Posts Taged goal-setting

Finding Balance by Creating Margins

Most of us grew up using margins when we write.  Remember the red line on the left of the paper?  When we use margins, a note is easier to read.  When you write “margin-less”, like the note below, it is difficult to read.


As coaches, we listen for what is said and what is not said.  Often I find my clients are pushing their margins to the edge in their business and life.

What are the signs of a margin-less life? There are different clues for individuals.  One sign for me was when I overslept, was hurrying to get the kids to middle school, ran out of gas, coasted down the hill to the gas station, had the sixth grader drive so I could push the van to the pump and that was a ”normal” day.

Other signs include:  a client has a beautiful home, big screen TV, several cars and yet yearns for time to take a walk.

The client may be headed toward “margin-less” when she finds herself  apologizing for being late for a conference call or appointments that she set up because she was running behind.

In spite of running a successful direct selling business, the client is living from check to check.

The person you are coaching has more than $5000 in credit card debt.

Your client recognizes his impatience with his spouse or children growing more frequently.

In his book, Margin, Richard Swenson, M.D. points to four kinds of margins we must create for less stress, better health, and greater productivity:  he addresses financial, health, social and emotion margins.

A client may find real value in exploring and applying these margins to her life.  As a coach, you can ask powerful, open ended questions to allow her to create personalized action plans to set and keep margins in each or any of these areas.

What are some questions you might ask to support your clients?

What are some of the things you can do to create and keep safe margins for yourself?

Read More

Change Your Habits in 2015

chocolate barsIf you are like most of us, you made a resolution or two to start the New Year.  If you were like me, you probably made a wish and then gave a thought or two of planning an action step crossed your mind.  The sad news is that there is very little likelihood that anything worthwhile will come from your resolution.  One researcher found that by the end of January, 30 percent of us would have failed and by the end of June, over half would have gone by the wayside.  Michael Hyatt says that between 150 and 200 million Americans make resolutions and the research shows around 8% succeed with them.

Now about wiping your slate clean and trying something different?  Most of us fail at our resolutions because we plop this idea down in the midst of a lifetime of habits.  So instead of a resolution, think about changing a habit and see if you can be more successful.  Here are five questions to ask yourself.  Your answers will be the pathway to a successful change in 2015.  By the way, whether the habit is having sweet deserts, Facebook, or interrupting people, the process works the same when it comes to changing a habit.  We’re going to talk about sweets, since that is my annual resolution and has been for several years.

  1. What’s the habit I want to change? The more specifically that you identify the habit, the better you will be able to change it. The answer to this question may take some time.  Habits are routines, and most pieces are performed subconsciously.  Take some time to think about your trigger.  In my case, the difficulty is stopping at a meal.  I wanted to go back for second helpings until I developed a habit of having something sweet as a signal to my system that the meal was over.  Now I have a new habit of having desert. (I’m not sure which is worse.)
  2. What’s the replacement for the habit? We can’t create a vacuum in our behaviors or thoughts. We have to find a substitute.  In my case, I decided a healthy sweet would be the way to go.  So what I want to do is have coffee with a sweetener or maybe some dried cranberries.
  3. How do I begin strongly? You can’t just ease into a new habit.  If you ease your way in, you’ll soon find yourself easing your way back out.  Draw a line in the sand.  Say or do things like:

–Announce it to people (more on this later).

–Write it down.

–Set a starting day and time.

–Have a clear new routine. My question used to be, “What’s for dessert?”  Now, it’s “Ready for some coffee?”

  1. How do I stay strong? There is no better way to say it that the old cliché: DO NOT DEVIATE DESPITE TEMPTATION. What will you do when tempted? How will you avoid temptations?
  2. Who will I ask to hold me accountable? If you are a softy, you might want to call this, “Who do I ask for help?” For either question, you are making your behavior change public.  Moreover, once you announce it, you make it hard to retreat.  If you are making a giant change or an unpleasant one, then think about a support team.  There is no limit on the number of supporters you can have.  You might even want to work with a coach if you are talking about a deep-seated habit.  There is some pretty clear research that making public support does very powerful things to your efforts. id

How will you know when your habit is changed?  The answer is that you will know when it feels wrong to not engage in the replacement behavior.  Since I’ve given up on desserts, I feel guilt reaching for one when it’s offered.  That’s a good sign.  Since I’m still tempted, I know I don’t have the new habit in place.

What’s your new habit going to be?

Read More

Use the Whole Brain for Goal Achievement, Part One

Coach the Whole BrainIf nothing else, we are a goal-oriented species.  We think about the future and act in ways to shape it.  There is a large body of evidence to suggest that using your whole brain to accomplish your goals will make you more likely to achieve them.

