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Being Kinder Than Necessary April 28, 2014

Posted by Ann Bertorelli in Coaching, workplace success.
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I was dusting the top of my TV yesterday (something I do fairly regularly, honest). I moved a wooden decoration that I keep on top of the TV which says “Be kinder than necessary.” And since I was thinking about my next blog post, I put two and two together and thought that sentence would make a great theme for a blog post—hence the words that follow.

People are not always thrilled to be at work.

People get cranky at work. It happens to the best of us. We are often working when we’d rather be playing. Or we’re under a lot of stress to do more with less. Or we just don’t like the people we are forced to work with. Or our boss is a real shit….and the list goes on. So since we do get cranky, work relationships can get strained and stay that way.

Working with a good community of people makes for high job satisfaction.

That said, I recently did a little research on what makes for high work satisfaction and guess what. A good community of people to work with ranks right up there—often number 2 or 3 on the list. This leads me to the startling conclusion that to be happier at work it’s best to get along with those with whom we work. (Notice I refrained from putting ‘with’ at the end of that sentence?)

That’s where the advice, “Be kinder than necessary” comes in. Here are some of my suggestions about bringing it to your work life. I’m not suggesting that you shouldn’t use it in your personal life; it’s just that my suggestions pertain to work. Remember I’m a workplace success coach (shameless self-promotion)

So here goes…

· Refuse to engage in negative third party conversations about anyone. There is nothing that destroys trust faster than when someone finds out you’ve been criticizing them behind their back. And while we’re on that subject, how do you think the people you are talking to feel about that? They are maybe thinking that you’ll be bad-mouthing them behind their backs the next time you get the chance. Make it a policy to keep your opinion to yourself unless you are specifically asked to give feedback or unless withholding your assessment would have disastrous results.

· While we’re on the subject of feedback, when you are asked for feedback, try engaging your brain before you speak. What is the most useful feedback you can give? What has precipitated the request for your feedback? How much negative feedback is helpful?

And don’t just pile on the negative stuff, try being encouraging and supportive about something the person has done—even if you have to dig very, very deep. Give feedback about something that the person can hope to change. If their voice is scratchy and annoying on the phone, perhaps you could mention something else. It’s a little hard to change the voice you were born with. And rather than a punch list of a hundred improvements, stick with the most important. Above all, give feedback the way you’d like someone to give it to you—unless you are very thick-skinned and nothing bothers you. In that case, just dial it back until you see how it’s being received.

· When you have to do something that’s ‘not your job’ do it gracefully and without editorializing. Maybe the person you are standing in for is a real screw-up or just maybe he or she is having a bad day because their elderly parent is dying. Before you rush to judgment about someone who is not measuring up to your standards, take a deep breath and be kinder than necessary about the situation.

· And on to standards. One of the things that causes us to criticize others is that they don’t measure up to our set of standards. How could they? Stop yourself for a moment or two when you’re ready to open your mouth to criticize someone. Is your way really the only ‘right’ way or is it just your way? Who made you master of the universe? Leave room for the styles and problem-solving practices of others and you may find a new and even better way of attacking a problem.

There is a whole load of ways that you can be kinder than necessary to others at work. I’ll leave it to you to figure out what they are in your particular workplace. The important thing is not what you actually do but how you do it. If you hold the intention that you are going to be kinder than necessary at work, you may (read ‘should’) find that your workplace becomes a kinder, gentler place for you too.

And after all, you deserve that.

Small Things Can Make a Difference June 16, 2013

Posted by Ann Bertorelli in Self-Development.
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baseball by theseanster93

Last week I attended a baseball game for out local team. It was a great night out for our family filled with all the stuff that says hometown and wholesome family activities. And to finish the night off, there were fireworks—what else?

The Monkee Swing

While I was watching the game I found myself watching the people more than the game, especially since the Fightin’ Phils couldn’t buy a run: they lost 6-0. Every so often a guy in a team sweat shirt would position himself at the bottom of the bleachers where we were sitting. Without a word, he would begin to do a double-arm motion that I had seen lots of people doing at the park. It looks a little like the Monkees used to do—if you remember back that far. After a few minutes of this action, most people in the bleachers were following suit and pretty soon most of the crowd was involved. The guy was totally serious about this –really into it. And he didn’t seem to care whether anyone else did it or not. He was doing his thing.

