Posts Taged fear

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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When Will You Cross Your Rubicon?

cross your rubiconIn 49 B.C., Julius Caesar made an irrevocable choice.  The Roman Senate ordered Caesar to either terminate his military command and return to Rome or to continue in command and give up his political aspirations.  The decision occurred on the banks of the Rubicon River:  the Senate warned Caesar that crossing the river with his army would be seen as a declaration of war.

History records Julius Caesar’s decision to cross the Rubicon and change history.  Once he made his decision and started the march to Rome, there was no going back.  He took away all of his choices.  Once he crossed the Rubicon, taking the army to Rome was his only choice.  And while he only lived five more years, his mark on history is written in indelible ink.

What would happen to your life if you decided to cross your personal Rubicon?  When you make a decision that you can’t take back, your life changes.

  • You have passion where you wavered before.
  • Your path forward become really, really clear.
  • You can articulate your purpose without hesitation or equivocation.

Your unflappable commitment is not to an action.  It’s to your vision.  When I say that I love my wife, it doesn’t mean that we won’t argue.  It means that I am committed to going beyond a squabble every single time.

My business commitment is to growing leaders and unlocking coaching moments.  That’s my course even if I don’t get it right 100% of the time.

You must do four things to cross your Rubicon.

Tell the most important people in your life.  Speak your commitment to your spouse, children, and close friends.  You don’t make irreversible decisions and then not tell people.  Make it impossible to back down.

Move forward.  You no longer can stand still or go in reverse.  You have to move forward.  Every day, what will you do to move forward?

Dig deeper.  We’re not talking about a hobby or something that would be nice in your spare time.  Commitment is a long-term game.  It’s about finding, refining, and fulfilling the deeper meaning in your life.  To find this type of commitment, you are becoming a lifelong learner.  You are going to grow beyond your imagination.

Surrender all doubt.  Doubt becomes a useless thought when you can’t uncommit.  Why waste the energy?

Your life changes when you cross your river.  You’ll have to find a strategy and tactics to continue moving ahead.  You’ll need to build a success team of supporters, mentors, and a coach.

When will you cross your Rubicon?

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Being the Change Agent for Coaching

Like it or not, you are the one who will be changing the culture in your business.  What you want done differently is not going to happen without your attention. The more you act, the more you will encounter resistance.

We have to get product our the door; let’s worry about this later.

It’s not working fast enough.

It’s interfering with other processes.

Did you really want no one to notice that you are changing their world?  Did you think they were going to like everything?  And deep, deep, down: would you prefer to be ignored? 

Free Prize InsideThe painful part is there is no straight path to success.  The simple news, however, is that the more you do, the more success you will have.  Good ideas always win.  Seth Godin is a prolific and insightful writer.  Here are a couple of his earlier ideas on how to be an innovator.  This is your opportunity to find some motivation and tactics to keep you moving forward.

WebThink SOFT INNOVATION.  Soft innovations are those clever, insightful, useful small ideas that just about anyone can think up.  Do enough of them and you and create a culture shift. A few years ago, Seth Godin wrote a book call, Free Prize Inside.  While it sounds like a new Cracker Jack slogan, it is much, much more.  If you want to offer a free prize to your customers, you have to get company support first.  And companies resist change.  So, become a soft innovator.  Buy the book and read “Section 2, Selling the Idea.”  These sixty pages will help you understand what is going on in the company and the role you can play.  Godin introduces a conceptual tool, The Fulcrum of Innovation, which is the same across almost all organizations and helps you create a strategy of soft innovation.  There are also 17 tactics to help you along the way. Seventeen is a lot of tactics.  This is your manual of success.

linchpinResists your Resistance.  When pushed, your tendency is to hide.  It’s okay.  We all do it.  There is a neurological reason for it happening.  Right on top of your spinal cord is your basil ganglia, most commonly known as your lizard brain. Scientists estimate that it takes .07 seconds for our lizard brain to react when threatened.  Unfortunately, the rest of our brain—the cognitive portion, takes longer to react. One of Seth Godin’s more recent books, Linchpin, looks at the lizard brain and how it controls our reactions.  You became a change agent for a reason.  Read the chapter in Linchpin about the resistance.  You will understand why you want to crumble in the face of resistance; how you can easily undermine yourself; and what you can do to hold off those fears long enough for your rational brain to take over.

