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What is Life Coaching?

 

what is coaching?

 

Definition of Coaching:

School of Coaching Mastery (SCM) definition of coaching: Coaching is a customized conversation that empowers the client to get what s/he wants by thinking and acting more resourcefully.

International Coach Federation (ICF) definition of coaching: Coaching is partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential

Whether you call it life coaching, executive coaching, or business coaching, the profession of coaching is the byproduct of a new paradigm in human development. Scientists, philosophers and regular people are asking questions about life, such as, “How can people reach their full potential and enjoy greater happiness and success?”


As a result, new possibilities are opening up for many of us. In a very real sense, new questions create new realities and new realities lead to new opportunities for our happiness, success and fulfillment. Coaching is all about asking those new questions.


This new approach is empowering, but because it is new, people often have trouble understanding what it means. For this reason, sometimes it’s helpful to explore what coaching is not.


Coaching is not the same as counseling or psychotherapy, professions which evolved out of the disease model of traditional psychology. Clients generally seek out therapy or counseling when they are distressed by a problem and may need to heal.


Clients seek coaches when their lives are already okay, but they want to be even better. Coaching assumes clients are already “whole, complete and perfect” and are capable of making empowering choices. Having a skilled coach who believes in them, can help clients grow, act resourcefully, reach their goals and discover their greatness. Healing from a disease or problem is never the central focus of coaching.


One way to think of the distinction between psychotherapy and coaching is their relationship to health. Therapy takes a client from an unhealthy or negative state ( - ) and brings them up to a healthy or neutral state ( 0 ). While coaching begins at that neutral state and moves the client toward their full potential or positive state ( + ).

 

Therapy vs Coaching formula

Coaching is also not consulting. A consultant is an expert in a particular field who assesses a client’s situation in relation to that field and makes recommendations on what to do to improve the situation.

A coach generally assists clients to assess their own situations and think - and act - more resourcefully about how to improve them. In other words, a coach helps the client to grow so they can reach their own goals independently, now and in the future, rather than become dependent upon an expert for help. Most consultants also do some coaching and most coaches also do a small amount of advising, so these professions are often confused, but generally, coaches help their clients be their best, while consultants advise clients on what to do.


Because coaching is popular and not regulated, people who are not coaches sometimes call themselves coaches. The following services are not coaching: consulting, training, seminar leading, counseling, therapy, internet marketing, selling, bill collecting; or offering advice on financial or legal matters, health issues, or religious teachings. Be suspicious of anyone who calls himself a coach, but who offers services in any of the foregoing areas.

Sometimes people who are unqualified to be licensed in a regulated profession will call themselves coaches to get around legal requirements. This is not only unethical, it is a red flag that the person is unqualified in that area.

 

Become a qualified coach and get certified:

11 Ways Bad Coaching and Coaching Hype Can Harm Coaching Clients

 

Coaching Hype

When I was a coaching student, my classmates and I were told it was okay to practice coaching even before we graduated, because "Coaching can't hurt anyone."

But the Elliot Rodger massacre counters that advice with a stark reality: "Coaching" doesn't cure mental illness, but it can and does hurt people when delivered by unknowledgeable or unscrupulous "coaches". Sometimes in spectacular ways. 

The thinking behind the advice I got in coaching school was that coaches don't work with vulnerable populations, or in crisis situations, and that our clients are high-functioners who are responsible for their own choices. If the coach is ethical and is getting good training, and the client isn't mentally ill, then this theory works well.  By the way, this is also why coaching isn't a regulated profession.

Coaching is unregulated, so buyers must be extra careful.

Reportedly, Rodger's parents did everything they could to give him a good upbringing and tried to help him with his emotional problems by getting him therapists and life coaches. He doesn't sound at all like a high-functioner to me, so most likely he was never a good candidate for coaching. His obsession with his perceived victimhood suggests something seriously wrong. Pick-Up-Artist Coach

That doesn't necessarily mean Rodger was harmed by his life coaches, but apparently he also explored another type of "coaching": the Pick-Up-Artist Coach (such as the guy to the right), who left Rodger feeling more frustrated than ever. The "coach" in the picture, and his website, look so creepy to me that I would call into question the mental health of anyone who hired him (or worse, slept with him).

Then there's the guy, below, who according to Slate and Jezebel, SPAMMED Rodger's YouTube channel with ads for his Dating Coach business. He claims his products could have saved lives!

StrategicDatingCoach

That's one of the many ways over-hyped coaching harms coaching clients: the marketing, itself, over-promises and misleads potential clients, while pretending the coach just wants to help. People with common sense often see through the sham. But not always.

