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Rekindling an old flame
It just hit me. A few months ago, something told me to reconnect. I was missing this in my life, and I felt some regret that I had left it behind.
As a coach, I always encourage my clients to pay close attention to their emotions. They are messengers. They tell us 'something is up for me here.'
Often, I also ask clients what they love. Many answer readily, and frequently I hear “but I don’t have time for that anymore,” or “it just doesn’t fit into my life today.” I challenge them to think about their commitments and whether it’s possible to bring more of what they are passionate about into their lives.
Now, I was feeling a tug.
In college and after, I had immersed myself in foreign cultures and languages. I was a professional translator for a good part of my career, and it was a wonderful way to put that passion to use. Feeling connected to the world in that way was exhilarating, and I loved who I was when I was doing it.
When I decided to get into coaching in 2009, I decided I couldn’t keep a translating business going and build a coaching business. At the time, I was correct. Starting a new business takes some single-mindedness for a while. Truth be told, I was also feeling a bit burned out on the language profession.
Since becoming a coach, I have learned that when we do what we love, something magic happens within us. Our passion is in the lead, and who we are changes in everything we do.
Let me be clear: I love coaching, and I am committed to my clients and my practice. But I still find some magic in translating as well.
It took some thought, a couple of phone calls, and now I am tackling texts on everything from philosophy to new discoveries in science. I am so grateful for the colleagues who have welcomed me back.
Here's the real upside of rekindling your passions and owning your gifts: You can offer them freely, with nothing to prove and everything to give. That mindset works wonders in all domains of our lives.
Ask yourself, what have I given up that I used to love? What happened? How could I bring that love back into my life? I’d love to hear some of your answers!
Three Key Things to Going Solo (Without Going Crazy)
Many people come to me because they want to run their own business. They’re finished with working for other people, and they feel ready to start their own enterprise or do something new. It’s a great time for coaching.
And yet… it’s easy to overlook three key issues that can stand in your way as an entrepreneur. If you don’t get these three things right, your business won’t succeed, no matter how great your idea or deep your commitment.
So what are these key issues?
Key Issue #1: Boundaries
Being your own boss doesn’t mean work won’t infringe on your personal life. In fact, some business owners feel even less in control of their schedules because there is no clear boundary between work and home.
What is most important to you?
Before you begin the process of setting up your own shop, do a thorough inventory of your personal commitments. Get clear about your priorities and get specific about what stays in place and what may need to be renegotiated -- or even revoked -- now that you’re independently employed. Clear commitments make clear boundaries much easier to set, and work and life become easier to integrate.
Key Issue #2: Attitude
Remember, you are a business owner. You already know how to do what you love, but you need a business mindset — and specific actions to implement — to make your endeavor a success.
What is a business mindset?
Successful small business owners understand that they need a plan to conduct their business. They do the work to define their target market, the benefits of their products or services and why they do what they do. Then they form their team to identify next steps in key areas like website design and marketing, so they can move forward. There is no substitute for the footwork it takes to develop a business mindset!
Key Issue #3: Emotional Awareness
Most people seem to be aware that they are afraid of failing. But many don’t consider that they may also fear success.
Is this true for you?
In my practice, I see many emotions in play when people strike out on their own, including optimism, passion and resolution. Often, I also notice ambivalence, apprehension and overwhelm, which can put a hidden brake on even the most well thought-out strategies and the best intentions. Now is the time to work through the emotions that may stand in your way with someone you trust. These conversations will help you identify your emotional obstacles and summon more positive emotions to take the lead. When positivity is in the lead, you’ll feel better and your business will do better.
Are you finding any of these issues resonate for you? If so, click here to schedule a free session with me when we can address how coaching can help. I look forward to hearing from you!
Finding Your Voice
Ms. Evelyn Riddle, my seventh grade English teacher, would be so proud.
Ms. Riddle was the one who first asked me to get up in front of a group and give a speech. I am sure we were all terrified, but we all had to do it. Actually, I even remember enjoying it a little bit. I walked up very slowly to the front of the room, then whirled around and planted my feet in the wide stance of a karate master with my fists clenched at my sides. I let out a shriek and had the attention of the class immediately. Then I talked about what it was like to learn karate. I remember ending the talk by breaking a pencil in two. She loved it, and I got an A.
