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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.

Register for Free: Fully Alive in the Pandemic

 

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

6 Ideas That'll Change Your Coaching and Your Life

Posted by Julia Stewart

Positivity RatioI'm always looking for new ideas that'll upgrade, broaden, or deepen my coaching, so it's more effective. You too? Then you'll love this post.

It's a challenge to keep readers like you, well...challenged. You're a pretty sophisticated bunch.

But here goes: some of the best ideas I've encountered, which ultimately changed my life and the way I coach and may change your life and coaching too.

 

1. The Power of Negativity. This first one is possibly the most powerful idea to come out of positive psychology. It's the concept of the Positivity Ratio and the upper limit of positivity, which can be measured as both positive thoughts and feelings, as well as whether you're curious or defending your point of view, and/or focused on yourself or on those around you. To flourish, you, your relationship, your business, or your coaching, needs at least a three-to-one ratio of positivity to negativity. AND there's an upward limit around eleven-to-one, beyond which things go down fast. So, if you're a Law of Attraction Nazi, or if you focus only on the good stuff in coaching, stepping over the problematic stuff, or if you relentlessly reframe problems into opportunities, or (as one of my clients famously put it) FLO's (F*cking Learning Opportunities), you may hinder, rather than help your clients. (Read Barbara Fredrickson's Positivity.)

2. The Tyranny of Mild Praise. This one also comes from positive psychology and it's about relationships. Let's face it, the relationship between coach and client does much of the coaching for us. Therefore, the concept called, Active Constructive Responding (ACR), is critical. What is ACR? It's an over-the-top form of acknowledgment that includes positive tone of voice (genuine excitement, awe, wonder), positive body language (smiling, eye contact, touching), repeating the specifics of what the other has said, commenting on it's importance to the other, suggesting a celebration; all of which leads to flourishing within the relationship. NONE of the other types of responses, including Passive Constructive Responding (Flat tone of voice, general praise, "That's nice."), Passive Destructive Responding (ignoring, changing the subject, turning away), or Active Negative Responding (showing concern, pointing out problems); I repeat, none of these promote relationships. In fact they ALL have a negative impact on relationships, which obviously can negatively impact coaching. I've listened to thousands of coaching sessions over the years. Even "good" coaches tend to rely heavily on Passive Constructive Response, or a hybrid of ACR and PCR, which  clearly limits the value of their coaching. ACR can be a challenge to weave into coaching and for some of us, it's a challenge to make it truly genuine, but master coaches do it all the time. For others, over-using ACR (see above) damages our credibility. This is a tool that we can't afford not to master. (Read Martin Seligman's Flourish.)

3. Change Your Brain to Change Your Mind. This one comes from neuroscience and it has profound implications for positive psychology coaches, as well as every other type of coach. As members of my positive psychology course know, the Positivity Ratio can be used to measure and increase your current potential for flourishing and it'sa nifty coaching tool. There are also tools, founded in modern neuroscience, that can change the brain to sustainably increase peace, happiness, love and other elements of positivity. Literally, you can grow some areas of your brain so that they become more dominant, relatively permanently. And over-developed areas that may be problematic (such as the over-sized amygdala of those who suffer from anxiety) can shrink, again causing sustainable change. Change your brain; change your life for good. I just took a neuroscience seminar on this, but you can read more about it. (Read Rick Hanson's Buddha's Brain.)

4. Coaching's Not Complete If It's Not Integral. I'm taking a course from Integral Philospher, Ken Wilber. Some people say he's the most important philosopher since Plato, but that statement begs an argument, so I won't say it. Suffice it to say, if you don't know his work, your evolution may be stymied. And that of your clients, as well. As coaches, we say our clients are whole, complete and perfect. Trouble is, we may be blind to some of that perfection. And our clients almost certainly are. Blind spots make trouble (see #5, below). Wilber's Integral Model, known as AQAL, is an elegant map that streamlines how we know anything and how we evolve. It's closely aligned with Spiral Dynamics, which I'll be teaching next month. But AQAL goes even further. The AQAL Map is a beautiful tool to use when helping our clients design accountability structures, supportive systems, environments and strategic habitats (or whatever you prefer to call them). With AQAL, we can easily see if we're leaving anything out, or if the client is blind to some aspects of reality (almost everybody is). Plus, we have an evolutionary framework. It makes the complex simple, when you understand it. I'll be teaching an introductory course on integral coaching soon, but start reading books on Integral Theory now. (Read Wilber's simplest book, Integral Vision.)

