Great Inc. Article about the Value of Coaching

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

You can make your relationships flourish!

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My chapter of the International Coach Federation, of which I’m currently President, just held their annual educational retreat called FLOURISH! The educational content was focused around how we can truly flourish as coaches. Of course, as coaches, our ability to be our best reflects right back to our clients. How can we best serve them and help them achieve true greatness and, well, flourish?

Of all of the sessions, the one that stuck with me the most was about how the trusting relationship built between coach and client creates this “sweet spot” in which roadblocks fade away and clients can see the road before them more clearly. (I’m a metaphoric coach…it seems to work its way into everything.) We know from experience though that building trust takes time but there are a few things that can be done to help it along:

Know and accept who you are. It’s difficult trusting others when you don’t know and trust yourself. If you’re constantly questioning your place in the relationship and trying to make space for yourself then there won’t be room for anyone else.

Accept the other person for who they are. If you’re always trying to reimage someone else, you’re basically saying to yourself that they’re somehow not good enough. You won’t trust them and they’ll also sense the nonacceptance which will prevent them from accepting themselves.

Be honest and truthful. This should be a “no brainer” but if someone learns you’re not being truthful, that trust is destroyed. Prevent that from ever happening by always being truthful. Even an uncomfortable truth will always turn out better for you than holding something back.

Know that everyone has incredible value and purpose. You are worthy of the trust of others and that holds for them too.

Keeping these in mind in any interaction, whether with a family member, colleague, coach or client, will help you develop that trusting relationship and allow you and that connection to flourish.

Photo credit: Napafloma-Photographe / Foter / CC BY

Just Do It!

OK, he’s maybe a little……intense? But he’s right. What are you waiting for?! I love this video. It sums up the entire idea of coaching in about a minute.

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

Have Courage and Don’t Wait Until it’s Too Late

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I attended a memorial service over the weekend. It was very informal being a casual gathering of friends and family. It had an “open mic” format where, through the course of the evening, anyone could step up to the microphone and offer a few words about the departed. A few family members gave their stories early on and then things waned as an awkward silence set in. Eventually, everyone went back to chatting quietly at their individual tables.

After about 30 minutes, a very tiny, timid and teary-eyed woman approached the microphone. In a quiet, but still very audible voice, she started by saying that she was ashamed to be at the service. She went on to explain that she was the departed’s half-sister. (A few gasps went out indicating this wasn’t a widely known relative.) She had never been a large part of this person’s life but, now that she had heard some of the stories, she was begging to hear more. She encouraged others to come up and say just a few words about her sister so that she could learn more about what she had missed from not being more involved in this person’s life.

I thought two things; what guts that took and how this was a classic “you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone” moment.

We all lost someone over the past week—Maya Angelou. Her insight into courage opened the eyes of many to their full potential.

One isn’t necessarily born with courage, but one is born with potential. Without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can’t be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest.

I’m sure this woman shows courage in other aspects of her life too but I wonder what kept her from connecting with her sister more deeply when it was something she obviously wanted. I think her initial statement gives a clue. Our fear of rejection and shame often holds us back from pursuing things we want. It isn’t until the need or desire for what we want exceeds the fear that we can pursue our dreams.

If there’s something you’re striving for, whether it’s a personal change or a mended relationship, envision the pleasure of having met your goal and consider the risk of delaying in your pursuit. Put the negative self-talk and the idea of shame aside and have courage. You can succeed but you’ll never know for sure until you try. Don’t wait until it’s too late!

Photo credit: Madame Eleonora / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA 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!