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Do Your Coaching Clients Dread Their Coaching Sessions with You?

Posted by Julia Stewart

Do your coaching clients dread their coaching sessions

Coaching with you is a wonderful experience, right?

We all want to believe our coaching is impactful and enlightening, even fun. But what if it isn't? Would your clients even tell you?

I'm asking because one of my advanced students recently mentioned in class that she terminated a coaching relationship with a well-qualified coach because every week, she dreaded her coaching sessions. There could be any number of reasons why a coaching client might dread their next session, some of them good. But every week? Not good.

Dread is a powerfully negative emotion. What was going on here?

5 Reasons your clients might dread your coaching sessions:

  1. You're a master coach who gives your clients big problems. Great coaches aren't afraid to challenge their clients, especially the clients who are committed to being their best. Thing is, if you do this too much it can be painfully overwhelming. Even clients can burn out. Balance big challenges with sessions where you help clients integrate what they've learned, appreciate their new growth, and feel like they are winning. That's masterful.
  2. You're a sledgehammer coach. Some clients will ask you to give them a kick in the pants when they don't perform. This is always unpleasant and rarely effective. Do tell your clients the truth, even when it's less than they'd hoped. But don't be mean. There are communication skills that will help you say anything to your client without wielding a hammer.
  3. You are nosy and rude. Clients will tell you anything if you know how to ask. But if you don't know how, things get super awkward. Fast. And if you don't ask, that could stunt their progress. Do ask, but don't be rude. Get permission.
  4. You coach like a boss. Or a parent. If you tell your clients what to do, they will react like teenagers and resist. They won't like it and neither will you. Don't be bossy. Learn to talk to your clients like the independent fully-functioning adults they are. Treat them with respect, even awe, and they will look forward to their sessions.
  5. You're a cookie-cutter coach. Some coaching schools will teach you to coach with a template, or a formula, or by the numbers. Your clients are smarter than that. They are also unique, which is why no one approach to coaching is always effective. Unfortunately, some coaches spend the time and money to learn a multitude of skills but, for whatever reason, they reduce what they've learned to a cookie-cutter. That's what my advanced student experienced with the coach whose coaching sessions she dreaded. The coach asked the same kinds of questions, in the same order, week after week. There was no customization, no surprises, no growth. Why would a coach do that? Were they lazy, distracted, intimidated by the client? Regardless, the client deserved more. Following the same pattern every week will drive any client away. That's why you need to learn all the skills and practice them until you can throw them away and just focus on what they client needs, moment to moment. To paraphrase jazz great, Charlie Parker, "Master yourself; master the skills; then forget all that and just coach."

What to do about this? Do what every great coach does constantly: Ask your clients. Check in with them at regular intervals, such as once per month, and find out what's working and what isn't. Make it safe and rewarding for them to tell you the truth. Then make the changes needed so your coaching is fun and effective. Or refresh your training with new skills. That's mastery.

Could your coaching use an upgrade? School of Coaching Mastery is one of the few, perhaps the only, coaching schools that offers advanced training in positive psychology coaching.

 

The coach who is constantly learning keeps their coaching fresh.

 

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Topics: coaching clients, Certified Positive Psychology Coach, masterful coaches, positive psychology coaching, advanced coach training

2020 Stole Your Life. Here's How to Get it Back.

Posted by Julia Stewart

2020 Stole Your Life

Remember 2019? Restaurants, vacations, parties? Those were the days...

Now we live in 2020 where one week feels like twelve years. Maybe you've become accustomed to the isolation, frustration, and uncertainty. Maybe you've made your peace with all the plans you had to abandon. But more insidious thieves may have entered your life by now and they can be harder to notice, much  less, manage.

Here's a surprising thief of life and how you can handle it easily...

By now, the onslaught of 2020 catastrophes has likely depleted your surge capacity. And toxic leadership may be twisting you into a pretzel.The frenetic news cycle gives you whiplash. Zoom meetings make relationships seem two dimensional. And social media is literally forcing you to think in black and white.

Your environment is not supporting you.

When our environments don't support us, one response is to redesign our environments so they do support us.  But in 2020, this has become more challenging to do. Another response is to rely even more on our strengths...

Our strengths are the talents, aptitudes, or abilities that we use so well they've become easy, fun, and/or highly effective. Almost any behavior can be a strength. Compassion, when acted upon, can be a strength. Even anger, when well-used, can a be a strength. But both compassion and anger can be weaknesses, too. We can get more done with less energy when we use our top strengths so it's natural for us to over-use them when we are exhausted, stressed, or drained. When we're running on empty, sometimes our strengths can get us over the finish line, but if we over-use them for too long, they can become weaknesses.

