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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.

[UPDATE, October 10, 2019: The ICF just announced major changes in the Core Coaching Competencies to owners of ICF accredited coach training programs. As an owner of the ICF accredited Certified Positive Psychology Coach Program, I received a copy of the new Competency model but was asked to keep it confidential until they release the new model to all members. Accountability is still mentioned but is no longer as prominent. I'll write more when the full release occurs in November.]

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 Transformation aren't just a byproduct of great coaching. They are necessary ingredients that help our clients reach their goals. 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 & Transformation.

 

Become a Member of IAPPC for Free

 

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

Making the Case for Positivity in Coaching

Posted by Julia Stewart

positivity in coaching

Positivity is so accepted in coaching that most coaches don't even think about it. But what would they discover if they did?

I'm asking because, after observing thousands of coaching sessions, I'm convinced many coaches aren't using positivity as effectively as they might. We've known positivity, which is often defined as positive affect or positive emotions, has a powerful effect on us, both in the moment and later on. It doesn't just feel good, it's correlated with greater emotional and physical health, more success, better relationships, and even longer life.

Plus, according to recent research, positivity is a powerful tool, by itself, for getting results in coaching and it can enhance other powerful coaching tools for even more effective results.*

There are several theories often cited that help make the case for positivity in coaching.

Barbara Fredrickson's "Broaden and Build" theory of positivity, or positive affect, which dates back over twenty years, is often cited as a pathway to flexible thinking, noticing possibilities, more creative thinking, action planning, building resources, and goal striving, all of which can positively influence coaching session outcomes.

Marciel Losada's research on working teams found that team conversations that were significantly more positive, which was defined as focusing on others vs focusing on oneself, asking questions vs defending points of view, and making positive vs negative statements, enjoyed significantly more success than those that did not, which suggests these approaches may support improved outcomes in coaching.

John Gottman's research on what makes successful marriages work, identifies specific responses from one partner to another when the second partner shares something positive, as a key to promoting strong relationships. Gottman sometimes calls this "turning toward" vs "turning away" and says this can be even more powerful in building strong relationships than showing empathy and compassion in times of trouble.

Four categories have emerged to describe levels of turning toward and only one, which is called, Active and Constructive Responding, helps build relationships. Coaching tends to be less effective when the relationship between coach and client is weak and although I have never heard a competent coach engage in the most destructive type of response, Active and Destructive Responding, which a coach might express in a coaching conversation as something like, "You'll never be able to do that because you aren't smart enough," I have heard even "good" coaches sink to the level of Passive and Destructive Responding and Passive and Constructive Responding, which despite its name, doesn't help improve relationships.

Mastering Active and Constructive Responding, without letting it get in the way of other important coaching tools, is a key to masterful coaching because it raises positivity and strengthens the relationship.

But is positivity enough by itself to improve coaching?

According to a recent article by coaching psychology researchers, Anthony Grant and Sean O'Connor, using questions designed to raise positive affect or positivity (an example of such a question might be, "What's  something great that happened this week?') improves coaching outcomes, by itself, but when combined with another important coaching tool, solution-focused questions, outcomes are even more improved.

Previous coaching psychology research has shown that problem-focused questions are less effective in coaching than solution-focused questions. To simplify, problem-focused questions are referred to as "Why" questions, such as, "Why do you have this problem?" They have been found to lower negative affect and raise confidence in the client's ability to solve (self-efficacy). While solution-focused questions, referred to as, "How?" questions, or, "How could you solve this?" have been shown to lower negative affect, raise self-efficacy, and raise positive affect, as well.

But research that studied three types of coaching questions, problem-focused, solution-focused, and positivity-focused, found that combining solution-focused questions with positivity-focused questions had the most positive outcomes, of all, suggesting this powerful combo may need to be adopted by coaches who want to be most effective.

Interestingly, the ICF Core Coaching Competencies don't mention positive-focused questions or positivity even in some of their most detailed descriptions, such as their Core Competencies Comparison Table.

That's not to suggest the ICF discourages positivity and positive-focused questions. The outcomes of positivity that one might expect in effective coaching are described, but the tools of positivity are not. The Competencies are among the most influential coaching technologies. What if the ICF encouraged these tools that have been found so effective?

[UPDATE, 10-10-2019: The ICF just announced to owners of ICF-accredited programs, such as the Certified Positive Psychology Coach Program, a new coaching competency model which they want to keep confidential until they announce it to their entire membership. There some mention of positivity tools now but limited.]

That's why the new International Association of Positive Psychology Coaching (IAPPC) is developing its own coaching technology and positivity, which we define broadly as including positive affect, positive-focused questions, positive conversations, turning toward and more, as important tools in effective coaching, making it  critical to great coaching.