I've known some very smart cookies who've been taken in by scam artists posing as coaches. Their sole purpose is to empty clients' bank accounts and max out their credit with ever more personal and exclusive "coaching programs". I've known more than one coaching client who lost their house, as a result.

And not every harmful coach is a scam artist. Some are well-meaning, but operate on false beliefs and methods that can leave a client dazed and confused.

Apparently Rodger tried learning "game", as PUA (pick-up-artist) Coaches call it, and it didn't help him with women. Then he join a PUA hate site.

Therapists didn't stop Rodger from going on a killing rampage, so it's not fair to blame the coaches that worked with him, except for this: ethical coaches know they don't have tools to overcome mental illness and even if they can't diagnose illness, they can observe whether or not they are helping and send a sick client to the appropriate professionals.

Here are 10 more ways over-hyped coaching, scam artists, and untrained coaches can harm their coaching clients.

1. Over-hyped coaching often encourages people to focus on false goals, such as becoming millionaires. Everyone wants more money, or at least thinks they do, so get-rich-quick schemes are always popular with scam artists. These days "spiritual" get-rich-quick schemes are especially in vogue. "Coaches" who promise wealth are one of the most likely groups to be preying upon unsuspecting clients. Sex is also a big seller.

2. The fact that most people don't know what coaching is, inspires nefarious people to call themselves coaches. "Coaches" are sometimes scam artists in sheeps' clothing. That includes an alarming number of spirit-based coaches.

3. Well-meaning (or not so well-meaning) Law of Attraction coaches may encourage overly extreme optimism, which can mimic bipolar mania, which tends to be followed by failure, including loss of money and disappointment. Then the client is told they are "doing it" wrong, that they must buy a platinum program to learn LOA better, which then leads to further failure and disillusionment. When the client finally accepts that the process doesn’t work for them, they may sink into depression. Manic Depression is the old name for biplor disorder. Really bad coaching encourages manic-depressive extremes.

4. Too many coaches are only interested in grandiose goals, when in some cases, more modest goals can transform a client's life. To paraphrase the old theater saying, "There are no small goals; only small coaches."

5. Confused coaches often expect to completely change a person’s mindset instantly, when in reality, permanently changing one’s thinking takes time and consistent effort. Sometimes the most successful coaching sessions merely open the possibility that change could happen.

6. Misguided coaches may over-emphasize environment and under-emphasize action. I was trained this way and environment is quite powerful, but coaching clients aren't passive creatures. They relearn how to be in the world by taking action and observing the results. Action trumps environment. Just ask Oprah Winfrey.

7. Over-hyped coaching promises outrageous success ("Make quantum leaps!", "Millions of dollars the easy way!", "Get beautiful women to sleep with you!", "Attract everything you want just by thinking about it!"), missing the subtle possibilities that are genuinely transformative.

8. Fake coaches focus primarily on advice-giving, which often is inappropriate for the client. Finding out the client's strengths, needs and values, helps them step into resourcefulness, which is almost always more valuable than advice.

9. Then there are the coaches who avoid any advice-giving at all, which can limit a client’s options. Effective coaches know when clients need more information. If they have it, and the best coaches have a lot of empowering information, they share it at the right times and in the right ways.

10. Finally, nefarious "coaches" make stuff up, instead of using tools that actually work. What kind of stuff do they make up? In the beginning, whatever the client wants to hear. Later, when the client has already sunk thousands into the coaching and is desperate to get some value out of it, scam-coaches tell the client whatever will make him or her spend some more money. 

How do you avoid being harmed by bad coaching? There are plenty of good coaches. Only work with coaches who have pledged to uphold professional ethics, make sure your coach has been trained in evidence-based coaching, opt for a certified coach whenever possible, and never ever try to substitute coaching for therapy. Even those things won't absolutely guarantee a good coach, though. Also use your common sense. If your gut says to run, run!

Elliot Rodger was a tortured soul who believed he was a victim of injustice. One of Rodger's victims was Christopher Michael-Martinez. His father, Richard Martinez, believes his son is a victim of injustice, namely that current laws in the US make mass-murder more likely. His call to action, "Not One More", has spurred a movement to demand that lawmakers change the laws. Will it be effective? No one knows, but what we have currently is a travesty. If you'd like to send a message to your elected official in support of Martinez' movement, click here.

Great Coaching, Mindfulness, and Noticing the Keys to Success

 

Mindfulness is Ellen Langer resized 600

Positive Psychology researcher, Ellen Langer, reminds us that to notice - something that great coaches excel at - requires mindfulness. In coaching, we call that "presence". Without presence, you'll miss what matters most to your client. With it, the keys to their success are revealed.

