was, “I love being a mom.” It wasn’t what I wanted, but it turns out it was what I wanted. The movie “Waitress” with Keri Russell shows my transformation in movie form. Just take out the affair, the deadbeat husband and the pie-making skills.

These three amazing people that live in my house and depend on me, I have no doubt, they are my angels. Happy Mother’s Day. “

This week, think about how your fears hold you back from experiences you might actually want. Try stepping out of your comfort zone for 20 seconds to do something completely different, out of character or frightening. Maybe say something to a work associate you’ve always wanted to say but have been too afraid. How about standing up and speaking out in a group, when normally you would sit quietly? Perhaps call a relative and have that conversation you’ve always avoided. Or maybe find a way to approach a homeless person on the street, look them sincerely in the eye and ask if you can help them.

Whatever the scary thing is, see what happens when you jump into it rather than avoid it. You may discover, like Angela did, that it wasn’t what you wanted, but it turns out it was what you wanted.

Life offers us gifts in so many ways, and we often get in the way of receiving them. In Angela’s case, she was moved out of the way of her fears, and it brought her three children and more joy and happiness than she could have ever imagined.

Have a good week!


© Copyright 2013 Pathfinders Coaching, Scout Search Inc., all rights reserved.

2/3/12 “Noticing the Change of Season”

Good day, team.

Yesterday was Groundhog Day, and our weather predictor, Punxsutawney Phil, did not see his shadow. If you believe in the age-old tradition of watching the groundhog emerge from his hole for breakfast on Feb. 2 to see if he casts a shadow or not, this year we’re going to have an early spring.

My challenge this week is to take notice of the changing seasons. We often don’t tune in to the seasonal changes because our lives are so busy. We don’t rely on the heat of the sun in spring and summer to keep us warm. And when we need food, we just go to the grocery store to buy what we want. But ultimately, our warmth and our food do come from nature, and the coming of each new season is a reminder of that.

Winter is a time of dormancy and hibernation. Try leaving the cocoon of your warm bed on a dark, cold morning — every effort you make seems the opposite of what the environment is telling you to do. Conversely, try staying in bed on a bright summer morning, when the birds are singing and the earth is fully awake. It’s tough to lie in bed when you’re being encouraged to get up and do things. Mother Nature sends us very clear messages about each season, and it’s up to us to either embrace them or ignore them.

This morning, I went out for a walk on our property in the Columbia Gorge. The sun was rising from the east through fog and low clouds. It cast huge beams of radiant light across the spectacular rock face across the Columbia River. I saw a tree filled with expectant robins anxious to find some fat worms in the ground. The docile cows on our neighbors’ hill gave me a peaceful look, as if to say, “It’s a fine morning, and all’s right with the world.” Under my feet, tiny green plants were emerging, an emerald carpet stretched out before me on what was brown mud a month ago. An occasional dot of color drew my attention to an emerging wildflower. This type of moment brings me back to home base, to a place within myself where I can tune in to nature and her reminder of what’s important.

As I headed back to the house, I saw some daffodils beginning to peak out of the ground — only ¼ inch tall, but nonetheless, bright green shoots poking up from the dirt. This made me smile and reminds me of the courage these lovely flowers have each year, popping up without fear of frost or ruin from a sudden late winter storm.

Courage and boldness are what spring is all about. This is when nature says, “Be bold. Don’t be afraid to grow and flower.” It’s when all animals, birds, bugs and bees wake up and rejoice in the coming of plentiful food and more agreeable temperatures. It’s when nature encourages us to grow and expand, to create and reach out for more opportunities.

This week, observe how the energy of springtime encourages activity and boldness. Try getting out to greet what little bits of spring are beginning to emerge. In preparation for the full-blown emergence of the season, think about what you’ll do over the next few months to boldly take advantage of spring’s active energy. What may have seemed too hard to do in winter, might just seem possible with the coming of spring. How about using the vibrant energy of the season to do something you otherwise would consider risky?

Author Christopher Morley wrote,

“April prepares her green traffic light and the world thinks ‘Go.’”

Spring gives us the oomph that seems so inaccessible on a wintry day. How will you use it to enrich your life and take you beyond your limitations?

I’m not naïve enough to think that just because Punxsutawney Phil didn’t see his shadow yesterday morning, that the Pacific Northwest won’t dump more winter on us. I’ll still keep the wood stove going out at our house in the Gorge for a few more months. But the daffodils won’t retreat, and the robins won’t fly away. They know that spring is around the corner, and they will remind me that I can take advantage of the season to be bold and to revel in its beauty.

As Percy Bysshe Shelley wrote,

“And Spring arose on the garden fair,

Like the Spirit of Love felt everywhere;

And each flower and herb on Earth’s dark breast

rose from the dreams of its wintry rest.”

Have a good week!


© Copyright 2013 Pathfinders Coaching, Scout Search Inc., all rights reserved.