My mother used to give talks to medical students she was teaching. I would watch her prepare and sometimes heard her rehearse. She knew a lot, but her delivery was dry and monotone. Her topics were very technical, and she covered them expertly, but she was also a nervous speaker. I absorbed that anxiety from an early age.
Somewhere along the path to adulthood, I built up a story about not being a good public speaker. And like a lot of our stories, I held firmly to it, even in the face of evidence to the contrary.
Well, I decided that 40 years was long enough to hold firm. So I hired a voice coach. I have some things I want to say, and I want to say them without the distraction of an old story that isn’t serving me any more.
The first meeting lasted three hours. My coach analyzed my voice for pitch and range. Then she took a video of me making impromptu remarks. I leaned against the wall and counted while I breathed. She asked me to walk around the room and raise and lower my voice. It was exhilarating, even if my palms were clammy and my stomach fluttered. She was so present and so convinced that I could do it. And I was doing it.
And then I remembered a Wall Street Journal article I read last year by the actor David Duchovny about his high school basketball coach. It described exactly what had just happened to me:
Coach Byrnes told me I was worthwhile and good and that we could win. He talked to me as if I were someone worth telling a story about, subtly enjoining me to become active in that story. My father was mostly gone by then, and now here was a man who respected me by demanding that I respect myself and a game. I never knew if he liked me. That wasn’t so important. He saw potential in me, and I began to respect myself.
That is what a good coach does. He fills you with a belief that may or may not be justified. As you make the dangerous crossing from unproven belief to actual accomplishment, from potential to reality, a good coach holds your hand so expertly that you don’t even know your hand is being held. I got better because Coach Byrnes told me I was already better. It was that simple – a magic trick. And every success I’ve had since then has had some of this same magic in it, either at the hands of other skilled teachers or by the generous trickery of the voice inside me that they instilled.
I love that idea. And I realize how lucky I have been to have had more than a few skilled teachers in my life. For whatever reason, I stilled that voice they instilled inside me for a while. But now I’m ready to speak up. And to let go of stories that don’t fit me any more.
Do you have any old stories you’re ready to give up? I’d love to help!
How to End ‘Downward Spiral’ Thinking
Benjamin Zander, the conductor of the Boston Philharmonic and author of The Art of Possibility, began waving his arms and skipping across the stage in the auditorium where I was attending his talk. His energy was contagious. He seemed to be having the time of his life. About 450 people filled the auditorium, including the world-renowned leader of the multilateral institution that had invited him to speak. Within minutes, we were all singing happy birthday to a perfect stranger standing on a chair at the front of the room.
How did he do it? How did he get us to play along?
Zander is expert at being an invitation. You cannot resist when he asks you to consider experiencing, even if only for an hour or two, what it is like to live fully ‘in possibility.’
That is, living in the opposite of inside-the-box, neck-up, who-is-to-blame/where-is-the-threat thinking, aka the ‘downward spiral.’
For someone who has lived inside of the Washington DC beltway for over 25 years, it was breathtaking. We are so used to the blame game now, and it is easy to overlook what is really at stake when we give up our vision and creativity and get caught in the spiral.
Zander next snuck alongside an audience member in the front row, and pretended to be The Voice. You know, that’s the Gremlin in your head who tells you that whatever wild idea you might have, it’s probably been tried before, won’t work, has been done better and besides, you don’t have time for that. You have GOALS. You need to GET AHEAD. Playing the game of success means there is no time for possibility.
Among many wonderful ideas he shared, I loved most the one about making it a practice to give an A to people – not only your students, but also your waitress, parking attendant, secretary, the guy who cuts your lawn or your teenage son. Zander says it is transformational because that A creates a possibility for someone to live into rather than a requirement for them to live up to, “lifting you off of the success/failure ladder and spiriting you away from the world of measurement into the universe of possibility.”
He described telling his students, many of whom come from other countries and face tough competition to sit in his class, that they will all be getting A’s. Then he enrolls them in an adventure where mistakes are allowed and even encouraged, since, according to Zander, you cannot learn anything unless you make a mistake.
Zander also says that giving an A in relationships is transformational, because once you give an A to someone, you can tell them the truth.
