Check out my new book! Career Advice: What I wish I knew when I was 24

What’s your passion?

I played piano passionately in my younger years. I started late, at the age of 10, but I worked hard and got caught up quickly. By practising the fingering of my pieces both on and off the piano, I learned the music, changing the pressure of my fingers to play forte versus pianissimo. I worked on the technical aspects of musicianship by doing scales, chords, and arpeggios ad nauseum. All this for an hour a day until the end of high school.

I loved the piano. It connected me to my dad who adored classical music. Together we would listen to classical music together. Over time, he taught me about the major composers, Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven, along with other lesser knowns. His favourite era became mine – the Romantics of the 19th century – so I came to appreciate Liszt, Schubert, Schumann, and Chopin.

Music challenged me intellectually, physically, and emotionally. Playing long arpeggios with the left hand while maintaining the slight rubato rhythm of the right made Christian Sinding’s “Rustle of Spring” a challenge. Liszt was difficult to play as he had very long fingers so he’d often write in octaves where you have to space your fingers wide apart. It made his music hard to play melodically because playing by octaves can make the musical line sound choppy.

Sometimes I couldn’t bear to listen to a piece of music because I knew it would make me sad (ahem,  Mozart’s Requiem), other times I would listen to something specifically to evoke happiness, like Strauss’s Blue Danube Waltz.

Piano Lessons

You’ve likely heard the famous joke,

How do you get to Carnegie Hall?

Practice, practice, practice

My passion for music made practice easy. While I certainly resented the exercises I had to do to strengthen my fingers, learning my scales inside out helped me appreciate music better. I got to know the “personality” of G major (gentle, peaceful, lyrical) and the other key signatures which added depth to my understanding of pieces. Listen to Bach’s Cello Suite No.1 in G Major and you’ll hear exactly what I mean.

Integration

Playing piano schooled me in the integration of body, mind, heart, and spirit. It taught me to bring my whole self to the moment. When I dropped one element, for example, when my heart wasn’t in it, the music suffered. It sounded wooden or listless even if I played it technically well.

I realize now that playing piano taught me “embodiment,” a concept we use in coaching. Amanda Blake describes embodiment as our ability to put complex actions on autopilot so that how we respond becomes second nature (Your Body is Your Brain). By embodying Liszt (long fingers, romantic style, lots of rubato), I could play his Consolation No. 3 with all the tenderness he put into the composition. Over time, “Liszt” became “me.”

Application

Think of a time you brought your whole self to the moment.

Where were you?

What were you doing?

What did it feel like?

I bet it felt fulfilling. That’s how I feel about the piano.

Now expand it.

What kind of impact do you have when you present your whole self to others?

Showing your whole self gives permission for others to show theirs. It resonates at a deeper, non-verbal level. Because most communication is non-verbal, your impact is about way more than the words you use to communicate your message.

Pianist Photo by Jordan Whitfield on Unsplash, Photo by JJ Ying on Unsplash

What’s your Carnegie Hall? Think about a passion of yours that you want to practice, practice, practice for the joy of it.

How can you bring more of your whole self into your life, at work and at home?

You have to be open minded in order to grow. The coaching that Laura gave me opened my eyes to what and how I was doing things and allowed me to see the bigger picture. I am not done yet but I already see the changes in my everyday life.

MM

I think coaching is a great way to help you clear your mind when you get stuck with overwhelming situations or when stepping into changes in your life.

MO

Coaching is life changing. It pushes you outside your comfort zone and challenges your perspectives.  It is highly motivating and the exercises and techniques used are both fun and informative.  I think the main benefits of coaching are to see yourself, others and the world more clearly.  I think coaching is valuable to anyone regardless of where you are in your life or career.

LE

I honestly never thought I’d need a coach. I thought coaching was for CEOs and industry VIPs. I didn’t think it was for the “little guys” (i.e. me). Now, I’m of the belief that everyone – yes, EVERYONE – needs a coach. Coaching has really benefitted me and I’m so grateful to have had that time with Laura. It’s changed my life!

VB

Laura is very patient. She took the time to understand what was causing me to be stuck where I am today and help me build a better vision so I can continue to grow.

MM

I think Laura’s coaching was what I had been waiting for. Laura was so approachable, kind, and open. Her willingness to help and support made a difference for me. I found in her coaching new strategies, ideas, and perspectives that I could incorporate into my goals and objectives that I didn’t see before.

MO

Laura is an incredibly intuitive, positive and caring coach. Her techniques helped me recognize both my strengths and areas I might want to explore as I embark on the next chapter of my career. The exercises she employed were instrumental in providing self perspective and challenging my frames of reference.

LE

Laura is a natural coach. Her probing and compassionate questions helped me learn about myself: my value system, interests, goals and strengths.

LM

Coaching sessions with Laura gave me new perspectives on how to process specific feelings and situations in life.  She showed me how to sit with my emotions, acknowledge them, and then use visualization strategies to move through them.  I now feel more confident and in control of how I choose to walk through life.

CP

From the beginning, Laura put me at ease, creating a safe, open space for me to talk and share freely without fear of judgement. I loved the variety of approaches she used depending on the topic we were working on and it was fun being able to try out things I wouldn’t have considered before! With Laura’s coaching, I substantially grew my confidence in the workplace, overcame fears, dealt with issues I’d been carrying around for many years and, most importantly, learned to value myself and define a path forward into the future.

AG

Laura’s coaching was a breath of fresh air and EXACTLY what I needed at that point of my life. I didn’t realize how impactful coaching was going to be, but by the end of the sessions together, I left feeling refreshed, inspired and genuinely curious about what my future held for me. Because of Laura and her coaching, I believe I became a better person – someone who is more open-minded, someone with a clearer focus, and someone who is willing to explore opportunities and possibilities far more than I ever did before.

VB

I engaged Laura for coaching as I took on an expanded role leading an asset management company in Canada. As a female, I knew I would be a role model and had high expectations of myself. I was feeling overwhelmed and anxious.

In our first few coaching sessions we worked through exercises that allowed me to reflect on my purpose, leadership style and what mattered most to me. I continue to be grounded by the clarity I achieve in my coaching sessions – allowing me to be resilient and confident when challenges came my way.

OS