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“Now that I’ve been coached for a while, I get it; but I remember feeling uncertain what I was getting into, that coaching was mysterious even.”

Eek! When a client says this, as the owner of a coaching company, I take notice. Lack of clarity is rarely good for business!

Let’s demystify what goes on in coaching. Pull up a chair. For this time only, I’m inviting you behind a one-way mirror to watch some coaching sessions in progress…

Scene One

This CEO and I are looking at his Leadership Circle 360 results for the first time.  As he sees how he’s been striving for perfection his whole life, I can see the faintest hint of emotion in his eyes.  He says he’s sad. He knew he had exacting standards for himself but he didn’t realize his team could see it too. He says he feels humbled too because his team sees him as a such a strong leader. In this session, we don’t rush away from the emotion. It’s important. We do promise to dig deeper into his commitment to perfection and help him find specific practices to put less energy into “being perfect” so he can free himself to focus on what matters most.

Scene Two

This operations director shows up frustrated, that despite her feeling she does everything within her power to keep her team happy, their last team session was a blame-fest. She felt personally attacked. In the heat of the moment, she defended her policies and processes. Right after the meeting, she completed several tasks (that were previously assigned to team members) to ease their load. When she’s able to look at herself and her team more objectively, she realizes she habitually avoids conflict and steps into hero mode. With some prompting, she decides she will host a team meeting to ask curious questions about what is causing conflict. We’re both excited to hear what she will learn.  She’s nervous too. She and her team have been sweeping some subtle conflict under the rug for a while now.

Scene Three

This business owner shows up feeling out of control. He’s managing operations, overseeing sales, and is the primary parent at home. The first three years of company ownership were thrilling. Now he feels overwhelmed daily. We slow things down dramatically and get up on the metaphorical balcony to take perspective. By the end of the session, he reports feeling calm and hopeful.  He commits to working with a head hunter, as step one, to find a strong sales manager. He feels confident that with someone leading sales, he can get back to managing operations and expanding service offerings. He’s excited to spend more time with his kids.

Every scenario is an opportunity for increasing self-awareness, learning and skill development, planning and committing to action (or sometimes sitting still!). Clients are always in the driver’s seat making choices that make sense for them and their business.

Of course, in both the structure and emergent space of coaching, there are some “aha” moments that can happen along the way. They are personal and unpredictable.  For that magic, you’ll simply have to get coached yourself.

In the spring, my daughter Lali and I came up with a meaningful purpose for ourselves as part of our summer plan. We decided we’d try our hand at growing flowers, selling them as cut bouquets, and donating half the money to Ronald McDonald House Atlantic (RMH). We called our social business Les fleurs de Lali. I wrote about our initial learnings in July when things were just getting going.

Les fleurs de Lali: Our Summer in Review | Chandler Coaches

This past Saturday we had the privilege of visiting RMH¹ in Halifax to drop off our cheque. We saw, first hand, how the money is used to host families whose children are receiving medical care at the nearby IWK Hospital. During our visit, Lali acted like some CEOs I know.  She distractedly replied to the development officer’s curious questions about our business and moved as quickly as she could to the shiny objects in the RMH playroom☺.

On so many levels, our foray into social entrepreneurship was a huge success.

Here’s what we kept track of (in a tiny little paper book):

# bouquets sold = 95

$ raised for RMH = $900
(closer to 60% of our total in the end)

Sweet spot for pricing = Approx. $15
(Lots of people tipped, bringing their contribution to $20)

# of Pop-Up Markets held = 2
(Both involved neighbourhood kids and cousins as our sales team)

Main platform for sales = Facebook

# customers online and via Pop-Ups = 57
(20 were repeat customers; only 4/57 were men!)

# of donated vases = Approx. 120 vases from 9 different people

Values of other donated products (bulbs/ garden supplies) = Approx. $350+

# of people/families who contributed flowers from their own gardens to sell = 7

# of hours worked = 200+ hours

By traditional business measures, our little social business was a fail. Without donated flower bulbs, vases and some flowers plus a lot of labour, the year one numbers don’t really work.

Les fleurs de Lali: Our Summer in Review | Chandler CoachesIt would have been FAR easier for me to coach a leader for a few hours and donate the revenue. This would have given me more than a month for vacation or Chandler Coaches work.  This is no small point as I did overdo it this summer (Those of you who know me well may sport a knowing smile now).

But given a do-over, I/we would do it all again.

Because in creating Les fleurs de Lali, we got to watch nature’s beauty bloom before our eyes on a daily basis. We had a yard full of bees, a healthy sign for our environment. We had at least a half hour of creativity and connection baked into our day in arranging flowers. We talked to our neighbours every day while we were picking their flowers! We saw a parade of smiles come to our door, whether to donate vases or pick up bouquets. We regularly read appreciative posts on Facebook. And thanks to our customers, our deliveries took us to elderly people who don’t have frequent visitors, a grieving wife, and some hard-working staff at some PEI businesses.