What a profound thought. What you want to say then becomes about you, not them, because you are no longer grading them on anything. They got an A already. And that’s why you can say what you really believe.
Just imagine the possibilities!
Solitude and Leadership
One of my clients recently shared an article that links intimate conversation, which includes the “coaching” kind, and leadership. It is based on a lecture given by William Deresiewicz to the plebe class at West Point in October 2009 entitled “Solitude and Leadership.” (If you want to read the entire article, here’s the link: http://theamericanscholar.org/solitude-and-leadership/)
Some of those students, who are graduating now, may have heard some of their most important lessons about leadership in their very first week at West Point. Take a look at some of my takeaways from this great lecture.
Why Not You?
One of my favorite medical writers, Dr. Atul Gawande, talks about coaching in the October 3rd edition of The New Yorker in: “Personal Best, Top athletes and singers have coaches. Should you?” If you’re considering hiring a coach, or even just interested in coaching, this is fascinating reading.
Is this it?
Dr. Gawande seems to have struggled with the wall a lot of us hit at mid-life or even earlier. He calls it the plateau -– that mid point in some activity, whether it’s your surgical technique or your tennis game, where we don’t seem to be improving any more and the only other obvious direction to go is down. Inevitable decline is not a very inspiring situation!
He also wrestles with the concept of coaching and its paradoxes: learning is involved, but coaches aren’t teachers; although they observe and guide, they aren’t your mentor and they might not know much at all about what you do or the kind of life or background you have. Unlike other places or programs designed for learning, you also don’t “graduate” from coaching.
So how does coaching fit into a busy professional’s life, and why would you do it?
Getting there from here
It turns out that the plateau is a pretty lonely place. Many people seem to feel that they have to sustain their performance in whatever zone they compete by themselves. They believe that coaching is reserved for top-level athletes, professional musicians or high-level executives who perform in the public eye and at very high levels. The rest of us are mostly on our own.
Fortunately, that does not have to be true. Having “outside ears and eyes” in the form of a coach is key to renewing our engagement with ourselves and reconnecting with our ability to grow and change in whatever we are doing.
Dr. Gawande hired a coach to help him with his surgical technique, and although he doesn’t say it, I think what also happened was that he created a space for learning, found someone he trusted to observe him and then opened himself up to the lessons that followed. Simple, but not easy.
Sharing the journey
In creating a strong connection to someone whose sole mission was to help create the conditions for him to excel, Dr. Gawande found a partner in the pursuit of excellence. His coach asked powerful questions and communicated clearly, honestly and directly. Dr. Gawande was encouraged to re-examine his thinking and to expand his awareness of his choices. The result was a firmer foundation for learning and change and a greater capacity to make smarter decisions.
The good news? You don’t need to be a renowned surgeon or author to get the same results. And it starts with some conversation about where you are and where you want to go. Why not come aboard?
As another school year has drawn to a close and summer is starting to wane, I’ve been feeling a bit wistful. In the fall, I have one child entering her last year of college, another entering his last year of high school, and a third one year right behind him. We have a rising 8th grader, too. I’m beginning to see ahead a series of “this is the last time we …” thoughts.
Thankfully, I can be wistful without feeling much guilt. And I feel some relief along with regret.
First, I love that I can see these different emotions in play, each a distinct messenger, with something specific to tell me. I pay attention to them all, knowing that seeing them clearly helps me be clearer about what is going on for me. This is my story, after all, and the clearer I see my emotions around what is happening, the more completely I experience my life.
So, what’s up with the wistfulness? I think it reminds me to notice that time is passing and that at this point in the process of parenting young children to young adulthood, I am feeling some loss. The absence of the guilt I used to feel as a working mother shows me that I am much less anxious about not being a ‘good-enough’ parent and more accepting that I’ve done the best I can. The relief comes from carrying a lighter load, which feels good, and the regret reminds me that I still wish I had done some things differently.
What’s regret got to do with it?
I have been thinking about regret since one of my favorite writers and researchers, Bréne Brown, shared a fascinating insight about it at the Capital Coaches Conference in June.
Brown says that regret is a function of empathy, and that we have regret only when we fully “own” our stories. Regret comes along with taking responsibility for all we did or didn’t do in our lives (that is the ownership part) and from knowing that something we did may have impacted another person in a negative way.
