Friday, June 25, 2010

So what do you want?

Do you get tired of knowing you want something but never getting it? For example getting to that weight or dress size, saying you'll do all that is needed to get there for example go to the gym, join a bootcamp, go jogging, the list goes on.
Well don't worry you're not the only one I know from experience a lot of people find it hard. I know some even stop telling friends and family they keep it secret, then they won't be held accountable in any way. For this article I'm going to use the example of wanting to be a size 10 but it can be anything.

The first step is to relax! Yes relax stop beating yourself up about it, just sit calmly for ten minutes and really think - what do you want?
What's important to you in being a size 10?
What does it look like? For example you say I want to be a size 10 so tell me what does size 10 look like to you?
Now really picture yourself a size 10, often I'm told "it's when I'll be able to wear ....." Great well see yourself in that, get a real feel for how size 10 looks and now how it feels. So imagine putting on that dress, bikini or whatever it is.
If you don't have a piece of clothing in mind - get one, something you would really love to wear.

Imagine where you'll be putting this lovely item of clothing on - in the shop changing room or your bedroom?
Now imagine how good you'll feel wearing such a gorgeous dress, really get into it. The unconscious doesn't distinguish between 'real' or a vividly imagined scenario so it is very powerful.

What I'm really asking you to do is develop and refine a goal but a very special goal, one that is unique to you, one that you can really see and feel. You will feel anticipation and excitement when you describe this goal to a good friend, loved one, your life coach or personal trainer.
This is the first step on your action plan to getting what you want, to being successful your way!

Yes of course physical exercise and diet would be in your action plan getting you to a size 10. However the very first step and often the one that is skimmed over, not fully explored or just missed out is about you really defining and being crystal clear about what YOU want - it's your goal.

If you have any questions about this article or would like to discuss your particular circumstance please feel free to get in touch.

Monday, June 7, 2010

How coaching can make the difference - Carol's story

Carol works full time and has three children aged 12 to 17, she feels like a single/married woman as her husband travels a lot with his job. She finds her life very stressful saying "every minute is accounted for, it's like walking a tight rope".
Carol had difficulty in sleeping and initially came to me to find ways of reorganising her time so she could switch off, sleep better and manage home and career better. However after our initial discussion it became clear to both of us that at the root of her stress and anxiety was her fear of making decisions. A real fear that affected her work and home life.
The risk of making decisions without her husband or her manager was debilitating because she could be wrong. Now being very thorough Carol had an impressive list of all the wrong decisions she had made to prove to me that she always needed someone to oversee her or guide her.

The fear of making mistakes had resulted in a paralysis in her life not just her career, she also felt it physically in her body. She was very smart at avoiding or delaying situations where major decisions had to be made. Carol was stuck in a rut.

We agreed four coaching meetings of one hour, we would review how things were on our fourth and final meeting. Within the meetings we were able to reframe her mistakes as opportunities for learning and experience. So her mistakes were normalised as part of of her learning process at work and at home.
We also looked at where the fears came from which led to some real understanding of her self and her resulting behaviour. In small and deliberate steps she began to take risks and started to trust herself more and more and this built on her new found confidence.

Four meetings was just right for Carol when we met three months later her confidence and trust in herself had really grown. She was sleeping a lot better and she looked very different her body language had radically changed telling me here was a confident and relaxed woman. When asked about making decisions she put quite simply - "its part of the course of daily life not like the huge mountains I had climb before our meetings, that was an exhausting way to live".

Carol is not her real name and permission has been given to publish this scenario from the original client (11/09).

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Starting a charity part time - crazy!

Starting a charity on a very part time basis is crazy especially when you're self - employed. This means you spend your time working or getting the work in and for me add in two growing boys, a long legged very fast dog, a small fluffy cat and one very supportive husband (thankfully) - there is no time and yet, somehow it's happening.

Sam and I have been working hard, after our initial funding and a very successful pilot project we are now tightening up our funding applications, our aims and produced a funding activity plan, oh yes we even have a strategy and business plan!
Starting a charity is just like starting your own business so in many respects this is familiar ground to us.
Sam created Illuminate eighteen months ago and I became involved with the training aspect and got hooked. So together we want to build a professional and dynamic service that offers a unique programme to people wanting to make fundamental change in their lives.

Currently Illuminate is just hovering on the registered charity border so any new income will catapult us into the new status of being registered. Coming from a self - employed business angle we see things a little differently, the question keeps arising why do most third sector organisations pay so poorly?
I'm very aware of the added value factor that is feeling good, giving back, sharing the charities values, that drives people to apply for the jobs. However having worked for some very good charities I'm aware that you can only take staff so far on this 'doing good, feeling good' line, if you really want to keep talent you will have to reward and we know rewards come in all sorts of packages and it is salary that is linked closely to feelings of personal success and status. There is a fluid workforce who see it as a stepping stone onto something else probably earning them more money, so staff turnover is something some charities have to factor in to their long term business strategy.

