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Dear Coach: What if the Law of Attraction DOESN'T Work?

Posted by Julia Stewart

Law of AttractionI don't want to ruffle your feathers, but if you teach the Law of Attraction, don't you ever doubt whether it really works?

I'm not against the Law of Attraction. It's a great way to draw people's attention to the subtle ways that events seem to line for us when we are sure of what we want. Most importantly, it offers a good excuse for practicing faith.

For example: Recently a relative of mine told me she had a job offer that she really wanted to take, but it was a 9-month teaching position that paid about 1/4 less than her current job. I said, "If you really want it, there's probably a way that you can do it. So the question to ask is not, 'Should I do it?', but 'How could I do it?'". She knew there were lots of part-time temporary positions for her skill set, so she took the job on faith and within a month, her new employer offered her a summer teaching position that made up the lost pay. You could say she attracted the outcome she wanted. You could also say she realistically assessed the situation. Both explanations accurately describe her outcome.

My problem with the Law of Attraction is that tends to confuse people. And no matter how you explain it, confusion stops people from getting what they want. Most people who grew up in the 20th Century (I bet that includes you) were taught that hard work, strategy, education, research, expert advice and goal setting would help them get what they want. Then they hear that the Law of Attraction says all they have to do is think about what they want and they will get it. Does that mean they can throw out hard work, strategy, education, research, expert advice and goal setting? No. All those things include thinking about what it is you want, so keep doing them if they work for you.

Another example: Several months ago, I was musing that perhaps it was time to find a new coach. I'm fortunate to have some of the best coaches in the world as friends who will coach me, as needed, so quality of coaching wasn't an issue, but I fantasized that perhaps it was time for someone who was a spiritual teacher, whose training was different from mine (so they could surprise me now and then) and maybe someone who owns a coaching school, so they could relate to some of the challenges I'm working with; all of that would be nice. A week or two later, Lama Tantrapa called me up out of the blue and suggested we start coaching each other. When stuff like that happens, I've learned to just say, "Yes."

Sometimes things seem to happen like magic, but that doesn't mean that all we ever have to do is set our intentions. As Lama says, "The road to hell is paved with intentions." It turns out he found me via LinkedIn. Was it the Law of Attraction or a good social media strategy that brought him to me? Yes.

I belong to the local Science of Mind church. It's pretty much ground zero for the Law of Attraction. But even they say that LOA doesn't work for everybody. Children who grow up in the church seem to create more of what they want just by thinking about it, perhaps because they don't have competing beliefs that confuse them.

Third example: The other day, I ran into the pastor of my church at the Post Office. She told me how she broke her toe by slipping in the bathroom. She said she had broken another toe on the same foot so many time that it was crooked and she had been considering having it broken by a doctor to straighten it back out. In other words, she had been thinking about breaking a toe and she then broke one. Be careful what you think about! Was it LOA or a freak accident? Whatever story you tell about it, she still has a broken toe.

It's hard to prove causation. Scientists tend to point to correlations and avoid making up stories about causation. When we observe events like thinking about something and then experience what we thought about, we're observing correlation. But humans are story-making machines and we love stories about causation. Correlation feels  confusing.

Choose the stories that work for you. And let coaching clients do the same. Confusing them with the Law of Attraction may stop them from getting what they want, even if it works for you.

I'm here to say that the Law of Attraction is nothing but faith. 

Or maybe it's just correlated with faith. But faith is huge. And at the opposite end of the scale is doubt. All healthy humans have both.

Imagine faith and doubt connected by a line. Faith pulls us forward and doubt pulls us back. However, there is often hidden wisdom underneath doubt, so explore it, rather than try to eliminate it.

Confusion on the other hand, erases the line. Doubt carries wisdom and connects to faith. Confusion is full of missed connections and blurred vision, kind of like the words in the image, above.

Whether you have faith in science, Jesus Christ, hard work, the Law of Attraction or all of the above, that faith will help to pull you forward. Uncover what's behind your doubts and erase your confusion if you can (by creating clarity) and you'll be pulled forward with less effort. It's not a guarantee of outcome, but rather something that correlates with success. 

