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Positive Psychology Coaching: How the Solar Eclipse Can Transform You

Posted by Julia Stewart

Solar Eclipse by Tim Ebbs.jpg

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

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

3 Ways the Solar Eclipse Can Spark Your Transformation:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Become a Certified Positive Psychology Coach

 

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

A Hot Coaching Specialty

Posted by Julia Stewart

Hot coaching specialty - firebreather by emersen quinn.jpg

New coaches are often obsessed with discovering their coaching niche or specialty, so I get asked how to find it, all the time. I can relate, because I didn't know mine when I was new, either. In fact, like many coaches, I find my specialty evolves and occassionaly I like to upgrade it.

The best way to find your true specialty is to get good coach training and coach a lot of people, but sometimes just knowing that a specialty exists helps you to "discover" it.

Look at the guy in the picture, above. I don't know anything about him except that he looks like he's mastered the art of fire breathing. Maybe even, it's his calling. But if he'd never heard of breathing fire and hadn't learned to do it, how would he ever know? Same with coaching.

So I'm going to tell you about a hot coaching niche and specialty and where you can learn more about it.

Here's why it's hot: The people who need this coaching are extremely high functioning, but need to upgrade their strengths to reach their lofty goals. And they influence others, which makes coaching them highly valuable for those around them and even for society, in general. Sometimes, even the planet benefits. And there is often a lot of money involved. In short, people see the value and the need for this type of coaching, and can pay for it.

What I'm talking about is leadership coaching, which is becoming hotter and hotter.

If you want to know more about it, in case it's the way to go for you, I recommend you take the upcoming one-hour-long Q&A class, Why Leadership Coaching is a Hot Specialty.

If you want to become a leadership coach, I recommend you join the Master Certified Positive Psychology Coach program, but if you're an experienced coach, already, you could also take the 8-hour course, Emotional Intelligence and Leadership Coaching.

Become a Leadership Coach

 

Topics: Positive Psychology, emotional intelligence, coaching specialty, leadership coaching

Future of Coaching: How the Internet is Causing the Rise of Coaching

Posted by Julia Stewart

Future of Coaching

Have you ever wondered why coaching has exploded worldwide over the past 20 years?

There are plenty of theories about the rise of coaching. For instance, I often point out to my students that coaching emerged just as positive psychology research skyrocketed and discoveries about neuroplasticity became known, because great coaching used ideas from both, particularly ideas about human potential.

Others have suggested that a century of psychotherapy got people healthy enough to want to, and be able to, continue growing so coaching emerged to help with that. Still others draw wisdom from the great Twentieth Century psychologist, Abraham Maslow, among others, and point out that people are evolving, which is different from healing, and they are  ready  to self-actualize, because their survival needs have been met.

These theories have merit, but I offer a radically different perspective that may matter most in coaching's origins and even more so in its future.

You see, coaching began developing into a profession during yet another explosion, that of personal computers, software, and the World Wide Web. We all know those technological advances changed our lives by making jobs that previously were tedious, time-consuming, expensive, difficult, or even impossible, easy. Plus, they connected us to other people, worldwide. But just as every solution unveils new problems, computers, software, the internet, a.k.a. technology, are releasing an overwhelming number of problems and pressures.

One such problem/opportunity is the constant acceleration of technological innovation, a.k.a. hypercomplexity.

The pace of expansion is overwhelming. Some of us are taking it in stride, but many are struggling. Let me give an example of positive adjustment:

  1. In the 1970s, I was exposed to computers, software, and eventually the internet, via school and work.
  2. But as a self-described techno-phobe, it wasn't until 1999 that I decided to buy an internet-ready laptop for home use and began surfing and emailing, like everybody else.
  3. Within two years, in 2001, I joined a web-based coach training school and became a coach.
  4. By 2002, I had a listing in an online coach directory. I'd gone from consuming the online economy to participating.
  5. In 2003, I launched my first web site.
  6. In 2004, I began launching additional web sites.
  7. In 2005, I launched my first blog and began learning to make online graphics. I also moved my business from one part of the country to another, but kept all my coaching clients, because we were already connecting and coaching via technology.
  8. In 2006, I spent months running my business, while traveling, with just a cell phone and a laptop, as my office. This is also when I started using social media in earnest.
  9. In 2007, I launched an online coach-training school. I also learned the meaning of the phrase, "cloud computing" and realized I'd been doing it for years.
  10. In 2008, I switched from coach training via teleclasses, to teaching via live interactive webinars, because the technology was finally better than telephone conferencing.
  11. In 2009, I decided to stop dabbling and master online content marketing and my school started taking off.

