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10 Technology Requirements for a Successful Coaching Business

Posted by Julia Stewart

low-tech_life_coach

The business of life, executive, and business coaching grew up with the internet and is almost always high-tech. In fact, many coaching businesses boast an international roster of clients. So coaches need to master the basics of technology in order to feel professional and avoid frustrating our clients and ourselves.

So what are the 10 technologies every coach must have? Do you need a slick website? Expensive client-management software? You might be surprised what you actually need, and what you don't.

Here are 10 Technology Requirements for a Successful Coaching Business:

1. At least two separate telephone services. Yep, two. Why is that? A telephone is probably still the most important technology you need to run a service business, such as coaching. And no technology is always reliable. As a professional, you need to invest in a backup. You could have one old-fashioned land line, or VoIP service, plus one mobile phone. I prefer two services from different companies, because in this age of cyber warfare, you don't want your entire business vulnerable to one company that could crash.

2. At least two internet service providers. Same reason. Internet providers go down all the time and running out to Starbucks to connect your business wastes time and could compromise your clients' privacy, not to mention your own. Not professional. Today, many smart phones can double as wifi hot spots in a pinch. You have plenty of options. Make the investment.

3. A laptop. Tablets and smart phones are fine for people who don't own businesses, but you'll likely get more work done on something with a real keyboard, so a desktop or laptop computer is useful. The rule of thumb in business is to replace your laptop every two years, before it has a chance to break down. In the meantime, back up your data regularly and keep your browsers up to date.

4. Internet Security and Firewall. Speaking of privacy! Don't even consider going online without security. Even Mac owners need to be concerned about this. Yes, internet security is inconvenient. But it's no where as inconvenient as getting hacked or losing all your data. Some hackers actually will shut down your device and demand ransom to give it back to you. That's painful if you lose family pictures, but it's dangerous if you lose access to your business.

5. Secure storage for your clients' info. If your identity is stolen, that could cost you thousands. But if your clients' identities are stolen and it's traced back to your negligence, it could cost you millions. If you're confident of your device's security, you could store info on it. If not, check #9 below. Not all security is high-tech, though. You may want to store client info offline under lock and key and be extremely  careful to keep it out of the hands of others.

6. Excellent passwords. You've heard this before. It goes double when you own a business, because your livelihood and your clients' data are all at stake. Never use the same password twice. Change it every three months and use extremely long passwords that are case sensitive and include other symbols. How do you remember them? You can use a reputable online password service, or paper and pen - under lock and key.

7. Profiles on major social media sites. Depending on whether your business focuses on your local area or the world wide web, you may or may not need a huge online presence, but social sites are a free and easy way to spread the word about your services, so put up engaging and thorough profiles on social sites. LinkedIn is particularly important, especially if you're a business or executive coach. Learn more about social media for coaches with this free ebook.

8. A business checking account. Keep your business' money and your personal money separate. It'll help  give you clarity about what's coming in and going out and it makes tax time easier. Learn more about money and your coaching business with this free ebook.

9. A fast and easy way to accept money from your clients. Accepting checks is slow and international checks are expensive to process. Help your clients make their payments instantly and easily with an online service or a business account that accepts wire transfers. Choose one that offers fraud protection for you and your clients and can convert international currencies. PayPal is one of many services for small-business owners. One of its benefits is that it handles credit cards and checks, so you don't have to be responsible for them.

10. A door. Yes, a door. It's low-tech and you need one. For your office. Whether in your house or an office suite, make sure you have privacy and quiet while you're coaching. Both you and your clients will enjoy far more valuable coaching sessions when you feel quiet and secure. Don't make the mistake of trying to run a successful business from a corner in your living room or an office corridor. Coaching must be private to be successful.

So What Don't You Need for a Successful Coaching Business?

1. A web site. At least not right away. Most new coaches rush to get a site launched and wind up with something that doesn't represent their business. If you do it right, you'll most likely need a year or two to fully identify your niche and specialty. Until then, your LinkedIn profile is fine.

2. Client management software. They tend to be more trouble than they're worth. Client management is easy, unless you have hundreds of clients and you probably won't. Don't waste your money.

3. Skype. If you love Skype, go ahead and use it, but there are many alternatives that are more stable. Video coaching doesn't equal better coaching results, so your phone is probably fine. Use what works best for you.

Did I leave out something important? What would you add or subtract from these lists?

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Topics: Coaching, executive coach, Coach 100, Business Coaches, Life Coaches

5 Positive Psychology Findings that Blow Holes in the Law of Attraction

Posted by Julia Stewart

LOAwithholesPositive Psychology is sometimes confused with positive thinking and even the Law of Attraction. But positive psychology differs in one very important manner: it is subject to rigorous scientific research.

