Archive for the ‘Action’ Category

Can’t sleep…too busy!

In Action, Balance, Entrepreneurial Lifestyle, Resistance on November 17, 2010 at 5:40 pm



2 months ago I was sitting in traffic trying to figure out WHY I was so tired and cranky. The answer?

I have:

2 kids
2 private practices
2 jobs
2 board positions

I was recently sharing my tale of “whoa” to a former housemate who replied, “Sounds like you need to be 2 people.”

And it’s true, I can’t be 2 people.

One of my favorite things to say when community building (which is always) is “One person can not run around and a community be.” And apparently this is also true for a single mom with 2 of everything (except herself).

Back to the basics.
The first step in finding balance, is to understand our limits and boundaries.

Limits are not a bad thing.
Limits signify the outer edges of our capabilities.

Whether it is our ability to tolerate abuse, bullshit or achievement, limits provide a container that helps us to maintain a sense of integrity. (And by integrity, I mean the hull of a ship) Integrity speaks to the perceived continuity of self and if we can carry ourselves throughout a variety of circumstances in a consistent way, we have a more solid base to work from.

And when we bump up against our limits, we hit that moment of resistance.

I was joking during last weeks Work101 meeting that Sheila couldn’t have any resistance because all of it had come to stay with me for a bit.

But, I have maligned resistance. It is not squatting with me. I am just too darn busy to get anything done. In fact I am too busy to even deal with resistance and this may be the point of it all- My resistance to deal with my resistance? …What?… Wait…

You know what? Fuck it.

At some point we have to accept that it doesn’t matter why things are as they are… if they are out of balance, we just have to fix it… and my experience is, that through this process, we will have a better understanding of why.

Let’s see…so that means I now have:
2 kids
2 private practices
1 job
1 board position
2 (almost) free days to work.

SO I guess this means I only have to be 1½ people…
*snark* I can do that…
In my sleep.


Ghosts from our past.

In Action, Resistance, Uncategorized on October 22, 2010 at 7:54 am

ghosts from your past blog

you do not have to be more transparent than your ghosts

It’s hard to move ahead in our work when our present is clouded by the past. In the last few weeks, several clients have come to me with just this issue.  Haggard and hurting they come with lumps in their throats and stomachs looking for resolve, searching for the keys that will unlock their internal gridlock.

The decisions we make, how we feel and what we think is influenced by what we have learned…simple enough…right?  Simple but maybe not so easy.

If we find ourselves dealing with a lot of resistance or we feel like we are slogging ahead with our work at a snail like pace, this is a signal for us to take a moment and really ask ourselves “What the heck is going on?”

It’s hard though because, I have found, that we actually do not always want to know or even think about the reasons for our resistance and angst. Especially if the reasons have to do with hurts and/or issues from our past and childhood.

Often our inclination is to scan the world around us to locate the source of our angst. This is problematic though, because so often the conflict is not coming from outside us, but from within us and, after 20 years of doing this work, I have come to understand that we usually know when this is the case. We have a sense in the familiarity of our experience of what is ours and what is not ours. (By the way, it is often at this point that we double down our efforts to reject this reality and firmly plant the cause of our turmoil on others)

Also confounding this work is that what we have learned about our self and the world growing up has become an integrated and near invisible part of our sense of self and how we view the world and our place in it. These core beliefs become a very comfortable pair of glasses that color our perception and shape our experience.

As children, the things we do to deal with our hurts, trauma and frustrations are shaped by those closet to us. What they tell us is OK to feel, we feel and move through. What we are told is unacceptable to feel we build defense mechanisms to distance ourselves from. And as children these defense mechanisms can work passable for us, but as we grow, our worlds become more complicated and so do our defense mechanisms, until we find ourselves backed into a small corner, spending more time managing our resistance then actually dealing with it.

And this is exactly the issue. Instead of feeling our feelings, instead of dealing with our issues- our amazing minds work to create new and ever evolving ways to insulate ourselves from the things we have been taught it is not acceptable to feel or think.

So what is the answer?

Deal with it. Not very helpful right? But wait…there is more.

The way we deal with it is key.

1.    Don’t try and deal with it all at once. Pick the most disruptive thing and just deal with this piece.

2.    Research it: We can only do what we know how to do. In order to do something different, we have to learn different things.

3.    Set a review or completion date.

4.    Figure out a budget and explore the resources you have available to you.

5.    Consult: Either with a friend or professional; this is NOT work we can do alone. On any given project, most all entrepreneurs know the value of getting a fresh perspective when moving ahead on a project.

6. Set some time aside to do this work. This is probably the most important piece that gets lost in the shuffle.This work takes time and the more focused you are about it the quicker it will shift.