1/27/13 “Clear Communication in Times of Crisis”

Good day, team,

I received a nice compliment on my blog this past week about a challenge I wrote back in 2007. After re-reading it, I want to share it with you again. Here is the challenge from 12/3/2007.

This week’s challenge comes at the request of a technology manager I work with who wanted guidance on an all-too-common scenario: How to make decisions and communicate appropriately during times of crisis and high stress.

When something goes wrong—a major server outage, a system failure, or a missed deadline—how does one explain what’s happening, attempt to fix it and respond appropriately to managers when all they want to hear is that the problem has been fixed or the deadline will be met? In such situations, pressure mounts, and pretty soon the people trying to fix the problem want to throw up their hands and say, “I quit,” while the management continues to say, “Just fix it, now!”

In times of high stress, people tend to behave in one of two ways. Some people go immediately into activation mode, that is, they jump in and attack the problem with a strong sense of urgency. Other people go immediately into analytical mode by collecting all the relevant information, analyzing the problem and only then coming up with a solution.

For example, I recently witnessed a phone outage in a call center. Some of the supervisors were immediately up out of their chairs, talking with their phone representatives, and trying to address the problem with action. Other supervisors were on their computers trying to assess the problem by reviewing the numbers, and then determining who in the command center was taking care of it and what the overall impact would be on the business.

Interestingly enough, when the phones went back up and all the supervisors met to discuss what happened, everyone had something worthwhile to contribute, both those who immediately went to their phone representatives and those who spent time analyzing the problem.

Yet the manager of the call center responded most positively to the supervisors who showed a sense of urgency. Most leaders are motivated by results and are easily frustrated by people who begin with research rather than action. I’ve heard more than one business leader say, “What’s wrong with these people? The place is falling apart, and they’re analyzing our downfall instead of turning it around!”

Clearly, telling business leaders the truth when they don’t want to hear it is daunting. Sometimes we don’t know what the problem is; other times, we can’t promise it will be fixed on schedule. Sometimes we can’t even be heard, if leaders spend most of their time trying to give sometimes ineffectual orders and definitely don’t want to hear that their directions aren’t going to be carried out.

Speaking truth to power is challenging for all of us, especially if there’s a history of negative consequences. I remember one senior director telling me, “I don’t care what the problem is, I’d much rather have them tell me the truth immediately than shy away from it and have it broadside me later. I don’t care how bad it is or how much someone screwed up: Just tell me the truth, and we’ll deal with it.” The same director, however, upon hearing that an important customer’s order had been botched threatened to fire the people responsible if it ever happened again.

The same situations can crop up in our personal lives. How many times do we shy away from tough conversations with family members or friends because we are afraid of the other person’s response? Speaking the truth to anyone is difficult; speaking the truth to those who have a say in our livelihood or whose opinion of us matters is even more challenging.

But as Winston Churchill said, “Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is what it takes to sit down and listen.” Whether we are the purveyor or the receiver of bad news, handling the truth is an act of trust. Trust is at the heart of all healthy relationships, and we cannot trust people who don’t tell us the truth or who withhold information because they’re afraid to share it.

During times of crisis, it is especially important to be honest about what we see and communicate it to the best of our ability. Conversely, we need to listen to what’s being said and honor the person saying it. The more we can lessen our resistance to the truth and remove impediments to action, the faster any crisis can be resolved.

Have a great week!


© Copyright 2013 Pathfinders Coaching, Scout Search Inc., all rights reserved.

1/17/11 “Story Telling and Shining”

Good day, team.

“Playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do.”


Marianne Williamson, spiritual activist, author, lecturer and founder of The Peace Alliance

My sister sent me this wonderful quote a few months ago, and it’s been on my mind this week. It reminds me of how often I worry about what others think and stop myself from realizing my full potential. Maybe it’s because I don’t want to offend someone I’m working with or I’m in a situation where I don’t want to outshine a family member. Sometimes I find myself holding back information or actions because I’m afraid of taking up someone else’s space or because I don’t want to attract envy or jealously. Whatever it is, I realize that it happens more often than I’d like. This kind of consideration to others is based on fear rather than inspiration or love.

This weekend, on the other hand, I was reminded of how children can really shine. We had friends visiting us at our home in the Columbia River Gorge. They brought their daughter and one of her close friends. So we had the delightful experience of having two lovely, incredibly curious, intelligent 10-year-old children to keep us company.

Saturday nights with guests in the gorge have become story night. That is, after dinner we all go into the living room, sit around in a circle and tell stories. They can be sad or happy, frightening or inspirational, about every day occurrences or great adventures we’ve had in our past. I’m always amazed at how interesting and creative people’s stories are — and how much fun it is to hear them!

As we listened to the stories of our 10-year-old visitors, we saw them shine in our candlelit circle. One minute, we were holding our sides from laughing so hard as Bella told us the story of the most embarrassing event in her life, and in the next moment, we were held in close attention as Estelle told us a story about an adventure she had at camp last summer. In both cases, these girls shone in their ability to recount their stories of humor and life lessons.

