Great Inc. Article about the Value of Coaching

http://www.inc.com/clate-mask/why-every-entrepreneur-needs-a-coach.html

Set Boundaries with your Employer

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I just read a post on a very respected time management blog about checking into your work email on Sunday to be more productive. Um, NO!

You work hard at showing your value to your employer and you want to be there for others but you also need some boundaries. If you start responding to your work emails on Sunday, over time the boss will start to wonder why you don’t bother on Saturday. Then Friday night. Suddenly, you’re on 24/7 call when you never signed up for that gig.

The need for work-life balance is a real thing. Your employer pays you a check but they’re not the one your kids need to tuck them in at night or your significant other looks to for attention. You also need time to evolve to be the genuine and unique person you’re meant to be. You need time to write, paint, read, create, dream; whatever else you’re meant to do that isn’t part of your day job.

Make sure you and your boss are on the same page as to what’s expected of you outside of normal work hours. If it isn’t spelled out explicitly in your job description, have a frank discussion with them. If you have personal commitments outside of work (and yes, you’re allowed to have a life outside of work) make sure your employer is well aware of your schedule.

If your explanation carries no weight, you always have a choice.

I know of a very successful executive that had been with their organization for years. Towards the end of their career, with a number of years behind them to have shown their worth and commitment to the organization, they needed to adjust their schedule to care for an ailing spouse. They had a new, up-and-coming boss that started questioning their commitment. The new boss couldn’t understand how the employee’s spouse was more important than the organization. Really?! At this point you have to question the direction in which the organization is going when the fundamental concept of family no longer has meaning. This individual made the right choice. They left to live their life.

I’m seeing an alarming trend with my coaching clients where “work” and “life” are one in the same. It seems trite but ask yourself this question; are you living to work or working to live? Working through prioritization exercises and communication tactics, I help people live their purposeful and authentic life. It’s something to which everyone is entitled and it all starts with setting those boundaries at work.

Photo credit: Trois Têtes (TT) / Foter / CC BY-NC

How NOT to be a B**** at Work

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I work with a lot of women in high-powered positions. A common theme that comes out in our coaching sessions is that they’re afraid of coming off as a bitch in the workplace.

It’s an unfortunate reality. Women that are intelligent, driven and have high expectations are often seen as bossy or bitchy in the workplace. It’s amazing that similar individuals that happen to have a Y-chromosome are seen as a powerhouse. I’ve found this to be particularly acute in the high-tech industry where female leaders are rare and the front-line male employees tend to be somewhat socially uncomfortable in their relationships with women. These are broad generalizations but they’ve proven themselves out over the course of time.

Working with these female leaders, I’ve come to respect their dedication and empathize with their frustration. What keeps them from being treated like their male counterparts?

Through the successful outcomes my female execs have reached, I think I may have discovered the key. The secret to not being the bitch at work is to stop THINKING of yourself as a bitch.

This is going to sound over-simplified, but it seems to actually work. Once my clients change their frame of reference from “I’m afraid of being a bitch” (you project what you think) to “I’m a confident, capable and driven individual, just like any of my male counterparts,” magical things start to happen. I don’t know if there’s some actual re-wiring that takes place in their brain but their outward demeanor changes. Instead of being seen as searching for approval or demanding respect for their authority, they simply take charge and get the job done. Their subordinates seem to notice the difference and respond accordingly. I’ve seen really desperate situations get turned around almost overnight with a change in perspective by the female leader.

If you’re a woman responsible for leading unresponsive males, how have you handled the situation? How have you taken the lead without being seen as a “bitch?”

Photo credit: le temple du chemisier / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

Use Your Gifts

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It’s not uncommon to receive a gift so special that you’re actually afraid to use it. Maybe it’s a fancy spa set with really nice bath salts or a box of expensive cigars. You think “I’ll save it for a special occasion” or “I don’t want to go through it all, I want to make it last” so the gift sits there in the jar or box waiting for a time that you feel is appropriately noteworthy to enjoy it.

My question is, what are you waiting for? What happens if you run out of time and never get the chance to enjoy the gift? Would the idea of saving it for a “special” occasion seem like a good idea at that point?

I’m enjoying such a gift as I write this and I’m thinking that it might be easier if we make every moment special so we can enjoy our gifts all the time. Or is it the other way around? Every moment becomes special as we enjoy our gifts?

