Chandler

Posts Tagged ‘Tango’


Creating a Meaningful Life

October 7th, 2010 in Uncategorized comment 40 Comments »

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Human Embryo at 5 days (a.k.a. blastocyte)

This image is a human embryo five days after a single egg was fertilized with a single sperm cell.

Ultrasound Scan of Fetus at 10 weeks Gestation

This is an ultrasound image of the same embyro at 10 weeks gestation. It already has a beating heart (and had one since 6 weeks gestation).

A view from the outside!

This image, much less clinical, shows the same fetus from the outside. In this image the fetus is 19 weeks old and is the size of a large mango!

And finally…

And if you hadn't guessed already...

Yep, if you hadn’t already guessed…this baby is growing in me. As of today, I am 19 weeks pregnant!

I gave a speech called “Creating a Meaningful Life” last night at my Toastmasters’ Club. I got quite emotional at one point while delivering it.  You see, it’s a pretty big milestone for me to be almost halfway through my pregnancy.  The road has been long and winding.  One surgery, six cycles of increasingly invasive treatments, and 3 previous pregnancies all ending in very early stage miscarriages….this has been the road.

If you had asked me when I was 30 years old what I envisioned for my future family, my answer would have been far more traditional.  Now I am embarking on single motherhood (for now). I feel confident the right guy will come along at some point AND I made the decision to proceed anyway because my biological clock was tick tocking really loudly (and yes, it really does become a lot more difficult for many women to conceive after their mid thirties).

Fear, anger, sadness, confusion, uncertainty and even jealousy–these were some of the emotions I cycled in and out of over the past few years.  And the doubt. Oh my goodness the doubt! When things weren’t going well I would ask myself,

Is this a sign that I am not meant to be a mother?

Is it time to pursue adoption?

And the most difficult question of all (and one I came to hate because I really struggled with it)

Do I even want to be a mother anyway???

Fortunately for me, I had many cheerleaders along my winding road, most of them mothers themselves. They, in my darkest moments of doubt, affirmed that having a child would be my greatest joy and that I needed to continue on the road to create this in my life.  I am so grateful to these women. They know who they are.

We recently read A Million Miles in a Thousand Years for our bookclub.  The premise is essentially this: that we create meaning in our lives by the stories we live.  Our lives, just like great movies, are more meaningful when the main character wants something and overcomes conflict to get it.

Well this story, my current story, still in progress, is creating great meaning in my life.  And I needed to share it simply because I am looking at my life, my business, and my future though a different lens these days.  I am still the same me.  I still want to be a masterful coach helping high-aspiration business owners and professionals create their great story.  I still want to be a loving daughter and sister and a true blue friend.  And I still want to tango.

So don’t count me out.  In fact, count me in more than ever.  The plot is about to thicken. And so is my waistline!

Risk/Reward: The Entrepreneur’s R&R- MonTango

June 16th, 2009 in Uncategorized comment 2 Comments »

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Life is a Tango For This Entrepreneurial Couple

Andrea Shepherd left her full time job as an editor at the Montreal Gazette to follow her childhood dream of opening a dance studio; her partner, Wolf Mercado Alatrista, who maintains a full time job at the YMCA to keep their family afloat during their start up phase, is also following his dream. Together, they are the founders of MonTango a thriving tango studio in NDG, Montreal. 

Andrea and Wolf

Andrea and Wolf

All totalled, Wolf and Andrea have danced Argentine tango for more than 20 years.  They taught together before deciding to open MonTango.  Now, a year in, they see how their ability to “dance in the moment” with each other on the dance floor and in life helps them run their business. Andrea manages operations, communications and instructs.  Wolf focuses on the client experience and instruction.

While MonTango’s initial mission was to teach people to tango, it now expands to creating community. Andrea says,

Bringing people together and creating friendships wasn’t our original purpose but it has become a wonderful by-product and is so rewarding.

