Last Friday I struggled with whether or not to attend a weekend team coaching workshop with roots in design thinking. The venue is a 5 hour drive from my home in Central NY and my back is unhappy with long trips.

I kept saying to myself, “Why do I want to do this?”

I thought, one of my ethical obligations as a certified coach is to continuously buff my skills to ensure I deliver greater value to clients each and every year.

I registered for the course and packed my bags.

Instead of making a beeline to the Garden State, I broke up the excursion by pausing halfway to spend the night at a hotel in Scranton, PA.

As I entered the lobby, Gen Y hotel desk gal had the phone wedged between her neck and shoulder, checking her nails, rolling her eyes, supposedly helping a new guest find the location. It was obvious this girl was disengaged from her job.

After going through the normal check in process, -In the Dumps- Gen Y said I would receive 1K free points if I watched a video at the online Rewards Club. “Do I have to say anything good about you?” I said tongue in cheek, hoping to change her energy. “There’s nothing good about me” she replied in a monotone expressionless voice. Right then and there, my shoulders slumped as she filled the lobby with a negative emotional field.

The next morning I filled my Starbucks stainless steel thermos travel mug with hot java, hopped into my black Honda Accord, and made my way down the highways of Pennsylvania and back roads of NJ.

I kept hitting the radio search button hoping to change my energy by listening to my current favorite tunes: Bang Bang by Jessie J, Clean Bandit – Rather Be featuring Jess Glynne,  Boom Clap by Charli XCX, and Break Free by Ariana Grande.

I was still experiencing cognitive dissonance as to whether taking this course based on Design Thinking was a good investment or not. At that moment I heard Taylor Swift belt out a lyric from “Shake It Off:”

♫ But I keep cruising
Can’t stop, won’t stop moving
It’s like I got this music
In my mind
Saying, “It’s gonna be alright.” ♪♪

My thoughts went from uncertainty to the assumption something good was about to happen. But what?

Our two day professional development class was held at the Hyatt Place on Route 1 in Princeton, NJ. This Hyatt brand is ranked the #1 Select-Service Brand by Business Travel News 2013 Hotel Chain Survey for the second year in a row.

As I entered the building, the first thing I see is a contemporary cafe setting with beverages, sandwiches, salads, a flat panel tv, and comfortable seating.

I meandered up and down the hallways with a business carrying case on one shoulder and an L.L. Bean adventure duffle bag on the other, looking for the proverbial front desk. Confused, I made my way back to the cafe. “Where’s the lobby?” I asked the man behind the counter. “Sir, this is the lobby” replied Irving, the boomer host in his Trinadian accent.BOSZB_P014

“What!? Where’s the computer screens, keyboards, desk tops filled with paperwork?” I said to myself. This looks like the control center of the Starship Enterprise! (fyi The computer monitors and keyboards sit below the counter and are viewed through a glass window. Cool.)

The ingredients of Irving’s outlook, his attention to impeccable service, as well as the unparalleled atmosphere of Hyatt Place, shifted my emotional energy field to a better place.

After settling into a chair in the workshop room around 10am, I focused on the facilitator’s opening remarks. I continued to ask, “Why am I here?”

Then, somewhere around 11:30am, I felt my arc taking shape, reaching a point of apogee; moving from a neutrally charged place to one overflowing with feverish possibility.

A couple of factors were at play here to cause a shift in the emotional field.

First, we were led by David, a brilliant facilitator and master of the content. This man is a pro, dedicated to his profession and the students in the room. Late on day two, I said “I’m dripping wet because of the showering of your brilliance.” Everyone laughed.

Second, I began to experience the richness of the content and how the techniques and exercises will bring value to my clients. Some of the material I already knew. It’s the nuance of the language of the materials that created a shift for me.

Lastly, I was surrounded by peers who were intellectually intoxicating, fully present, and engaged in the materials. The room was filled with a diverse cross section of personalities, professions, and perspectives.

Organically, we created an energetic addictive perfume, brimming of a positive playful curious contagious aroma.

This event went from personal dissension to being a magical moment in my professional coaching career.

The song that comes to mind to describe my new found friends is from the musical “Wicked” when Glinda the good witch sings:

♪♪ Who can say if I’ve been changed for the better?
But because I knew you
I have been changed for good. ♪♫

I left Syracuse with less than positive thoughts. In the middle of the trip, I switched my energy to the possibility of what could be.

Thoughts are just that. Thoughts.

At any moment you can change your mindset. Bring a thought in, toss another to the curb, or watch another walk right on by.

It’s your choice.

You’re becoming what you’re thinking.

Photo courtesy of Kevin Dooley.


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