Everyone has a bad day now and again, me included. My coach wasn’t handy, and I really wanted to change how my day was going. So, I did a little bit of self coaching. Here are the five questions I asked myself, to turn my day around.
What is making my day “bad”? Well, email overwhelm, demands on my time, falling behind on deadlines, and in general, living the corporate life that so many of our clients live every day.
What would a great day look like? Oh, easy. Being on top of my work. Getting the top 5 things on my “to do” list done. Taking the time to smell the roses.
What needs to be done first? Okay, now I’m unstuck. The first thing I needed to do was the thing I had been putting off. A little progress there, and voila – I’m back on track.
What else makes your day “great”? Now this is fun to ponder! For me, that means doing something kind for someone. A visit with my new 92 year old friend. $6.00 worth of flowers and 30 minutes of time has given me a week of smiles and good cheer. Those random acts of kindness really do work.
What keeps your days great? Harder to answer this one, because I can get caught in that vicious email cycle all too easily. My personal answer is to do at least 2 things on my “to do” list BEFORE I read my email and to do one thing every day that makes me smile; an hour in the bookstore, a hug from my daughter, checking off another item on my to do list.
So the next time you are having a “bad” day – how would you “self coach” to a great day?
Every coach knows when coaching is really working, after all clients keep coming back for more; they say it’s valuable and they change in fundamental ways. The challenge is in how to measure the value of coaching. In one on one relationships this may be less important than when a corporate organization is picking up the tab. The purpose of a corporation is to increase value to the shareholder – to make a profit. Everything that goes on in corporations is aimed at that one simple goal. So if we are coaching people in corporate organizations at some point we are going to be expected to show the value of coaching. How is it contributing to the bottom line? The good news is that there ARE ways to do so.’
1. Link client objectives to corporate strategies
2. Set SMART goals and focus on how the goals will change the organization (as well as your client)
3. Identify internal observers who know what the goals are – and can comment on gains
4. Conduct a pre and post measurement – use scaling such as a likert scale to measure change
5. Put a dollar value on change
How do you measure the value of coaching?
William James once said “My first act of free will is to believe in free will.” Freedom and free will are top of mind for me, given the upcoming American Independence Day. Coaching often supports one of freedom’s basic elements, that of choice. In a society that values freedom above all else it is sometimes shocking to me that as individuals we forget that we have choices. We have a choice about how we respond to the jerk that cuts us off in traffic, the boss who offers us constructive criticism, or the teammate whose work affects ours. We can choose to beat ourselves up, or embrace the learning that comes from failure. We can choose to ignore opportunity, or grasp it with both hands. We exert our free will when we make these choices Okay, so how does this relate to coaching? When we get stuck a great coach can remind us that we make those choices and then help us make them with intention. Coaching helps us clearly see where we can adjust, adapt, flex, and simply choose how we will feel, how we will respond, and who we will be.
So I wonder, what choices are you making?
That’s what we say, right? To convey to others that the thing we are thinking about, or doing is not as complicated as boosting several tons of metal and a few human beings off the plant. And yet, the human brain makes more than a million billon connections between neurons,. That is more than the number of breaths you might take in a lifetime! As a coach it is our role to help change how and when those neurons fire. We ask clients to imagine the future. We ask them to change behavior. We work with them to shift thinking. In essence we are asking people to re-wire their brains, and to make some of those million billion connections work differently. We are remaping the connectome. No. It isn’t rocket science. I suspect it is something FAR more complicated. When people ask me about what I do, I tell them it isn’t rocket science –and then I smile.
For a great article on the brain check out Carl Zimmer’s article in Discover – April 2012 (p. 22-23)
There is a movement afoot in the world. It’s all about being happy. Happy you ask? How silly, really, to think about being happy as if we have some actual, internal control over our own happiness. After all, isn’t being happy something that just happens to us? Turns out, it’s not!
In fact, as a coach you may find yourself working with clients who want just a little bit more happiness in their life. Some focus on the next big promotion, some on giving back to their community. Still others in finding balance between the excessive email inbox, and the completely unplugged vacation in the Bahamas. Really, though, happiness is all around us. Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project suggests that with planned and thoughtful intention one can increase feelings of happiness. So I tried it. For one week I asked myself “What makes me happy?” and then I made sure to do at least one thing every day that put a smile on my face. I discovered that not only was I happier, but everyone around me was happier too! How fantastic. My husband was smiling more. My daughter was humming in the shower. Okay, now to apply it to my profession. I began asking clients “what makes you happy?” The answers were often different and always fascinating. Every person I asked took control in some way for noticing, and then acting upon their own happiness. Early results show that as they became happier so did everyone around THEM!
Yep, it’s a movement all right. One well worth expanding on. So it’s your turn now.
What makes YOU happy?
