Working with or without a coach, you can ‘embrace greater wisdom and understanding’ on your own. The key to personal growth, and happiness, is self-awareness. The four strategies for Emotional Intelligence include Self-Awareness, Self-Management, Social Awareness and Relationship Management (1), each factor contributing to your perspective of the world around you and how you want to participate in your own life.
Experience shows that working with a coach is an effective way to reach your goal by relying on a professional to introduce you to new concepts and approaches for everyday activities.
Coaching has been a part of human evolution for thousands of years, and is a natural result of our human desire to explore our limits, to grow and to improve, viewing feedback as the core of coaching…For me, coaching implies and reminds us that no matter how good or great we get at what we do; there always exists the possibility to do it better”. (2)
There are some elements of self-development that require personal commitment, whether you are guided by a coach or seeking continued learning on your own. To determine the effectiveness of whatever path you choose, my council is to consider how you define ‘true success’.
True success is never determined by factors beyond your control. True success is in the process: in making the effort. The following will
provide a few steps you can take to bring self-coaching into your daily activities.
How to Self-Coach
Self-coaching is not a new concept. You have probably self-coached yourself your entire life and may be very good at it. Working from the
premise that we can always improve, I suggest you examine how you have been self-coaching.
Today’s life style is fast-moving. We make fast decisions, knowing that the situation will change and another decision is imminent. Employing a consistent, systematic approach allows you to assess the breadth of information available before you make a decision. Better decisions make life easier for you, and enable you to gain the trust of others
There are three steps to self-coaching (3)
1. Consider what you did that worked well in the past.
- What worked before in analogous situations?
- What experiences involved similar events, resources, outcomes?
2. Identify what you would like to do differently now.
- What actions will achieve the best possible outcome?
- What new innovations and creative ideas can be applied?
3. Seek outside sources for new information/perspectives.
- Where can I turn for advice, counsel, or additional knowledge?
- What else can be learned to better understand all options available?
You may be surprised to learn that the results of a significant majority of personality assessments capture a single consistent response. The fact is that when we do something well, we tend to continue to do it –even to the point of abusing the skill or approach. For example, we may be good at making people laugh, offering witty sidebar comments that reveals an intriguing perspective of an issue, possibly relieving group tension. Abuse of this skill occurs when it is used too often, in the wrong situation, or when there simply is not adequate time for a sidebar.
All too often in my experience, the third step in self-coaching is the one most people tend to miss in their hurry to react and move onto other concerns. We tend to rely on what we know worked in the past.
This type of reactive thinking is often the bane of new leaders seeking to highlight their knowledge gained from past experiences (4).
Developing the Confidence to be Vulnerable
By Dr. L. Maddalena
rarely work with a new team and new situations. We have all encountered the short-sighted person who bases all ideas of a previous job or situation, failing to investigate the current unique environment.
How about you? How often do you use the expression “I know…” –or
how often do you hear others use that phrase or other filler words — to avoid
having to listen to what we assume is tired, well-worn information? Maybe it
is time to listen to yourself, and be certain that favorite expressions
interspersed in your conversation have value. This is where self-coaching
can be a valuable tool.
The most effective action to take when facing any situation is
embedded in self-coaching: objectively evaluate a situation spurred by the
opinions of others and all available data. Invite colleagues to share their
perspective and approaches to a situation, engage in open discussion to view
all alternatives before selecting one to rally behind.
Calling to mind the three simple steps of self-coaching allows you to pause before you respond to a situation, to challenge your first impulse, and to choose a path that you have researched and discussed with others.(5)
Self-coaching will help you make the best decisions in any environment. For example, when engaged in a difficult conversation, you can
employ a structure to stay focused and prevent distraction from your self- coaching.
The STOP – CHALLENGE – CHOOSE(6) process encourages us to be mindful of our responses, how we invest our time and our energy to achieve our personal goals.
STOP – CHALLENGE- CHOOSE
- Stop: Breathe, Observe
- Challenge: What is real?
o The worst possible outcome?
o The best possible outcome?
o The probable outcome?
- Choose: what is in your long term best interest?
o What can you control?
Fear of Vulnerability
Do you think it is easy to be happy? Why do you think people protect their bitterness, anger, fear, weaknesses and past traumas
Energy must be expended to avoid activities, people or situations that could possible cause physical danger or mental cruelty. In the same way, the pre-occupation of carrying past hurt and reliving previous disappointments is exhausting and debilitating, creating walls that hide easily obtainable joy.
It may seem easier to place a little bit of the blame for a situation on someone or something else, to describe someone as an “jerk” rather than admit that you may have missed obvious signs of different values. Perhaps in the short run it is harder to choose celebration over blame – you have to take responsibility for your own bad outcomes.