You have only to spend an hour at a Sunday afternoon Cafe Croissant Tango  to see that they have succeeded wildly on this count.  And it is not by accident.  Wolf and Andrea, and their teaching staff, regularly dance with beginner and advanced students, giving freely of their time, their enthusiasm and their instruction.

Of course, one doesn’t live on goodwill alone and dance studios are notoriously risky businesses.  Expensive rent for studio space, competition, and changing dance fads can wreak havoc with the business model.  Happily, social dance has never been more popular with shows like So You Think You Can Dance. It helps that Montreal is the tango capital of North America and that interest in tango, the most complicated and wonderful of the social dances (emphasis all mine!) shows no sign of slowing down. Even in a down economy with a lot of competition for students, MonTango has doubled its student number since last year. 

The current supportive climate and endless hours working on and in the business have ensured their general trend in revenue is upward.  Nonetheless, their dance in business has not been without hiccups.  Some near misses have taught them:

  • Everything takes longer than expected (time management/ priority setting is key);
  • Word of mouth/ referrals are their key to successful growth because other marketing can be expensive or inefficient;
  • Hiring help in their areas of weakness (i.e. accounting) is necessary;
  • Finding teaching staff that will embrace their mission and follow their MonTango methodologies can be time consuming but is essential to ensuring students have a MonTango experience;
  • Preventing the business from creeping into all aspects of their family time is an ongoing challenge and a work in progress.

April marked MonTango’s one year anniversary.  We celebrated by dancing tango to live music by Ensemble Montreal Tango.  More than 120 tangueros/ tangeuras joined in the festivities.  For MonTango, we, tango aficionados all, are more than clients.  We are a community of friends.  And what business doesn’t need friends?

So….If life is a tango, will you sit it out or dance?

If dance is your reply, MonTango invites you to try one of their free introductory lessons, from June  22 to 25 at 6 p.m. at 5588A Sherbrooke St. W. (corner Marcil). They will also hold tango dancing at NDG Park (across the street from the studio) every Friday from June  26 to Aug. 28 between 6 and 9 p.m. For info, click here or call 514-486-5588.

Risk/Reward: The Entrepreneur's R&R- MonTango

June 16th, 2009 in Uncategorized comment 4 Comments »

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Life is a Tango For This Entrepreneurial Couple

Andrea Shepherd left her full time job as an editor at the Montreal Gazette to follow her childhood dream of opening a dance studio; her partner, Wolf Mercado Alatrista, who maintains a full time job at the YMCA to keep their family afloat during their start up phase, is also following his dream. Together, they are the founders of MonTango a thriving tango studio in NDG, Montreal. 

Andrea and Wolf

Andrea and Wolf

All totalled, Wolf and Andrea have danced Argentine tango for more than 20 years.  They taught together before deciding to open MonTango.  Now, a year in, they see how their ability to “dance in the moment” with each other on the dance floor and in life helps them run their business. Andrea manages operations, communications and instructs.  Wolf focuses on the client experience and instruction.

While MonTango’s initial mission was to teach people to tango, it now expands to creating community. Andrea says,

Bringing people together and creating friendships wasn’t our original purpose but it has become a wonderful by-product and is so rewarding.

You have only to spend an hour at a Sunday afternoon Cafe Croissant Tango  to see that they have succeeded wildly on this count.  And it is not by accident.  Wolf and Andrea, and their teaching staff, regularly dance with beginner and advanced students, giving freely of their time, their enthusiasm and their instruction.

Of course, one doesn’t live on goodwill alone and dance studios are notoriously risky businesses.  Expensive rent for studio space, competition, and changing dance fads can wreak havoc with the business model.  Happily, social dance has never been more popular with shows like So You Think You Can Dance. It helps that Montreal is the tango capital of North America and that interest in tango, the most complicated and wonderful of the social dances (emphasis all mine!) shows no sign of slowing down. Even in a down economy with a lot of competition for students, MonTango has doubled its student number since last year. 

