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Positive Psychology Coaching: How Flow Appears In Coaching Sessions

Posted by Julia Stewart

Flow by VANCUSO

Have you ever participated, as a coach or client, in a coaching session when both the coach and client got on a wave length together that resulted in incredible insights and progress? After which, the client probably felt the coach did something amazing, while the coach may have felt s/he barely did anything, at all. If so, you may have experienced a "group flow" state.

Individuals go into flow states when they use their strengths in challenging situations, but groups of two or more people can also create group flow under specific circumstances. During flow, people are unusually creative, often feel that guidance is coming from without, and they may lose track of time. To learn more about flow, watch this TED video of positive psychology pioneer, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (rhymes with 'chick sent me high'), who coined the term, Flow.

Creativity researcher, R. Keith Sawyer, wrote a fascinating article on group flow for the Greater Good Science Center, based on his study of jazz ensembles and comedians. I've adapted his ideas here to describe the conditions that can foster group flow during a coaching session.

Conditions that promote flow during coaching:

1. A shared goal. In great coaching, both client and coach have a shared intention of moving the client towards achieving an important goal. To do this, the coach needs to let go of any personal goals s/he has to provide value, look smart, or get the client to do what s/he thinks is best. The coach also needs to create a safe, trusted environment for the client.

2. Engaged listening. Both coach and client need to listen deeply to themselves and to each other, putting aside preconceived notions about how the goal should be reached and checking in with each other frequently to make sure they are still on the same page. The coach takes the initiative here, modeling listening with intent, which can trigger the client to do the same. The coach also triggers deep engagement by asking awareness-building questions.

3. Forward motion. Acknowledgment, curiosity, and positivity all keep the session moving forward even when neither the coach nor the client knows exactly where they're headed. This means moving from "Yeah, but" thinking to "Yes, and" thinking, while remaining genuinely curious and avoiding judgments and closed-ended questions that can stop forward movement.

4. Undivided attention. Both coach and client need to be in private, non-distracting environments so they can attend fully to the shared present-moment conversation. Email, smart phones, other people and more can all derail a great coaching session.

5. Freedom and autonomy. Coach and client are equal partners who believe in each other, because the client needs the freedom to be exactly who he is while coaching. Flow emerges when they trust and respect one another enough for the client to find the answers that truly work best for him. 

6. Supportive egos. Sometimes it seems as though the coach and client think together with one mind for a few minutes. To do so, they both need their egos present, but not running the show. Trying to get rid of the ego leads to dysfunction, but too much ego just gets in the way. To move egos aside, trust must be strong enough for coach and client to experience moments of intimacy.

7. Equal partnership. Coaching is different from most professions in that it is an equal partnership between the professional and client. The coach doesn't fix or advise and the client doesn't need to be healed by the coach. This equality fosters full participation by the client, which leads to resourcefulness, resilience and greatness.

8. Unspoken understandings. Coach and client need to reveal just enough information about themselves that they feel sufficiently known by one another. This implicit knowing allows communication to jump ahead quickly, rather than consume time with polite posturings. Hours, weeks, or even months of processing can take place within minutes.

9. Spontaneous conversation. The coach needs to let go of the coaching models and structures s/he learned in coaching school and just coach from the hip, so to speak. While the client needs also to let go and allow flow to occur. That's one of the many reasons why practice and mastery are essential for the coach and why an excellent fit between coach and client makes such a big difference.

10. Risk. Both coach and client need to be willing to fail in order for flow to show up. If they play it safe, many of the above conditions will evaporate. The coach must be willing to explore the unknown even if it means asking cringe-worthy questions, while the client needs to be courageous enough to answer honestly. There is no other way to find the best outcomes. 

The above conditions don't happen automatically. The coach needs to know how to create trust and safety, while navigating the energy of the coaching conversation, in order to create this transpersonal experience. But when done well, coaching is often awe-inspiring.

Want to learn more about coaching and flow? Join the Certified Positive Psychology Coach Program or download the CPPC Fact Sheet below.

 

Get Certified Positive Psychology Coach Fact Sheet

Photo by VANKUSO

Topics: coaching clients, coaching questions, greatness, Certified Positive Psychology Coach, Positive Psychology, positive psychology coaching, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Flow

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:

 

Become a Certified Positive Psychology Coach

 

Gorgeous Photo by Elan Sun Star

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

Neuro Coaching: Threat Reactivity and Your Brain

Posted by Julia Stewart

Boston Marathon by soniasu

Bad things happen with no warning and they cause pain and suffering. We wish they wouldn't happen, but we're often powerless over them. We live with that.

But we do have power.

We have enormous power to prevent suffering, if not the actual pain.

So when the next Boston Marathon, Newtown CT, or Aurora CO happens, you have enormous power to both prevent and repair the damage done.

No, you can't bring back the dead, nor make broken bodies whole, but you can do three things that save humanity whenever bad things happen. 

1. You can stop dwelling. Your brain's warning bell, the amygdala, will register the alarm. It's primitive and will tell you to hide under a rock. Your anterior cingulate cortex, much more sophisticated, is connected to the amygdala via a complex network of neurons. It reflects on the horror, but watch out. It loves to ruminate itself into what's known to neuroscientists as threat reactivity or the negativity bias. Become aware of it and you have new possibilities. Turn off your TV. Don't get caught up in Facebook conversations about how bad and helpless you feel. Don't obsess over who did it and why. 