5. All Coaching is Shadow Coaching - Or Should Be. My first lesson from Zen Master, Genpo Roshi, included a joke - on us. To paraphrase, he said (with a laugh), evolved people like to say they're whole, complete and perfect, except the parts they don't like about themselves. But you can't be complete without all of it! So what parts of yourself don't you like? The part that overeats? The part that's naive? The part that gets tongue-tied at parties? It's not those parts that keep you fragmented, it's the fact that you try to disown them. Then they become blind spots, which grow into shadows, which undermine and sabotage you. That's what fragmentation really is. For many people, the first step toward wholeness is integration of the parts they formerly disliked. That's the underlying cause of stuckness and it keeps coming back until all aspects of the self are integrated (or Integral). Some people are so fragmented that they lose the ability to choose wholeness. That's what is known as mental illness and I'm not suggesting that shadow coaching can cure that. But even healthy people have shadows and we can choose to integrate them with assistance from a skilled coach.  I use this approach in my Great Self Coaching. Genpo Roshi is incredibly masterful at it from a Zen perspective. (Read Genpo Roshi's Big Mind/Big Heart.)

6. Your Business Model May Be Too Infantile to Last. I've also been studying Adizes Management Methodology of late. Ichak Adizes is a legendary management consultant who deftly identified several different stages of a business life cycle. His theory explains, among other things, why the US Government is floundering these days (no, it has nothing to do with Republicans vs. Democrats). One thing that strikes me about it is that most coaches base their businesses on one of three early-stage levels and expect their businesses to continue at that stage forever. It won't happen. I'm happy to say, I saw this even before I studied Adizes and I'm ready for it. I'll write more at length on how you can design your business to last in a future post. But this issue could explain why our industry is so successful, but some coaches never enjoy that success. (Read Ichak Adizes' Corporate life cycles)

We all have access to too much information these days. But there really is no substitution for knowing the right stuff.

Topics: coaching business, Coaching, Coaches, Law of Attraction, master coach, Great Self Coaching, Spiral Dynamics, Ken Wilber, Genpo Roshi, Big Mind Big Heart, Integral Philosophy, acknowledgment, coaching tool, Positive Psychology, Martin Seligman

Coaching Questions Don't Always End With Question Marks

Posted by Julia Stewart

Business Coach, Mattison Grey, MCCToday, in the International Association of Coaching's (IAC) Voice newletter/blog, an article by Business Coach, Mattison Grey, MCC, appeared with the title, When the Best Coaching Tool Isn't a Question.

In her article, Mattison makes a powerful case for acknowledgment as a masterful coaching tool. She should know. Mattison wrote the book on acknowledgment called, The Motivation Myth. And she points out that most coaches don't know what it is or confuse it with something else.

Mattison has studied the art of acknowledgment more than anyone I know, probably more than any coach alive, so I always defer to her on this subject. She started educating me on acknowledgment six or seven years ago and I've watched her use it in action many times. It truly is amazing.

Unfortunately, if you haven't watched a master acknowledger practice her art, or if you didn't know what you were witnessing, you probably missed the implications. So let me point out a few.

Here's Mattison's definition of acknowledgment:

Acknowledgment is saying what a person did, or results they achieved, delivered with a tone of appreciation, curiosity or surprise, and without judgment.

Easy, right? Try it. For most coaches, it's anything but easy. That's because we're still getting in the client's way (In other words, we're NOT making it all about them, so we're failing the first step in master coaching).

