Inch by Inch, Life’s a Cinch – The Kaizen Approach to Change

When I was little and learning the how to’s of chores and the underlying principles of work my grandmother would often say, “Inch by inch, Life’s a cinch.” Then she would add, “Yard by yard, life is hard,”

Wisdom from my Grandmother – Wisdom at the heart of the Kaizen approach to change.

Grandmother Mabel was born in 1892 just one year after the game of basketball was invented in 1891 by James Naismith, a Canadian physical education instructor. Born into a household of 11 brothers and sisters, she was introverted, shy, and serious. So shy she dropped out of school in 8th grade, too timid to keep on going. Stopping at the 7th or 8th grade was not unusual for young girls in the early 1900’s. And the teachers, wanting to please their principal – her father, the Superintendent of Schools in Sandwich, Illinois – kept passing my grandmother even if she did not understand the lesson. School lost its luster and helping at home doing meaningful work was much more to her liking.

‘Gran’ taught me how to thread a needle at age three and sew a chain stitch that same weekend. At ages five, four, and three she taught my brother, sister, and me how to cook chocolate pudding on a gas stove over low heat so as not to scorch the milk. She read the Classics to us sparking our imaginations.



Treasure Island - Robert Lewis Stevenson

Treasure Island – Robert Lewis Stevenson

She taught us the value of ideas, self-direction, hard work – and the value of breaking tasks down into doable, manageable steps.

She taught us the value of fun. Not many pre-school kids learn Canasta, a game requiring each player hold 11 or 15 cards in one’s hand depending on the number of players.

No Peeking!

No Peeking!

Our little hands unable, she set chairs beside each of us at the table and showed us how to lay out the cards so that we could see and work from them.

We learned an adult game with adult rules. Peaking at your sister or brother’s cards? Verboten – cheating not for winners.


Grandma Mabel marched as a suffragette in the streets of Cleveland, Ohio campaigning for a woman’s right to vote and have full citizenship. Woman_s_suffrage_headquarters_in_Cleveland__Ohio___medium1She drove across the United States to California in the 1930’s before interstates made travel easy. She lived through the Great Depression, worked at the YWCA for most of her working career, and retired as their Executive Director. Seemingly invincible she made light work of heavy lifting impressing me with the importance of habit. From showing me how to wash clothes through a wringer washer without crushing my fingers in great basins in the basement to the exact way to make a bed with “nurse’s corners”, step by step, inch by inch, nothing was impossible.

I am eternally grateful for my Grandmother Mabel who helped shape my work ethic and gave me an example of how to overcome and create an amazing life. I am thankful to all the amazing men and women who have mentored and coached me.

What about you? Who are your role models? Are you creating the life you want to live? Are your dreams moving ahead, still percolating, or stagnating? I would love to hear from you and welcome your comments.

To learn more about the Kaizen approach to change, email 7 Owlz – The Coaching Component at

To make an appointment contact me at

With best regards,

Diane Weekley
Life Coach, Certified Wellness Inventory Coach
Certified Global Career Development Facilitator (GCDF)

Seek First To Understand…What then?

While perusing twitter posts, mission statements and other news of the day, I was reminded of the often quoted statement, “Seek first to understand, then to be understood” made famous from Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits for Highly Effective People, not to mention, the Prayer of St. Francis.

I searched to get the exact saying and found a great website – here is the link: (ok….I know I need a URL shortener but take a look anyway – …Great thoughts to explore.)

For spiritual seekers the lesson is clear – you cannot change another, only yourself. So, how does that really work?

Understanding doesn’t always lead to peace and harmony. Babble

Seeking to understand can lead to despair, confusion…surprise. Any number of emotional reactions depending on the circumstances. That we have the ability to choose what feelings we smack onto our understanding is another blog.

So, what do you do when understanding leads to No Where? What do you do AFTER seeking to understand?

There are times when your seeking to understand, while it may help you see yourself in the equation, only repeatedly hits resistance to responsibility on the other end. Sometimes understanding remains elusive, a desired state totally impacted by another’s desire not to understand themselves. If the one on the other side continually refuses to understand themselves and THEIR drivers, what then?

Sometimes the question is not ‘Why does this person act this way?’ or ‘Why does this keep on happening?’ The only question needing to be answered is ‘What am I going to do about it?’

Shifting focus from ‘Why is that over there like that?’ to, ‘What or how am I going to respond to that?’ takes the focus off another and onto oneself. That is the kernel of changing oneself. Sometimes the only response is ‘What am I going to do now?’ ‘What next appropriate action is my spirit directing me to take that will keep me whole, perfect, strong, powerful, loving, harmonious and happy?’ That is the real deal.

In the end, the wisdom is within.

Mastering the Art of Conversation

How does one master the art of listening and conversation? How do I teach quiet, grounded presence, the ability to listen fully and compassionately? How do I teach what and when to ask just the right question that will move a person forward?