I did a little questioning of some die-hard fans and they told me his story. It seems this guy is a passionate fan of the Phils and would come to every game, seat himself wherever, and do his arm swings. Pretty soon it caught on and the rest is history.

Stepping Into Your Passion

As I thought about the guy and his impact, it occurred to me that each one of us can have a huge impact on those around us—sometimes without being aware of it. The guy at the stadium is an ordinary guy whose passion is baseball. He simply stepped into his passion and through that made a difference in the world around him.

As a coach, I have often been brought to tears when some of my clients repeat back to me things I have said to them that helped them to change their lives. And sometimes it’s month or years later that they tell me. At the time I was just doing what I love—listening and engaging with the stories of others with the intention of helping them to be the best they can.

What Do You Love?

How about you? What is it that you have a passion for? Whatever it is, don’t tamp it down. Why not just do it simply because you really like to? Guaranteed that whatever it is, you’ll inspire others in some way by your own light. And even if you don’t, you’ll be having fun…

New Website

Like to find out more about my coaching offerings? Visit my new website: www.lifecoachingwithspirit.com and sign up for my mailing list. You can get a free coaching video if you sign up the first time you visit.

Choose Peace April 23, 2013

Posted by Ann Bertorelli in A Spiritual View, Personal Observations.
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I’ve been on a rampage of self-improvement and growth activities lately. I’m loving this period of time when I’m not seeing a whole lot of people or doing a  lot of activities, just going within and seeing what’s available there. I  highly recommend it—we all need to stop and take stock every once in a while. Oops, did you notice that rhymes or almost? Glad I’m not doing an audio blog. But I digress.

One thing I have been doing is working on a new web site to re-launch my life coaching practice, Life Coaching With Spirit. Stay tuned for that…

In the midst of a lot of internet research, I came across this wonderful video and I’d like to share it with just a few words afterward. (OK, maybe more than a few, but not that many.)

Tough Stuff Out There

There’s a lot of difficult stuff going on in the world today. Sometimes I feel like throwing up my hands and going to live in a cave somewhere—a cave with running water and a place for my sewing machine. However, I know that I can’t/won’t do that. It’s my job to stay and see what I can contribute to things. I recently listened to Wayne Dyer who quoted Lao-Tzu, the Chinese prophet who wrote the Tao Te Ching. He said, “A bad man is a good man’s job and a good man is a bad man’s teacher.” (insert woman too—no PC in China at that time)

Choose Peace in Your World

Those of us who want to make a difference a positive contribution to this crazy, crazy world would do well to choose peace for ourselves first—then we can be the model that others rely on.

What does that look like? Well, maybe it looks like NOT screaming “Asshole” at the guy who almost causes you to have an accident because he stopped in the middle of the turn lane. Or finding a way to see the another side to the story when your child is hurt by another. Or choosing not to yell at your kids when they don’t do their chores. Hmmm, could be a full time job. But how can we expect peace in the world when we don’t know how to have it within ourselves? As above, so below, as within, so without…

Sermonette over—for now.


Conversational Generosity January 6, 2013

Posted by Ann Bertorelli in Self-Development.
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I came across the term ‘’conversational generosity’ a few months ago and was sufficiently taken with it to write it down for a future blog post. As I sat down today to write this post, I came up short. Hmmmm—what is conversational generosity and why did I make a note of it? After drawing a blank for a few minutes, I remembered that I liked it because it goes along with another concept I like, “generous listening.”

Since my area of interest and coaching is relationships, it stands to reason that I would value both listening and communicating.My teacher was often quoted as saying that ‘listening is all there is” when it comes to building a relationship with another.

My definition of conversational generosity is pretty simple really.To me a good conversation has to be just that—a conversation. Ever had a ‘conversation’ with someone who asked you nothing about yourself and simply waited for you to stop talking so that he could begin to speak again? That’s the opposite of conversational generosity.

