Do You Want to Tango?

Tango dancing can be free flowing, energizing, and expressive.  And, downright fun!  There is a leader and a follower.  The follower decides how to respond to the leader in the moment.  It is a collaborative process, which encourages the development of sensitivity, clarity, trust and respect.Tango Picture

A coaching session is similar to a tango dance between a coach and client. A coach is skilled to follow the client in the moment and artfully take the lead.  The key for the coach is to be completely present. The coach’s full attention is on the client while silencing his/her background noise, thoughts, and opinions.  A coach is actively listening and naturally responding from his/her intuition or ‘gut’.  Based on the client’s responses and reactions, the coach will take the lead through asking thought-provoking questions and challenging perspectives.  The coach tangos with the client by carefully leading when appropriate and mostly following in order to create an exploratory, rejuvenating, and possibly, empowering discussion.

Do you tango in a business meeting?  Are you always the lead?  Can you follow?

In order to foster collaboration, trust and respect, it is important to know when to put your thoughts and opinions aside to truly understand and explore the other person’s message.  You consciously make the decision to follow the person in his/her thoughts and ask questions that delves deeper.  You are curious in your questions and responses.  This enhances and expands the two-way dialogue. The discussion becomes energizing!   As a result, there is a clear understanding of the message, an increased awareness, and, possibly, ideas and/or solutions are uncovered that may not have been considered.

Who is your next Tango partner?

Drive by Coaching

A single coaching session can result in a client gaining clarity and jump-starting into action.

Last week, I participated in a “Drive by Coaching” session” after a former client requested an impromptu MH900310158phone coaching session. Sue [name has been changed to honor confidentiality] had an idea of writing a book. She was excited about the idea and had doubts about who would acknowledge her book. She was unsure if she should move forward with the book idea or if she was just “dreaming”. I heard the passion in her voice and jumped right into coach mode to help Sue gain clarity.

During the 50 minute impromptu coaching session, Sue became clear on her purpose for writing a book, narrowed her focus, identified her target audience, clarified her expectations, and created an action plan. Sue was very excited and could visualize the book and individuals enjoying it. She had a realistic plan and was even more passionate! Whew…! I was impressed in what Sue accomplished in our “Drive by Coaching” session.

Once Sue and I ended the call, I reflected on what caused Sue to accomplish so much during one coaching session. Sue had a general vision of a goal for a book project. However, she was doubtful on if and how she should proceed, which is common among many clients. My role as a coach consisted of the following for the “Drive by Coaching” session:

  • A strong connection (existing relationship with a former client)
  • Actively listening – client does most the talking; recap and summarize what is stated
  • Ask questions related to the alignment of client’s values
  • Ask thought-provoking questions to uncover and increase awareness of the purpose and intention
  • Acknowledge the passion and energy (or lack of it)
  • Move to action quickly, which should come naturally from the client

All Sue needed was a “Drive by Coaching” session to move her forward!

Being Positive in Challenging Situations

Generally, every individual has experienced a professional or personal challenging situation that has sparked negativity or a stifling outlook.

I have experienced several challenging situations that has caused me to spiral downward into a negative, unproductive, and self-pity mentality. Not a pretty picture!!!

It is not fun being around someone who is negative. A negative perspective does not serve anyone. Time will continue to move on as one wallows in a perceived unfavorable situation.

So, what is the key to avoid spiraling downward into negativity? You have a choice! You can consciously choose to think positive about a situation by controlling your emotions, looking for the learning, and creating a productive action plan/strategy.

Depending on the situation, it may take a lot of soul searching, support from others, and aligning your values and passion to gain and maintain a positive outlook. It can be done!!

Below are 6 Questions to ask yourself as you move toward negativity.

1. What is the reality of the situation?
2. What are the facts?
3. What control do I have?
4. What is the learning for ME? (What is my role in the situation? What are the productive and unproductive behaviors?)
5. What would it take to move beyond the situation?
6. Based on the reality and facts of the situation, what is my productive plan of action moving forward?

How will you handle the next curve ball that comes your way?

It’s Not About You! – 5 Questions to ensure the focus is on the client.

The focus of coaching is to serve the client. Serving the client includes listening for understanding (active listening), asking thought-provoking and curious questions that lead to deeper awareness, and challenging current perspectives. It is important to understand the client’s current situation, needs, and goals. The role of a coach is to put aside what he or she thinks is best for the client and focus on coaching the client to identify the best solution.