The Law of Attraction is a collection of beliefs about how you can attract more of what you want into your life. People who believe in the Law of Attraction may disagree on some aspects of it, but in general, the focus is on positive thinking and tools such as gratitude, affirmations and visualization. It’s sometimes presented as an ancient “secret”, or simply a tool that some of today’s most successful people employ to reach their goals. Now there is a growing body of scientific research into tools used within the Law of Attraction framework.

Science doesn’t always get things right (remember when cholesterol was bad and nobody ate eggs?). But good science keeps asking questions and testing its theories until it does get it right, whereas belief systems, such as the Law of Attraction, sometimes get it wrong and when they don’t deliver, blame can be cast unfairly on the wrong people.

DISCLAIMER: If you’re already practicing the Law of Attraction and getting everything you want – and you’re generally happy with your life – read no further. What you’re doing seems to be working for you. But if, like many, you’ve read books by Law of Attraction experts, or taken classes with Law of Attraction teachers, or attended a Law of Attraction church, or you’ve coached with Law of Attraction coaches and you’re disappointed or frustrated by your lack of results – and in particular if your experts, teachers, ministers, or coaches told you it’s all your fault because you’re doing it wrong – it may be time to ask for a refund and this article may just help you.

Experts, teachers, ministers, and coaches are responsible for finding out the truth and sharing it. If what they tell you is true, you’ll find evidence of it when you test it in your own life. If not, maybe what you’ve been taught is incorrect. The following is based on over 20 years of peer-reviewed research and it turns out that much of what has been taught about the Law of Attraction is just plain wrong…

1. First the good news: positive people do tend to get more of what they want. Purveyors of Positive Thinking and the Law of Attraction got this one right – at least up to a point. However, if your Law of Attraction teacher offers some quasi-scientific-sounding explanation such as, your thoughts send out magnetic vibrations that literally attract what you want to you, start looking for the exit, because that’s baloney. MRImagnet

The brain does emit weak electromagnetic waves, but fortunately for your head, they aren’t nearly as strong as those emitted by the MRI machine, at right, which can cause metal objects to fly through the air towards it and apparently is thinking really hard about a metal chair.

Positive psychology researcher, Barbara Fredrickson, who wrote the book on Positivity, has spent 20 years researching positivity, which she defines as moments of positive feelings. She says positive feelings tend to broaden our perspectives so that we notice the multitude of possibilities that are already there. There’s no need to attract good things; they are already all around you. The trick is to notice them and positivity helps you do that by broadening your perspective. Shift your perspective to greater positivity and over time you can transform yourself and your life for the better. But…

2. You can overdo it: Too much positivity is associated with chaos, failure, and mental illness. The right amount of positivity elicits greater openness, curiosity, connection and wisdom, but beyond a certain point, increased positivity tends to become self-centered, grandiose, and even greedy and it causes people to take foolish risks, or fail to notice potential problems. Many purveyors of positive thinking and the Law of Attraction tend to encourage limitless positivity, which ultimately harms rather than helps. But here’s a shocker…

3. The bad news: Getting what you want doesn’t actually make you happy. If thinking about what you want feels good, that’s the main reward you’ll get from it (read #4 for more on why that is). According to research by positive psychologist, Sonja Lyubomirsky, most people believe that getting what they want, such as a million dollars, a fabulous home, the perfect mate, will make them happy, but those things only account for about 10% of your overall happiness and they boost your mood for only a short time. And this…

4. Worse news: Visualizing what you want may actually prevent you from getting what you want! Yep, researchers have found that people who only visualize the positive outcome of reaching their goals actually are less likely to reach them. There are some exceptions to this rule, which may account for why visualizing has become so popular – that and the fact that it’s so easy to do, but most people think the reason it’s not working for them is because they’ve been told they’re doing it wrong, so they keep trying to get it right. There are ways to use visualization effectively, but if you’re only visualizing positive outcomes, your visualization may do more harm than good.

From the Institute of Coaching: "In their 2011 Journal of Experimental Social Psychology article, authors Heather Barry Kappes and Gabriele Oettingen argue that “positive fantasies that idealize the future are found to be inversely related to achievement over time: the more positively the fantasies are experienced, the less effort do people invest in realizing these fantasies, and the lower is their success in achieving them” (p. 719)."

