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Coaching Tip: Enlightenment Can Be Bad For You

Posted by Julia Stewart

Coaching TipHow do coaching, personal development and spirituality cause dysfunction?

If you think coaching, personal development programs and spirituality are always good, think again. The tools that coaches use and that personal development gurus and spiritual teachers also may employ are usually great when used in the right situations by people who are ready for them. Try using most of those tools in every situation, though, and you can get yourself in a whole lot of trouble.

Which tools am I talking about? Well, many. But here are a couple of examples that are closely related to each other:

  • Seeing the perfection in every situation
  • Eliminating the ego 

I've coached a lot of people who were 'highly evolved'. They were very spiritual and always saw the beauty, opportunity, learning, etc. in everything and rarely let their egos get in the way.

Their lives were a mess. And they were tough to coach, because they felt good and they thought they were supposed to think that way. People who feel good aren't motivated to change. People who feel good when their lives are a mess are in some ways a little bit crazy (not a diagnosis, just an observation).

Come to think of it, I passed through this stage years ago when I first started meditating. Suddenly, things that used to bother, hurt, or anger me, didn't anymore. It was very freeing. It felt good. I loved it.

And my life started falling apart. Why? I'd lost my boundaries. I got into dysfunctional relationships, because my former warning system, pain, had shut down. I was very forgiving, had but lost the ability to say, 'Hey, this is not okay with me.' Fortunately, I learned to grow past my 'enlightenment'.

Coaches who have drunk too much of the Coaching Cool-aid, sometimes fall for this. They will quickly reframe every challenge as an opportunity. Or they will coach everybody they meet, as if their own needs never even matter. They lose critical skills when they try to show up 'like a coach' in every situation (and they're less effective as coaches).

Skills like:

  • Discernment
  • Engagement
  • Commitment

Procrastination, complacency, and cluelessness may set in. Because after all, everything's great, right? So there's no need to make changes. People may start to avoid them. Relationships, careers, health, and finances begin to fall apart. But all the while, they feel GOOD, because they're stoned on their own endorphins. And like all opiate addicts, they've lost the ability to notice and respond to their environments. Not pretty.

Positive psychology researcher, Barbara Fredrickson, says too much positivity gets us in trouble. People tend to do best when they experience positive thoughts and feelings about 75-90% of the time. Anymore than that and they stop  heeding warning signs, miss important details, become over-confident, and lose credibility with others. They may spiral into failure and despair, as a result. That's not what you want for yourself or your clients.

In addition, by choosing in advance to respond to everything in the same way, they are limiting possibilities, rather than expanding them.

Worse yet, they may create shadow behaviors that are acted out out unconsciously. 'No ego' becomes arrogance ('I'm more enlightened than you!'). 'Seeing the perfection' becomes passive aggression (Got a problem? 'Just see the perfection in it, or else you're not 'woke'.)

One of the many things I value about Zen Master Genpo Roshi's teachings is that he takes this problem head on. He calls this level of enlightenment dysfunctional and says a zen  master's job is to push you through this stage as quickly as possible. Because otherwise you can get profoundly stuck. Feeling good all the time is very, very seductive.

Not many teachers even recognize this problem. In fact, some of them are actually stuck here, themselves. Many teach that this stage is desirable. Don't get sucked in by that.

Remember the saying, 'When you're going through Hell, keep going'? Well the great thing about Hell is that it feels so awful you want to keep going.

The awful thing about Enlightenment is that it feels so good, you want to stay there. And as soon as you try to hold on to it , you're not enlightened anymore. Delusion is enlightenment's shadow. Keep going.

When you fully engage with life, experiencing pain, resistance and yes, even your ego, you are fully alive, highly functional and - you're enlightened in a mature way. Then you've got the makings of a great coach. Yes, get your ego out of the way and see the perfection when you're coaching your clients. That's your job and it's a huge value to the people you coach. But when you're not coaching, be fully human.

And keep going.

