We’ve Moved!

We Have Moved SignWe on the Coaching Services team at The Ken Blanchard Companies love coaching. Our purpose is to unleash the power and potential of people for the greater good, and coaching is an amazingly useful tool to do this. We spend all day every day helping our clients deliver the finest coaching to their organizations. Since 2000, our 130 coaches have coached over 14,500 individuals in more than 250 companies throughout the world.

Here at The Coaching Source we have delighted in sharing our thoughts about coaching with you for more than five years. Today we are thrilled to announce that we have been invited to merge our writings from The Coaching Source with Blanchard LeaderChat, the principal blog of The Ken Blanchard Companies.

We hope you will follow us to leaderchat.org and watch for our regular Tuesday posts at that location beginning December 2, 2014.

The Practice of Gratitude

The ChiefOur dog, a three-year-old black lab named Chief, really has lived up to his name. He is dignified, kind, and gracious with all people and with other dogs. At meal time, he sits patiently and watches intently while his food is prepared. When we put his food down, he waits to be invited to eat. But then he does the dearest thing: when he is finished eating, he goes over to whoever put his food down and thanks them by nuzzling the hand. It is truly adorable.

Is there anything more attractive than gratitude? I think not. And guess what? It is as good for the person expressing gratitude as it is for the one receiving it. The research is piling up. Barbara Fredrickson’s research on Positivity shows a significant difference in health indicators, creativity, and resilience in people who practice gratitude among other positive emotions.

Robert A. Emmons and Anjali Mishra, leading researchers on the way gratitude affects health and well-being, define gratitude this way: “Gratitude is an acknowledgment that we have received something of value from others. It arises from a posture of openness to others, where we are able to gladly recognize their benevolence.”

Their work shows that there is evidence to support the notion that gratitude facilitates coping with stress and reduces toxic emotions resulting from self and social comparisons and materialism. Further, experiencing gratitude can make positive memories (as opposed to bad ones) easier to access, helps build community, makes achieving goals more likely, and promotes health.

In the US, we are once again celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday. It is not accidental that most cultures have a “gratitude” holiday. It is simply good for us to stop and remember what we are grateful for. Many people “say grace” year round before eating, which is a wonderful way to stay mindful about how fortunate we are to have plentiful food and clean water.

Of course, practicing a form of religion usually involves giving thanks, and The Blue Zones research shows that people who live the longest belong to some kind of religious community. The secular among us can easily reap the same benefits. From a health and well-being standpoint there is ample evidence that practicing gratitude in small ways on a daily basis is a good idea.

Some ideas:

  • When stopped at a traffic light or sitting in traffic, instead of looking at your smartphone, make a list in your head of all of the things you are grateful for. It will lower your blood pressure, release beneficial neurotransmitters and reduce adrenaline and cortisol in your bloodstream.
  • Write a thank-you note or email to someone who has done something nice for you. It will make you smile and it will make the person who receives it smile.
  • As you are falling asleep at night, review your day and come up with one lovely thing you are grateful for. It can be as simple as the hummingbirds who love the tree outside your kitchen window or the fact that you have a job.

Make gratitude a habit. It isn’t that hard to do—and the rewards are immediate and vast.

Refire!…Remotivate!

Boring-Exciting

On a recent plane ride across country, I began to read the book Refire! Make the Rest of Your Life The Best of Your Life by Ken Blanchard and Morton Shaevitz. What stood out for me halfway through the book is refiring is about embracing a different perspective about life or a situation.  At times, we all get into ruts; doing the same thing over and over again.  No excitement!  Auto pilot!  Boringggggg….!!!!

The coaching question that came to mind after reading half the book is what is the spark (small or big) to Refire…to remotivate?  It is about doing something differently, which may mean stepping outside of a comfort zone.

Recently, I coached a client taking on a new program that will expand workforce development opportunities across a large matrix organization.  His primary challenge was how to engage and get buy-in for the new program.  He had difficulty developing an effective action plan that key stakeholders supported.  He was following the normal protocol of presenting his ideas in formal group meetings, which were ineffective.  The client was frustrated and realized he needed another approach.  Our coaching sessions lead him to Refire!  He decided to engage one-on-one with key stakeholders through verbal and written communication.  He knew he had to step outside of his comfort zone to get stakeholder buy-in.  As a result of his one-on-one interactions, he gained a different perspective and was able to meet the needs of each stakeholder.  The client embraced the challenge and saw the personal benefit of building relationships with senior leaders.  By stepping out of his comfort zone, the client built new relationships and was successful in implementing a workforce development program.

Coaches enable clients to Refire!!  It is all about embracing a different perspective and taking the courage to step outside of your comfort zone.

Are you ready to Refire?

The power of connection

My typical Friday includes going to the bank. I’m old school. I go in, and I talk to the tellers. I ask after them and their families. I get an update on a teller who was in a serious car accident, but mending well. They know my name. They greet me, even if I’m going to another window. Now, they know my daughter by name too. I have noticed over time, that , as I leave, I find myself smiling and feeling good. Why? Because I made a human connection. They remember that I recently went on college tours with my daughter. They know she’s saving up for a computer. They know I work from home. So, why did that make me smile? Because making those connections feels GOOD. The first element of Blanchard’s coaching model is all about connection. Creating connection is the ability to demonstrate that you care about and are interested in the person you are speaking with. As a coach, you must remain fully present. Ignoring or mitigating the mental distractions, and listening deeply to what the client says. Like so many coaching skills, connecting is applicable in every area of our lives. Making connections can happen anywhere. Smiling at the person behind you at the grocery store. Picking up the phone instead of sending yet another email to a colleague, looking your spouse in the eyes and really listening when you ask “how was your day”?, Staying up for a midnight chat with your teenager, and of course, the brilliant connections we make with clients. Every single one puts a smile on my face.

