Volume 5, Issue 4 – October 2004
Welcome to IWL’s eNews, designed to inform and inspire you about the progress of our global leadership community and commitments.
1) Alumni Profile
Chris Parker, Wind River Systems
What are your name, title, organization and accountability?
Chris Parker, VP Worldwide Customer Support Organization, Wind River (Wind River’s headquarters are in Alameda , CA and I live in the Dallas area).
I’m accountable for ensuring customer success globally. This means working across the entire organization globally and with multinational companies. My responsibilities include customer education, product support and technical field engineers. Our customers are from the telecom, aerospace and defense, consumer automotive and industrial automation and controls market places. Our customers differentiate their products through software and we enable companies to develop and run their device software faster, better, at lower cost and more reliably.
When and why did you attend WLC (Women Leading Change)?
I attended WLC in December 2003. I was motivated to attend for two reasons. First, I was at a point in my life where I was wondering, what do I do next? I get antsy if not challenged and was reaching that point. Second, I talked with Sindri Anderson who had attended previously. She highly recommended it to me.
What skills have you used the most since the program?
I’ve used context-shifting most. I’ve used it both personally and with managers. I don’t use the same language from the course but when group is not producing or when I’m not, I can look at the context to understand what’s happening.
I’m well-educated and have invested a lot in personal development and find that I can be quite impatient and want to learn faster. “During the first day of the course, I felt frustration since I thought I already knew ‘all the stuff’ that was being taught. I wasn’t proud of what I was thinking. I had a decision to make because I can’t stand wasting my time or anyone else’s . It was time to either change my attitude and seek value or leave.
I am grateful I decided to share my state of mind with Loretta Huff, IWL coach. She got me to focus on my context. In that process she helped me realize that I was so focused on learning all I could be that I lost sight of being the best I could be.
This discovery brought tears to my eyes because I am so passionate about ‘living’ God’s plan and I realized I didn’t like who I was BEING . I wasn’t giving the best of me. This context shift has been huge for me as I am spending a lot more time getting in tune with the me I want to be, not the intellect I am storing.
I shifted in the way I am being with other people. I’m being the real me. My project was integrating my spiritual development into my whole life. It was very emotional for me. It gets the soul of me in there instead of the resume of me in there.
After I was willing to be true to me in the course, I’m doing it more now. I’m living vs. learning and learning through living.
I’m also now applying reflective thinking as second nature; who am I being vs. what am I. It’s changed how I communicate at work. I’m now expressing my heart vs. political correctness.
What results are you most proud of having produced at work? What did the results allow for?
I was promoted in February 2004 and am exercising faith-based decisions instead of ‘Chris’ plan.’ I live more authentically and develop deeper relationships. I was a people person before but I didn’t let people get too close to me and my beliefs.
We’re accomplishing huge multinational change management and organizational development and I leading with who I am not what I know.
With regard to the promotion, there’s a result that really is meaningful to me. I’m the only one promoted to the VP level from within the company AND I’m a women. Other people see this as a sign of hope and feel it’s refreshing. Women come to me for advice or as a mentor where before I mentored my team of men but didn’t have strong relationships with women.
Rayona made a comment during the course that really stuck with me: I already have the job and don’t need to keep interviewing for it. When I hit periods of doubt, usually it’s when I’m living just ‘Chris’s plan’ instead of listening to God, I just kept reminding me I’ve already got the job.
What results are you most proud of having produced anywhere else?
My personal project, strong-willed women of faith has shown me what a strong-willed person I am and that I needed to develop my faith more. I’m getting more in tune with faith, beliefs and integrating everything I do through my faith (instead of trying to balancing my life; instead of choosing one or the other) has been powerful.
At church, the thing that’s different is a takeaway from the course as well. I met with 25 women. We were all awkward and uncomfortable about building a sense of community. We all felt we were different and didn’t know how to fit in. The fact vs. interpretation conversation from the course popped up and I realized at least 90% of our problems are within not with the others in our life. I feel great about integration of my whole life right now.
What resources do you want from or do you have to offer the rest of the IWL community as you continue your leadership journey?
I intend to continue my project, strong-willed women of faith and invite others from the IWL alumni to join me. What are the challenges of working women today? What are you passionate about? What do you want to accomplish so that on your last day on earth you’re satisfied? What are you willing to give up 10 minutes a day to do? I want the project to generate more thought-provoking processes rather than simply showing up at a meeting. I support women to follow your heart. We all have many roles; the most important is being what God created us to be.