In the long run those little easy choices make life so much harder. When you’re cumulatively pessimistic or fundamentally negative, you’re actively choosing to accept a lower allotment of joy.
When you feel wronged and angry and you’re awaiting revenge or repercussions to teach someone else a lesson, teach yourself a lesson by choosing joy. It is important that in this moment someone got the best of you and they may never know or care about the extent of your hurt as they continue to bounce and tumble through life? What is important is that you accept that all joy in your future will have to be of your own making.
Optimism also demands that you greet new people and situation with an open mind, instead of just lumping them into some lazy category of Things You Already Know. When we prejudge, we close doors.
To have an open mind though, we have to assign ourselves to the role of students in life, and to not knowing the outcome in advance. It’s trading the secure (if false) sensation of being wise to everyone and everything, for the possibility of surprise, be it pleasant or unpleasant.
Choosing optimism is choosing vulnerability and humility on an ongoing basis. Self-coaching and awareness of what we want to be and do in our life prepares us make the best choices for a positive future.
“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born
and the day you find out why.”—Mark Twain.
Lucille Maddalena, Ed.D. is an Executive Coach and Leadership Development Consultant providing management skill training, team building, meeting facilitation, conflict resolution processes, and group coaching programs. More than 6,000 managers have successfully completed her popular TRANSITIONS TO LEADERSHIP series of seminars/group coaching.
Dr. Maddalena holds an interdisciplinary doctorate in Labor Education and Human Communications from Rutgers University. Visit www.mtmcoach.com for additional articles.
©L Maddalena, 2017 www.mtmcoach.com Contact us for permission to reprint
1 Travis Bradberry & Jean Greaves, EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE 2.0, TalentSmart, 2009.
2 Edgar Papke. TRUE ALIGNMENT: LINKING COMPANY CULTURE WITH CUSTOMER NEEDS FOR EXTRAORDINARY RESULTS. 2013
3 L. Maddalena, www.mtmcoach.com
4 Marshall Goldsmith: WHAT GOT YOU HERE WON’T GET YOU THERE, 2014
5 Larry and Hersch Wilson. PLAY TO WIN, 2015
6 Larry and Hersch Wilson. PLAY TO WIN, 2015
7 Carolyn Hax, Washington Post, 2016
The Competitive Advantage of Empathy
By Dr. Lucille Maddalena
Every day corporate leaders announce plans that will revolutionize their organization, move them forward and provide the environment to successfully take on more challenging work. The process can be likened to a business owner at the turn-of-the 20th century writing his hopes and dreams for the company on paper, placing the paper in a sealed tube, and dropping the tube down a pneumatic series of pipes to reach the first floor of the building. At its destination, the paper is removed from the tube by a clerk before being passed along to the general manager who opens the document and reads the wisdom of the leader.
The most elaborately developed plan, finely turned strategy, or clearly stated goal faces an immoveable force that will shred the patience of even the most experienced executive. Just what is this barrier to success? It is the company’s own culture.
In my article Why Middle Managers Matter, I offer the reader examples of how firms such as AT&T implemented grand plans to reorganize and restructure during the latter part of the 1980’s. In many of the efforts implemented by US firms, leaders found they did not invest in seeking the input and support of middle managers. As a result, existing cultural habits caused a push back, confusing and misdirecting well-planned initiatives.
This paper will examine how mid-level managers are at the foundation of a company’s culture, and why push back occurs. It is with this level of staff and those who share an equal responsibility for the welfare of the organization that maintain the culture. Given the importance of culture to successful achieve our strategies, it is now is the time to understand the factors that make up the organization’s culture.
RELATIONSHIPS ARE THE FORUM
As a graduate student in the Rutgers University Department of Labor Studies I was able to work with Union Leaders at union training centers, preparing union representations to assume leadership responsibilities. The most difficult task of those assuming the role of union rep was how it affected their personal relationships with their peers.
Considering the often-conflicting roles of union reps it is easy to envision a situation where friendships, reporting responsibilities, and personal values are questioned. Addressing these invisible barriers and bumps to open communication requires an open forum permitting trust and mutual respect. Our world today is much more populated than when our early 1900’s business owner sent his message down a pneumatic tube. The sheer immensity of population size becomes even more amazing when we recognize how many people in this busy, fast-paced world feel lonely.
We thrive in an environment that buoys us between loneliness and isolation to connections and relationships, freely falling and rising with our dreams and hopes, as our fears and stresses. Former US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy writes in Work And The Loneliness Epidemic: “During my years caring for patients, the most common pathology I saw was not heart disease or diabetes; it was loneliness.”
In our private lives we recognize that it is the social contact, support networks and connections that enable us to work through a day of stress, pressure or worry. Consider how difficult it is to cope with the many day-to-day demands without the assurance that someone ‘has our back’.
