Posts Tagged ‘Coaching’
I’ve always been very interested in the art and science of hypnotherapy, and I’ve often considered getting trained myself. But it can take years to master; and even then not everyone can do it well. It takes a special kind of person and very skilled practitioner to give you the kind of experience that can literarily change your life in a very short period of time.
I’ve recently been chatting with Xavier Nathan from Setanta Hypnotherapy Clinic, way across the world from me on the Isle of Man, who really is a master of his craft. I’ve learned so much after surfing his website, and I’ve included the link here for you to check out as well if you’re interested.
What’s also really cool is that Xavier and his wife, Mary, offer a bunch of free hypnotherapy downloads to check out before buying their products or services. So make sure you download them, and check out the videos while you’re there – very cool stuff
We all have certain goals and dreams, but for some reason we often keep them to ourselves. Here are three great reasons why you should share them out loud:
First off, when we share our goals and dreams with others we solicit their feedback about them. This isn’t always helpful, of course, but it certainly can be. People often have very good ideas if we give them a chance. They might have a resource we could use to help get us closer to the goal, or they might have a suggestion that might make it easier to attain.
Even the negative feedback we receive can be of great help. I’ve known many people who did something because they were told they couldn’t: someone’s negative feedback caused a sense of anger that spurred them to succeed.
I also have a personal example of this: I had written an article recently about taking action, and about how I had left the success of my coaching business to chance for too long. What I didn’t write in that article, though, was that a big catalyst for my renewed action was actually a past mentor’s feedback that I was more suited to “getting a job” than trying to build a business.
I didn’t care for that feedback, to say the least, but I’m glad that she gave it to me. The anger I felt from it fuelled me to put everything I had into my business – pretty much to prove her wrong. And two years later, I’m not too shy to tell you that I consider myself quite successful by any measure.
The second good reason for sharing your goals and dreams out loud is that doing so fosters clarity. Our goals and dreams tend to stay very vague when they’re trapped inside our heads; but the act of telling someone about these goals and dreams means first having to make sense of and articulate them for yourself.
And the clearer your goals are, the more attainable they become: it’s when we can clearly understand and visualize our goals that we can start to devise ways to move toward them.
3. Making it real
Last but not least, stating our goals and dreams out loud makes them real. When we declare what it is that we really want, we’re forced to take our goals and dreams more seriously. And it goes without saying that we have a better chance of getting reaching our goals if we see them as something more than just a fanciful wish.
So whatever you want is yours for the taking. And you deserve it. Ask yourself what you really want from your life, and share your thoughts with anyone who will listen!
I’ve been reading some marketing stuff from Dan Kennedy lately, and one of the sections in that material talks about managing others’ expectations of you. This post is about my own thoughts on the topic, although I did want to share something that Dan Kennedy had referenced in his material – it was just too good to pass up:
Kennedy referred to an experiment done years ago about people’s expectations: Esteemed art critics and gallery owners were invited to an art show featuring five up-and-coming artists. They were all given information about these artists ahead of time, while they rode in limos and were wined and dined at a fancy reception.
It seems that this whole “set-up” of the artists had shaped the critics’ and gallery owners’ impressions of them before they even saw their work. This was evident because they all gave the highest marks and praise to the five new artists, even among the other twenty or so well-known artists in attendance.
What the critics and gallery owners didn’t know was that out of the five artists, only three were legit. The other two were an 8-year-old child, and an elephant who splashed paint onto the canvas with his trunk.
The point of this story is that people are going to form an opinion about you and have certain expectations of you – and that you can control these beliefs and assumptions to a great degree by “setting the stage” for them.
People often use “rules of thumb” that allow them to make quick (but often erroneous) assumptions about what they see. We can take advantage of this tendency by making it easy for them to see what they want to see.