In fact, "Optimum Positivity" is our first coaching skill.

The word, "optimum" is important because maximum positivity can damage. We're placing optimum positivity as a top-line coaching skill set which can enhance almost every other coaching skill.

I'll be introducing the Positive Psychology Coaching Skills in next month's meeting of the IAPPC and will highlight fascinating research, coaching "how-tos", and examples on leading with positivity during our 75-minute interactive webinar.

 

If you are already a member, watch for your invitation to this important meeting that may instantly upgrade your coaching.

 

If you aren't already a member, join while it is still free, below:

 

Become a Member of IAPPC for Free

 

* Shout out and thanks to the Institute of Coaching for sharing this research with its members.

Topics: ICF, coaching questions, Barbara L Fredrickson, coaching skills, Positive Psychology, positive psychology coaches, positivity, IAPPC

We're Building a New Home for Positive Psychology Coaches

Posted by Julia Stewart

IAPPC logo 1 8-18

A small community of positive psychology coaches has recently incorporated as the International Association of Positive Psychology Coaches.

The original community was launched by David McQuarrie, CPPC, and me in 2016. We began meetings by identifying who were are by exploring our shared strengths, values, and needs. It soon became clear that we are an organization of peers who are passionate about learning and mastering the new field of positive psychology coaching and sharing what we learn to help create a better world for all.

At this point, we have over 400 members and haven't even launched our website, yet!

[UPDATE 8-27-19: We officially have over1000 members now and are 4 months ahead of schedule. Thanks so much for your support!]

We're not here to compete with other coaching and positive psychology organizations, but to fill the gaps that other organizations haven't met.

How can you learn more about the new IAPPC and get a limited-time free membership?

  • Attend the exciting upcoming meeting. This is where stuff really happens. Learn what's coming from IAPPC and share your thoughts on what will help you most. You need to be a member to get an invitation.
  • Join IAPPC now and enjoy free benefits for Founding Members. It won't all be free forever, but we intend to delight you so much that continuing membership will be a no-brainer. Join now and get your Founding Member badge.
  • Join us on Facebook here. Discover other members and share exciting news.
  • Invite your friends to join us. The more members, the more benefits we can provide for less cost. We'd love to attract 1,000 members by 2020! Use the social sharing buttons at the top of this post to share with others. Thanks so much!

What's the relationship between SCM and IAPPC?

Previous coaching organizations, such as the ICF and IAC, were launched by the owners of coaching schools. That makes sense because we have mailing lists of coaches, connections and know-how, and infrastructure that can support a fledgling organization until it's ready to fly. SCM has been there for this organization through its infancy and will continue to support it as it matures.

That said, IAPPC is for all positive psychology coaches, regardless where you trained. You can get involved now and you can qualify to apply for IAPPC's upcoming certifications when they are available. Our goal is to launch the International Association of Positive Psychology Coaches as a fully independent not-for-profit professional association with its own certification. Please join us!

 

Join now while it's still free and get your Founding Member badge:

 

Become a Member of IAPPC for Free

Topics: ICF, Certified Positive Psychology Coach, IAC, Positive Psychology, positive psychology coaching, positive psychology coaches, IAPPC

The Role of Positive Psychology in Planetary Consciousness

Posted by Julia Stewart

Planetary Consciousness

At the International Positive Psychology Association's 6th World Congress this year, positive psychology pioneer, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi*, gave a talk called, Towards a Planetary Consciousness.

He asked, "What is the contribution Positive Psychology can make to the global society evolving on this planet--which could result either in an unprecedented flowering of life, or in its total extinction?

That's a heavy question for what is often referred to as, "the science of happiness", but it's similar to questions being asked worldwide by thought leaders as the Climate Crisis heats up and critical resources run out. Currently, large percentages of the world's populations are without reliable food and water, while natural disasters are on the rise, and the resulting conflicts, migrations, political turmoil, economic instability, and wars have left many feeling anxious about the future while also mourning what's already been lost.

By the way, this is a massive coaching opportunity: helping people develop the resilience they need so they can flourish in an increasingly difficult future.

Csikszentmihalyi is neither a marketer nor politician. Nor is he a spiritual teacher who promises to help you evolve your consciousness, so there was no soaring rhetoric nor sweeping promises in his talk. He's a scientist who is opening up a conversation on where positive psychology might help help in developing universal values that may help people thrive, without forcing one culture's values upon others. It's unusual even to hear a scientist use the word, "consciousness" because it is so difficult to define.