In one decade, starting with the purchase of that first laptop and joining AOL, I completely changed my life and work. Today, SchoolofCoachingMastery.com is one of the most competitive coaching web sites, worldwide, and the blog you're reading gets more than 20,000 views every month. All this, from a self-described techno-phobe.

It was possible, because technology simplified what was formerly difficult. Granted, to fully adapt and thrive in this rapidly-progressing technological environment, one must be open to the new, but as someone who did not adjust easily to technology, I needed more than just internet access in order to succeed.

Something else made it possible.

Best-selling author, Tom Friedman, says software makes complexity invisible by designing algorithms that take hundreds of  complex and difficult steps, while you make a few taps or swipes. By making complexity invisible, we're able to do far more than imaginable in 1999. But technology is also helping us create a world that is too complex for us to comprehend and that world transforms again and again before we can adjust to it. That is awesome, but it can be unbearably hard for us.

That's where coaching comes in. Coaching does for your life what software, apps, and other techno devices do for your productivity, only it turns "making complexity invisible" upside down.

Coaching reveals simplicity.

Remember, hypercomplexity means we're living in an incomprehensively intricate world that is ever accelerating. Anything that simplifies that in a meaningful way, without detracting from what matters, is a Godsend. Hence, the rise of coaching.

Coaching exists, in large part, because the internet created a new need.

Humans have an inborn need for simplicity. Or at least, they need complexity to be simplified enough that they can adjust to it. Previous generations lived in a slower world and may have experienced massive change once per generation. Our nervous systems can handle that rate. Now massive change comes about once a decade and it's starting to accelerate ever faster. Soon it'll be once a year, then once a month, once a week, once a day...But coaching reveals simplicity.

Yes, positive psychology and neuroplasticity provide us with amazing new tools. And yes, people with good mental health are poised to take best advantage of coaching. And yes definitely, people are evolving, especially those whose survival needs are well met and who have access to education, diversity, affluence, and of course, technology.

But even evolved people are having trouble keeping up.

And less evolved people, who may be poorer, more isolated, less educated, and have fewer opportunities; are falling behind the fastest. Many are virtually locked out of the job market. There's a big coaching opportunity there.

We used to say people needed coaching most when they were in transition, meaning transitioning from school to job, changing jobs, training for new jobs, starting businesses, living in new places, getting married, having kids, getting divorced, retiring. We now know that people will be changing professions every few years, that the one career constant will always be training for the next opportunity, that economies will take turns booming and many workers will travel around the world to stay employed. Meanwhile, changes in climate will increase social upheaval, spark wars, create famines, and will cause massive human migrations.

In the future, everyone will be transitioning all the time.

Being coached helped me make several transitions within one decade. In the future, people may need coaching constantly, because most humans can't handle that rate of change, but coaching can put people into the flow where learning becomes second nature, where wealth is less about what they have than what they can produce, where mental algorithms, like unique values, can help them think faster and make wise choices faster. That sense of flow is something our ancient ancestors had, but which we've lost during our "modern" period. What's needed for the future is a level of evolution that knits the ancient with the modern and post-modern. It used to only be available to elites, but now is available to anyone open enough to learn.

Coaching facilitates fast learning and smooth adjustment.

In the hypercomplex world of the future, demand for great coaching will be higher than ever. And though artificial intelligence can ask the questions, nothing but a human can bond with and believe in a coaching client. Two critical elements of effective coaching.

Simplicity in a hypercomplex world and someone who cares about and believes in us. That's what everyone needs, always.

Would you like to learn more about becoming a coach? Take a course and get certified:

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Topics: Coaching, coaching school, future of coaching, internet, Positive Psychology, Neuroplasticity

The Critical Missing Link in Positive Psychology

Posted by Julia Stewart

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

Positive psychology has been ignoring what matters most in life.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are a few more important points about personal values:

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

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

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

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

Values are the missing link in wellbeing.

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

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

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

Upcoming Coach-Training Courses

 

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

A Coach's Guide to Navigating a Trump Presidency

Posted by Julia Stewart

sunrise-1.jpg

I write this early on Wednesday morning, partly for me; partly for you.

The election has not yet been called, but a Trump Presidency seems almost certain.

No one is more stunned. I was quite certain this would turn out differently and yet, I don't believe in fighting what is, at least not on a spiritual level. So I've done a massive amount of processing in a couple of hours to get to a place of acceptance.

Trump will either be a great president, or a disaster, but he's unlikely to be mediocre. 

So what does it mean for you, your family, friends, clients, country, planet?