Here are my definitions of the term:

  • Both people have the intention that the conversation should be of value to each person
  • There is a sincere interest in knowing what is important to the other and this is demonstrated by asking pertinent questions when appropriate. Listening without interruptions also goes a long way. Turn off the cell phone and turn away from the computer screen.
  • There is sharing that is appropriate to the size of the bowl of relationship. I’m sure you’ve been involved in conversations in which the other person provided wayyyyy too much information. Or perhaps in other circumstances where the other was very cagey about how much information was disclosed. However, when it’s just right, both parties feel that they have deepened the relationship by engaging in the conversation.
  • The person who most needs to have the floor and to be heard is the one who gets more ‘air time.’ Some people by virtue of their personality take more air time. However, at times we all need to realize that someone else may need to be heard and the most appropriate thing to do is to close our mouths and listen. There is a coaching tenet that I was taught as a new coach. It is WAIT. Why Am I Talking? It’s good advice not only for coaches but for anyone who wishes have a meaningful conversation with another person.

This week I plan to indulge my love of good conversation—especially since I’ve got a week filled with my favorite clients. I plan to be just as generous as I know how and see what develops.



Plant a Daffodil July 17, 2011

Posted by Ann Bertorelli in Personal Observations, Self-Development.
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cccommons byandyhayI came across a story called The Daffodil Principle written by  Jaroldeen Asplund Edwards.  I don’t know if it’ s a true story but it really doesn’t matter because the meaning of the story is so wonderful.

The story is told by a narrator who goes to visit her daughter who then takes her to look at the property of a woman who has transformed her plot of land by planting 50,000 daffodil bulbs over many years. The result was an amazing display of blooms which transfixed and inspirited the people who saw it. For the entire story (which is quite short) follow this link: Daffodil Principle

The main character says

When we multiply tiny pieces of time with small increments of daily effort, we too will find we can accomplish magnificent things. We can change the world.

Small actions can have a big effect

This story resonated with me because I believe that even small actions on our part can change the world in unimaginable and significant ways. One of the guiding principles for me as I coach others is the belief that I am changing the world one conversation at a time.

Before you start poo-pooing (gosh, wonder if I spelled that right) that notion, sit for a moment and think  of the times that someone has pointed out to you something that you said or did that had a profound effect on how they viewed the world or what they chose to do. You know you’ve heard that. And you’ve more than likely only heard a tiny number of the examples that others could come up with.

Here are some examples from my own little world.

  • My friend Jane, who loves to sew, is extraordinarily generous in teaching and working with others who would like to better their skills
  • Annie, my massage therapist, has taught me how to be ‘in my body’ and thus more in touch with how things are with me by using my body as an emotional guidance system.
  • My granddaughter has inspired me to be a stronger woman by her own observations about who she is as she starts the journey to adulthood

Are you aware of who you’re being?

I could go on and on, and so could you. How do you feel when you think that your own actions and words are changing the world? Good? Or a little nervous? If you have a nagging feeling that you may not always be changing the world in the way that you’d like, maybe it’s time to put a little intention behind that.

What kind of impact would you like to have?

Put your thinking cap on…What intention would you like to live into? Maybe it’s demonstrating more kindness than necessary, maybe it’s showing self-reliance or devotion to family. Maybe it’s keeping your lawn in impeccable condition. Whatever it is, know that simply by a little consciousness to your intention, some energy and a few actions behind it, you will have an impact on someone in your world,

How’s that feel?


A Passion For ? June 6, 2011

Posted by Ann Bertorelli in Personal Observations, Self-Development.
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Yes, once again I have had a break in my blogging schedule. Ever since they closed my Borders store I have been a bit more likely to take a week off. Guess it’s the lack of a de-caf latte that’s got me off my game. But this time I have a really good reason for missing my last couple of posting deadlines…well, not good exactly but understandable. A couple of weeks ago my doctor determined that I had a detached retina and needed surgery to repair it. And that, my friends is what I’ve been up to the last couple of weeks. I’ll spare you the exhaustive (and exhausting) details for which you should be very thankful. But God, forbid that I should let a personal experience be unexamined. I’ve decided to write about an observation I made during my hiatus.