Learn more about mindfulness and coaching presence:

 

 

Gorgeous Photo by Elan Sun Star

Coaching Tip: When Validation and Acknowledgment Backfire

 

Coaching Tip

 

Subtitle this post, 'Coaches Behaving Badly'!

One of the basic coaching skills, which collectively are called the Coaching Foundations, is Validate Everything. I define validation as any appropriate expression of support, whether positive ('That's great!'), or negative ('That sucks!'). There are lots of ways to validate in coaching and one of the most effective, is acknowledgment.

Except when it's not.

Mattison Grey wrote the book on acknowledgment and defines it as a statement about what someone did, or the results they got, shared with a tone of wonderment. She says acknowledgment works when other forms of validation, such as offering compliments, do not, because often, people feel judged when complimented.

I couldn't agree more and Mattison is awesome at acknowledgment, but I've had yucky experiences with compliments, validations, and even acknowledgments, because sometimes, no matter how skilled people are at delivering them, they muck it up, anyway.

They just can't help it!

Most of my yucky experiences occurred with newish coaches, who most likely were just making mistakes with a new skill set and that's understandable. But sometimes it came from veteran coaches and then it looks like a character issue. As in, poor personal development, or lack of integrity.

Here are a couple of examples:

I used to work for a coach training company that called validation, championing. All the coaches there went about championing each other, because that's what good coaches do, right?

One of my coaching colleagues there used to champion me so lavishly that, one day, I asked her to stop, because I felt increasingly uncomfortable. I really didn't need, nor want to hear, over and over, what a great coach I was, what a fantastic coach trainer, how impressive my success was, nor how amazing was my devotion and commitment to my coaching clients and students. Ugh.

The next day though, she made several remarks that called into question my honesty and integrity regarding the coaching profession. Hmm, really? The same person's saying these things? It communicated to me that although she usually said over-the-top positive things to me, underneath she was judging me negatively on some major stuff.

She later apologized, which is great, but I never felt I could trust her. She had shown that regardless how syrupy her validations were, she was really thinking something else. In fact, to me, she was a suck up. 

She left me feeling uncomfortable, insulted, and annoyed. That's how I still remember her.

You know, the IAC certification scorecard measures, among other things, whether the coach demonstrates consistency (a.k.a. integrity) between words and actions. If you validate, champion, acknowledge, or whatever you call it, and then demonstrate that you don't really believe what you said, you damage trust with the client.

Not validating enough during coaching is a mistake. Validating, but not meaning it, is an even more destructive mistake.

One of the problems with coach training is that sometimes we emphasize the 'how', instead of the 'who'. Thomas Leonard used to tell coaches to champion, because that's just who we are. If you do it for any other reason, you're manipulating. And the person you're manipulating will smell a rat.

I call dishonest validation, schmoozing. That's an Americanism, derived from Yiddish, that means to gossip or chat with someone, in an intimate manner, in order to manipulate, flatter, or impress them.

But you could just as well call it, INvalidation, because that's the effect it has.

Then there was the colleague from the past, who showed up in one of my classes at SCM. I was surprised she signed up, because I knew she had been coaching at least as long as I. The first day of class, she delivered some schmoozy validations of me, as a coach and coach trainer. Then she referenced her own great coaching skill and left a pause. I got the feeling I was supposed to reciprocate by acknowledging her prowess as a coach. Problem was, I had no memory of ever hearing her coach. Well, that was a little awkward!

There were any number of ways I could have navigated that awkward moment, but something blocked me. As my mind searched for any memory I had of her and her coaching, only one memory was vivid: She once called me up, offered me an interesting opportunity to teach coaching in a college, and said lots of nice, schmoozy things about how I was such a great coach and trainer and she knew I was the right person for the job, which basically involved coaching eight hours per day, at a college that was three hours away. The pay? $100 per day!! I don't consider myself to be thin skinned, but yes, I was insulted. It would have been better if she had asked me to volunteer for free.

Not surprisingly, she dropped the SCM course in a huff, before it was over. That's the kind of thing people do when they want you to acknowledge them and you don't do it. She also said some pretty nasty things about me and my training ability in an email.

And then, right on time, I opened an email from a coach I really admire. It began with a quote from Maya Angelou: 

“When people show you who they are, believe them the first time."

The takeaway? Schmoozers schmooze. They can't be trusted, much less deliver great coaching, because great isn't fake.

Of course, nobody has to be a schmoozer for life. I've caught myself being fake, and try to remember it when schmoozy folks cross my path. Like the time I got an email from a coach I didn't like and forwarded it to a friend with a snarky comment. Then I saw the disliked coach at a coaching function. He offered a hug, so I hugged him. The next day, he emailed me. I'd hit, 'reply' instead of 'forward', so he got the snarky comment, instead of my friend! How fake was that to criticize him in private, then hug him in public? That memory is an embarrassing reminder that I'm still a work in progress, like everybody else. I've used it to upgrade my own behavior.

