September 11, 2015
“We’ve all been trained to talk about what we don’t want and don’t like, which makes it hard to break that story-telling habit so we can explore what we do want,” says Lorraine McGregor, a top management consultant, coach and author who has developed unique tools to help people uncover what it is they want more of.
Lorraine – a guest presenter at our Designing Your Third Chapter workshop in Whistler October 22-24 (please see side panel) – knows of whence she speaks.
In her mid 20s, Lorraine thought she had a lot of what she wanted. She was in the midst of growing a burgeoning software company in the US that was bound for glory, when a predatory stakeholder took her out. Suddenly, her world collapsed and she had none of what she thought she had.
“My mind was completely focused on what had happened, how betrayed I felt and what I didn’t want to do next – and I had no ability to stop the replays so that I could counter it. Finally, I realized that being consumed by what was wrong in my life was a very powerful tool for keeping me down and out.”
Through a process of flipping this way of habitural thinking and finding a new paradigm, Lorraine was able to turn her life around. She moved to Seattle, a city where she knew no one and had no job, and started the successful consulting company she still runs today. What was her key to success?
“I let go of thinking about all the things that could go wrong and I was willing to risk hope in the face of disappointment,” says Lorraine. “This is totally counter intuitive – our brain naturally goes to protecting us and throwing up all the risks and dangers ahead.”
Fast forward 25 years: Lorraine and her business partner/husband Rob McGregor who joined Spirit West Management (spiritwest.com), expanded their consulting firm to help companies grow to the next level. That might mean performance improvement of the company’s people, products or services or it might mean getting a company positioned to sell for a premium, or a whole range of things in between. But whatever the scenario, the suite of “Self-Managing Personal Tools” that the couple have developed are a sweet spot in moving the needle and dialing things up:
“To grow means people have to change by breaking self-limiting habits,” says Lorraine.
When I spoke to Lorraine about her work, I was interested in how she thought it might apply to women approaching the third chapter (aged 50-75) of their lives.
“I think by this age, we all have a reservoir of things that have disappointed us,” was her answer. “This can lead to fear that history will repeat itself so we stay small… and then live without stretching so we don’t have to risk hope.”
Lorraine uses a tool called “The Six Lane Highway of Habit” to root out that disappointment, deconstruct it and over time, build a new habit to once again imagine “what if?” Once they see your pattern, she says the tool has been highly effective in helping people figure out what it is that they truly want more of
“In recognizing your own Six Lane Highway, people get to exercise an awareness muscle that they may have forgotten they have. They start to think: ‘oh yeah, I really love to do ___’ and that leads to putting language and feelings around what it is you truly want more of.
Another tool that Lorraine uses is called The Drama Triangle which every great story teller uses to great effect by setting up a villain, a victim and a hero.
“TV and media train us to think about our lives in this triangulated way. Yet casting ourselves in any of these dramatic roles actually makes life very confusing. What you want becomes hard to envision without fearing you won’t be successful (victim) or you need someone to help you (hero) or something will get in your way (villain).
“It is amazing when we realize how we drain away our energy and sense of power by interpreting life’s events from the place of being a victim or believing we need to rescue others (hero) or defend our right to be right (villain).”
Here are Lorraine’s top three tips to start this process of getting more of what you want:
- Practice in simple ways: next time you are circling a parking lot, convinced that you will never find a spot and will be late for wherever you are headed, instead of letting your mind dwell on what you don’t want, move it to focusing on seeing the perfect spot. Lorraine says this works for her nearly 100% of the time!
- Practice self-management: listen to the tone of voice you use to talk to yourself. Is it the kind of tone you would use with a good friend you respect and admire? What makes your inner tone change? The more you become aware, the more you can adjust your tone to nourish, nurture and support yourself. Then you can hear your inner wisdom.
- Risk Hope in the Face of Disappointment: what event(s) in your life do you often refer to out loud or only to yourself as evidence that history will repeat itself if you try again? Pose a new possibility to stretch your comfort zone: what if you changed some aspect of how you approach that topic, that this time, might deliver a more satisfying result. Let that possibility percolate for a few days. Don’t shut it down.
If you want to know more about Lorraine’s services, please contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org
At our Designing Your Third Chapter workshop, Lorraine will lead participants through exercises designed to improve our ability to self-manage when it doesn’t look like what we want is showing up, and how to give ourselves the freedom to see what it is we truly want more of.
What does your present stage of mind say about yur health, happiness and chances for a more satisfied and fulfilling life in the future?