7. Be gentle to yourself through this process.

This is challenging and difficult work. But the payoffs are huge AND it feels great!

Dena plotkin

therapist and collaborative strategist


The 5 keys to unlock 6 doors to finding the source of transforming happiness- Yeah, Right!

In Action, Resistance on August 22, 2010 at 7:44 pm

What the fuck, ( and yes, I spelled it out) people.

We cannot fix ourselves in 5 easy steps or climb a ladder to self realization and happiness. It does not work that way.

I wish it did, really I do… But it doesn’t and often after a brief respite we find ourselves right back where we were before we journey’d through the “door of opportunity” du jour, struggling with the same problems, the same feelings and often the same destructive behaviors.

That’s because change sucks. It is hard and messy and full of resistance and self doubt. Resistance is a natural and predictable part of change. It is normal.

These things are not the problem. We can not get rid of them. We can not banish self doubt to the netherworld of our psyche.

Some of us have gotten pretty good at mitigating them, but all this really amounts to is that we are pushing the snooze alarm. At some point, we are gonna have to actually accept that resistance and self doubt are all a natural response to…life…itself (that’s why they write all those books, songs and movies about them).

And we are going to have to learn the tools to accept them into our lives. To invite them in. To allow ourselves to feel them and taste them and weigh the value that they have in our lives. Because we get to determine these things. Not our families. Not our neighbors, not our government.

The other day a friend said of other people in her life. “At some point, you are either for me or against me” and I can really relate to that sentiment.

When we are most vulnerable, we need those around us who reflect the people we strive to be back to us. We need them to hold our vision of self when we can’t do it for ourselves. And unfortunately, often the people who love us the hardest, have the most difficulty seeing us and the us they reflect back creates conflict for us.

Now I am not saying that if someone calls you out on something you just disregard it.out.of.line.

I am saying that just because someone believes we are something, doesn’t mean we necessarily are or have to continue to be.

This is the work of change. And it is messy. And often painful. And a lot of fucking work. And very worth it.

And you won’t find it with that rainbow colored key either.

Dena Plotkin


Collaborative Strategist

co-founder of theWork101

Teamwork vs. Collaboration

In Action on August 17, 2010 at 8:23 pm

Every time I speak about collaboration, I usually end up in a discussion about teamwork. People want to know why their “team” is not churning out the work that is needed.

You know, I will be the first to admit it… I am not a team player. When people hear me say that they inevitably screw up their face, roll their eyes and snort some version of “yeah…right.” But really it is true. I am more of a collaborator.

We have all heard the saying “There is no I in teamwork” and this is exactly why I think the concept of teamwork falls short for me. A group or community is made up of individuals. To only recognize the parts of that person that fits in with the group or team, can diminish and reduce the potential of the work that can be produced.

The most important thing in any collaboration is being able to know the perspective, needs and desires of those you are working with. This is probably one of the main ways that collaboration differs from teamwork. In teamwork, there is the assumption that everyone is on the same page. Everyone is working together and is aware of it. Working together is the goal, and the goal is a result of how well the team works.

Teams are also hierarchical. With newcomers and leaders and a flow of communication that is largely linear. Information flow is either top up or top down. But the important piece of this is that there is a top and a bottom. I don’t know about you, but I have found little in life is that straight forward and to act as if it is means that much is lost in the communication of the work being attempted.

The focus of collaboration is the process. The act of collaboration creates and shapes the work that must be done to finish a project to completion. As the work progresses the goal is defined. It is more like a living document: it is dynamic and flexible.

The focus of teamwork is the goal, the process is just a means to that end. One person cannot square off against another team and succeed no matter how talented they are. In teamwork, you need a team.

One of the most powerful aspects of collaboration is that not everyone involved has to agree to collaborate. I know this sounds crazy…it’s true. Since the point of collaboration is about working with others, not everyone in this relationship has to agree to collaborate. There are times when we will come up against a seemingly immovable person who will not budge from their narrow view of “how things should be done”, however, even this individual can be effectively worked with in the scope of collaboration. In fact, frequently working with these individuals can give us the most realistic glimpse of how we will have to work in order to succeed.

Collaboration is an intentional act. It is an inter-subjective space (I love this concept. It is the space between subjective and objective, in which we all come together. It is actually the relationship created by our collaboration. It is as huge as we make it. It is as functional as we work it. It is solely defined by our interaction and relationship.

Dena Plotkin
Psychotherapist and Collaborative Strategist

“If I want to reach my goals… I just have to do it.”