"No one should spend their time trying to think positive thoughts. We've all got better things to do." - Thomas Leonard  

Some of the most successful and honest thought leaders out there, like Bill Harris, who appeared in The Secret, and Thomas Leonard, who 'founded' the coaching profession, don't ascribe to the Law of Attraction. Thomas actually developed a very different approach to attracting what you want called, The Principles of Attraction. Coaching is about getting what you want and there are many ways to do it. 

Here's a secret: In my experience the Principles of Attraction, combined with the Law of Attraction is even more attractive. Consider trying both together.

What are your thoughts on Attraction? Feel free to share them in the comments section, below.

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Topics: Coaching, coach, Thomas Leonard, Law of Attraction, Attraction Principles, clarifying, clients, LinkedIn, Center for Spiritual Living, Bill Harris

Do You Coach with a Big Mind and Big Heart?

Posted by Julia Stewart

Genpo Roshi Big Mind Big Hear

I spent last weekend in Denver at the Vast Sky Conference with Zen Master Genpo Roshi, Ken Wilber, Bill Harris and Bernie Glassman Roshi.

Mind blowing doesn't begin to describe it. For me, the two highlights were:

1. Reconnecting with my former coach, Anna Dargitz, née Hodge, who took me out for a wonderful dinner and introduced me to her husband, Les. They have built a beautiful life together. So inspiring!
2. Participating live in a Big Mind/Big Heart workshop with Genpo Roshi. I had done it via DVD, so I thought I knew what to expect, and it was all that, but live is soooooo much more powerful!
Nothing has ever resonated with me more than Big Mind/Big Heart. I came home wondering if I should just move to the Big Mind Zen Center in Salt Lake City for a year. And I'm not even a Buddhist!
All the other presenters were also amazing. In fact, I went because Ken Wilber was there. He has been suffering from a chronic illness and doesn't travel for speaking engagements these days, so I felt now was the time to see him. He is the genius behind Integral Philosophy, who can speak as an expert (often THE expert) on a thousand subjects. Looking frail, thin and a bit older, he did not disappoint. (I award the prize for coolest entourage to Ken's gaggle of 30-ish men, all dressed in dark glasses, shaved heads and elegant suits with cool graphic T's peeking out - exactly Ken's own look.)
Genpo, on the other hand (or Roshi, as his followers call him), was totally down to earth, beaming with unconditional love and erupting with an irreverent sense of mirth, a total revelation. He has perhaps the cleanest energy I've ever experienced.
Big Mind/Big Heart is a raucous and fast path to enlightenment, especially when experienced live in Roshi's  presence. He bids many of your 10,000 "voices" to come forth and speak, including your disowned "shadow" voices, sometimes for the very first time. I discovered, among others, that I have a disowned fundamentalist (no real surprise) and a disowned narcissist (who knew?).
Ultimately, the purpose of Big Mind/Big Heart is to lead you deep down the path of Buddhist enlightenment in far less time than the monks of old have attained it. He combines a Western Process called, Voice Dialog, with the Eastern philosophy of Zen. It is revolutionary and it is fast. Although deepening it will likely require discipline and practice for a life time. But who wouldn't want to become enlightened when it's this much fun?
Roshi's mission is to enlighten many more souls, because as he says in the book, Big Mind/Big Heart, 
"We're at a point in our evolution where we all have to become conscious."
Naturally, as a coach, I appreciated all the ways that Roshi shows up as a masterful coach: Curiosity, Acknowledgment, Challenge, Humor, Unconditional Love, and all the other skills of coaching, but with a group of 70 people who all get coached simultaneously.  Wow.
Obviously, I recommend that you dive into all the tools that Roshi and his team have created, so you too, can become enlightened in a hurry: DVD's, CD's, Books, streaming video and of course, live events. He'll be in NYC and Houston with Centerpointe's Bill Harris this Fall. BE there, if you can. Visit for more info.
[UPDATE: On February 3rd, 2011, Genpo Merzel announced that he would disrobe as a Buddhist monk, after admitting to improper relationships with some students. He plans to continue teaching Big Mind on a secular basis and will no longer teach at Kanzeon Zen Center.]

Topics: Coaching, coach, Ken Wilber, Genpo Roshi, Big Mind Big Heart, Integral Philosophy, Bill Harris, Anna Dargitz

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