The whole summer side hustle has me thinking about how Chandler Coaches could move toward a triple bottom line. And more importantly, because the impact would be much bigger, how we can support Chandler Coaches clients to zero in on their noble purpose and move toward a triple bottom line. The most recent report from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Changes tells us that drastic change is needed now to save our planet.

The recent frost will bring a bittersweet end to Les fleurs de Lali. At least for this year. It’s time. Today we treated ourselves to a Les fleurs de Lali bouquet for our own table. If you’ve played a part in our summer of beautiful blooms, we share it with you.

Les fleurs de Lali: Our Summer in Review | Chandler Coaches

P.S. You may see us back next year. Truth be told, we already have ideas. We won’t settle for anything less than a triple bottom line of profits, people and our planet. Lali wants to deliver flyers in the neighbourhood and have more Pop-Ups. I’d like to enrol local gardeners, perhaps retired ones and neighbourhood kids, to grow pesticide-free flowers for the cause. Use rain barrels etc. Might you want to be involved?



¹ Ronald McDonald House Charities® Atlantic helps keep families close to each other, and the care they need, when they need it most.  Serving families from all three Maritime provinces, programs include Ronald McDonald House® and Ronald McDonald Family Rooms®

  • RMH in Halifax served 553 families last year, providing 4,887 nights of comfort
  • The Halifax Family Room at the IWK had 29,681 visits last year
  • The Moncton Family Room had 17,623 visits last year


  1. Don’t wait.
  2. Welcome everything. Push nothing away.
  3. Bring your whole self to the experience.
  4. Find a place to rest in the middle of things.
  5. Cultivate “don’t know” mind [sometimes called “beginners’ mind”]

Five invitations to live fully.

Five invitations to make friends with everything.

Five invitations to get up close and personal with your own demise.

When I mentioned to friends that I planned to read The Five Invitations: Discovering What Death Can Teach Us About Living Fully while touring La Gaspésie, I later learned they were worried about me. They watched me whirl around all summer, at times looking strained, and they worried why I would choose the topic of death over a mindless summer novel.

I admit that I did overwhelm myself all summer. Looking back, I spent a good portion of the summer acting like a “victim”. Ironically, I was being the victim of too many good things. Too many business prospects coming out of the woodwork. Too many fun summer things on our bucket list. And that endless string of hot summer days. And all those beautiful flowers to grow and sell for Les fleurs de Lali. Poor me, right?

In truth, I regularly make myself a victim of my own ambition through my attachment to being productive all the time.  I was fearing what would happen if I slowed down or stopped for a while. I desperately needed a break, a pause, a rest but I wouldn’t give it to myself. I do feel sad about that.

What am I trying to outrun or outsmart anyway?  Death? We all know how that will go!

So that brings me full circle.  The book reminded me of many beliefs I support and of the five invitations that I welcome. When I am conscious, I clumsily practice living in the moment. I remind myself often to welcome everything, even if ‘a crowd of sorrows robbing me of my furniture’, as Rumi speaks about in his poem The Guesthouse. I sometimes show up bravely and with vulnerability. And when I am my most conscious self, I bring curiosity and wonder. Resting in the middle of things…ahem…we’ve already talked about resting ☹.  

I assured my caring friends and can assure you, that my curiosity, fascination even, with death and dying comes from my desire to live my life fully.  

I want to live a long, loving and abundant life. However my life unfolds, I believe my path is in the practice of these invitations. And I’d add a sixth: Play and laugh in almost every situation.

Will you accept these invitations? Please RSVP… at least to yourself.

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Lessons From A Billionaire: An Ultra Mini-Series Adventure

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Unified Front

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A Crack in Everything

Ring the bells (ring the bells) that still can ring Forget your perfect offering There is a crack in everything (there is a crack in everything) That's how the light gets in¹ ~ Leonard Cohen Our imagined March Break plans cracked at the last minute. Forget our perfect offering… And I found some moments of provocation… Read the full post here

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Introducing Heroine Helen

Her most important thing is to be helpful, sweet, caring and loving. She rescues by easing pain and suffering, at least temporarily. She prides herself on making homemade treats for those she loves, who are in “need”; she makes homemade cards too.   She’s proud of her listening ear, how her thoughtful deeds will have you… Read the full post here

Lead From Love

For three mornings in a row last week, my little girl Lali woke up as angry as a hornet. On the third morning of fury, exhausted from her highly charged storm clouds, I wept openly in front of her. It happened spontaneously as I allowed her to bring me to my breaking point. About 30… Read the full post here

You Cannot Change Until You Overcome Your Own Immunity

My client, Laura¹, was late for her own wedding. Not traditionally late. Really late. The minister almost called it off. And she’s been late for almost everything for decades since.  Lateness has been her life-long pattern. We jumped in by exploring the costs of her lateness habit. For her, there were no serious outward consequences… Read the full post here

If You Really Knew Me…

…that I think A LOT. That I hold myself to impossible standards. …that I often feel scared. Angry. Jealous. Wronged.  Blaming. Overwhelmed—there’s not enough time, money, love, whatever.  Sometimes I feel powerless to change things. I am below the line often. And it is all fine.  It’s perfect in fact. I am starting to truly… Read the full post here