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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.

Free Become a Positive Psychology Coach eBook

 

 

 

 

 

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

5 Coaching Lessons Learned from Adele at Madison Square Garden

Posted by Julia Stewart

Adele_ar_MSG_-_Jessamyn_Stewart.jpg

One week ago, today, School of Coaching Mastery quietly closed its doors for a much-anticipated event: Adele's last show at Madison Square Garden in New York City. My daughter and Office Manager, Jessie Stewart, and I had scored tickets last November for the sold-out show and traveled together to our former hometown for a little R&R and to see our favorite singer.

Adele did not disappoint!

As I made my way home from NYC I reflected on my takeaways from the event. Delightfully, there were many.

5 Coaching Lessons Learned from Adele at Madison Square Garden:

1. Be yourself. Adele models this better than anyone. She spent two hours alone onstage in front of over 18,000 people. No warm-up band, no spectacular floor show, no dancing, no pyrotechnics, just one woman in a modest dress and THAT VOICE. Her songs sounded just as sublime as all her records and between them, she told hysterical stories. As Jessie's friend, Meg, said after the show, Adele probably could have a career in stand-up comedy. She is enough as she is. So are you.

2. Hold out for what you really want when it matters, but settle for good enough when it doesn't. Researchers say that people who always want the best are less happy than people who settle for good enough. This probably is true most of the time, but in my experience, holding out for what you really want when it matters is key. Adele was what I really wanted. A fancy hotel room at inflated NYC prices? Not so much. As my mom always said, nobody stays in their room, anyway. So we found a hotel several blocks from MSG with fewer stars and better reviews, were perfectly happy with it, and spent the extra money on heavenly meals.

3. Take happiness breaks. I rarely take days off from work, except when I'm enrolled in a course. But if you want to do your best work, get out of the office occasionally and do something special. We went to NYC at the perfect time. The temperature was ideal, humidity low, no clouds. Our first day, we walked over six miles just enjoying the West Village, SOHO, NOHO, etc. The second day, we went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. By then, we were walked out and took a cab all the way back to the hotel, exhausted but happy.

4. Step out of your comfort zone. As awesome as Adele's show was, one of the most unique few minutes came before we even entered MSG. One member of our party couldn't make it, which left us with an extra ticket for a show that had been sold out for months. I didn't know whether to give it away or sell it, but I knew if I sold it, I wanted to get at least as much as I paid, which was a bit over $100. As we approached the Garden, I heard a scalper yell, "Does anyone have tickets to sell?" I held up one finger and said, "I have one!" Next I knew, we were huddled on a dark corner. First we had to let him inspect the ticket for authenticity. That took some trust, because he could have snatched it and run off. He offered $60. I countered with $150. Then he came up to $100. I said I paid more than that. He offered $120 and let me feel his cash to be sure it wasn't counterfeit. That took trust on his side. I said, "Sold." We went into the Garden $120 richer, and me feeling a bit pleased to have just done something a bit risky that I'd never done before and I even got the scalper to come up twice as much as I came down. I spent all of the money on T-shirts and beer, just in case it really was counterfeit. By the way, Thomas Leonard's 28 Principles of Attraction includes the advice to be a little bad sometimes, because it gets us out of our safety zones and stops us from feeling superior to others.

5. Appreciate what you have. It was so much fun being back in NYC that I fantasized a bit about moving back, but my last morning was cloudy and rainy, which always makes the city look ten times as dirty, and I remembered an old rule of thumb: that when everything goes right, great weather, great food, cabs are easy to get, the scalper buys your ticket, etc.; NYC is the BEST place in the world, but when it doesn't go well, weather is dreadful, passing buses drench you, there are no cabs anywhere, somebody steals your wallet, etc.; NYC is the worst. I was ready to go home, enjoy the quieter, slower pace, and get back to work doing that I love. How fortunate I am to have found my calling and to be able to afford to play hooky once in a while.

So those are my chief takeaways from my quick trip to see Adele.

