Is this the end of one to one coaching?

If you’re interested in professional or personal development you’ve probably looked into coaching. However one to one options can be expensive and it takes time to find the ‘right’ coach to work with intensively. At the same time you might be wanting to widen your network and create greater connections outside of your immediate world which unless networking comes naturally to you and you have the time to do it, often gets deprioritised. So does group coaching offer a feasible alternate solution?

Leveraging the power of a group isn’t a new phenomenon but in recent times gyms are subbing out personal training sessions with the likes of F45 and HIIT bootcamps, the success of which is mostly attributed to collective motivation. In the U.S a new psychology company  Real delivers online therapy sessions in an open group format. These therapist led events are building a community of people who are proactive about their mental health and supporting each other at an affordable price.

So why choose group coaching? 

The benefits include having the collective wisdom, support and energy of others led by a qualified coach. Participants develop their own coaching skills as they listen and support others’ personal development, bonding over time. It’s more affordable and improves emotional and social awareness. For teams within organisations, it can encourage collaboration and encourage knowledge sharing, breaking down silos and fostering a culture of learning and growth mindsets. One of the key advantages is the ability to leverage off the strength of the coach and group to hold participants accountable to what they commit to each session. Making excuses in front of a coach can feel awkward but when confronted with thought of doing it to a group – it’s very motivating to just get on with it! 

group coach meeting

How it works. Is everyone in a circle singing kumbaya?

In short, no. Depending on the context participants are bought together under one premise, to focus on an overarching goal and each individual will have their own specific focus within this. For example, at a wellness retreat a group may focus on their wellbeing and for each person it’ll require digging deeper into their health, career, passions or relationships all guided by the coach with skilful questioning and content to allow the group to consider possibilities not previously considered. In a workplace, group coaching may focus on team culture, committing to a set of shared values and holding each other accountable to meeting these. Brené Brown discusses in her book Dare to Lead how her team have a a rule around back channelling where if someone starts discussing a member who isn’t present, they can call the person out on it. This collective agreement provides organizational awareness and develops greater trust over time. 

Each session also requires participants to give progress reports and once they’ve hit a milestone they can share it with a group of people engaged in their goals. That’s a good hit of dopamine right there! Outside of the coaching session a private online forum allows a group to share challenges and progress building the momentum and group rapport.  

When group coaching is not a good idea. 

If someone is looking for immediate changes, they’re probably better working with a coach one to one to deep dive on specific needs.  Likewise, if they’re an extremely private person or a very black and white thinker group coaching probably isn’t the best option – they’d want to be comfortable with opening up to new people and different ways of thinking. A group will also commit upfront to a set of boundaries like confidentiality for example so if a participant won’t adhere to these commitments the strength and effectiveness of the group will be compromised.

The key to making it work. A conversation space. 

An experienced coach will create a conversation space ensuring all participants are heard and receive a similar amount of focus. The coach facilitates an agreement on boundaries within the group such as honesty and openness to hear other people and an acceptance of other people’s narratives. Contact and content from the coach between sessions to kickstart and maintain engagement will ensure the strength of the group builds over time.

Group coaching is here to stay.

While there will always be a place for one to one coaching, with budget pressures and the recognition of collective wisdom and the positive outcomes of developing closer connections with others, group coaching looks set to become a key offering within the personal development realm.

Next month The You Project is launching a women’s coaching circle in Christchurch and will kick off online coaching groups within the next couple of months.

Is it ok to have a career crisis during a pandemic?

Of course it is. In fact perhaps now more than ever we have had time to reflect on what we really enjoy and don’t enjoy about our work and for many, those restless feelings have started to take effect.

Before you dive headfirst into a career overhaul here’s some questions to ask yourself. 

Before Covid-19 what was I liking or disliking about my job? 

Do you not like your job or is it that you don’t like working during a pandemic and the aspects of it like working from home for example? Make a list of the good and bad in your role before Covid-19 and consider while there is an aspect of uncertainty the aspects of how we work right now will change over time. 

What’s my emotional state like right now?

Time for a self-check in. None of us have experienced anything like this before. It’s difficult but important to separate our feelings from what is happening in the world right now vs how you’re feeling about work.  Living through a pandemic and changing careers are both life changing events. Can you deal with the stress of both right now? Do you have support financially and from friends and family if you need it? 

