A Game-Changing Approach

Posted by on Mar 29, 2014 in Business, Education, Writing and Speaking | 0 comments

This blog is the third in a series focused on the journey of coach and client—from the celebration of success to the moment of getting started.  Many of the clients I work with are preparing for an event that they experience as stressful. They may be preparing to deliver a speech, interview for a job or admission into a program, or take an exam required for licensure or certification. The client featured in this blog series was preparing to take an exam she had taken once before. Given what she had shared with me when we began working together, we decided to use a fifty-fifty approach.  Half of our attention was focused on developing mastery of content. The other half of our focus was devoted to working on the less obvious, but equally important, aspects of preparing to engage successfully with an exam. Many clients don’t realize that the stress-response they experience in the testing environment creates barriers in their brain. If the brain is focused on survival and protection, it may be much harder—or impossible–to access all the content and strategies that have been mastered. To ensure the client would have full access, while in the testing situation, to all that she knew, we worked on these areas: releasing an attachment to the outcome (i.e., receiving a passing score) and shifting focus to areas the client can control (what experience she wanted to have while taking the exam) practicing stress-reducing activities such as deep breathing exercises and meditation reflecting on what did not work about previous experiences in the testing environment and developing strategies to transform how the client will handle the situation if similar circumstances are present planning nutritional choices to keep the client energized and focused both at the beginning of the test and throughout the test setting a clear intention for how the client wants to ‘be’ during the testing experience and developing strategies to address anything that might get in the way of that identifying specific techniques to increase confidence and focus and making a plan to use these techniques before and during the test By focusing on both of these areas during our coaching sessions and in the time between sessions, the client developed mastery of content and her ability to access all of their knowledge and skill during the event. For this client, this dual-approach made all the...

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The Week Before

Posted by on Mar 22, 2014 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Sometimes I know when the ‘last session before a big event’ will be. The client I referenced in last week’s blog, Celebrate Good Times, had shared her test date with me months in advance. Other times, a client comes to a coaching call with urgency and surprise. One morning, a client began our call by saying, “My boss just told me that I’m presenting on a panel next week in front of some of our top-level executives. I’ve never spoken in public before in my life. Help!” Whether it is scheduled in advance or not, these ‘week before the big event’ sessions have a special quality to them. The client is facing a reality that the time for practice, training, and study is nearly done. For some, their experience of anxiety is beginning to escalate or is already elevated. As the coach, I am aware that this is the last time my client and I will connect before the big event. The work we do together during our call, in many ways, will set the tone for how my client chooses to use his or her time in the final days and hours before the event. As a coach, connecting to my intuition is always important. While I’m listening to my client share information, I’m also listening to my intuition for cues and clues about which avenue of inquiry will most empower my client. In ‘the week before’ sessions, I tune in to my clients at a level that goes beyond the anxiety or urgency they may be experiencing. These conversations often yield some of the most transformational moments in the coaching process. In the ‘week before’ session I had with the client mentioned in last week’s blog, I chose to follow my intuition and do something I rarely do in individual coaching sessions. I shared three personal vignettes. One story was about how I passed my driver’s test when I was seventeen. Another story was about how a coach of mine had dynamically led a seminar after being kept awake for most of the night before. The third story revealed some of the fun, unconventional strategies I use to get my own energy level up before I present to audiences. I connected the stories to each other, and shared them with my client to illustrate how powerful we can be when our toolbox is full. The following week, when my client shared her numerous successes, she referenced one of the stories I had shared. The day before she took the test, she took one of the strategies I had shared and made it her own. Her strategy added levity to her process, raised her energy level, and connected...

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Celebrate Good Times

Posted by on Mar 15, 2014 in Business, Education | 0 comments

I express gratitude for my clients in nearly every post I make on my gratitude blog. Every day, I am grateful for the depth and quality of work we do together. This month, I decided to do a short series of blogs to give others a sneak peak into what I am privileged to witness on a daily basis. Inspired by a recent celebratory session I had with one young woman, I’ll start with the importance of celebrating success and, over the next few weeks, work my way back to the moments of getting started. I had exchanged emails with Theresa* the morning of her test. She had experienced a few minor setbacks from a strong case of nerves, but she let me know she was on track with her plan and using all of her strategies. I wished her well, and let her know I would be thinking of her. The first time I heard from her was five days later at our scheduled coaching session. She had a small smile on her face and a sparkle in her eye. “Well?” I asked. “How did it go?” The energy in her response was palpable. She shared all the strategies she had used in the moments leading up to the test. We had come up with several points she wanted to remember and record before she began the test, and she had recalled every one. Then she began to share the details of taking the test. What she described matched, exactly, the intention she had set in our last coaching session before the test date. “I had an entirely different experience of myself!” As she talked about one success after another, I noticed the chills running up and down my spine and arms. I was watching a woman, previously plagued with anxiety when taking tests, share how she had navigated the entire test with a calm sense of confidence and clarity. “I learned that I can go into these situations and not feel overwhelmed with nervousness. Before, I really didn’t believe that was possible.” In coaching, just like in life, the celebration of one completion often opens the door for a new beginning. Before our session was complete, my client was already rolling up her sleeves and beginning to work on the next opportunity. I checked in, concerned that I had inadvertently cut her celebration short by asking questions about her next goal. “No, no,” she said. “I’m on a roll and want to make the most of the momentum. Let’s do this!” *Client name...

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