These are questions I grapple with regularly. All the above are ground floor skill sets for success in everything we do, be it business, human services, family interactions, or communications between friends. There are a zillion training options out there that people can access, yet so often people get the training but miss the skills. I have found the key.

Teach rhythm. Teach the art of energetic exchange. Expose people to it and build on it through practice.

I knew this intuitively from years of training in performance art, mime training, energy and pranic healing work.

At my place of business every month I do a Coaching Circle with one of our service delivery teams. This started as a way to expose our staff to some of the principles and techniques in coaching. This month the art of establishing that first meeting with a client was our topic.

The curriculum I am developing and delivering with these 10 dynamic people is informed by Dave Ellis’ work from Falling Awake,

Falling Awake

his excellent Manual for Helping Professionals, and the wellness work of Dr. John Travis.

Our April focus: Focusing Awareness, the critical elements for a successful first client /coach interaction, and the two life domains of breathing and sensing.

Here’s what we did:

I began by framing up what happens when you first meet someone, no matter where you are – in the grocery store, at the doctor’s office, meeting a new client or associate. What happens in those first 7 seconds? People bring feelings, moods, energy to every encounter. And, your body picks up on the vibe – it senses energy whether positive, negative, hectic or peaceful – all in split seconds. The rhythm of ones breath tells its story as well. You may notice or not depending on how tuned in you are in the moment, but you are always giving or receiving energy and affected by its flow.

And so using the concept of “speed dating” two rows of human service professionals paired off and experienced an old theatre mirroring exercise, silently moving for 3 minutes, one clearly the leader and one the receiver or follower. One the specialist and one the client. At the 3 minute trill, the leader moved right to the next client in waiting and began anew, establishing the connection, moving to his or her own rhythm with the client following. Each person listened with their eyes, bodies, and energy, some fluidly, some awkwardly, stepping sideways to the next experience every 3 minutes. Giggles and laughter erupted like gas bubbles. Then came the debrief.

Some didn’t like to lead, others didn’t like to follow, some felt frustration and discomfort with remaining in silence, one felt silly. There was an admission of wanting to be in control. Each person shared from their own experience – they had not known how much they want to talk or be in control.

We explored how these feelings affect our client interactions. Our clients come in fearful, or unsure of what to expect, not in control. How do they feel during those first meetings? Does following the staff’s lead feel just as awkward, just as uncomfortable?

We did it again only during the next round the leader became the follower. The instruction: Once the connection was established and the follower flowing and mirroring the leader, the leader must pass leadership to the follower with no obvious gesturing – all through energetic awareness. Once accomplished, energy and leadership could be passed back and forth. Just like in a dance.

Next we reviewed a set of powerful success questions and talked about how they might be used in various client interactions. At the end of the 1.5 hour session I asked, “What are your take aways today?”

“I learned the rhythm of a conversation.” “I learned I can lead and follow.” “I learned how to listen.” “I thought it was all kind of weird in the beginning but it all came together for me…I like it. I get it.” “I learned I don’t want to lead, I prefer to follow.” I learned. I learned. I learned.

These fabulous professionals dug deep. I was blown away. Hats off to the team. They transformed our Coaching Circle into a Wisdom Wheel. Great work!

Skateboard Cat – Focus!

Say Yes!

Say Yes!

Kingsley, aka Cat King Cole, meowed intensely as if his voice would dissolve a fortress much less a door, heaved his body up toward the door handle five times, arching and sliding like a skateboarder. No use, but his single-mindedness? The heart of him.

The power of concentration, focusing the mind on the desires of our hearts. That is what it is about. See it, feel it, be it. Let not the illusion of current effect challenge your dreams for they become reality the more we focus on them.

What we think on changes us. I am in NYC with my grandchildren and husband visiting family. And how is it we are here? Love. A persistent feeling and need to be with those we love. The need for connectedness. The vision is set. The outcome IS.

And what of Cat King Cole? He eventually laid down and snoozed. Cat does not know the phrase, You snooze you lose. But had he kept his focus, the door would have opened. Keep your eye on the prize. Stay awake. Keep the faith. The pay-off is always better than you can imagine.

Life Can Be a Dream or a Hoot!

Or Both!

Both. That is the answer my grandchildren give me all the time. “Do you want butter or cream cheese on your bagel?” “Both!” In unison comes back to me, both at the same time.

Butter or Cream Cheese?  Both!

Butter or Cream Cheese? Both!

Me? For years I counted calories and the dread of too much FAT would send me running. The very idea – Both? Yes! if that is what you WANT, Both! Both/And.

So often we put ourselves in either/or status. What happens? We cut ourselves off from MUCH. Much good, much joy, much fun, much excitement, much love.

Say Yes!

Say Yes!

So can life be a HOOT? Yes! Can life be a DREAM? Yes! Can life be filled with much good, joy, fun, excitement and love?

Oh Yeah! Oh Yeah! Oh Yeah!

Oh Yeah! Oh Yeah! Oh Yeah!

Yes! Say Yes to Life and Life says YES to you.