Below are 5 questions for a coach to ensure the focus is on the client.

1) Are you eager to share a solution or a similar experience?
(A client’s experiences, perceptions, and realities may differ from the coach. Do not assume they are the same!)

2) Are you leading or listening?
(Are you offering suggestions or asking open-ended questions?)

3) Who feels better at the end of a coaching session?
(Are you providing solutions for your client or helping your client identify his or her own solutions?)

4) Are you allowing your client to work at his or her own pace or are you setting the pace?
(Are you tied to a process and prematurely pushing your client to action or allowing your client to reflect and explore in the present?)

5) Are you challenging your client based on his or her needs and vision or based on your vision for your client?
(Are you serving your client or yourself?)

There have been times during coaching sessions that I had to catch myself from eagerly giving advice or sharing my experiences. At this point, I realize I am focusing on me and not the client. Of course, I have good intentions and want to help my clients. As a coach, I know it is not about what I think. It is about zooming in on clients to support, listen, challenge, and encourage based on their goals.

The Ultimate Achievement…Can Become a Reality!

The ultimate achievement begins with a simple goal!

The Baltimore Ravens Super Bowl victory was an ultimate achievement!

John and Jim Harbaugh, head coaches for the Raven and 49ers respectively, began their season with simple goals: To field competitive teams and make it into the NFL Playoffs. These simple goals led to a chance to accomplish the ultimate goal for all professional football teams.

It is easy to set a goal.  The real challenge is the mindset and work it takes to accomplish the goal.

Below are a few questions to ask yourself before you commit to a goal.  Also, ask these questions again 1-2 months later to ensure the goal is right for you.

  • What is the benefit of achieving the goal?
  • What is the goal worth to me?
  • How determined am I to achieving the goal?
  • What am I willing to give up?
  • Is it the right time for this goal?
  • How will I keep myself on track to achieving the goal?

Accomplishing a goal is fulfilling and memorable (and work)!  Just ask the Baltimore Ravens!!

That’s One Perspective…

What’s another?

It is so common to see things through the lens of only one perspective based on personal experiences, backgrounds, and values. “Everyone should see things my way – Right?… Wrong!” I have stated several times, “There are always 3 sides to a story.” This can be translated to “There are at least 3 perspectives to a situation.” Once a person steps outside of his or her own mindset, the situation is broaden to include other possible viewpoints, reasons, solutions, etc.

I worked with a client who believed his manager only wanted to know when the project will be completed. The client experienced several challenges, which he tried to communicate to his manager. The manager nonchalantly acknowledged the challenges and focused on the project end date. The client’s communication was based only on his perspective and as a result was ineffective.

During the coaching session, I questioned my client on how might he communicate the challenges from his manager’s perspective? “How would you communicate from the president’s or another department team member’s perspective who is impacted by the project?” As a result, the client was able to broaden his thinking to create a communication that captured the challenges, the impact of the challenges across many departments, and the possible alternatives and solutions to complete the project by the deadline. The challenges were communicated from different viewpoints (a micro and macro level) to show the impact throughout the company.

Sometimes we get so stuck in our own perspectives that we are missing out on other possible alternatives and win-win solutions!!

Controlling the Negative Self-Talk

Negative self-talk can be very difficult to manage especially when taking on new challenges.

Do you have a negative and self-doubting internal voice that seems to want to take control at times?

My negative and doubting self-talk (Ms. Negative) can be so loud at times when I am stepping outside of my normal character.

I recently accepted my husband’s challenge to attend a two-day motorcycle safety course to obtain a motorcycle operator’s license. Of course, my husband was so excited and thrilled. I, on the other hand, was hesitant, fearful, and nervous. I never operated a motorcycle. So, this was definitely a challenge for me.

Immediately, my negative and self-doubting internal person began to talk randomly leading up to and during the class. I became extremely aware of the negative talk and counter-reacted with positive and confident thoughts as much as possible. Honestly, it was hard to do at times. I would tell myself it would be fun riding a motorcycle. Ms. Negative would laugh and say, “Remember you must learn to shift the gears without stalling. The bike could fall on you as you go around curves and you could get a broken leg, a bad burn, and/or hit your head…”. Ms. Negative was doing her best to get me to quit.

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