FOCUS: Navigating Your Experience

DISCIPLINES: Mental Models, Personal Mastery

“All we require to successfully navigate the quality of an experience is to predetermine how we are going to feel about it once we have passed through it.”
—Michael Brown


My Uncle Buddy is an 85 years old, eccentric hermit. He actually prefers no visitors, but when I couldn’t reach him on the phone, I decided a visit was in order. Since he lives in California only a couple hundred miles from where I was spending Christmas, I planned a three day visit then. I knew it would be challenging, so I used the Navigating Your Experience model described by Michael Brown. I have found it to be a simple, profound method for moving successfully through all kinds of situations, from challenging phone calls to major presentations. Brown, an unknown Australian, used this method to get his book, The Presence Process, published by a major publisher.

Here’s how it goes: First you decide how you want to feel when you’ve successfully completed whatever it is you’re working on. The feeling is important, because you come back to it anytime during the process when things get difficult. Then you plan the details of what you’re going to do, and then you do it.

1. Emotional – the feeling you want to have when it’s over
2. Mental – the steps you’ll take, or the plan
3. Physical – doing it

Brown ties his model to developmental stages, and says we never would have grown up if we’d skipped #1 and moved straight into #2 as babies!

So here’s how it worked in my visit with Uncle Buddy. Before we went (husband Hal went with me for moral support) I got very clear about how I wanted to feel at the end of the 3 days. I’ll use words here, but what I wanted was the feeling of being reconnected with him, the feeling I had been helpful, and assurance he was safe and cared for, at least for now.

We had to bang on his window to wake him up. Since he lives mostly on Rice Krispy Treats and milk, with occasional visits to Burger King, he is gaunt, to say the least. He’s stopped shaving and cutting his hair, so he looks like a wild man, but he greeted us warmly. He had trouble understanding why his apartment needed to be cleaned. His lamps were all broken, so he had only one functioning light bulb. His refrigerator had died. I went back to the way I wanted to feel when the visit was over. And kept enjoying the small moments of reconnection we experienced over and over. We were able to get the apartment cleaned, new lamps, and a new refrigerator.

When, 15 minutes before we planned to leave, his hot water heater began spewing steam and hot water, I was glad I had that feeling to hold onto. When two big fire trucks arrived, and all the neighbors came around to offer help and see what was going on, Uncle Buddy sat in his rocker smiling. I’d navigated the experience successfully. The fire trucks were just a bonus!

The Process in a Nutshell

  1. Imagine the way you want to feel when you’ve successfully navigated the experience.

  2. Make a plan

  3. Do it

  4. When difficulties arise, as they will, go back in your mind to #1

Coaching Question

Where might you try navigating your experience?

  • In response to a challenging situation?
  • To meet a goal?
  • To run a great meeting?
  • To complete a difficult conversation or phone call?
  • To have a wonderful day?


  • Please join me for a 45-minute telegathering to share about navigating our experiences. Call Tuesday, March 24 (you’ll have lots of time to practice) at noon Eastern (11:00 a.m. Central, 10:00 a.m. MT, 9:00 a.m. Pacific) 1-623-218-1094 PIN 968#. No need to register….just call at that time!

Sharon Eakes | 720 Maple Lane | Sewickley, PA 15143

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720 Maple Lane, Sewickley, PA 15143
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