Think about the other guy

wallet
My brother lost his wallet last week. Turns out, he’d left it on top of his car when he drove out of a gas station in an unfamiliar town. Fortunately for him, a truck driver was on the country lane behind him. After the wallet blew off the roof, the driver retrieved the wallet and painstakingly collected all of the contents strewn across the road, and turned it in at the state police barracks.
You can imagine how my brother felt when he got the call from Trooper Bradford the next evening! What did my brother do? He took a shower, he ate his dinner, and then he went to the store and purchased a box of chocolates and a card before heading west for the (now familiar) 2 hour drive. He told the state troopers stationed at the barracks that the chocolates were a thank you for Trooper Bradford—and with a wink, said hopefully he’ll share them. He then counted the cash in the wallet–$27 dollars. He wrote in the thank you card to the driver: “When Trooper Bradford called me to say the wallet had been turned in, he recounted how he’d told you you’d done a good deed, and karma would pay you back tenfold. Here is a check for $270. Don’t you wish I carried more cash?” With his wallet securely in his pocket, my brother then drove another 2 hours home.
After the stress of a lost wallet, I was surprised he was so chipper for the 4 hour round trip! I asked him about it and he reminded me that our mom has always told us to “think about the other guy,” especially when we’re feeling sorry for ourselves. My brother was filled with appreciation for both the trooper and the driver, and that really buoyed him. It’s also good to note that he took care to fortify himself before heading west.
Why am I blogging about this? Because this is a great story! Story telling connects us with one another, and I hope it transported you right into my brother’s experience. Story telling is both the art and the heart of being human. Scientifically, listening to stories engage more parts of your brain than simply reviewing facts, which is why stories have staying power (see earlier blogs on neuroscience and LPOV). Story telling matters in families, and it matters in business, too.
Next time you’re having a hard time, think about the other guy. It’s highly probable that shift in focus will improve things for BOTH of you!

Tasty Tidbits from Social Neuroscience

I got the opportunity to attend the 14th NeuroLeadership summit in San Francisco last week. So many wonderful insights from social neuroscientists about how the newest brain research is shedding light on our behaviour. A couple of nuggets for you, our faithful blog readers:

  • Brain exercises do not increase your brain power, despite what Luminosity spends on marketing. Use that time to learn a new language, develop new skills or exercise your body; your brain will reap more benefits.
  • Collaboration does often yield better problem solving and more creative decisions, but it slows things down and the best companies reserve it for special occasions, not as a default.
  • The “in group/out group” response by the brain is constant and pretty much random. This means that the brain is constantly assessing whether other people are “on our team” or “not on our team” and this effect can be created by scientists merely telling you that some people are on your team and others are not. You will instinctively see those on the other team as adversaries.
  • Understanding one’s values, articulating them, writing about them and repeating them increases emotional resilience. Not sure how or why yet, but wow, who knew? The best argument ever for engaging in our Leadership Point of View exercise.
  • One of the most robust findings about learning is that the more “spacing” is used while learning – breaking the content into small chunks and repeating it a couple of times over a period of days with sleep between times – the better. Spacing ensures that the content is encoded into long term memory. Cramming information – learning it quickly right before an exam, for example – will result in the information staying in short term memory and then disappearing. A terrific support for Blended Learning!

Who me…? I don’t need a Coach!!

Man ThinkingLet’s be real… Coaching is not for everyone! AND…I challenge anyone who believes he or she will not receive any value by working with a Professional Coach by answering the following questions:

  • Do you feel stagnant in your role?
  • Have you thought about how to get to the next level in your career?
  • Do you know how to increase your effectiveness as a ______________?
  • Do you know your greater potential and purpose?

If you answer yes to any of the above questions, I strongly believe you will benefit from partnering with a Professional Coach. A coach is skilled at creating a safe and confidential environment so you can fully discuss your goals and aspirations. A coach will help you uncover what is needed to make a change and move forward.

How often does someone take time out to work with a “thought-partner” in moving towards accomplishing personal and professional goals?

Since I am keeping it real…You will be doing the work in a coaching relationship. Self reflection is key. Being truthful with yourself (and your coach) about your behaviors and the effectiveness of them will move you toward your goals. You will experience some “aha” moments as well as some unpleasant awareness with your Coach. The ultimate goal is to increase self-awareness and intentionally decide how to move forward.

Below are questions to consider to get the most value from partnering with a coach:

  • Are you ready to self-reflect and look in the mirror?
  • Are you ready to be open and truthful?
  • Are you ready to do the work to accomplish your goals?
  • Are you ready to take the time to uncover the answers for yourself (A coach does not have the answers. A coach helps you uncover the answers.)?
  • Is the timing right for coaching?

The benefits of partnering with a coach can be very impactful and rewarding. Some benefits may be experienced several months after the coaching has ended. As stated on the International Coach Federation website (http://www.coachfederation.org/need/landing.cfm?ItemNumber=747&navItemNumber=565),

Professional coaching brings many wonderful benefits: fresh perspectives on personal challenges, enhanced decision-making skills, greater interpersonal effectiveness, and increased confidence. And, the list does not end there. Those who undertake coaching also can expect appreciable improvement in productivity, satisfaction with life and work, and the attainment of relevant goals.”

I challenge you to partner with a Coach to move toward reaching your full potential!