The Art of Possibility

I was fortunate to participate in the Institute of Coaching Conference in Boston  again this year. My main takeaway was noticing the intricate connection of possibility and emotional agility.  Possibility thinking is different from positive thinking.  Possibility thinking is real, honest and exists in the presence of all emotions.  Positive thinking leans into the realm of the ‘happiness’ movement, and pleads to our inner selves to halt negative thinking.  Positive thinking may lead us to numbing ourselves and pretending that everything is happy and good when in reality we are all human living a human experience with a range of emotions, thoughts and stories.  Possibility involves surrendering to what is, and not resisting or controlling. Possibility honours all emotions as invited guests, acknowledges the benefits both positive and negative mindsets and taking action to ensure our actions and practices are aligned with our vision. (In Kundalini yoga, this is also known as the neutral or meditative mind). 


"Being present to the way things are is not the same as accepting things as they are ... It simply means, being present without resistance: being present to what is happening and present to your reactions, no matter how intense."

~ Roz Zander,  Art of Possibility,


I arrived in Boston and was instantly flooded with the memories of my last trip to this historic city.  It was the same year after the Stanley Cup Final where Vancouver lost to Boston.  I noticed how easily the emotions of glee, sadness and anger surged through my competitive body. Ironically, Boston Bruins were my favourite hockey team in my childhood. Moving through these emotions and accepting that Vancouver did not win the Stanley Cup, I made my way to the hotel. Coming from Salt Spring Island, I was acutely aware to all the sights and sounds of the big city.   I settled into the hotel and prepared for the next day.  


Day 1 of the conference came early and filled with anticipation of the learning that was about to fill me up.  I love the excitement of approaching the registration table to receive the syllabus, the nametag and the lanyard.  This was the first time in 30+ years that I stood in the “H” lineup to receive my package.  As I slipped the Harvard  lanyard over my neck, I felt an instant surge of intelligence.  



The conference organizers opened the conference in a room of 500+ people. It felt like home with the same comfort of that instant connection.  All the learning to soak in, integrated with coaching, research, leadership, emotional intelligence.  Susan David was acknowledged for her work on  Emotional agility


“emotionally agile people are not immune to stresses and setbacks. The key difference is they know how to gain critical insight about situations and interactions from their feelings, and use this knowledge to adapt, align their values and actions, and make changes to bring the best of themselves forward.”

Being emotional agile is living in possibility.  Regardless of what emotions, thoughts and stories present themselves in our every minute of every day, there is always a possibility of a way through.

“possibility is just one sentence away”

~Roz Zander

The morning continued with a panel of top level executives sharing their experiences of their journeys and the impact of coaching.  It was inspiring to listen to (mostly women) executives share their passion for leadership and the change they make in their world.  I was deeply touched by their sense of connection to ‘giving back’ and other forms of fundraising for various charities and organizations.  Listening to them, The 3C’s of leadership emerged:  Compassion, Courage and Curiosity.  These 3C’s of leadership were first introduce to me by a colleague several years ago and continue to be a cornerstone of leadership.  The women on this panel all radiated the 3C’s and perhaps a fourth: Confidence.  They were unfazed by any barrier or obstacle in their way.  With each problem, emerged a possibility.


The next session I attended was “The Entrepreneurial Coach” with Dorie Clark.  There are not a lot of people named Dori in the world so I chuckled as she was being introduced, hearing my name over and over again.  I am not sure people with the name Sarah or Megan or Jessica have the same reaction..maybe they do.  (But despite the popularity of Finding Dory, it is not a common name.)   I was intrigued by her presentation.   Ideas, thoughts and visions swirled in my head like it was Christmas Eve. So man great take-aways from her talk about multiple streams of income and diversifying services and offerings, within the same ‘flywheel’


“The Flywheel analogy captures brilliantly the dynamic of implementing strategy through thousands and thousands of small results aligned in the same direction.”

~Jim Collins



As I thought about my flywheel, I began to vision possibility.  A clearer path forward emerged and validated the notion that my services and practices are in alignment with my vision.  I am a creator of healing spaces…both the physical environment, and holding space that allows people to live their authentic self, cultivate a sense of calm and inner peace:


“A Path inward to a truer you”

~Dori Howard 

The endnote speakers of the first day were  Ben and Roz Zander, The Art of Possibility. They were once married and now are really exceptional working partners.  She refers to him as her “wasband”.  She is his coach, and he conducts orchestras.  I remember first watching his TED talk many years ago and sharing his passion for music and leadership with my late brother, Mitch.  Mitch was also a conductor and inspired many young people to be more than they may have imagined.  He instilled possibility in his young musicians and many more. 


The second day brought another fantastic agenda of brilliant speakers and inspiring conversation.  Five years ago, I attended this conference and wrote on a paper napkin:



I didn’t know back then what or who it would involve, but I created this vision and lived in this possibility.  My napkin dream came true.  In the afternoon, I presented preliminary findings from a study I am involved with:  Coaching Parents with Type 1 Diabetes study.  It was well received and I  felt so energized and honoured to present this innovative work.


The endnote speaker of the day was Richard Boyatzis.  I first heard him speak at this conference 5 years ago.  I have read a few of his books, many articles and participated in an online course by him on Emotional Intelligence .  His materials and research have been integrated into the leadership and coaching programs I offer.  His work on emotional intelligence and the stress and renewal response offers an evidenced based approach to cultivating mindfulness, hope and compassion to activate the parasympathetic nervous system to achieve a state of inner peace.  Inner peace is a state of becoming that allows one to process daily occurrences, the range of emotions and problems that arise and manage to move through them.


“Peace is the result of retraining your mind to process life as it is, rather than as you think it should be.”

—Wayne W. Dyer


Activating the parasympathetic nervous system is what happens during savasana; or when that flood of fear and panic race in your body when a patient crashes and you can mount a calm, competent and thoughtful response to help them;  or when someone cuts you off while driving and you are able to calmly signal and move in the next lane; or when your boss yells at you and you notice your internal experience and know what you need in that moment.


 I left Boston exhilarated, motivated, validated and inspired to live in possibility.

As I boarded the plane back to Vancouver, I reflected on the conference and all the learning I have done over the years related to emotional agility.  I have had my share of emotional hijacking in my life and it still happens but to a lesser degree.  Daily yoga and meditation practices have definitely helped me tune into my internal experience and show up a shade more.. authentic, a shade more.. calm, and a shade more.. collected.

As I reflected on this notion of possibility thinking, it struck me how aligned this is with my Kundalini yoga practice, emotional intelligence training, my coaching practice and the retreats I offer.   The common denominator is to cultivate a meditative or neutral mind to become more emotionally agile.  As our state of inner peace is nourished, our ability to stay present, calm and focused flourishes..

 After all, it is all about the learning.

Dori is the owner and founder of enso and lives on tranquil and beautiful Salt Spring Island.

Join us for an enso retreat

All our enso retreats include elements of cultivating emotional agility; yoga, meditations, forest bathing, beach walks, authentic conversation, nourishing food, writing, art, painting, poetry, reflection in addition to the focused content of each retreat. 

A Shade More…Enlightened- October 12-14, 2018

A Shade More…Light- October 26-28, 2018

Register Now!


Save the Dates:

A Shade More…Aquarian Teachers’ Retreat- March 8-10, 2019

A Shade More…Renewed:  Kundalini Yoga Retreat – May 9-12, 2019

A Shade More…Balanced: Biking, Hiking, Yoga Retreat -June 13-16 2019

A Shade More….Aware:  Kundalini Yoga Retreat – July 11-14, 2019


To be Decided:

A Shade More.. Liberated

A Shade More…Compassionate


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