Fully Alive Personal Development with Positive Psychology is a free extra program that's included with the Certified Positive Psychology Coach® Program. Learn more about it here:

Explore the Certified Positive Psychology Coach Program

Topics: Coaching, ENVIRONMENT, Coaching Tip, Genpo Roshi, personal development, spirituality, positive psychology coach, Positive Psychology, Barbara L Fredrickson, enlightenment, Certified Positive Psychology Coach, Fully Alive

Coaching vs. Consulting: What's the Difference?

Posted by Julia Stewart

Business Coach If you're a business consultant, then you may be wondering if you should get some coaching skills.

Or you may wonder if you're already coaching, now. Many people wonder what the difference between business consulting and business coaching really is.

The truth is, the difference depends on the coach, or the consultant. Both professions are about as varied as the individuals who call themselves coaches and consultants. Here are some differences, from my point of view...

1. Coaches ask more than they tell. Savvy consultants also ask a lot of questions, but they usually are in the "information gathering" mode. A good coach is just naturally curious. This is one of the reasons coaching is so effective. Even though your client hired you for your expertise, they will probably feel uncomfortable sharing their (or their business') problems and weaknesses with you. Chances are, they'll cover up what's really going on. But the same client will open up with a coach who is naturally curious.

2. A Consultant's expertise is usually the main thing they share with clients. Coaches have expertise too, but it's usually the last thing they share. That's not to say that expertise isn't important. Sometimes it's the thing the client most needs. By following their curiosity and the curiosity of their clients, coaches find out what's really going on and what the client really wants. Then they can share expertise in a customized and targeted manner, providing exactly what the client needs, when they need it.

3. Consultants often do a lot of measuring and testing. They then have metrics to share and specific recommendations about what to do. A coach may administer assessments, but they are less about the raw data and more about the meaning behind the data. Sometimes what a client really needs is the hard data. That's when they need a consultant. Other times a client needs to get clear about where they really want to go and what they really value. If that's the case, the data may be extraneous and they are better off with a coach.

4. Consulting is mostly a "left-brained" activity. It's about taking linear steps toward a specific goal. Coaching is predominately "right-brained". It's about growth and evolution. That said, consultants and coaches, use both sides of their brains!

5. Consultants usually offer training to their clients. So do coaches.

6. The truth is, most consultants do a little coaching and most coaches do some consulting. Both professions require practice to master. Good training can speed that up.

If you're a consultant and want to add coaching skills to your business, the Certified Competent Coach Course is perfect for you. Learn more...

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Topics: business coach, Coaching, coach training, coaching clients, business consultant, coaching skills, consulting

Should You Become a Coach in the Age of Disasters?

Posted by Julia Stewart

How to Coach Photo credit - hurricane by kakela.jpg

On September 11th, 2001, all my New York City clients canceled. My coach, in California, also canceled. I canceled a cardiac stress test, because all day my heart was pounding. My coaching school continued classes.

Like everyone in the US, my thoughts were primarily about the calamitous attacks on NYC and Washington DC. Although, as a New Yorker, the World Trade Center attack loomed larger for me,

At the time, I was studying to become a coach while running a busy personal training business. After 9/11, I wasn't sure ideas like "live your best life" made sense, anymore. I was afraid I would lose my personal training clients and that nobody would want to coach with me, because the world seemed completely different. What mattered before seemed utopian. What mattered now was a much uglier side of life.

I was wrong.

After we rescheduled, I told my coach I was thankful my coaching school continued classes on 9/11, because for one hour, on a perfectly horrific day, I did something normal. God, that felt good.

My point is this: Don't assume you know what people will want, in this world of disasters, because what they want will surprise you.

My coach gave me an assignment: to get my first coaching client. Geeze, in this environment?

Gradually, my business got up and running again. My clients told me harrowing stories that had happened to them. One, who worked near the World Trade Center, had had to walk down forty flights of stairs to escape. Another, who worked further away, watched as people jumped from the blaze. Everyone had lost someone.