When I was a mom with young kids I didn’t think this way. Now I’m in my 40s and thinking about what do I want to do with the rest of my life. I want to give. I encourage women to do it early. What are you willing to give 10 minutes a day to something you’re passionate about?
We’re almost starved for community but don’t take time to make it; I’m willing to help IWL alums in whatever way I can. We have so many examples of men who made a difference but I want to create a world that has more women examples for our daughters for generations to come. Email
2) Coach’s Column – When in Doubt, Breathe In and Out by Victoria Castle
3) Coaching Success – Chris Parker and IWL Coach, Victoria Castle
Striving for Perfection Kills Creativity” ~Chris Parker
“Chris Parker personifies what IWL imparts in Women Leading Change,” shared Victoria Castle, IWL coach. “She’s generous, open to learning and has a big vision. She was in great shape when we began working together. Everything was working. The focus of OUR work together was to take Chris to the next level – to ‘scale up’ Chris and empower her to transfer her successful way of being to others.”
For Victoria, an IWL coach, coaching is the most natural thing for her to do. Previously she’d worked in non-profits, running restaurants and working as convention coordinator and travel agent. About 15 years ago, Victoria started collaborating with corporate trainers and consultants providing leadership development to teams in large organizations. A few years ago, her body said ‘no more travel.’ Victoria changed her approach and now has local and phone clients.
In each role, she was always curious about the elements of effectiveness for people with whom she’s worked. Victoria detests waste. “When people have great intentions and talents and can’t fulfill on them, it’s wasteful. When people work too hard for what gets produced, it’s wasteful.”
Victoria is a Master Somatics coach. Consistent with her curiosity about peoples’ elements of effectiveness, Victoria is exploring the ‘trance of scarcity’ she sees in our society. “Of course for some people there have been times of true scarcity but most of us have never even missed a meal. Instead, we have internal stories about not having or not belonging. It makes our starting place one of difficulty, insufficiency, and strain.”
“My mission is helping people be at the top of their games so they can make their most potent contributions and thrive at the same time. Insight is great, integration of that insight, embodying it so that the body takes on a new self that takes new, effective actions, that’s what interests me.” Victoria is writing a book called ‘Embodied Abundance: Breaking the Trance of Scarcity’ that will carry further her mission of helping people be most effective.
“There’s a certain point in Women Leading Change where you create a project to practice what you’re learning,” said Chris. My initial project was work-related but I realized I didn’t really didn’t want to focus my project there. My passion and vision are to help people identify their God-given gifts and bring them forth,” she adds. “I envisioned gathering 100 strong-willed women of faith to discover what would become available while doing so.”
“I’ve used coaches in the past,” said Chris. “A coach really helps to make stuff stick. I didn’t seem to need one for my work but really felt I could benefit from a personal coach. I chose Victoria as my coach because there was a connection between us. I sensed that she could feed me when in doubt. She could relate to my vision of strong-willed women of faith and my frustrations. She dug into the real issues beneath the surface and was great at encouraging and challenging me in an inquiring way.”
“Since my coaching focused primarily on my personal vision, I paid for it myself,” continued Chris. “It was well worth the money. Victoria brought a lot to the table. She can shift gears with me. I needed someone who related to my project on an experience level. My past coach knew the skills but couldn’t relate on the experience level. I like to ask prospective coaches why they want to work with me to ensure they are equally passionate about what I want to accomplish. Victoria screens her clients to ensure that she can work well with them and it was during that conversation that we connected. She’s incredibly sensitive. She reads me; she asks permission to go a certain way. We humans don’t always say what we mean or feel. She’s good at ‘peeling back the onion.'”
“A few months after WLC, Chris was promoted to VP of World-wide Customer Support at Wind River,” said Victoria .”Another part of our work together was to discover what was needed for her to transfer and empower the managers with whom she works so that Chris could further step up. Chris is a ‘people person’ and part of the challenge that came with the promotion was to find a way to continue to be authentically connected from a distance, since she travels so much now.”
“Chris’ context for life allows her to operate joyfully much of the time. She has faith and gratitude and is a truly good listener. She wants to know what others care about and listens for their commitments,” shared Victoria . I worked with Chris to help her realize and make visible the natural traits she already has so she could more consciously transfer them to others.”
“After my promotion, I made a decision to put my strong-willed women of faith project on hold for a few months while I adjust to my new role,” says Chris. “Working with Victoria has had some wonderful outcomes for me. Before WLC and coaching with Victoria , I was always reading and doing whatever I could to further develop me. Now I’m ‘being’ who I am instead of trying to develop into something.
