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Positive Psychology Coaching: How the Solar Eclipse Can Transform You

Posted by Julia Stewart

Solar Eclipse by Tim Ebbs.jpg

If you live in North America, you know today is the day of the coast-to-coast solar eclipse. And if you're in the path of the totality, that's pretty exciting. Since ancient times, the eclipse of the sun has been seen as harbinger of change. Whether that be turmoil, doom and gloom, or lasting peace, the eclipse is when big things were supposed to happen. Today, we know what to expect from above AND we can CHOOSE what to change down below. How?

Positive psychology offers clues on how the total solar eclipse can help transform us. Where ever you are, follow these coaching tips to use today's eclipse of the sun to begin all over again.

3 Ways the Solar Eclipse Can Spark Your Transformation:

1. AWE. According to positive psychology researcher, Dacher Keltner, the experience of awe changes us, immediately. Awe occurs when we're confronted by something incomprehensibly huge, something incredibly beautiful, or something terrifying. A total solar eclipse can be all three. It's the direct experience of three massive celestial bodies (the ones that matter most to life on Earth) behaving bizarrely, by blotting out the Sun's rays, without which, all life on Earth will die.

No biggy, right? You know the Sun's coming back in a minute. But that won't stop your fight-or-flight response from kicking in during totality. The hair on the back of your neck may stand up as you experience what your intuition says is all wrong. Your brain's error detection system will tell you something BIG is out of order, and if you're within hearing distance, the howling of dogs, and other disturbed Earthlings, will confirm your worst fears. But at the same time, it's so BEAUTIFUL: stars come out; planets may be visible, you might even notice a 360 degree "sunset" on the horizon. People who travel across the world to see eclipses, called "shadow chasers", say the total eclipse of the sun is the most awe-inspiring experience a human being can have.

How does awe change us? According to research, people who've just experienced awe behave differently. They are kinder and more generous to strangers, and feel closer to loved ones, perhaps because they realize how small each of us is and that we're all in this thing called, life, together. That's nice for others, but may matter much, much more to you: because when you're kinder and more generous, without expecting anything in return, you start enjoying more happiness and good things come seem to come to you more easily. A minute or two of creepy darkness, and awe-inspiring celestial alignment, may well be worth the extra happiness and success you can enjoy for the rest of your life.

Even though kindness may seem commonplace (if you've been fortunate), it's one of the most powerfully transformative tools for creating greater joy, wellbeing, success, and good health for yourself, and since happiness is contagious, you'll be helping others be happier, just by your presence. 

Coaching Tip: Later in the day, when you're alone, spend up to 30 seconds recreating the emotions you experienced during and after the eclipse. Use all your senses as you remember the details of your experience. Called "savoring", this technique helps strengthen the neural connections that make transformation sustainable. Do this everyday for a month to maximize the effect and intentionally increase your kindness and generosity to others. Your life will transform.

2. PEAK EXPERIENCE: Similar to awe, the peak experience is intense and transformative. Some people try to induce it via extreme sports, because wildly dangerous experiences help them feel fully alive. But peak experiences are helpful another way: They shake up your sense of "me-ness" and push you out of your usual conditioned responses, if only for a few moments. That's scary, but also exhilarating. In the moments that follow, people often solve problems that have vexed them and come up with innovative ideas. If you're a business owner, artist, or anyone who needs creative solutions to life, peak experiences are everything. You can induce one by jumping out of an airplane without a parachute, but fortunately, the total eclipse provides us with a similarly mind-bending, awe-inspiring, frighteningly overwhelming event without actually threatening our lives.

Coaching Tip: Got a big problem or need a huge idea for your business? Right after the total eclipse may be the perfect time for you to discover the solutions, while your brain is temporarily scrambled  from that super weird experience.

Ask yourself these questions immediately after the totality: What needs to change from now on? What's one way you'll be different from this moment forward? What's the first step you'll take, to make that real, within the next 24 hours? Or sit down as soon as you can, with pen and paper, and brainstorm new ideas. Get crazy (that'll be easier than usual). You may just discover the answers you need. Don't forget to act on them to make them real!

3. GRATITUDE: After two minutes of irrational fear, you'll be GLAD when the sun comes back out. Notice how everyone laughs and giggles with relief. Thank the Universe that this was "just a test". The Sun's not really going away; it'll be back tomorrow, as usual.

Coaching Tip: Just after the eclipse, chat with the folks around you about how thankful you are for Nature and that you just got to experience this relatively rare event. Or when you're alone, list 3-10 things you appreciate most about Nature and for each one, spend 10 seconds savoring your gratitude. It's important to really feel it. You don't have to do this everyday, but it's a good idea to spend some time once per week, or so, thinking and feeling what you're grateful for on a deep, heartfelt level.

And if you need help, get out into Nature regularly, because it's incredible even on "normal" days. In fact, psychologists theorize that the current rise in depression is largely caused by our addiction to screens and our artificial lifestyles. We evolved to experience Nature everyday and we literally need it. Perhaps the greatest boon from the eclipse is that it gets millions of us outside.