By the way, we have another Adele at School of Coaching Mastery, who is also delightful, and she's hosting our Positive Psychology Coaching Study Group, starting this Thursday. It's a perfect way to learn more about positive psychology coaching and it's free to everyone. If you'd like to join, click below.

Join the Positive Psychology Coach Study Group

 

Topics: Coaching, School of Coaching Mastery, Thomas Leonard, Attraction Principles, Positive Psychology, positive psychology coaching, Coaching Study Groups

The Future of Coaching: New 2016 ICF Global Coaching Survey Results

Posted by Julia Stewart

ICF_Logo.jpgThe International Coach Federation (ICF) is the oldest (est. 1995) and largest (23,790 members, as of June 2016) not-for-profit professional coach association and certifier of life, business, and executive coaches (18,710 current ICF certified credential holders).

Periodically, the ICF, via PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, administers a global study of coaches worldwide (including non-ICF members), the results of which, comprise a snapshot of where the profession of coaching is, right now, and where it seems to be headed. These coaching results may be the most accurate available.

Here are some fascinating highlights...

  • Over 15,000 respondents, from 137 countries, took the survey.
  • The ICF estimates there are over 50,000 professional coaches, worldwide.
  • Coaching earns over $2 Billion per year in US Dollars.

How much do coaches earn, yearly?

  • Income varies widely, but then, so does purchasing power.
  • Other factors include number of years practicing and type of coaching practiced.
  • Globally, coaches average $51,000 per year USD.
  • The highest earners are in Oceania ($73,000+), followed by N. America (almost $62,000), and W. Europe ($55,000+).
  • Lowest earnings are in E. Europe, Latin America, and the Caribbean ($18,000+ - $27,000+).
  • Most coaches (75%) expect their annual income to increase in the near future.
  • Some coaches (45%) expect their fees to increase in the near future.

Do coaches need coach training and certification?

The future of coaching:

  • The largest numbers of coaches see the greatest opportunities in Increasing awareness of the benefits of coaching (38%) and credible data on the ROI/ROE of coaching (26%).
  • An amazing 84% of coaches believe coaching can influence social change (that's one of the reasons I started this school).
  • 54% believe coaching should be regulated.
  • 85% of those believe professional coaching associations should be the regulators.

Get 125 ICF Approved Hours of Coach-Specific Training Here:

Become a Certified Positive Psychology Coach

 

Topics: Coaching, coach training, ICF, life coach salary, Coach Certification, future of coaching

Top 12 Secrets: How to Write a Coaching Bio that Sells Your Coaching

Posted by Julia Stewart

coaching bio

For a new executive, business or life coach, writing your first coaching bio can be pretty scary, because you don't have tons of experience or credentials yet, so you don't feel powerful when talking about what you do. Even for experienced coaches, writing a coaching bio can be daunting and you may be looking for help with it. My friend and colleague, Barbra Sundquist, MMC, wrote a great post for this blog on How to Write a Coaching Bio in Twenty Minutes and it has become one of our most popular posts, because who wouldn't like to get this uncomfortable job over and done, quickly?

But what if your coaching bio could actually sell your coaching for you?

Bios are a powerful form of marketing and as you grow your business, you want to get even more power out of everything you do. In fact, it's ideal if you marketing brings you plenty of potential clients, especially if those clients are sales-ready. In other words, you don't want emails, texts, and/or phone calls from everybody on the planet, just they ones who are dying to hire you, right?

The following secrets, employed by search engine optimizers, copywriters, sales people and savvy coaches can help you attract potential coaching clients who may be ready to buy even before they talk to you – or who are ready to buy after a short conversation. You don’t need to use every secret in every bio, but great bios usually contain 3 or more of these secrets…

SECRET 1: Use the right words and phrases. The world’s greatest bio is worthless if nobody finds it, so your first job is to write for search engines, like Google, Yahoo and Bing, because people find coaches with search engines. Search engines change their search algorithms periodically and don’t share exactly what they are, but marketers have found that certain basic SEO (search engine optimization) practices can help you get found online. For example: Use keywords (words and phrases that people search for), especially long-tail keywords (very specific phrases), in your title, first and last sentences, as well as any highlighted lines (titles and bold text) and in hyperlinked text (text that you click to get to another page). An example of a long-tail keyword might be: “Life Coach, Jane Smith, White Plains, NY”. While you wouldn’t use exactly this phrase throughout your bio, with some creativity, you can use variations on it enough to get a search engine to send a searcher who just typed, “Life Coach White Plains NY” into the search box. People tend to search for coaches in their hometowns, so you can stand out quickly by including yours. (Bonus tip: People hire coaches, not companies, so list yourself by your name, not your business name.)

