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The Transformative Power of Accountability

A lot of factors come into play when we’re trying to move forward on something in life. One valuable tool for making progress is accountability. In its simplest form, accountability is just making a promise to do something, then having some way to track whether you actually do it.

Instead of tracking it yourself, it helps when someone else tracks it with you.

An accountability partner raises the bar. You might have tried this with exercise plans. While you might be tempted to skip a solo workout, you definitely think twice about rescheduling a tennis match because someone is counting on you.

When the stakes are higher or the goal is more complicated, an accountability partner does more than tracking and/or showing up. And that’s where an experienced coach comes into the picture. Being the perfect accountability partner is a coach superpower!

What Makes a Great Personal Accountability Partner?

First, there has to be mutual trust and respect. It’s got to feel safe, because it always feels vulnerable to invite accountability.

We have to be willing and committed to giving honest, direct feedback. We can be gentle, but we need to be truthful or else we’re no help at all.

We offer encouragement without judgment or attachment about the outcome.

It’s More Than a Checklist

Coaches know accountability is more than simply checking tasks off a list. We like to get in deep with all the subtle dynamics around your efforts. While we help track your progress, we also ask important learning questions to shed insight into your passion, your skills, your resistance. We help you rethink the steps you’re taking, offering fresh challenges and new slants. We help you re-engage with your goals when you’re struggling to focus.

A coach will dig a little deeper to help you understand your successes and your flops. A coach will ask you to reflect on what you are learning from those actions and inactions, and help you apply those insights going forward.

Accountability is quite a dance, and everyone has a different rhythm. As a coach, I’ve learned how to tune in to who you are and what makes you tick, so I can help you, with direct compassion, make progress on your goals and integrate the lessons you are learning along the way.

Mary

 

A Sparkling Theme for 2019

I am not a fan of resolutions.

They’re well-intended, but they don’t seem to last. We need something to anchor and guide us, to help us be our best.

Having a theme for the year is what works for me. It’s more inspirational.

The thing about resolutions is they set external targets. They are prescriptive, telling you what to do. While there is a certain power to their concrete and tangible character, they seldom stick because they lack inspiration.

Themes don’t expire, they inspire. They tap into our creativity and curiosity, rather than our willpower. They engage us instead of dictating to us. That’s why a theme lasts longer.

Review Your Year for the Pivotal Moments

Yahoo. Boohoo. Aha.

That’s the simple lens I use to review my past year, reflecting on events, accomplishments and moments.

Try it… Write down your “yahoo” moments of 2018. What are you proud of? What brought you joy? Maybe you’ll think of positive steps taking care of your health; quality time with cherished friends; redesigning your website or reorganizing the basement.

Now your “boohoos.” What tough things happened? Jot down whatever triggered your disappointments or sense of loss or shortcoming in the last year.

What sparked an “aha”? What did you learn? What truth were you reminded of?

Review your list. Say thank you to 2018 for the yahoos, the boohoos, the ahas. Feel your gratitude for all you learned.

Now crumple it, toss it out, and say goodbye to 2018.

A Theme to Inspire Your New Year

To figure out your theme, take a fresh piece of paper and write on top: “What Is Next.”

Jot down what comes to your mind and heart.

Ask yourself….

  • What do I want my life/career/work to feel like in 2019?
  • What do I want more of? Less of?
  • What fires me up, makes me feel more alive?
  • What scares me?
  • What are the challenges in 2019?
  • What do I want to focus on for the next year?

Noodle on these questions…. Instead of trying to figure out the answers, linger with the questions.

While you linger, drop your attention to your heart. Drop your attention to your breath. Don’t force it, see what comes.

As words, images or ideas surface, a theme might reveal itself. Sometimes it pops right out, other times it emerges as you noodle. Pay attention to what makes you sparkle, what inspires you.

Once you’ve got a theme in sight, take it out for a test drive. Live with it for a week or two. Does it resonate? Does it spark more questions? Revise and reiterate until it resonates, and let it guide and inspire you as the year unfolds.

Mary

Play to Your Strengths

You can be anything you want, if you just work hard enough.

Hmmm, really? Ballet dancer, opera singer, nuclear physicist–are those pursuits really available to anyone and everyone?

Not many people buy that cultural myth anymore BUT underdog stories of triumph over adversity are still captivating. The research in the field of Strengths Psychology suggests that the real triumph comes to those who capitalize on their strengths. Instead of employing superhuman effort to correct deficiencies and overcome shortcomings, how about putting attention and energy towards making the very most of your strengths?

Why labor upstream when you can glide downstream?

Correcting weaknesses is like trying to swim upstream: The fight against the current will wear you out, and you simply can’t make good progress. Try playing to your strengths, and you’ll know you’re swimming downstream, your efforts boosted with ease by your natural gifts. There’s no stopping you!

When you play to your strengths, it’s naturally easier to accomplish more

In the workplace, statistics indicate that only 20% of folks use their strengths daily. That lucky 20% are more efficient, effective and productive. Most importantly, they’re happy. When you know and play to your strengths, life bursts with ease and satisfaction!

Cultivating strengths takes less effort and brings far greater results

We’re bombarded with a societal message to be balanced; to be well-rounded; to labor at transcending our shortcomings. Let go of that mandate and cultivate your strengths:

  • Stop agonizing over what you don’t have: Celebrate what you DO have.
  • Discover the role you were born to play and realize the ease and zest fulfilling it.
  • Don’t strive for balance–it’s an illusion anyway. Strive for fullness. Intentionally imbalance your life towards what makes you feel strong.
  • Always sweat the small stuff: Know and act on the specific details of what invigorates you.

How will you play to your strengths today?

Mary

What do you Cherish?

Remember this golden oldie?