"Unless we find good solutions, the future will be a pretty bad place to live for our children and grandchildren."

Positive psychology deviates from previous psychological study by looking at what constitutes "the good life", a question usually asked by philosophers. Csikszentmihalyi said scientists need to explore the teachings of spiritual leaders such as Zoroaster and the Buddha to find what works best in today's world and share their findings with the leaders of the future.

Clearly this is an important issue for leadership coaches, who will want to pay close attention to the research that results from this focus. We all will.

 

Thinking about becoming a positive psychology coach? Download the FREE eBook:

 

Free Become a Positive Psychology Coach eBook

 

* If you're not quite sure how to pronounce "Csikszentmihalyi", here's a useful mnemonic: "Chick sent me high."

Topics: future of coaching, Positive Psychology, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Values, Climate Change, become a positive psychology coach, IPPA

How to Distinguish Healthy Positivity From Toxic Positivity

Posted by Julia Stewart

Toxic Positivity

Most coaches are highly positive and that is a wonderful thing.

Positivity helps our clients believe in themselves and their goals. And that's a key to helping them reach those goals. So positivity is one of the keys to masterful coaching. But sometimes coaches, and their clients, misunderstand what positivity really is, when it is most powerful, how to cultivate it, and how to use it well. Like all powerful tools, positivity, when used incorrectly, can cause problems. Big problems!

This is one of the many reasons professional coaches need to be well trained, so they understand the nuances of the powerful tools they use. Otherwise they may backfire.

Positive psychology researcher, Barbara Fredrickson, calls positivity the experience of positive emotions such as gratitude, serenity, love, and more. Experiencing enough of these on a regular basis can be transformative and leads to flourishing by broadening awareness, building our strengths, and helping us become the best versions of ourselves. She makes distinctions about the most useful forms of positivity, such as positivity that is natural vs. artificial, spontaneous vs. insincere, and positivity that's harmonious vs. obsessive. The latter are less useful, but according to Fredrickson, most people can benefit from experiencing more the the former.

Barbara Fredrickson's definition of positivity is what I call Healthy Positivity.

Healthy Positivity may sometimes include intense positive emotions, but more often includes subtle feelings such as open-mindedness, curiosity, empathy, contentment, optimism, generosity, harmony, kindness, compassion, wisdom, perseverance, flexibility, and belief in others (notice that most of these are Character Strengths). Healthy Positivity isn't 100% positive. It's more like 75-90% positive, over time. You can be positive and still have some difficult moments and even some bad days. The point is that you can respond to life instead of trying to control it. And you use your wisdom to help build positive habits that feel good, but ultimately, help you and the people around you enjoy more health, greater success, stronger relationships, and even longer life (according to some researchers).

In contrast, Toxic Positivity tends to be intense, even relentless. The person has an agenda to be 100% positive and wants people around them to be positive too. Toxic Positivity is self-centered, artificial, rigid, can drive others away, is sometimes desperate, and tends to lead to failure.

What is Toxic Positivity like?

  • Toxic Positivity has a manic quality to it. It fails to notice genuine concerns or to respond to what is going on. It feels fake to other people and they are less likely to trust it (Imagine an overly friendly or excited salesman who makes you want to run away.) Toxic positivity isn't curious or responsive because the person has already decided how they will be - POSITIVE!!! - no matter the cost. Instead of being open to learning from what's happening, or to notice how others are responding, Toxic Positivity claims everything is GREAT!!!. Example: I had a friend I'll call, Bob*, who was studying the Law of Attraction hoping it would help him build his coaching business. He tried a new marketing campaign and I texted him later to see if he got a good response. He replied, "Nope! Not a one! LOL!" I was glad he wasn't discouraged, but curiosity about what wasn't working and a plan to make it better might have led him to success faster.
  • Toxic positivity is judgmental or lacks compassion. It tells others to stop being so negative. It avoids people who are sick or depressed (If being around suffering is harming your mood, do give yourself a break, but you don't have to avoid every friend who is down. Compassion is positive.) Toxic positivity is self-absorbed and others often respond negatively to it. Example: When Bob's city was engulfed in a dangerous weather disaster that knocked out power and internet for thousands, made roads impassible for days, and put countless humans and animals in life threatening situations, I reached out to see if he was okay. His response? "I thought it was fun! LOL!" Wow, Bob, you used to be such a caring person.
  • Toxic positivity is selfish and can't see past its own agenda. This is a disservice to others and people feel drained by it. Example: I took a break from Bob's relentless laugh track and explained why to him. Not surprisingly, he didn't understand, possibly because his agenda was in the way. I know he'll come back to himself overtime. Most people do recover from Toxic Positivity. But if you're being positive and it's annoying or offending people, or friends are just drifting away, maybe it's not them. It could be you.

