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2020 Stole Your Life. Here's How to Get it Back.

Posted by Julia Stewart

2020 Stole Your Life

Remember 2019? Restaurants, vacations, parties? Those were the days...

Now we live in 2020 where one week feels like twelve years. Maybe you've become accustomed to the isolation, frustration, and uncertainty. Maybe you've made your peace with all the plans you had to abandon. But more insidious thieves may have entered your life by now and they can be harder to notice, much  less, manage.

Here's a surprising thief of life and how you can handle it easily...

By now, the onslaught of 2020 catastrophes has likely depleted your surge capacity. And toxic leadership may be twisting you into a pretzel.The frenetic news cycle gives you whiplash. Zoom meetings make relationships seem two dimensional. And social media is literally forcing you to think in black and white.

Your environment is not supporting you.

When our environments don't support us, one response is to redesign our environments so they do support us.  But in 2020, this has become more challenging to do. Another response is to rely even more on our strengths...

Our strengths are the talents, aptitudes, or abilities that we use so well they've become easy, fun, and/or highly effective. Almost any behavior can be a strength. Compassion, when acted upon, can be a strength. Even anger, when well-used, can a be a strength. But both compassion and anger can be weaknesses, too. We can get more done with less energy when we use our top strengths so it's natural for us to over-use them when we are exhausted, stressed, or drained. When we're running on empty, sometimes our strengths can get us over the finish line, but if we over-use them for too long, they can become weaknesses.

A weakness isn't the opposite of a strength.

A weakness is a misused strength. It is a strength used inappropriately that is therefore preventing us from reaching our goals. One way to misuse a strength is simply to leave it undeveloped. Another is to overuse it when another strength would be more appropriate. A third and more serious misuse is to so overuse a strength that it drives our lives, and sometimes the lives of others, into a serious imbalance.

It can be so distressing to live with an imbalance of strengths, plus an unbalanced environment, that we may feel our mental health is suffering.

So here's that simple tool I promised. You can think of it as a mindfulness exercise, or think of it as that classic coaching tool called, distinctions. In reality, it's a little of both. But don't just use it for a few seconds, or minutes, or even one day. I've been using it for weeks and the benefits just keep growing.

Here's your distinction: Under-function vs Over-function.

A little background on how to I use this distinction: I don't usually get writer's block but in the past few months it has happened repeatedly. I get an idea for a blog post. It's half-written in my head before I even sit down to write. But as I start to write the first sentence, which I can see in my mind's eye, the letters and words evaporate one by one until I have nothing. No words: no article. Yuk!

I mentioned this to my coach and she said she's hearing a lot of it in 2020.

So I could just accept it, which would be okay but not ideal, or I could fight it which would make things worse. Or I could honor the unique burdens of 2020 and deal with it realistically.

Like most high achievers, my complaint was that I was under-functioning in some areas, such as blogging, so I set an easy goal. I just set out to function. I went through my day noticing where I was under-functioning and, without judgment, I asked myself what just functioning would look like and did that much and no more. It felt good. What I discovered was that I was under-functioning in many more areas than I had previously thought but that I was over-functioning, way over-functioning, in just a few.

You guessed it: I was over-using my strengths to the detriment of almost everything else.

So I began using the same measurement I'd used where I was under-functioning and applied it to where I was over-functioning. Just function, no more, no less. One strength I was overusing was, learning. When learners are confronted with a threat, we often react by learning everything about it. In my case, I'm also a strategizer, so I learn all I can and then develop a strategy out of what I've learned. It's highly functional most of the time. At the onset of the pandemic, I learned all I could about COVID, then developed a strategy for dealing with it. I had my COVID strategy down cold months ago but was still learning all I could and that was leaving less time, energy, and focus for everything else.

I was unbalanced.

It's a simple tool: underfunction vs overfunction vs function. The challenge is to do it with self-compassion instead of judgment. It will help you notice where you may be overusing your strengths to get through difficulties but may also be creating more discomfort for yourself and others. One you notice it, you can choose something better.

Where are you creating imbalance in your life by overusing one or more strengths?

 

A coach with expertise in strengths can help you with this. All our graduates have this expertise. Click below to find a coach who can help you get your life back.