So, I started talking about holiday gifts. Go back and read the title of this post. This is actually a thinly veiled attempt to get you to think about something else with a coming new year. Wait for it….got it? What’s stopping you from using ALL your gifts right now?

Photo credit: Tamurello / IWoman / CC BY-NC-SA

Time for a Change

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It’s the end of the year and my phone is ringing off the hook. It’s peak season for coaches because, as we end the year, many are looking back and realizing they didn’t make the best use of the past year and want help moving forward. Many feel it’s time for a change.

Before you make that jump, here’s one important question to ask yourself. Am I making a change for myself or someone else?

Coaches turn down a lot of potential clients because of their answer to this last question. You might be completely satisfied with your life but feel outside pressure from parents, a spouse or work colleagues to “do more” but if the desire isn’t genuinely yours then coaching isn’t going to help you one bit. In fact, the coaching experience would just be an exercise in frustration for both you and the coach.

To find out if you’re ready for a change, ask yourself these three questions:

  • If I knew today was my last day, could I say I’m satisfied with what I’ve done?
  • Am I doing all I could with my life right now?
  • Can I afford to wait another year to “do more?”

If you answered No to any of the above questions, then it might be time for a change.

So, where do you want to go now? Here’s an exercise I use with a lot of my clients. While you won’t have the benefit of interacting with a coach, it might help you gain some clarity.

Relax in a quiet room with your eyes closed. Take a few deep breathes. Now, imagine your “perfect” (and authentic, what’s going to make you happy) life. Think about all aspects; your career, health, finances, personal relationships and even your spirituality. Think about everything in as much detail as possible.

Once you have that well planted in your mind, imagine someone just asked you this question: “You are so happy these days. You have the perfect life. How did you get where you are today?”

Now, answer the question. Out loud.

A lot of people are surprised by what comes out of their mouth. Often, this is the first time they’ve said out loud something they’ve always wanted for themselves. Or, they knew something was just “off” and this exercise helps them find the words they’ve been missing.

Now, go make everything you just said a reality!

Have a healthy, happy and successful 2015!

Photo credit: SomeDriftwood / iWoman / CC BY-NC

How Well do you Listen Between the Words?

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How well do you listen to those that report to you? I’m not talking about stopping and giving them uninterrupted time to say what they have to say. I mean, can you key into subtleties in their voice and non-verbal cues to hear what they’re really saying?

During a feedback session, an employee makes the statement that they need more money. They could honestly feel that they’re underpaid for the service they render but could it also be that they need to feel valued? Income is the most readily visible sign of value in the workplace. Your employee just might not be able to completely articulate their feelings.

An otherwise stellar employee goes through a patch of rocky performance. Their reply when coached is they have too much to do. The issue may be resources and you could start thinking about how to offload work or you can think they’re slacking. But what if you, as their manager, haven’t given them clear priorities and direction in their work?

Finally, you have an employee that simply throws up their hands and says “That’s it, I quit.” You can get indignant and take the stance of “Fine, you’re free to leave any time you want.” (Yes, there are companies like that out there.) or you can hear the cry for help in their voice. What can you do to mentor, coach and lead this person back to being a positive contributor?

Words have meaning but facial expressions and those sighs and tears in the corner of the eye mean a whole lot more!

I think we’re at a point in our society where talking about feelings and emotions in the workplace is no longer taboo. Emotional Intelligence training is popular now and that shows that soft skills are just as important in management and leadership as critical thinking and decision making. If you have a difficult time connecting with your employees’ emotions, look inward to see what might be blocking you. You might be harboring feelings about your own work that you’re afraid to face. You might also have the belief that work is no place for emotions. Whatever your roadblock, opening up to your employees will help you be a better leader.

The same is true for your significant other, family and friends. Learn to listen between the words. Open yourself up to what they’re feeling and you’ll have an easier time relating to their current state of mind and you will likely communicate in a more supportive manner.

Photo credit: DailyPic / Foter / CC BY-NC 2.0

For True Success, Look Inward First Then Choose Well

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Are you chasing after more money, a promotion or some material possession thinking that’s what’s going to make you happy? If you achieve that milestone, you’ll likely still feel unfulfilled and then you’ll set off after the next shiny object. This cycle will frustrate you and burn you out. It’s critical that you look inward to learn your desires and passions then choose to set goals around fulfilling them.