I love surprises!

As you might imagine I had to see quite an array of doctors in the process of getting my retina repaired. The doctor who determined that I needed the surgery sent me to an eye surgeon whom I had never met.The doctor was very different from what I expected. Turned out he was a tall, good-looking man with long black hair worn pulled into a pony tail which extends down his back. He wears man jewelry, and notice and complimented me on my OM shawl. Yes! My kind of guy. And yet, that’s not the point of this post.

Dr. K loves his work

As I’ve gotten to know Dr. K, I have come to admire his passion for his work. He is very personable however it has become quite clear to me that my retina is vastly more interesting to him than my amazing personality. In a word, Dr. K is fascinated with and passionate about his work.

Find the passion

As I pondered this even further I realized that my hairdresser whom I have been with for over 20 years is passionate about his job, my OB-GYN physician’s assistant always tells me how much she loves her job and I myself have a passion for coaching people. It occurred to me that the people I most like being with—especially if they happen to be sticking needles into my eye– are the ones who have a passion for what they do. I have long been fascinated by those who develop a passion for something. In fact, I once had an idea to do a book of interviews with those kind of people. (I have since decided not to do the book but if you like the idea, be my guest).

Passion points to soul purpose

So what is it about passion that is so compelling? Why are passionate people so often great at what they are passionate about? I believe it’s because there is a spiritual component to passion. Actually passion is a pointer to soul purpose. When passion for something is present (not talking about sexual passion—another topic altogether), it’s like a neon sign announcing your soul’s purpose.

We’re all meant to do something in our lives. Not all of us are destined to be famous world figures, military heroes, brain(or eye) surgeons or movie stars. However every single person has a talent, an innate ability or way of being that is a gift to those inhabiting the planet at this time.

I know that I have a passion for listening to other people’s stories and for looking with them for solutions to the issues that hold them back. It’s what I do and what I want to do. It feeds my soul…

Find your passion

What do you have a passion for? And if you don’t know, maybe it’s time to figure it out. Because when you do you’ll find yourself doing more of that thing. And that will be a gift—not only to others but to yourself. It doesn’t get much better than that…


Be That May 15, 2011

Posted by Ann Bertorelli in ontological coaching.
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I’m recovering from a weekend of tango frenzy and what better way than to come back to earth with a blog post.

I was watching a movie last week –or I should say a segment of a movie. I seldom sit down and watch an entire movie at a time. In the movie, Robin Williams play a psychologist turned convenience store owner. Williams asks the main character if he’s a smoker and the guy replies, “I’m trying to quit.” The psychologist responds with, “You need to figure out if you’re a smoker or a non-smoker. Find out which one you are and be that.”


Since I am involved in the study and practice of ontological coaching, that comment is right up my alley. Ontology is the study of being and who you’re being in any given time is something that should be a conscious decision rather than a default position that may or may not further your intentions in life.

So, find out who you are and be that. Great concept. I have a conscious declaration about who I want to be in the world. Do I always manage it? Well, no. But the fact that I have that declaration gives me a road map when it comes to making decisions about how to live my life.

I have a practice before I go to sleep each night (unless I’ve been dancing tango till the wee hours—in that case I just collapse into bed). In this practice I call to mind at least five things about the day that I am grateful for. After that I mentally review the day and see if all of my actions have been in alignment with who I say I am. If yes, then I feel satisfied. If no, I decide to do a better job tomorrow.

What’s the payoff for being conscious?

Why be conscious of who you want to be in the world? By my observation of both myself and others, being in integrity with your values, desires, and mission makes for a more satisfying and value-producing life.

A case in point

Dylan is a young man of 16 whom I have known since he was 9. He probably won’t win scholarships for his academic achievements but Dylan is a world class human being. His declaration about himself is quite obviously to be a loving human being in all circumstances of his life. When you come into Dylan’s presence he greets you with an enormous hug and some sincere appreciation. Dylan fairly emanates love for others and receives it in return. He knows who he is and he is that all the time.