 

Find a Coach Here Directory

Topics: Certified Positive Psychology Coach, Strengths, FIND A COACH, positive psychology coach, Covid

10 Questions to Help You Thrive Through the Pandemic

Posted by Julia Stewart

ask the right questions

Ready to thrive through the pandemic? Read on...

If you're like most people, you've been thrown for a loop by the corona epidemic.

Up to a point, responding quickly to what's happening is vital, so you can't ignore the crisis. It's a scary disease we're all susceptible to and shutting down the economy creates even more problems to handle even though it's the right thing to do.

But we tend to have better outcomes when we focus more on the positive. You can switch easily to that focus by asking yourself better questions. Don't wait to explore the following. The sooner you start, the better outcomes you can create. You may want to return to them again as you get more clarity.

These 10 questions can change your life by expanding your awareness so you can thrive:

  1. What's already going well? Another way to ask this is: What are you grateful for right now? Make a list of three things, large or small, you're thankful for. Are you breathing? Put that on the list. Do you have a house to live in? You get the idea. Don't just answer this question; take the time to feel the gratitude. I know you are fortunate because you are able to access the internet. You can put that on the list, if you want. Take the time to ask this question and feel the gratitude at least once per day.
  2. What's the worst problem you have right now?... Okay, that sucks. I get it. But now I'm going to ask the real question: What's great about that problem? Think until you find something. Now find two more things. Do you get to spend more time with your kids? Do you have more time to plant your garden this spring? Have you always wanted to work from home? You don't negate other people's suffering by appreciating the goodness in your life. Quite the opposite. When you're happy, it's easier to be kind to others. Isn't that what really matters?
  3. How would you like it to be for the next two weeks (or eight, or twelve)? Imagine everything as if it went as well as it possibly could. How can you show up to create that? Who would you have to become? How could you become that?
  4. What's your purpose right now? If you live your life purpose, it makes everything more fulfilling. But even if you were living it before, it may have temporarily changed. What matters most in these current conditions? How can you bring that about?
  5. What strengths can help you through this? We all have our preferred ways to do things. It makes life easier and more fun. You always have permission to do it your way. But sometimes it helps to develop a new way. Challenges can help us grow.
  6. How can you grow through this? If you're complaining, blaming, or whining, you're playing victim. We all do that now and then but if you allow it to become habitual, you'll make everything worse for you and all those around you. Instead, think of yourself as the creator of your destiny. Make it a fun game. Tools that can help include spiritual practices like prayer, meditation, mindfulness, inspirational reading, and more. A positive psychology coach can help a lot, too.
  7. What positive habit/s could help you achieve the best outcomes? A daily workout? Video chats with positive friends? Enjoying your favorite books, movies, meals? Playtime with your pets?
  8. What do you need to learn right now? Do you need a new career? A new skill? A way to make a living from home? Online learning is plentiful and well worth the time and money.
  9. Who can help you? We're all in this together. You've got something that can help someone else and somebody else can help you. What do you need help with? It feels vulnerable to ask but people often get the most joy from helping others so go ahead and ask.
  10. What's your ultimate goal? Working toward goals is inherently rewarding when those goals are aligned with our values. If you have the gift of time, your ultimate goal may be where you need to focus. How will others benefit when you succeed? Are you willing to get started now?

 

These 10 questions are challenging. A great coach can help you with them.

 

If you'd love to help others by asking empowering questions, coaching is the ultimate work-from-home career. If you're ready to start your new future, consider joining us for online training:

 

Explore the Certified Positive Psychology Coach Program

 

 

Topics: coaching questions, Strengths, mindfulness, Values, questions, positive psychology coach

Why Potential Clients Don't Buy Your Coaching Services

Posted by Julia Stewart

find new clients

Some coaches have more clients than they can handle while others struggle to attract enough clients.

Why is that?

Sales and marketing are complex professions, in their own right. Some coaches already have a good background in one or the other. Some take to sales and marketing naturally and their businesses take off. But some coaches have a longer learning curve than others.

The good news is that what makes you a great coach can also make you a great marketer and salesperson.

Here are nine shifts you may need to make. Any one of these could make all the difference in selling your coaching. Who knows how much more money you may make because you read this today?