Then there are these pitfalls of the Law of Attraction…

5. A little bit of knowledge is indeed dangerous. It’s all too common for people to hear the amazing power of positivity and then make erroneous assumptions. The benefits of positivity are mind-blowing. In addition to boosting happiness and helping people succeed at goals, positivity also strengthens the immune system and helps protect the heart from disease. Some positive psychology tools have even been shown to lengthen life and protect the brain from mental illness. That doesn’t mean that people who get sick, or experience problems, or feel depressed are to blame for their misfortunes (blame is negativity, by the way). There are thousands of causes for every outcome. It also doesn’t mean that anyone should ever police their thoughts and try to drive out all negativity. That’s just crazy-making. It’s also not necessary to avoid people who are suffering, unless they significantly contribute to your own stress and misery. Compassion and loving connection are extremely positive. The foregoing aren’t just pitfalls of the Law of Attraction, but also of Positive Thinking, in general, and even of positive psychology, when it’s not fully understood. Okay, one more point that’s a bit scary. This one doesn’t come from positive psychology, but…

The Law of Attraction has this in common with cults: The Law of Attraction is not a cult, but it has something in common with many cults. It is the insistence that you replace your current worldview with a completely new one in order to get what you want and that you must control your thoughts and eliminate any deviation from what is prescribed in order to succeed. That robs you of your inner knowing, common sense, intuition, confidence, etc. Then you become dependent upon the Law of Attraction “experts” to help you succeed. Usually they’re happy to sell you more books, programs, coaching, seminars, etc. that explain all over again what and how you should think. Folks do get rich with the Law of Attraction, but it’s usually the sellers, not the buyers.

There are more positive psychology findings that counter claims of the Law of Attraction, but this handful of findings should be enough to plant healthy skepticism in most folks and perhaps spark curiosity about the exciting science of positive psychology.

And again, the Law of Attraction is a collection of beliefs. Not all version of it share all the problems described in this article. If you’re getting what you want while using the Law of Attraction, maybe it’s working well for you. But be a curious skeptic, not a passive consumer.

Learn everything you can about positive psychology and you’ll probably enjoy a better, healthier life. If you’re going to offer it as part of your profession, get professional training. If you want to coach with positive psychology, I hope you’ll consider the Certified Positive Psychology Coach® Program, which thoroughly integrates positive psychology and other relevant sciences with advanced coaching techniques and is approved/licensed by the ICF and IAC.

Find a Certified Positive Psychology Coach® here.                  

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Topics: Coaching, Barbara L Fredrickson, Law of Attraction, Certified Positive Psychology Coach, Institute of Coaching, Positive Psychology, positive psychology coaching

New Coaches: Which of These Entrepreneur Types Should You Be?

Posted by Julia Stewart

Coaches are often confused when first designing their businesses - and sometimes they feel guilty too! Maybe they think they're spending too little time with the kids, or bringing in too little money. Or maybe the house isn't as clean as it used to be, or key members of family aren't fully on board.

Relax: you're normal!

This infographic from My Corporation will help you see how you compare with other small business owners:

What Kind of Entrepreneur Should You Be?

 

New to the business of coaching, but want to attract clients quickly? Coach 100 has been helping coaches fill their coaching practices for a decade:

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Topics: business coach, life coach, Coaching, become a coach, Coaches, Coach 100, coaching clients, coaching businesses, new coaches

What is Life Coaching?

Posted by Julia Stewart

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.

 

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Topics: business coach, Coaching, professional coaching, executive coaching, become a coach, get certified, what is coaching, what is a life coach, Life Coaching

11 Ways Bad Coaching and Coaching Hype Can Harm Coaching Clients

Posted by Julia Stewart

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.

Topics: Coaching, Coaches, Life Coaches, Law of Attraction, psychotherapy

Great Coaching, Mindfulness, and Noticing the Keys to Success

Posted by Julia Stewart

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:

 

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Gorgeous Photo by Elan Sun Star

Topics: Coaching, Coaches, coaching clients, Become a Certified Coach, greatness, Positive Psychology, positive psychology coaching, mindfulness

Coaching Tip: When Validation and Acknowledgment Backfire

Posted by Julia Stewart

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.

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Topics: Coaching, Coaching Groundwork, Thomas Leonard, Mattison Grey, Coaching Tip, acknowledgment

How Does Positive Psychology Coaching Work?

Posted by Julia Stewart

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:

 

Become a Certified Positive Psychology Coach

Topics: Coaching, coach training, coaching success, Coach Certification, Tony Robbins, Positive Psychology, positive psychology coaching, Martin Seligman

Coaching the Curse of the High Achiever

Posted by Julia Stewart

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.

 

Learn About Elite Coaching for High Achievers

 

Image: Theatrical Release Poster from Wikipedia

Topics: Coaching, mentor coach, coaching clients, coach, Mentor Coaching, High Achievers

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

Posted by Julia Stewart

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!

Here's a gift from us to you: Thomas Leonard's 28 Principles of Attraction.

 

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Topics: Coaching, coaching clients, gratitude, How to, Values, Boundaries

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