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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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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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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