Remote Year Ohana Week 2: Finding Balance
Week 2 of my 52 weeks with Remote Year Ohana was all about finding balance and equilibrium. After the first week of thrill and excitement, reality of being on the road for a whole year with a bunch of practical strangers without any sense of constant or a real place to call home sunk in and I went through a bit of a low for a couple of days. But I'm so grateful for overcoming it and am proud of myself for being able to observe and accept my feelings with no judgment and just letting them pass. I'm also acknowledging that in a year filled with so many unknowns, there will certainly be other moments where I feel uncertain, doubtful, or anxious, but that is part of normal course of life and I would have those feelings no matter where I am or what I'm doing. On the other hand, what I I will gain from this year of experience on the road will far outweigh any temporary difficult feelings I will ever have.
As I'm typing these words, one of my favorite quotes, which is by Marianne Williamson, is coming to mind: "Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our Light, not our Darkness, that most frightens us. When my first coach first told me this quote a little over a year ago I loved it right away. Perhaps this is the year for my light to shine. Through all the work I did in the last three years - studying psychology, going through the process group, and doing coaching training - I have confronted so many of my fears, which are all some form of not being enough and therefore not being loved. Now I feel my fears have taken on a different energy - much more positive and empowering. That is why this year for me is all about putting myself out there, doing what is uncomfortable, trying things for the first time, and doing what Tony Robbins demonstrated in Unleash the Power Within - "dance with fear".
Monday, 12th March, 2018: The week started with a beautiful meditation session at 9am on level 3 of 106 Adderley, the apartment building that we are all staying at this month. Our wonderful program leader Danche organized and led it with the intention to start the week with mindfulness, gratitude, and clear intentions. It was followed by a meeting to talk about positive impact work we want to do for the rest of the year and in Cape Town. The rest of the afternoon was busy with coaching sessions - one new client that I got from the week before and a couple of recurring ones. I recorded the session with the new client for my individual supervision the next day, my first time doing it. In the evening, we had the usual Kravis Ting push-up and pull-up workout which I've been keeping up. After the second time doing it last Friday my arms didn't get nearly as sore as the first time, which I'm thinking must mean that I'm getting stronger! :) There were no activities in the evening and for the first time on this trip I stayed in and didn't have any interesting photos to post on Instagram (I never used to post on it but for this trip so many people have asked me how I will share my experience so I thought I'd take up the suggestion of Instagram and post on it every everyday, but I guess I'll have to accept that some days will just not be that interesting :) The only photo I took today was of the awesome falafel that I got from Eastern Food Bazaar, a cheap and casual food stall two blocks from the apartment that has become one of my favorite places in Cape Town.
Tuesday, 13th March: The day started early at 7am with coaching a new client followed by my first individual supervision with a very experienced Co-Active coach who I like very much and who was the instructor of one my classes. We reviewed 20 minutes of the coaching session I recorded. The first comment my supervisor made was that since the first session with a client is a discovery session, which is different from an ongoing session because you are just getting to know the person; therefore, he can't give me as much feedback about how I did. But as we started exploring I realized that I often find the beginning sessions a bit slow and a bit of "circling over Heathrow" and only towards the second half of the session able to get to the big discovery.
We then further explored why I do that and I realized it is because I don't always hold my clients accountable for bringing in a coaching topic and I rescue them too quickly when they say "I don't know". This happened precisely the day before with a recurring client and I felt that I had to work so hard during the whole session, whereas the client should be the one working hard to find a topic that will help himself to get to where he wants to get to. I learned from my discussion with my supervisor that it is not good to help clients when they say "I don't know" or even make suggestions, but instead I can work with them on what it is that they don't know or what it is that they do know and come up with something together rather than giving them suggestions.
