Category Archives: coaching

Both Sides Now (Of Your Brain, That Is)

Many of us enter a new year with all kinds of energy and all sorts of plans for personal development, improvement, expansion, change. By the time February looms, many of us have forgotten those plans.

My approach to resolutions and plans, most of the time, has been more logical and analytic that creative and intuitive. I’ve made lists and plans and this year even experimented with (uhg!) spread sheets. I’ve concluded already that another approach is called for. Logic and creativity. I’m revisiting my overarching vision for this phase of my life and revising my vision statement, then taking it a step further and painting it. I’m not creating a vision board, although I may do that for my goals. I’m creating something completely abstract.

I expect this to help my creative side kick in as I move forward. I also expect my painting to help me create richer, more meaningful goals. Then I’ll switch to logic – subgoals, action steps, potential obstacles and steps to eliminate those obstacles. At that point, those spreadsheets will take on more meaning.

This will be a shared experiment. Karen Friedland and I are using this technique in a workshop in February. It’s on the events page here. Our next step will be to repeat this in a virtual environment, so if you want to come play with us and can’t make it to Brooklyn, stay tuned for updates – both about how the experiment is progressing and how you can join.

Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow

The third cycle of coaching with a big municipal agency is coming to a close slowly, as the May end turned into a flood of last-minute make-up appointments that will run through June.

A few minutes ago I said farewell to another client who, after a slightly slow start turned out to make more and more significant changes than any of the other participants. I will miss her. I’ll miss her bursts of insight and the calls where she coached herself so effectively that all I needed to do was offer the occasional word of encouragement.

I’ll miss the guy who started with off-the-charts blood pressure and cholesterol counts who , in his newly calm state is laughing at situations that used to send him into a fury.

I’ll miss the client I knew from a past career who is becoming a friend and another client who I’ve bonded so strongly with that I can’t imagine not staying connected to.

I’ll miss the ones who kept canceling their appointments. I’ll miss the ones who were always late to call. And the ones who could never think of something to talk about but wanted to keep trying.

Fifteen vibrant, interesting men and women will be leaving my weekly life by the end of June. After six months, how could they not have changed me? I’m a better coach for having conversations with each of them.

In September, there will be a new group, different yet the same. I’m imagining the wave of change that is moving through the organization now that over a hundred men and women go on to create their own coaching cultures. And I smile.

Everyone Can Be a Coach?

Thomas Leonard, called by many the father of modern coaching, always said everyone can be a coach. I’m not altogether sold on that. What I do believe, though, is that everyone can and should use coaching skills. The kind of clear, open communication, deep listening, and support that exist within a coaching relationship can be learned and would enhance all our relationships.

The International Association of Coaching created nine Coaching Masteries™ that create a framework that describe excellence in coaching. They also describe a set of skills that could enhance the work of managers, health care professionals, teachers, parents, and, in fact, anyone who interacts with other people.

Here’s a quick look at the IAC Coaching Masteries™:

1. Establishing and maintaining a relationship of trust.

This is about creating a supportive relationship and a safe space for personal transformation. What would it be like if every teacher practiced this skill? How much more would our children learn?

2. Perceiving, affirming and expanding the client’s potential.

This one could change the world if we all tried it. What can you notice that’s special in everyone you encounter/ Do you let them know?

3. Engaged listening

Most managers have had training in Active Listening. And many forget to use the skills. Are you paying full attention to the conversations you’re in? Are you attuned to the subtleties? Body language? Intonation? There’s valuable information there.

4. Processing in the present.

How often do you drift in a conversation? How often are you focused on anything but the present moment? Staying in the present helps us avoid judgements. It stops the act of putting things off and the fantasy that all we need to do is wait. Processing in the present keeps coach and client, manager and staff, teacher and student focused on what is really going on.

5. Expressing

Sounds simple, right? This is about going beyond simple talking to being aware of all aspects of communication.

6. Clarifying

How can we communicate in ways that are clear, simple and direct? How can we help someone else set and maintain clear goals? Managers should have this as an integral part of their skill set. Health care workers could use this Mastery to work towards real health.

8. Inviting possibilities.

Are you curious? Do you wonder, “what if?” Do you explore not only all the available options but invent a few more?  this is expansion a its best.

9. Helping clients create and use supportive environments.

How can we all help each other develop and maintain support networks? How can teachers, managers, parents, friends encourage growth?

That’s a quick glimpse of a system that can work for all of us. How can you incorporate these into your life?

Overburdened? Put-upon? Why?

In the past few months, more people than usual have been asking me to do things. Sound familiar? Somehow, projects seem to come in clusters, don’t they. And somehow, it’s easy to forget how many projects I’ve already said yes to. And somehow, it’s hard to say no.

So, sometimes I feel like this –

Put-upon. Very, very put-upon. And resentful. Very, very resentful. Why?
It’s so easy to go to a negative space. Why me? Why couldn’t they ask someone else? Don’t they see how busy I am?

Sometimes I feel resentful. Especially when the person asking doesn’t seem willing to take no for an answer. Or tells me that they’ve managed to fit one more thing into their busy life. Or tells me I’ll have lots of support. Or tells me it will be good for me to take on this responsibility.

I knew that I had work to do if I wanted to say no cleanly to the latest request. So, of course, I called my coach. We teased out my reactions. We looked at the motivations I was ascribing to other people. We eliminated several pounds of unwelcome mind-chatter.

I had been feeling tricked because the scope of the project was revealed in bits and pieces. I had been feeling angry that other people seemed to feel they knew what was best for me. As we peeled away the levels, I found myself laughing about the situation.

No one was acting out of malice or bad motives. They simply found a way to solve an organizational problem. They were putting the organization first. And, having found a workable solution (from their viewpoint) were not willing to move on to another. With my coach’s help, I was able to see that that was them. Not me. The solution works well for them. Not me. And, essentially, their need to move on is really not my problem. It’s theirs.

So, I’m going to use that word I’m always telling my clients they need to use. No. Yes, I am flattered; yes, I do understand why you asked me, but no. I can’t do this right now. Thank you for asking.

If they are disappointed, they will deal with it and move on. I will not hold their disappointment. I will not feel guilty for taking care of myself. In fact, I’m absolutely delighted to acknowledge my capacity and – yes – limitations.

I knew what I wanted all along. With a little great coaching, I was able to be comfortable with my decision – to make it without guilt or resentment.
Taking the time to examine my feelings and separate facts from stories and reframe made all the difference.

And now I feel like this –

*Previously posted on the Expanding Your Comfort Zone blog.