Tag: create


Good day, team,

I have a confession to make. I’ve rewritten this week’s challenge numerous times and still don’t feel satisfied with the quality of what I’m writing. So rather than send out a piece that is not particularly good, I’m now exploring my real challenge: following through on the commitment I made six years ago, to publish one every week, even when I’m not inspired to write.

Years ago I took a writing workshop with the poet and writer David Whyte. I remember him saying, “If you commit to being a writer, then you need to discipline yourself to write. Each morning, I return to my desk and writing pad. Sometimes I sit for an hour or so with nothing written on the page. Other times, I can’t write the words down fast enough. But what’s important is that I return each morning to write.”

His advice surprised me. How could that daily discipline exist in the same mind as the incredibly powerful images his poetry evoked?

I had thought of artists and poets as people who went though their lives waiting for a moment of inspiration to overtake them. Then they went into a frenzy in some cold, cramped, solitary space, drinking gallons of coffee and working feverishly late into the night with no regard for food or sleep so that their masterpiece could emerge before their inspiration was gone. It never occurred to me that they could apply the discipline of showing up each day to create with the same energy others would use to show up at a regular job.

Recently, I heard this same message while sitting in a large conference room surrounded by hundreds of bank employees. We were listening to a speaker who was the first woman at the bank to achieve the high position of executive vice president. She talked about what she had done over the years to succeed. What she said struck me powerfully:

“At the end of the day, the most important thing I’ve done in my 26 years with this organization is to keep showing up. When I worked as a teller, a supervisor, a manager, a vice president, a senior vice president and now as an executive vice president, each day, I just show up, sometimes without the slightest idea of what I’m doing or how I’ll get through the day.”

Although it came from two completely different sources, the advice is the same. And so each week I sit at my computer, and sometimes the words come so quickly that my fingers can barely move fast enough to keep up with them. Other times, I sit and gaze out my office window at the lovely wisteria that frames the windows, or the brilliant coral leaf maple trees that show off their seasonal colors of brilliant greens in spring and summer, deep ochres and reds in autumn, and the delicate, woody, bare boughs of winter, waiting, waiting for the words to come.

Your challenge this week is the same as mine: to have the discipline to continue to show up in whatever work you do so that if the inspiration comes, you’re there to experience it.

Upon winning one of her many Wimbledon titles, the great tennis star Steffi Graf was asked, “What’s the most important thing you do to be such an excellent player?” Graf replied, “I practice. For as long as I can remember, I go out each morning and I practice. Some days I play reasonably well, and some days I can barely make the right shot. And then, on rare occasions, I just throw the ball up to serve, and something else takes over. I’m no longer in charge. Some energy takes over, and I watch myself, as if in slow motion, move in exactly the right way to hit the ball in the sweet spot, with the perfect swing. Then I watch the ball sail through the air and land in the perfect spot. In that moment, I know that every hour of practice has made that magical moment possible.”

My challenge is to keep practicing, to keep writing in the hope that, one day, magic will take over and the perfect words will write themselves onto the page. I know I can’t make it happen, and I know I can’t hold onto it if and when it does. But I also know that if I don’t show up every day, I’ll miss it.

Have a good week,


Kathleen Doyle-White

Pathfinders Coaching

(503) 296-9249

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

6/21/10 “Hobbies”

Good day, team,

This week, it’s become increasingly clear to me that I need a hobby.
Frankly, the idea has never appealed to me. Maybe it’s just the word hobby.
My only association with it is hobby horse, which also did not sound very
desirable. Maybe it’s because no one in my immediate family had a hobby.
Or maybe it’s because activities like quilting or airplane model-making
didn’t light my fire.

This morning, I consulted a dictionary to try to change my attitude.
A hobby is “an activity or interest pursued for pleasure or relaxation
and not as a main occupation.” Then I realized why I need a hobby. It
would be good for me to engage in an activity that provides pleasure
and/or relaxation that’s not work-related.

Yesterday, I worked on a photo album to give our kids who are moving
from Oregon to Ohio. I started on it and when I next looked at the
clock, three hours had gone by and I hadn’t even noticed. I got so involved
with choosing the right photographs, sorting them, trimming the corners
to fit into the album, etc., that I wasn’t at all aware of the time going
by. I realized when my husband walked into the room that I was thirsty
and hungry, but I hadn’t even noticed. I looked around me and discovered
little bits of paper and photos all over the place and I hadn’t noticed
them either. It suddenly dawned on me that this little project had given
me energy. I had enjoyed working on it to such a degree that I totally lost
track of time and place.

This is part of what hobbies are all about: Doing something with our leisure
time that gives us energy. Finding a hobby we can do on our own, that gives
us enjoyment, satisfaction and a sense of renewal, seems to be essential
to achieving better balance in life.

My grandfather loved caring for his roses in the spring and summer. Each
day he would go out to the backyard and study the beautiful bushes that
lined the back of the house. I can still see him sitting in his canvas
garden chair, dressed in his work clothes and weather-beaten straw hat,
admiring his roses, their color and shape, checking how much sun they
were getting or whether he had pruned them right a few weeks back. Then,
he would take his clippers and his watering can and approach them with great
care. He put on his gloves, carefully snipped here and there, and gathered the faded
blossoms in a basket. Then he removed his gloves and got on his hands and
knees to feel how moist the soil was or to spread it where it had become uneven.

He did these things with surgical precision. Sometimes he would spray for bugs
or add extra fertilizer to the soil. Then he would sit again, sipping on iced
tea my grandmother had brought him, and admire his roses. Before he was finished for the
day, he would cut the flowers that he wanted to bring into the house. He created a small
bouquet in his gloved hand, eventually putting them into a basket to deliver to my
grandmother. It brought him great satisfaction.

In the winter months, he continued his research about roses, looking
through the many catalogs that came in the mail and choosing just the right
specimens to replace or add to his collection.

I often wondered why this retired attorney had turned to growing roses
as a hobby. When I asked my father about it, he replied, “Well, he
loved the finished product. Nothing made him happier than to see a
bouquet of fresh roses on the dining room table that he had picked for
your grandmother that day. He felt as though he had accomplished something
special for both of them.”

This week, your challenge is to choose a hobby or put more time and
attention toward the hobby you already have. Perhaps you decide to
learn to draw or to knit. Perhaps you’re interested in learning how to
make beer or to build small wooden toys for your kids or grandkids.
My husband’s hobby is playing keyboard on Wednesday nights with other musicians.
My sister lives in Hawaii and creates gorgeous pastels of the surrounding
landscape and ocean. My friend Kate rides her horse Indigo for pleasure and

So what will mine be? I’m not sure yet, but this week I’m going to concentrate
on finding it.

As Dale Carnegie advised, “Today is life–the only life you are sure of.
Make the most of today. Get interested in something. Shake yourself
awake. Develop a hobby. Let the winds of enthusiasm sweep through you.
Live today with gusto.”

Have a good week,


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

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