To my surprise, they all told me they were more committed than ever to working out, because they realized, in this new normal, that they needed to be fit to survive. One of them asked if he could be my first coaching client.

I didn't even need to market; my first coaching client volunteered. He stayed with me for seven years.

Millions of New Yorkers changed after 9/11. In the most capitalistic city in the most capitalistic country, people started putting values ahead of profits and family ahead of achievement. They turned to coaches to help them define their callings and life purpose, and to designed their legacies. Coaching boomed, because there was a new need for it.

Today, I teach coaches from around the world via webinars. Many are from North America, where this summer, the northwest is aflame with hundreds of forest fires, while the southeast is hammered by monster hurricanes and biblical floods. Some of my students complain in class about smoke, while others share fears about finding clients in devastated cities, while still others leave class early to evacuate their homes. Now that Climate Change is well underway, this is the new normal. Terrorism probably won't go away, but it has epic competition.

Can you coach in this environment? Yes, you must. People need you more than ever.

Give people time to get back into their homes and to restart. They're not ready to coach while they're in shelters and hotel rooms, or hospitals, or funeral homes.

This is not a suggestion to capitalize on misery. It's a reminder that coaching helps people, so don't pull back, thinking they won't want you. Don't bombard people with sales offers. Do be willing to listen. Do be willing to help, if you can. Be willing to waive or lower a fee for some clients.

One helpful way to reframe a disaster is to focus on the people who help, because they inspire us. Coaches can also be helpers when people are ready to think about what they want the rest of their lives to be like.

In this age of disasters, coaching is needed more than ever. You're needed more than ever.

Get a free Become a Coach eBook here.

 

Topics: 9/11, become a coach, reasons to become a coach, free ebook, Coaching, coaching clients, coaching school

101 Incredible Coaching Questions

Posted by Julia Stewart

Coaching Questions

Every new coach wants to know…what are THE coaching questions??

So here they are: Powerful Questions, Open-ended Questions, Curious Questions, Clarifying Questions, Possibility Questions, Golden Questions. Do you know the difference? When and how could you use them?

Truth is, there are at least 100,000 great coaching questions and it won’t be long before there are millions. Coaching questions are kind of like iPhone Apps; a few years ago they didn’t exist. Now everybody’s creating them!

Here’s the real secret: it’s how you set up your coaching questions and then how you follow up that creates much of the magic in coaching. These questions in the hands of a novice may not have the same punch as they do when used by a master coach.

But you can get incredible mileage from these awesome coaching questions, right out of the box...

Print out this post and keep it with you when you coach. Notice what happens when you ask these powerful questions. If you don’t get fantastic results, work on your delivery. Here are the questions...

 

Great Coaches Ask Great Coaching Questions. Get the FREE Become a Coach eBook.

 