Goal setting is a basic part of any success methodology. We set small goals and big ones – and sometimes even HUGE goals But what happens once the goal is achieved? Do we stop and celebrate? Do we stop and take time to think about the journey we have just taken? Or do we move on to the next goal? I recently achieved one of those HUGE goals, three years in the making. My first reaction was relief. I was finally done. But then I started thinking about all the other things I wanted to achieve and I jumped right into planning and thinking about my next big goal. I had failed completely to do two critical things. The first was to celebrate. After all a three year effort is surely worth some hoopla. Okay. Party planned. The second thing I failed to do was take the time to think about the journey itself. Often the most important part of achieving a goal is the experiences we collect, the people we meet and the things we learn along the way. What do you remember most about the last goal you achieved? How will you apply what you learned? Who did you meet along the way that influenced you, changed you, or made you think in a new way? Goal setting isn’t just about achieving a goal. It is also about the journey. Where are you going next?
I am a foodie. I avidly watch the “The Next Food Network Star”, not only for the amazing food each chef makes, but to watch the growth and development each contestant achieves over time. One of the things that make the final four contestants successful is the ability to articulate their point of view. In this case, the POV is about who they are, what food they cook and why. Being a leader is similar to being a contestant. A leader must know who they are, and what they stand for in order to get others to follow.
At Blanchard, we know that a leadership point of view can be developed. All the ingredients are already present in each of us. We just need to sift, mix, and blend those elements together. Ask yourself “Who inspires me? What are my core values? What do I believe? “ Do the work to think through the recipe that is uniquely YOU, and like the Sandwich King (my personal favorite) or the spicy Mexican chef (another contender), you will discover that the more you know yourself, and are true to yourself, the clearer will be your leadership point of view.
My LPOV is like Creme Brulee – simple ingredients transformed into something satisfying and elegant. What ingredients are in your point of view and what masterpiece will you create?
In the last few years an interesting phenomena has arisen. Technology has provided us with ways to stay connected to the point where we are expected to be connected 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Long gone is the forty hour work week. We are inundated with email, voice mail, tweets, and blogs. In fact, we have made Facebook a verb. We post about what we are doing and how we are feeling.
A few weeks ago I headed out of town for a short business trip. I planned on being in meetings or traveling all day. As a result not only did I put an “out of office” automatic response on my email, I found myself writing that I would have no access to email or voicemail while I was gone. I would not be able to access my email while on the plane, or return a phone call while in a meeting. I planned to be “unplugged.” It was necessary yet uncomfortable.
I have a colleague that plans intensely for a week long “completely unplugged” vacation. We all applaud (and envy) her for her strong boundaries! How crazy is that? We treat being disconnected as something unusual, and yet…
Unplugged? YES! That is when I do my best thinking. Unplugged? YES! That’s when I am fully present. Unplugged? YES! That is when I re-charge, rejuvenate, reconnect and relax.
So I say to everyone who has ever agonized over an out of office message – unplug and enjoy.
How many times are you asked for an opinion, or a thought, or feedback? Perhaps in your last interview, or maybe during a key presentation to your peers? It seems that we are constantly tweeting, face booking, blogging, and otherwise commenting on everything from our personal mood, to great world events. We are asked for our informed or uninformed opinion about almost everything.
I was at a party a few days ago and I joined a group of friends opining about the lamentable state of the economy. I moved on to another group having a heated discussion about religion in the workplace. A third group laughingly discussed the pros and cons of their respective bosses. I found I had nothing to say. Nothing at all. And then what I realized is the less I had to say the more I listened. Really listened. And I learned quite a few things, about my friends, my clients, my colleagues, and my family. I realize that there are times when I will have to offer an opinion. What I am noticing is that I can be much more selective about when and how much I offer. The beauty of this, is that it leaves so much more room for listening. Here is what I learned: Every boss is human and has good points and bad. People really care about connection to each other and to something greater than oneself. The economy is beyond my scope of control. People love to be listened to.
So that’s it. I have nothing to say.
We have had a lot of snow this year. But Spring eventually comes, and blossoms peek up though the snow, spreading beautiful color across our landscape. I was sitting in my office the other day, grumpily telling my husband all about the things that had gone wrong that day. The “to do” list was still 9 items from being complete, and cranky clients and co-workers had expressed their unhappiness all day long. Then I noticed my husband’s smile as he turned his head to look out my window. There, nestled between other perennial growth, stood a lone Iris. And just like that my day brightened. Three years ago my husband took the time to plant several irises though out our yard. He never said a word. He just trusted that one day I would look out and see those gorgeous purple blooms and smile. Coaching is like that. We plant seeds, never saying much about what we are doing, or why. Months and sometimes years later those seeds bloom. We don’t know when we plant seeds if they will ever bloom, but we plant, none-the-less. My day was suddenly full of delight and joy, thanks to a simple act of love by my husband. As a coach, I care for my clients by serving them. I keep planting those seeds trusting and knowing that there is fertile soil and that something of beauty will grow.
So, I leave you with this thought – What seeds are you planting?