If we don’t let regret surface, she says, we may lose our capacity to connect (that’s the empathy part), which is essential to feeling we belong.
As a coach, I know that feeling connected — to ourselves and to others — and taking ownership of our lives are two of the strongest anchors of wellbeing. I just didn’t know that regret had anything to do with ownership and connection.
I used to avoid regret because it was too hard to look back. My default to self-indictment and feeling responsible for everything that had gone wrong was too strong. Coaching got me out of that deep hole.
To be sure, it is easy to get stuck in regret, as if beating ourselves up will somehow balance out the suffering we believe we have caused others. This is where forgiveness comes in, especially for ourselves, and acceptance also plays a role, since we cannot undo our past actions no matter how much we wish we could.
Forgiveness and acceptance seem to be cornerstones to processing regret whether in simple matters or more challenging ones that occur within the context of our relationships.
To live our lives as fully connected and responsible for ourselves as we can be, we need to accept regrets as part of life and take them as life lessons – and as calls to action -- rather than a perpetual source of self-flagellation.
The call to action is not to dwell on the past, but to ask ourselves what we can do now — and then do that. And if that doesn't work, then to do something else that might. Regret is there to remind us that we can do better.
Have you ever gotten hung up on a regret? How did you move past it? I would love to hear more about your experience and what actions you took to work through it.
Enlisting the Magic of an Accountability Loop to
Tackle Your To Do List
I think I touched a nerve because I heard from a lot of readers after my last post on integrating work and home challenges. Many people seem to feel that if they don’t stand up for their personal time, they won’t get it. And yet, even claiming the time still seems to bring with it some guilt. We think “but I have so much to do” or “this feels self-indulgent” or “but no one else seems to be taking time off.”
We aren’t just deprogramming from the cult of overwork. We are also challenging a cult of personal productivity.
That “we” includes me. As much as I preach from my coaching soapbox on the virtues of presence and getting clear about commitments, I still think about ‘getting things done’ before I notice that I am feeling overburdened, underappreciated and disconnected. Try tackling your to-do list from that emotional place! It’s a perfect place to breed resentment. To boot, there isn’t much peace of mind in your down time if you’re stuck there, and no one really wants to hang with you. (Ask my kids or my husband.)
At the same time, I am not about to leave it all behind and head for an ashram. I still have kids to raise and a husband I love, a business to run, and many personal commitments that are meaningful to me. So what gives?
Partners for Personal Growth
In reflecting on what I do to move forward without being caught in the personal productivity cult, I thought of the people who make my life easier and why. A pattern emerged …
Since the beginning of the year, I managed to get a storage shed purchased and assembled with my handyman’s help, buy a new washer after the aged one gave out on a tip from an architect friend, do some more garage excavation with a professional organizer I hired for my business several years ago, and get my closet organized with a stylist I’ve known for years.
For my business, I’ve been working with a dynamic business coach who is teaching me the nuts and bolts of marketing through a weekly phone call with a small group of local entrepreneurs. After every call, I have new ideas and the energy to take a few more steps forward. For my blog, I hired someone to help me brainstorm ideas and then set up a calendar with specific dates to publish my posts. She’s also available to edit when I get stuck.
And I have my own amazing life coach, who continues to challenge me to notice my emotions and get clear about what I want and what I am willing to do to get it.
All of these endeavors involved several steps and some time, but I feel really good about getting engaged and enjoying the benefits of having tackled them.
So what happened?
I realized I created accountability loops to support me in reaching my goals. Each of those partners brings fresh energy and perspective to the task at hand. Of course, I am careful to choose partners who are open and flexible and willing to teach me and move at my pace. I trust them. They trust me. The work seems lighter, and I am enjoying myself more.
I am also slowly letting go of the ideas that it’s all up to me, and I’d better do it now. Instead, I ask for help and make sure there’s some fun involved. I feel like I’ve stopped focusing on productivity and started to enjoy collaboration and the satisfaction that comes from working with others.
Is there something in your life you’ve been wanting to tackle? Who can you invite to help?