Gratitude, like kindness, is one of the most potent ingredients in a flourishing life. You can experience it any time you want. When you do, happiness becomes your default, while anger, sadness, blame, and judgment all evaporate. Practice gratitude on a heartfelt level whenever you can and your life will be more peaceful and serene. And people who appreciate their lives always seem to get more of what they appreciate!

So get ready for a life-altering event. And make the intention to transform your life, and perhaps the lives of others, using the eclipse and a few easy tools.

And if living a life of joy and transformation is what you're built for, why not become a positive psychology coach? The Certified Positive Psychology Coach® Program gives you tools to upgrade your life and business and the power to help others do the same. Plus, starting this Fall, The Fully Alive with Positive Psychology Program is included, at no extra charge. You'll have tools like the ones in this post to help your clients flourish. And if you join by the end of this month, you can save on the Certified Positive Psychology Coach® Program and still get the Fully Alive program in the Fall. Win-win-win.

Go here for information about the Certified Positive Psychology Coach® Program:

Become a Certified Positive Psychology Coach

 

Topics: gratitude, Certified Positive Psychology Coach, Positive Psychology, transformative conversations, Fully Alive, positive psychology coach

5 Rookie Mistakes New Life Coaches Should Never Make [Are YOU Making These?]

Posted by Julia Stewart

New Life Coach

In my career as a coach trainer and mentor coach, I've known some amazing coaches who changed many lives, but I've also seen some embarrassing rookie mistakes and made a few, myself.

Some mistakes keep popping up on my radar, so here's the blog post i think about writing whenever I see one. I hope it helps!

5 Rookie Mistake New Life Coaches Should Never Make:

1. Using a personal email address as a business address. The address you use with family and friends, such as FredWilmaAndPebbles@aol.com,  may fail to address the bedrock issue in business credibility: your professionalism. Don't communicate that you're an amateur by using a family address. And MissFancyPants1986@hotmail.com may be your flirty way of expressing yourself on eHarmony, but it's TMI for business. Use your name and no one else's, or use your business name. Alternatively, tell people what you do with your address. One of my first was, ICoach121@optimum.net. Of course, having your own web address is a bit more impressive. Another early address I used was coach@YourLifePart2.com.

2. Getting a website before you're ready. A professional-looking email address is a must. A website probably can wait. In the meantime, a robust profile on one or more coach directories will do and/or social media profiles or pages. In fact, these  provide feedback on what people respond to, so it's an awesome way to learn what will work for your website. Otherwise, you're likely to have a site that doesn't really represent you or your business. I knew a new coach who lived on Maui, whose coaching was about building thriving relationships, but the main image on her website was a single leafless tree in a frigid winter landscape. What? Most successful coaches take between a year and three years to get their first website. Get to know your business self, your clients, and what communicates what you do, effectively. No rush.

3. Quitting your job at the wrong time. I've had coaching students who quit their jobs the week after they joined my school. I love their confidence and commitment, but they tend to struggle. Coaches take between 3 months and 5 years to fill their coaching practices. With Coach 100, it takes between 6 months and a year. That's a long time to go without a full-time income. On the flip side, I've known coaches who hung on to their jobs too long. One excellent coach had a quarter of a million dollars in financial reserves, but still too nervous to make the leap. A big part of what coaches do is help clients get over the fears that prevent success, so get your own coach, if you're feeling stuck. On the other hand, if you're ultra-risk-adverse, consider coaching within a large organization, if that helps you feel more stable.

4. Not getting your own coach. How can you call yourself a coach, if you've never been coached? More to the point, how will you know to make smart rookie choices, if the only coaches you talk to are other rookies? You need your own coach, period. Think of it as a business deduction. Find your coach here.

5. Not getting training. There are still a couple of old timers who tell rookie coaches that they don't need training, but that's not fair to rookies. 20-30 years ago, there was no training, but a few talented people invented coaching, anyway. The rest of us have Thomas Leonard to thank for putting coaching on the map and starting the first coach training school and international coaching association. Like having your own coach, getting coach training flattens your learning curve, helps you make smarter choices, and contributes to your success. Coaches with training become successful quicker and are less likely to quit the profession. Don't take my word for it. Ask your coach.

Don't make rookie mistakes. Get the free Become a Coach eBook:

Don't Make Rookie Mistakes. Get This Free eBook.

 

 

Topics: coach training, become a coach, Free, Coach Training Programs, Life Coaches, Thomas Leonard, Mentor Coaching, Certified Positive Psychology Coach, coach training program, FIND A COACH

Positive Psychology Coaching: How to Use Negativity to Improve Coaching Outcomes

Posted by Julia Stewart

Leadership Coaching Emotional Intelligence

Every positive psychology coach understands the importance of positivity, but the great ones know how negativity can boost coaching outcomes, amazingly.