” We explored what are the true elements for me to play at the top of my game,” said Chris . “I’ve realized that in order to carry off my vision of uniting strong-willed women of faith, I need to sustain myself. I need time with family, I need time to reflect, I need to enjoy my hobbies.”
“Striving for perfection kills creativity,” said Chris. Since WLC and working with Victoria , ” I’ve shifted from doing it all ‘perfectly’ to doing what’s essential and what’s the highest and best use of my time.”
“Chris has definitely widened her influence and reach at work,” shared Victoria . She’s now sought after and mentors many people, men and women. Her direct reports are being developed as strong leaders, too.”
“Now I’m putting into practice what we’ve already developed so far before moving ahead with my strong-willed women of faith project. I’m applying my ‘ten minutes a day’ strategy which is to start on my passion or vision now by allocating a minimum of ten minutes a day to it. ”
As an example of the strategy Chris mentioned that reflective thinking is very important to her. Recently she noticed that she was in a low, doubting period. She noticed that her decisions weren’t as sharp as usual. “I usually do my reflective thinking while listening to praise and worship music during my daily workout. I injured my back and stopped doing the workout while my back healed. I didn’t think it through and also stopped listening to my music and taking time for reflection. I didn’t even notice that at the time.”
“I was flying home from a business trip and was trying to read and work. I couldn’t get anywhere with that. Then I put my music on and began to reflect. I wondered, “What am I supposed to be learning in this time?” I felt compelled to write an email to my pastor about integrating biblical principles into the market place. The process of writing an email clarified my thoughts. Suddenly I realized, I wasn’t asking God in for the little things in life, only the big things. It was as if I was relating to God like I do to my bosses at work; I only bring them in on the big things, not the little ones. I realized now that by missing my workout time I also missed my praise and worship music and my personal time with God. Just because I couldn’t work out didn’t mean I couldn’t listen to music! I needed to give that time to God. I also started cardio again and lifted a ton off my shoulders.”
“My passion is to live according to God’s plan for me. I’m developing my faith so that although I can’t see it, I can go with the flow,” said Chris, simply.
“I’m really glad to know someone like Chris Parker is having an impact in the corporate world,” shared Victoria , smiling.
Some ‘tips’ from Victoria and Chris for those who are considering using a coach to help fulfill your vision:
• Do not shrink your vision. Let it be as big as it can be. Be in cahoots with people who will support you in bringing it forward.
• Be really clear about what sustains you and keeps you at the top of your game for what you’re passionate about.
• Understand the benefits of doing what comes naturally to you. Develop partners that compliment your natural skills so you’re not the only one ‘holding up the sky.’
• Distinguish between what’s perfect and what’s right for you .
• Take time to step back and reflect . The bigger the vision, the more you need to step back and reflect to see what needs to be done in the time frame.
• Be candid and authentic with your coach and vis versa. Operate as partners.
• Be willing to explore areas that are uncomfortable , to get disrupted, to get beyond what’s known and feels good
• Laugh at yourself. Have fun.
• Use the coaching time as an opportunity to step back and talk about ‘big life conversations’ in the midst of busy days to help maintain perspective.
• Put into practice whatever you develop during the coaching relationship. Take time to catch up with your insights and what’s important to you. Apply.
About Victoria Castle
Victoria Castle is a Seattle-based coach, consultant and an IWL coach, who works with executives and business leaders to make their most potent contribution to their organization and to the human community – and to thrive while doing it. No suffering allowed!
The Freecycle Network is a grassroots movement of people who are giving and receiving stuff for free in their own towns. Each local group is run by a local volunteer moderator and membership is free.
Freecycle is a project of RISE, Inc., a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization whose mission includes reducing waste, generating employment training, and fostering cooperation between other nonprofit organizations and the public.
RISE started the Freecycle Network in May 2003 to promote waste reduction in Tucson ‘s downtown and help save desert landscape from being taken over by landfills. There are now over 543,369 people in 1546 cities who are ‘freecycling.’ Talk about putting vision into action – this is a great example.
I recently discovered Freecyle.org and successfully used it to locate a table I needed. I simply posted my request on the email list and a person who owned the table and didn’t want it anymore contacted me. We set up a time, I picked it up and had a pleasant exchange with the table’s owner. Try it. It works!
B. Be Informed and Vote! – FactCheck.org
FactCheck.org is a nonpartisan, nonprofit, ‘consumer advocate’ for voters that aims to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics.
