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What is a Coaching Mindset and How Do You Get It and Maintain It?

Posted by Julia Stewart

Coaching MindsetThe ICF recently added the first new Core Coaching Competency in over two decades.

It's called: Maintains a Coaching Mindset.

This post will clear up confusion about what a Coaching Mindset is, why it matters, and how you can develop and maintain it. Because once you understand this, a doorway opens that makes masterful coaching possible for you.

The first thing to know is that this competency is demonstrated both outside coaching sessions as well as during coaching. In other words coaching, with its expansive positivity, curiosity, presence, and acknowledgement isn't something you just do for an hour or two and then revert to thinking and acting small. Thinking like a coach is a 24/7 commitment.

Maintains a Coaching Mindset helps counter the misconception that coaching is merely a performative skill set.

The ICF definition of Maintains a Coaching Mindset is:

Develops and maintains a mindset that is open, curious, flexible and client-centered.

 

Coaches need to show up this way during coaching sessions because it helps raise the client's receptivity and resourcefulness, which are key to the client's success. Great coaches do more than help clients solve their problems. They help them grow into people who stop having those problems. Plus, coaches need to show up this way outside coaching sessions in order to maintain trust and respect with clients.

Because, almost anyone can learn the communication techniques of coaching. But until they learn to think like a coach, that will limit their clients' outcomes and growth, and it will also limit the coaches' careers, because clients won't want to work with them. Why not?

Potential clients naturally mistrust coaches who are closed-minded, incurious, rigid, or self-centered; even if just a little bit.

So how do you develop and maintain a coaching mindset? Here are several approaches:

  • Develop your self-awareness. Because you cannot be client-centered if you are unaware of where you end and your client begins. It's surprising how often people are unaware of this. If you are a helpaholic or compulsive advice giver, you need work here. Get to know your own Strengths and Values, as well as your Needs, biases, unhealed wounds, assumptions, and habits. It's a lot to be aware of and it will always be a work in progress, but healthy personal growth can carry a coach a long way. How can you achieve this?
  • Develop self-regulation. When your Needs, boundaries, and self-care are well met, you can show up positively and your negative emotions are much less likely to get in the way. This can change your entire outlook as well as what you think is possible for your clients. A coach or therapist can give you customized support with this, but there are several other approaches that can work well:
    • Know your boundaries and how to communicate them. Just as good fences make good neighbors, good boundaries are the foundation of good relationships. What are you not okay with? What are your deal breakers? Good boundaries are clear but also flexible and boundary conversations help us navigate varied cultural perspectives, a necessary skill in the 21st Century. Boundaries are basic rules of engagement that help you and others be your best. When you know how to communicate boundaries, you put people at ease and relationships progress more smoothly. For example: Your written agreement with your clients is a formalized set of boundaries. In fact, most difficult issues that could come up in coaching relationships can be forestalled by what is included in that agreement. You need less formal boundaries in your personal relationships but don't try to live without them. By the way, sometimes the person you need to set boundaries with the most is yourself. You can learn to set boundaries by taking trainings or even reading books on boundaries. Here's a good one.
    • Know your Needs and get them met. We all have them. Most of us go through life hoping ours will be met  and then suffering needlessly because Needs aren't met by chance. They are our own responsibility. If we don't actively work to get them met, it's unlikely that they will be. Abraham Maslow said meeting Needs is like taking vitamins; they keep us healthy. Unhealthy coaches can't reliably maintain a coaching mindset. Read about Needs here. Take this course to learn how to help yourself and your clients get Needs met.
    • Take your self-care seriously. Working crazy hours, eating a terrible diet, never exercising, juggling stress,  sleeping too little, and impoverished relationships can all block your coaching mindset and you may not even notice. But others will. Don't take that chance. What's one thing you know you need to start doing, or stop doing, to take care of you? Are you willing to commit to that change? Great, when can you start?
  • Develop your intuition, empathy, creativity, and positivity. Western culture has long prized reason, logic, and rational thought, the so-called left-brain thinking patterns. Those qualities have taken our culture a long way. But your brain has two hemispheres. You can't live your best life without both. Coaching excels because it unabashedly includes other ways of thinking that are associated with the right brain. Integrate your brain so you can move back and forth seamlessly. Why does this matter? It helps provide the wisdom, flexibility, positivity and creativity that are prized in master-level coaching. And it helps you develop a coaching mindset. This leads almost effortlessly to more profound client outcomes. They are so worth it. Here's how:
    • Engage in contemplative practices and use one or more to prepare for coaching sessions. These will help change your brain by temporarily lowering stress. Over time, you'll develop greater perspective, more maturity, and more wisdom. Because we are all prone to stress but cannot coach well when when we are in the fight, flight, or freeze response, we need these practices to prepare for coaching sessions. Traditional practices, such as mindfulness, sitting meditation, walking meditation, prayer, chanting, and ritual can all change your brain state briefly, so they are ideal for preparing before coaching sessions, but when practiced  daily for months and years, they change those relaxed states into enduring traits by integrating the brain. If you're more secular, uncomfortable with a spiritual approach, or technology is your thing, there are powerful research-based breath exercises and verified practices based on smartphone apps and other devices. HeartMath is effective for many. Over time, these practices can help you strengthen your True Self and be less controlled by your ego. That can help you be happier. Your True Self (sometimes called Personal Greatness, Higher Self, Wise Self, etc.) is essentially your coaching mindset.
    • Live a Values-driven life. Your Values are what really matter to you. If you are spending all your time on other matters, you cannot be your True Self, nor can you live your best life, nor may you coach masterfully. When your mindset is focused on what matters, you are thinking like a coach and can coach clients to greatness.
  • Keep Learning. The ICF and most other certifiers require that you continue your coaching education throughout your career. When you choose a coach training, look not for the acquisition of mere technical information, but for the kind of adaptive challenges that will assist you to coach at increasingly higher levels and to show up with the mindset of your True Self, Personal Greatness, or Higher Self. In other words, training that will challenge you to show up with the mindset of a coach. It's worth it.

