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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One Thing at a Time!

There are times when there is so much going on personally and professionally that I am running around in circles, experiencing high levels of stress, and/or staring at the computer screen (immobile) feeling my heart racing. My thoughts are scattered. I vision my thoughts are fighting each other trying to be at the front of the line of my ‘to do list.’ Have you ever experienced this? 

Well, I have been experiencing it over the past couple of weeks. The task of writing this bloImageg, along with other tasks, has battled for first place. Since there is only one day left prior to posting this blog, the task is now at the front of the line standing boldly and smiling!!

Throughout the past few weeks when I realized I was about to “lose it” (not in control), I put my own coaching hat on (since I am a certified coach and between coaching sessions with my own coach) and asked myself, “What is most important to complete right now?” I stated to myself out loud, “One thing at a time!” Then, I breathed!! This is my wake up call! I reevaluated the tasks that needed to be completed and made a conscious choice, let me repeat this…a conscious choice, of what my next action or task would be based on my values and what is most important.

Some of my values conflict with one another such as family, fitness, and producing high quality work. For example, in order to produce high quality work, there are many times I must work on the weekends or long hours to meet deadlines and respond timely to others located in different time zones. This competes with time I spend with my family or myself. I planned to write this blog post over the weekend, but I consciously chose, which was not easy (guilt factor in my mind), to spend time with my family and prepare for several upcoming family events. In order to be effective and create high quality work or have high quality personal time, the focus must be on one task at a time.

It is important to recognize when I am feeling out of control and question “How important is this really and how does it align with my values?” “What is the one thing I need to focus on right now?

So, my suggestion to anyone who feels out of control and stressed at times is to simply coach yourself. Here are a few sample questions:

  • What is the priority?
  • What task is most important to be completed right now?
  • How does completing the task at this moment align with your values?
  • What are you willing to accept?

Also, remember to breathe!!!


Why Coaching…?

Coaching leads to insight…motivation…direction…action…achievement…success…peace of mind!

A coach creates the space that allows you to tackle your fears and biggest challenges into a manageable plan.

A coach will champion you to stretch beyond your limits and comfort area to gain greater satisfaction.

A coach inspires you to dream (inside and outside of the workplace)!

A coach will be your confidant who speaks simply truths.

A coach’s agenda is YOU achieving your goals.

As a coach, it is extremely rewarding to observe clients develop beyond their own expectations.

As a client, my coach has helped me overcome some of my assumed constraints, which lead me to become a certified Coach!

Why coaching…Why not?

Going Beyond “Why”

What is your first response when someone asks, “Why did you do (or not do) ________________?

Do you defend your actions or pull away from the person? Most of us do.

When I have asked a why question, many times the response has come from a defensive perspective. For example, I asked my son why his math assignment was not completed. His immediate response was a scowl and defensive attitude as he stated he was working on his science homework. My son’s demeanor changed due to the “why” question I asked him. As a coach, I immediately realized I should have asked a more appropriate question that encouraged open communication such as “What caused you not to have your math assignment completed by now?” By eliminating “why” in the question, my son would not have perceived me as being judgmental and would have openly shared his reasons for his science homework taking so long, which caused a delay in his math homework. As a result, the lines of communication would have been open for additional understanding, problem-solving, and future actions.

I recently attended an ICF chapter meeting and the speaker presented on powerful questions. The speaker emphasized the impact of “why” questions. As I learned in coaching school and through personal experiences, the speaker reinforced that “why” questions come from judgment, promote defensiveness, create separation, and focus on explaining rationale. “Why” questions simply do not contribute to effective conversations.

Effective communication leads to growth, progress, and partnerships. Reframing “why” questions into “what,” “how,” or “when” questions leads to open and productive communication. It is important to be aware of the impact of “why” questions, which can move a conversation backward creating separation.

Pay attention how often you start with a “why” question and the impact it makes.


What’s Your Fear?