5) A Note from Rayona
As the cool nip of Autumn is in the air and the frenzy of the American presidential debates rattles in the background I am grateful to be celebrating my 53rd birthday with a healthy body, a safe and peaceful neighborhood and the gift of doing meaningful work in the world. We’re also quickly approaching the US Thanksgiving holiday when it is time to reflect on the enormous privileges and luxuries that we have here in America (and Canada and Australia ). I thank God for all this abundance!
Executives Leading Sustainable Change Update
I want to share the huge accomplishment of the recently completed Executive Leading Sustainable Change (ELSC) session one. ELSC has evolved into a three-year curriculum which invites new students and advanced students to do a deep dive into the multifaceted benefits of Contextual Leadership. I can honestly say that this is the most powerful program that IWL has ever developed. We combine the magic of ‘equine guided education’ with the wisdom of somatic sensitivity and mindfulness, to produce executives who are centered and exceptionally talented in their ability to lead sustainable change within themselves and their organizations. Combine these aspects with a greater ability to have difficult conversations at all scales of the organization and you have a recipe for transformation.
Bay Area Leading through Influence Program
Autumn also marks the launch of our program ‘Leading through Influence’ sponsored by the Alliance for Technology and Women. Helen and I are leading several six-week programs throughout the Bay Area and sharing the power of a contextual approach to the challenges of influencing without authority. We expect to have 90 new women and men exposed to Contextual Leadership and who will become contributing members to our flourishing IWL community. We are always looking to diversify and expand the resources available to you within two phone calls!
Bi-company Women Leading Change Program coming to the Twin Cities!
Later this month I will be traveling to Minneapolis to conduct the first bi-company Women Leading Change program (WLC). ELSC alumni Krista Claude from Thomson Corporation and Deb Paterson, newly appointed Regional President for Wells Fargo Bank are co-sponsors and have committed to building an IWL community in the Twin Cities area.
We also have several ELSC and WLC alumni in Arizona forming an IWL support community. This kind of partnership makes my heart sing! If you live in outside of the Bay Area and have interest in building a local IWL community please contact me and we will partner with you in getting connected.
Upcoming Speaking Engagements
Helen and I will be doing a great deal of speaking in the next few months to groups, such as:
• Society of Women Engineers Executive Summit
• Executive Women in Novartis (EWIN) at Novartis Pharmaceuticals
• Student Women’s Alliance at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government (KSG)
• Linkage’s Women in Leadership Summit in Boston
• Women in Technology International events in Boston and Palo Alto
Needless to say we are thrilled to have these opportunities to learn about the needs of women leaders in various industries and to share the power of our curriculum and IWL community to meet their business challenges.
Women’s Leadership Board, Harvard University
November marks a return for me to the Women’s Leadership Board (WLB) at the John F. Kennedy School of Government (KSG) at Harvard. Our work over the next few years will be focused on four major areas:
1) increase the visibility, participation and influence of women, including the dissemination of research by optimizing the power, influence, reach and programs of the Kennedy School of Government.
2) develop and empower women as leaders worldwide, including the WLB members, affecting representation at all levels and sectors by optimizing of the power, influence and programs of the KSG at Harvard.
3 ) influence, fund and track research that aims to have a specific impact on advancing women’s leadership (including Harvard tenure), underpinning gender and public policy efforts.
4) increase visibility, participation and influence of women within the Kennedy School of Governmentand Harvard University .
The reach of these four goals is extraordinary when you walk it through the Register for Value exercise from WLC. I invite you to connect with me if any of the above issues speaks to what you care about.
IWL’s All-Star Team Update
The last thing that I want to discuss in this letter is the excellent talent that we have acquired on behalf of growing IWL. As you know Helen Waters is IWL’s new president . In addition to her operational duties she is leading training programs, consulting engagements, and giving keynote speeches. Helen is the most comprehensively talented person we have ever hired. We also welcome our new bookkeeper , Jan Jensen , who in just 30 days has exceeded even our highest expectations and allows us to free up Helen’s time to grow the business.
We’re privileged to have Hillary Flack on board as the new ‘comprehensive’ program manager . From the moment new customers first approach IWL until they complete their program experiences, Hillary manages the complete cycle of value. She is excellent at customer service, logistics management and juggling many balls in the air with impeccable follow-through. Hillary’s presence allows us to use very talented Jeannette Nelson for thought partnership and ever-improving curriculums design. If you visit or participate in our expanding curriculum you will see the output of Jeannette’s amazing contribution.
And so, my friends, I end where I began by saying that I am so grateful to have you in my life and I remain your devoted partner throughout our 50-year renewable lease.
With love and gratitude,
Rayona Sharpnack, Founder and CEO