Coaching Tips

Feed Your Head: Leadership Blogs

iStock_000005835000SmallThe main reason that you read blogs is to grow your capacity and knowledge in your profession; to feed your head.  These blogs are one of your main courses.  This is Part 3 of the Feed Your Head Series.  Part 2 is about those blogs that whet your appetite.  Part 1 is on finding and subscribing to blogs.

For me, the main category of blogs I read are on leadership development. and coaching.  This is what I want to feed my head.  You may have different topics. If you like this areas, let me share some of the top ones that I read.

Linked2LeadershipL2L is a group blog designed to support it’s readers in building their leadership so that you can build others. They have a great goal on 2013. “Imagine a “virtual year-long leadership development conference” where members and interested readers can come to read and participate in 12 related topics that we have selected for the 2013 season.”

Leadership Freak. Dan Rockwell is crazy about leadership development. His blog, Leadership Freak, reflects that. Right now he is using his Facebook page to take suggests about terms related to leadership.  He’s up to “H.”

Brian Tracy’s blog.  What can I say; it’s Brian Tracy’s blog. The blog is concise, helpful, and you will never leave without know what the core idea is.

Blanchard LeaderChat. See comment on Brian Tracy.  Except call it the Blanchard Leaderchat.  It’s a little more of the big picture ideas and a little less of the personal leadership development approach.

Great Leadership. Dan McCarthy is the Direct of Executive Development Programs at the University of New Hampshire. The blog title, Great Leadership, says it all. He covers the breadth of topics on leadership development.  His insights on personal development will leave you asking why you haven’t done that before.

Try them out.  The worst you could do is not subscribe.  On the other hand, they may just change your life.

Part 4 is coming soon.  Any meal would be boring if you ate the same thing.  These are the other main course: coaching blogs.


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Feed Your Head: Good Blogs for Your Start

iStock_000008635378SmallSome things are written so well that you have to read them even if you haven’t heard of the author before.  These blogs are the kind to whet your appetite.  This is Part 2 of the Feed Your Head series.  Part 1 is on finding and subscribing to blogs.

This post is about some of those great blogs that you will want to consider adding to your reading material.  While there are lots out there for you to select, we’ll focus on five. Check them out, subscribe for a while, and then either keep’em or unsubscribe.

Seth Godin’s blogSeth Godin has been blogging longer than about anybody but God.  That means he has figured out how to do it well.  Seth is a self-described agent of change.  No comments are allowed, quick reads (often less that 200 words) and seldom are their pictures.

Celebrate What’s Right with the World.  DeWitt Jones spent 20 years as a photographer for the National Geographic.  His blog, Celebrate What’s Right with the World, is just a cool place to visit.  You’ll see pictures that change you if you let them.

Get Rich Slowly.  This group blog is centered around Get Rich Slowly.  It’s about common sense ways to save or make money.  You can also figure out how to talk with children, parents, or spouses about money.

ZenHabits. Take a habit, break it down into little pieces, and then figure out what you know.  That’s what Leo Babauta does in zenhabits.  If you are trying to figure out how you got where you are, this blog will help you in that journey.

The Calm Space.   Do you need to get centered? The Calm Space will help you do that.  They describe themselves as “an online magazine that is like a virtual day-spa for your senses… decadent, informative, relaxing. A real no-mobile-phones-allowed kind of escape where you can chill for a minute or an hour and emerge refreshed and ready to face anything your day throws at you!”

Part 3 of Feed Your Head is coming soon. Look for blog “Main Courses.”

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Feed Your Head: Read Blogs

beautiful woman holding rss logoYou are what you eat, and that’s especially true about your brain food.  While you’ve heard all of the reasons to read, think about what happens if you don’t stretch your brain.

You will never ever get any better than you are now.

You give up your right to be called “professional.”  By their very definition, professionals are always working to improve.  You have chosen to be an amateur.

You cut yourself off from other people.

One of the best ways you can feed your head is by reading and one of the easiest ways to access reading material is through blogs and newsletters.  How do you find them and how do you access them easily?  Here are a few ideas.

CaptureThe best way to find blogs that you like is to follow the breadcrumbs that others leave.  May be you’ll find a link in a Facebook post.  If you like what you find, subscribe.

I love to uncover lists.  Here are three recent ones that were very productive for leadership coaches.

Wouldn’t you like to find Hidden Gems? Maybe you want to check out socially shared blogs.  One of my favorite lists comes from Julie Stewart, who gives previews of the entries in her list of coaching blogs.

Once you find a blog you like, subscribe.  Honestly, every blog wants you to subscribe so you won’t have any problem figuring out how to do it.  There are three basic ways to subscribe.