The Certified Positive Psychology Coach Program and Certified Neuroscience Coach Program can help you learn beginning-to-advanced coaching skills and develop a coaching mindset. Or read more about becoming a coach in the free Become a Positive Psychology Coach eBook.

 

Learn more about becoming a coach here:

 

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Topics: become a coach, ICF, Certified Positive Psychology Coach, personal development, coaching with neuroscience, brain, FIND A COACH, free ebook, personal greatness, personal growth, personal values, become a positive psychology coach, certified neuroscience coach, Competencies

Coaching Accountability Isn't What You Think It is

Posted by Julia Stewart

Coaching accountability with a bullhorn cropped

Managing Progress and Accountability is an ICF Core Coaching Competency that is frequently missed when coaches apply for certification, according to ICF certifiers.

I could be wrong, but I think the name, itself, confuses coaches. It sounds like the coach literally manages the client and holds them accountable to achieve their goals the way an employer might, but that's not what helps clients progress, and it's really not what ICF certifiers are looking for.

It's time somebody told you the secret of motivation and it has nothing to do with holding your clients accountable...

Here's why: Have you ever caught yourself being stubborn with someone (your friend, sibling, spouse, perhaps) about something you really wanted to do but you were only willing to do it your way or not at all? Or has someone ever told you that you need to change something about yourself, and even if you agreed with them, you didn't do it? Or do you ever ask for advice and then don't follow it?

If yes to any of these, you're normal. People naturally resist doing what others tell them to do and unless that other has something important to hang over their head, like their job, they often won't do it even if they want to.

 

We all get a little negative in these situations and that negativity has power over us that most people underestimate.

 

Here's an example: An SCM graduate just posted a meme on Facebook that said she never shares memes that say, "I bet I won't get even one share," even if she otherwise likes the meme. I don't share them, either. In fact, I did an impromptu poll once on my Facebook feed to see if others shared them. Nobody did. They're annoying.

Subtle levels of negativity, defensiveness, resistance, anxiety, or irritation of any type trigger the fight, flight, or freeze response unconsciously, which in turn delivers a cocktail of stress hormones, like cortisol, which can stay in the blood stream for quite a while and hold the client back from taking action. Essentially, they freeze.

 

So if a coach presumes to manage a client in any way, especially by checking up on them, or requiring the client to check in with the coach, or in any way holding them accountable, there's a good chance that will backfire. Don't do it.

 

What does work? A recent article by researcher, Richard Boyatzis and colleagues, at TrainingIndustry.com, offered five possibilities that have been found to help people change. Boyatzis is well-known for his research and teachings on coaching, emotional intelligence, and leadership. His change theory of positive emotional attractors (PEAs) v negative emotional attractors (NEAs), which roughly translate to positivity v negativity in positive psychology terms, helps explain why some approaches to change don't work while others do.

 

In a nutshell, change is stressful and that releases stress hormones that trigger the fight, flight or freeze response.

 

Something or someone needs to continually bring the client back to positivity so negativity doesn't prevent them from proceeding. That someone is often the coach.

 

Forcing or requiring people to do things increase stress so pushy coaches often fail.