Recently, I was in a conversation with a highly-skilled coach about potential coaching topics for an upcoming conference. One topic the coach suggested was around fear.

Since my conversation with the coach, I have been thinking about the word fear.

How has fear held me back? What behaviors am I exhibiting due to fear?

As a coach, I recognized there were times that fear prevented me from truly serving my clients. I played it safe in asking questions, making challenging requests, and incorporating direct communication. My fear was being less than perfect and disappointing my clients. I placed limitations on myself and also on my clients. I allowed fear to stand in the way of being a highly impactful coach that leads clients to deeper discovery and action. I questioned, what was the missed potential?

Everyone has fears: Fear of failing, Fear of success, Fear of not being the best, Fear of death.

Individuals respond to fear in different ways consciously or unconsciously. It may be subtle or aggressive. As a result, individuals’ actions and behaviors are unproductive, limiting, and/or costly to themselves and others.

What are your fears? What opportunities are you losing by not facing your fears and moving beyond them?

“Many of our fears are tissue-paper-thin, and a single courageous step would carry us clear through them.”  ~Brendan Francis


Confidence Unleashed!

To watch someone who has gained confidence in his or her abilities perform is a beautiful thing!

I have watched my son struggle with confidence in his basketball abilities over the past two years. This season my son is playing basketball with great confidence. He finally believes in himself and it shows on the court. As his mother, some of his moves have shocked me, and I have questioned, “Is that my son?!”

So, what finally snapped inside my son for him to become fully confident in his basketball abilities? What causes any individual, regardless of age, to become confident?

For my son, I watched the change come as a result of repeated praising and reassurance he received from his peers and authority figures, from seeing his teammates succeed, and from being challenged. Coaches and parents believed in him before he believed in himself. It took time before he truly could see it.

As a coach, what it took for my son to step into his confidence is very similar to what takes place in coaching sessions with clients. Some clients begin with self-doubt about their abilities. By creating a safe and trusting environment, clients can be encouraged through praisings, role play, and overcoming challenges that build their confidence. Clients who are confident change behaviors and move toward their goals, which increase their effectiveness and personal satisfaction. Almost everyone needs a champion at some point to boost his or her confidence and accomplish a leap to a new level of performance.

Do you have the champion you need right now?


How Determined Are You Really?

Coaches assist clients in identifying personal and professional goals. Once goals are identified, coaches help clients realize their level of determination in accomplishing them.

Here is where the “rubber meets the road!”

Clients must decide what they are willing to say “no” to in order to say “yes” to moving toward their goals. What are they willing to sacrifice?

My coach helped me in clarifying how determined I was in pursuing a Masters in Business Administration, while working full-time and being a mother and wife. Through thought-provoking questions, I realized how important it was to earn a MBA. It was truly a personal goal. My coach helped me realize the impact of accomplishing this goal as well as not pursuing a MBA. I accepted the sacrifices I needed to make (working late hours, being overly tired, weekends dedicated to school work, etc.) in order to increase my self-satisfaction. I was determined! As a result, I have accomplished my goal!

A coach will help clients clarify goals, identify sacrifices, and reveal their level of determination in achieving goals. Clients will become aware of what is truly fueling their determination, such as self-satisfaction, money, status, team performance, etc.

As a coach, my questions to you are “How determined are you in achieving your goals and what sacrifices are you willing to make?”


Assessments Lead to Purposeful Actions

I recently heard a certified coach give a presentation on communication and the use of personality assessments. The assessment the presenter had the audience complete was the Personal Coaching Styles Inventory (PCSI). The PCSI identifies four natural personality styles. It is used to help individuals effectively communicate with others.

There are variations of leadership, personality, and behavioral assessments that are used by professional coaches. For example, DISC Profile, Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, Leadership Action Profile, and Entrepreneurial Strengths Assessment. These assessments are used to gather information about clients and broaden their perspectives.