Here are 9 shifts that will help you sell your coaching:

  1. Listen more than you talk. You wouldn't do all the talking in a coaching session and you wouldn't try to get your clients to do you bidding, either. Why would you resort to those ineffective tactics when having a sales conversation? A coaching business is a service to humanity. It's a collaboration with your market. Include your clients' and potential clients' thoughts, dreams, problems, and aspirations in everything you do. That includes your marketing and your sales. It all starts with listening.
  2. Technology is a great way to market but a terrible way to sell. It's shiny and new and everybody is obsessed with it, right? Right. That's why people crave real human conversations that help them clarify and align their lives with what really matters to them. Offer that, instead. Coaching has been one of the fastest-growing professions for twenty years because of the deficits caused by new technology. And internet marketing gurus have terrible tools for selling coaching. Don't get caught up in their hype. For example: One coach recently told me that marketing via text was the new big thing because people don't open emails but everybody reads their texts. Really? The people I know all hate getting SPAM texts even more than SPAM via email because they have to pay for every text they receive. People who feel disrespected, annoyed, or abused by you won't hire you to coach them. Here's another example: I've built one of the largest mailing lists in the coaching industry, but I still talk to virtually every potential client before I let them hire me. Because that's what works. Market respectfully and have real conversations with the potential clients you like most. Treat them like friends, not prospects.
  3. Make it all about them. A coach is even better than a friend, sometimes. That's why we can charge for what we do. The more you listen and find out what matters to potential clients, the more you can find out if they are a fit for what you offer. If not, refer them to someone else. Or, learn via those conversations and start offering what people really want. As you serve your potential clients, you will serve yourself and your business.
  4. You don't have to "put yourself out there" like a used-car salesman. I've written before about coaches as highly sensitive people. What makes us great at coaching also makes glad-handing at networking events, and high-pressure sales, a nightmare for us. And that's a good thing. Nobody wants a coach who is more interested in handing out business cards and making quick sales than they do connecting with people, hearing their stories, and offering to help. Use your strengths to sell your coaching: your empathy, your curiosity, your wisdom, and your desire to help others be their best. Forget the cliches and promote what is unique and valuable about your coaching.
  5. You do need to talk with potential clients, sometimes multiple times. This is why internet marketing is fine for getting people's attention, but nearly useless for selling high-touch services, like coaching. People need to feel they know you before they'll hire you to coach them. If you're a brilliant writer, you may be able to create intimacy with your blog posts, but for most coaches, conversation is the key. You don't need to cold-call ever (hurray) or talk to a hundred people everyday (yikes). Just check in now and then with people who you think might be a match. Find out what their challenges are. Let them know you can help. Give them a gentle nudge if you think they're ready. Sometimes you know they are ready before they do. I had one man hire me after nearly seven years on my mailing list. What made the difference? I called him and we had a great conversation.
  6. Trust and other emotions trump facts, features, and benefits. Stop trying to sell packages to people. Nobody cares how many sessions, how many webinars, how many videos, etc. your package has. They want to know if you can help them reach their dreams. Connect to that. Empathize with it. Help them imagine what it'll be like to coach with you and to transform their lives. That's magical stuff. Demonstrate that you can be trusted by continuing to show up with small solutions that make their lives a bit better now. That makes it easier to make the leap to hiring you to coach them.
  7. Find out what people need and align your coaching with the solutions to their problems. All this listening, communicating, and relationship-building will help you know your market better than anyone else. That's the surest way to find your niche. Now you're equipped with the knowledge, understanding, and ability to help and that makes you unique in the field of coaching. I know one coach who began with one client who was a dentist. He helped that dentist build a successful practice and then leveraged that knowledge to build a million-dollar coaching business for himself. That's a true niche.
  8. Be such an effective coach that your clients stay with you for years. That's real success. I'm not suggesting you make your clients dependent upon your coaching. That's a disservice. Learn to customize your conversations and keep your clients challenged and growing so that paying your fee is a no-brainer for them. It's not unusual for clients to stay with me for years. That means I feel much less pressured to promote my coaching. That's one of the secrets of making self promotion fun. By the way, I couldn't have done this without great coach training.
  9. Get your ego out of the way. I heard a coach, whose business was flagging, say that she had built a track record and reputation and that she shouldn't have to promote herself, anymore. I remember thinking, "Oh yes, you do." We all do. Another coach told me she was tired of everything you have to do to be successful as a coach. I asked what all she was doing. She said, "Nothing!" and laughed. I'd like to respectfully suggest that what is really tiresome is NOT promoting your business, because sales and marketing, done well, is a heck of a lot of fun. You meet awesome people, learn to serve better, hone your craft, and become a sought-out expert in your field. In other words, when you stop letting your ego stop you, you can start helping people and they will then start telling you how awesome you are and your ego will get a much bigger fix, as a result. Better yet, you'll be one of those coaches whose client roster is always full, and whose bank account is healthy. Everybody wins.

