Coaching Blog

Constructive Dissatisfaction

Posted by Julia Stewart

Hey, I'm way overdue posting to this site. My apologies! A lot has happened, though, since my last post. Donna and I hosted our first ACE Live Event in NYC, which was a great success. Plus, I moved to Missouri. (Talk about a change of venue!) 

Some things are still the same, though: like my subscription to FastCompany. In a recent article, Michael Eskew, CEO of UPS mentioned the importance of "constructive dissatisfaction" in running a successful company. He says complacency is the enemy. You have to keep thinking you can do better.

That statement really resonated with me. It's where the Confab came from. I witnessed a lot of unhappy coaches - and in a business that's supposed to help clients have successful and fulfilling lives, unhappiness in the coaches, themselves, is not a good thing.

On the other hand, pretending things are great when they're not doesn't work either. I wanted to give a voice to coaches whether they were satified or not, but I wanted the conversation to be constructive. Negativity is a dead end.

Constructive dissatisfaction is a guiding principle for me at ACE. I'm thinking that a commitment to excellence needs to include a willingness to be dissatisfied even when things are going great.

It occurs to me that this may appear to be the opposite of recognizing perfection in every situation. Actually I think it's an essential subtext: Things are perfect and they can be even better. Essential, because otherwise we run the risk of Stepford Coaching: pretending (no, requiring) that things be hunky-dory all the time. That just keeps us comfortably stuck.

A word that stood out for me at the ACE event was: uncomfortable.When we discussed what coaching excellence was and what stops us from achieving it, coaches talked a lot about having to get out of their comfort zones. Excellence can be rigorous.

For me, the commitment to excellence at ACE includes four steps:

1. Constructive dissatisfaction
2. Creative intelligence
3. Commitment to solutions
4. As much hard work as it takes

This is guaranteed to move me out of my comfort zone with regularity. Come to think of it, moving from NYC to a small town in Missouri has done that, too! 

I'm curous to hear you thoughts in tomorrow's Confab.

Copyright, Julia Stewart, 2005

Topics: Coaching, Donna Steinhorn, NYC

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