Subscribe by email.  Nearly 90 percent of the Ultimate Coach University blog subscribers choose email.  That means whenever something new is posted, it shows up in your in box.  The biggest problem with this method is when you are buried in emails.  You delete the blog posts or simply unsubscribe in frustration.  How about something different?  Create an email folder called blogs and just shove them in that folder until you have a chance to read them.  Better yet, create an Outlook rule that sends the emails directly to that folder.

Subscribe by online RSS. This is the most popular way to subscribe.  Until recently, Google Reader was the app of choice.  When Google decided to end their reader, others have sprung up.   I started using the old reader.  It’s a lot like the Google reader and I think it is actually easier to navigate.  If you want to try this approach, Duct Tape Marketing has a great list of alternative blog readers.

Subscribe by Outlook RSS. If you use Outlook 2007 or newer, you have a blog reader built into your outlook.  It’s relatively easy to start using and the blogs will automatically go to separate folders. (The worst part about the whole process is understanding the Microsoft instructions.)

So go hunting!  Feed your head.  This is the first in a five part series about reading blogs.  Part 2 is on appetizers:  those great bits of head food you just can’t skip.


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Are You Successful?

If you have had a certain measure of success in your life, the cards are stacked against you. Along the way to achieving our goals, most of us have acquired at least one bad habit.

Don’t take my word for it though. There is plenty of research behind the statement I just made.

In fact, Marshall Goldsmith recently spoke at the WBECS Coaching Conference about this very phenomenon. As a graduate of Marshall’s executive coach training, I’ve  worked with clients on this effort. I’ve also put myself under the microscope and been coached on how to disengage from these common pitfalls.

While most of you may have missed this year’s coaching conference, you don’t have to miss out on Marshall’s work. Almost everything he had to say last week can be found in his book What Got You Here, Won’t Get You There.

To make it easy on you, a quick rundown on these 20 traits is found in the downloadable document found if you click this link.

First time through, read to see if any trait applies to you. Then share this list with someone who loves and adores you and who is also someone you will allow to call you on your B.S.

Determine which behavior you most need to modify. Determine how you are going to accomplish this task (often replacing a bad habit with a more effective habit will do the trick).

Enlist your coach or a peer coach as your accountability partner in this venture. And be assured that this mode of coaching will help you become a better person as well as a better coach.

We all have blind spots. Thank goodness Marshall has delineated a list so we can keep at least twenty of the most common trips-ups from snagging us.

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Educating Others about Coaching is Worth It

Direct Selling Association ConventionIn early June,  Neil Phillips and I had the opportunity to represent Ultimate Coach University at the Direct Selling Association national conference.  Over 1,000 corporate executives and supplier members were in attendance and it was a great time to discover the best practices in the direct selling industry.

I was privileged to present a workshop on coaching as part of leadership development for company employees and independent contractors.  My assumption that people don’t really understand coaching was spot on.  After the session, people came up to us with comments such as these:

“I think we haven’t been coaching at all.

I didn’t realize companies like PepsiCo, ATT, Xerox, and IBM have coaching programs for internal leadership.

Our company has been calling one-on-one training ‘coaching’.

We are ready to look at coaching as part of our overall leadership development strategy.

The big aha for me was that coaching bridges the gap from what I know to what I don’t do.”

As coaches, we know coaching works!  We know that coaching raises awareness.  We understand the distinctions between coaching and training.  We have a tremendous opportunity to share everyday about the benefit of coaching for self-discovery, personal and professional productivity, and permanent change.

My challenge to coaches today: create a short and engaging answer when people ask, “What is coaching?” and be ready to share.

What is your answer when people ask?

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Don’t Villanize the “Closed Ended” Question

Last week while teaching a class on Laser Coaching, an inquiry came up about the danger of using a “yes-no” question instead of open-ended questions. Here’s my answer:

While open-ended questions are terrific for training our brains how to ask high quality questions, we don’t want to villanize our other options.

Think about it. Would you want to neglect asking some of life’s most powerful questions just because they are not open-ended?

I would have missed several game-changing moments if a handful of coaches and friends had not challenged me with these direct, closed-ended questions:

  • So is this making you happy?
  • Is this what you want from life?
  • Are you going to give up?
  • No, are you ready for a rest?
  • Is this your truth?

I’ll bet you can add a couple of your own hard-hitting questions to this list. So don’t be afraid to mix it up. Go ahead and facilitate great thinking in your clients by leaning into a heavy dose of open-ended questions. Then change the pace. Throw in a good old fashioned “yes –no” question once in a while to keep your client honest and digging deep.