The current supportive climate and endless hours working on and in the business have ensured their general trend in revenue is upward.  Nonetheless, their dance in business has not been without hiccups.  Some near misses have taught them:

  • Everything takes longer than expected (time management/ priority setting is key);
  • Word of mouth/ referrals are their key to successful growth because other marketing can be expensive or inefficient;
  • Hiring help in their areas of weakness (i.e. accounting) is necessary;
  • Finding teaching staff that will embrace their mission and follow their MonTango methodologies can be time consuming but is essential to ensuring students have a MonTango experience;
  • Preventing the business from creeping into all aspects of their family time is an ongoing challenge and a work in progress.

April marked MonTango’s one year anniversary.  We celebrated by dancing tango to live music by Ensemble Montreal Tango.  More than 120 tangueros/ tangeuras joined in the festivities.  For MonTango, we, tango aficionados all, are more than clients.  We are a community of friends.  And what business doesn’t need friends?

So….If life is a tango, will you sit it out or dance?

If dance is your reply, MonTango invites you to try one of their free introductory lessons, from June  22 to 25 at 6 p.m. at 5588A Sherbrooke St. W. (corner Marcil). They will also hold tango dancing at NDG Park (across the street from the studio) every Friday from June  26 to Aug. 28 between 6 and 9 p.m. For info, click here or call 514-486-5588.

Celebrating Coaching Certification

June 4th, 2009 in Uncategorized comment 4 Comments »

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If you are reading this, there is a chance you have been part of my journey to coaching certification in some way-small or large.  Thank you. 

If you are reading this and you have not been part of my coaching journey so far, may our paths cross in the blogsphere and beyond.

I am happy to share that I have earned the designation of Certified Professional Co-Active Coach (CPCC) by the Coach Training Institute (CTI).  I am a few forms away from being among the select 3700 coaches worldwide who are credentialed by the International Coach Federation (ICF).

My learning and self discovery en route to coaching certification has been an extraordinary experience for me.  I have been rewarded with amazing clients and coach colleagues.  I delight daily in seeing my clients shape courageous actions in their lives and businesses. And I am continually inspired by my many coach colleagues with whom I share a vision of bringing a higher order of consciousness to the world.

Tango at the South Street Seaport, NYC, as taken recently by Christian Boulay (Montreal)

Tango at the South Street Seaport, NYC, as taken recently by Christian Boulay (Montreal tango dancer)

When my clients reach a milestone in their lives, I coach them to pause and come up with a way to celebrate. So often in life, we brush off our successes and immediately set our sights on what is next. This Sunday I will move the furniture, put on my tango shoes, and raise a glass with friends and colleagues as I host a Tango BBQ to mark my certification in coaching.

What are you celebrating in life and business?  How will you mark the occasion?

An Entrepreneur is Like a Great Tanguero (a.k.a. tango dancer)

April 8th, 2009 in Uncategorized comment 4 Comments »

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So you might readily agree that one could draw parallels between tango and sex. I go so far as to say there are parallels between tango and business and specifically that there are common characteristics between tango dancers and entrepreneurs. And it has nothing to do with sex.

Hear me out. For starters, is there any dance more complicated to learn than Argentine tango? Is there any business more challenging that an entrepreneurial venture?

Leadership

There is no tango without a leader; there is no new business venture without an entrepreneur.

Improvisation and multi-tasking mastery

In tango, the leader must lead the dance, navigate the busy dance floor, and keep time with the music, all the while connecting with his follower. And Argentine tango is an entirely improvised dance. There is no blueprint to follow.  It is made up in the moment. The entrepreneur juggles planning, operations, finance/ accounting, marketing and human resources, to name a few. No one hands her a set plan to follow for any of this though successful entrepreneurs usually write their own plan and improvise as they come up against new things.