No one said change was easy.  You are the champion for an idea that needs action.  You don’t need to be a lone voice in the wilderness. Use resources like these from Seth Godin to unlock the coach inside you.

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When Your Client Misses the Mark

iStock_000002066688XSmallI was talking to another coach recently and she told me about a client who wanted to stop meeting with her because she felt like she wasn’t living up to the agreements she made.  The more I thought about it, the more I realized that this happens to all coaches occasionally.  I have clients who discontinue coaching because they are unwilling to keep the commitments they make.  Some use the excuse that they want to “try it on their own.”  Others sheepishly confess that they were ashamed and just didn’t want to continue.

I have a weight loss coach. When I first started using this coach, I wasn’t reaching my walking goal on most days.  I thought about not showing up and decided out of respect for the coach, I needed to face the music.  She noticed my disappointment and we worked through the real issue.

Here are three possible steps if you sense your client is missing the mark.

  1. Don’t ignore it.  The ICF is clear about the role of the coach, “The coach trusts the client to be accountable to themselves and lovingly calls the client to account or discussion if agreed upon forward movement does not occur.”
  2. Look for progress.  Ask, “What did go well?”
  3. Look for over-committing.  If a client is missing the mark consistently, you may want to check in and explore the motivation and/or reason for not meeting the actions designed.

The ICF core competencies outline the value of exploration, “The coach’s invitation to exploration precedes and is significantly greater than invitation to solution.”

I always see my time with my coach as important in the process. I know the value of someone holding me accountable. As a coach, I want to lovingly hold my client’s behavior in their mirror.

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Failing and Loving It

Failure is winningI love it when my clients fail.  Not because they fail; I’m not that cruel.  I love when my clients fail because of what they gain along the way.

Usually when we say “it was a great learning experience” we get a feeling that is right up there with kissing your dog.  It just isn’t very meaningful. And in light of the unsuccessful failure, any other roundabout way to claim victory seems a bit shallow.

Over time, however, your ability to understand and learn from their failures is an important one. Here are three significant things to learn about failure.

First, you learn from your past mistakes.  You are not doomed to repeat the failure. There has been some significant research using fMRI’s that when you learn from negative situations, you literally create new neural pathways.  Reframing losses as learning opportunities allows you to be optimistic about the future. Ask the question, “What else can this mean?”  You don’t need to ignore the failure, but the meaning of this situation contains more than one simple statement about failure.

Paine QuotationSecond, you learn to savor success. The easier the success, the less you care about it. There is an old saying that “leaders do the things that followers don’t.”  That’s the definition of success.  That’s why leader’s carry their success abilities with them.  They value the wins.

Third, you learn that failure is not the end of the world. You learn a perspective that gives the right amount of importance to failure.  You learn that there is no shame in failure; only in repeating it.

As coaches, we don’t own our clients successes or failures. We do have an opportunity to share in what our clients make of them.

Thank you for reading about how we can support others to understand and learn from their failures.

LIKE THIS ARTICLE? Don’t forget to share it with your friends! Don’t forget to leave your comments.

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Coaching Through Fear

Coaching through fearWhether it is you or a client, fear can be an obstacle to any achievement.

  • I am afraid of failing
  • I am afraid of what people will think
  • I am afraid of ….

Many people will say ACTION is the only tool to overcome fear.  I have found another one that has served clients well: reframing often works.

When you reframe the thinking about a fearful situation you can overcome the power it holds on you.  Try to “trace it and erase it.”  If you trace where the fear came from you can often erase its ability to control you.