Is it your job or the career you don’t like? An important distinction. Sometimes it might simply be your existing team. Think back to a time when you did enjoy your career – what was it about the role you enjoyed then? How has this changed? Could this be met by pivoting to a new role within the company or does it mean leaving your existing job? Clients can always tell me what they don’t like about their current job but when we take time to sit down and look at what they value in a career and a business, not only is it super motivating but it also gets you very focused on the steps you need to take in order to make change happen.

What is your personal narrative? 

Your personal brand is the story you sell every day whether you’re on a Zoom call, out for a socially distanced coffee or catching up with friends on the phone. What are you telling yourself and others about where you’re at right now? Are you dithering over ideas and asking for others to make a decision for you? Or are you focused and telling people exactly what you are looking for and how you see your new job unfolding for you. Whether you’re in person or on social media your personal narrative is what people will remember. And when you get the interview process this is the story they will take or leave. Having some clarity about your direction and awareness of your personal brand is an essential component in career transitions. 

What career capital can you leverage?  What do you have already in your career toolbox that you can utilise when considering a move? Evidence suggests you are far more likely to be more satisfied in a new role if you’ve moved using existing skills than throwing caution to the wind and following solely your passion. List your skills and consider where else they might work. 

What can you learn from your current role?  Many of my clients have never considered the existing opportunities available to them until they sit down and map it out. Being employed while researching and planning your next career move also gives you some security. There may also be opportunities to try new skills by seconding to another team or approaching someone more senior to mentor you. If the opportunities aren’t at work and why not start a side hustle, get involved in a non for profit project or find a course to build on your career capital.  

What is the outlook for your industry in the next while? Speak to others within your field, get a gauge and consider a move away if necessary to continue growing your skillset and perhaps come back to this area once the pandemic doesn’t so heavily affect it. 

Who within your network is worth chatting to right now? 

When you are feeling ready to move start by seeking out contacts who will expand your horizon. Immediate friends and family can be good but they already know you, reach out to those dormant ties who you were once close to but you haven’t spoken to in a while or ask friends and family for referrals to someone new who is involved in an area you’re pursuing. Keep in mind some contacts may be under extra pressure during the pandemic so suggesting a quick phone call rather than a 1 hour coffee date may be more appropriate. 

It’s important to remember pandemic or no pandemic, career change is never perfectly linear – it’s a messy journey of exploring, experimenting and can move sideways as much as up and down. So strap yourself in, get support where required and be open to what comes your way.  

6 reasons to complete a half yearly review. Today.

Remember all those epiphanies you had in January ? The moments of clarity where you promised yourself this year would be even better than last year?

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A mid year check in will get you places faster than an airport check in. Any day. Here’s why:

#Proof. It’s been proven if you write  your goals (preferably by hand) and check in to review regularly you are significantly more likely to achieve your objectives. Learn more from this Harvard goal setting analysis.

#Procrastination . A lot of people fall off the wagon because they reprioritise less important actions over goals. Focus on the long term vision rather than short term gain. A review shows you where you’ve lost focus & you’re less inclined to sabotage your success next time.

#Plan. If we don’t have a map we get lost. If we don’t have a plan… we drift along in a direction we have no control over. Having goals is great but if you don’t have a step by step plan to get you there it’s futile.

#Roadblocks. If you had objectives in January but you haven’t achieved them or even started you need to ask yourself why. Perhaps it’s not what you really want? Or the obstacles are bigger than you thought. Are these moveable? What resources – people/ tools can you use to plan a way forward. leaves and window coffee

#Confidence. When you review what you have achieved since January it’ll remind you of what you are capable of and build a plethora of examples of how you can completely nail it when you are fully focused. Confidence builder 101.

#Rewards.  We work best being motivated by rewards and what drives us. When reviewing your achievements so far be sure to acknowledge and reward yourself even if you’re only halfway towards your goal.

Get your 5 minute mid year check in.

Letting go of the H’office dream.

Ahhhh working from the home office. Dreamy. Wake up a little later. Make yourself a flat white. Swan about in your fave leisure wear, munching on your home-made muesli and sitting down at your beautifully adorned desk to write screeds of extremely professional emails, locking down 4 new deals and clearing the to do list by 1130am.