If you've been reading this blog (subscribe upper right), you know about positivity theory and the positivity ratio (Fredrickson, 2006). The research is clear: Positivity changes lives and delivers wellbeing. But that's not all. People who experience at least three times as much positivity as negativity aren't just happier, they're more successful, more generous, healthier, and have more harmonious relationships. Who doesn't want more of all that?

So how can negativity help?

Here's a story: I once knew a coach, let's call her Wanda, who was new to positive psychology coaching. One of Wanda's first clients was a mid-level manager at a toy company, who wanted to move up the company ladder. Wanda coached him with loads of positivity and he accomplished one step after another toward his goal, until they were both certain he was on the brink of success. Then he got fired. Yep, fired.

How'd that happen? Wanda's client had some inter-personal issues he wasn't aware of. Wanda noticed them during coaching sessions, but didn't want to focus on the negative, so she never brought them up. Too bad. Those issues got on his boss's nerves, disrupted the whole department, and even made his team less productive. One person can cause a workplace to spiral so deeply into negativity, that the whole company suffers. That's toxic.

Positive thinking can't magically fix a toxic situation unless the toxicity is fully addressed. That means you need to deal with the negativity.

Remember that positivity ratio of three to one?

Another way of saying it is 75% positivity to 25% negativity is the gateway to flourishing. You can go higher, say, 90% positivity, but much beyond that and you and your clients will tip into a multitude of unnecessary problems.

What sorts of problems?

  • Obliviousness. Negativity wakes us up when something is wrong (Boyatzis, 2011), but incessent positivity lets us waltz straight into our worst nightmares, just like Wanda's client did.
  • Missed details. Positivity broadens our awareness, but negativity narrows our focus on what needs to be done (Boyatzis, 2011). Details matter.
  • Complacency. People who are constantly positive sometimes coast when they need to work. For example: Children who are told they need to work, make better grades than children who are told they are smart, because the "smart" kids often don't try as hard (Dweck, 2006).

How can negativity help?

  • Resilience. Negativity toughens us up and helps us develop grit. People who persevere through difficulties, are more likely to succeed (Duckworth, 2016).
  • Needs satisfaction. Negativity is designed to drive us toward getting our needs met, so we can survive. While positivity is more useful at helping us reach for growth and ideals (Boyatizis, 2011). Interpersonal problems often arise from unmet needs (Maslow, 1962).
  • Survival comes before growth. We need to reach a critical mass when satisfying our needs before we can effectively focus on growth (Maslow, 1962).

How could Wanda have succeeded better with her client?

  • Be a coach who is naturally positive, but never steps over concerns.
  • Help the client get their needs met, sustainably.
  • Ask the client challenging questions, the ones they're afraid to ask themselves (and the ones nobody else will mention).
  • Help the client bring positivity into their relationships. Train them to ask more, listen more, and look for what's working before focusing on what's not, unless it's an emergency.
  • Be honest. Holding back your observations is never fair to your clients.
  • Help the client grow beyond their immediate goals. Once needs are met, growth becomes available and that's what propels clients into amazing success.

These are just a few ways Wanda could have upgraded the value of her positive psychology coaching, immensely.

Imagine what her hard-working client could have accomplished if he had adjusted his relationship skills in time to win the promotion he passionately desired.

This focus on the importance of negativity is sometimes called the second wave in positive psychology, but it isn't new. Emotional intelligence has always studied the entire gamut of emotions to help people be more successful in their relationships and work. That's especially important for leaders, because they influence all the people they lead. But let's be clear: Everybody is a leader sometime and humans, who are the most social of animals, all need emotional intelligence to navigate harmonious relationships.

That's why School of Coaching Mastery is launching its exciting Master Certified Positive Psychology Coach program with an advanced course on Emotional Intelligence and Leadership Coaching

This is what's next for professional coaching, in general, and positive psychology coaching, specifically.

Learn more about becoming a positive psychology coach. Get the free eBook:

Free Become a Positive Psychology Coach eBook

Topics: ICF, Certified Positive Psychology Coach, Coaching Certificate, positive psychology coaching, advanced coach training, emotional intelligence, positivity

How to Put Gratitude to Work in Your Life

Posted by Julia Stewart

Express Gratitude JFK Quote by Brainy Quote.jpg

Thursday is Thanksgiving Day, or National Gratitude Day, as I like to call it.

We talk about practicing gratitude as if it is nothing but a nice thought, word, or feeling; a pleasant way to practice mindfulness. But it is much more than that. Gratitude is also a way of life. It's way more powerful when you live it, rather than just list it.

We have many years of research from positive psychology giants such as Robert Emmons, Martin Seligman, Barbara Fredrickson, Sonja Lyubomirsky, and Dacher Keltner.

Positive Psychology researchers have fine tuned what we understand about the power of gratitude.