By now, you have a pretty good idea of the difference between Healthy Positivity, which is transformative, and Toxic Positivity, which can be harmful to you and others. Knowing when to apply Fredrickson's positivity is a key. Continuing to be yourself is another. And don't forget, emotions are just information about how life is going for you. Most people, most of the time, don't need to override negative feelings. They need to pay attention to the information they're receiving from those feelings and respond to it. That's a positive approach. But there are times when negativity really doesn't help and even harms. That's when added positivity can make the biggest impact.

Here are three times when increasing your positivity matters most, depending on your current habits:

  1. THE PAST, if you're a habitual ruminator: someone who mulls over every mistake you've made, every embarrassment, or every perceived slight or criticism from others, every hurt feeling or moment of anger you've experienced, every frustration, etc., you're in danger of making yourself depressed. Shifting your thoughts - toward more positive reframes, such as accepting mistakes or criticisms as opportunities to learn and make better choices, or to design your life so you get to do more of what you're good at and surround yourself with supportive people who believe in you. Caveat: If you're already moderately to severely depressed, positive thinking may not be enough. Do get assistance from a therapist. But cultivating honest positivity is a healthy habit.
  2. THE PRESENT, if you're a chronic complainer: someone who is never quite satisfied, who is disappointed by less than excellence in every area, who does battle with every moment and maybe even with every other human, you're wearing yourself out and everyone around you. Complainers are drainers. They also can be toxic and literally harm their own health and that of those around them. We all have a negativity bias that makes it easier to notice the bad than the good, and when we are stressed, this tendency gets even stronger. Problem is, the more we focus on what we don't want, the more we get what we don't want. Moreover, people start to avoid us. Don't be a drainer. It takes discipline to start noticing what's going well and appreciate it, but it is well worth the effort. Even if the only positive in your life is that you're breathing, that's kind of awesome considering the alternative!
  3. THE FUTURE, if you're a constant worrier: you're trying to control the future, which rarely works, and you're using a costly and ineffective tool, to boot. As they say, worry is not a plan. Worse, worry tends to make us anxious and anxiety is one of the most common mental illnesses there is. Again, if you're chronically anxious, let a professional help you, but if you just need an upgrade, try imagining what you want instead of what you don't want. Then ask yourself how you could create it. If you need more resources to get there, start building them. If you're worried something will go wrong, plan how you'll handle it in advance. These tools can help you develop your confidence so fear doesn't get the better of you. Over time, you'll feel better and have better outcomes, too.

 

I hope these distinctions are useful. If you'd like to work with a coach on Healthy Positivity, find a positive psychology coach here.

 

If you'd like to get training to become an effective positive psychology coach, explore our program here.

 

If you just want to learn more about positive psychology coaching, download the FREE eBook here:

Get the Become a Positive Psychology Coach eBook

 

* A few details about "Bob" have been changed for this article.

 

 

Topics: Barbara L Fredrickson, Law of Attraction, coach training program, Positive Psychology, free ebook, positive psychology coach, positive psychology coach training, positivity, become a positive psychology coach, Toxic Positivity

15 Self-Care Must-Do's If You're a Highly Sensitive Coach

Posted by Julia Stewart

highly sensitve coach

There is an inherited trait known as Highly Sensitive Person (HSP), or Empath, that is common amongst coaches, especially master coaches.

According to research, 15-20% of all humans are born HSPs, as are 15-20% of all "higher" animals, such as monkeys. This suggests a survival value for the overall population. In other words, HSPs are needed by others. What's different about HSPs? We notice more and sense subtleties that others miss, process information deeply, are more empathic and emotional, and all of this can cause over-stimulation, overwhelm, and exhaustion. It's a blessing and a curse! However, if you're an HSP coach, it is a gift for you and your clients as long as you're aware of it and take especially great care of yourself and your sensitivity. To find out if you're a highly sensitive coach and how to optimize your sensitivity, read on...

Highly Sensitive Persons are impacted more intensely by both positive and negative environmental stimuli.

 

This means your self care, and who and what you surround yourself with, will have a more dramatic impact on you than on someone who is not an HSP. So to be a great coach, you need to take your well-being seriously. No wonder coaches love positive psychology!

Many of the qualities the ICF requires in their Master Certified Coaches (MCC), come naturally to HSPs.  These include conscientiousness, deep connection and awareness, vulnerability, presence, curiosity, empathy, ability to notice more, intuition, deep listening, quick learning, ability to stay in the background while eliciting the client's greatness, allowing the client to lead, and regarding the client with Love 2.0.

