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Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer
Those days of soda and pretzels and beer
Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer
You’ll wish that summer could always be here

  – Nat King Cole

Our lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer are filled with camping adventures, summer day camps, a little beach, a bit too much client work, and our summer side hustle: Les fleurs de Lali.

Chandler Coaches Les-fleurs-de-Lali-planningChandler-Coaches-Les-fleurs-de-Lali-plantingWe launched in late spring with a few main objectives:

  • Raise money for Ronald MacDonald House (RMH); Lali picked the charity after the PJ Walk in June. 50 percent of our proceeds will go to RMH to help Island families with sick children to stay together and near the medical care they need in Halifax.
  • Have fun together growing and arranging beautiful flowers to sell as cut bouquets
  • Teach Lali about business and help her make her some money to spend/ save.

Chandler-Coaches-Les-fleurs-de-Lali-vasesWe’re off to a great start! We’ve already sold over $200 worth in bouquets and it’s been a lot of fun.

A few things I am noticing/ learning:

  • Our morning garden ritual offers so much:
    • We get outside first thing
    • We slow down and get off technology
    • We get our creative juices flowing as we arrange gorgeous flowers
  • We have an incredibly supportive village.
    We’ve been delighted by a big donation of flower bulbs (Thank you, Vesey’s) and some plants (Thank you, Susie of Earthform), and vases from several friends.  Two close friends—Alana and Barbie—are even growing flowers for us in their own gardens. Yep. We’ve already got multiple sites!
  • Social media is a powerful machine.
    We post a photo of a bouquet on our Facebook page (Les fleurs de Lali) and it sells every time. Being able to sell as soon as we have a bouquet IS what is making this enterprise work. We (read: I) would be doing a heck of a lot of hustling were it not for Facebook.
  • Pop up markets are fun and work.
    Our morning started early in order to harvest enough flowers and create the bouquets and set up for the sale. When our own peonies didn’t open up on time, three of our neighbours rescued us with beautiful blooms to sell. Lali and friends were excellent at making change, keeping track of sales, and adding value to the customer experience by carrying bouquets to cars
     If all of our plantings work out, we’ll have LOTS of blooms for pop up markets in August and September.
  • It’s obvious why scale is needed for farmers/ producers.
    We sure could not live on the average $10 per day we are generating but it sure is fun!
  • Mother Nature is our real CEO.
    She can giveth abundantly in the form of sun and rain, and she can taketh away with a vengeance in the form of slugs who enjoy dahlia leaves.
  • Business ownership and success brings satisfaction.
    Lali is proud that she “owns” a business and is excited that she already deposited $100 in the bank. (She’s told me she’s willing to buy us a camper
  • Wherever you go, there you are.
    My reactive tendencies of ambition and perfectionism show up just as much in this business as in my own. Go figure! I find it hard to leave flowers on the vine if they could be sold. I dream of all the marketing we could do and many cool creative things we could do. I get excited when we get advance and “corporate” orders. And I am already dreaming of the beautiful and abundant bouquets when the gladiolus bloom!

Chandler-Coaches-Les-fleurs-de-Lali-bouquet-2And with all these learnings, I remind myself that this endeavour is for fun, connection, creativity, learning, and giving. So far, it’s ticking all the boxes!

Most of us live our lives in the “ordinary world”, living largely ordinary lives if we choose the safety of ordinary.  Others hear a call to adventure and embark on a hero’s journey¹ to find their treasure. 

Of course, the journey from ordinary/ safe to purpose/adventure is not easy or certain.  Crossing the threshold into the “special world” requires courage and faith. Many refuse the call for a while, daunted by fears of the unknown. They eventually meet a mentor or circumstance that guides them to cross into the special world for a while.

Once there, they are tested mightily, forced to look inward, and challenged with ordeal after ordeal. Ultimately, if they persevere, they are rewarded and sent back to the “ordinary world”.

Our hero is not the same though. S/he is somehow transformed, more skilled and wise. And when the next call comes, our hero may face an even more daunting challenge.