But once again, Maya Angelou says it best:

“I've learned that people will forget what you said; people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

If you're going to validate, acknowledge, or champion, do it because that's who you are and it's what you really believe. Otherwise, you may succeed at making someone feel good at first, but your behavior will give you away, and the contrast will make your judgmental behavior even uglier to the other person. That feels yucky and that's how they'll always remember you.

How do you become someone who champions just because that's who you are, and not because you're manipulative? Like anything else, practice. Get a coach. And work tirelessly on your personal development. Learn to get your ego out of the way and trust the process. 

Otherwise, you may be remembered as a schmoozer.

Get coach training and personal development here:


How Does Positive Psychology Coaching Work?

 

Positive Psychology CoachingI've blogged a lot about positive psychology coaching, in the past couple of years. It gives coaches and their clients a precision instrument for building happiness, success, and ease. But recent discoveries that point to how and why positive psychology works are truly fascinating! 

You probably already know what positive pychology coaching is; it's evidence-based coaching that puts in action what positive psychology researchers have discovered about the power of positivity and how it promotes happiness, health, and success.

But just exactly how does positive psychology coaching promote happiness, health, and success? 

Well, there are a number of scientific theories, such as systems theory and quantum theory, that can help to explain how positive psychology coaching works, but the explanations are speculative, at this point. No one has yet traced those theories, step by step, to document how exactly they influence human behavior and outcomes. It just makes sense that they do.

The field of neuroscience, on the other hand, thoroughly tracks what happens during insights, actions, learning, and repetition, explaining in detail what happens and why.

Neuroscience explores how the brain works via brain scans and other high-tech tools. It literally looks at what goes on in the brain at the cellular, and even the molecular levels, and they are quite surprising!

In fact, some coaching leaders, most notably, David Rock, go so far as to say neuroscience is the scientific field most closely related to coaching, in part, because it came of age during the decades when coaching was being born, so coaching has relied heavily upon it.

In my opinion, however, positive psychology is an even better fit with coaching, because not only did it develop at exactly the same time as coaching, but positive psychologists and coaches ask exactly the same fundamental question: 

What makes people happy, healthy, and successful?

Contrary to previous assumptions, an absence of mental illness does not automatically produce happiness, health, and success. That latter state, often referred to as well-being, is a separate thing. It can exist, counter-intuitively, along side mental illness, or it can be completely absent in someone who is free of mental illness. 

It follows then, that if we want to be happy (and everyone, from the Dalai Lama to Tony Robbins, says that's what every human being really wants), we need to understand the tools that produce happiness.

And here's critical news for coaches: getting what we want doesn't make us happy, at least not for more than a day or two. Happiness is literally an inside job. Anyone can have it, regardless their circumstances or mental health.

Up until now, only a lucky few stumbled onto the tools that produced lasting happiness. Yes, philosophers and spiritual teachers theorized and taught how to lead the good life for millenia, but they didn't always get it right. Today, maybe, just maybe, we can get it right - for everybody.

So that's the job of positive psychology researchers and the professionals who apply positive psychology in their coaching. And here's how and why, according to neuroscience,  it all works so well:

  • The brain and mind are intimately connected. Scientists disagree on which creates which, but evidence suggests they create each other and the mind definitely influences the brain.
  • The brain grows and changes throughout life, making learning possible and desirable into old age. In fact, dementia might be thought of as the cessation of learning.
  • New brain growth is triggered by new insights and learning, creating new neural maps. This is called, neuro-plasticity.
  • Neural maps develop when existing neurons fire, then wire, together. Sometimes new neurons are produced, as well.
  • Neural maps drive our assumptions and habits, saving us time and energy when we repeat experiences and actions, but those assumptions and habits may not be as resourceful, or flexible, as needed, when clients step up to new and bigger things, so they need to be replaced by new neural maps.
  • More repetition creates stronger bonds within neural maps that are frequently used. Think: recording a song onto a cassette tape, rather than downloading it to your iPhone. Stronger bonds require more time to develop.
  • Our internal chatter also creates neural maps - and it may be even more influential than our actual experiences!
  • We can intentionally direct our thoughts and emotions to create more positive and resourceful neural maps. This is called, self-directed neuroplasticity.
  • Because neural maps develop according to what we think and feel, positive thoughts and feelings don't just make us happy now, they also make it more likely we'll be happy later, regardless our circumstances.
  • People who experience more positivity on a regular basis are more likely to thrive and experience success.
  • Coaches who assist clients in developing resourceful neural maps are practicing coach-assisted neuroplasticity.
So solving your client's problems, or even helping them get what they want, falls short of positive psychology coaching's true power to transform client's lives from striving to thriving.