A weakness isn't the opposite of a strength.

A weakness is a misused strength. It is a strength used inappropriately that is therefore preventing us from reaching our goals. One way to misuse a strength is simply to leave it undeveloped. Another is to overuse it when another strength would be more appropriate. A third and more serious misuse is to so overuse a strength that it drives our lives, and sometimes the lives of others, into a serious imbalance.

It can be so distressing to live with an imbalance of strengths, plus an unbalanced environment, that we may feel our mental health is suffering.

So here's that simple tool I promised. You can think of it as a mindfulness exercise, or think of it as that classic coaching tool called, distinctions. In reality, it's a little of both. But don't just use it for a few seconds, or minutes, or even one day. I've been using it for weeks and the benefits just keep growing.

Here's your distinction: Under-function vs Over-function.

A little background on how to I use this distinction: I don't usually get writer's block but in the past few months it has happened repeatedly. I get an idea for a blog post. It's half-written in my head before I even sit down to write. But as I start to write the first sentence, which I can see in my mind's eye, the letters and words evaporate one by one until I have nothing. No words: no article. Yuk!

I mentioned this to my coach and she said she's hearing a lot of it in 2020.

So I could just accept it, which would be okay but not ideal, or I could fight it which would make things worse. Or I could honor the unique burdens of 2020 and deal with it realistically.

Like most high achievers, my complaint was that I was under-functioning in some areas, such as blogging, so I set an easy goal. I just set out to function. I went through my day noticing where I was under-functioning and, without judgment, I asked myself what just functioning would look like and did that much and no more. It felt good. What I discovered was that I was under-functioning in many more areas than I had previously thought but that I was over-functioning, way over-functioning, in just a few.

You guessed it: I was over-using my strengths to the detriment of almost everything else.

So I began using the same measurement I'd used where I was under-functioning and applied it to where I was over-functioning. Just function, no more, no less. One strength I was overusing was, learning. When learners are confronted with a threat, we often react by learning everything about it. In my case, I'm also a strategizer, so I learn all I can and then develop a strategy out of what I've learned. It's highly functional most of the time. At the onset of the pandemic, I learned all I could about COVID, then developed a strategy for dealing with it. I had my COVID strategy down cold months ago but was still learning all I could and that was leaving less time, energy, and focus for everything else.

I was unbalanced.

It's a simple tool: underfunction vs overfunction vs function. The challenge is to do it with self-compassion instead of judgment. It will help you notice where you may be overusing your strengths to get through difficulties but may also be creating more discomfort for yourself and others. One you notice it, you can choose something better.

Where are you creating imbalance in your life by overusing one or more strengths?

 

A coach with expertise in strengths can help you with this. All our graduates have this expertise. Click below to find a coach who can help you get your life back.

 

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Topics: Certified Positive Psychology Coach, Strengths, FIND A COACH, positive psychology coach, Covid

The Vow: How it Is and Is NOT Like Coaching

Posted by Julia Stewart

Personal Development and Executive Success Depositphotos_125942550_l-2015-1

Like many coaches, I am watching with horror the documentary series, The Vow, on HBO.

The Vow is about a personal development multi-level-marketing company called, Nxivm (pronounced, aptly enough, like the heartburn medication, Nexium) that culminates in incredible levels of abuse toward its members. Long story short, top level members of this company, most notably the founder, Keith Raniere, who claims to be one of the smartest geniuses in the world and likes to be called, Vanguard, have been charged and/or convicted of sex trafficking, racketeering, and other outrageous deeds.

[UPDATE: Raniere was convicted on all charges and, on October 27th, 2020, was sentenced to life in prison.]

Personal development is supposed to help people grow and be their best, so how the hell did this happen???

Early videos of Nxivm depict seminars that look like most personal development events, which is to say, awesome. In fact, several details made me squirm in my seat throughout the first episode because I had had similar experiences.

Then I started watching from a different angle: How could people avoid getting sucked into something that is this wonderful on the surface but evil underneath?

The New York Times broke the story about Nxivm a few years ago. I'm a former New Yorker and still read the Times. Occasionally, I would see a story about this company called, Nxivm, but mostly about what went wrong at the end and the resulting trial. It included stories about a giant financial pyramid scheme, which was bad enough, but it culminated in a mysterious private order of sex slaves who were branded with Raniere's initials! Their "masters" controlled how much they could eat, whether they could sleep, and blackmailed them into submission. One woman was punished by being locked in a room for 700 days!

You'd have to be crazy or stupid to get hooked into this, right?