Liz Ryan begins her article How Important Is Corporate Culture? It’s Everything, by stating:
“Fear and trust are the chemical currents that power every good or bad thing an organization does, but we seldom talk about them and it hurts us not to.
We pretend there are no currents. We focus on particles instead of waves. We are obsessed with numbers in cells on spreadsheets and with graphs and algorithms, while the real energy that powers your success (and without which you are going nowhere fast) has nothing to do with particles!
It is an energy wave. As leaders we need to turn our attention away from the particles that we love so much to measure, and focus on the waves instead.”
Seeing the ‘waves’ requires a special lens, a view point not on the water, but on the horizon and the changing winds that fill our sails to guide our ship. An organization’s ability to be agile, to respond to internal as well as external pressures will inevitably dictate its success in our volatile business climate.
COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE OF EMPATHY
Relationships and good communication flow are just two elements of a strong organization culture. In his book Connection Culture, Michael Stallard poses that firms embracing an environment of shared identify, empathy and understanding at work realize a competitive advantage.
In a very real example a client recently expressed concern over how one of the top leaders was performing. The individual had risen to a prominent position and was known to provide answers to questions before they were expressed, shutting down the speaker and closing the door to discussion. As a result, staff from his key directors down the ladder to team members refrained from offering ideas or suggestions. The executive became isolated and was now seen as a ‘firefighter’.
Interviewing a cross-section of team members, I discovered that after repeatedly being told by the Exec that he knew best, they stopped informing him of any issues between staff and subcontractors or of minor production/distribution blocks. His tardy awareness of situations too often occurred after small de-railers bloomed into full problems, demanding his full attention to put out the fire.
Repeated actions by the Exec to members of the team gains the Exec a reputation among the middle-managers whose actions and responses in turn contribute to the evolving culture of the organization. Taking the time to listen to a team member’s full story and allowing a team member to acknowledge the problem as well as present options to move forward builds a strong working relationship. Leaders who have the confidence to flip the pyramid, to employ a servant-leader approach, benefit from an environment of trust, rapport and respect with his/her team. Stallard describes the impact of showing empathy:
“Mutual empathy is a powerful connection that is made possible by mirror neutrons in our brains. Mirror neurons act like and emotional Wi-Fi system (Goleman 2006). When we feel the emotions of others, it makes them feel connected to us.”
By role modeling and living these foundation elements, upper levels of management build a much stronger tie to middle-management., Stallard offers guidelines to build connections and avoid disconnections by focusing on how a firm can support all staff to develop their personal values, vision, and voice:
“Vision, value, and voice are the core elements of a connection culture. The people who bring these elements to a culture and make it happen are the enablers of the connection culture model and are called committed members and servant leaders. Committed members are committed to task excellence, promoting the connection culture, and living out character strengths and virtues. They may be senior managers, receptionists, salespeople, engineers, information technology experts, or customer service representatives. Servant leader are committed members who have the authority to coordinate task excellence, facilitate the connection culture, and model and mentor others in character strengths and virtues.”
Viewing culture as ‘residing’ in the framework of middle-management presents corporate leaders with the opportunity to acknowledge the power of all staff to influence the success of the organization. Engaging the body of the organization along with those at the top empowers members to share a vision, embrace the, values and provide a voice in support of a connection culture.
Committed leaders who understand they can set a course, inspire commitment and encourage contribution from all levels of the organization will share their vision, live true to their values and inspire others in the company to voice their goals.
Change is felt as an emotional process containing both wins and losses. By connecting with others to support their contribution we break down barriers and create an environment of caring while gaining the information to make better decisions and the agility to carry out our vision for the benefit of all.
BY LUCILLE MADDALENA
As an engaged member of a group, or as a parent or colleague, you value your network and seek connections to build bridges and to give and share information. Dynamic workforce leaders also recognize the importance of connectivity to effective planning and decision making.
In any environment, there are some who self-impose restrictions on their behavior with others, possibly through fear of exposure or perceived hierar-chal boundaries. In his article, “What to Ask the Person in the Mirror,” Harvard University Professor Robert Kaplan writes about a senior com-pany executive who is having trouble achieving consensus among his lead-ership team. The exec was asked if he had considered getting feedback from his direct reports. He responded: “Of course not; they’re the subordinates—it would be awkward for me to ask them for coaching. I’m the coach!”
One of the most difficult soft skills for many leaders to embrace is al-lowing themselves to be vulnerable. Edgar Papke wrote in True Align-ment: Linking Company Culture With Customer Needs for Extraordinary Results that feedback itself is the rea-son some people avoid coaching, because the idea of being reviewed by others—especially those in lower levels—causes consternation as much as the aspect of being singled out as someone who needs coaching. In fact, anyone who has been through coach-ing knows the reverse often is true: A thorough 360 review will highlight the individual’s strengths and identify her successes.