 

BUT. Even if you are an HSP, these qualities are unlikely to show up if you don't practice wonderful self care and personal growth, because over-stimulation causes you to shut down and become irritable. Not conducive to great coaching!

 

Here are Self-Care Musts for the Highly Sensitive Coach:

  1. Rest and quiet are your biggest self-care priorities if you're a highly sensitive coach. This includes eight or more hours of sleep every night. Seriously.
  2. Get significant alone time. Especially if you're also an introvert, you need at least an hour per day to yourself to be your best.
  3. Learn to set boundaries. If you haven't mastered this yet, put it at the top of your to-do list.
  4. Keep your client load relatively small. Don't coach more than 10 - 20 hours per week. Less is more!
  5. Work with a functional medicine physician to optimize your health because the affects of illness, fatigue, and pain will negatively impact you more than others.
  6. Work with your own coach, especially an HSP coach, to be your very best.
  7. Develop a meaningful spiritual practice that helps you stay centered and open.
  8. Consider working with a psychotherapist if you had a difficult childhood. HSPs who grow up in negative environments are often prone to depression and anxiety which can harm your coaching and your quality of life.
  9. Screen potential coaching clients to avoid working with difficult people who will drain your energy.
  10. Do consider working with clients who are HSPs and need coaches who understand them.
  11. Avoid "energy vampires", especially narcissists. According to Dr. Judith Orloff, Empaths (HSPs) do particularly badly with narcissists because they don't understand how someone can thoroughly lack empathy. If you can't avoid them, at least learn how to handle them.
  12. Consider working from home. You'll avoid difficult commutes, large crowds, and noxious environments.
  13. Set up your office so it is ideal for you and your sensitivities. The more you put up with, the harder it is to coach brilliantly. And your clients deserve nothing less!
  14. Find a sales and marketing process that leverages your sensitivity rather than forcing you to be who you are not. HSP marketing and sales is an advantage in coaching, but only if you rely on your strengths. Don't let anyone tell you differently!
  15. Embrace your sensitivity along with its downsides and rejoice that you've found the perfect profession for you. Self-compassion for your extra-care needs helps you love and appreciate your self and your clients.

 

Want to take a quick test to confirm whether you're an HSP? Go here.

 

References for this post include research scientist and psychotherapist, Dr. Elaine N. Aron's updated book, The Highly Sensitive Person, and psychiatrist, Dr. Judith Orloff's book, The Empath's Survival Guide, The former will appeal to you if you want to know the research into HSP. The latter is more spiritual in nature and offers many practices to protect your energy.

 

Are you an HSP coach who wants to benefit from the power of positive psychology so you can flourish?

 

Get the Become a Positive Psychology Coach eBook

Topics: ICF, master coach, MCC, Positive Psychology, personal growth, highly sensitive, self care

The Secret Super Power You Get From Evidence-Based Coaching

Posted by Julia Stewart

Confident coach

Why is evidence-based coaching, such as positive psychology and neuroscience coaching, growing so fast?

Why, for instance, are positive psychology and neuroscience coaches finding it easy to build their businesses?

Several reasons come to mind...

  • They use tools that really work.
  • They are experts in helping people change.
  • They sound credible even to people who think coaching is too "woo woo".
  • They are life-long learners who constantly upgrade their skills and knowledge.
  • They usually have the training and credentials they need that most clients clearly prefer.
  • They appeal to potential markets that have previously been closed to coaching.
  • They are more likely to use evidence-based tools in their sales and marketing.
  • And people are fascinated by positive psychology and neuroscience.
  • But there is one more huge reason: They are confident.

Here's a story to illustrate what I mean.

Long before I became a coach, I went back to school to become a physical therapist and started a part-time side business of personal training to pay my bills while going to school. I already had two degrees in dance and was previously a college dance teacher, but had a back injury and needed a career change. Back then, if you taught dance, the college also required you to teach aerobics, which meant I had to learn the research on exercise. The data blew me away. I knew how powerful exercise was and that gave me confidence and even certainty that I could help people with it. I knew almost nothing about sales and marketing but had a 95% success rate selling personal training. I was soon making double what physical therapists made, quit school, and added coaching to my services for even more success. And then, positive psychology and neuroscience transformed my coaching all over again. Now I'm celebrating twelve years of success with School of Coaching Mastery. And it all started with the confidence I got from knowing what really works and having a background that sounded credible to my clients.

Let confidence be your super power.

If you want more success and you're lacking any of the benefits of evidence-based coaching, get the training you need to be credible to your potential clients. Start with just one module, or take an entire program. Download more information below.