Now I’m not talking about erasing the fact that something bad happened to you because you can never go back and undo that, but by realizing that many of our fears came from a single isolated event, we can learn to erase the automatic response we can reframe our thinking.  I remember when I was a little kid we traveled over the Mississippi river over a toll bridge.  High above the churning Mississippi we’d ride with my daddy in stop and go traffic.  The tollbooth was at the apex of the bridge and, for a 6-year-old, that was a long way down.  My dad probably never knew the incredible fear of bridges that he fueled in me when he teased.  “Dana, did you feel that?  I think it’s moving.  Don’t sit too close to that car door; you don’t want to fall off.”  He probably never figured out that he was fueling in me an incredible fear because for a long, long time I really had an unhealthy fear of bridges.  Now I’d be lying if I told you that I love crossing bridges.  I will tell you this: once I traced this fear to an incident, the kind of fear that paralyzes is gone.   If you can trace it, you can erase it.

Have you overcome a fear?  Please share how you did it!

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The Secret to Coaching through the “I Don’t Know” Answer.

Coaching "I Don't Know"One of the hardest statements that a client hands to a coach is the one that starts “I don’t” and ends with “know.”  What should a coach say in order to continue moving the client forward? Your client has just told you that they don’t have an answer. What does that really mean?

I once heard a trainer tell me to ask, “If you did know, how would you answer?”  That’s clever, but blatantly calls your client a liar. How will you get your client to the point of answering without taking such a condescending approach?

I’ve had the honor recently of working with some excellent student coaches at Ultimate Coach University.  As they are finishing their training program, we take apart real coaching calls that they’ve had. With their client’s permission, the session is recorded and then the student coach and I discuss that session using a framework of the International Coaching Federation core competencies.

The “I don’t know” shows up at least once in every coaching call. Here are some approaches that I’ve heard used to great effectiveness:

Don’t Say anything.  Shut up.  The coach’s tendency is to rush in to fill the silence; to ask a new question or a rephrased one.  Sometimes when the client says “I don’t know” what it really means is that they haven’t asked or answered that question before.  When the coach rushes in, they are interrupting the client’s thoughts and the answer that is being formulated.  Deepak Chopra once observed that the space between thoughts is the place where insight can make itself known. When the coach hold a little bit of silence, wonderful thoughts start to appear.

Take smaller coaching bites.  Karen Bejjani from J. Hilburn has a great question that I’ve heard her use in classes and while coaching.  Her question is “Would you like to unpack what’s in that statement?” Her question treats the client as capable of answering.

“Talk to me” Questions. These questions just ask the client to talk and see what pops up.  It’s common for clients to discover their answer while they are talking.

When a client says that scary phrase, “I don’t know.” It seldom means that.

  • They may just have not put it into a sentence before.
  • They may have many thoughts and haven’t decided where to begin.
  • They may have a fear of saying their answer.

Your coaching task is to hold a space where the client is comfortable in providing an answer.

Thank you for reading about coaching clients through a tough answer.  If you like this, feel free to share it.  We’d love to have you comment with your thoughts.

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Own Your Life

As a coach, I love short, powerful phrases.  A few months ago I wrote about “break their fear,”  a phrase that appeared in an interview about the Arab Spring in Egypt last year.  About a month ago, I saw another one; the phrase was “own your life.”

I was attending the Direct Selling Association’s annual convention as a representative of Ultimate Coach University.  At one of the general sessions, different phrases about direct sales were being scrolled across the screen, and one of them was “own your life.”  I had to stop and think about it.

You own your life. You don’t lease it, rent it, borrow it, or just control it. (You control your leased car, but you certainly don’t own it.) You have a power over your life than no one else had, has, or will ever have.  You can treasure your life or treat it like a dump.  It’s 100 percent yours.

What do you want to do with it? No one else can decide. Choose. Have fun with it for a while. Maybe read a book, go for a walk, or do something monumental. All of the choices are suitable, because you own your life.

Do you realize you’ve been deciding all along? Ever since you created your first “no” you have been totally in charge of your life.  You have done it for all these years without breaking a sweat.  That’s really awesome!

Consider a grand opening! While you can’t say that you are under new ownership, you can claim to have remodeled and redesigned the place.  Consider the possibilities!

Phrases like this are what make me feel alive as a coach.  You come to a coach because you own your life and want to be clear about it.  My job is to support you as you gain that clarity about yourself and asset your ownership.

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