August 28, 2008

A Response to Byron Katie on Oprah's Soul Series

A friend writes,

"Hi Carol,

I am not in agreement [with your writeup] after seeing Katie on Oprah....I did not find Katie presenting and doing The Work but a facsimile thereof. Where was the talk of our innocence, what we are willing to do for love? Instead I found her speaking like an intellectual instead of the warm loving woman who speaks from her heart and soul.

No, for me, I was sadly disappointed. And very grateful to Oprah's vulnerability and her open and willing ability to pull the conversation for the listener to a level of comprehension and understanding as a newcomer to The Work.

My suggestions would be to have Katie do some literal listening and answer the questions. To stay out of the mind and come from the heart and express from herenthusiasm...that is when she is a powerhouse and at her best."


I hear you, C. I like it also when Katie is not "presenting," and this was more of an interview than a facilitation. She had a limited amount of time to present the essence of what The Work is and where she is coming from. I've been in that position myself, and for me it is never as powerful as The Work alone, and it's what is indicated in the situation.

My thought is that not everyone can hear the talk of innocence and what we'll do for love. That is for us to find out for ourselves.

She also had Oprah as a host, and Oprah interrupts her guests, that's her job. Oprah was also being somewhat combative. I thought Katie did great in the face of this. I thought Oprah did great too; and there was a noticeable change in her after she answered the questions from the heart. Apparently Oprah was pleased and the response to the show was good; Katie said yesterday that more filming was happening.

I'm sure Katie would be open to hearing your suggestions for her, why not write and tell her? Meanwhile, I am going to take them to heart for myself. I want to be a literal listener and to answer the questions...and, when presenting and facilitating The Work, to stay out of the mind and come from the heart, and express myself from my enthusiasm. That is when I am a powerhouse and at my best. So thanks for this.


August 27, 2008

The Success Mess

Questioning the beliefs that hold me back has been key to all of the successes in my life, and not just in my business. Increased clientele and cash flow is just one aspect of success, and I've discovered that it's not the most important one. In the end, money alone can't guarantee happiness. Happiness to me is waking up in the morning excited about whatever lies ahead, knowing I'm in my integrity and progressing at exactly the right pace.

There was a time when I was earning six figures and felt like a failure. I would think thoughts like, "I'm not doing enough," "I should be further along than I am," "The future isn't secure," and "Advertising is dishonest." (Most inconvenient, that last one, as I was a direct-response copywriter.)

There are many coaching and self-help techniques that rely on positive visualization, affirmations, and "gremlin-slaying." There is a lot of emphasis on "just say no to negativity," and no attempt to understand where the negativity came from. I used these techniques for years without much movement; my material successes seemed to come and go, no thanks to how I attempted to dictate a life that fit my definition of successful. I also couldn't drop my self-limiting beliefs by trying to substitute them with "positive" ones.

With The Work of Byron Katie--a transformative process of inquiry that I have facilitated professionally since 2002--we don't worry about dissolving self-limiting beliefs; instead we identify and meet these beliefs with understanding. We enter the process, not to change anything (although change may indeed occur, and often swiftly), but to discover what's true for us.

As it turns out, self-limiting beliefs are lies. Stressful thoughts "quit" us when the mind calls its own bluff.

What we may not realize is how some "positive" beliefs are also stressful. Seeing yourself surrounded by riches is just "woman or man surrounded by riches." It's what we think having money and possessions and fame means, not the money, possessions and fame themselves, that turn us on...until they don't.

"I see myself driving an expensive car, living in a dessigner home, turning down speaking engagements, the author of six bestselling books, helping millions of people, traveling the world, always staying at the Ritz-Carlton club floor, with more money in the bank than I know what to do with, and beating Bill Gates at philanthropy." Sounds great, I'm not knocking it...and, can you know that this is what success looks like? Can you know that your life, as it is now, is not what success looks like?

Let's say you have openings in your schedule, and bills to pay. You do not have a car and driver. You haven't been written up in Forbes. You like the big house next door to yours better than your rented room. "I'm not a success now." Is that true? "I will be successful when I have those things." Can you really know that?

In visualizing yourself in the so-called successful life, are you living and working fully in the life you have now? Do you love your life or is it just a piece of driftwood to take you to the next "better" and "more successful" life?

I invite you to make a list of ten ways that you are a success, a huge success. If it's difficult to identify any successes, start with the simplest things: "I got out of bed today." "I didn't skip breakfast." "I was suicidal and didn't kill myself after all." "I took a walk in the sunshine." Keep going: "I raised my wonderful son all by myself." "I lost 10 pounds and kept it off." "I kept my last job for a whole six months." And keep going. "I helped children learn how to read in an after-school program." "My picture was in the paper." "I didn't beat myself up today." "I met my deadline for the project." "After three years, I took myself to the dentist and committed to treatment until my teeth are all fixed." "I was scared to be alone but I left my marriage." "I was scared to commit, but I worked through my fears and got married." "It was really hard to do it, but I stayed in my integrity and said no." "I said yes to something everyone said was too risky." "I built my business from the ground up." "I rebuilt my business after it failed." "I stopped beating a dead horse and got out of my old line of work." "I got a new client this week" "My one and only client all month was very happy with my work and will give me a good recommendation."