We know, as a result, that gratitude practices are among the most powerful in shifting a life from languishing to flourishing. But not every gratitude practice is created equal. Habitually listing what you are grateful for everyday turns out to NOT be the the most effective way to express gratitude.

However, living your appreciation for what you have been given by your family, community, and country is powerful for you as well as for all those around you.

Don't settle just for wellbeing; create the magnificent life that is meant for you and others.

As the beloved American President, John F. Kennedy said, "As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them."

What would it mean for you to live by your gratitude? How would your life change? How will you change the lives of others?

Here are a few ways I try to do this:

  • I was blessed with a great Mom. She gave me the gift of knowing, beyond doubt, that I was unconditionally loved from the very beginning. It's something that can never be taken away. She loved all children and loved giving to a particular charity called, the Smile Train, that uses virtually all of its donations to repair cleft palates for impoverished children, who will be bullied at school, or kept home because of their appearance, and may never find a job or spouse. She felt blessed to be able to change the lives of little ones. Now that she's gone, I give to this charity in her name, knowing that I am truly making a difference. It feels wonderful and it is wonderful for many others, as well.
  • I was also blessed to be a student of the late, Thomas Leonard, who was known for his integrity and generosity in establishing coaching as a genuine profession. I pay it forward by teaching his principles to my students and by helping to move the profession forward by incorporating the latest research in positive psychology, neuroscience, and emotional intelligence into the coaching tools we use. Experience early Thomas Leonard with the free ecourse based on his original writings about the Principles of Attraction.
  • And I'm am continually blessed by the incredible caliber of the coaching students, volunteers, and staff at School of Coaching Mastery. They are the true pioneers of positive psychology coaching. Their success means the success of many others who come in contact with them. I frequently thank them by adding new content, resources, and benefits to the Certified Positive Psychology Coach program.
  • And of course, I'm blessed by the over 20,000 readers who visit this blog every month. I try to include useful content in my posts and in the posts of our talented guest writers. To you, I want to say thanks today, by offering you a discount coupon good until the end of this year, for $100USD off any course or coach training program. That's more than 50% off the Best Practices mini-course. Plus, the keystone course of our positive psychology coaching around the "strange attractors" (a.k.a. the little things that make a big difference), Coaching Values, Needs, and Strengths, begins this coming Monday.

Use this code to save $100USD: Gratitude2016

Save $100 on a Course with Code: Gratitude2016

Topics: gratitude, Thomas Leonard, Certified Positive Psychology Coach, positive psychology coaching

The Critical Missing Link in Positive Psychology

Posted by Julia Stewart

Photo by Justin Kern - Missing Links in Positive Psychology.jpg

Positive psychology has been ignoring what matters most in life.

You already know we love positive psychology and that emotional intelligence picks up where positive psychology leaves off. But here's a missing link to positive psychology that hardly anybody mentions...

Because for on thing, the way most people talk about this missing link just isn't sexy. That's because it's been presented to most of us as a "should" (something we should care about and act upon), rather than what it really is: completely unique and personal to each of us.

When we approach this missing link from our uniqueness, it becomes inspiring.

When we approach it from what's been imposed upon us, as a "should", it deflates us. No wonder we don't talk about it! Some coaches even think they should avoid asking questions about it!

I'm talking about what matters most to you: your personal values.

These are often not the same as what you parents, schools, religious, or political leaders taught you to value. Taught values help us fit into society. They make us homogeneous. They may be uninspiring, but you find yourself living your life around them - and then wondering why your life feels flat, boring, or lifeless. 

Personal values are unique to you, uniquely energizing and inspiring to you.

Recently some fascinating research was done on values under the guise of mindfulness, a positive psychology tool that is so thoroughly researched, it has its own research journal called, Mindfulness. It's well-known that practicing mindfulness leads to greater wellbeing, which is the ultimate measure of positive psychology. New research shows people who practice mindfulness are more likely to act on their values. Current research is attempting to prove whether lived values are the main reason mindfulness increases wellbeing. 

Personal values contain the blueprint for your calling in this life.

Nothing could be sexier! And like finger prints, everyone's values are unique. Unfortunately, most people have no idea what their personal values even are.

Here are a few more important points about personal values:

  • Values are personal, unique, and individual.
  • Values help us show up authentically.
  • Values are what matters most to each of us.
  • Values point to our unique long-lasting happiness and fulfillment.
  • Values point out your calling and life purpose.
  • Values integrate heart and mind.
  • Values integrate us with other people.
  • Values help us feel fully alive.
  • Values help us serve others.
  • Values determine our actions more than anything else.
  • Values give meaning to our lives.
  • Values help us harmonize our relationships.
  • Values help us integrate our emotions.
  • Values inspire us.
  • Values help us reach our goals.
  • Values give us greater freedom if we're aware of them.
  • Values are catalyzed by mindfulness.
  • Values lead to greater wellbeing.

All of the above is wonderful, but most people don't even know what their personal values are and often we confuse our needs with out values and needs are a whole different thing.