This is the first of a three part series on using the whole brain for goal achievement.  Part one (which you are reading) explores the differences between left and right brain thinkers.  Part two is about visualizing success.  Part three is about using affirmations.

Some of you are oriented toward the right-brain.  You are creative, spatial thinkers, intuitive and spontaneous.  You often think in pictures, colors, or feelings.  You can be great starters who are often haphazard finishers. You see the goal and yet struggle to articulate how you will achieve what you see so clearly in your mind.

Others are oriented towards the left brain.  The left brain is very language oriented.  Language is very rational and business-like.  Left brain people are oriented toward logical, problem-solving paradigms: they are very linear in their thinking. Left brain thinkers go from point A to point B to point C.  They find a problem; they solve it.  Then they find another problem and solve it and pretty soon they’re so engaged in the process that they’ve become problem solvers rather than goal-reachers.

To use your whole brain you have to think in both terms of language and pictures.  Pictures lead you to use visualizations.  Language leads you to use affirmations.  Pictures are right brain; language is left brain.  Visualizations are right brain; affirmations are left brain.  When you use both sides of our brain to focus on our goals, you send a message to our subconscious that leads you to the accomplishment of our goals.

Visualizations are powerful in the attainment of a goal.  In their book, Seeing with the Mind’s Eye, Mike and Nancy Samuels describe a simple experiment using some high school kids and visualization.

A random sample of high school boys are broken into three groups. All of the boys spend time shooting basketballs to see what percentage of free throws they make. Like any experiment they go out and shoot baskets the first day, twenty days later they go out and shoot baskets again and the difference between the scores shows how much they’ve grown in the process.

The first group practices everyday and then they shoot baskets at the end.  They show 24% improvement.  The second group shoots baskets on the first day, they don’t do anything in-between, and on the last day they shoot baskets again.  They’ve shown no improvement.  Interestingly, the third group shoots baskets on the first day and then go through a process of visualization: they practice seeing themselves shooting those baskets for the next twenty days and improving in their mind’s eye.  In the end, when they shoot the baskets, they show a 23% improvement.

Think about it:  24% improvement by practice:  23% by visualization.  Visualization is powerful when it comes to achieving your goals.

Part two is about using visualizations.  How do you support your clients in goal setting?

Read More

As coaches, how can we support our clients in creating a high performance culture? How do we support them in making it sustainable? (Note While this article is intended for larger companies, the methods discussed here can work with direct sales team or start-ups.)

Develop a coaching cultureAs coaches, how can we support our clients in creating a high performance culture?  How do we support them in making it sustainable?  (Note While this article is intended for larger companies, the methods discussed here can work with direct sales team or start-ups.)

Executives who benefit from coaching want make coaching sustainable across the company.  One common solution is to hire more coaches and hope that when enough employees have been through the process it starts to catch on and become cultural.  While that sometimes works, the results are often haphazard.  The results are not systematic.  Rather, they are person-specific.  They depend on the people who have received coaching being able to be coaches without any training, time, or encouragement.

A better approach to building a coaching culture is to treat it like any other initiative. Figure out what you want, build a program to provide it, and evaluate the results along the way. The key step is deciding WHAT you want the coaching program to accomplish so that you know how to build and evaluate it.

A good place to start looking for program goals is the International Coach Federation. Every year they host an annual competition in which the “ICF honors organizations who have demonstrated that professional coaching used as a leadership strategy can pay off greatly.” Since the applicants cover fields ranging from IBM to BC Housing Canada, the ICF has developed four selection criteria that universally work.  The four criteria are:

  • 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? What are the benefits?
  • Strategic Significance – How has the initiative addressed significant issues within or for the organization? (Examples include retention, employee satisfaction, customer satisfaction, and team development.)
  • ROI/ROE – What are the tangible results/the proven return on investment or return on expectations for the organization as a result of the coaching initiative?

Of course, criteria like these are always easier to say than develop. When you start with the goal in mind, the job does become easier.

What other criteria come to mind to evaluate a program designed to create a coaching culture?

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

Read More

Coach Advice: Breathe out 2012

Breathe out the old before breathing in the new.

Breathe out the old before breathing in the new.

As you get ready for 2013, you are preparing to breathe in your future.  The fresh air will bring you a boost of oxygen and along with it, a feeling of energy and sharpness to your thoughts.

However, there is one thing that has to happen first.  You have to empty your lungs before you can breathe in.

Breathing is a two-step process. To breathe in you need to breathe out first.  Before you breathe in 2013, you need to breathe out the old year.  How do you do that?

