How Do You Play? – Rhoads Life Coaching

Play is an important part of being human (regardless of your age). Taking time to get lost in something you enjoy is critical to finding meaning and purpose in our lives. As a culture (and especially as adults) we are terrible at playing. We tend to get so focused on the list of things we want to accomplish and check off the list that we forget to refuel ourselves. Even when we create space to re-create or vacate, we fill our recreation and vacations with endless tasks that are more ‘doing’ than ‘being’.

There are lots of components to what play is, but to critical parts are:

The ability to lose track of time while playing.

And being sad when it has to end.

Have you ever observed a small child on the playground? They get lost in the experience. They could be there for hours without stopping. And how often is that child upset when it is time to go? They were having fun! They were lost in play!

So what about you as an adult? That need still exists. How do you refuel yourself with something play-full? If you are ‘getting things done’ and being productive, you aren’t playing. But the possibilities of being creative and having fun without direction are nearly infinite. By not taking time to play we are making all of the work we do more valuable than who we really are. What is the point of all of the hard work if enjoying life does not become a priority? So where are there opportunities to introduce more play into your life?

Do you know what play is for you? It is worth exploring and creating! –

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finding meaning and purpose in daily life

Foreboding Joy – Rhoads Life Coaching

I have a practice of once every year or so revising Brene’ Brown’s Power of Vulnerability. Her research into wholeheartedness aligns closely with my coaching practice and how I try to live my life. THIS time through the phrase foreboding joy caught my attention.

We have all experienced as sense of foreboding. Waiting for the test result to come back. Heading into the meeting for your annual review. Remembering the keys were in the car when you closed the door. Combining foreboding with joy, however creates a dissonance. We WANT to be joyful, right? But how often do we forego joyfulness for the next thing to worry about?  When we are wary of being happy or excited we are practicing foreboding joy. This apprehension trades away the joyful moments of our lives.

How do you know if you have foreboding joy? Have you ever brushed away the momentary success of your favorite team believing they still have time to lose? How about waiting to celebrate an event until ALL of the future work is done? Or the situation is completely perfect for celebrating? Have you ever wished things could have been ‘just a little bit better’ even though you accomplished what you set out to do? All of these are examples of foreboding joy. It is pervasive in our culture and lives. We do it ALL the time. It sneaks in an steals opportunities to be joyful in the moment.

The antidote is to practice gratitude and joyfulness in each moment. When something good happens, celebrate it. Look for opportunities to be grateful. Don’t trade celebrating for a future time. Even it being joyful is a small, quick event, take the time to acknowledge that joy!

Where in your life are you fearful of being joyful? –

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Strengths and Talents – Rhoads Life Coaching

We all have inherent strengths and talents. It is valuable to understand what they are and how they work because they are almost completely unique compared to those around us and they are needed by the world we live in.

Somewhere along the line you inherited or were taught some ability that comes naturally to you (almost without even thinking about it). Some individuals can look at a math problem and know the answer without to complete each step of a calculation. Other individuals have such a sharp attention to detail they are able to immediately see where something is out of place in a room or report. Still others are able to empathize with what others are feeling and are able to convey that empathy with almost no effort. Given the diversity of who we are as humans, our strengths and talents are just as diverse.

So why is it important to understand what our individual strengths and talents are? Given that these are natural abilities, we rely on them all the time (frequently without even thinking about it). Taking some time to understand and explore how we function as individuals allows for a better understanding of how we fit into the world. Trying to complete a task that does not match with my strengths takes more effort and will be less efficient. Hiding the talents I have does not serve the community and world around me. There is a purpose in the abilities we have been given.

Can talents be developed and change? YES! Think back to school. We all developed strengths through the activities we participated in as children and young adults. The ability to develop and enhance talents always exists (we have to remember to keep growing)!

Take some time to explore your natural abilities. One of the tools I recommend is the StrengthsFinder Assessment. It is a simple test you can take online to determine your natural strengths. What are your strengths and talents? –

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finding meaning and purpose in daily life

Four Elements of Trust – Rhoads Life Coaching

We sometimes fall in the trap of using trust as a universal tool. If we don’t trust someone with a specific thing, we don’t trust them with anything. This black and white thinking can be detrimental to everyone involved! In order to trust others and be trustworthy it helps to break it into pieces. There are at least four elements of trust.

If I can’t demonstrate that I CARE about your experience or problem, then I am not trustworthy.

If I can’t show that I will keep my WORD about what I say I will do, then I am not trustworthy.