In fact, one of my favorite sorts of paradigm shifting questions is the type which pits the client’s thinking against two distinct options – polarities. Most seasoned coaches know how to use this brand of question called distinctions. Rather than tell you any more about distinctions, let me show you.

Below you will find one video directed specifically for life-coaching situations and the other for business situation:

Now that you’ve taken a look, keep blending the types of questions you ask so that your work with clients is both interesting and effecting.

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The J. Hilburn Coaching Culture

It’s rare that I get to see our students get resounding applause for their coaching.  That occasion occurred this past week at the International Coaching Federation-North Texas Chapter Prism Awards.  This is a big deal.

J. Hilburn Prism Award recpients

(L to R) Neil Phillips, Dana Phillips, Larry Novak, Karen Bejjani, Angie Howell receive Prism Award

Two of Ultimate Coach University’s students are key performers in J. Hilburn’s coaching culture. Karen Bejjani and Angie Howell led the charge in developing a coaching culture among the sales force.  They both spend most of their workdays coaching top performers, upcoming stars, and groups of new leaders.  Karen and Angie will both tell you that coaching is energizing and they are passionate about its importance to productivity and the personal development of leaders.

J. Hilburn received a special recognition for “demonstrating a deep strategic commitment to coaching across the organization.”  Top honors went to BNSF Railroad.  The other finalists were AT & T and Frito-Lay.

THIS IS HUGE.  I can’t emphasize enough the honor they receive with this award. Here’s why this demonstrates such an incredible achievement.     

 The ICF-NT Chapter has a storied history.  The ICF got its start with the work of Texas coaches and the ICF-NT is the first chartered chapter of the world’s largest professional association for coaches.

North Texas is known for quality coaching. Big claim?  Need proof?   In 2005, the global office of the ICF adopted the concept of the Prism Award and has been recognizing organizations that have enhanced excellence and business achievement through their commitment to coaching ever since. In the 8 years that the international award has been given, North Texas companies have been honored 3 times.

The Prism Award recognizes excellence.  The North Texas Prism Award is recognition that the coaching initiatives are meeting and exceeding globally recognized standards. The award is a public acknowledgement of their efforts in creating a culture that embraces coaching. The Prism Award celebrates:

  • Effectiveness: How has the coaching initiative been effective in achieving the intended goals and purpose?
  • Impact: How has coaching improved the culture of the organization?
  • Strategic Significance: How has the initiative addressed significant issues within or for the organization?
  • ROI/ROE: What are the tangible results or the proven return on investment or return on expectations for the organization because of the coaching initiative?

If you have an opportunity, please leave a comment and congratulate J. Hilburn for their accomplishment.

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Leadership Coaching

crowdsourcing leadership trainingI need your help.  Badly.  I want to develop some teaching tools on to help train leadership coaches in direct sales.  Direct sales leadership is not about sales and recruiting; it’s about growing others to become leaders in their own way.

It’s hard to train people in leadership coaching without being formulaic.  Don’t get me wrong: I coach people through corporate transitions as they move higher up the ladder. I know how to create and hold a coaching space for my clients.  I ask them questions like:

  • What does a leader do?
  • What do you do when you are wearing your “leader” title?
  • What separates your leadership from what you used to do?
  • How are you a leader at home?
  • What are the characteristics of a great leader you have?

I love asking questions like these and giving people a chance to think aloud about their answers.  And the coolest part is that every answer is right!

My problem is that I want to develop some training tools for leadership coaches.  To make it fun, I want to crowdsource some tools to teach leadership coaching.  You can help develop some teaching tools to help train leadership coaches in direct sales. Please hit reply and leave a comment.  Here are some things I want your insights on:

  • What would you like to know about training sales leaders?
  • What makes sales leaders different from other types of leaders?
  • Are there core values of a direct sales leader?
  • What are the best tools you have?
  • How do you know you are successfully training leadership?
  • Curious random thoughts about leadership that you would like answered.

As you can tell, I am wide open to hear your thoughts.  If you share, I’ll respond in kind.  As I develop some tools, I’ll be happy to share them with you.  For example, one common tool for values clarification is to sort through a list of terms and narrow it down to three or less core values.  Would a tool like that be useful to explore the core concepts of a leader? When it’s ready, you can try it out first and have full access to it.

Worth a comment?  Please leave one.

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Are you or your client’s stuck in “Grasp” mode?

Enjoying life

They call it the “grasp reflex.” It is the instinctive capacity we all had as infants where we grabbed onto just about anything within our reach. It is a useful skill to be born with. 

