Powerful Questions

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?

 

 

Read More

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.

Read More

Weekend Love, July Twenty-Fifth

employee complaintsHere 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.

If you want to find out what others think about you, then you’ll have to find a way to ask them.  Lou Solomon reports on a Harris poll about The Top Complaints from Employees About Their Leaders.  Most of them even fit direct sellers and other entrepreneurs using independent contractors.

Want to know the best way to not look dumb?  Ask Questions.  Dan Rockwell gives you some great examples and he explores the topic, What If You’re Not That Smart?

When’s the last time you did a simple SWOT analysis of your business.  As you prepare to move into the Fall season, maybe you should think about one.  Dan McCarty gives you the basics in his article, How to Conduct a SWOT Analysis.

I absolutely hate text messages.  It’s great to find out I’m not alone.  Michael Hyatt agree when he writes about 3 Reasons I Hate Text Messages.

For the next couple of weeks I’ll be on a wilderness retreat that is completely off the digital grid.  Some might say I’ve simply gone fishin.’  In any case, I’ll  catch up with you the week of August 11.

 

Read More

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.

 

Read More

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!

Read More

Weekend Love, June Twentieth

DiSC MapHere 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.

Ever wonder how to sell to different DiSC styles?  Leslie Ye of Hubspot Marketing provides some core insights when she writes about How to Sell to 4 Different Personality Types.

If you are ever in a position where you have to rationalize a summer vacation, Fiona Moriarty provides you with five solid ideas when she writes about Five Reasons Why Smart Leaders Take Vacation.

For me, Naomi Dunford produces incredible insights when she writes.  This article about the difference between truth and the PR truths we tell ourselves is tough to ignore.  Understanding this may be The Greatest Leap Your Business Will Ever Take.

Not too long ago I wrote a blog about what you might say in a commencement address to a younger you.  Tiffany Sauder had a similar idea when she wrote Advice to My 24-Year-Old Self: 8 Career Lessons I Learned the Hard Way.  It’s solid advice.  In fact, it still fits me.

Read More

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.

Read More

Weekend Love, May Sixteenth

iStock_000001055722Here 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.

Feeling a little down?  Frank Sonnenberg offers 17 Action Steps to Take During Hard Times.

Mike Bundrant makes a strong case for not being a Polly Sunshine.  You can be positive and see alternatives.  Read The Truth Behind Positive Thinking for more insights.

Feeling Trapped in your job?  Hate that commute?  Jessica Sweet offers some Career Help for Trapped Professionals.  She has a great follow-up article in which she asks, Is Starting A New Career A Risk or An Adventure?

Top performers in every field know the importance of keeping themselves in the game.  Jon Espina makes a good case for you to Be Prepared For Your Big Break.

 

Read More

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?

 

Read More

Weekend Love, April Twenty-fifth

iStock_000034498990Here are some of the great nuggets that I’ve found on the web recently.  This handful of links takes you to tools or great content.  Occasionally I’ll include one from my “save” file that hits my mood.

If you were working too hard on April 22 to celebrate Earth Day, then I hope you feel guilty enough to watch a video or two from Ted Talks to help you celebrate this weekend.

Essential Oils are one of the hot new products in direct sales.  Mark Sisson shares some research about the truth of the claims in his well-researched article on Essential Oils: Separating Fact from Fiction.

Gallup Management recently reported that Only 35% of U.S. Managers Are Engaged in Their Jobs.  The good news that if the manager is engaged, so is the team.  You can reach some easy conclusions about your work as well.

You need to sit down with a cup of coffee and read this article from Frank Sonnenberg like a fresh cup of fine roast.  He writes about Now or Never but it doesn’t mean quite what you think it does.

Read More