Live Your Genius!


Deborah Hartmann Preuss, CPCC is a Life Coach with a heart for culture shifters. As an Agile Coach, Deb experimented with Co-Active Coaching, and found her true calling! So now, at, she uses one-on-one phone coaching to help change leaders ready for more joy and impact.

This post uses her favourite card from the InspireMe! deck that she and Lyssa Adkins recently published.

Do you ever feel you need smoothing out?

You know the feeling: life would be so much smoother without these rough edges you bring to the work. Ah, if only you were perfect… yeah, THEN you’d really kick ass.

It’s a familiar refrain, and one that actually points the way to greatness. In my phone-coaching, I help change agents and culture-shifters turn “rough edges” into superpowers. Together we take a deeper look at those annoying “unique” (a.k.a. weird) things that make you and others uncomfortable, those old stumbling blocks in your comfort zone. We discover how they actually support your own unique way of flying… and suddenly you’re off, watching obstacles shrink as you soar over them in new ways. Ways that feel great, by the way.

( click to enlarge )
( click to enlarge )

That’s why I love this image, which I found while working with Lyssa Adkins on the InspireMe! deck this summer. (Click the image to view a larger version, if it's not readable).

What if this fish had managed to smooth out its rough edges? Sure, it would look more like a “real fish”, and schooling would be so much smoother… but, oh, what would be lost!

I've got rough edges too!

If you know me, this comes as no surprise! And since every coach needs a coach, I’ve been exploring my own entrepreneurial “rough edges” in the past 18 months, with the help of various coaches. And my coaches include my teachers, my partners, and also my students… when you want to grow, lessons and teachers are everywhere! It’s been a challenging and also rich time.

What did I learn? While the marketing gurus go on and on about the importance of “content marketing”, I’ve been discovering that, in fact, what I offer is a “container”. I excel at “holding space”for people to let their own great stuff happen.  In one-on-one coaching, it’s holding space for you to discover your superpowers and put them to work. In Opening Space it’s supporting complexity and helping innovation flourish. And at CoachingCocktails it’s making virtual space for vibrant community … and whatever emerges out of that! When I do this work it is appreciated and fruitful. It’s still work, occasionally long hours, but oh so rewarding and joyful!

It’s not easy – but it’s Great!

Case in point: it’s been such a pleasure to work with Lyssa and her husband John on this card deck, called InspireMe! The image above is one of the 50 cards in our new coaching card deck for Agile coaches, culture-shifters and change agents. In this project I let go of what I do with difficulty (I’m dyslexic, for starters) and I contributed what I excel at: inviting growth, exploring metaphors, and creating unexpected images that make you go “hmm”. Lyssa brought some of her many strengths: brilliant concepts, short pithy prose, and laser-like focus. John’s willingness to speak up (when two talkative women were filling the airwaves!) allowed him contribute his great skill of really seeing and evaluating, which increased the quality of our images and texts. Together, we created something that really matters to us, that helps fulfill our dreams for the world, and that none of us could have created alone, had we tried to play all the roles ourselves.

The bonus: working with partners created so much joyful teamwork! My gaps were accepted, and compensated for by others’ skills, and when I unthinkingly filled their “gaps”, their appreciation helped me understand what I do well, and so I could develop more of it. Being imperfect made opportunities for partners to practice their strengths. And it turns out: some of my rough edges are actually fledgling superpowers.

A resource for all us flying fish.

You can see, brevity isn’t my strong suit. But it doesn’t have to be: my coach training has elevated my listening superpowers. And while working on this deck, Lyssa was a great balance for me: she's a champ at focus and brevity - so I could contribute in my own ways: my "picture’s worth a thousand words” in this deck!

If you, too, are working on using your strengths, I invite you to put these images and words on your desk, and dip in for encouragement, support and a new growth challenge. There’s plenty here to last all year… and 10 spare cards to share with those you support and encourage.

Oh, you geniuses! I can’t wait to see your face when you figure out what your 'rough edges' are great for! (Drop us a line here when you do, will ya?)

DebCross-posted from my blog at