  1. I’m curious; may I ask you a few questions?
  2. What’s great about your life this week?
  3. How have you grown this week?
  4. What did you accomplish this week?
  5. Who did you serve?
  6. What did you learn?
  7. Who else will benefit?
  8. What are you grateful for?
  9. Who’s grateful for you?
  10. Is this what you want to be coached on or are you just sharing?
  11. What could you be happy about if you chose to be?
  12. Are you using this to grow or are you beating yourself up?
  13. Does this story empower you or disempower you?
  14. How can you turn this around and have better results next time?
  15. On a scale of 1 – 10 how honest have you been about this, with others?
  16. Do you mind if I offer an observation?
  17. Is this the problem or the solution?
  18. How would you like it to be?
  19. What’s in the way?
  20. What’s stopping you?
  21. What does this mean to you?
  22. Are you focused on what’s wrong or what’s right?
  23. Is that a story or the truth?
  24. How can you find out?
  25. Do you want this for its own sake or are you trying to avoid something else?
  26. Is this giving you energy or draining your energy?
  27. What will really make the biggest difference here?
  28. Is this a limitation or is it a strength?
  29. What’s the benefit of this problem?
  30. Who else is this hurting?
  31. What does your intuition tell you about this?
  32. Do you have a gut feeling about this?
  33. Have you solved problems like this before?
  34. What rules do you have that are getting in the way?
  35. How long have you been thinking about this?
  36. Have you ever experienced something like this before?
  37. If you changed your belief about this, what would be possible?
  38. Is this a decision or a pipe dream?
  39. Which of your core values does this goal express?
  40. Is this goal pulling you forward or are you struggling to reach it?
  41. Will this choice move you forward or keep you stuck?
  42. What’s the first step you need to take to reach your goal?
  43. What’s the worst that can happen, and can you handle that?
  44. What’s the downside of your dream?
  45. What’s stopping you from taking action?
  46. Who wouldn’t like it if you succeeded?
  47. What will you have to give up in order to make room for your goals?
  48. How would your life be transformed if you changed this right now?
  49. If you don’t change this, what will it cost you in the long run?
  50. What’s the most resourceful choice here?
  51. How can you improve this, so it adds value forever?
  52. How can you solve this problem so it never comes back?
  53. Are you acting on faith or fear?
  54. If you weren’t scared, what would you do?
  55. Are you standing in your power or pleasing someone else?
  56. What are you pretending not to know?
  57. How could you have this conversation so it empowers everyone concerned?
  58. What might make the difference that could change everything?
  59. If you approached this with courage, how could your life change?
  60. Are you procrastinating or is there a reason to delay?
  61. What’s the emotional cost vs. the financial cost?
  62. Which step could you take that would make the biggest difference, right now?
  63. How can you get your needs fully met?
  64. If your life were exclusively oriented around your values, what would that be like?
  65. How would you describe the difference between a need and a value?
  66. If you achieve this goal, will it bring lasting fulfillment or temporary pleasure?
  67. Have you thought about the impact you’ll have by creating this?
  68. How can you learn from this problem so it never happens again?
  69. How can you create more value with less effort?
  70. What are you willing to do to improve this situation?
  71. What are you willing to stop doing to improve this situation?
  72. How can you enjoy the process of solving this problem?
  73. Do you mind if I ask a very personal question?
  74. What are you willing to commit to here?
  75. Do you need to work harder or delegate this?
  76. If this weakness were also a strength, what would that be?
  77. How can you use this so it becomes a benefit?
  78. Have you decided to take action or are you just hoping you will?
  79. Are you angry or are you hurt?
  80. Who can help you with this?
  81. Does your current habitat fully support who you’re becoming?
  82. What do you need in order to succeed here?
  83. What plan do you need in order to achieve your new goals?
  84. Are your personal standards high enough to reach your goals?
  85. What will your impact be 100 years from now?
  86. Who do you need to become in order to succeed here?
  87. What are you responsible for here?
  88. Instead of either/or, how could you use both?
  89. Are you approaching this from your head or from your heart?
  90. Is this an assumption or have you checked to be sure?
  91. How can you learn what you need to know about this?
  92. Is this the best outcome you can imagine or is there something greater?
  93. Do you have a detailed strategy to get there?
  94. How will you transform your life with this new knowledge?
  95. What does this accomplishment mean to you?
  96. Why does it matter?
  97. Who did you have to become to achieve it?
  98. What did you learn in the process?
  99. Who else will benefit?
  100. What’s next for you?
  101. How have you changed the world for generations to come?

 

Learn the science behind incredible coaching questions...

Get the FREE Become a Positive Psychology Coach eBook.

 

Print out this list of questions and post them next to your coaching desk. With practice, incredible coaching questions will occur to you spontaneously, your clients will have amazing insights, and you will easily earn the big bucks that life, business, and executive coaches charge.

Got some great coaching questions of your own? Please share them below in the comments section.

Want to know how to ask incredible coaching questions? Check out this free infographic.

 

Master incredible coaching questions and become a certified coach in just 8 weeks...

 

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Topics: business coach, life coach, Coaching, coaching school, Business Coaches, coaching questions, master coach, goals, Life Coaching, life coach training

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.