When we apply the simple process of inquiry to thoughts around success, breakthrough results occur naturally. A questioned mind is always more creative, more efficient, more appreciative of what is; there is no limit to the success it enjoys.

©2008 by Carol L. Skolnick; all rights reserved.

Cool Publication News

I've got two articles relating the power of The Work in my life, appearing in September 2008 publications. The first article called "Days of Awe"—is an inquiry-based approach to the Jewish High Holy days and was adapted from some of my blog post here on the subject. It was published in the September issue of Science of Mind magazine, and it's even featured on the cover. (You can find Science of Mind at larger magazine retailers and at "spiritual" bookstores; the article is not online, at least not yet.)

The other article, which is my brief account of my self-care as someone once diagnosed with depressive who uses The Work, will be in the Fall 2008 issue of Anchor, a magazine about living with depression that is published by Magpie Media in Canada. (I haven't seen it yet.)

August 26, 2008

August 24, 2008

I'm Back from My Trip

Carol at left, friend Annie at right, sitting in our luxurious hotel room at the Ritz-Carlton San Francisco, wondering how on earth we're going to manage in real life without fawning service and foie gras.

Annie treated me to a marvelous outing in San Francisco and Napa in celebration of her upcoming 50th birthday. (We don't look a day over 35 in this photo, do we?) We stayed in schmancy digs, and ate at 5-star restaurants. I treated myself to a hoo-hah massage at a very posh spa in Yountville, just before having one of the most memorable dinners of my life at The French Laundry. I am now officially spoiled.

Vacations are better than real life, is that true? (Actually I'm glad to be home, and Annie is too!)

(Oh, of course that's not me. Everyone knows I never wear blue.)

August 20, 2008

Byron Katie and Oprah: A Dream Team!

It's a dream come true for me, to see Byron Katie and Oprah Winfrey together on Oprah's "Soul Series," and to witness Oprah being an authentic "Everywoman," moving from resistance to willingness to epiphany once the mind's self-protective mechanisms were revealed to her through inquiry. (In these videos, Oprah reminds me so much of myself when I first came to The Work...oh, okay, the way I still am sometimes.)

Oprah's openness to doing The Work with Katie, with millions worldwide experiencing her process, shows the rest of the world how it's done in a way that, I believe, will be taken to heart, and received as one of Oprah's many excellent "Love That!" offerings to the world.

I can't wait to see Katie on the Oprah TV show soon. (Hint, hint, Harpo Productions!)

©2008 by Carol L. Skolnick; all rights reserved.

August 19, 2008

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August 13, 2008

The Work at Work: Motivation vs. Inspiration

The dictionary definition of motivation is to induce, incite, or impel.

The definition of inspiration is a stimulus, an animating action or influence.

In this video clip, business consultant and leadership theorist Dr. Lance Secretan discusses the diffierences between motivation and inspiration. Byron Katie says that motivation is fear-based and therefore stressful. Here, Secretan says that motivation is a form of bribery an act of selfishness and greed: "Do what I want and I'll give you what you want."

Inspiration, on the other hand, comes from the Latin word spirare, which means to breathe, or to give life. The same root word is found in the English words respiration and spirit. Inspiring leaders generously share their knowledge and enthusiasm. They lead by example, acting in alignment with their core values.

Says Secretan, "Love is what powers inspiration." Can you find where that's true? Think about how you move in the world when you align your actions with what you love and hold as your truth. Are you more productive, efficient and available when you are inspired, or when you are "motivated"?

If love powers inspiration, what, then, powers motivation?

I know that when I am motivated, it's because I desire to attain something (for example, if I write one hour a day for six months, I might have the raw material for a book by the end of the six months). There's nothing wrong with that. In fact, the desire can be stoked by inspiration (such as, my friend followed a simple diet and exercise regimen; she feels better and looks great. Hm, I'd like to have tighter stomach muscles; if she can do it, maybe I can too.)

But there's another kind of motivator; the fear of losing something or of not having something. It's not inspiring; it's more like, "Attain that goal...or else!" ("Get your cholesterol down or you'll have a heart attack!" Force yourself to attend networking events and speak to at least five people; you'll never grow your business sitting at home!")

Desire and fear are the byproducts of unexamined thinking. It's fine to want things, and it may be prudent to "fear" fire or cross-currents (though I prefer to think of it as respecting them). But if I'm acting out of fear and calling it "motivation," I may wish to investigate my thoughts.

©2008 by Carol L. Skolnick; all rights reserved.