 

Get the FREE become a Positive Psychology Coach eBook:

 

Get the Become a Positive Psychology Coach eBook

 

Topics: Positive Psychology, coaching with neuroscience, become a positive psychology coach

Can Evidence-Based Coaching Include Spirituality?

Posted by Julia Stewart

Positive Psychology - Neuroscience - Spirituality Model

At School of Coaching Mastery, we specialize in evidence-based positive-psychology and neuroscience coaching.

But what about spirituality? It's the backbone of early coaching technology. Can we still include it?

One of the strengths of early coaching was that it wasn't constrained by western scientific notions of reality. It embraced, among other things, the notion that what we think about tends to show up in our lives, an idea that is confirmed by Barbara Fredrickson's Broaden and Build Theory, as well as some neuroscience findings. That freedom was a strength for coaching that allowed coaches to creatively try new techniques that appeared to be quite effective.

Later on, researchers began studying some of these new techniques and found that many were indeed effective.

But that doesn't mean anything goes in coaching. Nor does it mean we can only use tools that have already been sanctioned by science.

As neuro-psychologist and pioneer of interpersonal neurobiology, Dan Siegel has said,

"We must be informed by science but not constrained by it."

By this he means non-science sources of wisdom can be useful in assisting growth in clients. So yes, spirituality, which I define as any perspective that takes us beyond our small ego-based thinking for greater functioning, does inform effective coaching. In fact, some would argue, the ability to accommodate rational evidence-based thinking while remaining open to transformative experiences that science cannot yet explain, is an advancement of consciousness. Maslows Hierarchy of Needs

In fact, spiritual wisdom can move us upwards beyond what Abraham Maslow identified as self-actualization toward self-transcendence (this last concept is often attributed to Viktor Frankl).

This doesn't mean you should impose your own spiritual beliefs on your clients. Rather, step into their beliefs and leverage them to move the client forward. Where their previous beliefs hold them back, offer reframes that may be useful and leave it to the client to embrace these new ways of thinking, or not.

Again, this requires an openness that most don't posses, which is why personal development and spiritual practice are often a must to develop great coaching.

Curious how new ways of thinking can help you grow and reach your goals? Learn non-science concepts taught by the Father of Professional Coaching, Thomas Leonard...

 

Explore Thomas Leonard's 28 Principles of Attraction in this free eCourse:

 

Get Thomas' 28 Principles of Attraction Free eCourse

 

Topics: Thomas Leonard, Barbara L Fredrickson, Attraction Principles, personal development, Positive Psychology, coaching with neuroscience, spirituality

Your Recipe for a Happy 2019

Posted by Julia Stewart

Happy 2019

Each new year invites dreams for the future, goals to achieve, and evokes our desires for happiness.

Here's a secret about all that...

There is only one goal.

Every goal you have is a stand in for the one universal goal of happiness...

As the Buddha said, 2500 years ago, all beings just want to be happy and avoid suffering.

We have dreams and goals because we believe they will help us be happy and avoid suffering. Sometimes we have dreams and goals for others because we love them and want them to be happy and avoid suffering. But if we're honest, seeing our loved ones happy makes us happy, too.

Here's the thing...

Reaching goals doesn't make us happy. Sometimes we suffer to get things that leave us feeling disappointed. Other times we're happy when we reach our dreams but only for a short while. Psychologists tell us we over-estimate how happy we'll be when we reach our goals. One researcher, Sonja Lyubomirsky, has even averaged out how long we're likely to feel happier upon reaching various goals. Buy a new car? You may feel happier for three months. Marry your sweetheart? Two years. Most other goals offer happiness for much shorter time periods. After that, we go back to our "happiness set point" aka "resting dissatisfaction level".

Fortunately, we now know better ways to raise happiness levels sustainably and here they are...

As a positive psychology and neuroscience coach, I help people become happier, reach goals, and flourish. The ingredients I use may surprise you. To create a personalized recipe for your own happiness in 2019, choose three of the ingredients listed below and commit to trying it out. See what happens. Keep practicing. Some ingredients are designed to be used daily, some weekly, some only occasionally. You get to customize your happiness recipe for 2019...

1. Gratitude. Are you an appreciator or a complainer? It's okay to grouse a little; it can help blow off some negative steam, but overdo it and it can pull down your happiness level and the happiness of those around you. Try appreciating more, even the stuff that's not so great. Difficulties, for instance, can be re-framed into opportunities, learning experiences, and endings that make room for new beginnings. Develop gratitude into a habit and it may become an enduring strength. I used to be a chronic complainer and I was pretty unhappy. Now gratitude is one of my greatest strengths and I'm happy most of the time. Try these...