When I worked in the corporate world, my employers were fairly lenient with a ‘WFH’ (working from home) day here and there. I was so thrilled not to be sitting in my cubicle or ‘hot desk’, I twiddled away on the couch/rug/balcony with minimal distractions and was fairly efficient. Unsurprisingly with employers eager to keep workers loyal & the growth in entrepreneurship research shows one in 12 workers (769k) in Australia (ABS 2013) and 169k in New Zealand (NZS 2016) choosing to base themselves down the hallway. However, after 3 years away from a cubicle and working on my own business I’ve decided to pull the pin on living the h’office phenomenon full time.

orange chairSure I get it. WFH is pretty rad. You have flexibility. There’s no nasty commute and there’s plenty of tax benefits.  If you have little ones this can work in well with pick ups/ drop offs and you can easily slink off for an afternoon nana nap where required. And wow! How spotless does the house look whenever you encounter a business problem? However here are several reasons why I think it’s worth ditching your sweats and h’office and getting back to ‘work world‘.

Being social vs lonely. Hot DesksA survey of 250 ‘work-from-home’ workers by McCrindle Research in Australia last year found 58 per cent are craving more social interaction and face-to-face contact. WFH is lonely and while the office dramas can drag us down we underestimate the power of being surrounded by others to push us, share ideas and build our confidence. Find a space to work with like-minded folk where you can interact, network, join group learning sessions and potentially do a better job of of ‘co-lab’ than Justin Bieber on exciting  projects with new colleagues.

Self-discipline. The struggle is real. Respondents from the same survey also admitted to eating more food, spending more on office expenses, being unable to relax at home after work and struggling to muster enough self-motivation to do a decent job. The housework all seemed to take top priority for me all of a sudden when I didn’t have to ‘be’ anywhere. If you’re an Olympic qualified procrastinator your h’office is likely your enemy. Move away & fast.

Professionalism in an ug boot? Honestly how much of a success story do you feel in your slippers? Even when coaching on Skype I know what’s going on under the desk and it makes me feel sloppy. Even when you’re WFH it’s always advised to dress as if you were meeting clients in order to convey to yourself & others you mean business.

Work/life balance. Pffft. leaves and window coffeeFrom the same McCrindle research only 25% of people said the WFH offered better work/ life balance. Remember – you can NEVER escape the h’office. Saturday & Sundays blend into a slippery slope of working hours because you were too busy attending to your herb garden on Monday & the computer’s standby light is beckoning you every time you walk past.

The Buzz. Home & Away omnibus playing in the background does not make up for the atmospheric buzz of people kicking goals and the uplifting energy you can literally feel being surrounded by others. The banter may drop off but the sounds of others getting sh*t done is enough to motivate the snooziest of us.

high shotThe alternatives. Many of my clients are ‘solpreneurs’ and if budget is a little tight they choose to hit up cafes or libraries – though NZ seriously lags Australia on free wifi spots. The only annoyance is the occasional café office hogger loudly completing personal admin on their headset purchasing just two mocha-chinos for a days free rent.

For those of us who don’t have to go into a company office I am a big fan of co-share spaces. I’ve visited many inspiring hubs in Sydney and NZ over the last 3 years & I’m excited to finally commit to a space called The Collect and see how my productivity levels accelerate, network grows and routine falls into place. I believe it will be the best of both worlds but I’m very aware at the end of the day my  determination to have my own successful business will always be the driver to get up motivated everyday whether I’m in an office, h’office or co-share space.IMG_5177 A

Enough from me. The dryer just ‘dinged’ and it’s time to get folding.

Check out some co-share #inspo from around the globe.

Need some motivation? King or queen of procrastination? Sign up to our mailing list and receive your free Kickstarter Guide from The You Project. A quick simple guide to get you focused on what’s important and how to get there.

 

Why habits are the new game changer.

When was the last time you thought about your good habits? powerofhabit It feels like habits get a bad rap because we often think of them negatively as in biting nails or over-eating but they can be huge game changers when you make the effort to turn around those that aren’t working for you.  My inspiration today is from Charles  Duhigg’s book The Power of Habit which throws new light on why we have habits, how they come about and how to change the ones which aren’t working for us.