Our lives are defined by the journeys we choose. Ray Dalio’s has been. Despite Bridgewater Associates now being the largest hedge fund in the world and Ray being one of the wealthiest billionaires on the planet, the future looked bleak in the 1980s.  Back then, Ray arrogantly and publicly predicted a worldwide depression that not only didn’t happen but was a boom instead.

Ray’s extraordinary success, by conventional measures, can be attributed to him answering the call to adventure over and over in his life.  His company is no different. Working for Bridgewater must be like a daily hero’s journey. While staff use principles to predict markets, they use radical candor with each other to continually expose their egos and blind spots.

Ray, in the sunset of his career, has gifted us with an animated series called Principles for Success: An Ultra Mini-Series Adventure in 30 Minutes.  I’ve taken the time to capture key notes from each segment for myself and for you. Watch, read or do both. You’ll be richer for it.

E1 The Call to Adventure

Time is like a river that carries us into encounters with reality that require us to make decisions…the quality [and courage] of our decisions will determine the quality of our lives. We need to think for ourselves about what is true and know how to deal with all we don’t know.

E2 Embrace Reality and Deal with It

Dreams + Reality + Determination is the universal formula for a successful life. And Pain + Reflection = Progress. We must embrace all our realities including problems, mistakes and weaknesses. This can be painful. But pain can be a cue that a great learning opportunity is coming.

E3 The Five Step Process

Only by reflecting carefully after pain can we prevent some future pain. Dalio’s 5-Step Process:

  1. Know your goals and run after them;
  2. Identify what stands in your way
  3. Find the root cause vs. jumping to solution;
  4. Design a plan to eliminate the problems;
  5. Execute your plan. Repeat over and over. Adapt or die!  

Know that as the challenges become bigger and bigger, we are more likely to fall.

E4 The Abyss

Even when we don’t accept a huge call to adventure, severe losses can happen to us. How we handle our inevitable losses/ falls define us. Can we objectively face our failures, make the right decisions and spiral up or will we sink into our setbacks and not recover?

E5 Everything is a Machine

While we feel our lives are unique (they are to an extent), most problems we encounter are “another one of those”. We are biased to recent history. Events we’ve not experienced in our lifetime can happen to us. We need to develop or draw on principles to help us see everything as a system.

E6 Your Two Biggest Barriers

Our ego and our blind spots WILL get in our way. When our (ego) need to be right is more important to us than our need to find out what is true, we will make poor decisions, learn less and fall short of our potential.  We all have blind spots that prevent us from seeing a complete picture of reality. Opening to feedback and other perspectives can turn our blind spot fatal flaw into wonderful outcomes.

E7 Be Radically Open Minded

Replace the joy of being right with the joy of learning and the world will light up!  The best way to go through the “jungle of life” is with people who see things differently. Encourage radical candor and the distortions of your ego and blind spots will be more easily dealt with. Radical open-mindedness will radically change the unfolding of your life.

E8 Struggle Well

Our greatest strengths are closely connected to our greatest weaknesses. “Successful” people struggle.  They also think hard about what caused their setbacks, learn lessons and continue toward their goal. Bigger goals lead to bigger falls. It is just part of the process.

What Ray has learned, and I am learning too, is that the things we struggle for—our goals– are just the bait. This is the real equation:

Great People to Journey With + a Great Journey + Our Own Evolution = Our Reward

Ray and I both want to raise consciousness in the world.

“My only hope for you is that you have the courage to struggle and evolve well to make your life as great as it can be.”  

  • Ray Dalio, 2018

May you journey well, Ray and all.


¹ In narratology and comparative mythology, the monomyth, or the hero’s journey, is the common template of a broad category of tales that involve a hero who goes on an adventure, and in a decisive crisis wins a victory, and then comes home changed or transformed. hero myth pattern studies were popularized by Joseph Campbell, who was influenced by Carl Jung’s view of myth. Wikipedia

Unified Front

Have you ever been part of a leadership team so aligned that they were able to maintain a unified front even in the face of complex challenges? Lucky you!

