Posts by Neil Phillips

10 Yogi Berra-isms for Coaches

yogiberraYogi Berra, one of the greatest baseball players of all time, passed away in September.  His feats as a baseball player and coach are legendary.  He still holds some records in major league baseball as a player and a coach.  He was even the inspiration for a long running cartoon character, Yogi Bear (although Hanna-Barbera denied the association for a long time).

He was also well-known for his ability to coin a phrase.  Many of his sayings have become long running punch lines.  Here are ten that offer good advice for coaches.

On the importance of deciding and acting:  When you come to a fork in the road, take it.

On driving to the end:  It ain’t over till it’s over.

On framing and reframing:  Slump? I ain’t in no slump… I just ain’t hitting.

On having goals:  You’ve got to be very careful if you don’t know where you are going, because you might not get there.

On being totally committed:  Baseball is 90% mental and the other half is physical.

On action orientation:  How can you think and hit at the same time?

On listening:  It was impossible to get a conversation going, everybody was talking too much.

On coaching silence:  You can observe a lot by just watching.

On owning the results:  I never blame myself when I’m not hitting. I just blame the bat and if it keeps up, I change bats. After all, if I know it isn’t my fault that I’m not hitting, how can I get mad at myself?

On being in the flow:  You don’t have to swing hard to hit a home run. If you got the timing, it’ll go.

Bonus:  (It fits every occasion)  If the world were perfect, it wouldn’t be.

May he long be remembered.

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What Defines Importance for You?

your authentic self

If a stranger were to watch you for a week, how would they know what is important in your life?

We all carry around a picture in our head of what’s important.  And if we talk about our values, materials wants and needs, beliefs and “why’s”, we can find a way to share that picture with someone.

My question is a little different.  If someone were to shadow you, what would they say?  How do you act towards what is important in your life?

One way they could probably tell is by the amount of time you spend on certain activities.  The assumption is that if it’s important, you spend more time doing it.  You know that doesn’t tell the whole story.

Your soul and spiritual life is important but as a percentage of time…not so much.

You spend most of your life at work.  Does that make it most important?

Can “quality time” replace “quantity of time” as a way to determine importance?  Does your passion matter?

I obviously don’t have the answers to these questions and yet I think they are worth pondering.  How will you SHOW people what’s important in your life?  When you find your answer, then your true self is obvious to everyone.

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The Language of Time

iStock_000069185021Kenneth Burke once said about humans that “Man is the symbol-using (symbol-making, symbol-misusing) animal.”  His statement is probably the most accurate when we talk about time and how we use it.  Here are three examples.

The opposite of life is not work.  It’s easy to get upset about a lack of work-life balance.  Unfortunately, the opposite of life is not work.  It’s death.  The opposite of work is non-work.  Really, isn’t the choice among work, recreation, spiritual, community, personal wellbeing, etc.?

Balance is not a static state.  We think about have work-life balance as if it were a set of weights and measures.  Take some time from this side of the scale and put it on the other and then you’ve got balance.  Unfortunately, time does not stand still.  After all, time keeps moving on.  The minute after you think you’ve achieved a state of balance, you lose it.

We don’t control time.  Time continues to do what it does despite our best efforts to manage it.  When we give up the futile effort to manage time and switch our focus to managing what we do with our time, then powerful shifts happen.

If we are really listening to Kenneth Burke, when we change our language we change our possibilities.  For example:

  • Pay attention to what you are doing. You can be so into the flow that time concerns go away.
  • Think about time as flowing. What does balance mean to you now?
  • Take a long-term perspective. How’s your balance over the course of a month?  A year?

Changing our language is not an easy task.  We’ve spent a lifetime creating these images and relationships in our heads.  How will you start to be less concerned with balance?

 

 

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Want to Add Coaching to Your Skill Set?

The next three-day intensive coaching launch is September 15-17, 2015 in Grapevine, Texas near the DFW Airport.

The easiest way to know what happens is to listen to three of our student describe the three days.

Whether your interest is in adding coaching skills to your leadership, taking your life in a new direction, or becoming a professional coach, this three-day dive into key topics will get you started as a coach. You’ll leave prepared to start coaching immediately.

This program is geared for coaches beginning their professional career and for those simply wanting to add coaching skills to their toolkit. Experienced coaches participate to refresh their knowledge base and to hone their skills. The program is approved for 16 hours of Continuing Coach Education Units (CCEU’s) with the International Coach Federation.

The program provides coaches with knowledge, skills, practice, and feedback on their coaching. The course will address specifics for running programs in person and virtually.