So why do we have habits? Scientists believe it’s because our brain is always looking for ways to save effort. Remember your first aerobics step class or L plated driving lesson? How exhausting! But after a while your brain learned what to do so much so we often experience auto-pilot  where we wonder where on earth we ‘were’ for a  few minutes. Tests at MIT in the 1990s also showed after learning a habit lab rats had only minimal activity occurring in the rest of their brains compared to the first few attempts of a new routine.

An ancestral part of our brain, the basal ganglia is believed to be responsible for our habit storage. When people’s basal ganglia is damaged they are no longer able to form simple tasks when their access to ‘habit storage’ is unavailable.

The interesting hard cold truth: When a habit emerges the brain stops fully participating in decision making. So unless you find new routines the pattern will automatically unfold. The brain also can’t tell when a habit is good or bad so a bad one can just be lurking waiting to be fired up for a unhelpful reward.

But once you understand the habit loop you can break it down into parts, experiment and find ways to change it up by overpowering the existing neurological pathways with more compelling habits.

The Habit Loop.

Habitloop

Firstly the cue occurs: A situational trigger that is based on a reward you’re seeking.

Next up the routine: A physical or emotional action you take to obtain the reward.

Finally the reward: The satisfaction you seek by following the routine

The key is to understand what the craving is,  experiment with the rewards and then the routine can be swapped out for something more beneficial.

Before we go into solution mode it is worth observing the mechanism of habits. Habits create strong neurological cravings however because they emerge quite gradually we are often blindsided by their influence.  What’s even more interesting is our brain begins anticipating the reward long before we take action. Marketers and retailers worked this out some time ago hence the likes of Dunkin’ Donuts spraying their scents of hot cinnamon baked goods across mall floors to trigger a potential craving. Or how about foaming shampoo and toothpaste? It doesn’t actually need to foam but product developers discovered consumers feel cleaner from a foam sensation which drives more use  of the product more often to satisfy the clean craving.

One of our biggest cravings is often for distraction. 6a0147e0ba5e57970b017ee83f2f17970dThink about when a text goes off. How hard is it to resist looking at it? The brain has started anticipating the distraction of opening a text before you’ve even looked at it. But if you have your phone on silent  have you noticed how much longer you stay focused on your task at hand for?

So how do we get past an unhelpful habit?  Science has proven if we keep the same cue and same reward, a new routine can be introduced. For example a smoker who has identified their craving is relaxation and the reward is feeling chilled out a new routine of long slow deep breaths during a gentle stroll which activates the parasympathetic nervous system may serve as a good alternative. Or if you want to start running you choose a cue (put your clothes out the night before) and a reward – maybe a smoothie. Cue-Routine-Reward-Running_thumbBut only when you brain starts anticipating the reward – the endorphins or sense of achievement from your quick lap round the park will it become an automatic association for your brain. So you need to keep repeating the action several times to teach your brain you crave that new reward . Another key point is you must choose your own meaningful reward – not what someone else has suggested.

But just having a new routine and reward may not be enough. You need to believe change is possible and studies have shown you are far more likely to succeed if you have an accountability partner or a group of people going through a similar experience to share and commit to change with.

Here’s how to re:set a habit in 4 easy steps.

Step 1. Identify your routine. What is the behaviour you want to change? Working from home I have to admit I do a fair amount of pantry grazing when I’m overloaded and need a breather. My routine is to get up stare longingly into the pantry and wait to find something to satisfy what I believe is a hunger craving.

3Step 2. Experiment with rewards. Get your lab coat out, your notepad and pen & start trialing new rewards. I tried getting out & schimmying round the block. Then meditating. Then having a drink of water. After trying each new reward set an alarm for 15 mins. At that point ask do I still want the original ‘reward’?

Step 3. Isolate the cue. We have so much information bombarding us all the time it’s hard to know what exactly is triggering us. Answer these questions every time your habit is triggered to identify what is causing you to choose this habit over something more beneficial.

  • Where am I?
  • What time is it?
  • How am I feeling?
  • Who else is around?
  • What action preceded the urge?

Step 4. Have a plan. Remember that a habit is a choice that we deliberately made at one point, we then stopped thinking about it but continued to do every day. So start by making conscious decisions with a plan to do the new action. When I feel an urge to hit up the pantry I have a plan now to go for a walk and get some fresh air mid morning and mid afternoon when my craving for distraction seems to be at it’s highest. You might also want to find an accountability partner or group of people to help support your plan and discover the game changing nature of habit refinement.