SECRET 2: Tell them what they want to know. Stop thinking of your bio as a biography of you and your experience/credentials and understand the only thing potential clients really want to know about you: "Can you help me?" Mostly share details about you that they want to know, i.e. Do you understand people like me? Have you been in my shoes? Have you helped someone like me? If your bio has lots of room, or if it has a second ‘details’ page, add more details about you further down. But for a short bio, just tell people what they most want to know: “I can help you reach your goal”.

SECRET 3: Write for your ideal client. Stop writing for everybody and write for just one person, instead. How? The simplest way is to pick an existing ideal client and write just for them. Before you do, ask that client what they most wanted to know before they hired you. Then show them your bio and ask them to critique it, so it says exactly what they would want to know. Does that sounds pushy? It's not, because your best clients are grateful to you. They are also high-functioners who love to give back. Don’t hesitate to give them that opportunity. And don’t worry that you’ll be excluding potential clients who are different. Most bios fail to grab attention from anyone because they are simply too vague.

SECRET 4: Use the magic word. While we’re talking about grabbing attention, here’s the simplest way to grab your reader’s attention: Use the word, YOU. Because our brains are wired to focus attention on what is most pertinent to us, personally. When a reader sees the word, "you", in a line of text, their brain naturally pays more attention. Think about it: the word, "you", probably grabbed your attention, just now.

SECRET 5: Customize it. One bio probably isn’t enough, so think of your website as more of a hub than a store front. I’ve had clients hire me without even a phone conversation, because they found me on specialty websites and memberships that mattered to them. The fact that I was interested in what interested them was enough to for them to say, “She’s the coach for me.” Use social networks, coach directories, and special-interest memberships as an opportunity to send potential clients to a landing page on your website to sign up for your coaching – but do give them a chance to talk to you, because usually they’ll want to do that before hiring you.

SECRET 6: Create curiosity. Great copywriters say that each sentence you write has but one purpose: to make readers want to read the next sentence. There are many ways to do this: Ask questions that your potential clients need to ask themselves. Use visual imagery. Use emotional words, or high-intensity words.

SECRET 7: Create trust. Multiple bios at several locations help your clients to research you. Create a consistent image, while tailoring your bios to each site. This also helps people to find you. Add your most important credentials, if credentials would matter to your potential clients. Graduation, certification and memberships from well-known coaching schools, or associations, can give you an edge. Someone who’s reading your bio on a coach directory, for instance, probably is getting to know you for the 1st time, so share what a stranger, who is searching for a coach, would want to know. On the other hand, someone visiting your website, probably already knows a little about you, so share a bit more. (Critical tip: Lying about your qualifications and credentials creates mistrust that can destroy your business, so don't claim credentials you don't have.)

SECRET 8: Let others do the selling for you. Most of us loathe bragging about ourselves, but hiding what’s great about us is a disservice to your potential clients. So let others do the persuading. This is what today’s consumers are already comfortable with anyway: reviews, ratings and testimonials. If you have the space, include some of your best testimonials in your bio. Even if your bio has to be short, try adding a short comment from a happy client. Coach certification can also help do some of the selling for you, because it's a stamp of approval from a trusted source.

SECRET 9: Be easy to find. Not only do you want your bios to be easy to find, you want your clients to be able to find YOU. Always add your webpage and contact information to your bios. Because a link to your website is SEO gold. This is reason enough to join every directory you can. It helps search engines find you and your website, which in turn, helps potential clients find and hire you. Coaches who work from home are often conflicted about how much contact information to share online. If this is a concern, here are some possibilities: Rent a post office box for your physical address. Get a business phone number or even a toll-free number. They’re inexpensive. In addition to your web address and email, share your city, business number and PO address, but never your home address.