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

Top Ten Coaching Tools that Can Help Your Thrive in an Uncertain World

Posted by Julia Stewart

tornado.jpg

Does it seem like the world gets crazier every day? Are you worried about your future? Are you wondering what you can do to survive and thrive? Would you like to help yourself and others flourish tomorrow and beyond?

Hyper-complexity is the word for what you’re experiencing and uncertainty is its inevitable companion.

Both can be your friend if you let them. The truth is there have never been more opportunities to thrive. Complexity virtually promises that. Become someone who sees possibilities early and knows what to do with them.

Here are ten coaching tools that can help anyone thrive in this hyper-complex world:

  1. Be curious. A wise Zen master once told me that we really don’t know what’s going to happen. That seems obvious, but we tend to forget it. If you’re feeling anxious about the future, you’re futurizing (a.k.a. worrying about scary future scenarios). What if you were curious instead? A major side benefit of curiosity is that you notice opportunities before they become problems. How to become more curious? Learn to catch yourself making assumptions. You do it all the time. Then make uncertainty your friend: Don’t decide how things will be. Wonder instead. Be mindful. Be grateful. Wonder what the possibilities are. This is one of the keys to #10, by the way.
  2. Be informed. Find the best sources of information and connect with them often. Avoid addictive, manipulative, or frightening sources, such as cable news, infomercials, click bait, propaganda, social media, high-pressure sales, etc. They confuse and exhaust. You need energy and clarity to stay abreast of hyper-complexity. Subscribe to one or two high-quality newspapers, because great information isn’t free. Get more education and training. Become an expert in at least one field and hang out with other experts. Become an insider, because information is power.
  3. Be prepared. The founder of the coaching profession, Thomas Leonard, believed in assisting clients to afford risk by increasing their reserves. What are reserves? They can be almost anything the client perceives they need more of from postage stamps, to information, to sleep. When people have reserves of practically everything they need, they become calm. I experienced this after 9/11 when I worked in Manhattan. The threat of attack was everywhere and unnerving. I had no control over it. But I could control how prepared I was, so I created a terrorist-attack reserve in an old gym bag with water, food, goggles, you name it, and kept it in my car for months. Terrorist threats continued, but my fears evaporated. A fun way to do this is to shop at Costco, or another big box store, with the question in mind, “What will I need most in the zombie apocalypse? A lifetime supply of toilet paper? Clean drinking water? A katana?” But go deeper. I have friends with solar homes, who are investing in Tesla batteries and going “off grid”. You can go off grid in financial ways, too. Have multiple income streams, more assets than debts, an emergency cash reserve, more insurance. Kidding aside, whatever future catastrophe scares you most, get ready for it now. You may never need your reserves, but the peace of mind they provide is something you'll need everyday forever.
  4. Be well cared for. Too many wish others would care for them. That’s for babies. Although your significant other can care for you, learn to care for yourself. Your health is a perfect place to begin. If your energy and wellbeing aren’t what you’d like, work with a physician or alternative care professional to get into perfect health. You may need to change your diet and exercise. Don’t let that stop you. When I was a personal trainer, my most loyal clients told me that they hired me to look better, but they stayed with me because they felt so much better. In other words, it was worth it. Right after 9/11, they told me about an unexpected benefit: They were strong enough to walk down 40 flights of stairs. You never know when you'll need your good health, but do care for yourself in fun ways, too. Listen to good music, play your favorite sports, engage in hobbies, or find work you love. Optimum wellbeing is your goal, because it improves quality of life regardless what happens.
  5. Be growing. No matter what happens in the world, you can be your best and be getting even better. It’s fun and inspiring and it helps you meet unexpected challenges. Increase your spiritual practice, become a better person, get more training or education. Practice your best skills and learn some new ones. For many, constant improvement is an important part of happiness. For us all, it’s part of getting ready for anything. We know technology will eliminate up to 50% of jobs in the next couple of decades, including some professions. The winners in this work revolution are those with the skills that will still be needed most. Coaching, by the way, entails skills that so far, elude robotics and artificial intelligence and the most successful coaches are those whose personal growth is most developed. In fact, it’s part of our job description. How’s that for a new marketable skill?
  6. Be independent. The world around you may or may not come crashing down, but your personal world can continue to thrive. Become self-employed, for instance, and never fear another layoff. Never wonder if your employer will find a way to deny your retirement benefits. Never worry if you can find another job. What skills or expertise do you have that others would pay for? Service-oriented businesses are relatively easy and inexpensive to start and usually you can charge much more than a traditional employer would pay.
  7. Be well connected. Those who balance independence with connection are likely to succeed best and those who are most independent need connection most of all and are freest in choosing it. Thomas Leonard liked to say, “You become who you hang out with.” Hang out with successful people. Hang out with those whose personal growth is most developed. Hang out with people who are creating a better world and are optimistic, curious, and kind.
  8. Be guided by what matters. When you’re clear about your unique values, your choices get simple, even in a complex world. You may know who you care most for, what you’ve been told to value, or what you think you need to do, but hardly anyone is clear about their unique values. Those of us who are, have a powerful advantage. We can orient our lives around what matters most to us, rather than what scares us. That instantly upgrades both the meaning and joy in our lives, helps us pursue our passions, and succeed most easily. But knowing your unique values isn’t as simple as it may sound. The best way to discover yours is to work with your own coach, or take the Coaching Values, Needs, and Strengths course.
  9. Be wise. Wisdom helps us stay centered in a storm, so learn from every mistake. Upgrade your spiritual and personal growth. Hang out with wise people. Know your unique values and you will instantly upgrade your wisdom. But wisdom tends to grow gradually. We are one of the first generations that has an opportunity to possess wisdom while we’re still healthy. That’s an enormous upgrade. Welcome the challenges and problems that will make you wise.
  10. Notice opportunities. If you want to make friends with hyper-complexity and uncertainty, use all the tools in this post: curiosity, information, preparation, self-care, growth, independence, connection, values, and wisdom to help you see what’s coming faster and notice the opportunities for you to contribute, succeed, and thrive. Add one more: positivity. Research by Barbara Fredrickson shows that those who are more positive, notice opportunities for greater good, than those who are worried, trying to solve problems, or generally are negative. The first nine items on this list will help you engage positively with uncertainty. By doing so, you’ll notice the good that’s coming to you. You can also help those around you. Ultimately, you’ll help the whole world.