 

Is all this making your brain hurt? Take a musical "happy break".

 

 

 

 

Learn more here:

 

Coaching the Curse of the High Achiever

 

Coaching for high achievers

Written by Julia Stewart

Have you ever wondered why someone as smart and talented as you hasn't already achieved everything you want?

You're not alone.

Let's face it, you could be twice as smart as Gromit, but still be playing the part of the dog, instead of the master. 

Even if you're a natural-born high achiever, your life may not look it, even though it 'should'.

I coach high achievers, so I'll share some clues about this counter-intuitive curse with some help from the Harvard Business Review.

Harvard knows a thing or two about high achievers.

In The Curse of Being a High Achiever, Harvard Business Review shares common characteristics: 

  • Highly motivated 
  • A doer
  • Driven to get results
  • Competitive
  • Craving positive feedback
  • A safe risk taker
  • Passionate about work
  • Guilt ridden

Mostly great stuff, so what makes high achievers so cursed?

HBR says High Achievers get so used to success that they stop taking risks and then their careers plateau. I'd agree that fear of making mistakes is a chief reason for low achievement, but there are a number of more subtle reasons that high achievers don't succeed.

  • You may be surrounded by people (possibly since birth) who are so self-absorbed that they never acknowledge you. When you don't feel seen and validated, you naturally accomplish less.
  • You may get acknowledged only when you do things that help others achieve their dreams.
  • Others may become so dependent upon you that you expend considerable energy just keeping them afloat, let alone achieving. This is somewhat similar to Gromit's problem. Wallace gets into hot water with his Walter Mitty inventions and Gromit saves the day.
I call these relationship habitats. Once I had a very smart coaching client who never reached her dream of becoming a physician, because no one else believed in her or her dream. I had another client who became a physician only because his parents wanted it. Which leads to another big reason you may not be reaching your goals.

 

  • You don't know what you really want, so you end up achieving something else.

What's the secret to overcoming the curse of the high achiever? If high achieving is holding you back, HBR says, "Then you must adopt counterintuitive practices that give you the courage to step out of your comfort zone." 

In The Curse of the Were Rabbit, Gromit saves they day by looking well past the obvious to see that (spoiler alert) Wallace is the actual Were Rabbit. Gromit then takes steps to change Wallace back into himself and thus salvages both Wallace and the town's vegetable patches.

But Wallace and Gromit still maintain their same relationship, with Wallace the master and Gromit the dog. We, the audience, know better and that's what makes the film amusing.

It's possible (quite likely, actually) that Gromit loves Wallace so much he wouldn't have it any other way, but it's equally likely that he isn't really aware of what he is doing.

We never know whether people will support us in our dreams until we make a stand. Only then will we know which matters most to us. And before we can do that, we need to know what our true dreams are and, most likely, we need someone who genuinely believes in us and acknowledges us and our dreams.

It's a 'catch 22'. We can't find out who will believe in us until we make a stand, and we can't make a stand unless someone believes in us.

This is why people hire coaches.

Never underestimate the power of your relationship habitat, because it will make or break you.

If you want to make major upgrades to your life, career, or business, hire a coach who honestly believes in you. It's not magic, but it'll feel like magic to you.

 

 

Image: Theatrical Release Poster from Wikipedia

How to Coach Your Clients Through the Holidays and Into the New Year

 

coaching gratitude

Written by Julia Stewart
The "Holiday Season" officially kicks off this week in the United States. Hanukkah starts this Wednesday and American Thanksgiving is on Thursday, followed by a variety of religious and spiritual holidays, including Bodhi Day, Muharram,  the Winter Solstice, Christmas, and Kwansaa; and it's all tied up with a bow (or bottle of champagne) on New Year's Day.

 

By then, many of us are exhausted, broke, and carrying ten extra pounds. It seems virtually every culture finishes the year with holidays and in this extra-small multi-cultural world we live in, we're all celebrating a lot of extra holidays, too.

I think of my personal end-of-year holiday trio, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's, as Gratitude Day, Generosity Day, and Create the Future Day. So I regard the holidays as:

  1. Give thanks for what's gone before (past)
  2. Plug into the spirit of generosity (present)
  3. Decide how to create the new year (future)
And that's how I celebrate.

 

But already my clients are bringing problems to their coaching sessions that are directly related to the holidays: how to deal with difficult relatives, or co-workers, how not to blow the budget - or the waistline, how to deal with the extra-busy schedule - or travel, how not to give in to temptations, etc. All coaches, whether life, business or executive coaches, hear about holiday issues - and we have our own, as well!

