Recognising Choices

There is always a choice available to help you achieve your goals.

It might not be obvious to you, but it’s definitely there.

If you can’t see a way forwards, think about doing nothing. If you don’t change things, will you still get closer to your goal, or are you moving away from it?

How does that make you feel? If doing nothing is a good choice, maybe you need to revisit your goals, be more ambitious or find something else to chase. Nevertheless, nothing is a choice, and it’s a valid one to consider.

Once you’ve looked at nothing, wave your magic wand and cast aside everything that’s stopping you or holding you back. Does it make you feel awesome, energised and engaged. If it does, then this is a great goal.

Look at those things you’ve cast aside, discounted or stepped around. Which of them can you envision tackling successfully. What’s the smallest step, easiest or most valuable thing to do? Answer this, and you’ve just opened up a whole set of options to consider and choices you can make.

There is always a choice, you just need to recognise what it is. Empower yourself to make decisions and you’ll have a path to positive and long term change.


Getting Virtual

Lots of us are working from different spaces, with different setups and totally changed routines.

There’s dozens of great articles talking about how to work from home, coming from those who’ve been doing it for years and those who are starting to figure it out for the first time. It’s definitely different to the previous models, so don’t get hung up on hitting perfect from day one, try out a few different things and keep what works for you.

I’ve given lots of virtual coaching sessions, and find that they can be absolutely as effective as face-to-face time.

To have a great session:

  • Give yourself five minutes to clear your mind before you start. Get up, walk around and get your energy in the right place.
  • Set yourself up, comfy chair, drink of water, pen, notepad and anything else to smoothly get through the next hour.
  • Change up a bit from your usual teleconference. This might be a great time to pick a different part of the room, or a more casual setup.
  • Mute your phone, turn off all notifications and permit yourself some time fully focused on your own development.
  • Be open and committed to a successful outcome, and you’re more likely to get one!

If you’re ready to give it a go, then schedule a time with me now, or drop me an e-mail and we’ll sort something out.

Coaching Leadership

Don’t let facts get in the way of coaching

It’s impossible to coach someone to discovers facts that they just don’t know. As a coach, you can guide a coachee through the tools and techniques they have available to discover answers, but you can’t unpick those answers themselves.

This situation most often occurs in an organisational context, or when you are applying coaching methods in a management role. The example I tend to use is a manager who’s working with a direct report and is discussing some recent annual leave. In this scenario, if the coachee does not know what the holiday policy is, then no amount of coaching will bring them to enlightenment.

In this situation, there are a couple of options. If it’s urgent, then you can choose to break out of coaching and share some information. This isn’t the ideal solution, but it can drive you past a sticky point and allow you to switch back to the coaching mode.

You can also choose to step through the coachee’s thinking, and seek to find appropriate options to empower them to discover the relevant information. In the case of policies, that may involve things like contacting HR, research on the corporate intranet or reaching out to other colleagues. Selecting one of these options and reporting back the findings might be an excellent small outcome for the coachee, which also gives them more autonomy in the future.

As a coach, watch out for the times when there is definitely a right answer. That’s the time you should pause, review the conversation and find a way forwards without getting stuck in the mud trying to bring a coachee to a factual solution they are not equipped to discover.


Riding the Elephant

I recently came across an excellent metaphor for the interaction of logic and emotion, presented by Haidt in The Happiness Hypothesis.

Imagine that logic is a person, riding the elephant of emotion. Sometimes the elephant is quiet and logic steers the way. Sometimes it’s not, and nothing that the rider does can alter the course. The harder the rider tries, the less likely they are to have any impact at all, it may just get worse.

In these cases, you have to let emotion take its course, ride with it rather than fight it and hold off on trying to set direction.

Doing this successfully requires great self-awareness, and you won’t always manage to get it right. If you can start to recognise when the elephant is making its presence felt, then you can start to understand what’s going on in your mind and how it’s impacting your life. If you can’t, then you are doomed to be dragged around whilst flailing inconsequentially on the elephant’s back.

Logic doesn’t always win. Recognise this and you’ll ride the elephant to a much better place!

Coaching Leadership

Dedication to Goals

I’ve worked with a number of junior leaders, and there’s often a theme that comes through in our conversations. The people that they are coaching are not dedicated to achieving their goals.

When we probe into the idea of dedication, there’s usually one of a small number of issues at hand. I’m going to talk about a couple of them today, and share a few techniques for overcoming them if you recognise them in your own endeavours.

Externally imposed – A person will tend to own their goals if they have created them and stated them for themselves, rather than had goals imposed on them from an external source. When you’re coaching, the coachee will bring their full understanding and potential for growth to the conversation, so let them set the goals. As a leader, share examples of times when people have been successful. Build that understanding, and then when you are coaching, let the coaching take it on to form their own goals.

Saying what you want to hear – Sometimes a coachee will try to guess what the coach wants to hear, and set that as their goal. You might recognise this when the coachee is actively seeking approval from you for their suggestions, latching on to any you view favourably. It’s challenging to overcome this behaviour. You need to build more trust with the coachee, maybe by considering other topics before returning to this goal setting. Expand the conversation. This encourages the coachee to dig deep, and find what’s really relevant to them. Don’t accept the first answer they give, but do let it be their area of focus if that really interests them.

Too big and scary – If a goal is overwhelming, then it can cause a coachee to lose heart, showing in this lack of dedication. A leader could recognise that the goal is not well formed, or it’s stated in very simplistic terms. “Get promoted” or “Be excellent” are examples of goals that might be too big for some coachees to progress with. Here we can probe on the details, strengthening the stated goal by allowing the coachee to make it more specific. We can encourage the coachee to break the goal into smaller steps, maybe by focusing on core skills to improve to position them well to succeed. Finally, we can use scaling to understand and highlight the gap that they’ll need to cross, whilst also showing the stages of progress towards achieving the goal.

These various scenarios and techniques can help you understand where the lack of dedication to achieving a goal is coming from, and give you tools to find the right goal for the coachee, and to empower them towards success.