Want more? Check out this nifty infographic from Duhigg on habits

 

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SIY Book

How much of your day do you spend mind wandering?  How engaged are you in meetings?  According to research completed by two Harvard psychologists in 2010  we spend 47% of our time mind wandering and 70% of leaders admitted to being regularly inattentive in meetings.

Last month I attended ‘Search Inside Yourself’, a Google programme brought about from an original Google leader, Chade-Meng Tan who bought in a mindfulness expert and neuroscientist to create a programme focused on well-being and sustained high performance leadership in the workplace. SIY is one of the most popular courses at Google & after being immersed for a couple of days in the foundations I can see why. And Google isn’t the only company doing flips over mindfulness – it’s very much en vogue with forward thinking companies adding training to their wellness programmes to increase employee engagement.

But what is mindfulness really about and without a fancy training scheme at work can you start doing it?  Here’s my key outtakes from SIY and simple techniques you can try from your couch to your desk.

The Brain.

Contrary to what was thought previously our brains are like plastic and their neuroplasticity means they are shaped by what we consistently do. For example studies on London black cabbies have shown their brains have increased in size after having had to memorise the London streets. It’s also been proven by many neuroscientists including Richie Davidson that when practicing mindfulness the grey matter/ cortical thickness in many key areas of the brain increases in size and has also been associated with the decrease in the activity of our ‘monkey minds’ (where we swing directionless from thought to thought).

person on cliff meditating

So when you start practicing mindfulness what are the benefits? Try less stress and panic moments. More clarity, focus and resilience plus it’s also been shown to improve our creativity. It’s a win win basically.

Emotional Intelligence

Another buzz topic we discussed was our ‘EQ’ and the  connection between our emotions and decision making. More often than not we believe we are making rational pragmatic decisions but our emotions are working us. Growing our awareness as to when this is happening means we can beging to make active choices vs reactive based on our emotion. Tying into this is having an awareness of what is happening in our body as we experience certain emotions for example I am angry vs I am having the sensation of anger in my body. And while the concept of ‘self-management’ may sound overly dull it does have benefits. Here’s an exercise in self management we learnt for when we can feel ourselves experiencing an unwanted emotions.

Stop (the secret pause). Breathe (this is under my skin). Notice (my jaw is tight etc). Reflect (what’s really going on for me and who I’m speaking with here?).  Response (what’s an appropriate way to respond).

Throughout the workshop we also practiced active listening to really engaged in what perfect strangers were saying. Many participants new to this concept were impressed with how much more of the conversation they retained and the greater connection felt with their partner.

Leadership

When discussing leadership the standout point for me was the research revealed in The Harvard Business Review in 2013 which demonstrated that people who show warmth first then competence are much more likely to succeed as leaders. The importance of compassion was also highlighted as being more sustainable than empathy which results in burn out. Compassion does not mean avoiding confrontation but rather leveraging strengths of wisdom & clarity to arrive at a conclusion for the greater good.

Exercises to try out:

You can put these into practice at work or home right away but first a quick note: Mindfulness is not about emptying your mind to nothing at all. That’s even tricky for the monks! Think of it as having a breather from the monkey mind and simply observing thoughts without judgement or attachment.

  1. Just look at your hand for 30 seconds. When you notice judgements arising let them go.
  2. Set yourself triggers for mindful moments while doing everyday things. Brushing your teeth, driving the car, riding in an elevator. Slow down the ongoing stream of internal dialogue and spend time noticing things you’d never normally notice about the activity.
  3. Here’s a 2min guided meditation from the SIY team to get you started or if you have just ten minutes try this body scan for an ‘insular’ workout.laptop
  4. For those who enjoy putting pen to paper giving yourself 5-10 minutes to write. Use these prompts to get you going. a) What I’m surprised about in my life is… b) A challenge I’m working with is… c) What I value is…

4. Check out this 2 min explanation on meditation and how it helps with your creativity.

5. With a colleague or partner pick a topic. While you listen they speak for 2 minutes – no interrupting. Be fully engaged giving them your full attention (see how Richard Branson does this) and once they’ve finished say back here’s what I heard you say. If you want to challenge yourself even more you could try ‘here’s what I heard you feel’. Then reverse the exercise.