 

In my book, holiday "problems" are "good problems", a.k.a. luxury problems, first-world problems, the kind of problems you want to have.Not being able to feed your children is the kind of problem you don't want. Fortunately, most of us are worry-free in that area.

 

So first, congratulate your clients on their great problems. That helps put it all in perspective.

 

Then remind them that becoming their best selves means sacrificing good for great. And everyone benefits when we're at our best (a.k.a.: Grump-free, Sarcasm-free, Tantrum-free).

 

Transforming holiday problems into holiday blessings boils down to just two things:
  1. Choosing what really matters to you (a.k.a. your Values)
  2. Setting boundaries (that protect what matters from what doesn't)
Help your clients identify what matters, according to what they most value, and from there, boundary-setting is pretty easy.

 

Here are a few ideas my clients have come up with, so far: 

 

  • Do plan what you really do and don't want with key family members
  • Do set a time limit for family get-togethers; they don't have to be marathons
  • Do decorate only as much as you really want
  • Do shorten or eliminate activities you do solely out of obligation
  • Do schedule escape activities, so you have an excuse to leave parties you don't enjoy
  • Don't serve alchohol if some guests can't handle it
  • Do attend extra 12-step meetings, if they help
  • Don't expect the whole family to get together, if they don't like each other
  • Don't invite people who repeatedly behave badly - and skip the guilt, please
  • Don't be afraid to stay home if you really enjoy it
  • Do talk to your therapist, if you get depressed
  • Do emphasize the aspects of holidays that are meaningful to you and respect others who focus on other aspects
  • Do cut back on your gift list - or make a contribution to a worthy cause, in their names, if they'd value that
  • If you really want to get into the holiday spirit, do volunteer some time, face-to-face, with others who are less fortunate

 

The holidays are a wonderful opportunity to truly appreciate life. Don't blow that opportunity by celebrating on auto-pilot. You get to choose your life and your holidays. Have fun!

 

Plan to save on coach training in the New Year. Selected coach training programs are on sale at 10% off during our Holiday Sale. Ends January 1st, 2014. Call +1-877-224-2780 for more information.

 

Best Coaching Blogs: Winning Secrets of Social MEDIA Butterflies

 

Online Social ButterflyBest Coaching Blogs 2013 is under way and already the social butterflies are pollinating hundreds of admiring voters. (If you haven't entered yet, you still have time to win, but sign up now.)

I'm going to share some secrets of Online Social Butterflies and how they win Best Coaching Blogs, each year. You see, mastering social media cross pollinates with mastering coaching. That's my evil, um... divine plan!

First, what's a social contest, anyway? It's a win-win online contest that leverages everyone's social reach (friends, contacts and followers on sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+) to attract large audiences for popular voting. Ultimately, everybody wins because contest visitors discover more great coaching bloggers when they visit the site.

Wait! Does that mean coaching bloggers could lose potential clients to their competition? Nope! I'll explain, uno momento.

If you want to see Online Social Butterflies in action, follow the Best Coaching Blogs 2013 List on Twitter. You can pick out the front-runners without even visiting the contest, because they regularly tweet about the contest. Also, search for hashtag, #BestBlogs for related tweets.

Best Coaching Blogs invites coaches who blog on coaching topics to enter their blogs and each year, both new and established blogs win top honors. The winners actively 'play the game' by inviting their readers, colleagues, clients and social reach to come vote for them. People can vote as often as they like, so the contest measures more than just the number of people who like a blog, it also measures passion: both the voters' and the bloggers'.

Passion is a big deal in coaching. It's what ignites clients and creates success. But competition? Not so much. At least not for a lot of clients.

Cooperation, mutual support, acknowledgment, belief in others; that's the stuff of coaching. And it's also the stuff of social media mastery. Both realms, coaching and social media, require that we get our little egos (that part in each of us, that always wants to WIN!!) out of the way and make it all about other folks - without turning ourselves into robots or doormats.

Winning Best Coaching Blogs usually requires more than just a great blog, although great writing and content definitely help. Winning requires the right balance of competition and cooperation. I don't know an English word for that, so I made one up: coopetition.

