Tag 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.

Midlife – At the Cusp? A Few Hints.

What happens when, at mid-life, you wake up feeling that there must be something more? Anne’s story provides some clues. Anne went from jet mechanic in the military to legal secretary to sales professional to sales management back to sales professional. In her last career, she was doing recycling – “which is pretty much, you know, what kind of trash can I buy? And now I’m doing technology sales.”

When she “got fed up” with technology sales and was also transitioning through menopause, she walked away from her job and detoured into recycling before moving into technology sales. She said:
“I moved into technology sales because I was ready for a change, but I don’t like it. I find that these kids – and they are – just kids – they’re half my age and they just don’t get it I was taught that when you’re at a job you run it for profit and you follow business ethics and you don’t cut corners. You don’t cut throats, you respect one another. There’s two type of people – there’s the kind – you know, when you walk into a furniture store and they’re all can I help you, can I help you and then there’s the kind of sales person who wants to build a relationship and develop that relationship. These kids don’t get relationship sales. They have this what’s in it for me mentality and I just got fed up with the whole environment. I was just fed up with these whiny, backstabbing kids. They aren’t taught that businesses are run for profit – that you run it as if it’s your own business – they don’t have that mentality. They have a drama queen mentality.”

This might have been a great place to do some research and some reassessment. When you suddenly feel out of place, one first step is to find out more about the people surrounding you. There are excellent resources for understanding Gen X and Gen Y. Are they truly a whiny bunch or do they simply think and express themselves differently? The newest cohorts in the workplace don’t defer to authority the way older workers do. They express their ideas and opinions. They look for ways to improve processes and they move quickly. Perhaps understanding this might have helped Anne.

Reassessment should be part of every life transition. Who are you now? What do you want? Anne did this:

“It was a real journey. Yeah – I really started to look at me as me. I mean, me as a bottom-feeder. You know, I guess I really allowed myself to feel kicked down. It lasted until I decided to get back into technology sales. Which was 13 months. And I don’t know if it was brought on by menopause – I mean, I really and truly don’t what brought that on – or post-menopause.
I didn’t realize that was my next journey – my next transition, if you will. And it was a transition, because I did feel completely kicked down. I read a lot of therapy books. And start seeing a psychologist – a psychiatrist . I mean, literally, to pick myself back up. I’ve spent this whole year reading all kinds of books. I read The Art and Science of Communication: Tools for the Effective Communication in the Workplace by P.F. Perkins – she really did do a good job writing about interracial – or different groups – she writes about working with these young kids, The Last Lecture- everybody knows that was a good book, by Randy Pausch, The Secret – and then I found a really good tape called The Secret Things to God – every Sunday now I’m pretty darned religious. I don’t know that that had popped out, but now it’s back in. Keeping the Love You Find, 7 Habits of Effective People, The Power of Positive Thinking, How to Win Friends and Influence People, Giving the Love that Heals. I mean, I was really kicked down. I really, um – Your Perfect Right, which was an excellent book by Albert Nevins.”

And she found a good therapist:

“When I was growing up – and I’m a 60’s child – late 60’s , early 70’s is when I graduated, and coming from California, Haight-Ashbury – and I know that growing up I’d always heard about a generation gap. Well that’s what I feel I’m caught up in right now. It is a generation gap. And that’s what prompted me to start seeing Dr. B – was that there was such a communication gap between myself and my peers and these younger kids.”

There are great self-help books, excellent therapists, wonderful workshops and brilliant coaches all out there for you. I love Suzanne Braun Levine’s Inventing the Rest of Our Lives. A big portion of my own coaching practice involves working with women at midlife who want to sort out what’s next. As Anne says,

“Let’s just say when you’re kicked down, it’s a a journey to pick yourself back up. It really is. And it’s a lot of self-assessment. And its not so much of looking backwards. Its living in the now and what can I do to adjust to the now.”

Feeling down? Confused? Here are a few resources available to you at www.susanrmeyer.com/free-resources/:

Creating Your Goal Blueprint Part 1: Tips From a Life Architect
Having trouble creating a clear action plan? Visualizing your goals in detail? As a Life Architect, I’ve noticed that a few simple steps can change vague plans into a detailed blueprint, a clear vision of your future, and actionable plans.

Creating Your Goal Blueprint, Part 2: Tips From a Life Architect
Do you create wonderful goals, only to flounder when you try to make them a reality? As a Life Architect, I’ve noticed that this is often true – unless you’ve completed your goals blueprint. Learn how to create a plan to create sub-goals, identify potential obstacles and plan to overcome them to achieve your goals.

Making Your Support Network Work for You
Feeling overwhelmed? Alone? Stressed out? Building and maintaining a good support network will work wonders. Find out how!

Mapping Midlife – The Magic of Friendship
Lucy and Ethel; Rachel, Monica and Phoebe; Betty and Wilma. What do they all have in common? They were – are – lifelong friends. Somewhere out there almost any day you can find a rerun of these great friends supporting each other, sometimes annoying each other, but always there in the end.

Five Easy Steps to Repurpose Your Skills For a New Career
Ready for a new career? Whether you’re re-entering, moving up or moving on, knowing how to repurpose your skills can open new doors. What do you already know that you’re not showcasing?

Look around – most coaches offer free resources; bookstores and libraries are full of books to choose among.

The “secret to a successful midlife transition? Explore, learn, experiment!

Forgiven and Forgotten

I have come to the end of what has turned out to be an unproductive business relationship. It started out beautifully, as so many relationships do. We had dreams. We had high hopes. We thought that we had thought this through carefully.

So here’s what we didn’t have. We didn’t have a contract. We didn’t have a business plan. Most important though, we didn’t have clear communication. And we never worked hard enough at establishing this all-important tool.

But that’s a topic for another post. Today, I’m thinking about moving on. Unfortunately, as the partnership devolved, the friendship also diminished. I’m sure there’s much to be said on both sides. For me, though, forgetting is the most important task on my list.

The old truism is forgive and forget. I’m working on forgiven and forgotten. When thereis someone you don’t want in your life, why would you want them in your head? I’ve forgiven myself for errors in judgment. I’ve forgiven myself for holding expectations that might still have been unrealistic even if (I forgive myself) I had expressed them. I’ve forgiven my former partner for wrongs. Oth real and perceived.

Now, I want her to be forgotten. I want to remember and use the lessons I’ve learned, but I don’t want to ever think a out her again except perhaps a fond memory or two about our initial encounters, decades removed from this venture. I wish that the self–work around this was as simple as unfriending her on facebook. For the next month or so, I will pause and shift focus if she drifts into my thoughts. Thanks to my buddy coach, I’ve used. Isualizations to let go of resentment and will work through possible guilt, second-guessing and worrying possible mistakes like a terrier with a one.

Forgive and forget? Not so much. Forgive yourself and anyone else involved. Then do the harder work beyond forgiven to get to forgotten.

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?