“It’s easy for someone sitting in the comfort of their home to say: ‘She’s stupid. That would never happen to me.’ But it happens to people every day,” said Neil L. Glazer, the plaintiffs’ lead lawyer. “Even if somebody is not holding a gun to their heads, it doesn’t mean they can leave whenever they want.” - NYTimes

Here's what creeped me out when I started watching The Vow. First, the guy who shot most of the footage is someone I met fifteen years ago at a coaching conference, Mark Vicente. He had been a speaker and sat across from me at a dinner. He worked his way up nearly to the top of Nxivm over twelve years. My first thought was, "That guy was involved with THIS??" That felt like a close brush with the sordid story I'd been reading about for years. I'm happy to say, Vicente was one of the people who helped break Nxivm in the end.

Then I watched footage of Nxivm's basic training known as the Executive Success Program (ESP). It took me back to my early years as a coach, attending coaching conferences that were fun and exciting, filled with happy people smiling, laughing, talking, jumping for joy, and hugging each other. People at Nxivm became best friends for life, just like I did with the coaches I met at seminars and conferences. It all seemed wonderful.

People who graduated from ESP were apparently screened before they were invited up to the next level: Coaches. Ugh. Even Raniere sometimes called himself a coach. Unfortunately, because coaching is unregulated, anyone can call him/herself a coach even if they are con men. Up until Nxivm, the worst stories I've heard about fake coaches who are really con artists are about financial abuse. That can be devastating enough but Nxivm leaders also committed crimes that were shockingly depraved.

But how did this lead to sex slavery and why was I unscathed when I started out in a similar manner?

  • My first thought was that I could see through that stuff. Ha! Read the quote by attorney Glazer, above. It happens all the time, even to smart people.
  • Second, with gratitude, I realized I had fallen in, from the start, with people who were basically good, welling meaning, and ethical. It could have gone differently, though.
  • Finally, I recognized three red flags that could warn off anyone from going down the rabbit hole with people who mean to exploit or abuse them:
  1. Nxivm told its trainees, from the start, to ignore their own inner wisdom and adopt only Nxivm's explanations. That robbed students of potential insights behind their doubts, gut feelings, and intuition, which should have protected them from being brainwashed. Nxivm's explanation was that prior conditioning can keep people stuck, which is true, but you cannot instantly replace it with something else and anyone who tells you to ignore it is potentially manipulating you. This has been a problem at least for the past 2,500 years when the Buddha instructed his students to never accept his teachings without first confirming their verity by going within. He was a great teacher because he understood that everyone has access to the truth but may ignore it if they think they have found someone who knows more than they do. Good coaches always defer to their clients' inner wisdom. Run from a coach or personal development teacher who tells you to ignore your inner truth.
  2. Nxivm discouraged self care. A hallmark of many cult-like organizations is that they limit sleep, food, bathroom breaks, etc. People become overwhelmed and depleted. Their bodies feel like they are surviving under emergency circumstances and the people who seem to have the power over what to think, when to sleep, and how much to eat, can control almost anything. Good self care is a basic pillar of effective coaching. People often deny themselves what they need because they think they have too much to do and too little time. Often, when they give their bodies what they need, everything else gets easier and people grow and succeed naturally.
  3. Nxivm blackmailed its members into silence and submission. They required "collateral" in order to share "advanced secrets" with members. This collateral took the form of nude photos, secrets that were potentially humiliating if they were ever revealed, and even deeds to members' houses. Ethical coaches will keep your information secret because they are members of professional organizations and take an ethical pledge to do so. And, I'd like to think, most of us would keep your information secret because that is who we are. If anyone tries to blackmail you, go to the police.

I could keep going, but I encourage you to watch The Vow and make your own conclusions. Do explore personal development but practice good self-care and defer to your own inner wisdom.

Thomas Leonard was the founder of the coaching profession. He taught his own version of personal development, including the 28 Principles of Attraction. Check it out, in his own words, for free by signing up for this 10-week eCourse. It's safe. Have fun!

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Topics: Coaches, Thomas Leonard, Attraction Principles, personal development

This One Tool May Help You Survive 2020

Posted by Julia Stewart

Burden cartoon Depositphotos_32610265_l-2015-1

 

 

Last night, I coached one of my students who was struggling with overwhelm.

But it was soon clear that something else was also going on. She was experiencing something that many are going through in this year of pandemic, social unrest, economic recession, political upheaval, severe storms and other signs of Climate Change.

What I said helped. It could help you, too.

Most coaches are Highly Sensitive People (HSP) who process more information than others.