Of course, in any environment, we will make a mistake or react without thought, speaking inappropriately. Owning up to our actions has a grati-fying and often unexpected result: We gain self-respect and, in many cases, the respect of others. It takes strength to face ridicule. Acknowledging a lapse in judgment is a humbling, honest experience. Revealing vulnerability also reveals humility. There is no place for arrogance, judgment, or blame because those emotions are an empty means of self-protection and mere time-wasting distractions to the task of moving forward.
One of my clients offers an example of how to create an environment that encourages feedback and collabora-tion. Max received a promotion to his first management role, into a depart-ment formerly led by a self-described micromanager. The department had a reputation for poor performance, of-ten missing deadlines and failing to attend company-wide events. Max was confident he could elicit team-work and turn the department around.
Max spent his first few days at-tempting to talk individually with staff members, sharing his friendly, outgo-ing personality as he did so. His efforts were cordially accepted with limited response. When entering an employee’s workspace, he often noted signs of anx-iousness and discomfort. Silos persisted. Although cubicles were in close proxim-ity and work relied on the others’ task completion, each seemed isolated and unaware of what others were doing.
While failing to engage anyone in useful dialogue, Max nevertheless re-mained optimistic. He sought advice from his new peers. His initial impres-sion was confirmed: The staff did not consider themselves a team. The style of the former manager was described as “intense and to the point.” Data were shared formally through reports and in meetings.
Max realized that there was little per-sonal communication among the department. He resolved that he would inspire change by increasing social in-teraction. His goal was to foster a sense of teamwork necessary to build the working relationships to improve over-all department performance. To do so, he asked members of his team for help.
Because the staff were accustomed to exchanging information through documents, Max chose to create a feedback questionnaire to learn how his new staff evaluated his perfor-mance. The questionnaire included 10 questions that invited staff to rate his performance on a 1-5 scale, with a blank line for comments.
At the next department meeting, Max informed his staff that for him to succeed in his new role, he had to know what he was doing right and what he could do differently. He then explained that he created a two-page list of questions he would like them to answer, and all responses would be held in confidence and could be sub-mitted anonymously.
The first response to the question-naire from his staff of 27 resulted in five completed forms. All the questions posed were ranked, no comments were offered, and all were submitted anonymously.
One month later, Max shared the results of the questionnaire, describing his commitment to helping the team succeed. He informed the group that in a few months he would once again ask for each person’s help to improve his performance in any way possible.
Six months after the first ques-tionnaire distribution, Max repeated the process. This time he received 14 completed forms, three of which were signed. At the next monthly meeting, Max again shared the feedback and described how he was going to apply the insight to improve his manage-ment style by adopting new behaviors.
Establish a connection
After another six months passed—a full year since he started—Max distributed the form again. This time the results were surprising. Of the 27 on the team, he received 24 completed forms. Even more telling was that six individuals requested to meet with Max privately.
Several brought uncompleted and unsigned forms with them, sat confi-dently in Max’s office, established eye contact, and told him directly what they were observing. Max was thrilled and felt he had succeeded at his goal.
At the next meeting, Max discussed the comments he received without mentioning names. Another surprise occurred when a few contributors took ownership of their feedback by engaging in the conversation. The en-suing discussion encouraged others to share their ideas and feedback. With the enthusiastic support of staff, Max created quarterly staff roundtables, inviting all members to share a story of a recent event that best expressed their work experience.
With his staff taking the lead from Max, the work environment had changed: Everyone was more positive and open. There was greater sharing of current projects and, grad-ually, innovative ideas to streamline work emerged.
Today, Max is in a C-level position, continuing to encourage feedback pro-cesses throughout the organization.
True success is in the process, in making the effort. Accept the risk by seeking to connect honestly to others. Develop trust by being consistent in process—we don’t know everyone and everything. Maintain trust by being flexible in implementation—life moves too fast and people change.
Choosing optimism is choosing vul-nerability and humility, anticipating a future that will bring pleasant and unpleasant unanticipated events. It is the systematic approach to a goal that offers you the opportunity for your personal development, and to inspire the development of others.
Lucille Maddalena is an executive coach and leadership development consultant;
Originally published in TD magazine, the monthly publication of the Association for Talent Development
FIND YOUR TRAIL MARKERS –
By Dr. Lucille Maddalena
How do you decide what next step is the right one for you? You may have invested years in one company, building a reputation as a hard worker capable of managing teams and making things happen. Or perhaps you’re right out of graduate school starting a first job, ready to gain new skills and the credentials to form your career.