I also reflected on the reasons that I do this and realized that perhaps it is because I want to be a good coach and I want my clients to see the value that I add, and if I don't rescue them then they might think why do they need me? Upon reflecting I also reminded myself why I coach - it is not so I can appear to be a "good coach" but rather to help clients expand themselves and achieve their goals. If I'm always there to rescue them then they view me as a consultant, a teacher, or someone who knows more than they do and they become dependent on me and don't get to do the discovery and learning themselves. If I keep doing this I'm in fact not helping them. My supervisor said we as coaches hold the space for our clients while they do their work. That is such a beautiful way to put it and a great reminder of the value we add as coaches. I was also asked to reflect on what is a good coach and what will make me a good coach. As I'm talking with my supervisor and seeing him work so effortlessly I realize that a good coach is someone who is almost invisible. She doesn't need recognition from the client because she knows she is doing what the client needs, she firmly holds all the cornerstones of Co-Active, believes in the clients' ability to his/her work, coaches the person and not the problem, and doesn't step in and try to solve the client's problem. It was a great supervision session where I had a lot of important realizations and I will certainly be applying the learnings in my future coaching sessions.
Later that morning we had our first "track" event with Remote Year. Tracks are events that Remote Year organizes in each city that helps us to get to know the city better. There are two tracks that we can choose from. For Cape Town the options are "This side, that side" and "This is Africa". Both looked so good that I couldn't decide and just left it up to fate, and in the end I got track 2 - This is Africa, which includes an opportunity to talk with the prison guard that became Mandela's friend, a day out experiencing the local life and foraging local foods, and painting on the rooftop of a local artist's home. One of the activities in the other track is Shamila's kitchen which is cooking Cape Malay curry with Shamila in her home in Bo-Kaap, an area in Cape Town that was formerly the Malay quarter. The event sounds so interesting that I bought an extra ticket.
It certainly did not disappoint. We learned how to cook curry chicken, how to roll our own vegetables samosas, and how to make roti from scratch! All the food was so amazing, I thought I wasn't that hungry and ended up getting seconds on everything!
Before and after the event we also had the opportunity to walk through the beautiful Bo-Kaap area of Cape Town, which is filled with unique colorful houses.
Once we got back from lunch, one of the managers on the staff team, Andrei, hosted a session on entrepreneurship as he has had many years of experience building startups and mentoring entrepreneurs. The session was very informative and my most important takeaways was the number one reason that most start-ups fail is due to not enough demand. This is making me think about my coaching business. Insufficient demand would be there is not enough people out there who wants coaching. I don't believe that is the case. Many people I talk to believe everyone can use a coach; however, not everybody gets a coach due to various reasons. So I can either try to find a pool of people who already want coaching, which I'm not sure where that is yet, or to create that demand myself. This reminds me of the book The Prosperous Coach which says as coaches we should always be creating clients. This is principle I started to implement a couple of months when I had to get clients for certification, and now I will be taking it up a notch, and it is very much aligned with my goal for this year of putting myself out there and doing what is uncomfortable.
In the evening I went to Unraveled Yoga near the apartment and co-working space and took the Warm Flow class which was very good. I used my Professional School of Psychology student pass and got the student rate of R120 for a drop-in class (normally R140 for drop-ins) and R20 for the mat, total of $US12, which in Singapore would have gotten me 1/3 of a class! Generally that is what I have found in Cape Town, things are at about 1/3 to 1/2 the price of that in Singapore. I used to think hawker food in Singapore is cheap and good, and I still think it's one of the best in the world, but here in a place similar to hawker like my favorite Eastern Food Bazaar for the equivalent of $SG5-6 the portion is so huge that I can make 2 meals out of it! In fact, in Singapore I definitely wouldn't be able to get a falafel for $SG5-6, it would probably be more like at least $SG10-12 on a road stand and here it was $SG5 and I made one and half meals out of it. This is when I'm realizing that even though I'll be traveling the world for a year which might seem like it will cost a lot, I might end up saving money, and maybe quite a bit of it! Of course this is recognizing that I did live in one of the most expensive cities in the world and this won't be the case for everyone on the trip.
In the evening I met up with the friend of the local friend who said he might be interested in getting coaching. We met in Botanical Bar very close to the apartment and had a nice chat. Cape Town has many of these cute little bars and cafes that have very cool vibes. He is not ready to become a client at this point but might be in the future. And even if not, I'm still so glad I met up with him because I was able to get to know a local and have an experience outside the group. We are still in touch and may meet up again before I leave Cape Town.