 

Sale and marketing this way takes time. The trouble is, everything else takes longer.

 

What if you joined a coach training school and had a full coaching practice by the time you graduated? We offer evidence-based coach training (because we listened and that's what our market told us they wanted) that includes, at no extra charge, a business-building program that is so effective everyone who finishes it has paying clients and 87% have full coaching practices. Learn to coach. Sell your coaching. Perfect!

 

Explore our coach training programs and get an effective business-building strategy for free when you join:

 

Explore the Certified Positive Psychology Coach Program

 





 

 

 

Topics: money, coach training, marketing and sales, ego, curiosity, sales training for new coaches, successful business, Million Dollar Coach, Marketing for life coaches, coach training program, Strengths

Is "Coaching Program" an Oxymoron?

Posted by Julia Stewart

coaching program oxymoron

Confusion about coaching programs and coaching packages has been surfacing in conversations with clients, coaches, and coaching students all week.

Obviously, it's time to write about it.

These phrases were in existence at least eighteen years ago when I became a coach, but lately they seem to be confused with the very nature of coaching, itself.

What are coaching programs and packages?

  • A coaching program is a structured process of personal or professional development. It may or may not include any coaching. If not, don't call it a coaching program.
  • A coaching package is a way to sell services by offering tangible choices. You get these services for this price; you get more services for a higher price, etc. If your package doesn't include coaching, don't call it a coaching package.

So what is coaching and what's the confusion?

  • Coaching is a personal conversation that's customized in the moment so the client can reach their goals and desires. When done well, it's all about the client and they reach those goals and desires. This is such a rare experience that people who are ready to live their dreams will pay handsomely for it.
  • Yesterday, a student thanked me for a ten-minute coaching session I'd given them the night before. They had a big interview coming up and their coaching goal was to overcome a lack of confidence that they feared would prevent them from succeeding with the interview. By the end of ten minutes, we'd reframed their situation, they had the confidence they needed, and they aced their interview. Ten minutes. That's the power of real coaching. When you can do that, you don't need gimmicks to sell your coaching.

How can you tell you're not getting real coaching?

  • If the "coach" chooses the topic of conversation, it's not coaching.
  • If the "coach" tells you what to do, it's not coaching.
  • If you're one of many clients present in the conversation, it's not coaching.
  • If the coach follows a formula, it's not coaching.
  • If you, the client, listen more than talk, it's not coaching.
  • If the conversation is all about the "coach's" process, program, or package, or worse, about the "coach"; it's not coaching.
  • If the "coach" has more faith in their process than in you, it's not coaching.
  • If the "coach" tries to sell you anything during the conversation, it's not coaching.

If a coaching program or package includes the above and not the following, it is virtually the opposite of coaching.

What do you get from a real coach?

  • Someone who believes in you and elicits your best
  • Someone who is genuinely curious about your situation and helps you uncover strengths and assets to help you succeed
  • Someone who listens intently and hears beyond the obvious
  • Someone who cares more about you than about selling programs and packages
  • Someone who can improvise to create the coaching you need right now
  • Someone who helps you create an environment that supports your success
  • Someone who cuts through information overload and helps you learn what just you need to get there faster
  • Someone who helps you grow into who you need to be
  • Someone who helps your reach your goals more quickly

 

Real coaching works without gimmicks.

 

If you're serious about reaching your goals, find a real coach.

 

Find a Coach Here

 

Topics: Strengths, FIND A COACH, coaching definition

Squeezing Your Size 12 Life Into a Size 5 Day

Posted by Julia Stewart

via GIPHY

Squeezing into a too-small box is cute when cats do it, sad when humans do.

And totally inappropriate when coaches do it. Coaches are supposed to model great self-care for our clients and, while we can't control everything in our lives, we can be honest about what's really going on. Telling the truth to ourselves is always positive, because, no matter how hard life gets, when we embrace what's true, we can start choosing something better.