Whether you are a senior leader or just starting your career, you have a myriad of decisions to make that can make or break your future. As a Senior Leader you may be challenged to work with a new group of high potential employees from a different generation and with different motivations. As a new employee you will benefit from choosing a mentor or taking on a high-risk project.
Let’s think about this a bit to try to uncover what makes the difference between a good or bad decision. To do this we will examine the source of our wisdom to discover how we can put our own experiences to best use to enhance our career.
WHAT WON’T GET YOU THERE?
Marshall Goldsmith’s book WHAT GOT YOU HERE WON’T GET YOU THERE is a mainstay in the list of referral publications I recommend to those I coach. He offers a humorous view of typical habits built during past successes that influences our future, falling into the trap of assuming that all we need do is what we did before. Goldsmith helps us identify the habits we formed, why we tend to keep our habits, and how those habits may be derailers of our future careers.
As we progress in our career, particularly when climbing a corporate ladder, we develop our own path toward our goal. Immersed in the daily routine, making decisions, building alliances and staying focused on the goal, we may not clearly see what is before us and easily miss a rung. Once useful habits no longer bring us through a rough situation. It’s time to take a step back and revisit a time before you got here – to an earlier you, perhaps less aware of the mountains before you, when your responses were new, unburdened by past success.
WHAT GOT YOU HERE?
Have you shared a memory or attempted to describe an event that you consider important to your success – only to find the ‘listener’ impatiently stopped listening to your story as they waited to tell their story? Your tale so inspired them to think of their own experience they jumped into their memory, completely missing the unique insight you were willing to share.
Recalling their adventure was no doubt pleasant for them, and if relevant, perhaps for you. If no one is listening to the story, the telling is merely relating an interesting event. The speakers did not absorb the message and missed the opportunity to consider how similar situations would evoke different responses today.
We all have our stories, they are cached in our memories. Stories become both sanctuaries we go to in times of stress and brilliant learning points called to mind when we think about the situation that inspired a personal revelation. To use this goldmine of learned experiences, stop repeating what happened and instead use the event to think about what we would do in a similar situation today.
“Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory.”― Dr. Seuss
In my journey toward a career as an Executive Coach I was fortunate to have the opportunity to explore and experience a wide range of learning situations. The following tale occurred during a key event in my life when I raced sled dogs in competition. The experience was an immersion into a different world of nature, excitement, risk and love. It has impacted my life and is a significant part of who I am.
When on the trail humans look for trail markers to indicate turns; dogs sniff the air for the scents.
When with my team on a ridge overlooking a trail I recall seeing one driver off his sled at a crossroads, his team impatiently waiting to continue, tails wagging, pulling on the lines. The driver walked several steps along the left trail, pointed to the route then returned to the juncture to bend over his lead dog. Speaking to the dog he gestured to the left trail, the direction he obviously wanted to go. I could not hear what the driver said. I did see the how the lead dog continued to sit quietly during this tirade. When the driver stopped speaking to the dog, he walked along the trail to the right. Gesturing in a spurning movement of his arms, he returned to the lead dog and once again spoke while waving his arms to the left trail. The dog continued sitting alert, calmly watching every movement. This seemed to further frustrate the driver who once again walked to the left, pointed adamantly and even seemed to bounce a bit, grabbing his hat and pulling it more tightly down. He then stopped, turned toward the team and purposefully walked to his position at the back of the sled. I clearly heard him call “gee” – the signal to take a right turn and watched as the team smoothly executed the turn, eventually disappearing from my sight down the long tree-lined trail.
What is most interesting about the tale of the dog driver and lead dog at a critical juncture along their trail is that the dog driver taught the lead dog the ‘rules of the trail’. The driver identified a dog that exhibited natural leadership traits and invested the time to provide the training required to lead a team. He also knew that while lead dogs are trained to follow human commands, they are bred from a lineage that has survived in this environment. The driver chose to rely on experience and instinct.
You may not have a lead dog to help you step back, reconsider your decisions and decide which path to take. You can look at who stands with you, who that you can turn to for advice: a direct report, colleague or manager who can fill the role.
TRUST YOUR DECISIONS
During the process the driver and dog discovered one key element in all relationships: trust. As you consider how you make decisions, you are also considering the value of the decision. How do you know you can you trust your decisions — or the decisions of others? There is rarely a ‘right or wrong’ decision. Working at the pace of change typical in business today, decisions usually come down to ‘better or best’ alternative as factors. When it comes to your career, it is worth the investment of time to develop your own decision tree, with options available as the environment, culture and influencing factors evolve.
To identify your trail markers – to make the best decisions possible, employ a bit of self-coaching.