 

Goals, alone, aren't motivating unless they are aligned with what matters most to the client, such as their personal values, vision, mission, calling, dream, passion, or life purpose. Any goals, especially challenging goals, that aren't aligned with the client's bigger picture, are unlikely to provide sufficient positivity to carry the client forward.

 

Growth and Transcendence aren't just a byproduct of great coaching.

 

They are necessary ingredients that help our clients reach their goals. That's why the IAPPC focuses on them instead of accountability. So, we need to help link their goals to what really inspires in order for them to succeed.

 

To learn more about the science of coaching and prepare yourself to become a Certified Positive Psychology Coach®, join the International Association of Positive Psychology Coaches and attend our series on the nine NEW  Positive Psychology Coaching Skills, from Optimum Positivity, to Goals & Achievement, and Growth & Transcendence. These skills are based on research and increase effectiveness of coaching.

Membership in IAPPC is free for a short time longer. We will be certifying current members for free in the first half of 2022.

 

Become a Member of IAPPC for Free

 

Topics: ICF, Certified Positive Psychology Coach, Positive Psychology, Science of Coaching, personal values, IAPPC

Coaching Tip: The Last Motivational Tool You'll Ever Need

Posted by Julia Stewart

ofpush.jpg

Ah January, the beginning of a new year. It's the month to make resolutions and the busiest time of the year for the fitness industry. This is when you're most likely to be bombarded by motivational tips, tools, pep talks, speakers, posters, efficiency hacks, apps, books, coaching programs, etc., ad nauseum.

When I went to Flickr just now to find an image for this post under the keyword, "motivation", all I got were a zillion motivational posters like the one above. Have you ever wondered why there's so much motivational junk out there?

Because it doesn't work.

For instance, one the motivational posters I just saw has a formula on it: Sweat + Sacrifice = Success. Oh. Didn't that just solve everything for you?

No, me either.

If 99% of existing motivational junk was worth anything, the issue would be solved by now and you and your friends wouldn't be searching for better ways to accomplish what you need to do.

Up until now, if you truly wanted motivation, you had to get another person involved, like a personal trainer. I used to be a personal trainer in Manhattan and one of my clients dubbed me, "Motivation for Hire", because I showed up at her door every night whether she wanted to exercise or not (usually not). I got her healthy again and she felt virtuous when I left, but she paid me about $20,000 per year for that motivation.

I'm going to clue you in for free.

I'm going to share with you a tool that upgrades motivation so much, that people literally can do what they want, when they want, and still get more accomplished than they can with any other approach.

Yes, really.

I learned about this tool from the Father of the Coaching Profession, Thomas Leonard, who was one of the most prolific people I've ever known and he did whatever he wanted when he wanted. When I first tried doing whatever I wanted when I wanted, I had a blast and accomplished more on my To-Do list than ever. In fact, I mentioned that to the client above and she said, "If I tried that, I'd never get anything done."

Back then, I couldn't explain how it worked, but now I can.

The difference is to orient your life around what is uniquely you. Another way to say it is to build your life around what matters most to you. Most people think this will be difficult, or that they will fail, but the opposite is usually true. It certainly was for me.

Thomas called this TrueValues, but I call it your unique values, because it only works when you focus on what matters uniquely to you. Building your life around your unique values is transformative, joyful, meaningful, growth-oriented, and one of the great secrets of success.

It's not just motivating; it's inspiring.

If you have the integrity to identify and live what is uniquely important to you, you will never need another motivational tool, because you literally will be able to do what you want for the rest of your life. In fact, I suspect the reason you have trouble motivating yourself to do what does not matter to you, is because deep down, your heart is telling you your life is passing and you're not doing what you were designed for.

How to discover what's uniquely you?

Look at what you're driven to do now and ask yourself if it's a harmonious passion or an obsessive passion. If it's a harmonious passion, ask yourself what's most important about it to you? Keep asking until you have 10-20 answers. Then look at those answers and notice which ones resonate with you. Cross the others off the list.

Decide which of those harmonious reasons are the most important. You should end up with 3-5 of them. Now start making choices based on what fits those 3-5. Your life will begin to improve. When your entire life is oriented around your top unique values, you'll be able to do what ever you want when you want.

If you'd like some help with this, find a coach, below.

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Topics: Thomas Leonard, Values, FIND A COACH, personal values

The Critical Missing Link in Positive Psychology

Posted by Julia Stewart

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

Positive psychology has been ignoring what matters most in life.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are a few more important points about personal values:

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

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

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

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

Values are the missing link in wellbeing.

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

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

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

Upcoming Coach-Training Courses

 

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

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