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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The Most Important Thing to Know about Choosing a Coach

Posted by on Nov 10, 2013 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

People choose to hire professional coaches for a variety of reasons. Generally, there is an area of their business or personal life that could be working better. A business owner wants to increase his revenue by forty-percent this year. An executive director wants to improve the cohesiveness and strategic thinking of her team. An author wants to promote his book but doesn’t hold people’s interest when he speaks. A woman in her fifties wants to begin dating again. Even when people are not sure what they want or how to make their life better, people choose to hire a professional coach because they believe that something else is possible. They recognize that investing in a coach gives them an opportunity to move past what they currently see and know in order to design a new reality. They are willing to take a leap of faith and do the work. There are standards in place for coaches and the training programs that provide their education and certification. Asking a coach about his or her background and certification   is one way to gauge the level of training and experience a person has. Most reliable training programs are accredited by the International Coach Federation (ICF). A coach who has invested in the training and certification process will welcome an inquiry about her credentials. Yet the single most important thing that makes a coach worth the investment is not something that can be measured on paper or truly assessed before engaging. The most important thing a coach can do is to earn the client’s trust that the coach will see the client with new eyes in each and every interaction. Before each call or meeting with a client, I take a moment to meditate and visualize. I envision my client with his or her full potential expressed. I free my mind of any stories I may have created about my client based on our previous interactions. I get excited to see who my client is today. In a coaching relationship, clients often share what they feel are their greatest flaws, shortcomings, or vulnerabilities. During interactions with a coach, clients may be insecure, confused, meek, or overly authoritative. It is the coach’s responsibility to be with clients exactly where they are in that moment. After the interaction is complete, a skilled coach returns to center and brings no presumptions or expectations to the next meeting. Through this process, clients are free to create themselves exactly as they want to be. Coaching is a transformative process and the speed at which people recreate themselves surpasses any other process I have seen. I am honored to be a part of my clients’ processes and to be...

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In Gratitude We Trust – Guest Blogger

Posted by on Oct 6, 2013 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

This week I extend my gratitude to Dave for allowing me to share his recent blog post with you. In this article, Dave offers his perspective on the gratitude practice he began as a result of our working together. Sunday, September 29, 2013 In Gratitude We Trust A few months ago, my coach Sarah asked me to start a gratitude journal. I was pretty skeptical about the whole thing. I’m not typically a rah-rah person and I really couldn’t see how writing down things that made me grateful would help me in the least. But everything else that Sarah had suggested had worked out pretty well, so I decided to give it a shot. At first, I treated it like an exercise in recordkeeping. Every evening, I would sit down and rack my brains for moments throughout the day that made me feel grateful. It wasn’t that hard to do. I set a quota of three items a day, and I was often able to hit four or five. The thing that frustrated me the most was forgetting to include key moments. The other was repeating the same items. It felt a little like cheating if something made me feel grateful on both Monday and Tuesday. After about five weeks of dutifully filling in my gratitude journal, I decided to take a step back and assess how the journal was working for me. Even though it felt like I had low expectations going into it, I must have expected something because I was disappointed not to feel some positive, internal changes at work. I knew that Sarah wouldn’t have suggested the gratitude journal if there wasn’t more to it than this. When I brought all of this up with Sarah, we put our heads together and thought about how the journal might work better for me. Sarah suggested that, instead of using the journal for recordkeeping, I use it for dipsticking, recording what I was grateful for in the moment. She also said that repeating myself was normal, and that she had gone through a long period where her gratitude journal entries were almost identical day after day. After all, it makes sense that there would be things in our daily lives for which we would be constantly grateful. Some people will argue that keeping a gratitude journal and imposing a quota on it forces you to make things up or to be artificially positive. I would argue that we are genuinely grateful all the time, but our gratefulness can get covered up by immediate circumstances and negativity. We are not defined by the outermost layer of our consciousness. Digging down to our gratefulness uncovers something real if we...