I sure don't know, but if this is where we are, then we need to accept this reality with minimal panic and remorse. Shed some tears, if you need to (I did), but don't become obsessed with how bad it's going to be.

Let's face it: you are privileged to live in a prosperous country and most likely you will be fine.

Yes, there will be pain for many. Hate crimes are on the rise. The stock market has already plunged; at least one economist has predicted a global recession.  And our climate is dangerously fragile.

Do reach out to friends, including those who voted differently. Try to understand and find common ground.

But most of all, as a coach, you need to be your very best. People will be turning to their coaches to help them process this new world we're in. You need to be able to coach them well.

That means taking better care of yourself than ever. It means getting focused on your needs and making sure they are met. If that means caring for your health, or finances, or business, do it. It also means keeping your loved ones close and caring for them.

Also take care of your spiritual self. Connect with your values, your beliefs, and live them fully. We'll need to grow faster than ever to get beyond where we are now. Your spiritual practice, whether meditation, prayer, fellowship, or kindness; will get you through and help you be your greatest self. We grow fastest when times are difficult - if we take care to not let ourselves be taken down.

Sometimes things have to get worse before genuine transformation can take place.

I had an upbeat post about positive psychology scheduled for this morning. Watch for it tomorrow.

Topics: coach, Positive Psychology, Trump

Why We Love Positive Psychology and You Should Too

Posted by Julia Stewart

 

Positive Psychology Smile Sheena876.jpg

 

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

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

1. Positive psychology continually delights us.

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

2. Little things make such an extraordinary difference.

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

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

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

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

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

4. Positive psychology offers the perfect tools for coaches.

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

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

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

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

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

Apply to Be a Certified Positive Psychology Coach®

 

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

The Tyranny of Positive Psychology: Can Emotional Intelligence Save Us

Posted by Julia Stewart

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Emotional Intelligence is a great counter balance to positive psychology.

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

Free Become a Positive Psychology Coach eBook

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

A Brief History of Positive Psychology and Coaching

Posted by Julia Stewart

History_of_positive_psychology_and_coaching_-_photo_by_Michael_D_Martin_via_Creative_Commons.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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

Top Ten Best Positive Psychology Blogs

Posted by Julia Stewart

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If you are a positive psychology coach, then you need to keep up with the latest in positive psychology. Books, seminars, and research papers are wonderful for in-depth learning, but sometimes you want to understand a new concept quickly. That's when positive psychology blogs come in handy.

The best positive psychology blogs are updated frequently with useful information, often written by positive psychology researchers, themselves, on their latest findings. And there are also terrific blogs written by academics, positive psychology coaches, and other thought leaders. They can be wonderfully inspirational, or focus on practical applications of positive psychology findings.

This blog you're reading is written for coaches and often focuses on positive psychology coaching. The following are the top ten positive psychology coaching blogs that we like best.

Top Ten Best Positive Psychology Blogs

1. The Greater Good in Action: The Science of a Meaningful Life.

This is my favorite go-to blog for positive psychology from the University of California, Berkeley. It includes engaging article written by positive psychology researchers on topics like awe, gratitude, and self compassion.

2. Curious? Discovering and creating a life that matters.

Written by positive psychology researcher and author, Todd Kashdan, for Psychology Today. This blog is easy to understand and includes great information.

3. Just One Minute: One simple practice a week can produce powerful results.

By author and beloved teacher, Rick Hanson, these positive neuroscience exercises are easy to incorporate into your life.

4. What Matters Most? Using your strengths to impact well-being.

Written for Psychology Today by Ryan Niemiec, Education Director at the VIA Institute for Character.

5. Positive Psychology News

Written by several graduates of Masters in Applied Positive Psychology programs.

6. Authentic Happiness

Site for the Masters in Applied Positive Psychology program at UPenn, directed by the Father of Positive Psychology, Martin Seligman.

7. The Happiness Project: My experiments in pursuit of happiness and good habits.

Written by author, Gretchen Rubin.

8. The Psychology of Wellbeing: Musings on the science of holistic wellness.

Written by Jeremy McCarthy with a focus on using positive psychology in spa settings.

9. The Happiness Institute Blog

Written by professor, Tim Sharp, a.k.a., "Dr. Happy".

10. Dr. John Blog: Guide to self.

The latest positive psychology tools by John Shinnerer.

There you have the top ten best positive psychology blogs.

Curious about becoming a positive psychology professional. Get the free Become a Positive Psychology Coach eBook:

Free Become a Positive Psychology Coach eBook

Topics: Positive Psychology, positive psychology coaching, free ebook, positive psychology coaches, positive psychology coach, positive psychology blogs

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