Consider how you make decisions. Self-coaching suggests that you Practice Self-Coaching employing private contemplation. In every decision-making situation, explore the answers to these three questions:
. On By: Taking the Risk available for download on www.mtmcoach.com
Three critical self-coaching questions to consider past experiences in similar situations:
- What did I do well? Acknowledge the elements of each decision that worked for you. Be aware of when you may have formed habits that you may continue to employ in a different, changing environment.
- What could I do differently? Consider all the options available to you; explore new approaches with others evaluating the impact of alternative methods and results
- Where can I go to learn more? Who can you talk to, what reference material is available to you? Seek the experience of others.
To track your development and decision making success, maintain a private Coaching Journal. Track your decisions by recording events to provide the opportunity for self-reflection as well as recognition of your successes. Depending on your needs, you may choose to make daily entries of your progress and/or record specific events (date/time/location) such as a team meeting or interaction with a colleague.
Monitor your personal development to help you:
- Plan the process you believe will be most effective at an upcoming specific interaction with an individual or group
- Implement the process you have selected to engage and inform others of your intent/purpose/perspective during the meeting
- Record the results of your approach after the meeting by objectively noting how you achieved your goal and how others responded to your ideas/contributions
Evaluate your effectiveness following an interaction by:
- Consider the pro’s and con’s of the processes you chose to employ in your interaction.
- Pro’s are positive and effective approaches or processes you will repeat
- Con’s are the concerns you have regarding:
- the usefulness or effectiveness of the approach to gain the response you seek
- your skill at employing the selected process
- Review the perceived effectiveness of the interaction toward your goals before developing next steps to alter or continue the interaction with the individual or team involved.
REVIEW YOUR DECISIONS
It’s your turn to challenge yourself. Take the time now to consider what events, life situations, or learning opportunities were a personal awakening, that ah-ha moment, your personal tipping-point.
I’ll share a few to help you get started:
RESPONSIBILITY. Personal life events such as getting married, having children, losing a friend or family member, bring new responsibilities. Career life events such as promotion, demotion, relocation all add further responsibilities and complexities to our lives.
What did you gain from taking on new responsibilities? For many it is the ability to be flexible, to accept that we don’t have all the answers, that sometimes by just being there and trying is enough. For example, most parents will agree that until you have children, you do not know what it is to be humble.
ADVENTURE. Our journey need not be a lavish vacation, participating in extreme sports or even regular golf games with our friends. Life adventure occurs when you accept a new challenge, are willing to take a risk, expose your vulnerable side by exploring a very different situation.
How did the act of accepting a new challenge influence your personal development? After the adrenaline rush, once you are back in a familiar routine, the memories you bring from the event that inspired new insight or understanding will prepare you for future startling events.
CONNECTIONS. Every relationship you build connects you to everyone else. We all need mentors, coaches, advisors to best review our options and sort through the information necessary to make decisions. You have a network to keep you connected: as they succeed, you succeed. When the road you’re on becomes lonely, crowded or unsatisfying, try a new path and let yourself get lost.
What new person or group of people have you brought into your life recently? Joining new organizations, scheduling lunches with friends you haven’t seen in a while, exploring your own network on Linked-in will inspire you to see some things you never saw before -and discover the passion from doing what you know is right for you.
Each step in our journey adds to our personal evolution, merging with every observation, intention and awakening we hold. I have learned to tell my story in short because as a result of my sharing, a trust is formed and I learn from others
Seek your trail markers, allow the wind, rain and others to move the snow enough to catch a glimpse of the sign or look for the indicators around you in nature, animals, and events. The signs are there, each a portent for new learning and greater joy.
. On By: Taking the Risk available for download on www.mtmcoach.com
Running Out of Time?
By Dr. Lucille Maddalena
Why is it that some people seem to get so much more done than others? There are only so many hours in the day, and everyone seems to be running like crazy to keep up with an endless list of tasks. Do you want to manage your time better – or do you feel that no matter what you do, you’ll never be able to do all you want to do?
Let’s take a look at how we look at time. First, let’s agree to accept one fact: there is no such thing as time management. We can decide which tasks to complete and when, what priority to give to meetings and people, but we cannot control the clock. Rather than focus on a relative concept, let’s look at what you actually do every minute of every day.
• Busy is as busy does. The coffee-carrying character in the Dilbert cartoons personifies the office colleague who has conquered the art of looking busy without doing any real work. Unfortunately, many of us will have the same result by actually being busy. We can become so absorbed in less important tasks and distracted by activities that keep us engaged, we may miss the big picture. Keeping busy is not the answer: our goal has to be to focus on achieving the results that we seek. Our success provides the self-motivation to continue on to the next step.