Simply stated, as shown in the story above, you can be anyone you want to be in the eyes of another – simply by playing the part. And this is not about being deceitful, but rather about “putting your best foot forward”. By talking the talk and dressing the part (literally or figuratively), people draw conclusions about your experience, intellect, skill, and ability.
And who are you to argue with their perceptions?
So decide who you want to be in this life, and step into that role. And that’s how others will view you. Then a self-fulfilling prophecy is born: the way people view you is how they’ll treat you – and so that’s who you become.
Where can you use the 80/20 rule in your work and life?
In one part of my life I work as a consultant in the public sector. In another I work as a coach; with both life coaching and corporate clients. I also have other businesses in completely unrelated fields including pet supplies, parenting products, and nutritional supplements. The other parts of my life are spent in leisure activities with my family.
I don’t consider myself a jack of all trades/master of none, though: these endeavors were all chosen deliberately and executed carefully. Having lots of things on the go satisfies my need to stay diversified and busy (yes, I have been diagnosed with ADHD) – and I love (almost) everything I do.
Importantly, I also have time for everything I do with some to spare. This is because of the 80/20 rule.
Simply speaking, I try to focus on the 20 percent of my life and work that gives me the greatest results and enjoyment. And I try to say no to – or outsource – the other 80 percent whenever and wherever I can. Basically, I only work and spend time with the people I want to be with, and I only work on the things I want to work on.
I know that saying these things is controversial: you might be thinking that that this doesn’t apply to your life and your particular situation. That you don’t have the luxury to simply “outsource” the things you don’t want to do. That you have commitments and responsibilities…
I have commitments and responsibilities too, of course; and naturally there are things I can’t outsource or say no to either. But it’s all about where I choose direct my energy and focus: I know I can’t always live my life in the 20 percent – but I also know that if I try, I’ll consistently be a lot closer than if I don’t.
(You might also say that the ability to do only what one wants depends on circumstance and luck. This is true to a large degree – but I also believe that luck is to be found in the intersection of preparation and opportunity…)
So the purpose of this article is to encourage to you to prioritize the things you really want in your life, and what you really want to be doing – and then looking honestly at where you can unload some of the 80 percent that doesn’t fit with your vision.
To start, look for those “big-lever” changes that you can make in your life. They don’t need to be complicated or overwhelming: they include any adjustments, large or small, that have a big impact.
A big-lever change could certainly be a change of careers, for example, or it could be something much smaller that has a domino-effect in your life. A simple “big-lever” change could be something as easy as outsourcing the task of unloading the dishwasher: if it reduces stress at the end of a busy day, and gives you time for something more enjoyable, then it’s certainly worth the extra 5 dollars in allowance!
But that’s just one small example – and there are many. Where else can you use the 80/20 rule in your life? Where else can you focus on the 20 percent of your life and work that gives you the biggest results and greatest satisfaction? And where can you begin to unload the rest?
I had decided to reach out to more people by sharing my thoughts and writing some articles; and after doing it for some time now I’d certainly recommend it. Putting up a quick blog with WordPress is both free and easy, and we all have something to say. We all have our stories and ideas, and there certainly are people who want to hear them.
So I’m encouraging everybody reading this to do it as well! I for one would love to hear what’s on your mind!
Funny thing, though: I’m not very tech-savvy at all, and I just realized now that there have been many replies posted to my articles. The challenge for me now is to figure them out: I’m not sure what’s for real, and what’s spam! (I’ll admit that I’m rather naive with all this as well
So if you’ve posted an honest response and I haven’t seen it until now, I apologize! And if you’ve posted an honest response and it got directed to the spam folder, then I apologize for that as well! And if some of the remaining comments are simply spam, then oh well. Live and learn
There are many different styles of leadership with varying degrees of effectiveness. A people-centered approach is probably best in general; but only if partnered with sound knowledge and skill, and delivered in an authoritative style (a strong focus on relationship with the ability to appropriately set limits and apply corrective action).