If you acknowledge well, here are some of the things that may happen:

  • Your client lights up
  • They feel seen/heard
  • They don't feel suspicious (as in, 'What's she buttering me up for?')
  • They acknowledge themselves ('I did!')
  • They open up to us
  • They see themselves in a new light
  • They tell us things we didn't even know to ask about
  • They think more resourcefully
  • They step into their Personal Greatness
  • They are willing to do far more
  • They love themselves (and us)

When I teach acknowledgment to Master Coach Training students, I offer a few pointers, such as, use second-person pronouns (you, your, yours) instead of first-person pronouns (I, me, mine); acknowledge what the client did, the results they got and who they are becoming.

When used well, acknowledgment can express or enhance virtually any other coaching skill, including all of the IAC Coaching Masteries(tm). The right acknowledgment, well-placed and followed by a bit of silence, can even be a powerful clarifier.

Which is one reason why master coaches don't always ask questions.

Motivation Myth

 

Get your copy of Mattison's book, The Motivation Myth (at left) and become a master of acknowledgment.*

 

*I'm an affiliate of Mattison's and I would recommend this book, anyway.

Topics: business coach, Coaching, blog, Become a Master Coach, coaching questions, Mattison Grey, Masterful Coaching, acknowledgment, MCC, Master Coach Training, IAC, coaching tool

New Free Coach Training Tool

Posted by Julia Stewart

Free Coach Training Tools

[UPDATE: DECEMBER 2012 - The Coaching Certificate Exam is no longer available with the Free Coach Training Program.]

As effective as Free Coach Training is, the downside is that new coaches need to track their own progress. That said, a talented new coach can launch his/her own coaching business just with the 28-hour Free Coach Training program. And now you have a new tool to help you with that!

As FCT graduate and Coaching Certificate holder, Scott Schumacher, has said:

"I had no idea how a 28 hour free training program could so effectively set me on a path to coaching as a profession.  This program was also a huge self-development boost for me, and I discovered so much about myself and ways I could improve my communication with friends, how I “showed up” in the world every day, and that I could almost naturally start affecting others with this change in myself."

Our Ultimate Coach Training members get quite a bit more support from us. But I decided that it's time to add a new tool (The ICF would call it an accountability structure; the IAC would call it a supportive structure...) that will help you stay on track, learn what you need to learn, become who you need to become, get your Coaching Certificate, and understand your next steps toward becoming a successful coach.

 

Picture by L. Marie

Topics: coaching business, coach training, free coach training, ICF, coaching career, IAC, coaching tool

Qi Dao Coaching and Healing

Posted by Coach Training

Qi Dao CoachingGuest Blogger, Lama Somananda Tantrapa, is the holder of the lineage of Qi Dao that has been fostered in his clan for 27 generations since 1224 AD.  He has over 30 years of experience in Qi Dao and other internal martial arts.  After pioneering Qi Dao Coaching in 2000, he has provided wellness, peak performance and life coaching to hundreds of clients from all walks of life.  His coaching has inspired many professional athletes, speakers, dancers, singers, writers and actors to open up to the infinite source of power that exists within everyone. Lama is Founder and Editor of Mastery Journal.

Qi Dao Coaching and Healing


Most health professionals agree that their clients heal when they are ready to heal. An energy healing modality promoting facilitating self-healing deserves some serious attention at this day and age.

Thousands of years ago, Qigong formed the foundation of Oriental medicine and needs to be regarded as such. All styles of Qigong work with Qi – universal energy, or life force – that is considered to be the basis of life; therefore, energy awareness offers us the key to health, happiness and longevity. Most styles of Qigong use movements, breathing, meditation and visualization for the purpose of cultivating Qi. They are often taught through “doing forms,” or choreographed movements, that are to be memorized and repeated on a regular basis.

At one time or another, all styles originated from a primordial foundation of Qigong that was deeply rooted in the Shamanic Medicine Dances.  Tibetan Shamanic Qigong, also known as Qi Dao, goes back to the Shamanic roots of Qigong and encourages its practitioners to stay true to the universality of this energy art.  Its spiritual tradition has been preserved in my family by twenty-seven generations of masters who dedicated their lives to exploring the ways to apply energy awareness to all spheres of life, from fighting to healing and sexual energy arts.  