We can't make the most of our lives without identifying and activating our true values. 

Positive psychology coaches are perfectly positioned to help people identify and act on their true values. But most positive psychology coaching is strengths-based only and without our personal values, using our strengths feels empty and meaningless. It's time we fully integrate values with strengths. 

Values are the missing link in wellbeing.

The Certified Positive Psychology Coach program thoroughly integrates strengths and values and two modules that focus on values are coming up soon: The Psychology of Values and Personal Evolution and Coaching Values, Needs, and Strengths. Each course can be taken individually and is approved for 8 ICF ACSTH or CCEs.

Coach with the missing link of positive psychology and help your clients achieve what matters most to them.

Click below to choose a values-based coach-training module.

Upcoming Coach-Training Courses

 

Topics: Certified Positive Psychology Coach, Positive Psychology, positive psychology coaching, Strengths, Needs, mindfulness, Values, positive psychology coaches, personal values, wellbeing

Why We Love Positive Psychology and You Should Too

Posted by Julia Stewart

 

Positive Psychology Smile Sheena876.jpg

 

Positive psychology is the science of happiness, wellbeing, and flourishing.

It's the perfect science for coaching for all the following reasons...

1. Positive psychology continually delights us.

Every month new discoveries about the benefits of awe, finding your power, retraining your brain, increasing your health and wellbeing, optimizing your path to achievement, becoming sustainably happier, and much, much more are shared by researchers, teachers, and coaches, so we all benefit from the new science of happiness. These discoveries point to new tools for coaching and those tools are also being researched, so coaches and their clients can constantly upgrade approaches to greater success and wellbeing for stronger outcomes. It's a virtuous cycle that benefits us all. Read on for specific tools and ideas...

2. Little things make such an extraordinary difference.

One of the most powerful discoveries from positive psychology is that often it's the littlest things that make remarkable   differences to happiness, wellbeing, and success. What sorts of things?

For example: sharing a moment of positivity with someone else, even an animal, or a stranger; not only improves your day, but can improve your health by lowering blood pressure and heart rate, while increasing feel-good neurotransmitters such as serotonin, known for its importance in relegating mood and possibly preventing depression. Better still, taking the time to review moments of positivity can increase their benefits and help hardwire a healthier brain, while lifting optimism and motivation, both important attitudes that make achieving goals easier.

3. Positive psychology integrates beautifully with related fields like positive neuroplasticity and emotional intelligence.

Positive psychology focuses research on observed behaviors that correlate with positive outcomes, usually for individuals, but this field of research also recognizes, for instance, that harmonious relationships are important predictors of individual happiness and that changes in the brain also correlate with positive outcomes. So we employ other fields of research, such as emotional intelligence, which offers tools for navigating emotions and building positive relationships, and the science of positive neuroplasticity, which helps our clients rewire their brains for sustainable positivity.

Try this tool now: Think of a positive interaction you've had recently with someone. Spend 10 - 30 seconds locating the positive feeling associated with this interaction in your body and re-experience it to help rewire your brain for more positivity. Ask yourself what was it that evoked this positivity in you. Was it something they did or just who they are, for instance? Bonus points: Next time you see that person, let them know you appreciate that thing they do and that just might deepen your relationship.

4. Positive psychology offers the perfect tools for coaches.

Some positive psychology tools lend themselves perfectly to the coaching process, itself. Positivity bias, for instance, helps us shift our clients' moods so they can think more resourcefully during coaching sessions and thereby find the best solutions to their challenges. Ideal Self exercises can help a client envision what they most want. And the topics of values, needs, and strengths; help us shift the conversation to what really matters in a given situation, how the client would like to change it, how to do so most effectively, and make follow-through significantly more likely.

5. Our coaching clients love positive psychology as much as we do.

People around the world are excited about the possibilities for greater happiness offered by positive psychology and that has built a growing demand. They want to learn more and, most importantly, they want to apply these tools for optimum benefits in their own lives and for those they care about. The thing is, most people are busy and really just want to learn the tools that will make the biggest differences for them as soon as possible. 

That's where coaching really comes in. Professional positive psychology coaches learn which tools work best for whom, as well as when and how to use them. Our clients get highly customized attention and practice those tools that will most help them succeed with their goals. Coaching and positive psychology were made for each other and, most importantly, they are made for our busy clients.

Interested in joining the profession of positive psychology coaching? Get your credential, plus 125 ICF hours, and learn effective skills with the Certified Positive Psychology Coach program. Apply below.

Apply to Be a Certified Positive Psychology Coach®

 

Topics: Certified Positive Psychology Coach, Positive Psychology, positive psychology coaching, Neuroplasticity, emotional intelligence, science of happiness

The Tyranny of Positive Psychology: Can Emotional Intelligence Save Us

Posted by Julia Stewart

Nervous Smile by Paul McDee Positive Psychology vs Emotional Intelligence.jpg

Can positive psychology actually be bad for you? Can positivity = tyranny? Is there an upside to your downside?