If I don’t have ABILITY to do what I say I will do, then I should not be trusted with that task.

Finally, if I am not CONSISTENT in completing the three criteria above, then I cannot be trusted.

By breaking trust into four elements you can begin to look at how it works. It is entirely possible that someone you don’t trust has two or three of the elements of trust around a specific topic. I may care greatly that your tooth hurts and I am more than willing to keep my word to help you with your tooth ache. But I do not have ability to treat your tooth in a safe way! I may however, have the ability to keep a secret because I care about your privacy, I have kept my word in the past, and I have demonstrated previously that I have the ability to keep my mouth shut on a consistent basis. I have demonstrated that you can trust me with a secret!

How often do we use a blanket trust statement for someone (meaning if I can’t trust them with one thing, then I won’t trust them with anything)? It isn’t that simple. I may not be able to trust you to keep a secret, but I can trust you to give me a ride. We are still able to have a relationship with specific boundaries instead of no relationship at all.

Knowing these elements of trust gives the ability to look at how to repair relationships where trust is broken. Working on building care ability may not be where effort needs to be focused if keeping my word is a problem. Frequently we do not give enough time or space in a relationship to allow consistency to be demonstrated. It is possible to jump back into trust without giving enough time to demonstrate that trust has been restored.

Finally, what do you not trust yourself with? How does the trust model apply? Is it possible to restore trust in yourself by taking a look at the elements?-

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finding meaning and purpose in daily life


Guilt vs. Shame – Rhoads Life Coaching

Do you know the difference of guilt vs. shame? We feel guilty when we are responsible for something that went wrong. A mistake or an accident. We feel shame when we believe there is something wrong with who we are. Our culture struggles to separate the two.

If I cheated on a test, or caused a car accident, or step on someone’s foot, or use unethical business practices, I am guilty. I am responsible for the damage I cause to a someone else, to an industry, or to myself. All of these things are outside of who I am as a person. They may have been intentional or accidental and if I am help accountable for my actions, I am responsible for making amends and correcting the error. Being guilty or feeling guilty is the mechanism through which we as human beings identify where justice needs to be served in order to repair something that was damaged (even if it is just an apology for stepping on someone’s foot).

If I believe I am worthless or a bad person or an idiot for a mistake I made, then I am feeling shame. Shame is a commentary about being flawed as a human being. We shame others for for who they are, what they believe, and actions they take. We shame ourselves for being inadequate, unworthy, or unlovable. We are not good enough. If I am feeling shame then I am stuck. It is difficult or impossible to be something different than who I am and shame keeps me in that stuck place.

The dilemma is our culture swims in shame. We use is almost universally in addressing conflict with others and ourselves. Guilt and accountability allow us to look at problems that have potential solutions. Shame keeps us stuck and prevents us from resolving conflict. Understanding the difference between the two is critical in creating a healthier environment in resolving conflict (criticism vs. complaint).

Pay attention when you are speaking to yourself and others! The guilt vs. shame statements make a big different! “You should know better!” and “What were you thinking?” are shame. “Ouch that hurt!” and “I didn’t study enough for that test” are guilt. This is such a pervasive problem in how we communicate on the news and on social media and with each other at work and home that ANY reduction in shame will make a difference. The solution to shame is empathy. Being able to understand someone’s perspective without being judgmental. Where are you using shaming statements? What is one step to take to reduce them? –

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finding meaning and purpose in daily life

Black and White Thinking – Rhoads Life Coaching

I have posted recently about how we think between a pendulum of yes and no, exaggeration, and being mechanical. Embedded in these topics is a binary system of approaching the world. We get stuck in black and white thinking.

When we think in binary terms (0 or 1, or black and white) we limit ourselves and those around us. In that swinging pendulum arc, the only two spots the weight comes to a full stop are at the extremes. This happens to us ALL the time. We are always looking for the simplest answer to our questions, right? “Just tell me what I have to do to fix this!” is a plea to get to the simplest answer, in the shortest amount of time, with the least amount of effort. It might seem to be easier to approach life with only these two options, but quickly these limited options reduce our ability to see better answers.

Think about the metaphor itself. IS your life black and white? (The answer is “no”). Our lives are a wide variety of shades and colors. We buy high definition digital televisions so we can see every single pixel in full color. We want to see all of the nit and grit in a movie, but want our lives to function like and computer of clearly defined ones and zeros.