Certain things catch your eye, but pursue only those that capture the heart. -Ancient Indian Proverb

To help you focus on what’s important, consider this one question. Given unlimited time and resources and knowing there’s no way you can fail, what would you be doing with your life? Jot down your answer and think about what’s keeping you from pursuing your desire. The reason this question is so powerful is that it encompasses the three most common reasons why we forgo our wishes; we believe we don’t have the time or resources (usually money but it could be knowledge, popularity, looks, etc.) or we’re afraid of failing.

Do you have an idea as to what’s been holding you back? You may have a list of a dozen “good” reasons why you’ve given up on that dream of yours. Now here’s one more question for you; your life is full of choices…how well are you choosing?

Looking back on the choices you’ve made can be uncomfortable. However, you can be glad in knowing that they’re in the past and your next choice is still open to you. So, what will it be? Will you choose to stay right where you’re at because you don’t have something you think you need or are too afraid or will you find a way around these roadblocks you’re putting up for yourself and create the life you were meant to lead? The choice is yours.

Photo credit: h.koppdelaney / Foter / CC BY-ND 2.0,/small>

How to Make Your Own Luck

St. Patrick’s Day is just about here. You’ll see all sorts of lucky symbols and charms like horseshoes and four-leaf clovers. All with the idea of reaching that pot of gold.

What’s your particular pot o’ gold? Are you waiting for that perfect job, relationship or simple “stroke of luck?” I’ve never seen a Leprechaun so if you’re waiting for magical delivery of what you desire, you might be waiting a long time. Instead, how about taking luck into your own hands and simply make it happen?

When I work with an individual that seems to be pining for some unfulfilled need or desire, they’re usually stuck in one (or all) of the following stages of “wish fulfillment.” Here are a few ideas to help you get unstuck

Definition
You have to know which pot of gold you’re seeking. You may want greater wealth. OK, it’s not going to fall out of the sky. What can you do to reach greater wealth? Maybe it’s a better job, saving more, paying off debts; you get the picture. You need a solid destination. Think about what you really want and write that down.

Mindset
You might have a clear picture of where you want to go but also have serious doubt that you can ever get there. Think like a Leprechaun; there’s nothing stopping you from reaching your goal with the use of a little magic. Fortunately, that magic resides in all of us and that’s the ability to mold our thoughts and perceptions. Stop wishing and simply know that you’ll reach your goal when you give the process all of your positive energy. Try a little projection exercise. Write an article to be published sometime in the future; 6 months after you reach your goal. Write about how you got there and how you feel now that you’ve fulfilled your desire.

Planning
You know where you want to go and have no doubt that you can get there. Where many fall short is in planning. Look for the brightest rainbow that’s going to get you to that pot of gold. Without a solid list of tasks, completion dates and milestones, you won’t be able to measure your progress which can have a negative impact on your mindset. For this stage, simply write out your plan and commit to sticking to it. Think about finding an accountability partner to help you stay on task.

For each petal on the shamrock
This brings a wish your way –
Good health, good luck, and happiness
For today and every day.
~Author Unknown

Let me know what wishes you’ve granted yourself!

How to Succeed with a Lego Movie Mindset

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Words have power. The way we describe our environment and those that share it with us determines how we perceive the world. Our perceptions and beliefs drive our actions and our actions determine how others respond to us. Their response, guided by their own perceptions and beliefs, can reinforce our thoughts that started the whole chain of events.

To be successful, you want others to see you in a positive light. For others to perceive you well, your actions need to support this perception. For positive actions, you need to see the world and those around you positively which brings us back to words. How do you currently describe your surroundings, those you interact with and your life in general? If you take some advice from the recently released Lego Movie, you can’t help but succeed.

Everything Is AWESOME!!!

You’ll be singing that for days to come now but that might actually be a good thing! What if you could adopt this mindset that everything truly is awesome?

Here’s an experiment for you. Over the next 21-days, start your day with your first thought being Everything is Awesome! When you come across something unpleasant, it’s awesome! When something doesn’t go right, it’s awesome!

This sounds Pollyannaish, but you’re simply setting a positive framework in which to deal with the situation. You’ll still tackle it head on, but you’ll do so from a place of humor and intention instead of dread and panic. Over time, the way you address negative situations will change and it will be noticed by others. Do you think an executive would rather promote someone that can address a crisis with a sense of humor and purpose or one that stresses out and sees the event as just one more in a string of “why does this always happen to me?”

I’ll leave you with one more thought. If you made it to the end of the song, you’ll recognize it. Everything you see or think or say…that’s awesome!

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