2. Do offer to help. Reach out to friends in the region. Give to the the Red Cross. Volunteer. You'll feel the love that makes you mighty. Your help and caring will heal others. Remember, you're not truly compassionate until you've acted on it.

3. Live your values. Don't get pulled into the anger, unless being a warrior (I call it my Inner Prosecutor) is truly your thing. This is an inside job only you can do, but allow a friend or coach to help you.

Humanity is wonderful. You are wonderful. Live that reality. That is your Greatness.

Image by soniasu_

Topics: Coaching, coach, greatness, Values, brain

Life Coach Fail: Are You an Unpaid Helpaholic?

Posted by Julia Stewart

life coach fail

A good life coach can be everybody else's best friend and their own worst enemy if they don't know how to say NO at the right times. Why? Because people will naturally want your help and will eventually, accidentally even, suck you dry. (Imagine what would happen to Sookie Stackhouse if she didn't take a "Back off!" attitude towards most vampires.)

A dried-up grape = a raisin. A dried-up coach = useless.

But saying NO requires discipline, because it feels good to help. And it feels really good to help for free. And it's real easy to get clients when you're doing a great job of helping everybody for free. But it's unprofessional.

Charity is a beautiful thing under the right circumstances. Coaching isn't one of them.

Charitable coaching is unprofessional, because when you coach clients for free, or for too little, it undermines their potential. People play small when they don't have enough skin in the game. That's just how we're wired.

It feels challenging - scary even - to ask people to pay for coaching. But get paid you must, unless you're independently wealthy. So that's another reason why coaching for free is unprofessional.

Here's a third reason why coaching for free is unprofessional. It allows YOU to play small, because coaching for free lets you off the hook when it comes to delivering great value.

I'm not saying that coaches should never coach for free of low fee. It's okay to do that at first (I even recomemmend it), or later if you're changing your business, but be sure you know what you're getting in return, such as experience, learning, referrals, or something else that will pay off in the long run.

Bottom Line: People reach their Greatness when they are givers, but you can receive even while you're giving. And if you don't receive for your coaching, the other people (a.k.a. your clients) won't reach their Greatness.

And isn't Greatness what coaching's all about?

Get Paid to Coach. Join Coach 100. 

Image by Bradleygee

Topics: coaching business, life coach, Coaching, coaching clients, Free, life coach salary, greatness, getting clients

9/11: A Day to Celebrate Personal Greatness

Posted by Julia Stewart

The 10-Year anniversary of 9/11 is a day of sadness and mourning for many of us.

But it's also a day when we saw the best in people a million times over. As a resident of New York City, someone who could see the towers burning from my street, I can say that I never felt as close to my fellow New Yorkers as I did that day and in the months following.

One snide conservative politician said New Yorkers became uncharacteristically 'human' on 9/11. He's wrong. New Yorkers are some of the kindest people I've ever known.

Today, I live in a small town, where farmers stop their pickup trucks to chat, blocking roads in both directions. You can do that in a small town. In fact, small-town people value that kind of friendliness.

In a huge crowded city, where there are always millions of people behind you trying to get home or pick up their kids, kindness is often expressed via efficiency, impatience and hurrying. We're all getting out of the way of our fellow citizens, because passing the time of day can cause traffic jams and delays.

In 2001, I lived on a small, nautical NYC island, called, City Island. The local clam-diggers, or those born on the island, were often descended from generations of sailors, boat builders and sail makers. Most were poor and uneducated, but great people.

The great 9/11 Boatlift, above, is one of the untold stories about the attacks. One radio distress call from the Coast Guard that morning, brought hundreds of boats within minutes - work boats, pleasure boats, ferries - to lower Manhattan and rescued 500,000 people who were trapped behind the destruction. It was the biggest boatlift in history.

They didn't know if they'd be killed in the attacks. They came because they were needed.

My work, as a coach and coach trainer, has always been to bring out the Personal Greatness, also known as the Great Self, in my clients and students. Horrific tragedy elicits Greatness in many, but we don't have to wait for  awful moments. We can choose to be Great, daily.

As one Boatlift hero says in the film, above, "I believe somebody has a little hero in them. Got to look in. It's in there. It'll come out when it needs to be."

Choosing to be great may mean to show a little more compassion or a little less criticism. It may mean smiling at a stranger or acknowledging a cashier. It also means serving others when it's inconvenient or dangerous to ourselves. We all do it uniquely. That's why we're different.

There is courage in Greatness.

Another hero says, "I have a theory in life. I never want to say, 'I should have.' If I do it and I fail, I tried. If I do it and I succeed, better for me. I tell my children the same thing, 'Never go through life saying I should have. If you want to do something, you do it."

These men aren't philosophers, coaches or motivational speakers; just regular guys who stepped up.

How can you step up today and celebrate Personal Greatness in your world?

Topics: coach training, Coaches, greatness, Great Self Coaching, 9/11

Supermind: What Masterful Coaches Co-Create

Posted by Julia Stewart

Listen to Spiritual Teacher, Andrew Cohen, and a student as they discuss the evolutionary phenomenon of "Supermind". This is exactly what happens in a great coaching session: both coach and client reach a higher state and "Greatness" becomes the norm. The fascinating thing about this conversation is that they aren't just talking about it. If you're trained to hear it, you will hear that they are "there".


Topics: Andrew Cohen, greatness, masterful coaches

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