In Action on August 3, 2009 at 12:05 am


Well, it’s a fact. I gotta do it. It doesn’t really matter where my brain is at… if I want to reach my goals… I just have to do it.

This has not been an easy week for me. I admit it… I have been “off list” pretty much all week. So it came as quite a surprise to me when I sat down around the table with my strategy group, to realize that, even though I did not feel present all week, I worked down my list.

How is this possible, that I checked off my list without actually meaning to?  How did I get my work done, despite my own best efforts to disengage? I have had a week of good, solid excuses to slack.  Reasons to put the work off,,, and yet… there the check marks are…staring me in the face.

I was shocked. I mean really shocked. For years I have been struggling to get things done consciously and here I go getting things done without even realizing it. What happened?

The work happened. My group happened. Over this past year, working with my strategy group I have somehow shifted my flow. I have shifted the culture of my work in relationship to myself. My work is mine. It is a part of me and even when I can’t hold onto it, in the same way that I lose track of myself sometimes, it, never the less, continues to be a part of me and my life.

This past week, Sheila and Kaye were right there for me. Checking in. Making sure I knew I had a safety net in them.  But more than this, they were letting me know they saw the work I was doing, even if I couldn’t. They held my flow for me and I let them.

Collaboration is a bridge back to ourselves. It allows us different routes to find our flow and do our work, sometimes even if we are not even meaning to.

Dena Plotkin

MFT, Life-Strategist, Co-Creator THE WORK 101

If Not Now, When?

In Action on July 28, 2009 at 12:19 am


In August 2008, I knew I needed to be in LA, pursuing a career helping people build the lives of their dreams.

In theory, we only have one life. I know there is some back and forth about the whole  ast/future life thing, but we only have THIS life, once.

July 27, 2009 will never come again, and if you’ve been like me, there is a whole laundry list of things stopping us from making July 27, 2009 into everything it could be. Sure, someone in their 20s, with no partner, no kids, no house to keep up with, has a whole lot less at risk if they go out and take action on that vision. It takes a faith in yourself to step out and pursue your own alive-ness, when there is a whole laundry list telling you why you should keep low, play safe, and never venture out of the sandbox. It takes courage to keep going when it looks like you’re flying in the face of failure.

But if that was what life was about, we’d still be single-celled organisms or clay.

Maybe your vision isn’t something like moving to a new city to transform your career; something requiring an entire life make-over. Your vision could be something completely different. Like that language class, trip to Paris, or bucket list. Maybe, there IS something real getting in the way. I didn’t just wake-up one August morning with the random idea of quitting my job and being a coach in LA. The plan started the previous January, after saving money and years of education. The thing is: if not now, when?

When do we start making the steps to make things real? When do we stop doubting ourselves and start putting together the plan and the steps?
And, if now isn’t the day to buy a plane ticket to Australia, when do we start looking for the help and support to get us there? Stress or struggle — even if I sometimes it feels like I’m failing miserably, I have never been happier to be living my life, knowing now I’m doing what I have always dreamed of doing.


Kaye Porter
Professional Speaker & Educator, Co-Creator of THE WORK 101

I’m always cooking rice. . .

In Action on July 24, 2009 at 7:12 pm


Taking action has always been my strong suit.  It’s the fear that operates in the background that has been both the fuel that propels me forward and the negativity that creates resistance.

This summer, I decided to challenge that resistance, to attack it, question it, and debunk the madness behind it.  You see resistance is about negativity.  And negativity always rears its ugly head when I’m about to do something big, something important. (I know I’m not alone in this – as this is the nature of our humanness) Negativity clouds reality and makes it impossible to have the wisdom to know what action to take, and to see the solutions that are right under my nose.

When I look at an item on my todo list that causes me dread, and I decide it can’t be done – at least not right now.  Usually it’s a tasks that takes me out of your comfort zone.   And I use that as a reason to stress out.  I get the frustrating feeling that I’ve officially hit a wall.

This summer Dena and I came up with a slogan, “Doubt is not a luxury we cannot afford.”  I could easily replace the word “doubt” with “fear” because isn’t that what doubt is all about – it’s a manifestation of our fear?  Well hitting a wall that causes in-action is a luxury I can no longer afford.    I don’t have the luxury of defeat.  I have a family to support and I want to be happy and successful – doing theWork I love.

So I have waged a war of action to free my best self – so I can “live my best life,” as Oprah would say.  It requires consistent action and constant attention to be on my best game, to be sharp, positive, full of wisdom, holding on to my vision. To take action and experience success.  To win.


Filmmaker, Co-Creator, The Work 101

Take action? What action?

In Action on July 22, 2009 at 6:37 pm


Take action?  What Action?