In contrast to doing any repetitive Qigong or Tai Chi forms, Qi Dao teaches us how to feel the flow of energy and how to be in the flow. The practice of Qi Dao includes no routines of repetitive movements that are supposed to manipulate or cultivate Qi. Unlike acupuncturists, Qi Dao practitioners have no need for memorizing the myriad of acupuncture points and meridians; instead, we learn to navigate the energetic pathways by feeling the flow of Qi, using our personal observation and intuition. Free of any methods of manipulating other’s energy or directing it where we think it should go, Qi Dao teaches us that there is an abundant source of energy within us that we can tap by paying attention to the existing flow of Qi without any judgments. Empowering others to embody such an attitude became the hallmark of the new discipline is called Qi Dao Coaching.

“The flow of things,” traditionally referred to as the Dao, makes no mistakes; therefore, Qi always flows as it should. Even if the energy doesn’t appear to flow as expected, it still flows somewhere as long as we are alive. When we experience any symptoms, i.e. pain in any part of the body, most of us habitually tend to worry about the pain perceiving it as a problem, or an energy blockage.  Qi Dao teaches us to shift our attention from the worries about pain to the flow of energy that may be streaming somewhere around the block, just like water flowing around any obstacles. The practitioners of Qi Dao learn to accept every experience as a lesson, rather than a problem, and to accept the challenge of surrendering to the flow of Qi.

As Qi Dao practitioners, we learn to trust that, no matter what happened or will happen to us, our lives constantly unfold in the way that resonates with the energies we identify with. On one hand, we always experience exactly what we need to experience in order to learn our life’s lessons. On the other hand, we have the freedom of choice as to which energies to identify with moment by moment. By bringing this awareness into the present moment, Qi Dao Coaching helps us reveal our inner nature spontaneously through fluid and natural movements, sounds and other expressions.  This approach to movement therapy and bodywork is deeply rooted in this archetypal field of human consciousness, our true nature. Consciously entering “Qigong State” allows us to suspend discriminating logic and judgmental reasoning. This promotes profound experiences in dynamic meditation and lucid dreaming, facilitating profound peace and receptivity to inner guidance. In this meditative state, we learn to perceive energy flowing through the body and simply surrender to that flow, which feels like total harmony and well-being.

Qi Dao Coaching clients heal themselves by learning to manifest the dreams that various parts of their organisms strive for consciously or unconsciously. This empowers them to integrate all the aspects of their bodies, minds and spirits as they learn to embody vibrant health and well-being. Awakening the healer within them, Qi Dao empowers the clients to let go of resistance to their issues and thereby transcend them.  It allows them to break through the lifetimes of their old habits and programmed patterns of behavior and body awareness.  

Qi Dao Coaching represents the “missing link” between the modern body-oriented Somatic Therapies and ancient Shamanic healing, working with the whole human being. Our ancient holistic tradition not only addresses the issues on the physical, emotional, and spiritual levels, but also balances all these levels. With practice, we learn to pay attention to the whole spectrum of spontaneous processes occurring in the human being. Qi Dao Coaching may be a perfect methodology for experiencing and exploring the qualities of human consciousness usually dormant in the conditions of our “information age” lifestyles.  
    


Topics: Coaching, coach, clients, mastery, Life Coaching, coaching tool

Going Back in Time and Striking Coaching Gold

Posted by Julia Stewart

Coaching ToolWhile researching "distinctions", an important coaching tool, for a recent class at the School of Coaching Mastery, I decided to go back in time and find the original Thomas Leonard Distinctionary.

Most people don't know this version exists or think that it's gone, but there's a nifty little web archive known as www.waybackmachine.org [Update: 5-2-09, WayBackMachine now lives at http://www.archive.org/index.php ] where many old pages can still be found and back in 1997, the original Distinctionary was in the public domain. It's still there in the archive, gathering dust...

So if you ever have the urge to understand the difference between "Experiencing feelings vs. Medicating" or "Fully communicate vs. Dump", a trip back in time might be just the thing ~

Go here to access The Distinctionary

Another intriguing site with its own distinctionary (There are many distinctionaries out there) is:

http://www.theinfinitegames.org/e08/

Copyright, Julia Stewart, 2007

Topics: School of Coaching Mastery, coaching class, Thomas Leonard, coaching tool

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