I’m currently coaching someone I consider to be one of the best leaders with whom I’ve had the pleasure to work. I don’t know if she actually knows that she’s as good as she is: she’s relatively new to her position and has lots of questions and doubts about her style. But this type of questioning is common and expected for a new leader, and I fully expect her confidence to rise steadily with experience. I also sincerely hope, though, that she never loses the habit of self-reflection.
I’ve always had the impression that this woman is a strong leader, despite some of her doubts in specific areas. It was when I reviewed the 360 degree feedback from her team, though, that I realized how much of a star she really is. She has mastered that difficult balance between people skills and technical skill; between relationship development and task orientation. She is truly an authoritative leader who knows what she’s doing.
On the contrary, I’m also aware of leaders who appear oblivious to the fact that they’re not particularly great at the people side of things. They may be good at the technical aspects of their jobs, but they tend to rub others the wrong way. They are often closed to others’ ideas and they have difficulty sharing credit.
I think this happens for different reasons: they might be aware of their shortcomings but don’t particularly care; they may be aware of their shortcomings but don’t have the skills to change; or they might actually believe this style is effective. My guess, also, is that these types of leaders are often (but not always) masking a deeper sense of insecurity with an authoritarian style of interaction. Regardless of the reasons for the authoritarian style of leadership, it’s clear that these leaders don’t – at least actively and openly – question their leadership.
We might not all possess the leadership finesse of my client, but we can always continue to grow when we’re willing to engage in honest self-reflection. I believe that my client is a natural leader to a great degree – but I also believe that she’s as strong as she is because she questions herself.
It becomes increasingly difficult to question ourselves as our confidence and competence grows: self-reflection is often done in response to self-doubt and fear of failure. But to be effective leaders we need to reclaim and hold the assumption that we can always be better.
During the last few weeks I’ve spoken with both Christmas-lovers and Christmas-haters; which has caused me to reflect on the dichotomy of the season.
On the one hand we’re taught that Christmas is a time to spread joy and share with others. It’s a reason to spend quality time with loved ones, and to take a time-out from the routine of everyday life. Christmas is a time to engage with the comforts of tradition; whether celebrating the birth of a baby in a manger or the arrival of a jolly soul in a red suit.
For many, though, the other side isn’t as nice. For one, it’s a very busy time of year when they really just want to relax. The pressures of getting the right gifts, fighting the crowds to do so, and the demands on their time with family commitments can be overwhelming.
And then there are the problems many of us see on a larger scale: the billions of dollars we spend as a nation on the things we don’t need, and the real unhappiness this season actually brings to many. We go beyond our financial means to feed the machine that produces the goods designed to keep us distracted and entertained – with the empty promises of filling all our spiritual and emotional voids. The things we consume in alarming quantities at Christmas are largely produced at the earth’s expense; assembled by the unseen others who aspire to reach the level of material comfort we enjoy via the lottery of birth. We fear that our children are becoming greedy as they’re relentlessly marketed to in every TV commercial and storefront window; and we spend all this money while millions continue to starve worldwide.
But then, again, we put all this aside and return to the comforts of our own existence. We delight in the smiles on our children’s faces as they unwrap their gifts on Christmas morning. We catch up with old friends, sing some carols, enjoy a hearty meal with all the trimmings, and give thanks for our blessings.
Given these dichotomies, its little wonder that the holiday season is so stress-provoking for many.
It’s important to focus on the things we can control versus the things we can’t. To maintain a healthy and helpful perspective, it’s a good idea to be aware of both sides of a coin – and to understand that dichotomies can and do exist. We can experience things like joy, excitement, stress, and injustice simultaneously; but we need to do so consciously: focusing on what’s good about the season while acknowledging those things that cause our dissonance. By doing so we can deliberately choose our actions: engaging fully in the things that feed our spirit, and doing what we can to help remediate the rest.