I don’t know how many workshops, classes, seminars, or books I’ve read that boil down to “take action, take action, take action.” But they don’t cover getting to that place where you can take action, or knowing what action to take. Instead, I remember numerous times I’ve read a book, or gone to a workshop where I came out pumped up, until I realized that on arriving home, I had no idea HOW to implement all the tips I’d gotten.

Where do you find the people interested in what you offer?

How do you put together a media package?

Where do you submit a press release?

Alone, the questions just piled up faster than I was able to answer them and I simply kept hitting that wall of frustrated and overwhelmed. Finishing up my training, I felt left holding a bag with no clue what to do with it.

Isolated, it is easy to get bogged down, overwhelmed, and lost. The more and more I talk to new and experienced entrepreneurs, the more I’ve learned that I’m not alone. If I don’t have that community, collaboration, mentoring or support, it can feel like an uphill battle once I’ve stalled out. But like driving a stick shift, I can’t go forward until I take things out of gear and re-engage with those small action steps that eventually lead to the Daytona 500 of results.

But not everyone has access to a collaborative work spaces and communities like the ones we create. Maybe you’ve moved, maybe you’re shy.  Maybe the next bite-size action step is simply to find new people to connect with. In the meantime – I asked other friends and community members what has worked for them as well:

• Finding people who have done what you want to do and researching the steps to their success

• Talk to a professional consultant who has experience and connections to hire or be your mentor

• Make a list of things that hit the reset button so you can start taking action again. A friend suggested things like taking a shower, a short walk, a mini-vacation, a spa moment, things that will help you start the task anew.

• A therapist friend suggested: Letting myself actually experience the stuck-ness and frustration even if that means crying and going fully into the misery. Then my nervous system rebounds and things become more clear, options naturally multiply. I guess I let myself hit bottom and then ride the rebound.

What ever you do, remember – you’re not alone. While talk does not cook rice, give yourself some slack if part of cooking rice figuring things out and breaking things down to: go to the store.


Kaye Porter
Professional Speaker & Educator, Co-Creator of THE WORK 101

Talk does not cook rice. – Chinese proverb

In Action on July 20, 2009 at 8:41 pm



Talk does not cook rice. -Chinese proverb

This is my quote. This proverb was a gift to me from an amazing woman, Chef and entrepreneur, Amy Glin. As soon as I heard, I loved it. It is a part of the personal script of things I tell myself and others- all the time.

We all have that friend. The one sitting on the couch, holding a beer bottle slurring his BIG plan for the future into the night. I never wanted to be that guy. In fact, I so do not want to be that guy, that I only attempted to do the things I knew I could do. I mean, I didn’t play it completely safe.  But I have had enough privilege in my life that I have never had to really push myself to set a goal – especially one that was a huge risk for me to take.

I was afraid. Afraid my dreams were to big. Afraid I would fail. I was afraid of my lack of resources. Afraid of doing it by myself.  And I am still afraid. Fear was my co-pilot, And in many respects it still continues to be.

Fear is the thing that keeps me from doing. It keeps me mired in self doubt. Keeps me stuck, spinning. It is the brain chatter that clouds my vision. Fear kept me safe. Kept me from failing. However it is like a faucet. If you twist off the doing, because of fear, you also twist off the being. You can’t shut down half the flow of water. You just crank it down until it isn’t all coming out. This left me feeling unfulfilled and increasingly dissatisfied with my life. I wanted those highs. I wanted to receive the full weight of possibility…and not turn away from it.

As I write this I find myself feeling anxious to move on, to get through this part and talk about the joy of doing. The excitement of getting things done.  In our group we do 2 and 5 days goals. When I check in around the table and another is managing my list, while I  talk about my work, I find a true sense of accountability to myself that before I had only dreamed of. I am still scared. Sometimes it brings me to my knees (literally).

But now I have a place to talk about and work along side the fear. I don’t know if it will ever go away and I am not sure I even want it to. Through this group, I have learned that fear is a sign that I am doing something that has true meaning for myself. It is the signal of potential and opportunity. This is why the group is so important. It helps me keep perspective on my fear. And my fear is the thing that usually stops me from action, from doing, from cooking my rice.

When I began this post, I thought I was going to write on the deep satisfaction I get from working down my to do list: every check-mark a banner announcing my progress. And in many respects it is. When I continue to work down my lists – even though I am afraid while doing it that I can’t do it –  it makes the personal sense of satisfaction I experience even that much more intense.

Fuck                 F                 Face
Everything                E                Everything
And                 A                  And
Run                   R               Receive

Dena Plotkin

MFT, Life-Strategist, Co-Creator THE WORK 101