Listening to the children share their stories allowed the adults to free themselves from shyness or an unwillingness to participate. In the girls’ uninhibited way of allowing their stories to flow through them, they allowed the rest of us to do the same. It made for a wonderful night of sharing, laughter and tear-filled eyes, while we opened ourselves up to one of the oldest traditions in the world — storytelling.

This week, try not to worry so much about what other people think of what you’re saying or doing. I’m talking about the low hum of constant internal chatter that often says, “What will they think of me if I say that?” or “Maybe I’ll just not say anything at this point and let it be” — even if you know that your suggestion might be helpful. Try not to allow those thoughts to prevail. Make an effort to have a more courageous conversation or take a bold action rather than shrink from the opportunity.

If you have children or grandchildren around you, notice how their eyes shine when they tell you a story, whether it’s true or not! Think about how we all have that childlike desire to hear a good story or tell someone a tale that holds their attention for a few moments. Although we live in a culture that seems to prefer hearing and watching stories on television, try making time to share stories together. It’s not only empowering, giving each person an opportunity to have a voice, but it’s also very entertaining.

Have a good week!


Kathleen Doyle-White
Pathfinders Coaching
(503) 296-9249

© Copyright 2011 Pathfinders Coaching, Scout Search, Inc., all rights reserved.

11/22/10 “Benefits of Failure & Imagination”

Good day, team,

At a client’s request, I’m resending a piece that I originally sent in 2008, from J. K. Rowling’s commencement address to Harvard’s graduating class. This is part one; I will send part two next week.

In 2008, J.K. Rowling, acclaimed author of the Harry Potter novels, gave the commencement address at Harvard University. She called her talk “The Fringe Benefits of Failure and the Importance of Imagination.” When I read it, I found it so inspiring that I wanted to share some of the best parts with you.

First, a bit about her background, as context. J.K. Rowling’s parents both grew up poor, so they insisted she study subjects in college that would land her a great, high-paying job. She, on the other hand, wanted to write fiction. The two parties compromised on her pursuing a vocational degree in modern languages. But once in school, Rowling quickly switched to majoring in classics.

Though the decision weighed heavily upon her, her passion was so great that she continued to write stories during her lunch hours. Unlike her parents, who feared poverty, Rowling feared failure, and she actually ended up attracting it in significant ways. Here is an excerpt from her speech:

“Ultimately, we all have to decide for ourselves what constitutes failure, but the world is quite eager to give you a set of criteria if you let it. So I think it fair to say that by any conventional measure, a mere seven years after my graduation day, I had failed on an epic scale. An exceptionally short-lived marriage had imploded, and I was jobless, a lone parent, and as poor as it is possible to be in modern Britain, without being homeless. The fears my parents had had for me, and that I had had for myself, had both come to pass, and by every usual standard, I was the biggest failure I knew.”

However, the author found a light at the end of the tunnel when she ended up in the most dire conditions. And, in doing so, she was able to realize her destiny.

“So why do I talk about the benefits of failure? Simply because failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged. I was set free, because my greatest fear had already been realised, and I was still alive, and I still had a daughter whom I adored, and I had an old typewriter and a big idea. And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.

“You might never fail on the scale I did, but some failure in life is inevitable. It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all—in which case, you fail by default.

“Failure gave me an inner security that I had never attained by passing examinations. Failure taught me things about myself that I could have learned no other way. I discovered that I had a strong will, and more discipline than I had suspected; I also found out that I had friends whose value was truly above rubies.

“The knowledge that you have emerged wiser and stronger from setbacks means that you are, ever after, secure in your ability to survive. You will never truly know yourself, or the strength of your relationships, until both have been tested by adversity. Such knowledge is a true gift, for all that it is painfully won, and it has been worth more to me than any qualification I ever earned.”

Your challenge this week is to face your fear of failure and decide not to let it overtake you. Take your fearful state of mind and heart and use it propel you into doing something you love or to find alternative ways to live. For example, a friend of mine and her neighbors recently planted a city garden to offset the cost of food. She never realized how much she loved getting up early in the morning and going out to plant or harvest what she grows. My neighbor has already lost 10 pounds and is feeling better than ever now that she bikes and walks to work. A client has finally quit a job she hated for years to pursue her dream of painting watercolors full time.

If we take Rowling’s words to heart, we can begin to see these changes in fortune as an opportunity to gain something new rather than to lose or to fail. Decide for yourself what path you would like your life to take based on your passion for it, rather than the fear of failing at it.

At the end of her speech, Rowling quoted from the great Roman philosopher Seneca. As you face your fear of failure this week, remember his words:

“As is a tale, so is life: not how long it is, but how good it is, is what matters.”

Stay tuned for next week‘s challenge for the second subject of her speech, the importance of imagination.

Have a great holiday week, everyone. We all have lots to be grateful for!


Kathleen Doyle-White

Pathfinders Coaching

(503) 296-9249

© Copyright 2010 Pathfinders Coaching, Scout Search, Inc., all rights reserved.