So how do we recognize when we are thinking in black and white? It starts with self observation. What are your expectations in a specific scenario? Do you expect to get your needs met all the time? Do you expect to never lose? Do you expect your partner to agree with you every single time? Do you expect your stock investment to always go up? Watch yourself and observe your expectations. If there are only two possible outcomes to a conflict or exchange, you are stuck in black and white thinking.

How to get out of this binary mode? Slow down! The speed at which we make decisions across multiple topics dictates that we move fast to keep up. An important decision requires time and attention. Take a deep breath to slow down and disengage the binary thought process. Take time to consider someone else’s perspective. If you don’t understand how someone has made a decision, you are drifting towards black and white thinking. What is the motivation to avoid this trap? There options are too limited when you only have two possible outcomes to any given scenario. –

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finding meaning and purpose in daily life

Johari Window (Relating to Ourselves and Others) – Rhoads Life Coaching

Johari Window

Here is a cool tool to help you conceptualize your development process. It can be applied on a personal or professional basis for individuals or for groups and businesses.

In 1955, Joseph Luft and Harrington Ingham developed a technique to assist in relating to ourselves and others. They combined their first names to create the Johari Window, a method for looking into our lives.

There are four areas in the window:

ArenaInformation that is know to myself and known to others. This is generally common knowledge that can be agreed upon. I wear glasses. Or I am a certain height. Or I hold a specific position in a company. I am a fan of a certain team based on the jersey I am wearing. It is easy to do something with this information as it can be used by everyone. If you are in the arena, generally everyone can see what is going on.

BlindInformation that is known to others but is not known to me. Most of us have had the humbling experience of being told that we have food in our teeth during an important public event. We all have blind spots to who we are personally, professional, emotionally, and relationally.  There is a BENEFIT to knowing that the car in the other lane on the interstate is in your blind spot before you change lanes! There is a BENEFIT to knowing you have something in your teeth before giving a presentation. Knowing allows you do something to fix it! The intent of this quadrant is to find someone who is willing and able to give you accurate feedback. What if the feedback you received during your next annual was viewed as someone trying to HELP instead of attack who you are? We can grow as individuals if we can accept help in being shown the things about us that we can’t see for ourselves.

HiddenInformation we know for ourselves, but keep hidden from others. These are our secrets. We spend a lot of time and energy keeping our secrets hidden. Think of your secrets as being a beach ball that you keep submerged under the water at the pool so no one knows it is there. It may be easy to hold the ball underwater for a while. After a while though it takes a lot of effort to keep it submerged. Our secrets are like this! We have to hold onto them all the time! There is a BENEFIT to not hiding certain things about ourselves. This does not mean being completely transparent. It isn’t safe to tell everyone all of your deepest hidden information. But having a trusted friend or mentor to disclose information to can be a relief and allow you to observe yourself in a different way!

UnknownInformation that is not known to ourselves and not known to others. This is a tricky place. We don’t know what we don’t know. The reality is that we all have this unknown component to ourselves. Places of who we are on the inside that we have never had a chance to develop or explore. This could look like the painting class or guitar lessons we take for ourselves once the kids are out of school. Or an unresolved fear that has haunted us our whole life. It takes a certain amount of courage to be willing to explore this unknown, and sometimes dark, place in ourselves. The rewards for digging into the unknown areas of who we are can have tremendous BENEFITS! A new skill. A new perspective on life. A release of something we didn’t know was holding us back.


This Johari Window is a valuable tool to gain perspective about ourselves. If we are honest with ourselves, we don’t know everything about who we are. It helps to be able to compartmentalize the different aspects of our person in order to look at each in greater depth. This creates more understanding!

The Johari Window is also not intended to be a static frame. The more we can move things into the arena, the easier they are to work with. We have more potential to growth, develop, and achieve by having more of ourselves in the arena. Moving information from the blind spot and secrets out into the open releases burdens and allows for greater potential (it HELPS to know you have something in your teeth). That Hidden window holds things we might need. Just like a mine, the treasure has to be dug out of the ground in a deep dark place. Once it is brought to the surface it becomes much more valuable.

So try the Johari Window out! How do you see yourself if you look through each frame? Where is there room to grow? –

Johari Window - Rhoads Life Coaching


finding meaning and purpose in daily life

Pendulum of Yes and No – Rhoads Life Coaching

While our emotions are intended to be whole (meaning they simply exist as they are and are not intended to conflict), our brain is intentionally wired to make decisions. This decision making process functions like a pendulum of yes and no, swinging back and forth, allowing us to sort information.