There's a trend in positive psychology, called the second wave, that says, "Hold on. Don't get over-positive. So-called negative emotions can be beneficial, too." That's where emotional intelligence comes in; it teaches us how to recognize and use all our emotions for optimal benefit.

People often confuse these two areas of psychology. Truth is, there is some overlap.

Among the important distinctions between them is that positive psychology focuses mostly on what individuals can do to experience greater wellbeing, whereas emotional intelligence focuses on how individuals can recognize their own emotions, positive or negative, as well as those of others, and how they can leverage them to develop more harmonious relationships.

We can all learn a lot from both positive psychology and emotional intelligence.

People go off the rails with positive psychology when positivity becomes aspirational to them, or when they assume that their thoughts and feelings must always be positive. I see this sometimes when my students take positive psychology assessments and are bothered that their scores aren't perfect. Or when people judge themselves for not always thinking and feeling positive, or when they blame others for being negative, or when they avoid people who have problems or illnesses, as if they might rub off on them. Notice the negative reaction in of these examples? Both positive psychology and emotional inteligence teach us to accept the reaction and learn from it.

Actually, positive psychology research has long since demonstrated that 100% positivity carries its own problems. Check out Barbara Fredrickson's work on positivity, for more on this, or take the Introduction to Positive Psychology for Coaches course.

I'm not sure where the 100% positivity distortion came from, but it's a good example of how a little knowledge can be dangerous and why in-depth learning is important, especially with a topic as vast as positive psychology. In any case, writers, such as Robert Biswas-Diener and Tod Kashdan, are writing about the benefits of recognizing and exploring negative emotions and recently, Susan David, co-founder of the Institute of Coaching, has written about integrating these two disciplines to create what she calls, Emotional Agility.

Emotional Intelligence is a great counter balance to positive psychology.

That's why we're adding a new course to the Certified Positive Psychology Coach program called, Emotional intelligence and Leadership Coaching, in early 2017. It'll be part of the new master-level Certified Positive Psychology Coach program. Watch for it.

Free Become a Positive Psychology Coach eBook

Topics: Barbara L Fredrickson, Certified Positive Psychology Coach, Institute of Coaching, Positive Psychology, emotional intelligence

A Brief History of Positive Psychology and Coaching

Posted by Julia Stewart

History_of_positive_psychology_and_coaching_-_photo_by_Michael_D_Martin_via_Creative_Commons.jpg

Two fields, positive psychology and coaching, have radically expanded how we think about personal growth. They've taught us that human beings have far more potential for happiness than we previously thought. Both began in the 1990's, but until recently, they developed largely in parallel. Now they are directly influencing each other and a new profession, positive psychology coaching, has emerged. It's time to look back at how it all came about...

Both positive psychology and coaching reached back millennia for inspiration from western and eastern philosophies, as well as other ancient wisdom traditions, including some indigenous influences. In addition, 20th Century influences sought to describe what was best and highest in human beings and how more people could amplify their personal development, success, and wellbeing.

The most notable difference in the development of positive psychology and of coaching was that positive psychology always had a strong academic and research basis, while coaching had its beginnings as an innovative entrepreneurial service. Research into what actually works in coaching came later.

Positive psychology and coaching each have a "founder" or "father", respectively. For coaching, it was Thomas Leonard (1955-2003), a former financial advisor, turned coach, who founded what many consider the first professional coaching school, Coach U, in 1992. Thomas later founded the first not-for-profit professional association and certifier of coaches, the International Coach Federation (ICF) in 1995.

The recognized Father of Positive Psychology is Martin Seligman (1942- ). An address Seligman gave, while president of the American Psychological Association (AMA), is often cited as the official advent of positive psychology. Under Seligman's leadership, several initiatives proceeded over time, including the founding of the Master of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) at UPenn in 2003  and the International Positive Psychology Association (IPPA) in 2007.

This short blog post can't cover all the achievements of these two great men, nor does it include all the contributions to both coaching and positive psychology by many other brilliant pioneers, but you can learn more by clicking links throughout this article, which will lead you to my references.

There were two 20th Century giants who seem to have had an impact on both positive psychology and coaching. They were Abraham Maslow, 1908-1970, and Viktor Frankel, 1905-1997. Maslow, himself a former president of the AMA, is referred to as the "Grandfather of Positive Psychology" by positive psychology professor, Tal Ben Shahar. Maslow may have even coined the term, "positive psychology", which appears in his 1962 classic, Toward a Psychology of Being (highly recommended). More important is Maslow's theory of self-actualization, often referred to as, needs-based psychology, which states that all humans have physical and psychological needs and that as we meet these needs, we grow and develop. The ultimate state we can attain via needs satisfaction is self-actualization, which is characterized by authenticity, flexibility, and even humor.

