Archive for June, 2015

Problems and Solutions

June 29th, 2015


In light of the past two weeks, I am going to get a little more personal with this blog. A friend shared on FB yesterday that she was reading and came across a quote by Richard Rohr that we are all part of the problem. I agree.


We are all part of the problem.


The world has lots of problems: global warming, racism (specifically noted in the USA this past month, but all over the world), attacks in Tunisia and other places where attacks on human beings have occurred, and economic crises (in Greece, for example). Just read the morning newspaper and unless we are of ostrich-orientation, we see the mess we are in.


It is easy to blame someone or something else: the government, the other country’s government, “those people”, whoever they are. “It’s not my fault!” is one of the first phrases we learn to say as a child. But as a parent, I know that it really takes more than one party to cause a fight, a problem. We are all either part of the problem by inaction, by action or by collusion. I come from a faith tradition that prays to be forgiven for what we have done and for what we have left undone. For me, this is key. What more could I have done is a question that is of ultimate importance.


Even in coaching this question, I call it the “what more” question is imperative. “What can I do?” is good, but “What more can I do?” often brings a breakthrough.


Self-reflection and integrity are keys to the solution.


When I am honest with myself I hopefully can see how I could possibly be part of the problem. But it is hard to get past my own self-defense mechanisms alone. Thus, it is in community that we find out our blind spots, see where we are part of the problem and then can grow.


But this kind of learning only happens if we are willing to subject ourselves to reflection. Many people reflect in a coaching relationship, but of course there are other ways to find a reflecting community. So, I personally allow myself to be with someone or in a group where I become vulnerable, I acknowledge that I might possibly be part of the problem, and I listen to first of all to myself, but also to others, especially to those with whom I might disagree.


The listening to others is also very important for the reflection process. We often only read and listen to opinions and ideas that corroborate our own thoughts, ideas and opinions. But if we do this, how are we going to grow? Thus, integrity is also part of our solution. I need to check out what “those other people” think, feel, believe, need and their reasoning for their actions with an open mind and heart.


My motivations may be pure, but maybe they are not.


Finally, I need to really check my own motivations for my thoughts, actions, and inaction. How much is self-serving going into what I do and don’t do? I have a friend who once said (in a very heated meeting) that when we point a finger at someone else, we are actually point four fingers back at ourselves. So, I must be honest with myself, as much as I am able.


These activities and thoughts I have written may not change the world, but I hope they bring each of us closer together and start a conversation that is healthy and helpful.

When you are interested, check out my coaching website:


Good Choices and the Guts to Fulfill the Dream

June 24th, 2015

IMG_0592Last week I wrote about the honor I had of experiencing what it I like to leave a dangerous home and have the opportunity to start anew in a free country. This week I had the honor of sitting next to a new marine recruit on his way to boot camp. The similarities in choice, bravery and coping skills with the African man I met last week were uncanny.


Good Choices


The newcomer to the US was very clear about his reasons for coming to the States: it was life threatening in his country and anything that gave even a hint of opportunity for him, his wife and boys was better than being killed. Even though he was under no illusions regarding how tough the next years might be, he was ready to risk it for the sake of his family.


The new recruit has just finished high school and is aware of his abilities and needs. He wants to start a possible career with the marines, specifically with the military police. He hopes that after a 20-year career, he can then start a second career as a police officer, perhaps in Northern Minnesota. Because his high school time was successful but not stellar, the young man thought that this would be the best choice for him


Both these men’s choices were clearly thought out. They had a plan and they were following through with that plan. Neither of them were dreamers. They saw the situation, make a plan and then took the necessary action. Thus, they were on their way! But it took a lot of guts to move in that direction.





Both men showed an amazing amount of bravery in their choices and in the actions to follow through with their plans.