The exciting part is the energy generated for all involved with Illuminate, hearing the feedback, reading the evaluations and actually seeing the change in people is really inspiring. We know it's a winner and when the hard work of searching for the right funding really hits you need the commitment and time.
Time is key here and that's something like most of you I lack however it's amazing how you find the time when you believe in something. This really has reminded me about the magic of time management. When I really want something, I'm really clear, I can really see it, touch it, feel it - I find the time, it's magic! OK not magic ... but windows of opportunity appear and prioritising takes on a new look. The real magic is in the enthusiasm and the good will from all who are supporting us.

This is why I still have my coach, not just for supervision for my profession, but also for me - my thoughts, ideas and aspirations. And I do have some aspirations to realise, I still want to change the world!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Language at work- Canvassing ideas!

You've probably noticed that it is the women at work who will often ask for ideas, opinions and thoughts from others, more than the men. We like to hear what others think and some of us feel it's good to have others input but of course that does not mean we will actually put into action your ideas or opinions.
This type of behaviour is often done to build rapport or as a sign of respect and sometimes genuine curiosity, it is a female way of working but not exclusively. Some women are very aware that this is a signal of good team working or one of the foundations of building a team depending on the context and who could be observing.
When coaching one to one men tell me they can find this behaviour tiresome as some will interpret it as indecisiveness or being easily swayed, others can see it as great team working but not necessarily as good leadership.
We all know that being asked our ideas and opinions can be flattering and a good conversation opener but used too often this tactic will backfire and can even be seen as manipulative.
Being aware of your impact and behaviour within the team and the organisation as a whole can bring great rewards, not only personal insight and understanding but also a way of working that is thoughtful and professional.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Language at work- the habitual apologiser!

Have you noticed that some women apologise for everything almost compulsively?
Some women just say 'sorry' a lot and often it is done subconsciously, without awareness and for some it's habitual. Sometimes it's seen as politeness by the user for example "sorry it's now time to move on", "sorry I did mean to get back to you". It can also be used as a sign of respect to a colleague or senior worker.
Men do not use apologies in the same way and very rarely to the same extent, in fact I've never heard a man habitually apologise at work or socially. In a work environment men who hear women apologise alot often see it as a weakness or defensiveness or even worse conforming to some extreme female stereotype.

Listen carefully to others, men and women for their use of apologies and then listen out for your own - do you use them more than is necessary? By this I mean do you use it without the real intention of an apology so it's used as a filler in the sentence or an opener for example "Oh sorry Simon, really sorry about not making your meeting, I was so busy I'll be there next time yep so .. er ... sorry", far too many apologies!
What is the real underlying reason for this, where's the tension?

Take a mental note and reduce it if you are in a career where personal impact matters and especially if you are in management. How does a manager who uses apologies far too frequently come across?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

What's a well formed outcome and do I need one?

In coaching we often talk about having a well formed outcome and how every goal should have one!
When I talk about outcomes I mean the results or consequences of achieving the goal. I always work on the premise that goals and outcomes will be crystal clear, visualised, discussed and easily brought to mind.
So for example Sarah wants to be a manager within two years, so her goal is to be manager and the objective of her goal is promotion.
She goes for it, puts in the hours, seen talking to the right people, produces excellent work and bob's your uncle, she gets promoted!

But her marriage has ended and her kids spend more time with their Father because of the hours she's doing. She constantly feels guilty and feels she missed out on two years of their growing up and resents the time they spend with Dad.

By talking to her coach she would have been invited to explore the impact and conditions in achieving such a goal, this would give her an all round view. She would also be invited to look at the benefits and rewards of achieving her goal so ultimately she can make a well informed decision and plan accordingly.

And of course you don't need to bother with all this, but as these few lines from Alice in Wonderland cleverly illustrate you can end up anywhere or nowhere ...
"...Alice went on ... would you tell me please, which way I ought to go from here?
That depends where you want to get to, said the cat. I don't much care where, said Alice. Then it doesn't matter which way you go, said the cat. So long as I get somewhere Alice added as an explanation.
Oh your sure to do that, said the cat, if you walk long enough."

Saturday, January 2, 2010

A few clues to the body language of rapport ...

We all love meeting someone we just click with!

When we have that feeling we are in rapport, researchers (Boston University Medical School and many others) have filmed people in ‘rapport’ i.e. getting on really well with one another. They noticed that people in rapport unconsciously started to co – ordinate their body movements from hand gestures right down to blinking.

Next time you're out socialising take a second just to observe who's talking to who and their body language. Then note yourself talking to different people, people you know very well and those you've just met. Notice your body movements and eye contact, what feels comfortable and what is the other person doing?

We can encourage rapport or rather build rapport with another person consciously once we know how and have practiced.

So once you've observed others and yourself out and about you will notice people in rapport will have very similar: -

  • Body language - body position, head tilt, leg movements or lack of.
  • Voice qualities – tone, rhythm and pace (the speed of which certain words are said and then whole sentences).
  • Blink rate
  • Facial expressions
  • Breathing patterns

They are mirroring each other whilst in flow; this is worth observing and playing with for example mirroring then not - break rapport by introducing different body language for example crossing legs and arms, what happens?

Be warned this will lead to your 'partner' feeling uncomfortable and they may well move on or change the subject or just look for away of getting away from you!

Be very careful mirroring is not mimicry, be respectful as if it is not done well it will leave the other person feeling odd and uncomfortable. Done very well building rapport leads to a feeling of trust and empathy quickly. Good luck!