HSP is inborn and well-researched. We make up about 15-20% of the population. There is a popular variation known as Empaths, a description that is not science-based but includes psychic abilities.

If you are a coach, you likely are an HSP or Empath. Whichever you identify with, you probably have an ability that most folks don't have:

You literally feel other people's emotions.

For a coach, feeling your client's emotions can be a valuable tool for understanding what they are experiencing. But in a year when millions are experiencing more upsetting emotions than usual, the ability to feel everyone's emotions can be an overwhelming liability.

You need an approach to eliminate excess negative emotions, especially from others.

Here's a process I've found that helps me. Before I understood that I was picking up the emotions of others' my life felt chaotic and my emotional state was sometimes turbulent. It was particularly challenging to be around extremely negative people, angry people, and people who were prone to conflict because the more I was with them, the more I became like them. Spending time alone and learning a variety of tools such as meditation helped me get back to my true self.

In extreme situations, I ended relationships that were just too challenging to tolerate. The irony of this approach is that to protect my highly-sensitive empathic self, I had to behave in ways that must have looked like the opposite: selfish and uncaring. There has to be a better way, right? There is.

I experienced a breakthrough when someone I knew, but was not close to, passed away. There were important others in my life who were very close to this person who were grieving. I was surprised to find that I was grieving rather intensely, myself. I felt like I was lugging a heavy duffle bag packed with painful feelings in the middle of my torso, day after day. I explored whether there was some underlying reason why this death was so meaningful to me but I could not find one.

Then it occurred to me that the grief I was feeling wasn't my own. I was spending time with loved ones who were grieving and I had picked it up from them. So I wondered, if those feelings weren't mine, could I just put them down?

In the moment of that thought, all the pain and heaviness evaporated.

I've been using this approach ever since and so can you. To use it remember the following:

  • If the negative feelings are your own, you need to get the message or information they carry before you let them go. Emotions are just messengers and must stick around until you get the message. If you bury them, they will shift underground and pop up later, sometimes more intensely. Your own feelings are there to help you. Don't try to ignore them.
  • If the negative feelings are coming from someone close to you, they are telling you important information about that person's feelings. Again, for the sake of your relationship, pay attention to the message before you release those feelings. A compassionate conversation with the other person can help. If you must, it is okay to limit contact with someone who is chronically upsetting you. If they are abusive toward you, it is fine to end that relationship. You can't offer your best gifts to the world if you are constantly licking your own wounds.
  • If you are just picking up random pain from others, such as co-workers or even via social media or cable news, realize that pain is not about you. It also is not yours to carry. Envision it as something separate from you, like a heavy duffle bag. Then give yourself permission to put down that burden. You might even envision yourself turning it in to the the Lost & Found. Then walk away knowing you did the right thing,
  • Don't hold on to an emotional burden out of guilt or solidarity with those who are suffering. Other people do not benefit when you are crippled by their pain. They do benefit when you can be fully compassionate and caring without being drawn into chaos and confusion.
  • You can care about others best when your empathy is manageable.


Self care for empaths means limiting the amount of pain you carry.

2020 will give us all plenty of practice with negative feelings. Be kind to yourself and others through this difficult time. Also, be aware that your own negativity, as well as any negativity you pick up from others, can rub off on additional people. Strong emotions are contagious. Don't be a spreader.

 

You can coach best when your emotions are mostly positive.

 

If you are a coach or are thinking about becoming one, you're invited to attend a live course we offer a few times per year called, Fully Alive. It is experiential and includes a wealth of tools that can help you manage life in this especially turbulent world. The course is free to everyone.

 

To register for the next one, please visit our public catalog or register below.

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Topics: become a coach, coaching tool, economy, highly sensitive, Covid, Black Lives Matter

Life Coach Demand is Surging According to CNBC and LinkedIn

Posted by Julia Stewart

CNBC big increase in life coaches

 

Last week, CNBC interviewed Dan Roth, Editor in Chief at LinkedIn on the jobs that are disappearing and the ones that are booming in the pandemic. Roth mentioned a big surge in life coaching because people need help deciding what to do next with their lives and careers.

"We're seeing a big increase in demand for life coaches." - Dan Roth

They did express some caveats about hiring qualified life coaches, however. Read on for their advice on how to hire a life coach who can help you navigate the new normal, plus jobs that are disappearing and new jobs that have just been created.

Excerpt from the video:

CNBC: "It's interesting. When I hear life coaches and counselors, I wonder how qualified some of those individuals are to do the jobs they purport to be able to do."