What a beautiful thing to behold. Sadly, it’s so rare that most of us have never experienced it.

It doesn’t have to be. The world of systems coaching gives us skills to build a unified front¹.

The most unified senior teams bring a collective weather.

While leaders have no control over Mother Nature, they can be intentional about the weather they bring to the overall culture, and from moment to moment. Moods are contagious, after all.

To achieve business results:

  • Does the culture need courage + safety or challenge + experimentation?
  • Does a team offsite need truth-telling or play to break through an impasse? Both?

The right cultural weather does not happen magically, but intentional weather can feel magical.

The most unified senior teams have each other’s back².

The primary skill to cultivate here is ‘finding each other right’. This looks like genuinely pointing out something that is right, even if it’s just a colleague’s intention versus competing or proving wrong.

The most effective teams will also rescue each other. Leaders are human and get triggered. When a senior colleague is distracted, goes too far, or gets hooked, it’s up to their leader colleagues to help them recover.  This could look like pausing for a break, suggesting the topic be shelved for a bit, or stepping in to redirect.

The most unified teams go down gracefully, together, to ride out the storm.

Even the most forward-looking teams encounter circumstances (e.g., market conditions) or people that derail plans. Keeping a unified front might mean apologizing for something another senior leader did to stay united as a senior team.  When things go wrong is not a time for finger pointing, taking sides or playing the victim despite that it can be so enticing to do just that.

The most unified teams stand on a foundation of trust.

A unified leadership front assumes strong ethical and moral behaviour in the team and lives on a foundation of trust. When individual behaviours trample on other leaders’ values, courageous and timely conversations are essential. Leaders who avoid dealing head on with the conflict that inevitably arises, will feel unsafe, drained and resentful.  In other words, they will suffer. Their people and company results will suffer too.

“All for one and one for all, united we stand divided we fall.”
   ~ Alexandre Dumas, The Three Musketeers

What will you do to unify your team? There is a lot at stake after all.


P.S. Here’s a fun take on creating a unified front:

¹ All of these skills require the leadership team to have a clear purpose and vision. For this post, I am assuming this is in place; I realize it’s a big assumption!
² Fun fact: I got grammar help via Facebook to properly write “each other’s back”.  There were over 40 replies from friends. Competitive grammar seems to be a hot topic among the 30-50+ set .

Plunging Into Feelings

  Don’t drink at the water’s edge, throw yourself in. Become the water. Only then will your thirst be quenched. - Jeanette Berson Sometimes we throw ourselves into the metaphorical water and get in over our heads, drowning in failure or loss. Sometimes, even from the water’s edge, circumstances beyond our control wreak havoc in… Read the full post here

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

The Dance Between Purpose and Safety

If you are an average leader (Who wants to be average? I know!), you are likely subject to your thoughts and feelings much of the time.  You don’t have your feelings. They HAVE you. You aren’t conscious that you’re often afraid, you just ARE scared. You likely won’t easily see it or admit it though… Read the full post here

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

Blame or Shift?

Recently a friend texted for advice about a “hard client he was working with” (his words). He indicated he thought she needed some tough love. He asked me to tell him how to do that. I agreed to have a conversation to explore his situation.   He wanted me to read it but didn’t feel… Read the full post here

Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast…¹

You’ve just hired Selma as your new controller. She has lunch in the staff room on Day 1 to quickly to get to know her new colleagues. She tells one of them that she’s excited to have found a company that develops and promotes their people. After all, she’s been told that by every leader… Read the full post here

Lead Like a Montessori Teacher

Imagine a workplace where all leaders respect their people, provide clear and consistent expectations, and encourage employees to be independent, intrinsically motivated critical thinkers. Such a workplace would look a lot like a Montessori school in fact. I read this post on the 7 phrases Montessori teachers use because my daughter goes to a Montessori… Read the full post here