Viktor Frankl was born in Vienna and became a psychiatrist and neurologist, but during World War II was interned by the nazis in a series concentration camps, including the infamous, Auschwitz. He survived the war under dreadful conditions, which he later wrote about in his best-selling, Man's Search for Meaning, 1946. Frankl concluded that those who survived the nazi camps did so because they had something to live for: the need to see a loved one again, the desire to help a friend, or in Frankl's case, the passion to write his book about Logotherapy, literally the psychotherapy of meaning. According the Frankl, one cannot become self-actualized without becoming self-transcendent, or growing beyond oneself and one's own ego, which requires that we find meaning by helping others. Seligman later identified "meaning" as one of the most durable pathways to happiness. Echos of both Maslow's and Frankl's theories can be found in Thomas Leonard's Needs and Values.

Maslow and Frankl were especially important in their time, because the second half of the 20th Century marked a turn toward identifying, diagnosing, and curing mental illness, almost exclusively. Psychology's original purpose included psychopathology, but also the psychology of healthy people, and the study of genius. Seligman and colleagues were intent upon rebalancing the field of psychology to include the positive, as well as the negative, and their ultimate goal is to do this so thoroughly that "positive psychology" becomes obsolete, as a separate field.

Positive psychology and coaching are a natural fit, because positive psychology researchers and coaches ask similar questions: How can people become happier, more successful, and enjoy greater wellbeing? In other words, how can people Flourish, as Seligman would put it.

Although it's likely that early coaches and coach trainers drew from research into human potential, such as positive psychology, they usually didn't reveal their sources, which created a "guru-like" image for some and allowed others to make unfounded claims. Eventually, this caught up with the reputation of the coaching field and it was time for coaching to grow up and become a true profession.

By this time, the positive reputation of coaching had also grown. Clients, organizations, and researchers we curious how coaching was changing lives. Research into coaching started to boom and the Institute of Coaching formed in 2008 to foster research into coaching, positive psychology, and emotional intelligence.

One particularly notable researcher is Richard Boyatzis (1946 -) of Case Western University, who is associated with coaching, leadership, and emotional intelligence. His books, such as Primal Leadership, offer sophisticated evidence-based tools for coaching.

In 2007, Robert Biswas-Diener (1971 -), of Portland State University, published the first notable book on Positive Psychology Coaching and he has become a leader in positive psychology coaching research, writing, and teaching.

Today, there are numerous university programs in positive psychology and some in coaching. There also are a few short positive psychology coach training programs. The Certified Positive Psychology Coach program is currently the only positive psychology coach training program that includes the full 125 credit hours required for the ICF PCC credential. It was launched in 2014 and 75-100 additional hours will be added for the new master CPPC version in 2017.

If you'd like to learn more about positive psychology coaching, download the free Become a Positive Psychology Coach eBook, below.

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Topics: Coaching, ICF, Thomas Leonard, Certified Positive Psychology Coach, Institute of Coaching, Positive Psychology, positive psychology coaching, Martin Seligman

Life Coach: Do Coaching Clients Even Know What They Want?

Posted by Julia Stewart

Life Coach Clients CHOICE

One of the hallmarks of ICF coaching is that the coach establishes the coaching agreement (what the client wants to achieve) early in the coaching session. This might seem like a no-brainer, but it's actually one of the issues that distinguishes ICF coaching from, for instance, IAC coaching.

I taught the IAC approach for several years. Their approach tends to focus on establishing a trusted relationship first, then focuses on finding out what the client wants later, because...
  1. Clients won't share their dreams with us unless they fully trust us.
  2. Many, or even most, clients can't articulate exactly what they want without coaching.

So who's right?

They both are. The IAC is correct that the client needs to trust us completely and that they may not be able to articulate what they want from coaching until we've helped them clarify it. However, one of the weaknesses of coaches who've been trained in the IAC approach is that they sometimes never ask what the client wants from the coaching relationship, in general, and from the coaching session, specifically.

On the other hand, if a coach assumes they've covered this issue completely by simply asking, "What would you like to achieve, today?" the session will likely be superficial and the goals achieved may not get to the heart of what matters most to the client.

Why are these two approaches to coaching so different?

Each organization has written their coaching IP (intellectual property) to define coaching under specific conditions. The IAC Coaching Masteries® is intended to describe what happens in one masterful coaching session. The ICF Core Coaching Competencies® describe both the coaching session and the entire coaching relationship and can be understood at the competent, proficient, and masterful levels. At the masterful level, ICF coaching is remarkably similar to IAC coaching.

How do coaches need to handle this?

First of all, the ICF emphasizes the importance of a trusted coaching relationship as much as the IAC does. Second, asking specifically what the client wants and how they know they have achieved it, early in the session, helps increase trust by demonstrating that the coach wants to know the client's goals and intends to help the client get there. In addition, tremendous clarity is created when the coach asks these questions and follows up by thoroughly exploring what the client means. And yes, sometimes the client's initial goal changes as greater clarity is achieved.

Why don't more coaches do it this way?