That’s my theme for this February: CHERISH. I love the tender, sweet feeling that this word (and that melody) inspires. I am excited to notice what I lovingly adore, what I treasure, what is close to my heart.

How about you? What is it that you hold dear?

Cherishing my connection to you,
Mary

Transition Time

Picturesque Autumn landscape of sunset colored trees and warm colored leaves that covers the ground  ** Note: soft focus, best at smaller sizes

After a glorious summer filled with plenty of adventures (planned and unplanned), it is time for me to transition into the routines of fall. Sometimes the return to routine is refreshing; the predictability and regularity keeps me grounded and moving in the right direction. Other times it’s disorienting and overwhelming because it adds another layer of deadlines and time pressure.

In this month’s Your Growing Edge teleclass, I will share what I have learned about effectively navigating this transition.

I am looking forward to fall. How about you?

Warmly,
Mary

Mary

Busy as a Bee

Busy as a beeExciting news from Coach Olk HQ! My new product, Activating Your Inner Champion, was one of 3 featured products in CHOICE, The Magazine of Professional Coaching. WOW! I am speechless. I’m sure I’ll recover soon and be blabbing about it all over the place. Stay tuned and in the meantime, click here to read about it.

May is full of all kinds of busy-ness personally and professionally. The end-of-school year events (field trips, concerts, track meets, banquets) merge with the onramp to summer activities (soccer games, picnics, graduations, vacations). In my day-to-day business operations, I am redesigning my website, welcoming new clients, exploring new training opportunities, and learning how to talk about Activating Your Inner Champion!

With all that busy-ness, it is so easy to get knocked off center. I can get so uptight, worrying about the things I need to do, the things I am not doing and should be doing, and all the things I forgot to do!

YIKES! Can you relate?

That’s why I invited Rick Carson, author of Taming Your Gremlin to YOUR GROWING EDGE, my FREE TELECLASS. Rick will share his wisdom for stopping that internal churning and reconnecting to our hearts.

Please click here to join Rick and me at the teleclass on May 14th at 11:30am CT.

Busy as a bee,
Mary

Planting the Seeds of Spring

flower seedling in a pot ready for planting

Isn’t it great to have so much more daylight this time of year? Excitement is in the air and signs of spring are beginning to sprout.

I am planting lots of seeds this month.

1.  I am thrilled to be sharing my Inner Champion audio learning program with the world! Now that the audios and journals are finished, I am dreaming up all kinds of ways for people to use it. Look for more details from me this spring.

2.  I am hatching plans to refresh and reinvigorate my website — new content, new photos, and a new look that works on any digital device. I even have videos I want to share!

3.  My free monthly tele class is on March 12th and it plants the seeds for the Power of Play in our livesJoin me!

4.  And I am looking forward to designing and creating beautiful, relaxing space inside and outside our house!

Feels like spring fever is setting in and I am eager to see how the seeds I am planting now, flourish and grow in the upcoming months.

Here’s to spring,
Mary

Energizing and Refreshing Retreat Experience

RainbowsThis fall Mother Nature has been putting on quite a show in the Midwest. We had a long run of warm sunny days, beautiful blue skies and glowing gold, orange, and red trees. And rainbows! I have never seen so many fall rainbows. It has been breathtaking.

Our house has been full of activity: decorating the yard, carving pumpkins, creating costumes, picking out treats, and making plans to celebrate with friends. October was an exhilarating month of transition.

November has been and continues to be a busy month of celebrating. We are looking forward to gathering with family and friends for Thanksgiving. I will be celebrating my 29th birthday again. (wink, wink) And the most important part of November: Our 25th wedding anniversary. It seems like we just got married last year! My husband and I are thoroughly pleased to celebrate such a remarkable milestone.

All this transition season busy-ness motivated me to create some quiet, restorative time for all of us. Michelle Burns and I have cooked up an energizing and refreshing retreat experience to entreat you to SLOW DOWN and immerse yourself in the experience of GRATITUDE! I hope that you will join us for the event. All the details are listed on my Upcoming Events page.

Yours in gratitude,
Mary

Devoted to Fun!

Mary WaterskiingIt is so much easier to be spontaneous in the summer. Probably because we don’t have the same intensely rigid daily schedule that comes with the school year. More flexibility in our schedule means more opportunities for playtime! Last night I joined a spur-of-the-moment football-throwing contest. Two weeks ago I tried water skiing (successfully! that’s me in the picture) for the first time in 30 years. Tonight, it looks like we might ride bikes to our favorite local pizza joint.

These spontaneous good times really lift my spirit and dramatically lower my stress levels. (Not to mention, the physical exercise is good for my entire family!) And the last 3 weeks have been challenging. One of my fit, healthy brothers had a heart attack last month. My Mother-in-law was hospitalized twice for pneumonia and is bouncing back very slowly. My husband was out of town (enjoying his long planned bike trip www.bikeodyssey.com) and I was shepherding and schlepping the teenagers to their summertime commitments. Oh yeah – and running my business too.

Each moment of impromptu, purposeless play really cuts through the stress and strain of life. Play injects my heart with a shot of joy that sustains me. That burst of delight reminds me that even in the midst of hardship, life is good.

Incorporating play into your daily routine is beneficial to you, too. Would you like to make play a habit in your own life? For the rest of August, follow my Facebook page for daily ideas on how to PLAY. Very few of them will require special equipment or physical finesse. These play prompts will create a smile and melt the stress away in the middle of the day.  Join in the fun and post your experiences and your own PLAY ideas on my Facebook page, using the hashtag #PowerOfPlay. Let’s start a PLAYvolution!!

Mary Mustache Your serious DEVOTEE to PLAY,

Mary

Mary

How Are You Exceptional?

Please share your answer to this month’s question by using the comment section below!