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Building Abundance with Executive Coaching

Updated: Dec 16, 2022

A bowl full of words: puppy, music, love, art, curiosity.
The Magic Bowl Exercise: How to Create Abundance

One of the most prevalent areas that I help my executive coaching clients with is dealing with the construct of depletion and time. I often ask:

  • What do you know about time?

  • What would you replace depletion with?

The answers:

Time is fixed. And hands down depletion would be replaced by abundance. Once we agree that everyone has the same 24 hours in a day, we hone in on how those 24 hours are being spent. The refrain "I don't have enough time" or "my time is not my own" is really an allocation problem. Depletion happens when we spend our finite resource of time in ways that aren't in alignment with our purpose or our personal or organizational values. Often I hear time described as oppressive, fleeting, scarce, or fickle.

The Magic Bowl Exercise

To get to the root of what really matters, I love to do a "Magic Bowl" exercise. It is related to the post I did on Ransom Poetry, but rather than channeling your inner poet, we play with the concepts of Brother David Steindl-Rast, a Benedictine monk and teacher, whose TED talk on gratefulness has been viewed over 3 million times. Abundance occurs when joy and gratefulness meet. He describes gratitude as the moment that joy fills us up unexpectedly without warning, quite spontaneously, with no need to articulate the “why” of such joy. He uses the analogy of the cup as in “my cup runneth over.” When the cup is full of joyful or meaningful moments, it spills over sparkling with the purest of intentions, and we feel compelled to share it with others.

Building Abundance

Most leaders have learned to make the cup ever bigger never allowing it to overflow, never allowing it to spill over, always waiting for something better: the next goal, more prosperity or revenue, a more supportive team, a new skill/talent or perhaps a more ambitious strategy. When the cup becomes ever bigger, it never overflows, and the outcome is depletion. The secret to abundance is in the discipline of rightsizing your gratitude cup. Rather than making your cup big, make it small, so it spills over every day, unexpectedly.

I like to use the image created by Magic Bowls on Unsplash. I ask my clients to do the following:

  • What does abundance look like? Clip out words that represent all the things you want in your abundance cup.

  • How can you fill your bowl? This is where prioritization comes in. All the words will not fit in the image of the magic bowl. What is the most important? What will sustain you?

  • What words did you take from someone else's bowl? If they aren't yours, feel free to put them in a cup in the background. You don't have to carry everyone's bowl.

  • What words spill out of your bowl to be shared with others (or what brings you joy)?

  • If time wasn't heavy (oppressive, scarce, etc.), what would it be? Capture that concept in your collage.

The Power of Small Joyful Moments

The outcome of the exercise is to remind yourself to keep your magic bowl small enough so that joyful moments can abound and you prioritize and allocate your time for the values and activities that manifest those moments. The exercise is both powerful and transformational. Thank you to CreativeMornings for the prompt on abundance and the reminder that we build abundance by sharing our creative insights.

Break the Tape Leadership helps leaders unleash creativity and potential in themselves and the organizations they lead to generate meaningful momentum. (And we transform depletion into abundance to help your "cup runneth over.")

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