The asylum seeker and his family left their home country, went first to Nairobi and then to Dar es Salaam looking for asylum and hoping to make it to a safe environment, a place where the children might have a chance to grow up and have a successful life. The adults knew it would be very hard, full of unknowns and major changes, but the thought of staying was too dangerous for them. So, they gathered all their courage and moved on.


This young recruit has never really been away from his family and the leave-taking has been hard for him. He knows that boot camp will be very tough, and that his future is uncertain. But he also sees the opportunities afforded him by entering the military. The USA is full of such honorable and earnest young people and I was truly amazed at the depth of his certitude that, despite the very scary possibilities, he is ready to take the chance and try something completely different from what he has experienced thus far. This man is also sure that there will be no easy route to a successful military career and he is ready and willing to put in all the hard work expected of him.



Coping Skills


Whether the young African father and the recruit will be able to cope with their future environments, only time will tell. But both showed a willingness to change and learn. Those kinds of skills are key to success in a new environment: willingness to change, and willingness to learn. We human beings have all needed these two abilities, topped with bravery and the ability to make wise choices to continue towards better futures. May it be so for us all, refugees, recruits, and the rest of us, today!

Bravery and change

June 16th, 2015


I am in the USA and recently had the opportunity of flying on a special flight to Chicago.



The Zürich-Chicago flight was half-full and I was tired because of the early rising to be “on time” for arrival at the airport. Hurry up and wait is the motto of flying, especially internationally. Because I was tired, the group Swiss was boarding (they always board groups early) looked to me like a band or choir. Their uniforms were obviously African in dress and their skin tone matched the traditional dress of the women. The men wore more western clothing, but it was all the same. I was rather confused as to why so many small children, also in the same clothing, were flying with the band.



I was pleased to note that I had a free seat next to me and spread out accordingly, getting comfortable, starting to watch “The Theory of Everything” when the African gentleman across the aisle from me asked what to do with the customs card. I was free, having nothing to do for nine hours ahead of me, I was happy to help.



So, pausing the movie and taking off my headphones, I started to explain the reason for the card and then what was required in each box: name, flight, and passport. When we got to passport part, the young man was a bit concerned. I showed him my passport to illustrate and he shook his head. He had no passport, “just” a bag with him, which he showed me. The bag was printed with something like, “International Migration Services”. Well, by then I had figured it out. There were about three dozen refugees on board, flying to the USA for a new life.


I felt privileged to be able to vicariously experience their arrival in a country where they would not have to live in a war zone. The man, a father with two little boys was traveling with his wife to Chicago first and then to Florida. In Chicago the group would break up and go on to the places where they had sponsors. I still think often of these people and their bravery.



They had already experienced many firsts on their journey from Guinea to Tanzania via Nairobi and then from Tanzania to Chicago via Zurich: new clothes (they were all dressed alike and thus I thought they were a musical group), flying on an airplane, so many caucasians about, new food, new language, new climate. They would also be experiencing many more firsts, ones not always so positive. I felt for this man, for his wife and kids, for all the others. The list of new challenges they will encounter can go on forever, but their fear of the new was overridden by the fear of what they had left. They had left a war zone. The father said, “Whatever is ahead is better than being killed, seeing your children killed.”


Lessons learned

I can learn from this man; we all can. He has already been able to overcome what seems insurmountable barriers, make important, if still hard, decisions, and continue on his way to a new solution, a new place. He had few illusions to the difficulties he would face ahead, but he believed that there was opportunity ahead and only death and destruction behind. He knows that his future is in his hands and he has taken the responsibility seriously.


My coaching website can be found at www.jehle-coaching.comIMG_0857

Wise advice from an entrepreneur who knows about business and life

June 9th, 2015


Last week over coffee I was once again reminded about the fact that priorities are so very important, but especially to those who are starting their own business. After eleven years of success, my entrepreneur friend has some wisdom to share about what counts. My friend’s start-up story is not common, but his focus on the priorities in life are a key to a successful business. Here is some of his wisdom in a nutshell:


Your life is more important than work, more important than business.