  • Daily practice: Three Good Things. According to researcher Robert Emmons, practicing gratitude is one of the most powerful tools for raising happiness. At the end of each day reflect on three good things that happened. Did you help them come about? Thank yourself for that. Did someone else contribute? Thank them tomorrow. Many people find writing down three good things is especially helpful, but even just thinking about them works. I like meditating at night and I start by spending a few minutes appreciating at least three good things. If you pray, you may want to thank God for the good you've received. Why does this work? It primes your brain to notice the good. Most brains naturally notice what's wrong more than what's right, but we can train ourselves to think more positively. We seem to get more of what we notice, so this can set us up for future happiness, as well.
  • Weekly practice: Gratitude Journal. Choose one day per week when you sit down and write a paragraph about each thing you most appreciate in your life. Put your heart into it. If you treat this as just another to-do it will have little benefit, but if you take a deep dive into what really matters and how grateful you are to have it, allowing yourself to really feel it, this practice will enrich your life immensely. I recommend getting a beautiful journal and hand writing in it. Whenever you need a happiness boost, read through your journal entries and you will naturally re-experience the positive feelings you had when you wrote about them.
  • Occasional practice: Gratitude Visit. This practice, designed by the Father of Positive Psychology, Martin Seligman, is perhaps the most profound. Think of someone who has made a real difference in your life, but whom you never fully thanked. It could be a teacher, parent, friend. They may have no idea what a difference they've made. Write a letter to them about it. Tell them in detail how they made a positive difference in your life and what the results have been. Now, if you possibly can, deliver your letter in person and read it aloud to them, making frequent eye contact. Research shows this practice boosts happiness levels even six months afterward for both the writer and the receiver.

2. Be Kind. Kindness to others also raises happiness in ourselves and others. We feel good about helping others especially if we can let go of the desire to be thanked or recognized for it. That said, learning to recognize kindness in ourselves and others and acknowledging it goes a long way toward hard-wiring this positive habit.

  • Daily Practice: Do one unexpected kindness each day and try not to get caught at it. Make it a fun game. You'll start noticing many opportunities to be more kind. Consider using your personal strengths for this. One person may be great at doing favors, another might be a wonderful listener. Still another may know when to give someone more privacy. Be careful about imposing acts of kindness on others. It's only kind if they truly benefit from it. The only aspect of kindness that's about you is the good feeling you get to have as a result. Never attain that good feeling at someone else's expense. Keep score in your gratitude journal. Note how you feel about what you did.
  • Weekly Practice: Track acts of kindness in your journal. Read your journal entries about your acts of kindness for a boost any time you're not feeling good about yourself. Also make note of acts of kindness you observe in others, whether you are the beneficiary or someone else is. When my mother had to be admitted to a nursing home, my first reaction to the place was how depressing it was. But when I began noticing the constant acts of kindness performed by the nurses and aids toward my mother, myself, and other members of my family, my experience transformed. I began to feel honored and grateful to be surrounded by so much kindness and I made a point of acknowledging the staff for it, which made their days happier, too.
  • Occasional Practice: Experience Awe. According to researcher, Dacher Keltner, when people experience awe, which can come about via witnessing natural beauty, human achievements, or spiritual wonder, people spontaneously engage in acts of kindness right afterward. I've experienced this at spiritual retreats, walks in the woods, especially when wild animals appear, going to the top of extremely tall buildings, flying over the Grand Canyon, watching a total eclipse of the sun, experiencing great art, and watching hot-air balloon races. Prime your brain for the extraordinary and let the extraordinary in you spontaneously blossom. You and those around you are likely to receive a happiness boost.

3. Practice Mindfulness. Being mindful is about learning to be present. Like gratitude and kindness, this can be strengthened into a habit and even become one of your greatest strengths. The benefits include actually experiencing your life while it's happening. The cost to not being present is you miss out on everything or feel empty even when life is good. That's a pity.

  • Daily Practice: Use mindless activities to be mind-full. Choose between one and three activities that you do daily but may not really be present for. I often use walking my dog, doing dishes by hand, or eating alone for this because none of these require difficulty or much thought. If you're accustomed to distracting yourself with your phone, tablet, computer, or TV, turn it off during these times. Keep yourself present by noticing information coming to you from all your five senses: sight, sound, smell, touch, taste. Once you've done that, ask yourself what about this moment you are grateful for. Then look for the opportunity to be kind. Consider following through on that and acknowledge yourself for being present, grateful, and kind.
  • Weekly Practice: Make at least one conversation per week all about the other person. Listen without formulating a response. If the person is going through something difficult, resist the urge to fix it or give advice. Be curious instead. Ask deeper questions. Notice what feelings come up for you. Notice the other person's feelings. Acknowledge their feelings. Notice how this impacts the conversation and even your relationship with this person.
  • Occasional Practice: When difficult situations or conflicts occur, instead of reacting with your usual feelings, count ten breaths first and imagine yourself calm and centered. Let the urge to feel victimized or guilty, or to blame others and resist, fall away, if possible. Then from this relaxed and centered place, choose the best response for all. You'll likely create better outcomes and less suffering.