To honor both the ICF's emphasis on articulating the client's goals early and the IAC's emphasis on relationship building first,  clarification of goals second, requires tremendous finesse. That's what makes it masterful.

New coaches who study the IAC approach, may be hampered by the language of the Masteries, because they are written for coaches who understand the nuances of coaching. While the ICF approach, when studied by newbies, may result in stilted and shallow coaching sessions, unless instructors guide students toward the masterful use of the ICF's Competencies.

Takeaways:

  1. Sometimes clients know exactly what they want, but not always.
  2. All clients need a trusted environment before they will share their cherished dreams with us.
  3. Masterful coaches can establish trust while creating tremendous clarity, but it requires finesse.

If you'd like to coach with the finesse of a master, you might want to join the following program. Advanced placement is available for coaches who qualify. Learn more below...

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Topics: life coach, ICF, Certified Positive Psychology Coach, IAC

Should Business and Life Coaches Ask "Why" Questions?

Posted by Julia Stewart

Coaching Questions The_Forgotten_Jetty_by_Daniel_Sallal_CC.jpg

Coaching questions are the stock and trade of professional life, business, and executive coaches. Knowing what to ask, when to ask, and how to ask coaching questions is a major part of becoming an effective coach. But there are certain types of questions that tend to be frowned upon, because they often yield poor results.

Those include "leading questions" that back clients into corners, as well as "closed-ended questions" that reduce curiosity, and then there are "Why questions" that slow down the process.

The ICF Core Coaching Competencies encourage a different type of question, what coaches sometimes call "powerful questions", or "awareness-building questions". These can often be spotted by the words they start with: What, When, How, Who, If.

Some powerful awareness-building questions:

  • If you had everything you need, what would you do?
  • Who would you have to become to succeed?
  • How could you do it?
  • When have you been in a situation like this, before?
  • What does this mean to you?

Questions like these help to open up a client's awareness of who s/he is and what's really possible. They take coaching to a higher level and help clients expand their impact in more ways than just goal completion. They also make coaching more fun.

So why shouldn't coaches ask, Why?

Sorry, I couldn't resist that one. Here are some reasons:

  • Why questions encourage analysis of the situation and you'd be surprised at how little analysis helps in coaching.
  • Why questions often lead to interpretations that may or may not be true, but more importantly, usually aren't helpful.
  • Why questions can turn the client's focus on the past, rather then the present and future, where the action really is.

I used to discourage Why questions until I listened to an advanced coaching session in which the student-coach asked her client several carefully-worded questions that focused on analyzing and interpreting the past, but avoided the word, Why.

Example: What do you think the reason is that you have this problem? Which is gobbledygook for: Why do you have this problem? Not surprisingly, the session wasn't successful.

That said, I've heard dramatic turning points in coaching sessions when coaches asked Why questions. As I tell my coaching students, if it works for the client, it works for me, because ICF coaching may be powerful, but it's not the only way to coach. So if you feel compelled to ask Why, just ask Why.

What makes some Why question work in coaching, instead of just slowing things down?

Ah, I thought you'd never ask! Here's why: 

WHY matters more than anything else in coaching!

You read that right. That poor little much-maligned word, WHY, matters more than all the Who, What, When, Where, and Hows. Those still matter, but not as much.

“Those who have a 'why' to live, can bear with almost any 'how'.” ― Viktor E. Frankl

Viktor was an incredibly wise man. As much as I love How questions (and I truly love How questions) they are pointless until you get the Why. In fact, What, When, If, and even Who don't make total sense without the Why.

Here are some Why questions you MUST ask:

  • Why does this matter to you?
  • Why is this important, right now?
  • Why does this mean so much?

Powerful Why questions uncover what the client most values.

Values are the Why.

Our most important personal values are the driving force behind everything we do. As sociologist, Paul Ray says, values determine our behavior more than anything else. More than demographics, education, strengths, needs, you name it.

Values are what matter most. 

Asking about values in a coaching session is like asking Google an important search term. Within a few moments, you get a useful answer. But invite Google to analyze and interpret the past, and it might reply, "Well I was going to answer, but I wasn't feeling well, plus my boss is mad at me and I had an argument with my wife, plus, plus, plus... Not useful.

So should coaches ask Why questions? YES. 

Focus Why questions on values, not analysis, interpretation, or the past. My 2 cents.

Positive psychology coaching tends to focus on strengths, which are the HOW of coaching. At School of Coaching Mastery, we focus on strengths and also emphasize values, because we are all about making coaching as powerful as possible. Two modules that will help you master values are the Psychology of Values and Coaching Values, Needs, and Strengths. Both are included in the Certified Positive Psychology Coach® program.

Curious about positive psychology coaching? Get the free eBook:

Free Become a Positive Psychology Coach eBook

Topics: Coaching, executive coach, Business Coaches, Life Coaches, coaching questions, Certified Positive Psychology Coach, positive psychology coaching, Strengths, Values

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