The art of attraction

The best tanguero offers the entire package: skill/ technique, a sharp appearance, grace and respect. The successful entrepreneur is always skilful, presents himself professionally and believes in his product or service. He ensures that customers, employees and investors want to dance with him…and preferably repeatedly.

Finely tuned Intuition/ instinct

The seasoned tanguera dances like she has eyes in the back of her head. She can sense her next move even before it’s invited and yet she knows not to step until she feels the lead. She trusts her partner and herself. The best entrepreneurs are so in tune with their vision, their stakeholders and their business climate, they can feel in their bones what they should do and when to do it. And they know that even if their interpretation is off, they will learn from it for next time.

Responsibility/ Partnership

 You’ve oft heard “it takes two to tango”. Well, it truly does. And whether you know it or not, both partners must maintain their own axis (balance) at all times. Both partners are creators in the dance just as the entrepreneur is the creator of his destiny. “Off axis” moves require a supportive partner. The astute entrepreneur knows when he is off axis and has fostered partners to lean on during those times. In fact, the true entrepreneur will intentionally take himself off axis to explore areas for growth!

And finally PASSION

 Did you think I would forget? Without it, the tango is not worth dancing; in business, no passion means the shop doors might as well close because no one will want to walk through them. So if you are a passionless tango dancer or business entrepreneur…dear me… either find your passion or get a job and learn the waltz!

P.S. For fun, check out this enterprising dance school in the UK that is bringing tango to businesses.

P.S.S. Happy 1 Year Anniversary to MonTango. These folks have made dance their business. I wish them many more successful years.

A New Canadian Season

March 6th, 2009 in Uncategorized comment Comments Off

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My friend and fellow tango dancer Zubair emailed me today. He and I have been commiserating on our little slumps.  I smiled as I read his reason for why people are down lately. Perhaps you think it’s the economy?  Well in Zubair’s world the reason is the “drainy” season.  It’s that end of winter just before spring limbo that we have every year.  He ought to copyright his clever term. A quick google search just confirmed drainy season is not used in common parlance. Google asked “Did you mean: rainy season?”

 

Zubair points out that in the rainy season, we use umbrellas, raincoats and boots to protect ourselves. For the drainy season he recommends we protect our mood. Some suggestions: cook more often, call people you haven’t been in touch with for a long time, go see good movies, listen to “gangsta music” and hit the dance floor like dis iz ma life!!

 

My recommendation (as developed earlier today with the help of my coach) is to simply stand up from your slump, shake it off and go after what you want. Balance this with a healthy dose of kindness to yourself (whatever that looks like for you) and it will be spring before you know it.

 

So what will you do to weather the drainy season? Zubair has a happy song.  What is yours?

 

 

 

Foregiveness in a Close Embrace

March 5th, 2009 in Uncategorized comment 2 Comments »

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I just walked in the door from tango class and planned to quickly check my email before going to bed to read.  In my inbox I found my faithful Daily OM. Tonight’s topic was “The Energy of an Embrace”. It called to me as I have been in a “close embrace” with my tango partner for the past two hours as we practiced different steps with increasing degrees of difficultly.

 

The Daily OM says our need to be touched is established in the womb.  As babies and young children we crave our parents embrace and later we look for it when we are celebrating or despairing, and at many points in between.

 

A hug or embrace can be a joyful exchange of energy and can say so much without a single word.  In dance, as in life, the embrace communicates a mood, an intention and a message. 

tango_embrace

 

Tonight our mood was high and our intentions were to dance well together.  It was playful and fun and we laughed more than usual (particularly when I kicked my partner rather hard ….twice in a row).  They say in tango that everything is the leader’s fault. I have never believed that. Fortunately, after apologizing for each kick, I could slip back into the close embrace…and everything was forgotten.  In real life, off the dance floor, a good old fashion hug can have the same effect.