Coaches have been using these tools successfully for decades. They are as timeless as they are powerful.

If you’d love to learn powerful coaching tools and join a profession that is high-paid and growing, and you’d like to do so quickly, the Certified Competent Coach course is starting soon. Become a certified coach in eight weeks and learn more tools for success.

Become a Certified Competent Coach Quickly

Topics: Thomas Leonard, certified competent coach, Barbara L Fredrickson, Coaching, Become a Certified Coach

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.

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 200 credit hours required for the ICF ACC, PCC, or MCC credentials. It was launched in 2014 and additional hours were 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: Positive Psychology, positive psychology coaching, Coaching, Martin Seligman, Thomas Leonard, ICF, Institute of Coaching, Certified Positive Psychology Coach

5 Coaching Lessons Learned from Adele at Madison Square Garden

Posted by Julia Stewart

Adele_ar_MSG_-_Jessamyn_Stewart.jpg

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

Adele did not disappoint!

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

5 Coaching Lessons Learned from Adele at Madison Square Garden:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Join the Positive Psychology Coach Study Group

 

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

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

Posted by Julia Stewart

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

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

Here are some fascinating highlights...

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

How much do coaches earn, yearly?

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

Do coaches need coach training and certification?

The future of coaching:

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

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

Become a Certified Positive Psychology Coach

 

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

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

Posted by Julia Stewart

coaching bio

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Join the Find a Coach Here Directory Today

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

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