Release your feelings.  What happened is a fact.  Everything else in in your thoughts.  Let go of the regrets, the doubts and the misgivings. They are those bits of old air stuck in your lungs.  Bring one of those bits into active thought and then breathe it out.  Those feelings are only there for you.  They cease to exist when you breather them out.

Before you can set new goals and intentions, you need to create a space for them. Empty a space so that you can fill it with sharp, clean, crisp positivity.

Just about everybody involving in a birthing event understands the process of taking a cleansing breath.  Cleansing breaths are also a technique to stimulate your mind and body. That’s what you are going to do with 2012.

I read recently that over 90% of the New Year resolutions are broken within the first month.  I suspect that part of the cause is a failure to breathe out.  Does it really matter if you gave up regular exercise in 2012?  No.  Does it really matter if never got around to starting that savings account?  No.  Breathe out those regrets.  They’re gone.

What are you breathing out today?

Read More

Watch David Rock Coaching

Have you ever wondered why your brain seems to operate differently at work than it does when relaxing with friends and family? Maybe you’ve been curious about how sometimes it’s hard to focus or collaborate with others.  You are not alone.

Dr. David Rock is one of the thought leaders in the human-performance coaching field. Since the mid-90’s, he has trained over thousands of executive, personal and workplace coaches in more than 60 countries.  Two of his more recent books are Coaching with the Brain in Mind: Foundations for Practice and Your Brain at Work: Strategies for Overcoming Distraction, Regaining Focus, and Working Smarter All Day Long. David Rock works in the area of NeuroLeadership (in fact, he coined the term) and believes that coaching is a powerful tool for discovering what goes on in the brain and is a key for performance improvement.

This 10 minute video is a sample of David Rock coaching an executive.  From a rtechnical standpoint, he leaves a lot to be desired.  Most of his questions are closed and require either a yes-no answer or a choice among alternative he provides.  He’s quick and seldom leaves time for reflective thought.  On the other hand, the client finds some really powerful insights.

Watch the video and then make your judgment:  good coaching or bad?

Read More

Coaching the What and Why and the $75,000 Question

Life evaluation and emotional wellbeingMy guess is that it would be a rare life or personal coach that does not have their client try to dig into personal motivations. As coaches, we call them goals, mission, values, passion, why’s, etc. Our assumption as coaches is that as our clients grow in self-knowledge, their path to the future becomes clearer. It also puts a tool in our coaching hands. When a client seems to stall out, we make some mental leaps to their passion and try to get them moving forward on their program.

One place we often have difficulty is separating the material reasons from the mental ones. New coaches often go to the material corner. Talking about things is less threatening or invasive than talking about values and passions. Experienced coaches often go the other way; we ignore the material wants because they aren’t as personally exciting as digging into a client’s mental pathways.

Recent research points to the need to make sure that people are meeting both their material and their emotional needs.  Angus Deaton, Ph.D., a renowned economist, and Daniel Kahneman, Ph.D., a Nobel prize-winning psychologist put their heads and work together on an amazing research project.  They wanted to discover the numbers behind happiness. They analyzed nearly a half million responses to the Gallup Healthways Well-Being Index (GHWBI), a battery of survey questions about happiness.

The two concepts that we refer to as the “material what” and the “emotional why” are called “life evaluation” and “emotional wellbeing.” While the two dimensions overlap, they have distinct measures.

  • Life evaluation is based on a view of our achievements. We look at things like goal accomplishment, financial security, education, marriage, and job satisfaction.
  • Emotional wellbeing is social and reflects our day-to-day emotional quality and satisfaction.

Without getting into too many more details, there are two research findings that I found interesting from a coaching perspective.

First, achieving your goals is important for both dimensions. We evaluate our lives poorly when we fail (the “I just suck” syndrome) and it negatively affects our emotional wellbeing.  As Dr. Kahneman explains, “Having goals that you can meet is essential to life satisfaction. Setting goals that you’re not going to meet sets you up for failure.”

Second, there is a dollar figure for happiness. In the United States, $75,000 is the threshold for happiness.  In other words, when you earn $75,000, you’ve hit the magic number.  More money doesn’t make you happier.  People who earn more may have more a higher life evaluation (“I love my life!”) but they are any happier about it.  Their emotional wellbeing has hit the top.

As a coach, I am intrigued by what these research results mean to my profession.  Besides making sure my clients are aware of and working on both pieces, I have some cultural insights into where they might want to go.

Honestly, I can’t make this stuff up. I encourage you to read more of the research results as The Gallup Management Journal reports them.

Read More