How to Take Charge of Overwhelm
I heard a woman at a book group say recently: “I don’t want to lean in; I just want to lie down.” Sometimes I feel the same way.
After I posted a blog earlier this month about our culture of overwork and the epidemic of overwhelm, I saw Petula Dvorak‘s column in the Washington Post called Welcome to Overwhelmia, Overwhelmed Moms. The next day, I heard an NPR interview with Washington Post writer Brigid Schulte on her new book Work, Love and Play When No One Has the Time, which Dvorak referenced in her column.
And then, my TED video weekly summary arrived in my inbox, including a recent TED talk by Anne Marie Slaughter. Remember her? She wrote The Atlantic article entitled “Why Women Still Can’t Have it All” in 2012. She’s the woman who wouldn’t lean in, leaving Hillary Clinton’s inner circle and returning home to New Jersey to spend time with her teenage sons before they left for college.
This conversation on the so-called work/life balance just won’t go away.
The Struggle between Work and Home
Dvorak says we live in Overwhelmia because we are hedging our bets as mothers to be sure our kids get everything they need, so we won’t feel guilty that we didn’t do all we could for them. We manage our time as if it were “confetti,” squeezing in the cupcakes for tomorrow’s bake sale as we send an email for work and get a load of wash going. Mostly, we are exhausted.
Schulte’s research shows that women in the U.S. spend almost all their leisure time with the kids, and that working mothers today spend more time with their kids than stay-at-home mothers did in the 1960s and 70s. And yet, she says we are still ambivalent about mothers who work outside the home. Compare the workplace accommodations for people with children or other family obligations in the US with those in the Nordic countries, she says, and you’ll see what she means. A lot of working mothers feel like they’re waging a losing battle.
In her latest TED talk, Slaughter suggests that we give equal respect to a wider range of life choices for women and men. She rightly points out that juggling work and family is not just a problem for women. In her view, breadwinning and caregiving should be given equivalent value, and our workplaces should apply that principle to men and women alike.
Of course this will take a broad consensus and probably specific policies that government and the private sector will have to hash out. But her point is right on, and no one feels stronger about this than the men I work with who have become full-time caregivers! They personally experience the discount we still apply to “stay-at-home” parents.
In the meantime, how can we lessen the struggle between work and home obligations? In my experience, it starts with an honest inventory of our own commitments.
What do your commitments say about your values?
In coaching, we view commitments as the most basic level of our interaction with the world. They are created any time we say yes to a request. Clearly, whether we keep or break commitments has a huge effect on who we are, that is, how others see us.
Which commitments do you want to hold, and for how long? Which do you want to renegotiate? And which do you want to let go of? What we seem to have forgotten — both men and women — is that we must continue to have conversations about what is important to us and how we want our lives to reflect those priorities.
The March issue of the Harvard Business Review, in its cover story “Work vs Life: Forget about balance – you have to make choices” put it this way:
Work/life balance is at best an elusive ideal and at worst a complete myth, today’s senior executives will tell you. But by making deliberate choices about which opportunities they’ll pursue and which they’ll decline, rather than simply reacting to emergencies, leaders can and do engage meaningfully with work, family and community. They’ve discovered through hard experience that prospering in the senior ranks is a matter of carefully combining work and home so as not to lose themselves, their loved ones, or their foothold on success. Those who do this most effectively involve their families in work decisions and activities. They also vigilantly manage their own human capital, endeavoring to give both work and home their due — over a period of years, not weeks or days.
Maybe part of the answer is not to Lean In but to Stand Up — for yourself, your choices and your boundaries.
What are you doing in work and in life to find balance? What standards do you personally use?
Deprogramming from the Cult of Overwork
How many hours a week do you spend at work? More than 50? More than 70?
You’re not alone. A recent Harvard Business School Survey found that 94 percent of professionals will work more than 50 hours per week, with roughly half of those people working more than 65 hours. And most of those days don’t include a lunch break.
Jim Surowiecki describes the “no boundaries, no breaks” nature of work today in his article “The Cult of Overwork” in the January 27 edition of The New Yorker.
And yet, the article focuses on moves by Wall Street to discourage employees from working on weekends. It seems the banks can’t get people to leave work at the office, and there must be something about the burnout employees experience as a result that is getting their attention.
