I help motivated people find their owner’s manual and discover their unique resources. We all have one. You can’t cheat by reading someone else’s. Every manual is different. I don’t lecture people or require anyone to follow checklists or formulas. I don’t have your answers. You do.
i have questions
Questions unlock the doors that lead people to their own answers. I’m just a guide that gets you to the trailhead. You choose your own path. The clock is ticking. The time to act has always been – NOW. That first action can start as small as a mental click.
I was 18, standing in the front yard of my childhood home when I found myself the target of an angry gunman a couple weeks prior to leaving home for college. I didn’t run or take cover. I didn’t scream – at least not audibly. The shooter was my brother. I was stuck between compassion for him and the instinct to preserve my own life without harming his. When he stopped shooting, I crossed the street and picked up the jammed gun he discarded before running off. I felt no need to give chase as I watched him disappear around the corner. No calls were made to the police, friends, family, or any other elusive support system bedtime stories are made of.
I felt numb. Muted. A pawn in a chess game I was never expected to win. But somewhere between the clicks of the trigger pulls and the wait for a bullet to impact, something deep inside me clicked too. It was time to disrupt every standard, expectation, and limitation projected onto my existence. I was at my tipping point. I had no idea what might be waiting ahead, but I hoped it would be better than the worst-case scenario I just survived. And if it wasn’t? Well, I had a win I could always revisit as a kind of pep talk with myself as I confronted new opponents and challenges on the road ahead.
Though none of the bullets pierced my skin that day, they left indelible scars. Scars tell stories of battles that couldn’t break you. They are ones that I’ve come to recognize, decades later, as the roots of my resilience. Back then, though, I was just relieved to be alive and leaving for college, like a thief in the night stealing the piece of me my circumstance tried to bury before I had a chance to bloom.
I went on to earn my undergraduate and graduate degrees. I fought for justice in law enforcement before moving into the world of international corporate security. I travelled to unusual and remote locations on four continents where I didn’t often see people who looked like me. The most interesting part was learning about others and investigating the circumstances and motivations that impede our divine right to exist authentically and to thrive.
Though coaching was not my primary role, people wanting coaching always seemed to find me. People who appeared so carefree and put together upon the first impression sought me out to share some of the most intimate concerns of their lives. I found the thing that kept me going the afternoon of the shooting, my resilience, was not as second nature for others as I once thought.
Perhaps my energy, because of the depth of my awareness and experience, invites trust, respect, and credibility in a way that makes being vulnerable with me safe. Or maybe there is just an unspoken, energetic communication between those who have been there and done that. What I know for sure is that there is always a mission in the mess. The details the mess is made of don’t matter as much as what we choose to do with their created situation. That’s where people get stuck. That’s when I hear from them and where we connect — in the eye of the storm.
I have seen it all and experienced most. Few things surprise me. But most importantly, nothing makes me run – except spiders. Spiders make me run. But only because I recognize their tactical advantage with the extra legs. We all have that one thing.
This journey of mine and the clients, friends, and colleagues I’ve coached along the way has shown me that time under tension yields strength. I qualify that with one thing – you must be willing to travel unpaved roads that lack standard road signs. I don’t do ‘standard’.
I’m formally trained in the Co-Active method of coaching. But I have also used my expertise as a crisis negotiator and investigator to develop The Cereus Method for Critical Conversations – a process of inquiry that guides people through communication around sensitive and emotionally charged topics. I also teach a method of soul writing which are independent writing techniques that inspire reflection and self-awareness. Between my professional career, personal experience, and negotiating with three teenage daughters, I have a lifetime of experience communicating under stress. I have filled my toolbox with proven strategies.
People get stuck when expectation doesn’t match the reality that confronts them. They get tunnel vision focused on the crisis and lose their peripheral vision of the vast expanse of inconspicuous inroads to the outcomes they really desire. I support people by asking the questions that inspire broadened perspectives to shift their narrow focus. My coaching method is similar to how I used to approach a crisis negotiation with a barricaded subject or how I conduct an interview to unearth the truth. I ask the tough questions that eliminate the potential for contrived responses. Tough questions open doors that invite creativity, reflection, and alignment. They don’t allow you to hide. Most importantly, they remove the focus from panic and fear and point us toward ways to navigate the terrain of uncharted possibility. Tough questions unlock our innate how-to-manuals of the self and show us how to survive and thrive.
I am passionate about showing people how to disrupt the systems that leave them frustrated, angry and marginalized. I don’t want a seat at the table. I don’t need an invitation or permission, nor will I be compelled to provide an explanation for my presence. I refuse the labels and acronyms that help others project the parameters of our engagement. I prefer the blindside. The clients I work with understand this and meet me there. Together we get through whatever comes our way, with the right questions, the right mindset, and the right tools.
Insight and wisdom happen when and where we least expect them. This piece of clear quartz found me in a small shop in California. Two inclusions of iron mineral look like eyes peering out from the quartz. Most shoppers would pass this up because inclusions are considered flaws by most people. However, the iron bits made me think of the strength each of us has at our core. What others may see as flaws – our upbringing, physical appearance, level of education, a whole spectrum of challenges, I see as strength.
Strength and resilience are often derived from overcoming adverse circumstances. The iron in this quartz, the eyes that peek out, acknowledge what experience has already taught me.
This “flawed stone” is a nod to the millions of people who get overlooked every day by those unable to recognize this gift of inclusions on the spirit. The irony is that the people so many tend to disregard and try to diminish are often the ones who have the iron insights to disrupt convention and usher in progress for everyone. People who can help us all to develop the perspective to really see and appreciate each other with greater clarity and appreciation — if we overcome our fear of becoming disruptors.
Connect with Sharlene here: [email protected]
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