What’s this mean to you?

So who do you say you are? A writer? Then write. A reader? Then read. A tango dancer? Then dance. A liberal, an archconservative, physically fit, overweight, a musician, an emotionally balanced person, a neurotic. Figure out what (or who) you are. Embrace it, get really cozy with it and be that…



Walking Through the Fire May 1, 2011

Posted by Ann Bertorelli in Personal Observations, Uncategorized.
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cccommons by celine nadeauSometimes life gets hard. Sometimes it gets downright overwhelming. I guess we’ve all had times like that. I know I have. It’s something I refer to as ‘walking through the fire.’

Now I’m not talking about minor annoyances like your car not starting, cutting your finger with a knife, or losing a favorite earring. No, I ‘m talking about the REALLY BIG stuff—life changing/threatening stuff. Things like losing a loved one to death, depressions that take away your will to live, battling a serious illness.

Most of us have had these things happen in our lives not once but multiple times. And if you haven’t—well, maybe you could better spend your time reading another post today.

What doesn’t kill you…

I believe that walking through the fire provides us with opportunities—provided we come out on the other side. No, moving through such an event is no fun at all. But to quote Frederich Nietzsche, “What doesn’t kill me will make me stronger.” I often say that to clients and I’m not being flip when I say it. I mean it.

My own fire

I have had quite a few fires to walk through in my life. One of the fiercest was when my 38 year old husband got a brain tumor and died within 5 months, leaving me with a 5 year old son to raise. There were times that I thought I was not going to make it through that blaze. However, the fact that I had a young child depending on me and that I was his ‘only game in town,’ made any other choices seem unavailable. Was it fun to go through it? Decidedly not. But now that I have walked through the fire I know that it did make me strong. I believe that there are not many things I cannot handle.

The ‘wounded healer’

Some of the very best people I know have had some mind-boggling fires to walk through in their lives. And as a result, they bring a richness of experience and perspective that is very valuable to me. They bring the certainty that there is purpose and joy in life and that the life they have is definitely worth living. They often display a deep caring of others and a capacity for seeing others as vulnerable just as they were. Could they have gone the other direction and become embittered, pessimistic people? Of course—and there are plenty of those around.

But what sets them (and I hope me) apart is that they have learned from these challenging times and they have moved on.They have made a declaration that while they may be wounded by their difficulties, they will heal and rebound from them. That’s why they are the best people.

You can do this

You may be walking though a fire right now or trying to recover from one. Your ability to declare that you are and will be ok is what will get you through it. Sometimes it’s just one day, one hour, one breath at a time. So even if you have to repeat it like a mantra with each breath, your determination will be what gets your through  And for God’s sake, don’t be afraid to ask for help. (Get it?)

I am not sure why this topic came up today but I was guided to write it. Thus I am sure that I was supposed to write about it for at least one of you out there…

Hang in there—fires burn themselves out…


Who Are You Being? March 6, 2011

Posted by Ann Bertorelli in ontological coaching, Uncategorized.
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2418629901_0eceaf6e82One of my favorite questions of people I coach is “Who are you being?” (And one of my favorite most-hated questions is “Name 10 things you love about yourself.” However, I’ll save that for another day. )

What are you about?

Why do I love the question ‘Who are you being?” Because it really speaks to what you want to create in the world. And if you’re not conscious of what you’re creating, you are very likely to create a lot of muck and greatly annoy those around you. And since the guiding principle of my coaching is to get effective work done by intentionally building relationships with others, it follows that I’d like to know who you are being (or at least who you think you are being).

Who do you know?

When someone has a consciousness about who they’re being, it shows up in everything they do. Think of some of these people who are in your life. One person who comes to mind for me is Lori, the owner of Sangha Space in Media, PA where I take tango class. Lori is all about creating a tango community that is vibrant and welcoming. She speaks about these goals and her actions point to this commitment. Her energy and her desire to make everyone welcome is constant and when she’s not at the studio, the place is just not the same. Lori’s actions and words are a match and ‘who she is being’ is enriching her life and that of others. She is acting into a strong declaration about the purpose of her life.