Further mindfulness and meditation resources

Here’s an excellent free online mindfulness course recommended by the SIY team or for a simple start download the renowned Headspace app. I had a excellent experience learning meditation last year with Emma at One Meditation in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs and I can highly recommend the benefits of feeling more calm and centered from my practice.

Starting 2017 with a BANG & a PLAN.

Whether we are cruising along nicely or feel like we’ve been foot-tripped and skidding sideways precariously towards 31st of December, there’s no denying 2016’s days are numbered.

I’ve always been curious as to why the 31st of December feels like a virtual finish line and 1st of January an invisible start line. But if like most of us you adhere to this, the end of the year break does make for an excellent time to review, reset, regroup and renew.

Speaking at a recent event in New Zealand last week, many people fed back they simply wanted more time to catch their breath, relax and not feel guilty about it in 2017. Other clients have said they want to reprioritise their health specifically around better eating habits, find new interests outside of work, less time on social media and make a conscious effort to extend their social circles. What’s on your agenda?

This kick off with a bang and a plan for ’17 will take fifteen minutes max but an hour is ideal. It’s very painless – in actual fact quite pleasant. And rocks a lot harder than any New Years resolutions you will make for one night and keep for about 10 days. Grab your paper and pen and answer the qs below.

# 1: Yes, I did that. CELEBRATE 2016.

  • What was absolutely awesome?
  • What did you learn? There is no failure only feedback.
  • Who are you grateful for? (Let them know!)
  • What will you take with you into 2017? A learning or success perhaps.

#2: Time to move on. LETTING GO.

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  • What are you willing to let go of? If you only answer one question answer this. So many of us avoid it but it’s fundamental if you want to grow. Is there a project that’s been on the to do list for years that isn’t happening? An event which you’re cursing yourself about? An emotion which is holding you back? A person who isn’t positively influencing your life and bringing you down? Have the conversations you need to and MOVE ON.

“Be like a tree and let the dead leaves drop” Rumi. 

#3: Here’s what I want to happen and why. ACTION STATIONS.

  • Name 5 things you want to commence, change or complete. And if not now, when? They can be habits, goals, a review of your personal brand ‘story’ or even a sabotage clean out.
  • Zones to consider: career, relationships, adventure, personal development, health, education.
  • For each game changing action list at least three reasons WHY you want it to happen. Without VERY good reasons you’ll find it ends up on your ‘did not complete’ list.

#4: I must I must I must keep going. MAINTENANCE & MOTIVATION

  • What will you read/ learn more about to propel you forward?
  • When does your plan start? We all know what “Next Monday” means. Commit to a date.
  • How often will you review your plan?
  • Who is on your team for 2017 to help make everything happen ?
  • When you lack motivation what/ who/ how will you get your momentum back? Have a reset strategy.
  • Share your plans with at least one close buddy who is good at holding you accountable. AKA your accountabilibuddy.
  • Visualize it. One of the strongest ways to make it all happen is to visualize yourself enjoying your success this time next year. Email me if you need some visualization resources.

totaranui

That’s it. Easy as. Enjoy your holidays and here’s to a fantastic 2017. Now to go make it happen.

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What happens in a coaching session?

No one really writes about this. And this is why. The best coaching session is dynamic and malleable because every client has a different perspective, challenge or opportunity to discuss each time. It doesn’t follow a step by step formula like in other professional services. However if you’ve never had a coaching session here’s a basic synopsis for perhaps a first time client.

  • You meet with your coach in a location where you feel comfortable to speak openly and after a brief intro you’ll discuss the specific area of your life where you are challenged at the moment. It’s here you’ll decide with your coach the desired outcome for the session and quite often it’s not the original challenge you thought. Coaching can be done in person but nowadays it’s just as common to speak with your coach on the phone or over Skype. My coach is in New York!
  • You then begin a coaching conversation where the coach listens as you explain the situation. A good coach won’t get involved in the story. Rather they are listening for beliefs, comments, patterns, body language and may stop you mid-story if they feel they already understand enough.Coaching-conversation
  • A trained performance coach will ask smart insight-giving questions. As mentioned in my previous blog on What is coaching, it is not about advice. It’s about asking the questions to get you to think outside of what you are currently able to ‘see’. While a coach will provide a safe, trusting environment they are not your friend so they are able to challenge you in a way in which perhaps family or friends would not.
  • These questions will bring about realisations in terms of your current situation and where you might be holding yourself back. As you are in a trusted space without judgement you are free to express where you are having difficulties.
  • It’s at this time your coach may prompt you to start thinking of opportunities or solutions you hadn’t imagined before. Once you’ve tabled these you can decide on which option is most viable given where you want to get to.
  • Next up is setting a plan. This is not just about setting some SMART goals and setting sail for Tahiti with a mojito in hand.  TahitiYour coach will hold you accountable to what you’ve committed to. And yes, we all get busy and have reasons for not completing our tasks but it’s amazing when you know you have someone to report back to (who you’ve invested to keep you on track) how much more likely you are to complete what you committed to.
  • Finally you’ll finish up with a brief summary of your session and a check in on how you now feel about your situation at hand. Together you will set some targets and there may be some extra reading or work to complete before you met again.