• Never enough time. Consider a big project that you need to start – have you ever put off beginning until you can find the “right time”? How often have you found that big block of free time that you know you need to “do it right”? This easy-to-spot red flag can herald a downfall when we actually create our own barriers to getting the job done. Just as you cannot manage time, it is important to remember that time is not free. You are paid for the amount of time you work; you reap the rewards of family interaction by the time you invest in your family.
How can you invest your time wisely?
To-do lists don’t work for everyone as they quickly get too long, becoming a distraction to getting the job done. As an alternative, experiment with the many useful tools available, from hand-written note cards to digital file cabinets, until you find the one that is flexible and easy to access.
What can you do to achieve maximum results from the time you are investing in every activity you experience during the day? Here are a few pointers to get you started focusing on results.
1. VALUE ACTION.
Start the day by identifying what you want to achieve: the results that will make you feel satisfied at the end of the day. Prioritize any actions you know you must take in one-word sub-headings that will keep the movement forward. Organize routine activities such as securing reading in audio form to listen to as you commute0. Appreciate the small successes as you move toward your goal by checking off each accomplishment. Find ways to delegate effectively, whenever possible serving as a role model and mentor. Avoid multi-tasking by committing yourself to perform each task in a way that will bring you maximum results.
2. BENEFIT FROM INTERACTIONS.
Join forces with others to stay on a mutually beneficial time-frame and set clear goals for the conversation, checking your progress along the way. Engaging with others in meetings, conference calls, and impromptu discussions builds working relationships and leads to effective decision making.. Listen for cues that you or others are going off-track, refocusing on the data and seeking practical solutions or decisions that will be most useful to all.
Schedule private time on your calendar just to think: disconnect by turning off the computer screen, phone and tablet. Keep a pencil in your hand with a pad of paper and allow yourself to doodle, or write whatever key words/themes come to mind. Remember the 80/20 rule: 20 percent of your thoughts produce 80 percent of your actions. Consider the actions you plan for the day: assess how each minute invested will most benefit you. Appreciate yourself, your skills and your talents.
4. EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED.
Change is our constant, so plan for change and interruptions. Build up your to-do list by allotting as much time in each day as you typically spend responding to fires, attending unscheduled meetings, or addressing a new issue. As topics are presented evaluate the results you expect to receive from the event, investing only the amount of time appropriate to the value of the investment. When delays occur, use waiting time to review your goals, to acknowledge what you have already conquered today, and what you want to complete before closing your work day.
It seems I regularly send out one-word messages to those I coach, simply reminding them to breathe. With your back straight, inhale deeply, fill the lungs, the diaphragm, hold the breath a moment, and exhale slowly. Air to the brain physiologically calms you. If you are in the middle of a stressful conversation, ask a question on the out breath to gain more information, give you time to think, and maintain your status quo. With a calm mind you can accomplish more.
You can’t do it all. Planning, delegating and really evaluating how you spend the time available to you is the key. Stay focused on the big picture. You can avoid sweating the small stuff by sorting the details you anticipate and staying flexible to address unexpected issues. Imagine a spinning wheel moving toward your goal by focusing on results and being open to change. You can accomplish what you need to achieve.
Have you ever been nervous about beginning a new job? Most of us are as excited about a new work opportunity as we are uncertain about the proper way to take on the new assignment—and we know it takes more than luck to succeed.
Avoid going into the position ‘blind”: take the time to prepare yourself and gain the support and guidance that will make the difference between success, just getting by, or not making the grade. Consider the oft-quoted phrase “the job is yours to lose”: while the statement is true, it offers little concern for the natural anxiety of an important life event, often leaving the recipient confused and uncertain. Prepare to join a new team, learn a new job, or relocate to a new location by learning how others develop the confidence to succeed during a job transition.
Recently I was asked to work with a young man who had received a wonderful job offer in a field he had tried unsuccessfully to enter for many years. When we met, he was nervous: his fears were evident in his body language as well as the short, stilted responses he offered when we spoke. He revealed that the last conversation he had about the new job was with his recruiter who offered the advice “the job is yours to lose”. While the statement is true, it revealed a lack of empathy and support on the part of the recruiter and left the candidate feeling confused and uncertain.
The young man realized that he was nervous, which only compounded his discomfort. He expressed concern that he would make a poor impression when he reported to work the next day. He needed to calm down, to channel the energy and excitement while preparing to meet his new team.
My first task was to help him regain his composure, to center himself and provide tools he could use to maintain control over his emotions. To accomplish this, we sat quietly as I instructed him in basic breathing techniques. It may seem ‘Zen-like’, but the reality is that your body needs the air that we block when we become tense. A few deep breathes helped him to physically relax and he began to focus.
Once his nerves had quieted, we began to talk about the new job. As he described all he had undertaken to prepare for the new work, the training and certifications he acquired, and his experiences that will contribute to his success, his confidence began to return.