Dancing in the Moment

January 20th, 2009 in Uncategorized comment 2 Comments »

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I strap on tango shoes and “dance in the moment’ for real two or three times a week. I love the sensation of moving around the dance floor with a graceful and skilled partner. And I endeavour to dance in the moment metaphorically in my professional life every time I coach someone in life/ business. It seems this little phrase, and the opportunity to actually live it, is part of my daily existence these days.

Dancing in the moment is one of about 40 skills identified by The Coach Training Institute as necessary skills for a co-active coach, of which I am one.

The textbook definition of dancing in the moment says that:

Coaches are dancing in the moment when they are being completely present with the client, holding their client’s agenda, accessing their (the coach’s) intuition, and letting the client lead them. When coaches dance in the moment, they are open to any steps the client takes and are willing to go in the client’s direction and flow.

I was reminded how much I love this particular skill last week as a participated in a skills building call on this very topic. These calls are hosted by Coach Ben Dooley (www.bedo.org) and stimulate lively and nuanced discussion among coaches and coaches in training. Ben himself dances in the moment in his personal and professional lives. On a coaching forum, I read about Ben’s trials and tribulations of returning to ballet after what was a long absence. Very shortly after he signed up for the class, he twisted his ankle and had to “dance in the moment” with his injury and the pain and disappointment of not being able to follow through with his intention to dance ballet.

In coaching, the idea for me is to dance with my clients through the various issues that are important in their lives. This dance can be a powerful and beautiful thing. At its best, it goes something like this: I ask a question to help the client come up with a topic for the session and then I give them the lead. As I listen with curiosity and intuition, I might realize that if I let them keep leading, they will take us to the corner of the dance floor that they know all too well—maybe it’s fear, resistance, old habits, limited thinking. Like in tango, at the moment I feel that we heading in that direction, I make a decision to follow them there or take the lead back for a time, sometimes very gently and sometimes with a jolt that lets them know I am leading. Interestingly, while there are times when going into the corner clearly won’t serve the client, it is not always easily apparent what direction to take. So as coach, I use my intuition, my listening and my training to guide me. After all, going to that corner can be full of rich learning and it can also be slippery enough to cause us to fall. Often we won’t know until we dance on over and see what is there. And despite where we go, and even if we fall, as long as the metaphorical music is playing, we keep dancing with whatever is there and trust that it will take us somewhere, or more precisely, it will take us exactly where we need to be.

In tango, the leader, often male, is always in charge. Yet this doesn’t mean he controls the entire dance. The most intriguing moments arise when he gives the follower time to embellish. In an improvised dance like tango, the communication that goes on between partners through all the senses, and particularly touch, sight, and hearing, is incredibly powerful. For dancers (tangueros/ tangueras), when there is true connection it feels magical. For spectators, the intensity, passion, and aliveness is stunning to witness. In fact, the connection is so strong and the dancers so in tune, most non-tango dancers cannot believe the dance is not choreographed in advance.

As a coach, I am hired to be in charge, deciding when to lead my client and when to follow. It’s a dance that is improvised with every response, sigh, pause or tear. It requires safety, trust and faith between coach and client. The results are often unexpected and rich.

On the real dance floor, dancing a tanda (usually a set of three to five songs) to beautiful music with a gracious and skilled leader can be an end in itself. In coaching, there are bigger goals at play and the dance is simply a way to get to them. If a tanda represents the client’s issue of how to communicate effectively with their partner, for example, and the whole milonga (the actual place where people dance) represents all relationships in their life…what is equivalent to the bigger picture of the client’s whole life? Metaphors be damned, it’s the everything, the every dance. It is the essence of the quality of life the client wants to live and how they want to be in this life. It is much bigger than a dance, and yet it can be as graceful, intense, and fulfilling as the best tango.

Leading, following, connecting and dancing a life of intention…does it get any better than this?

Lisa Chandler ¦ Chandler Coaches
T. 514.678.0501 ¦ C. 514.512.0656 ¦ F. 514.678.0503
lchandler@rogers.com
If life is tango, will you sit out or dance?