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Never Tri This On Your Own

Posted by on Sep 15, 2013 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

When I wrote last week’s blog post, Nothing Stays the Same, I paused and considered rewriting the sentence in the fifth paragraph that ended with “and I am completing the triathlon on my own.” I had not registered with a team of triathletes like last year. In fact, I did not know anyone else who had registered or planned to attend the event. I had signed up on my own. However, signing up on one’s own and completing a triathlon on one’s own are two very different things. While I did sign up as an individual, it was a tremendous team that enabled me to reach the finish line. First, I am filled with profound gratitude for the extraordinary volunteers in the water. These women and men, known as ‘swim buddies,’ have flotation devices available and keep a careful eye on each and every participant. Despite the fact that this was my fourth (fourth!) triathlon, I experienced a perfect storm of rookie issues and began hyperventilating within the first two minutes of being in the water. As my brain registered my body’s very real distress, one unexpected thought took control. If they have to rescue me and I get pulled out of the water, I won’t get to do the bike ride or the run I was looking forward to this morning. As I worked to get my breathing under control, the first volunteer spotted me and kept calling to me until I answered. She asked if I was okay and, hearing my answer, decided to swim parallel to me for a while. I continued to side-stroke and breathe as I inched forward. The volunteers handed me off this way for the entire 1/4 mile swim. Someone was always watching, checking in verbally, and within reach if I needed to be rescued. Knowing I was safe helped me calm down and focus on what I needed to do–keep breathing and moving ever forward to finish what felt like the longest swim of my life. As I began the ten-mile bike ride, I thanked God and my body for giving me the strength to get out of the water and onto my two wheels. I thought of my friend who had swum ahead of me in practice swim in a lake a few years ago when I was a wary new swimmer. Seeing her swim off into the distance had triggered the same panic response my body had during this triathlon start. One of the main reasons I was able to manage my body’s physiological response during this triathlon was because I recognized what was happening and remembered the previous experience. That same friend was the one who introduced me to...

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Will the Real Introvert Please Stand Up?

Posted by on Aug 25, 2013 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

For a period of time in our relationship, my friend and I experienced an ongoing miscommunication when I described myself as an introvert. The first clue I had that we were not on the same page was her reticence. I would refer to myself as an introvert, and she would just listen, saying nothing. Then, one day, she laughed a little and gently said, “Yeah, go ahead and keep telling yourself that!” When I asked what she meant, the truth came out: in her eyes, there was no way I could be an introvert. She knows I speak to large groups, have close friends, and can talk at length on a variety of subjects. This was incongruous with everything she had learned introverts were. In her mind, these were people who kept to themselves, had difficulty making friends, and liked to be very, very quiet. I, too, had held those beliefs until a trusted colleague and fellow introvert shared a different definition with me several years ago. She explained that being an introvert means that a person energetically refuels by spending time on his or her own. Conversely, extroverts find that they get energy from spending time around lots of people. Introverts may or may not be quiet. They are fully capable of creating deep, meaningful relationships with others. In fact, introverts often love to engage in long and lively conversations with their close friends. Having that information rocked my world. This made sense to me and clarified for me why, after attending the same party, some of my friends are ready to head off to another party while I am ready for a long nap. It took me a while, though, to realize that my wise friend had never heard this definition either, and despite my explanations and examples, it was her daughter–also an introvert–who finally explained it to my friend in way that she could relate. This new understanding of what being an introvert meant rocked my friend’s world as well. She recognized that she, too, is a classic introvert. She is also one of the most social and outgoing people I know. Yet, when she is done with an event, she needs a significant amount of quiet time to refuel her jets. She loves going for quiet walks and spending time on her own. “This makes so much sense,” she said. “For most of my life, I thought there was something wrong with me because I’d get so tired and worn out after being around lots of people. Now I realize I’m an introvert. Understanding how I operate helps me honor my need for down time, especially after big social events.” Until we find a new...

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