Coach Approach

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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Weekend Love, August Twenty-Ninth

iStock_000065250231Here are some of the great nuggets that I’ve found on the web recently. This handful of links takes you to tools or insightful content. Occasionally I’ll include one from my “save” file if it fits the mood.

I spoke with the Plano, Texas Chamber of Commerce this last week about time management.  I’m not sure there is a more fitting topic for a coach to address.

I always start from the perspective that there isn’t enough time for everything, but there is enough time for the important things. Here are three of the articles that helped shape my thinking.

How do you compare earning money to other options?  Frank Sonnenberg askes eight questions to get to the answer.  His questions can be found in the article, 8 Reasons Why Money’s Not Worth What You Think.

Grace Bluerock has worked in hospice care for the last six years.  Here are Five Life Lessons I Learned from the Dying.

Did you know the phrase “work-life balance” didn’t show up until the mid-80’s.  Before that it was “work-leisure balance.” The difference shifts your thinking a bit, doesn’t it?  Read more from Eric Devaney in Should You Strive for Work/Life Balance? The History of the Personal & Professional Divide.

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Four Tiny Habits for Successful People

tiny habitsOne of the old clichés that we’ve all heard is that “The devil is in the details.”  That is really true when it comes to the habits of successful people.  You might think the differences between successful and unsuccessful people have to do with large chunks of their lives.  On the contrary, success is generated from little things that are built into habits.  Here are four of the important ones.

Successful people plan.  Successful people might not have a to-do list, but you can bet on them creating a top priorities list before they go to bed or very soon after they get up.  Setting goals and accomplishing tasks is a daily activity.  While they may have several items to “work on” they will have 2-3 top prorities to accomplish every day.

Successful people focus. They don’t multitask.  If anything, the opposite is true.  They compartmentalize.  Work is on one thing at a time.  There is a focus on the task-at-hand.

Success people read.  Reading is a habit that forces you to step away from doing and become mental (in a good way).  Reading gives you new ideas and connects old ones in new permutations.  Listen to someone you consider successful on YouTube or live.  You will hear several references to what they are reading or have recently read.

Successful people spend time away from work.  They unplug.  No one on their death bed says, “I wish I had spent that free weekend at the office.”  Successful people know that.  They spend time with loved ones in leisure activities.  When work is demanding, leisure may come in small bites, but it is there.

Think about two of the most successful people that you know well.  What are the little things that they do often?  Spend a little time making a list that can become delightful details for success.

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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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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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Weekend Love, June Sixth

iStock_000017544995Here are some of the great nuggets that I’ve found on the web recently. This handful of links takes you to tools or insightful content. Occasionally I’ll include one from my “save” file if it fits the mood.

Randy Conley from the Ken Blanchard Companies makes a strong case for Your Success as a Leader Depends on This One Thing.  He even has a simple acronym to help you remember it.

I know this sounds strange, but a lot of leaders and wannabe leaders aren’t very good at working with people.  Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic gives four ideas for How to Work with People Who Aren’t Very Good at Working with People.

As someone who considers himself an introvert, this TED talk from Susan Cain has a lot of meaning.  It should for extroverts as well.

From the archives:  We’ve all heard this, but the details will make surer you never forget The True Cost of Multi-Tasking.  There are also seven  simple ideas of how to stop it.

 

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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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Weekend Love, May Ninth

iStock_000005342281Here are some of the great nuggets that I’ve found on the web recently.  This handful of links takes you to tools or insightful content.  Occasionally I’ll include one from my “save” file that hits my mood.

Moms are smart people.  The interview at Ted Talks proves it.

No one loves long meetings, especially if they can be shorter.  Dan Rockwell writes about 10 Ways to Shorten Long Meetings.

Angie Sarhan writes, “I used to believe that in order to notice the positive effects of change, the change needed to be noticeable to others, massive and life altering.  I’ve discovered though, that sometimes simply making a few adjustments in your daily routine can be the extra boost you need to get less chaos and more calmness into your life.”  I’m not a Zen kinda guy, but I’m going to try this for a couple of weeks just to see.  Read more about 6 Ways to Create More Zen in your Day.

Jennifer Britton, one of the world’s top group coach trainers, has been in business for eleven years.  I appreciate her reflections on getting this far. She writes about Business Lessons Learned as a Coaching Business Owner.  What will you say about your journey at this point?

 

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Clueless

iStock_000000515657We are always off the mark when it comes to describing our strengths and weaknesses.  Our built-in-bias makes us overemphasize our good points and minimize our bad ones.  For example, 90% of us think we will go to heaven when we die.  Yet at the same time, we think that only about a third of our neighbors will make that journey.  Our halo also keeps us from seeing ourselves as others see us.

That halo also prevents us from being as effective as we could.  In our mind, we see ourselves creating the positive results and blaming others for the negative ones.

True self-understanding can’t happen in a vacuum.  Without outside touch points, nothing keeps our bias in check.  Our blind spots stay blind.

Whom do you have to keep you honest?  To keep you accountable?  Here are three quick guidelines to get started with one.

First, don’t pick the person because they make you feel good.  Pick your partner because they will help you see yourself as others see you.

Second, pick the person who will ask questions and let you talk.  When you ask, “What do you think?” you want them to say back, “you first.”

Third, pick someone who is available.  You want to talk with this person every week or two.  You want to discuss

  • what’s gone right
  • what’s gone wrong
  • your role in it all
  • what you want to do about it moving forward.

Stepping away from your halo is not difficult, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy.  We have to learn honesty about ourselves.

What will you do this week to find some clues?

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The Mysterious Question

Coaches ask questionsDescribing the difference between truly asking a question and really making a statement is a difficult task.

Grammatically, it is a punctuation mark.

Vocally, our voice rises at the end of a question and lowers at the end of a statement.

The words don’t even have to be different.  “What now?” has the same words as “Now what!” but isn’t close on meaning.

Mentally, the differences are bigger than Texas.

  • A question comes from curiosity. A statement says, “I know.”
  • A question is an invitation to dance. A statement is a command performance.
  • You never know what the answer will be when you truly ask a question. There are no unknowns with a statement.
  • Questions provoke thinking. Statements may not even produce a reply. You’ll never hear an A-HA moment if you only tell.
  • The more open the question, the more thought is generated. Think about “What do you want this month?” versus “How will you hit your sales quota?”

Coaches ask questions.  They want to hear your truth.  Mentors ask questions with a twist.  They want you to learn the subtle answer they know.  Trainers ask questions to help you pass the test.

Think about leading your team.  Now think about difference among these:

  • What do you expect in your business this month?
  • What’s your goal this month?
  • How many recruits will you have this month?
  • How much of our team goal will you produce?

Leaders ask coaching, mentoring, and training questions.  The hardest part for a leader is not the question, but the framework the leader brings to the question.  If you can’t find the differences, then maybe you want to ask yourself some questions.

  • What type of a leader am I now?
  • Am I the leader I want to be for this person?
  • How do I change my role?

We often fall into our answers through experience.

  • What if you decided to be deliberate rather than letting your past control your question?
  • What do you need to know you don’t know now?
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