Here are Some Winning Secrets to Coopetition:

  1. Start early. Be the kind of person who supports and champions others, as a matter of course. The more history you have doing this, the more people will want to do the same for you. Wait until you need something from them (like a vote) and it could backfire.
  2. Embrace your selfish reasons. Yes, it's totally okay to be for yourself. Just don't be that way, only. If you try to deny your agenda, people won't trust you. If you fail to express it, people will walk all over you. So go ahead and ask for people's votes. If you've been supporting them, they'll want to help. Even if you haven't, they'll respect your request.
  3. If you're already supporting others and clear with them about what you want, you're ready to play a fun game. In Best Coaching Blogs, that could mean leaving comments on competitors' blog entries that acknowledge what's great about those blogs. It could also mean voting for your competitors (!), or even telling the world why they should vote for your competitors (!!). You could even ask your competitors to vote for you (!!!). This can get icky and manipulative fast, though, so take care.
  4. Why is coopetition a winning strategy? Because being a model of coopetition is extraordinarily attractive. It seems like people who act that way should lose out, but they win, instead. The bloggers who do it best always attract more voters, readers and clients, rather than lose them. So it's about a lot more than winning a contest.
  5. Trust the process. This is hard for high achievers, but you really can't control most of the moving parts in this process; you can only influence them. Resist the urge to pester people, or to obsess about whether or not all your votes get counted. Not even Zuckerberg has total control of Facebook.
  6. Even in life, it's the folks you support who 'vote' for you and what you want. That's the coopetive advantage. In Best Coaching Blogs, it's the finalists who pick the top winners, so those who play the game well, immediately become the biggest influencers. But 'winning at any cost' is a losing strategy in this contest, as well as in life.
  7. How does this relate to coaching? People who can let go of their need to win, to be right, to never fail, and who can support and champion others, make great coaches. Entering Best Coaching Blogs is a 'game theory' approach to coach development. If you're interested in becoming a great coach, be sure to participate. Vote here through August 31st. Enter here only through July 31st.

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Best Coaching Blogs 2013: Early Bird Entries are Open

 

Best Coaching Blogs 2013Each year, at about this time, people start visiting our site, looking for the Best Coaching Blogs Contest and this year is our Fifth Anniversary, so it's going to be extra special. Best Coaching Blogs is the only coaching blog contest, that we know of, which is decided by popular vote and that's hugely important.

For instance, this blog, the Coaching Blog, was named Number 3 in the Top 100 Life Coach Blogs of 2013, which is awesome. But it would be even more awesome if our readers, subscribers or fans voted it #3, because they're the folks we write it for. And that's the coolest thing about Best Coaching Blogs.

Best Coaching Blogs contestants attract more readers, subscribers, fans and even clients just by actively participating in this contest - especially the bloggers who make it into the coveted Top Ten. Either way, it's cool to be able to refer to you 'award-winning blog' ever after.

Hundreds of coaching blogs have been entered in Best Coaching Blogs over the years, so it's super cool to win it and each year, there seems to be an upset or two, with surprise winners coming from out of 'nowhere'. That makes it fun for everyone, whether you're a new coach or a big coaching organization.

So how do you enter Best Coaching Blogs 2013? This year, the contest will run a little later. Instead of running for one month in late spring or early summer, the actual contest will run in July and August this year. But you can enter as an early bird and get a head start on winning.

Click the button below and fill out the quick form to join Best Coaching Blogs 2013 for free. Then make sure you write some award-winning-worthy content between now and then. The contest tends to be won based on your most recent blog posts. Also add the contestant badges to your site and plan your social media campaigns. The bloggers who actively promote their blog entries via social media have the best chance of winning Best Coaching Blogs. Good luck!

6 Ideas That'll Change Your Coaching and Your Life

 

Positivity RatioI'm always looking for new ideas that'll upgrade, broaden, or deepen my coaching, so it's more effective. You too? Then you'll love this post.

It's a challenge to keep readers like you, well...challenged. You're a pretty sophisticated bunch.

But here goes: some of the best ideas I've encountered, which ultimately changed my life and the way I coach and may change your life and coaching too.

 

1. The Power of Negativity. This first one is possibly the most powerful idea to come out of positive psychology. It's the concept of the Positivity Ratio and the upper limit of positivity, which can be measured as both positive thoughts and feelings, as well as whether you're curious or defending your point of view, and/or focused on yourself or on those around you. To flourish, you, your relationship, your business, or your coaching, needs at least a three-to-one ratio of positivity to negativity. AND there's an upward limit around eleven-to-one, beyond which things go down fast. So, if you're a Law of Attraction Nazi, or if you focus only on the good stuff in coaching, stepping over the problematic stuff, or if you relentlessly reframe problems into opportunities, or (as one of my clients famously put it) FLO's (F*cking Learning Opportunities), you may hinder, rather than help your clients. (Read Barbara Fredrickson's Positivity.)