The purpose of an assessment is to help individuals identify their strengths, dominating personality, natural behaviors, and values. The results can be obvious, surprising, or disturbing. Regardless of the results, individuals gain awareness and information of themselves that can lead to purposeful actions.

Once a client has received an assessment report, a coach will ask two basic questions: “What have you learned from the report?” and “What do you want to do with the information?”

The coach’s role is to coach the client on what he/she learned that could lead to the awareness of specific behaviors, motivators, and feelings. For example, a client’s report indicates the client is highly directive. The coach asks the client “What is the impact of your highly directive style?” and/or “How do you see yourself interacting with others?” These questions cause the client to self-reflect on one’s own motives and behaviors. As a result, the client decides if specific behaviors need to change. If a change is necessary, the coach assists in identifying an action plan.

Assessments are valuable tools to increase awareness and broaden one’s perspective. In a coaching relationship, assessments provide the client and the coach with a wealth of information that can lead to self-awareness, growth, action, and opportunities. Assessments can also validate a client’s successful behaviors, which require no action or a need to change.

Perceptions – Window of Opportunity

Do you know how others perceive you as a leader? Knowing how others perceive you is valuable information. Perceptions lead to awareness, which opens the window of opportunity.

As people interact with each other, perceptions are quickly formed. They are formed based on:

  • observed behaviors,
  • direct or indirect involvement, and
  • one’s own frame of reference.

Although perceptions may or may not be accurate, future interactions are based on formed perceptions. For example, a direct report has a perception of his leader as uncaring and focused only on bottomline results. This perception was formed from the leader’s demanding behaviors and insensitive interactions in the past. As a result, the direct report is hesitant to ask for help, share information, and engage regularly with his leader. Perceptions could limit the personal and professional growth of relationships. As the slogan goes, “Perception is reality.”

A Leader must be aware that others will definitely formulate their own perceptions based on small samples of the leader’s behaviors and other variables. By being aware of team members and peers’ perceptions at all times, a leader can gain insight and awareness of his or her effectiveness. This valuable information provides an opportunity for the leader to adjust behaviors and open lines of communication.

I have coached several clients on topics that relate to how they are perceived by others: team members, managers, and peers. When clients’ perceptions of themselves are different from how others’ perceive them, first, clients are enlightened with the information, and second, they determine how to react to the information. Clients reflect on their behaviors and effectiveness through the coaching process. By answering thought-provoking questions, clients uncover what is driving their effective or ineffective behaviors. For example, a client realizes she is quick to give a solution or direction to direct reports and does not ask for their thoughts and feedback. As a result, she is causing her direct reports to be dependent on her and not encouraging collaboration in finding solutions. Being aware of others’ perceptions allow clients to adjust their behaviors and incorporate specific strategies to increase their effectiveness and contribute to creating accurate perceptions.

As individuals and human beings, perceptions will be formed! The question is how do you want to influence others’ perceptions?


Passion – Do you have it?

In order to succeed in your role as a leader, or in any position, you must have passion. Passion is the compelling emotion that contributes to providing excellence, overcoming obstacles, going beyond the “call of duty”, and genuinely caring about your role. There is an enthusiastic and concentrated drive toward achievement. Passion is tied to values and performance.

During a coaching call, my client uncovered an aspect of her role that did not align with her personal values. As a result, the client was not passionate in her assignment. She had become disinterested and de-motivated and recognized this led to unproductive behaviors.  This awareness led the client to discover the link between passion and values. The client took control of identifying alternative approaches and behaviors that supported her values. By doing so, I could hear her interest and her motivation coming back. The passion had returned!

A leader with passion is tied to his or her values and will emanate enthusiasm and determination. He or she will display high energy and the ability to motivate others to achieve individual and company goals. When obstacles are encountered, a leader will remain focused in finding solutions and engaging others. Passion breeds teamwork, positive energy, and achievement – Success!

As a leader, is your passion tied to your behaviors, values, and performance?