What you do for a job is meant to help you live a healthy and integrative life, not the other way around. You need to know your values and work according to them so that all you do fits with your person. When you have a balanced view get a lifeIMG_0664of life and work the business becomes the means to an end: a good life, well-lived.


People and relationships are more important than business and “progress”.


When your priorities are in order, the person in front of you becomes valuable, more valuable than the business he or she may offer you. Then all your activities are relational and not just results-driven. Thus numbers will not count more than the relationships with the people involved in the enterprise. The capital is in the human aspect more than the numerical aspect.


Respect for the culture and respect for the individual are keys to success.


Whether the person in front of you is a handworker or a CEO, treat each person with the respect due them as a human being. There is inherent value in each individual we meet and we view each one as a potential new friend, a colleague. Also, as human beings, we belong to our respective cultures, and those cultures are to be respected and not just “used” to for financial gain. By cultures, they can be the traditional “anthropological” cultures, but also other cultures that may be more global in nature. No matter what kind of culture, the culture should be valued.

Your integrity is your calling card.


Your name and brand are only as good as your word, your integrity. My friend spoke warmly of old business partners who shook hands and took him at his word – and he took them at their word. Those relationships are still going and the businesses are doing well because your reputation for integrity is a gold calling card.


When we value people more than success, when we live out our values at work as well as at home and have a life that is full of integrity, we need not worry so much about the numbers because then they become less important to us. It is not surprising, however, that entrepreneur friend is doing quite well in his international consulting business that has lasted over thirteen years. Therein lies the wisdom: priorities.

Momentum to Reach the Goal

June 1st, 2015


Last Friday I had the privilege of attending the TEDXWomenZurich event and I am still thinking about the talks and how they apply to me and to my life. The theme was Momentum and the talks were as varied as the speakers that spoke. For me, and for the artist that helped portray the theme in picture, momentum has two parts: the foundation so one can “take off”, and the energy to keep on going.


Even before I arrived at the venue on Friday, I had been considering the relationship between passion (my last blog) and contentment and I had pretty much decided that contentment was the topic of my next blog. On my morning walk with the dog I had realized that I was very content with my situation and that this solid foundation was the place where I could rest to get ready for my next steps. It’s a bit of a mystery, but by that I mean that I was comfortable with myself and also my situation so I could consider the next steps in my life and career as a business coach.


Then I walked into the room and started meeting wonderful women at the breakfast, women who were also coming with open hearts and minds for the speakers to present their messages. What an amazing amount of energy!


I won’t give a summary of every talk but I want to address the ones that hit me the most: Susan Jane Gilman, “There is No Lightning Bolt”; Toku McCree, “Picking Role Models That Matter”; and Stephanie Fonteyn, “Leap of Faith”.


There is no lightning bolt

…was all about the fact that instant success is really not true to life and that supposed instant success, when really researched, are success after years of work and discipline. My take on it is that you have to get up every day and work hard at your craft to become a success at it.


Picking good role models

…is key if you want to follow your chosen direction Toku spoke about the fact we need to look to real people who are not personifications of our ideals. He went on to list a few values that I hold and consider important for success: people who are able to see and embrace their weaknesses, people powered by a passion for service, and people who are genuine. Of course one has to then become a role model for others.


Taking a leap of faith

…is, in the end, the act that we all have to do and Stephanie was, like one of my TED heroes, Brené Brown, vulnerable and honest enough to share her story. Because Stephanie took her leap of faith, we attending the event were able to participate in the day’s collaborative art project: a doodle of Amelia Earhart. This was a perfect visual portrayal of the days’ ideas and speakers. You can see her flyer and her art in the attached photos.


So, when you are content with yourself, you can then take on good role models, do the hard work of becoming an expert in your chosen path, and then take that leap of faith and do the “impossible”! As so many of the speakers said, “Go for it”!