These are three of the most powerful ingredients for happiness, but you can design many more, yourself.

Savor good experiences for up to 30 seconds, for instance, and you're more likely to develop a happier brain over time. And what about goals and dreams? It's good to have them and to reach them, because they offer meaning and purpose, which are additional ingredients of happiness. Just put them in perspective because they often fail to increase your happiness and reduce your suffering for very long.

Put together three or more ingredients for a happy 2019, notice how they "taste" to you and adjust the mixture as needed. And practice. That's the other secret. Keep practicing and you can raise your happiness over the long term.

To boost your happiness even more, share these ingredients and your journey toward greater happiness with a friend, colleague or client because sharing happiness makes it even sweeter. Be the one who lifts spirits just by being you and have a "happy new year" every year.

Want to learn more?

Our Certified Positive Psychology Coach® and Certified Neuroscience Coach programs go far deeper into the science of happiness, success, and flourishing. Use the tools in your own life and help others have greater lives. It's fun and well-paid. Or just add an important new skill set to your resume.

Learn more, download a free eBook, take just one module, or jump into a fabulous new career.

Click below to get started:

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Topics: gratitude, Certified Positive Psychology Coach, Positive Psychology, Martin Seligman, mindfulness, happiness,, certified neuroscience coach

Top Ten Best Positive Psychology Blogs

Posted by Julia Stewart

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If you are a positive psychology coach, then you need to keep up with the latest in positive psychology. Books, seminars, and research papers are wonderful for in-depth learning, but sometimes you want to understand a new concept quickly. That's when positive psychology blogs come in handy. Here are 10 awesome blogs for you to check out...

The best positive psychology blogs are updated frequently with useful information, often written by positive psychology researchers, themselves, on their latest findings. And there are also terrific blogs written by academics, positive psychology coaches, and other thought leaders. They can be wonderfully inspirational, or focus on practical applications of positive psychology findings.

This blog you're reading is written for coaches and often focuses on positive psychology coaching. Subscribe for free in the upper right corner of this page and check out the free eBook on becoming a positive psychology coach, below.

The following are the top ten positive psychology coaching blogs that we like best.

 

Top Ten Best Positive Psychology Blogs

1. The Greater Good in Action: The Science of a Meaningful Life.

This is my favorite go-to blog for positive psychology from the University of California, Berkeley. It includes engaging article written by positive psychology researchers on topics like awe, gratitude, and self compassion.

2.Positive Psychology Program: Your One-Stop Positive Psychology Resource.

Here's another information-packed resource on all things related to positive psychology such as life satisfaction, self worth, and the positive effects of spending time in nature.

3. Just One Minute: One simple practice a week can produce powerful results.

By author and beloved teacher, Rick Hanson, these positive neuroscience exercises are easy to incorporate into your life.

4. What Matters Most? Using your strengths to impact well-being.

Written for Psychology Today by Ryan Niemiec, Education Director at the VIA Institute for Character.

5. Positive Psychology News

Written by several graduates of Masters in Applied Positive Psychology programs.

6. Authentic Happiness

Site for the Masters in Applied Positive Psychology program at UPenn, directed by the Father of Positive Psychology, Martin Seligman.

7. The Happiness Project: My experiments in pursuit of happiness and good habits.

Written by author, Gretchen Rubin.

8. The Psychology of Wellbeing: Musings on the science of holistic wellness.

Written by Jeremy McCarthy with a focus on using positive psychology in spa settings.

9. The Happiness Institute Blog

Written by professor, Tim Sharp, a.k.a., "Dr. Happy".

10. Dr. John Blog: Guide to self.

The latest positive psychology tools by John Shinnerer.

 

There you have the top ten best positive psychology blogs. Have fun reading, learning, and applying the latest info on how to live a flourishing life!

 

Curious about becoming a positive psychology professional? Get the free Become a Positive Psychology Coach eBook:

 

Free Become a Positive Psychology Coach eBook

Topics: Positive Psychology, positive psychology coaching, free ebook, positive psychology coaches, positive psychology coach, positive psychology blogs

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