2. The Tyranny of Mild Praise. This one also comes from positive psychology and it's about relationships. Let's face it, the relationship between coach and client does much of the coaching for us. Therefore, the concept called, Active Constructive Responding (ACR), is critical. What is ACR? It's an over-the-top form of acknowledgment that includes positive tone of voice (genuine excitement, awe, wonder), positive body language (smiling, eye contact, touching), repeating the specifics of what the other has said, commenting on it's importance to the other, suggesting a celebration; all of which leads to flourishing within the relationship. NONE of the other types of responses, including Passive Constructive Responding (Flat tone of voice, general praise, "That's nice."), Passive Destructive Responding (ignoring, changing the subject, turning away), or Active Negative Responding (showing concern, pointing out problems); I repeat, none of these promote relationships. In fact they ALL have a negative impact on relationships, which obviously can negatively impact coaching. I've listened to thousands of coaching sessions over the years. Even "good" coaches tend to rely heavily on Passive Constructive Response, or a hybrid of ACR and PCR, which  clearly limits the value of their coaching. ACR can be a challenge to weave into coaching and for some of us, it's a challenge to make it truly genuine, but master coaches do it all the time. For others, over-using ACR (see above) damages our credibility. This is a tool that we can't afford not to master. (Read Martin Seligman's Flourish.)

3. Change Your Brain to Change Your Mind. This one comes from neuroscience and it has profound implications for positive psychology coaches, as well as every other type of coach. As members of my positive psychology course know, the Positivity Ratio can be used to measure and increase your current potential for flourishing and it'sa nifty coaching tool. There are also tools, founded in modern neuroscience, that can change the brain to sustainably increase peace, happiness, love and other elements of positivity. Literally, you can grow some areas of your brain so that they become more dominant, relatively permanently. And over-developed areas that may be problematic (such as the over-sized amygdala of those who suffer from anxiety) can shrink, again causing sustainable change. Change your brain; change your life for good. I just took a neuroscience seminar on this, but you can read more about it. (Read Rick Hanson's Buddha's Brain.)

4. Coaching's Not Complete If It's Not Integral. I'm taking a course from Integral Philospher, Ken Wilber. Some people say he's the most important philosopher since Plato, but that statement begs an argument, so I won't say it. Suffice it to say, if you don't know his work, your evolution may be stymied. And that of your clients, as well. As coaches, we say our clients are whole, complete and perfect. Trouble is, we may be blind to some of that perfection. And our clients almost certainly are. Blind spots make trouble (see #5, below). Wilber's Integral Model, known as AQAL, is an elegant map that streamlines how we know anything and how we evolve. It's closely aligned with Spiral Dynamics, which I'll be teaching next month. But AQAL goes even further. The AQAL Map is a beautiful tool to use when helping our clients design accountability structures, supportive systems, environments and strategic habitats (or whatever you prefer to call them). With AQAL, we can easily see if we're leaving anything out, or if the client is blind to some aspects of reality (almost everybody is). Plus, we have an evolutionary framework. It makes the complex simple, when you understand it. I'll be teaching an introductory course on integral coaching soon, but start reading books on Integral Theory now. (Read Wilber's simplest book, Integral Vision.)

5. All Coaching is Shadow Coaching - Or Should Be. My first lesson from Zen Master, Genpo Roshi, included a joke - on us. To paraphrase, he said (with a laugh), evolved people like to say they're whole, complete and perfect, except the parts they don't like about themselves. But you can't be complete without all of it! So what parts of yourself don't you like? The part that overeats? The part that's naive? The part that gets tongue-tied at parties? It's not those parts that keep you fragmented, it's the fact that you try to disown them. Then they become blind spots, which grow into shadows, which undermine and sabotage you. That's what fragmentation really is. For many people, the first step toward wholeness is integration of the parts they formerly disliked. That's the underlying cause of stuckness and it keeps coming back until all aspects of the self are integrated (or Integral). Some people are so fragmented that they lose the ability to choose wholeness. That's what is known as mental illness and I'm not suggesting that shadow coaching can cure that. But even healthy people have shadows and we can choose to integrate them with assistance from a skilled coach.  I use this approach in my Great Self Coaching. Genpo Roshi is incredibly masterful at it from a Zen perspective. (Read Genpo Roshi's Big Mind/Big Heart.)

6. Your Business Model May Be Too Infantile to Last. I've also been studying Adizes Management Methodology of late. Ichak Adizes is a legendary management consultant who deftly identified several different stages of a business life cycle. His theory explains, among other things, why the US Government is floundering these days (no, it has nothing to do with Republicans vs. Democrats). One thing that strikes me about it is that most coaches base their businesses on one of three early-stage levels and expect their businesses to continue at that stage forever. It won't happen. I'm happy to say, I saw this even before I studied Adizes and I'm ready for it. I'll write more at length on how you can design your business to last in a future post. But this issue could explain why our industry is so successful, but some coaches never enjoy that success. (Read Ichak Adizes' Corporate life cycles)

We all have access to too much information these days. But there really is no substitution for knowing the right stuff.

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