SECRET 10: Be easy to see. Definitely add a photo of you, if you can. Don’t use your logo, except as a secondary image. Because people hire people, not logos. The best photo is a headshot of you, smiling. You don’t have to be young and beautiful, but in most cases, looking professional works best. It’s worth getting your photo professionally done.

SECRET 11: Let them know how easy it is to work with you. Most people have never hired a coach, before. They naturally feel a little confused about how to do that. Confused people don’t buy. Spell out a couple of easy steps, such as, “If you think you’d like to coach with me, contact me by email to set up a phone conversation. In your session, we’ll talk about your goals and how you can reach them. Usually, it’s a lot of fun. If I can help you further, I’ll tell you how, but there’s no pressure.”

SECRET 12: Tell them what to do next. This is critical. Tell people specifically what to do next to get started with you. In marketing, this is called a ‘call to action’. If that feels too directive, think of it as an invitation. Depending on where your bio is located, your call to action might be to visit your website. Or it might be to fill out a short form and email you, or simply telephone or text you. Decide what mode of contact would appeal to your ideal client and don’t be afraid to make a prominent call to action. You might even want to offer something of value to them, just for getting in touch. Examples: “Email me to receive a copy of my ‘Top Ten Easy Ways to Instantly Stop Procrastinating and Get Everything Done On Time’”. Or “Call me at this number to schedule a complimentary coaching consultation and, if you decide to continue, I’ll discount $50 from your first paid session.”

Want to see this approach in action? View a few listings on our new coach directory and notice which coaches grab your attention and make it easy for you to hire them. 

Join the Find a Coach Here Directory Today

Topics: Coaching, Life Coaches, social networking, Google, Coaching Bio, SEO, FIND A COACH

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

What's Really Behind the Huge Success of Professional Coaching?

Posted by Julia Stewart

love_is_more_powerful_than_greed.jpgToday I turned down a potential client whose business would have brought me thousands of dollars. She seemed a like a good client, with clearly defined goals to build her coaching business, which is a coaching specialty of mine.

But there was one big problem: Her goals were simply to make more money.

And her requirements were that her mentor coach must  have made a certain amount of money, which I've made, but I still turned her down.

Why did I turn her down, when helping coaches succeed is one of my specialties? Because I went into coaching and coach training to help people succeed at creating a better future for themselves and others, a better world, if you will.

Money matters. Helping others matters more to me. That's because one of my highest values is: Love.

The funny thing is that coaches who love what they do and love helping others to have better lives and careers, are the coaches who most succeed at professional coaching.

And they often make the most money.

Because the professional coaches, who are most likely to succeed, want to thrive by helping others thrive.

They're not martyrs. And they're also not greedy. They're more complex than that.

Probably only 5-10% of people, worldwide, who are interested in becoming coaches, have achieved this level of complexity.

Have you achieved this level of complexity?

If you're interested in coaching only because you've heard it's one of the highest paid professions in the world, don't train at School of Coaching Mastery.

And if you're only interested in helping others, instead of also helping yourself and the people you most care about, then coach for a hobby and make a living doing something else.

I wrote a blog post about this, The Top Ten Worst Reasons to Become a Coach, nine years ago, and it is as true today as it ever was.

If you want to thrive and help thrive doing what you love, let's talk.

School of Coaching Mastery's training programs may be perfect for you. And my mentor coaching often includes training, as needed, at no extra charge. It's expensive and well worth it.

 

I'm in the thrive and help thrive business.

 

By the way, if you love someone or something so much that you'd change the world for them, World Clan Mothers on Facebook may also be right for you. It's about turning back the tide of Climate Change so our grandchildren, and Nature, have a chance to thrive like we do. I invite you to join and get involved.

 

Visit World Clan Mothers on Facebook

Topics: professional coach, Coaching, professional coaching, coaching success, successful business

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.

 

Become a qualified coach and get certified:

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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

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