This is a super basic format however every coaching session is different. Coaches have many models and techniques to use so you should never feel like it’s the same old routine every time.

Sometimes it might be quite goal oriented while other times you may explore a behaviour or belief for example a lack of self-confidence or your procrastination habits, then find ways of shifting your mindset to change your outcomes.

Of course to really know what a coaching session is like you need to experience it for yourself. Reach out if you’re interested in finding out more.

 

What’s All This Coaching Business About Really?

I recall the raised eyebrows back in 2003 when I started working with a coach. What on earth would you want to do that for? You’re a motivated person can’t you just sort that out yourself? What kind of qualifications do they have? Do they actually know what they are doing? I smiled, kept at it and within 15 weeks I had my dream job on the marketing team at Vodafone NZ.

Nowadays it’s pretty common to come across someone who has had some form of coach whether it’s a life, health, performance or business coach. The perception of coaches all being airy fairy hippies seems to be dissipating with progressive companies seeing the benefits and having in-house coaches (check out zappos.com) where part of your package includes coaching covering any area of your life. However with the growth of self-produced personal development content (no judgement here), some over-enthused motivational speakers and only recently a clear set of international guidelines for coaches there seems to be a lot of inconsistency about what coaching is. So over the next couple of blogs I want to set a couple of records straight on what coaching is from my perspective.

Why would someone want a coach?

Let’s face it. Life is awesome but there are always curve balls. We have all these great ideas which we’re ‘gonna’ do but there’s never enough time. We complain about ground hog day, yet keep doing the same things. We love our job and know we’re capable of more but aren’t sure how to get to the next level. We want to get fit but keep eating donuts or perhaps our relationships aren’t working as well as they could be.

What is coaching?

So here’s a helpful analogy. If you want to get fit and toned for a wedding or holiday, you want results quickly. Just like a pro athlete you hire someone who is going to motivate you and knows how to get you the body you want in the shortest amount of time. Having a performance, business or leadership coach for an area of your life where you want improved results is exactly the same. And just like those really good trainers, a super good coach will teach skills to use long after you’ve completed your coaching.

So what does a super coach look like?

  • Simply, a fully trained coach (life, health, performance or business coach) is someone who will help you get clear on your direction, work with you to negotiate past any obstacles and assist you to formulate a plan to keep up your momentum.
  • Teaming up with a coach you’ll learn things about yourself you never knew, improving your self-awareness five-fold benefiting every area of your life. You will expand your mind and discover ideas you didn’t even know you had. What better topic to explore than you?
  • A clever coach asks clever questions. The totally made-up term questionologist sums up a coach’s role nicely. A good coach asks the best questions to get you thinking about opportunities and options you hadn’t thought of before. To see mindset and roadblocks you had never noticed standing in your way. But it’s all in the questions.The quality of your life depends on the quality of the questions you ask as Tony Robbins says.
  • An expert coach does not give advice. That’s for the mentors and consultants who are experts in their field. Often you can find a coach who is also an expert in your field and you may work with them in a different capacity however a coach’s main goal is to help you work out the answers for yourself.
  • A coach isn’t a therapist. If depression or anxiety for example is your current challenge, you’re best to work with a fully qualified psychologist or counsellor. And while a coach can work well alongside a therapist once a client is in a better space, you should seek help from a therapist initially.
  • While a consultant will give you tools on a specific need or problem in their area of expertise, a coach will give you tools on how to get yourself motivated in a direction which is going to propel you forward and can be used in any area of your life. I had a client who was focused on getting more organised but in the process lost 25kg simply from building up his self-esteem and momentum. You’ll also learn communication, decision making and habit forming skills which let’s face it, no one taught us at school.
  • A good coach doesn’t have their own agenda. You have a trusted, objective voice and advocate on your team. Our friends, partners, family and colleagues are terrific sources of advice and feedback. However they all have views, distractions and subjective points of view. Having someone outside of your circle of influence has the benefit of not being caught up in your end game.