Roth: "Yeah, you've got to do your research on who the people are, see what they're writing, sharing, how they talk. Talk to other people they worked with in the past. You've got to do the due diligence. Just because people are taking these jobs doesn't mean you want to hire them, but there is a demand. People are struggling right now with where to take their lives, so one example is a life coach."

Be leery of any life coach who lacks reputable coach training and coach certification. LinkedIn is a great place to find many of the best coaches in the business.

If you are thinking of joining the coaching profession and need to get your training and credentials up to speed in time to enjoy the boom in life coaching, consider the Certified Positive Psychology Coach program. You can earn your first coach certification in just eight weeks.

Another interesting tidbit from the video is that ZOOM is now a skill set to add to your resume! You will learn how to do an presentation when you become a Certified Positive Psychology Coach.

 

Read on for 7 Reasons Now is a Great Time to Become a Coach.

 

Want a quick course in life coaching? Visit Life Coach Training Online:

Visit Life Coach Training Online Here.

Topics: professional coach, life coach, coach training, become a life coach, Life Coaches, Coach Certification, how to become a certified life coach, LinkedIn, Life Coaching, certified competent coach, life coach training online

7 Reasons Now Is a Great Time to Become a Coach

Posted by Julia Stewart

Coach working from home

As I write this, the Covid-19 pandemic is exploding across America and many other places.

Our lives have been upended and there is no end in sight. But now is not the time for despair.

Now is the time to become a coach and I'll tell you why...

Your situation: Maybe your kids are home. You and/or your partner are out of work. Or you're working from home. Maybe one or all of you have been sick. Maybe you're feeling isolated and afraid. Or maybe you're getting the hang of this and it's all getting easier. But now you are confronted with the logistics of returning to work and sending your children back to school. Other people are making important decisions that could impact your family's safety and your ability to make a living. That's alarming and may feel unsafe.

 

But wouldn't it be nice if things just went back to "normal'?

 

Economists and epidemiologists have told us from the start that the bigger the pandemic gets and the longer it goes on the harder it will be to go back to the old normal. There is growing evidence that getting sick with the virus does not confer lifelong immunity. Covid-19 may be more like malaria, a serious disease you can get over and over, cutting into your freedom, your productivity, and ability to make a living. With luck, we'll have a vaccine next year, but previously, the fastest an effective vaccine has ever been developed was four years. Producing billions of doses will take longer.

The old normal is disappearing in your rear-view mirror and you may never see it again. But that doesn't have to be a bad thing. In fact, there is positive news in all this.

 

I believe in positivity, not denial.

 

The first helps us succeed, the second keeps us stuck. Clinging to the idea of your old life is denial. To practice positivity, start with the truth, then explore the likely possibilities. Then work towards the most desirable possibilities for you. It works.

The truth is that the virus has wrapped itself around the world and will be with us for at least another year, perhaps several, maybe forever. And you have many assets that will help you adapt and grow. In fact, these challenges may be exactly what you need to become your best self and live the life and career you want most. Are you ready to live your best life?

 

You need to thrive in this new environment.

Therefore, you need to invent a better normal, one that works beautifully for you.

 

Are you ready to apply positivity to your life?

 

If yes, then you need to ask and answer some important questions. Start with the following:

  • If things continue this way, how long can you hang on and what will it cost you?
  • If the pandemic continues, what do you need to stay safe and thrive and how can you create that?
  • What have you always wanted to do but the time never felt right?
  • What does the world need now that you can potentially give?
  • How can you turn that into a business you love?
  • Or can you be employed to do it but have flexibility to do it on your terms?
  • Can you create your best life even in the pandemic?
  • What do you need to set that up? Who can help you?
  • Do you believe in yourself enough to do it?
  • Do you have the courage to make your life, and the lives of others, great even in a disaster?

 

Right now, most people need more questions like these.

 

We are all forced to recreate our lives. Let's create the lives we've always wanted.

I've coached quite a few clients through disasters. They are the pivot points that make or break great lives and careers. The opportunities are golden if you look for the positivity.

If you are empathic, a good communicator, want to help others be their best, want to create a better world for all, then coaching may be the perfect next step for you.

 

Now is the perfect time to become a coach because:

  1. Coaching is the ideal work-from-home career.
  2. Coaching pays extremely well.
  3. Many coaches work short hours while making high incomes.
  4. Coaching goes perfectly with technology and your clients can be international.
  5. People need coaching now more than ever and are willing to pay for it.
  6. Coaching is low on stress and high on fulfillment.
  7. Coaching is fun.

 

If you have always wanted to become a coach, the world needs you now so please have the courage to act on your desire.