Special Discount for "The Work on The Web"

The Work on the Web is the new online coaching application with all the information, materials, tools, video support and examples you need to do The Work successfully on your own. I played with it in the testing stage and have used it again just before the public launch; I think it's a good tool for beginners, especially if you find it difficult to concentrate on a worksheet when doing The Work on your own. It will also appeal to those who enjoy multimedia/interactive features. What I find most useful is cutting down on paper clutter; The Work on The Web allows you to store and easily refer back to your worksheets in progress. You can read more about it here.

The introductory price for The Work on The Web is $27 (eventually it will go up to $40) for three months. For a limited time, when you sign up using coupon code 119-1132, you'll receive two more weeks for free.

To register
and receive your two additional weeks for free, be sure to include the exclusive offer coupon code: 119-1132

August 7, 2008

So Nice, I'm Offering It Twice

In the spring, I had an "early-bird" special for my upcoming eBook, Transformational Inquiry: Asking Depression. The offer included a bonus eBook, Three Realizations That Changed My Life.

The gift eBook is now ready, and the reviews are in. "Fun to read." "Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous." "Some great thoughts tucked in there." "Beautifully edited, and your photos are wonderful." "Absolutely delightful!" "Thank you so much for these realizations. I love them!" "This is a great book to savor a few pages of realizations at a time. Yum!"

And that's just the praise for the "appetizer."

So I am moved to offer another pre-publication special: if you pre-order Asking Depression by September 30, 2008 for $22.95 (that's a savings of $2.00), I will send you the PDF of Three Realizations to enjoy in the meantime...a collection of "Aha!" moments that changed the lives of some of my dear friends...among them life coaches, writers, musicians, artists, office workers, educators, students and teachers of spirituality, and fellow facilitators of The Work of Byron Katie.

This bonus eBook is not for sale separately.

For more information, and to pre-order Transformational Inquiry: Asking Depression plus the bonus eBook, visit
and reserve your copy before September 30, 2008.

©2008 by Carol L. Skolnick; all rights reserved.

August 1, 2008

Focus on Facilitation: Pimp My Client's Ride?

Some interesting, creative, and not necessarily helpful new subquestions have been floating around the "Workosphere."

The latest one is "How does this thought make you feel safe?"

I have also heard:

*"What are you assuming when you think this thought?"

*"What are you avoiding when you think this thought?"

*"What do you stand to lose when you think this thought?" (Variation of an old one, "What does it cost you to hold this belief?")

*And one that strikes me as very complicated: "What are you not noticing when you believe this thought?"

It is natural that, as a facilitator, you will put your own fingerprint on the way ou ask the four questions and subquestions. We all have different styles of facilitating and communicating. For example, rather than ask, "What is the payoff for holding this belief?" (a subquestion of Question 3, "How do you react when you believe this thought?"), I will often ask, "How does it serve you to hold this belief?" I noticed over the years that some clients bristle at the word "payoff." This variation is in the same spirit of the original, but with slightly more gentle language.

Subquestions are just that: subtextual questions under the heading of the "basic four." They are meant to be used judiciously; the purpose is not to mire the client in questions, but to help your client go more deeply towards their own answers when they are feeling stuck or confused.

Of course, it's fine to use subquestions, and older versions of them are re-worded and new ones that make sense are adapted all the time. What you will notice about those newer subquestions is that they are very closely aligned with the basic four questions.

Personally, I'm fine with "What do you assume?" or "What do you avoid?" Assumptions and avoidance are reactions to beliefs, so these are fair questions for a facilitator to ask, when indicated.

"How does this thought make you feel safe?" is an assumption, and therefore can be a manipulation on the part of the facilitator. When you ask this made-up subquestion, you are telling the client that the belief makes the client feel safe; the client hasn't necessarily told you that. I wouldn't use this one.

"What are you not noticing when you believe this thought?" I find this one a little too creative for my comfort level; if I'm not noticing, how would I know what I don't notice? Question four, "Who would you be without this thought?" is more straightforward, and (in my opinion) does a better job of opening the mind to all possibilities. "When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be." —Lao Tzu

Developing Self-awareness in Facilitating with Subquestions

What do you notice about yourself when you pepper your client with creative subquestions (or even with lots of standard subquestions)?

*Are you trying to manipulate your clients' answers to be what you think they should answer?

*Do you want your clients and colleagues to see you as clever, skilled, insightful and sensitive?

*Do you think you have a better way? (There's nothing wrong with that, if indeed you do have a way that works better for you or for your clients, and if there is no stress in your belief. Just notice whether there is a hint of rebelliousness or superiority in your stance. If there's "rub" in your belief that you know best, inquire into it.)

The foot word of "facilitate" is facile, which means "easy to do." To facilitate is to make something easier, or to assist in another's progress. Therefore, the facilitator's job is to make it simple for the client to go within and find their answers. Does straying from the suggested procedures of inquiry, or adding new procedures, truly assist your client...or does it obstruct the process, create confusing tangents, take the focus away from the client and his or her needs?

©2008 by Carol L. Skolnick; all rights reserved.