You can be a whole bunch of you’s

Who are you being? There is no one answer to that question, of course. Sometimes I am being supportive, kind, and  loving. Other times I am being judgmental, impatient, and selfish. And I am ok with either end of the spectrum. However, I do have a declaration about who I want to be and judgmental, impatient, and selfish is not part of that declaration. So the trick is to constantly rely on my Observer—that element of myself that can step outside , take a look at how/what I am doing, and allow me to self-correct when I am not acting in integrity with my declarations about who I want to be.

Try this

This week figure out what you’d like to do more of in order to act in alignment with who you want to be. Kinder? More hard-working? Better organized? A friend to all? A setter of boundaries? You decide. Just decide. And then when someone asks you that annoying question about who you are being, you’ll have an answer.


Book It… January 30, 2011

Posted by Ann Bertorelli in Self-Development.
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by zapthedingbat cclicenseflickr I’ve had this topic on my list for Sunday blogging since the first week of January but other topics have wormed their way into my brain instead. However, since nothing more compelling came up today, I’m going to offer you a list of books that I love. I’ve often recommended these books to my clients with great results.

January and February are great reading months. The fine weather does not call most of us to go outside, take a walk, garden or go to the park with the kids.So lest you find yourself with nothing to read,I’ll give you some of my favorites. God forbid you should veg out in front of the TV (not that I ever do that.)

So here goes…

Radical Forgiveness by Colin C. Tipping. I recommend this book quite often to clients (and friends). Everybody has forgiveness lessons to work on. Colin’s book offers a different take on forgiveness in the first chapter of the book which is called “Jill’s Story.” He also has developed worksheets to use to help you to move through your process. These can be found on his web site www.radicalforgiveness.com (along with “Jill’s Story” if you really search). I love Colin’s approach and have used it myself for many years. He also offers workshops and certifications in Radical Forgiveness. Here’s a quote from the book:

There is a big difference between Radical Forgiveness and all other forms of forgiveness. While Radical Forgiveness takes the position that there is nothing to forgive, all other forms of forgiveness—for which I have coined the term Mock Forgiveness—take it as a given that something wrong happened.

The Prospering Power of Love by Catherine Ponder. Ponder has been writing books for quite a while. In fact,this book was first published in 1966. She comes out of the Unity School tradition. She’s written a lot about prosperity. I like this book very much because it points to the power we have within ourselves to apply love to any situation and through that to transform outcomes. Her examples at times seem dated—she talks about ‘businessmen’ and ‘housewives’ but her ideas are enduring and inspirational. My favorite chapter is called Special Methods of Love—I. I like this chapter because she advises writing to the angel of another person when you have tried everything that you yourself can think of. And of course since I am an angel person, this resonates with me. However, I offer that this method can be useful for anyone who finds themselves in a seemingly unsolvable situation. She says

There is a special power in writing to the angel of a person you can’t help in the usual ways or with whom you cannot reason. There is something about written words of Truth that reaches to the center of reason of such a person, getting past the emotional blocks of vanity, pride, and deception, and past intellectual argument, and penetrating his or her God-self.

The Abundance Book by John Randolph Price is one of a ton of books that Price has written over the years. He is not that well known in the mainstream but people who pursue new age/metaphysical interests are quite familiar with Price’s work. This small volume was given to me by Doreen Virtue when I took her Angel Therapy Practitioner ® training in 2006. it contains a 40-day plan designed to change your consciousness about abundance in your life, thus improving that situation in your life. Doreen used the program several times—and those of you who of know her can vouch for the fact that she is a terrifically abundant person. His premise is that consciousness is the key to life and that truly, nothing is impossible.

Money is an effect. When you concentrate on the effect, you are forgetting the cause, and when you forget the cause, the effect begins to diminish…You must begin this very moment to cease believing that money is your substance, your supply, your support…Money is not—but God is!

I had intended to add a few more books to this list but I’m way beyond my preferred word count…so many books so little time. However, this ought to hold you for a day or two. Curl up and read!