 

At SCM, coach training has been designed online from the beginning. No, it's not like in-person training. It's better. We also train our graduates to coach via distance and to market online. We didn't have to retool for the pandemic. We always did it this way.

Our next cohort starts soon but you can begin classes even before. And we have a free personal-development course coming up so you can try it out before you commit.

 

Now isn't a terrible time. NOW IS YOUR TIME.

 

Please download the free Become a Coach eBook and get started on your perfect career:

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Topics: Career, become a coach, coaching questions, online coach training, positivity, Covid

It Took So Long.

Posted by Julia Stewart

Black Lives Matter 3

Why did it take so long to get here?

I can’t answer that. But thank God we’re here.

Why did it take the brutal and public slow-motion murder of George Floyd for white people, like me, to stop hesitating and get passionately onboard with Black Lives Matter?

I don’t know but I think for me it may have been the solitude of the Stay at Home order and the time and quiet that came with it. The pandemic forced us into an uncomfortable retreat. When we have time and solitude, we sometimes hear our souls speak.

My soul said: Damn It, Not One More.

I’ve been quiet so long that when I started to speak up, the words wouldn’t come. I’m beginning to see that I have so much to say that I can’t cover it all at once.

And that’s the whole point, really. People like me need to speak up and keep speaking, making it clear to those in power that we will not tolerate state-sponsored murder.

What matters now is for the killing to stop. And for the system that is killing black people to be overhauled until it no longer leads to harassment, oppression, incarceration, and death for people who are just living their lives.

African Americans need white people to speak up. They need our understanding and they need our numbers. They also need our emotional support.

To become effective allies, white people need to deal with their shame over what is still happening. And we need to act to make things right.

To become effective allies, whites need to process that shame and eventually move on to inspired action. On that path, healing needs to happen. The African tradition of Truth and Reconciliation offers one inspiring model.

To become effective allies, white people need to build a fairer world together with black people and with all people of color and that requires a strong foundation.

One of the first bricks that must be laid in this foundation is an apology. I know how lame it may sound for whites to apologize now after 400 years of hell. It is the definition of Too Little Too Late. But seriously, we need it to build a strong foundation between White Americans and African Americans. For us never to apologize is a gross oversight that threatens what we need to build.

So for whatever it is worth, and to whomever is open to it, I am deeply sorry for the abuse, oppression, and sheer cluelessness of white people in their treatment of black people.

I’m not asking for forgiveness because burdening the abused with a plea for absolution is just self-serving. And because my kind has already taught black people that we can’t be trusted.

Forgiveness will come when white people earn it.

So much more needs to be said and listened to. Mostly, whites need to listen.

This is just the beginning. And beginnings hold great possibilities.

You are invited to comment below. Attacks, trolling, and spam won't be approved, but heartfelt comments are welcomed.

Topics: Black Lives Matter

Your Sofa May be Killing You

Posted by Julia Stewart

Sofa may be killing you

Should you finally write that novel while you're staying at home or should you cut yourself some slack and take it easy?

Some productivity gurus seem to encourage us to use this time to reach all those goals we never had time for, while others say this is a tough situation and we should take it slow for a while.

That's a false choice and a dangerous trap...

The first choice is problematic if it discourages you from practicing sufficient self compassion, an attitude that few in our society have mastered. Without self compassion, reaching for major goals during a difficult time is a workaholic response that is usually unsustainable. Sooner or later we burn out and our loved ones pay the price until we do.

The second choice invites us to use the pandemic as an excuse to be less than our best and there's a hidden danger to that. For example, I'm hearing from people who say they're having trouble getting out of bed, or off the sofa, and are engaging in old bad habits, like overeating and binge watching TV they don't even like. Those are symptoms that, over time, can be deadly, and I'm not just talking about becoming unfit or overweight.

When we give up on what gets us out of bed, even for a while, we're telling our bodies that we are no longer needed. When that happens, our bodies tend to shut down and age. Sometimes, people begin the process of dying when they no longer have a purpose. We've all heard those stories of elderly couples who die within days of each other. That is, perhaps, a dramatic example.

The psychologist, Jim Loehr, who specializes in helping people optimize their energy, has a theory. He says shutting down and dying, when we no longer have a purpose, has adaptive value for our species. Because it frees up resources, like food, for those that do have a purpose.

I remember hearing a story from psychologist, Don Beck, who teaches Spiral Dynamics, about an indigenous family in the Canadian arctic. They had too little food to survive the winter, so the grandparents volunteered to commit a traditional sacrifice. The grandparents climbed onto an ice flow and the family pushed them out to sea...

 

They sacrificed themselves to free up resources for their families in one last act of purpose.