Participants leave the program with tools, resources, skills and practice in coaching, including:

  • An understanding of what coaching is, similarities and differences with counseling, training, mentoring, and facilitation
  • Core skills and competencies for masterful group coaching
  • Foundational principles: Learning styles, listening, asking curious powerful questions, and feedback
  • Creating Connection, Trust and Accountability
  • Exercises, Tools and Resources for Coaching
  • Working with, and engaging, different learning styles
  • Navigating Tricky Issues
  • Practice and feedback on your skills

The program includes:

  • 16 hours of training ( 15 Core Competency CCEU’s)
  • Online DiSC profile to assess your communication style
  • Experience as a coach and as a client (your first three sessions)
  • Your UCU Resource Workbook
  • Online Time Mastery profile and self-coaching application
  • Your copy of Coaching for Performance by Sir John Whitmore.
  • Your copy of The Power of TED* *The Empowerment Dynamic by David Emerald
  • New Client Welcome Forms
  • Sample Coaching Agreements
  • Small student/faculty ratio for personal attention
  • Student rates on coaching tools
  • An opportunity for you to get hands-on practice and feedback on your coaching skills

Venue: The host hotel is the SpringHill Suites, Dallas DFW Airport North/Grapevine, 2240 W. Grapevine Mills Circle Grapevine, TX 76051.  You can use this link to receive our special rate of $119 per night.

Space limited to 15 coaches.

Cost: $1250 (payable in four installments). Register with one or more colleagues and save 10% each.

Here’s what past participants have said about the program:

“This is the place to learn the skills needed for coaching.” – Diane Dieffenbach

“Completely changed my mindset on the way I view people and life.  I am a better person now.” – Megan Salmon

“DO IT!  Sooner than later ” – Darla Oehlman

“A must to take.” – Diane Engle

For more details on-line, look for the Ultimate Coach University program descriptions. We are the only ICF ACSTH program that has an emphasis in direct selling.

Contact Dana Phillips, dana@ultimatecoachuniversity.com, with questions.

Looking forward to having you join us!

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The Art of Coaching

What is happiness questionHow do you explain passion?  How do you know with every core of your being that something is perfect or impossible?  The answer lies in what Michael Polanyi calls “The Tacit Dimension.”  Tacit knowledge is what we know that we would struggle to say.

Think about young Tim, a teenager just coming to grip with the concept of “love.” I can picture this 13-year-old boy coming to his father and saying, “I really love Betty.”  Dad, after calming down, would ask “What makes you think you’re in love?”  Tim has some ideas, but can’t come close to telling the whole story.

Tim’s problem is the one we all have.  We know more than we can say.  This is why we can recognize a face but not describe it.  It’s those hunches that gamblers play.  It’s those brass rings that let us say things we don’t even remember knowing but they fit the conversation perfectly.

Coaches get a lot of business because of this fundamental human characteristic.  Good coaches ask question to let you say what you know.  Great coaches ask questions to support you in digging deeper into what you know but haven’t said.

Michael Polyani, a scientific theorist, refers to this aspect of human knowledge as “the tacit dimension.”  We know more than we can tell.  And the more we tell, the more we know exists behind those statements.

Interestingly, we can’t get at our tacit knowledge by being told.  We only recognize that deeper knowledge when asked about it.

That’s why coaches matter.  They can ask the questions.  They are curious.  They take what you say and ask for what’s behind it.  Coaches have great metaphors to describe this:

  • Peeling back the layers
  • Unpacking this box
  • Digging deeper

The ability to do this well is not an easy skill.  It takes thought and training.  Learning the science of coaching helps, but understanding the right question at the right time is really about the art of coaching.  (And even great coaches can’t tell you everything about how they do it.)  How can you learn:

Engage with a mentor coach.  Your mentor can help you take apart a coaching sequence so you push your understanding deeper.

Practice mindfulness.  Think more about your second question than your first.  Take time to ask a question that pushes into the tacit dimension.

Get training.  Coach training gives you the opportunity to appreciate the art of coaching.  Investigate possible coach training programs and find one that seems to resonate with you.  Your tacit knowledge will help you find the right one if you listen to it.

 

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Free Will

Viktor Frankl, Free Will

A human being is not one thing among others; things determine each other, but man is ultimately self-determining.  What he becomes—within the limits of endowment and environment—he has made out of himself.

~Viktor Frankl

Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.

~Viktor Frankl

Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.

~Viktor Frankl

Viktor Frankl was not an American.  He was a survivor of the holocaust.  His book, Man’s Search for Meaning, is considered by the Library of Congress as one of the ten most influential books in America.  He understood independence and freedom.

When we talk about “unalienable rights” we are speaking of our right to choose.

Whether high born or low we have this right.

Regardless of color or sex or creed, we have this right.

We may not be able to choose our circumstances, but we can choose how we will react to them.

Happy Independence Day!

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The Myth of Multitasking

Multitasking phonecallsWith the summer rush coming on, we all have a tendency to look for shortcuts.  You want to be outside as much as your neighbors and all of the children you see walking past.  One shortcut you might end up trying is to multitask.  While you may think that multitasking will help you get more done, that’s a myth.

Unconsciously, you can multitask.  That’s why you can walk and chew gum at the same time.  BUT if you try and think about doing both, you’ll fall down.  Consciously, you don’t do two things at once.  Your mind flips back and forth between the two.  A recent University of London study found that IQ drops by about 15 points when you try to email or text while performing other activities.