And yet, I wonder how many of us are still “grasping” as we have entered into adulthood to the point where it no longer serves us.

See if you’ve experienced any of the following:

  • You feel overwhelmed so you hang on tight to doing too much, having too much control. It’s only later that you realize that letting go, even in a small way, relieves a large amount of pressure.
  • You want to let go. You really do. You go so far as to decide to let go and find yourself wondering if you ever learned how. So when you try to let go, you wonder what the first step would be. 
  • You believe that if you do let go you’ll spin off into the abyss of chaos and lose all control. You don’t let go because you don’t want to NOT be relevant.

Hidden in the three scenarios is the root of being stuck in grasp mode: we want too much control. It is the wanting of too much control that gets us stuck. Wanting too much control and striving for it regularly will eventually lead to an over abundance of discomfort.

Let me share a quick way to free yourself from being stuck in this discomfort. I recently experienced taking myself through several exercises involved in the book titled the Sedona Method.

  First, become aware that you are feeling stuck. You may even hear yourself saying, “I feel stuck.”

  Second, ask yourself what it is that you are wanting. What are you holding onto so tightly? Listen to yourself and take note. Keep mulling it over or discuss with someone you trust until you are clear on what it is that you are wanting. Perhaps it will occur to you that you want to be safe, or you want to be loved, or maybe you want clarity.

  Once you are clear, sit with the feeling and let it sink in deeper and deeper until you are filled up with the intensity of what you are wanting. Let it get to a boiling point. Notice where the sensation of wanting has landed most in your body. Concentrate on that area.

  Then, ask yourself, “Would I be willing to give up the wanting of in order to just have what is?” No matter if you answered “yes” or “no” you’ve already started to give up the wanting and being stuck.

  If you answered “no”, go back through the steps until you are willing to say “yes” to the letting go of the wanting.

  When you get to “yes”, repeat in your mind, “Okay I’m willing to let go of wanting and I’ll do it now.” Right at the moment you say “now,” push on the table or the chair you are sitting on. Push on the wall next to you or a book. Push as if you have just pressed the button that drains all that emotional heaviness and stuck feelings away.

  Feel the release.

Begin to value the feeling and thoughts involved in NOT being captivated by an overabundant need for control.

For more information on the Sedona Method, look for the book by the same name and authored by Hale Dwoskin. 

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Intuition – It is in Every Coach

Woman's Eye

The Path of intuition is a path of the heart, a path of the soul. It is a path that leads you to yourself, that leads you home. In this homecoming, you can find your purpose, place, and you can rediscover the joys of your heart, the ancient wisdom of your soul.
Quotation adapted from Intuition, Awakening Your Inner Circle, by Judee Gee 

Intuition is something we all have, we all use it on some level and few of us get formal training to better understand it. Did you know that it is not a function of our subconscious? Indeed it is a part of our consciousness very much akin to the function of mental awareness. Because intuitive perception acts through the subconscious as well as through our conscious mental awareness, it is important to know that it springs from a deeper source than our brains. At SoulSalt, we believe that intuition is vitally important and so I’d like to take a moment to distinguish it from instinct, intelligence, and insight.

Instinct – is a universal endowment of nature. It relies heavily on our five senses. It is related closely to survival and that part of us that acts faster than could reason. It functions within our flight or fight brain processes. An example would be the instinctual sense of danger when one smells smoke inside their home.

Intelligence – goes far beyond academics. It is the part of us that thinks; the part that blends experiences with insights through several types of thought processes to help us make meaning. For example, intelligence can express itself in these ways:

Divergent or productive thinking invents all the new possibilities that have not occurred to you before.
Reproductive thinking fixates on what has worked in the past and tries to apply it in the present.
Convergent thinking eliminates and narrows down the possibilities to the one right or two right next steps.

Insight – is like a realization. It happens when we “get it.” For example: Think of the moment when it all came together and you discovered the true identity of Santa Clause. Or, think about the moment you realized that your parents must have had sex, at least once.

Intuition – is a function of awareness that comes from the soul or from the spirit. It springs forth from a deep source that is neither linear nor rational. It is NOT imperative to our survival. It IS imperative to our spiritual wellbeing and creative self-expression. It is a flash of personal certainty. It is key in understanding what our soul has to tell us. Intuition is clarity and it always, always brings a sense of peace that we cannot be deterred from. It feels ancient, clean and clear as well as deeply personal. When it guides we just know what we know and we can’t tell you exactly how we know.

When was the last time you really paid attention to what your intuition is telling you? Who would you be if you used this gift with extreme skill? What would your coaching practice feel like if you used your intuition even more as a coaching tool?

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