Here are a few things we discussed that others have found effective to not only secure their role in a new job, but position themselves for a long-term successful career.
Believe in yourself
Have you ever visited the NJ site where Marconi proved the feasibility of radio and invented landmark applications for the new technology? You might be surprised to learn that prior to his discoveries, his friends took the young inventor to a psychiatric ward for observation. Marconi’s friends were unable to believe in the principle of sending messages through the air without wires. Learning this fact we must be impressed not only with the results of Marconi’s work, but also with his ability to maintain his inspiration and follow his life dream.
A recent report by Dr. W. Hauser in the journal Deutsches Arzteblatt Intl, (see www.cancer.org) suggests that physicians not tell patients the extent of adverse effects of an illness, as “patients may develop symptoms and side effectives purely because they’ve been told about them”. For example, those patients in a study group who were warned about pain, reported actually having more pain and didn’t perform as well on the test as those who did not receive the warning. In another study, people who thought a specific drug produced a certain side effect experienced that effect even when they were not given the drug.
So how can you use the power of a belief in yourself to succeed? I suggest you read PLAY TO WIN by Larry Wilson and try the STOP/CHALLENGE/CHOOSE approach.
Play to Win
Wilson refers to Marshall McLuhan’s concept that “we drive into the future looking in the rearview mirror”. McLuhan’s thought is that it is not what is behind us that will make us fail; it is working hard to protect ourselves from previous or assumed risk that prevents us from recognizing the opportunity before us. Wilson states “When we play not to lose, we tend to make choices and decisions based on what has happened to us in the past, without stopping and challenging whether our choice is rational or relevant.”
Especially during periods of transition, we are immersed in the emotions evoked by change. Our tendency is to remove the stress by making a quick decision, often reacting as we reacted in the past. We may be quick to ‘put out the fire’, while not completely remembering or assessing the results of our actions in the past.
An example of this reactive process occurred recently to Amy, an Account Executive for a major financial firm. When she reviewed her new assignment of accounts, she noted that she had been given one client who office gossip described as notorious for ignoring advice and blaming failure to achieve goals on the quality of data provided by the firm. Amy later explained that her first thought was that she was being ‘set up for failure’. As a result of that perspective on the new assignment, she immediately raised the issue to her manager stating that as the newest member of the team, she was beginning her job with a disadvantage. Her manager took the time to listen to Amy’s concerns then queried her further about how she received an impression of the client without meeting the client first. He patiently reminded her that all AE’s have a few clients that are deemed “difficult” and this client would give her an opportunity to show her skill and experience.
Embarrassed by her hasty reaction, Amy accepted the client and set about to find a way to work with this account. Before her first meeting with the client, she was careful to change the way she was thinking of the client. She stopped and listened to how she was describing the client to herself, observed her word choice and realized that she was repeating gossip. She then challenged herself to find positive, productive way to view the client’s needs. She choose to approach this client with a positive, professional attitude. Amy reported that although it took some time to learn exactly what the client needed, the client is now one of her best accounts.
Preparation Builds Confidence
As an Executive Coach, many of my clients express concern about dealing with a difficult person or presenting a plan to a hostile group. A key part of the process to address these issues is in the preparation for a meeting or event: understand the needs/perspective of those you will speak with and find a way to show them how working with you will be mutually beneficial.
Noted story teller Bill Taylor has a wonderful example to share. He describes a farmer who needed a hired hand. Of those he interviewed in the nearby village, only one stood out to him. Although the young man had no references, the farmer was surprised by his confidence when he described himself as “I’m a man who can sleep through a storm at night.”
Shortly after the new ranch hand was at work, a raging storm occurred rousing the farmer from his sleep. He immediately dressed and ran to the barn to awaken the new hire, finding him sound asleep in the loft. Frustrated, the farmer set off to protect the site by himself. He found that the animals had been bedded comfortably, the equipment securely tied, the doors and windows all locked: everything in proper order, ready for the worst. Now the farmer understood what the young man meant about sleeping through a storm at night.
Live your Dream
The story of the farmer and the ranch hand is relevant in any setting — and resonates with all, from rural to urban lifestyles. Success does not come easy: it takes an application of your talent, understanding of how to assess risk, and dedication to perform well. If you goal is to achieve at something more than mediocre, try the Stop/Challenge/Choose approach. Move away from negative thinking. Dream your dreams and believe in them. Invest in yourself and believe in yourself.
©L. Maddalena, All Rights Reserved. To receive a copy of this article, send a note to email@example.com
If you have a story to share about how you overcame fear and risk to succeed at a job, I would enjoy hearing it as would others who are in similar experiences. Please take a moment to reply to this blog – I will post all responses. Here is to your success!