Wednesday, 14th March: This morning we were supposed to do another hike (Wednesday mornings are dedicated to hikes) but because the wind was too strong the evening the day before, we were told the hike was cancelled. I was secretly happy about that because I had felt quite tired at this point and was really glad that I could have a good night sleep. Josh, the city experience manager was so kind to set up a breakfast instead and I had considered going. But this was one of those times where I had the JOMO (joy of missing out) instead of FOMO (fear of missing out). Sleeping in a bit was so nice. I did a quick workout and went to the meeting to discuss with 3 other Ohanas about the growth tribe we are planning. It was a great meeting and we decided to use Martin Seligman's PERMA framework (thanks to Susan for bringing up the concept) to structure our year-long program. I came back very energized and even made a couple of slides to capture our discussion and show what the structure might look like.
Right after our meeting was our first Ohana town hall where we had announcements and shout outs which was a very energizing forum. I was very grateful for Andrew to stand up and tell the whole group about the plan that we have for the growth tribe, which made me think that he probably has the "Activator" strength and I know I work very well with them because they can activate my ideas and get people behind them.
After the town hall I had a zoom class for my last Psy.D class - nature of psychological inquiry III which is meant to prepare us for our dissertation. This time it was 3 other classmates presenting their dissertation idea and on the 28th it will be me. I really haven't been spending much time on the dissertation, but at the same time I don't feel too had because I've been talking to a lot of people, especially women in Ohana group which is triggering ideas in me. I had to leave the class early to attend my weekly certification pod call. This time the topic is fulfillment, one of the principles in Co-Active coaching. Our pod leader did a demo coaching, which along with the subsequent discussions reminded me of the wonderful fulfillment tools of Co-Active such as values, life purpose, captain, crew, and saboteur. I use values all the time because all clients like it. I use life purpose sometimes because it's more difficult for clients to connect with, and captain and crew I use even less because I had one client who didn't like it and it subconsciously discouraged me ever since. The session reminded me of the power of these tools and I am determined to use them more often and not apologize for them but be certain that I'm using them for the benefit of the client even if they don't see it themselves. That goes back to what it means to be a good coach - it's not about pleasing the client, but about firmly holding their agenda and doing things that serves them. It was a very empowering feeling.
The evening was potluck night where I made some vegetables and dips and helped Andrei cook a Hungarian Goulash. I was basically the sous chef and cut up vegetables and cleaned. It was really fun to do something together with others and feel the community spirit. The Goulash turned out to be delicious and I can say I kind of learned how to make it.
Thursday, 15th March: Today started with a quick morning workout followed by going to the President's Hotel where Remote Year gives us a pass that gives us access to the pool and discounts on food and drinks. I didn't think I would have breakfast there as it didn't look as impressive as the buffet breakfasts you would get in Asia, but it turned out to be awesome. They basically had all the things I would eat anyway at breakfast such as vegetables, cheeses, dips, smoked salmon, and a fantastic egg station. Six of us girls had an awesome conversation about women leadership and women empowerment, almost the exact topic that I'm thinking of doing in my dissertation. It was really interesting to hear the views of others and I felt grateful that I was able to openly share what I know about the topic and my views and to feel that perhaps what I said had an impact on some of them.
I came back to the apartment building with Daryl for the session called the New Normal. It was the session I was looking forward to the most all week because it aligns very well with the program we are developing for the growth tribe. It was a fantastic session where we got into groups to look at what are all the things that are changing in our lives during this year and how we can manage them. We also did a visioning exercise of looking forward one year from now, envisioning where we would be, what kind of lifestyle we would have, how we have grown, etc. After we wrote our own visions, we partnered up with someone to share it and established each other as accountability partners. I paired up with Andrew, shared our vision and the immediate steps in the next month, and agreed that we would check in with each other every month to see how we are progressing. This was almost like a mini coaching session and doing these sessions in Remote Year is giving me the opportunity to learn a lot about how to run my own sessions.
After the session I decided to go the co-working space which I haven't been using that much. It was really good to be able to be productive for a couple of hours which is when I finished my first blog. Just as I was debating whether I should do something for dinner before going to Josh's DJ event, I see a message on slack that Susanna had booked a nice dinner and had one drop out. Susanna is a total foodie that is building up her business of food, wine and cultural trips in Italy and other places around the world, so I trusted restaurants that she put in an effort to book and said I would go. It turned out to be a fantastic dinner at The Pot Luck Club. Just as I thought I was loving the casual food in Cape Town I got reminded that I do like a nice dinner in a really nice setting once in a while. We had an awesome South African pinotage which has become one of my favorite wines now - full bodied, tannic, dark fruits, and a bit smokey. The food I would describe as fusion, with western cooking methods combined with great Asian flavors. For a fraction of what I would pay in Singapore, I got this amazing meal in a beautiful setting.