I’m the first to admit that I’m not a natural-born writer. The words don’t always come easily, and I sometimes don’t know exactly what it is I’m trying to say. So why am I writing this article? It’s primarily because I want to: I do have things to say, and I do want to share them with others. I’ve also decided that writing articles is good for my business because it helps to keep me in front of potential clients and customers.
But because my love of writing is not as strong as I wish it was, I don’t typically jump all over the chance to sit at the keyboard for a half-hour trying to think of what to say. So despite all the great motivations I have for writing this article, there is another reason it’s actually getting done: it’s because I’m accountable to someone besides myself to do it.
I made a commitment to my friend, Mark, that I would write an article once a month for his online newspaper. This has proven to be a win-win situation: Mark gets content for his paper, and I have a structure that helps me to do something I want to do (but doesn’t carry the inherent reward-power to allow me do it on my own).
If left to my own devices I probably would write regularly for a few months, then it might become more sporadic, then it might dwindle down to nothing at all. But because of my commitment to Mark I’m sitting here now writing this article. And I’m glad I am: I’ll get to experience a sense of accomplishment, and I’ll get to continue to share my thoughts with others, as well as continue to keep my name out there.
So I know that accountability is a powerful structure when one wants to get things done. It’s also free and easy, and can help with a host of behaviours.
A friend of mine, to give another example, has had a hard time quitting smoking. He’d tried it many times and always started up again. But when he was truly ready to quit, he shared his intention with his children. He knew, as hard as it would be, that once he had told his kids and got their hopes up he would never light up again. And he didn’t. He was truly ready to quit, but didn’t feel he could quite do it on his own. He was wise enough to leverage the structure of accountability.
What have you been putting off that you know you want or need to do? What self-motivation strategies do you employ? Could you also leverage the structure of accountability? Could you offer to be the one that others could be accountable to?
There seems to be a lot written about mindfulness lately, and so I’ve sort of steered away from the topic. But I was reminded again recently about how important a topic it really is: how one simple practice can make such a difference to one’s well-being.
I have a friend who has been having trouble sleeping due to stress and ruminating at night, and when I had suggested mindfulness mediation her response reminded me how many people tend to see this practice as new-age ‘hocus pocus’. The fact is, though, that this practice has been used for thousands of years; long before the western ‘new-agers’ ever got ahold of it.
Mindfulness is a simple concept; although not always easy to employ. It simply means (according to at least one definition) just being here right now. Non-judgmentally being with this moment. And this moment. And this moment…
Our bodies do not easily differentiate fantasy from reality, so when we’re ruminating about the days’ events or about what’s going to play out tomorrow, or bodies respond as if the mental scenario we’re playing out is really happening. The body then goes into its stress response and we can’t sleep. Or digest well. Or relax. Or think clearly.
So during the day it helps to remind ourselves to just be right here right now. If we take a moment, use the breath as an anchor to just be really present (just observing the breath going all the way in and all the way out, without trying to control it in any way), we realize that literally nothing is really going on at this particular moment: the stress we feel is purely a manifestation of what’s going on in our head at that moment.
There are many ways to cultivate mindfulness in daily life (and it does take ongoing practice), but I won’t get into them for the purposes of this article. I will, however, go back to the topic of sleep and share a mindfulness-based exercise for calming the mind at night (when ordinary problems appear much bigger), so that we can get the rest and repair we need.
I had been giving a workshop sometime ago about sleep, when one of the participants shared a great strategy. It’s something I continue to use regularly, and I wish I knew who he was so that I could give him proper credit. He did not call it mindfulness meditation, but as he explained the simple technique I knew that that was exactly what it was:
The next time you have a hard time sleeping, particularly because you’re ruminating, the first rule is to remember that just by lying there you’re getting most of the metabolic rest you need. So don’t stress about trying to sleep. Don’t even try to sleep – that only makes things worse. Rather, try slowly and persistently saying ‘Goodnight’ to every little piece of your body: “Goodnight toes. Goodnight balls of the feet. Good night tops of the feet. Goodnight ankles. Goodnight calf muscles…” You get the picture. And when you start to drift off or wander, force yourself to continue with the exercise.