This ability to sort information into different piles is a very valuable tool! Knowing to not drink the water from a Pendulum of Yes and No - Rhoads Life Coachingspecific stream, or understanding which berries are safe to eat and which ones aren’t, are critical to survival! For life threatening situations a firm decision of “YES, GO!” or “NO, Don’t do that!” allow us to navigate through the world safely. We would not exist if this pendulum did not function.

One disadvantage to this process, however, is that the decisions on the pendulum with the most resolution are at the extremes. From a safety and simplicity standpoint, our brains want to make as many 100% YES or 0% NO decisions are possible. It is less work! Unfortunately the world is rarely that neat and tidy (if you don’t believe me, ask your friends/family where they want to go dinner tonight)!

How often do we feel conflicted with our thoughts as we try and sort through all of the external and internal information that our brains try to process all day every day? Trying to apply an all or nothing approach to decision making creates a lot of conflict! So we have to come to some understanding and acceptance that making decisions between the ends of the pendulum of YES or NO is a more powerful way of approaching the world (and where we end up living most of our lives). Suddenly the mid-point of the swing (the point with the most speed) is the balancing point between yes AND no. The pendulum (and our brains) never stay in that place very long, but it is the point where the most options exist and we can most congruently align with our emotions and sensations.

There is value in being able to accept this dynamic process inside ourselves and then in terms of how we relate to the people around us. Understanding this pendulum is in place with a co-worker, family member, or friend changes how we relate to conflicts and making decisions. You will have more options and balance in decisions in accepting the mid-point of this pendulum, allowing for YES AND NO to exist at the same time. –


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finding meaning and purpose in daily life

Breakthroughs in Development – Rhoads Life Coaching

Hopefully we all continue to experience breakthroughs in development (whether that is personally, professionally, or relationally). These A-HA moments are exciting! Puncturing a ceiling that has been limiting in the past is a big accomplishment! These breakthroughs can also be frustrating if we expect them to be the new normal. Think back to your kindergartner or teenager learning to ride a bike or drive a car. The FIRST time those things happen is a revelation. We celebrate! But we don’t want our child or our teen to stay at just that level of development. To expect them to be able to ride or drive safely and successfully requires more development. Building a new level of development is different than discovering that new level!

So a breakthrough is not the same as developing a sustainable new level. Do you expect that from yourself and others? Landing at the airport in Denver does not mean I fully understand what Denver is about. Being able to navigate a tough conversation over a conflict with a friend, partner, or co-worker does not mean we are finished in resolving the conflict. To truly maintain a new level of understanding, we have to be committed to putting the time and energy into building something sustainable.

Where in your business or life do you have emerging levels of development? What are your expectations around these changes? If you expect a new level of growth to be a one-time event, I would challenge you to take a look at whether you are setting yourself up for frustration and disappointment. Celebrate the breakthroughs, but give yourself the time and space to commit to building something that will last once that breakthrough has happened. Rarely do we ever achieve anything perfectly on the first try. –

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finding meaning and purpose in daily life

Expectations – Rhoads Life Coaching

What are your expectations? Seriously, take a minute and think about that. What do you EXPECT to happen. Not just on a grand scale of years and decades and for your life, but on a minute by minute basis.

We have hopes, dreams, vision, goals, and purpose. Each of those is different that expectations. When we start to expect things we begin to fall into a trap of our own making. How do you react when your expectations aren’t met? You get frustrated, right? What we expect to happen is more a reflection of who we are than the world around us. All of our filters and self-protecting behaviors are wrapped up in that expectancy. Frequently the world doesn’t meet our expectations, which leads to suffering. We believe things should go our way (A LOT). The more the things don’t go our way, the more frustrated we get. We suffer greatly this trap. What if you shifted from expectation to hope? How would your world be different if you were more hopeful and less expectant?

So what are the things you expect from the world? Big things and little things. We expect the world to not rain on parades and picnic, right? We expect a raise. We expect our children to listen and behave. We expect our relationships to stay the same once they reach a certain place. We expect someone to respond to a text or email in a certain amount of time. It goes on and on. We expect the world to not change!

What small changes do you need to make in order to reduce your expectations? It is a difficult thing to do as we often don’t see we are doing it. Take some time and observe how you react when things don’t go your way. Even reducing our expectations just a little bit will reduce the frustration we feel with ourselves and the world around us. –

Expectations - Rhoads Life Coaching


finding purpose and meaning in daily life