After dinner we all went to 4040 Club for free-flow champagne for ladies (who can say no to that?) and hearing Josh and his brother Nathan DJ. It was a super fun night of dancing with many Ohanas. When I came back to the apartment shortly after midnight I was still in an excited mood and didn't feel like sleeping, so I opened a bottle of wine that I got from wine tasting in Franschhoek, made a posting on slack asking if anyone was interested in coming to my room for wine, and did the final revisions of my blog. Suruchi responded a little bit later saying they are hanging out in Rockow's room, which forced me to post my blog. It was quite nerve-wracking but under the slightly tipsy state which always makes me more bold I hit post on facebook and LinkedIn and went off to Rockow's room. The four of us, Suruchi, Tim, Rockow and I ended up having a great conversation until the wee hours. When I came back to my room at 3 something I was so pleasantly surprised to find many likes and comments on my facebook and LinkedIn posting already. I spent some time responding to them and by the time I went to bed it must have been after 5am.
Friday, 16th March: After the late night the night before I slept in a bit on Friday morning. At midday we had our second track event which was a session with Christo Brand, who was a prison guard on Robben Island who became friends with Nelson Mandela. We had the session in Radisson Red at V&A Waterfront, where we got a nice tour on the rooftop of the hotel which had an amazing view of the waterfront.
We then had a nice lunch followed by the session with Christo, where he gave us a nice recount of how he got to know Mandela in the prison on Robben Island from 1978 when he was just 18 years old until when Mandela passed away in 2013. Christo has since published a book about his story, Mandela: My Prisoner, My friend. Listening to Christo's story allowed me to get a better understanding of what an extraordinary man Nelson Mandela was - his compassion, loyalty, generosity, and wisdom all came through in the story. This event reminded me what an extraordinary learning opportunity Remote Year is providing for us. We are not only getting the opportunity to work and travel and meet amazing people in our group and along the way but we are also getting the opportunity to get unique experiences in the city we live in and learn things we wouldn't have the opportunity to on our own.
After the session with Christo we walked to the prison cell on the waterfront where Mandela and other prisoners were held when they were transferred out of Robben Island. The walk around the waterfront was so beautiful that I walked around some more after seeing the prison and walked all the way back to Adderley. I stopped by some places along the way such V&A Food Market and the Watershed, which houses another co-working space - Workshop 17 - where next week's The Power of Personal Brand event by Future Females will be held.
In the late afternoon the four of us in the Growth Tribe met with Danche, our group leader, to discuss our vision for the tribe. At first Danche was playing the devil's advocate and questioning why people would want to attend the events we put together. These are good questions and made us think hard about our value proposition to the group. In the end we agreed we would proceed with the activity the group leaders have already planned which is getting a one-slider from everyone about their skills and what they want to learn more about, from there we can assess what are the professional and personal development needs that people in Ohana have. We agreed to meet again next week once we have people's input and to plan how we would run the professional development event.
In the early evening it's the Kravis Ting push-up and pull-up workout again. This time I managed to get one more girl, Jill, to come with me. After the workout we went straight to La Parada, where there was a Latin dance night. We had a really good time catching up one-on-one over a drink and tapas. At first I wasn't going to stay for the dance lesson as I wanted to get some sleep for the early start next morning, but on second thought I decided to stay for a bit as I figured this year is all about new experiences and getting myself out of my comfort zone, and was really glad I did. There was about an hour of lessons where we rotated to a different partner each time, and then followed by free dancing. It was fun dancing and I also met a few people, 2 locals - one who works in finance and another who is a sculptor who has lived in China - and one Singaporean who is in South Africa to take a course to learn about solar energy to bring it back to Singapore. What a small world!
Saturday, 17th March: Today is the full day track event where we went to Betty's Bay to spend a day with a local couple Ronel and Billy, who made their name from a TV braaing contest. Braai is the South African version of barbecue. We had a beautiful drive through Clearance Drive, where along the way we got a pleasant surprise to see penguins,
walked around taking in the natural beauty,
and foraged through rocks for periwinkles.