When overwork becomes overwhelm
We seem to work all the time. Whether you run your own business or work for someone else, technology now tethers us 24/7 to the “office,” and this cult has become our culture.
I see a lot of overwhelm in my coaching practice. That’s why the women entrepreneurs I work with need a change in their work and personal lives. I give them a place to call a timeout and get clear about what’s happening for them. I remind them that the challenge in our hyperconnected world is always to make our own choices about how and when we want to be available to others, and for what.
I heard The Executive Happiness Coach, Jim Smith, interviewed last week on this topic. Jim rightly points to each individual’s responsibility to ask and answer the question, “What is the story I am living in about needing to be ‘on’ all the time?”
This is a great question. Moving out of an overwork mindset isn’t really about better time management or more effective scheduling tools. The most direct way out is to look at your commitments, and get very clear about which you want to continue to hold and which you need to renegotiate.
We also have to find “new” ways of being with ourselves, like reading a book or listening to music, that aren’t linked to productivity. When’s the last time you “wasted” time on something you love to do but aren’t finding time to do anymore?
Isn’t it about time you started deprogramming?
What’s one way you could add some unscheduled time back into your schedule? Let me know in the comments below. And if you’re having a hard time figuring it out, why not schedule a consultation—I guarantee we can find some space in that overcrowded calendar together.
What’s shame got to do with it?
Owning our own story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we will ever do.
-Brene Brown, from The Gifts of Imperfection
Like a lot of coaches, I really connect with Brene Brown’s message. I loved this book.
It tackles perfectionism and shame, vulnerability and wholeheartedness. These are great places to explore if you want to change your life, with one of the best guides around.
The funny thing is that I have been trying to get my blog post about this book just perfect.
I am still new to blogging, and it has been awhile since I posted. And isn’t that how it often goes when we want to try something new? That little gremlin shows up: Don’t put yourself out there unless you are sure you won’t mess up.
I used to believe that I needed to know the answer before I asked the question. And not just know the answer, nail the answer. I felt pretty vulnerable otherwise.
Another belief I had was that I should accept all assignments (and I don’t mean the classroom kind), whether or not I was prepared or the right person for the job, whether it was doable or I had agreed to it. As a child, for example, I thought I had to make everyone around me happy. And my conclusion when that didn’t happen? There must be something wrong with me.
According to Brown, that’s where shame shows up: when we believe that who we are is the problem, then we live in shame. We feel guilty about our actions, but we feel shame about ourselves. Anyone who has ever touched that place knows how painful it can be.
Brown insists that by talking about shame, we counter a dangerous myth in our culture, which is that being vulnerable enough to admit shame is a sign of weakness.
To the contrary, she contends that the most accurate measure of courage in a person is the degree to which he or she is willing to be vulnerable.
And how do we find the willingness? We practice — by admitting when we are uncertain, speaking up, saying no when we want to and letting go of shame and judgment. These actions take a lot of courage, and they open the way to connecting more deeply with ourselves. And the more real we are, the more we will connect with others.
Are you feeding a shame story about yourself? I invite you to share it — and then let it go. It’s time!
Learning to Live More Fully: Remembering the Good Stuff
I used to suffer from selective amnesia.
I would forget who I am. All the ways I have shown up in the world in a big way. Things I have done that made me who I am. Things I could be proud of.
Without noticing, I would step away from the most authentic pieces of who I am.
And then I would make ‘WHO AM I” so big and scary that I couldn’t move forward in my life. I was paralyzed.
How did I move out of paralysis and begin to live my life? I got better at remembering.
I went from a story of “I am who the world needs me to be” to “I am who I am.”
And to get there? First, I started acknowledging my real emotions. Without judgment and without making myself bad.
If I am anxious, I allow myself to sit in the discomfort of feeling off center, not in control. Before, I was “fine.” Except that most of the time, I wasn’t fine at all – I was terrified.
Now I accept my fear without creating yet another story of being “fine” (but not really.) I remind myself that fear is an emotion I feel, not who I am.
Second, I owned my gifts. All that I am in the world, grateful for my willingness not to hide anymore or explain away everything I have achieved.
To accept these gifts, I had to ask myself: What do I believe, deep down?