what is coaching

The You Project is built on the premise that everyone has an inner resource of confidence and courage beyond the fear driven thoughts we can operate from. Once tapped into this resource boosts our experience in relationships and situations at work, home and within ourselves. But it’s up to us press the activate switch on or not.

I know, not everyone wants or needs a coach. Just like not everyone feels they need a landscape gardener, personal trainer or nutritionist. However if you feel like you are stuck in a loop or require some motivation in a certain direction perhaps it’s something worth exploring?  In the meantime if you have any specific questions I would love to hear them.

Next blog: What happens in a coaching session?

It’s all about the story.

Controversially, I’m not starting off this year discussing the craft of goal setting or how to be super focused for 2016. Rather I wanted to share some thinking around stories and the important role they play in shaping our reality. If you find yourself asking a rugby sized team for their opinion on a challenge you have or wonder why you keep receiving the same results over and over this may present some enlightening insights into how you can change your story to positively impact your internal and external world.

Personal branding is the latest in a slew of buzz phrases in personal development land. And it’s certainly worth a thought. In marketing we talk about positioning, leverage, engagement and targeting however a large chunk of a product or service’s success is the consistent story which is being told internally and externally. Our personal brand or story is no different.

As we are all very aware our thoughts and actions create our reality. If we’re not happy with the results we’re getting in one area of life, the answer is simple. Change the thoughts and the consequential actions. And as I’ve mentioned in a previous blog the story you are telling your audience is also the story you are telling yourself – only you are the person hearing multiple times over.

story

When we are ‘high on life’ from the potential of a new relationship, exciting career opportunity or weight loss achievement for example our flurry of positive energy is infectious. The majority of folk are drawn to our stories like bees to a honey pot and as Jon Gordon writes in The Energy Bus, those who are not are quickly dismissed as we float or fly between groups spreading gently or loudly our tales of success feeling confident, enthused and full of momentum.

However as we know life isn’t always like that. There are times when we might miss out on a promotion at work, a family member hurts us with unkind words or despite efforts our health goals are just not happening. We tell one colleague, we share it at home, next we tell a concerned family member and with some friends over brunch. Before we know it, we have a team of experts giving their opinion on our situation and we’ve given this story so much energy it’s has its own TV show.  This wasn’t our intention of course. We were simply after some insights.  But now the aftermath results in multiple phone calls to see if we’ve taken the advice, our instinct is clouded with judgement of others and we are becoming the starring role in our increasingly dramatic story.  It feels heavy, confusing and weighs negatively on our minds.

 

When our stories are having a negative impact we have a choice. We can choose a different script. Rather than buying into the story, we can choose not to give it as much energy.  We can decide to confide in the person who knows us best. Ourselves! Check in and query what is this actually about? If a person displays an attribute we don’t like, is this something we don’t like about ourselves? Are we sabotaging results by playing the lead role and what are we getting out of it?  If we want to air our thoughts and bounce ideas, choose only a couple of key people who aren’t going to turn it into an episode of Home & Away whether that’s a trusted friend, mentor or coach. And a final note own your story. Be wary of becoming a dumper, someone who offloads dramas onto others leaving them in the wake of our problems.

Let me be clear. This isn’t about being inauthentic and fabricating picture perfect stories of our worlds. Nor is it about suffering silently when we feel hurt by a situation and need help dealing with it. It is simply suggesting we become conscious of the daily scripts we are running, own them and be prepared to change course when they are no longer useful.

Some questions for you:

  • What is the main story you are running with right now?
  • How much negativity vs positivity is there?
  • Is it going to move you towards the life you want and make 2016 your best year yet?
  • Do you need to understand your story further and consider how it might need to be tweaked in order to move you forward?  laptop

As Rebecca Campbell wrote in Light is The New Black “She left the old story behind her and stepped into a new once upon a time”.