After the two stops we arrived at a local hotel and bar Plankies where we hung out for the afternoon having delicious lunch of the local braai that Ronel and Billy made for us, drinking, having great conversations with with a few Ohanas, and even making periwinkle cakes at the end. Joanna who is a chef and who makes YouTube videos teaching people English through cooking even made a video of our experience foraging periwinkles and making them into cakes.
We even met a nice local who bought us a couple of shots of tequila, which wrapped up the day out in Betty's Bay very nicely.
After coming back from the day there was a carnival in the evening, I thought about going but ended up staying in and talked / coached a friend's friend for almost 2 hours. It was a really good conversation and made me realize how much I enjoy coaching people or just having conversations that matter to people. After that it was already too late to go to the carnival so I contacted the Singaporean I met the night before at dancing and had one drink at Tiger's Milk. We had a good conversation talking about his travels and all the businesses he started including selling Chinese imports on Amazon, nutrition bars, and the latest ideas of renting e-bikes to delivery businesses and bringing solar into Singapore.
This experience made me decide that I will continue to get out of my comfort zones and make connections with people. Every time I have a real conversation with someone I learn something wonderful and I get an opportunity to impact them in a positive way. Some of them may become my clients, someone of them may become my friends, and others will simply be nice encounters we can each look back on. Whichever scenario plays out, there can only be good things that come out of it.
Sunday, 18th March: I thought about going for a run in the morning but didn't have enough time so ended up doing a work out in my room. Antoine in our group had the idea to rent a car to drive around the coast, something I had been reading is a must-do in Cape Town. So Jill and I joined him. It was beautiful drive through Chapman's Peak on the way to Simon's Town.
Jill was not feeling well so we stopped in a closer town Fish Houk to find a pharmacy and afterwards stopped at a beach-side cafe, The Galley Restaurant, for lunch. It was such a nice little cafe and the beach itself is beautiful. One of the only complaints I have about Cape Town is how windy it is, and wearing a dress that flies up easily was really not a good idea :) But luckily I brought a scarf that I could wrap around.
After lunch we drove some more towards Cape Point. But since Jill still wasn't feeling well and the entrance is R145 per person to get in we thought maybe it wasn't worth it. We then drove on and stopped by a few places that looked really beautiful to take some photos and ended in the town of Kommetjie where I was going to meet up my local friend of a friend. Before meeting him, Antoine, Jill and I stopped at a local bar Lighthouse Pub & Grill. There was live band playing that was quite good. What was striking and you see that so much in Cape Town was how divided the society still is. When you are in this bar you wouldn't guess that we are in Africa, it actually reminded me of small town bars in New Zealand.
After the drink Antoine and Jill dropped me off at my friend Adrian's place where he took me through a walk on the beach of Kommetije which was absolutely beautiful. I really enjoyed it because it was such a unique local experience that I would never have known to do on my own. It was also interesting to get a feel of the life in a South Africa small town outside of a big city. It felt like a very close-knit community where almost everyone knows everyone and there is a strong community spirit.
We ended the walk at the Kommetjie lighthouse before heading back to his place for a delicious omelette.
When I got back to the apartment from Kommetjie on Sunday evening it was late andI really didn't have the energy to write my blog even though I thought I would every Sunday night. I was okay with that because looking back at this week it was again so rich and, even more so than the first week. Even though I had a few days of feeling at my best I was so glad I just let it pass. What I realize is that I will probably have times like this again when I don't feel at the topic of my game, when I feel doubtful, uncertain or anxious, but that is normal. I just have to remember the important concept of impermanence or anicca that I learned at vipassana, which is that nothing will last forever and everything will pass, whether it is a good feeling or bad feeling. So I just need to observe them with no judgment and that is how I will maintain peace of mind. One thing that always helps me to get through any hard times or difficult feelings is to focus on what I am grateful for, and there are so many every moment of everyday. This week just to name a few, I am grateful for all the activities I've had the privilege to do, all the great conversations I have had, all the people I got a chance to know better, all the learning and growth I have had through the experiences, and being loving and kind to myself through it all. Next week will be about maintaining the balance and pushing myself further out of my comfort zone.