 

I'm guessing that your situation does not require you to die for the survival of your family. But you do need a sense of purpose to survive the pandemic. You can can reach goals that matter. You can grow and transcend. But you need a little extra self compassion when the new abnormal gets overwhelming.

I'm teach a free course on how to thrive in the pandemic in which I share numerous positive psychology and neuroscience tools and practices. One of the tools that participants have found most impactful is an act of self compassion.

Here it is. Take your hand and place it on your cheek (make sure you've washed your hand, of course.) Then tell yourself, "I understand. It's okay. I forgive you. Everything will be all right."

 

One participant cried when she did this.

 

Try it. If it touches you deeply, you probably need to do it regularly.

Your short-term purpose may have changed temporarily. But you can replace it with something meaningful, right now. Maybe even complete that novel you've always wanted to write. And it may be possible to work toward your long-term vision if you're willing to be flexible and creative. I'm offering a taste of this in the free course.

 

But that sense of laziness, of slacking off and becoming one with the sofa, could slowly be killing you.

 

Don't make this an either/or choice. Do pursue important goals. Do practice self compassion, as needed. Do thrive despite the pandemic and help create a better world.

 

There's a new free Fully Alive course. Sign up below to attend.

 

Register for Free: Fully Alive in the Pandemic

 

Topics: Free, life purpose, Spiral Dynamics, positive psychology coaching, coaching with neuroscience, Don Beck, resilience, Covid

How Thomas Leonard Prepared Me for the Covid Pandemic

Posted by Julia Stewart

Covid-19 Reserves

In 2001, the Founder of the Coaching Profession helped me get ready for Covid-19.

He also helped me thrive through 9/11 in New York City. Unfortunately, Thomas passed of natural causes in 2003, but his influence still prepared me to flourish through the Covid pandemic.

How am I flourishing? Well, my online business is doing great in the shut down and I just took my blood pressure. It's 97/67. I'm not special. Here's how Thomas Leonard helped me get here...

Thomas was a self-described worrier. He was also a massive risk-taker. That's a tough combination. But he was endlessly creative and among his many brilliant approaches to coaching are some that are designed to boost confidence for even the biggest scaredy cats so they can take big risks to reach their cherished goals. What follows is just one approach that works for me...

Twenty years ago, before paranoid preppers were a joke, Thomas found a simple way to get ready for almost anything and thereby raise your confidence and lower your anxiety. (Here's my distinction between paranoia and anxiety: The first is a sense of threat that people are out to get you. The second is a worry that things will go wrong and you won't be able to handle it. It's normal to feel anxious if you're unprepared.)

This approach eliminates the greatest source of human suffering.

Thomas created a checklist called, Super Reserves, that helps people develop a reserve of almost anything they could ever need because when our needs are met, we are freed to live our best lives. Until our needs are met, we unconsciously suffer and chase what we don't have instead of enjoying what we do have and creating what we really want. That word, need, is important because this concept is related to Abraham Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, which you probably learned about in a course on psychology. It's a precursor to positive psychology.

Reserves sound like they couldn't possibly work but my story, below, demonstrates the dramatic shift they cause.

I got my very first coaching client the week of 9/11 when I was still living in New York City. I was studying coaching with Thomas Leonard and also had a successful personal training business that I eventually transitioned out of. But those weeks after the terrorist attacks were filled with bomb and terror threats (90 false threats on September 12th, alone). It was still possible to drive in and out of Manhattan and even park for free, in those days, but the threats and resulting twelve-hour traffic jams were constantly shaking me up.

I was terrified.

I talked to a psychotherapist friend who said the best antidote to anxiety is to take action. I reviewed my options for taking action. Could I stop the threats? No. Could I stop seeing my clients? No. What was the worst that could happen? I'd be caught in a terrorist attack. What was likely to happen? I'd get stuck in an epic traffic jam. What would I need if one of those events occurred? Ah! That's where Reserves came in.

I made a plan.

Honestly, I thought it was kind of silly, but I decided to follow Thomas' Reserves approach and get ready for "anything". So I got out an old gym bag that I carried in my car and started filling it with whatever I might need if something bad happened: masks, goggles, extra clothes, a blanket, comfortable shoes, food that would "keep", water, etc., etc.

What happened?

At some point, my anxiety vanished because I knew I was prepared. Did I ever need the stuff? Nope! But it already did its work: I was happier, more relaxed, and able to show up at my best to coach the many traumatized New Yorkers that I had the honor to work with over the next year.

You see, your nervous system has two basic modes.