That I didn’t achieve those things. It was just luck. An accident. Anyone could have done it. And on and on.
Minimizing my efforts made me disappear. Now, I am done with disappearing and forgetting the good stuff.
Third, I brought as much lightness as I could to all I experienced.
Life does not need to be so serious and heavy, laden with goals and striving, stress and intensity. Lightness allows me to touch the strength inside of me and to play with others. It encourages curiosity and learning. It allows me to be patient with myself and offer compassion to others.
This is how we can all begin to live more fully. When there is no more room for self-indictment and demeaning ourselves, self-trust and self-compassion flourish. And there’s no forgetting what that feels like.
My Approach to Coaching
Coaching begins with a conversation about where you are in your work and life, and what is working or not working for you. Most people come to coaching because they want a plan for moving forward. In this sense, a coaching conversation is always oriented toward the future.
Some questions we always begin with: specifically, what is your challenge? What do you want to change? Why does it matter? What have you tried so far? What stands in the way of your progress? We start with an inventory of your life and your circumstances today.
A coach is your partner in discovery. We assume that you have the resources and creativity to tackle these questions. We also know that it is much easier to shift your perspective when someone is listening closely and helping you to see and challenge your assumptions.
What kinds of assumptions stand in most people’s way? Beliefs like “it is too late to change” or “I don’t have what it takes” or “it won’t make any difference” can lurk in our minds and set up roadblocks to progress. Coaches challenge your thinking so that you can get around the roadblocks with more ease and focus.
What happens next? You will begin to see new choices as you shift your thinking and free yourself up from these limiting beliefs about yourself and your possibilities. You and your coach will work together to determine which new directions you are willing to go.
Coaching also involves action. Your coach will hold you accountable for the actions you commit to taking. Most of us move more decisively and confidently with a partner on the sidelines who is cheering us on. This is how we help you build your accountability to yourself.
Taking action also builds confidence. Most coaching clients find that as they begin to gain some momentum, they feel more connected to themselves and more clear about their capacities and what they may need to learn and change. They feel more grounded and empowered.
Is there something you want to change in your life? Coaching is a dynamic and collaborative approach to learning new ways of being and doing in the world. If you are ready to take your game from good to great, why not give it a try?
Five Tips for Veterans on Working With a Coach
1. You set the agenda in coaching, and your coach is a partner and sounding board in helping you get clear about what you want to accomplish in the coaching engagement.
2. Coaches believe that you have the answers to your own questions. Your coach’s job is to help you tap into your sense of what will work for you – based on an inventory of your experiences and aspirations – and then turn that into information you can use to communicate more clearly with your network and make more mindful decisions going forward.
3. Coaching builds your self-awareness so you can leverage your assets and work with your liabilities in a more productive and grounded way. It also creates momentum by putting the focus on future-oriented plans, goals and actions. Keeping on track with scheduled coaching conversations and taking notes to capture what you are learning in real time are two key investments you can make to get the most out of coaching.
4. Many veterans I coach say they want more control over their professional and personal lives. They want to get the right work/life balance with their first civilian job, but the sheer number of options can be overwhelming. This creates pressure to take the first “good enough” job they are offered.
Coaching offers you an opportunity to answer the key questions before you take a job. It is an open-ended and non-judgmental conversation where you can get clear about what you want in a job and how to get there. All that’s required is a willingness to be honest with yourself and listen to what you say.
5. When you leave the military, you are leaving behind a distinct culture with its own values, traditions, lifestyle and language. It is no wonder that staying in the service feels comfortable, and getting out often does not.
Coaching offers a safe and confidential space to air your concerns about operating in the “real world” and tailored strategies that will help you feel more comfortable putting yourself out there in new situations, such as networking, interviewing or other ways of reaching out.
Rekindling an Old Flame
Special Topic: Three Key Things to Going Solo
Finding Your Voice
How to End Downward Spiral Thinking
Solitude and Leadership
Why Not You?
Enlisting the Magic of an Accountability Loop to Tackle Your To-Do List
How to Take Charge of Overwhelm
Deprogramming from the
Culture of Overwork
What's Shame got to Do with It?
Learning to Live More Fully
Special Topic: My Approach to Coaching
Special Topic: Five Tips for Veterans on Working with a Coach