This exercise may sound silly, but it’s very powerful in its simplicity. What you’re doing is automatically relaxing every part of your body simply by focusing on it. And when the body is relaxed, rest comes more easily. The other thing you’re doing – and this is where the mindfulness comes in – is stilling the mind. When you’re focused on each part of your body, you’re not thinking about the day or about what’s in store tomorrow. And when the mind is calm, rest comes more easily.
So if you find yourself stressed from time to time (as we all do), try cultivating more mindfulness during the day: just stop and be present with whatever you’re doing, so that you can make clearer choices. And if you find yourself carrying it with you to bed, try this simple exercise before reaching for the sleeping pills or the bottle of wine!
Research has shown that people perform at higher levels when they are coached as opposed to “managed”. So, you might be asking, what is coaching, in a nutshell? What are some of the tools I can use as a leader? How, specifically, do I have a “coaching” conversation?
Coaching is about inspiring and empowering others through meaningful conversations and effective questioning. It trusts that people possess the wisdom they need to discover and realize their own potential. Coaching meets a certain need for many people: it’s a forum for objective conversation and full exploration. It’s a rare opportunity for an individual to focus solely on him or herself for a full hour on a regular basis. It’s a conversation different from what you would have with colleagues, family, or friends. It’s a place to get support when counselling isn’t really the answer. It’s for people who are already doing well in many areas, but are seeking renewed opportunities for growth.
Coaching is both a science and an art. It’s about the combination of theory, practice, and interpersonal finesse. There are some good coach training programs that address these components in depth – which one article on the topic could never hope to duplicate.
There are, nonetheless, some coaching concepts of which to be aware: some ‘nuts and bolts’ that you can begin to incorporate into your own style of conversation and leadership. These, in my humble opinion, are the essentials:
Most importantly, you need to engage the interchange from a place of genuine curiosity: asking questions (and more questions) without anticipating or providing the answers, and listening carefully without assuming or rehearsing. It’s not about your interpretations; it’s about the coachee finding his or her own answers as you ask the questions that foster the search.
This is often easier said than done, but it’s a skill to be refined.
The other components of a typical coaching conversation, on top of active listening and purposeful questioning, include supporting and acknowledging, making requests, and providing the structure of accountability (the coachee is ultimately accountable only to himself, of course, but tends to stay in action when he knows that he will be reporting back to you on his successes).
These components in action might look something like this – a basic six-step coaching model:
1. Setting the stage:
- Why are we having this conversation? What brought you here?
- What are our respective roles?
2. Formulating and focusing the issues:
- What’s going on?
- What specifically do you want to change or accomplish?
3. Asking questions for further clarification and deeper exploration:
- What does that really mean?
- What area(s) do you want to work on first?
- What is important about this to you?
4. Developing goals through solution-focused questions:
- What will it look like when it’s how you want it to be?
- What exactly will you be thinking/feeling/doing when you reach your desired state?
5. Developing an action plan (making requests and offering feedback if appropriate):
- What do you need to do to make this happen? What strengths do you need to draw on, and what supports will you need?
- What is the first step?
- How will you know that you’re moving toward your goal?
- Can I ask you to experiment with…?
6. Following up (the process begins again)
- What went well last week, and why? Congratulations! How can you do more of that?
- Where did you get stuck? Why?
- What do you most want to focus on now?
- What do you most need to do to keep moving forward?
The important thing to remember throughout the process is that the relationship is key, and that you don’t need to have the answers. Getting caught up in doing it the ‘right way’ and worrying too much about the questions you ask will only impede the process. These concerns quickly become non-issues as you develop trust and rapport, and when you truly approach the conversation with genuine interest, concern, and selflessness.