One is optimized for connection and works best when you're relaxed. The other is optimized for protection and is triggered when needs aren't met. We tend to be at our best during connection and are more attractive and able to see opportunities and possibilities, but our unconscious behavior is more negative and off-putting when we're in protection mode and we tend to see problems everywhere. Both modes are needed sometimes but connection is often needed more. Filling my needs with reserves put my nervous system in connection mode.

So how did this prepare me for the current pandemic?

I never forgot that Reserves lesson. Now I always keep things on hand that I might someday need. When toilet paper was in short supply, I already had a case of it. When we found out we needed masks, I already had a box of N95 masks. I was also able to donate masks to first responders and healthcare workers, which felt a lot better than panicking because there was a shortage. My business was already online and I work from home and have experience training others to do the same so business is good. I could go on and on...

I was ready, so I could relax and help instead of panic.

I train coaches to coach their clients to be ready for anything, because in the age of the Climate Crisis, anything can happen. If you'd like to learn more about the ultimate work-from-home profession, download the free Become a Coach eBook, below.

 

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Topics: become a coach, Thomas Leonard, 9/11, Climate Change, Covid, Reserves

10 Questions to Help You Thrive Through the Pandemic

Posted by Julia Stewart

ask the right questions

Ready to thrive through the pandemic? Read on...

If you're like most people, you've been thrown for a loop by the corona epidemic.

Up to a point, responding quickly to what's happening is vital, so you can't ignore the crisis. It's a scary disease we're all susceptible to and shutting down the economy creates even more problems to handle even though it's the right thing to do.

But we tend to have better outcomes when we focus more on the positive. You can switch easily to that focus by asking yourself better questions. Don't wait to explore the following. The sooner you start, the better outcomes you can create. You may want to return to them again as you get more clarity.

These 10 questions can change your life by expanding your awareness so you can thrive:

  1. What's already going well? Another way to ask this is: What are you grateful for right now? Make a list of three things, large or small, you're thankful for. Are you breathing? Put that on the list. Do you have a house to live in? You get the idea. Don't just answer this question; take the time to feel the gratitude. I know you are fortunate because you are able to access the internet. You can put that on the list, if you want. Take the time to ask this question and feel the gratitude at least once per day.
  2. What's the worst problem you have right now?... Okay, that sucks. I get it. But now I'm going to ask the real question: What's great about that problem? Think until you find something. Now find two more things. Do you get to spend more time with your kids? Do you have more time to plant your garden this spring? Have you always wanted to work from home? You don't negate other people's suffering by appreciating the goodness in your life. Quite the opposite. When you're happy, it's easier to be kind to others. Isn't that what really matters?
  3. How would you like it to be for the next two weeks (or eight, or twelve)? Imagine everything as if it went as well as it possibly could. How can you show up to create that? Who would you have to become? How could you become that?
  4. What's your purpose right now? If you live your life purpose, it makes everything more fulfilling. But even if you were living it before, it may have temporarily changed. What matters most in these current conditions? How can you bring that about?
  5. What strengths can help you through this? We all have our preferred ways to do things. It makes life easier and more fun. You always have permission to do it your way. But sometimes it helps to develop a new way. Challenges can help us grow.
  6. How can you grow through this? If you're complaining, blaming, or whining, you're playing victim. We all do that now and then but if you allow it to become habitual, you'll make everything worse for you and all those around you. Instead, think of yourself as the creator of your destiny. Make it a fun game. Tools that can help include spiritual practices like prayer, meditation, mindfulness, inspirational reading, and more. A positive psychology coach can help a lot, too.
  7. What positive habit/s could help you achieve the best outcomes? A daily workout? Video chats with positive friends? Enjoying your favorite books, movies, meals? Playtime with your pets?
  8. What do you need to learn right now? Do you need a new career? A new skill? A way to make a living from home? Online learning is plentiful and well worth the time and money.
  9. Who can help you? We're all in this together. You've got something that can help someone else and somebody else can help you. What do you need help with? It feels vulnerable to ask but people often get the most joy from helping others so go ahead and ask.
  10. What's your ultimate goal? Working toward goals is inherently rewarding when those goals are aligned with our values. If you have the gift of time, your ultimate goal may be where you need to focus. How will others benefit when you succeed? Are you willing to get started now?

 

These 10 questions are challenging. A great coach can help you with them.

 

If you'd love to help others by asking empowering questions, coaching is the ultimate work-from-home career. If you're ready to start your new future, consider joining us for online training:

 

Explore the Certified Positive Psychology Coach Program

 

 

Topics: coaching questions, Strengths, mindfulness, Values, questions, positive psychology coach

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