Imagine what you take away from those important meetings!  The solution is pretty simple:  Stop multitasking.  The video provides a couple of specific ideas.

Click here if the video isn’t showing.

Whatever you do, don’t drive and try to read your email or texts at the same time.  Besides being illegal in most locations, the loss of IQ may be deadly.

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Learning Coaching from a 3-Year Old

fully present

As a coach, I consciously work to stay “present” when meeting with my clients.  After all, they want my time and attention and I want to make sure that I am fully there and stay there. Like most adults, I think I am a work in progress on this.  I think there is too much going on in my life to fully commit to one person at any given time.

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to see my 3-year old grandson in action.  He is the living definition of “being present.”  Several family members and I attended a wedding in western Illinois.  My grandson was all-in on everything.

  • At a lake? Want to go swimming?
  • My uncle brought his girlfriend. Will you read to me?
  • Flight cancelled? Do we get to stay in a hotel?
  • Chicago? Let’s have deep dish pizza (He didn’t say this, but he whole-heartedly approved).

The point is that he was not concerned with being right or leaving the correct impression.  He wasn’t bothered by delayed flights or lost opportunities.  He was participating full-out.

One of the International Coaching Federation core competencies is “Coaching Presence—Ability to be fully conscious and create spontaneous relationship with the client, employing a style that is open, flexible and confident.”  They go on to describe this with phrases like dancing in the moment, going from your gut, and choosing in the moment.  That is my grandson in action.  This is also a central piece of what coaches strive to accomplish.

I think we do this when we want to have a completely open and honest dialogue with another person.  Carl Rogers describes this by saying “To be with another in this way means that for the time being you lay aside the views and values you hold for yourself in order to enter another’s world without prejudice.”

So the next time you start to get caught in your stuff, think of my grandson, the people you are with, and go dancing in the moment.

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What Will You Say in Your Commencement Address?

iStock_000015553717I spent most of this past week in San Antonio at the Direct Selling Association Convention seeing what different companies were doing for coaching and leadership development (but that’s a post for a different day).  At one luncheon, someone at the table was explaining how he were going to have to leave early so he could get to their high school to be the commencement speaker.  Everyone I could see gave a heart-felt OH.

Who among you cannot (without lying) say you never dreamt of giving a commencement address?  Yeah, it may have been a fleeting thought, but I am willing to bet that you at least had an image of yourself standing on a stage saying wise things to all of those students about to embark on adulthood.

So let’s play Back to the Future!

You have the chance to go back to your high school and give the commencement address at your graduation ceremony.

What would you tell the younger you?

How could you make the younger you listen?

I can’t begin to answer those questions for you.  Next time you have a break, jot down some key points on a notepad.  What do you think your work mates would say to these questions?

Now let’s play Back to the Future, Part 2!

You have a chance to go 20 years into the future and meet your older self.

What would you ask?

What would s/he tell you to do or not do?

The real bottom line is very simple:  Do what you would tell your other self to do.

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Five Pitfalls to Avoid When Coaching for Change

Superhero Business Woman with computer

I used to think that that my resistance to change was a personal problem.  As soon as someone said to me, “You have to . . .” my first inclination was to do exactly the opposite.  I now feel great sympathy for my leader who patiently let me rant and provided all of the details I needed to reach “my decision.”

Change management has not gotten any easier for contemporary sales leaders.  The top people in direct sales are stuck between a company trying to move things forward and a downline with an attitude worse than mine.  I recently offered 30 Questions for Coaching Leaders through Major Change about the curious places I would come from as a coach.  If you are a direct sales leader, the question you are most concerned about is a different one:  How do I help my team move forward?

A leader-as-coach role is one of the best for supporting a team through change.  However, it’s not without its pitfalls.  As a leader, you have a stake in the outcome of coaching your downline.  You are walking a very thin line between protecting the company’s interests, your interests, and your team member’s interests.  Here are some pitfalls you can work to avoid.

Ask more than you tell.  Answers to your questions will tell you lots more than nods to your statements.

Listen more than you talk.  Let them talk.  You’ll find out what is really bothering your team member.  If they are feeling oppositional, then your talk (no matter what you say) will only make them feel more righteous in their anger.  Think back to the last time you were spitting mad.  How would you feel if someone said, “Will you stop and be reasonable?”

Don’t oversell.  Stop and think; would you be having this conversation if your downline loved the change?  The more you try to explain how good things are going to be, the more you sound like you are selling junk cars.

Every change has an upside and a downside. Your job as a leader is to help others find them both. You are in the best position when you can listen, ask questions, and let your team member decide how the changes will affect their business.

Focus on the basics.  Direct selling is always about three things:  selling, recruiting, and teaching others to do the same.  Keep your team focused on their business activities.  The rest is just stuff.

If you are a direct selling leader who has been in this situation, what advice would you give about possible pitfalls?

 

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