Lately, too many of my coaching students are cramming too much into their lives and seem oblivious to the damage they may be doing. This post is for them - and for you, if you're over-doing it, too.

5 Reasons doing too much is a terrible idea...

  1. You're probably stressed. Over-doing it is exhausting and stressful. High levels of stress hormones over time are toxic. They can wreck you gut biome, which can damage your mental health, as well. You may be familiar with the Japanese word for death from over-work: Karoshi. Unfortunately, people tend to think they're doing great until it's too late. Wondering if you're stressed? This image, shared by a former client, will tend to "move" when a stressed person looks at it, but doesn't move if you're relaxed. optical illusion
  2. You're not giving your brain enough time to slow down. it needs that to see things for what they truly are. No wonder people can work themselves to death; they can't think straight when they over-do it. Poor choices result. And neuroscientists say those who over-do it have less gray matter in their brains, meaning fewer neurons to think with.
  3. You may not be fully present. You think you're doing so much for others, but often people just want you to really see and hear them. You can't do that when you're rushed.
  4. You're probably over-stressing those around you. Stress is contagious and can become a vicious cycle. Plus people take their cues from others. That's how cultures of over-work develop.
  5. The people around you are more likely to over-do it, too. Instead of making a better world, you may be making it worse!

What can you do instead?

  1. Practice a little self-compassion. It's okay to say "No" to more work, to ask for help, to prioritize what matters instead of pretending everything matters equally. It's okay to live by your own values instead of everyone else's. If you're over-extended, you're doing no one any favors. Give yourself a chance to just be and then start again with sanity.
  2. Notice what need you're trying to fill by over-doing it. Is it a need for significance? To win? To out-do everyone else? Are you a help-aholic who needs to be needed? A great coach can help you with this because you can get all your needs met in non-toxic ways and that's the gateway to true happiness.
  3. Identify what matters most and have the discipline to cut out everything else. It'll feel uncomfortable at first, but will get much easier. You may be surprised that no one else really cared if you did it, in the first place.
  4. Start using your strengths where they're needed most. Let people with different strengths do the other stuff. You'll save energy, stress, and discomfort for all. Everyone will be happier.
  5. If you really want to help others, model what a great life looks like. You'll be giving them permission to also live their best lives and be happier. Happy people are kinder. Everybody benefits!

Be a coach who models awesome self care.

Because potential clients are looking for this and because you'll literally coach more effectively if you're neither exhausted or stressed. Here's a course that teaches the three most important subjects in coaching so you and your clients can be your very best:

 

The Three Most Important Subjects in Coaching

 

Topics: Strengths, Needs, Values, highly sensitive, self care, certified neuroscience coach

Bringing Positive Psychology Coaching to Occupational Therapy and Beyond

Posted by Julia Stewart

Winnie DunnThis is the second in a series of interviews of graduates of the Certified Positive Psychology Coach® Program. Many have fascinating coaching careers and will share some of their secrets with you. Look for this tag: CPPC Graduates.

Welcome to the Interview with Winnie Dunn, PhD, OTR, FOATA, CPPC. Winnie is a Distinguished Professor of Occupational Therapy at the University of Missouri and is bringing positive psychology and strengths-based coaching to individuals and to the field of Occupational Therapy.

There are two parts to the interview. Audio, for those who prefer to listen, and written, for those who prefer to read. Different questions for each. Explore as you like!

 Here's the Fascinating audio interview:

 
And here's the in-depth written the interview:
 
Winnie, are you currently practicing positive psychology coaching? Yes.
 
What is your niche or specialty? I provide coaching for other health and education professionals so they can incorporate coaching practices into their work (e.g., teachers, occupational therapists, speech therapists). I provide coaching for families who have children with conditions (e.g., autism, developmental conditions) to support them to navigate within their lives.
 
What else are you doing besides coaching? I am a Distinguished Professor at the University of Missouri.
 
What positive psychology coaching tools do you find most useful for your clients? It is particularly important for the professionals to remember to be CURIOUS. In their training, they learned how to be experts, and so can jump forward to anticipated outcomes and begin asking leading questions. Remaining Curious reminds them to stay in the present moment. I have also found PROVOCATIVE questions to be useful. It takes courage to use them, and lots of reflection to identify when they will be helpful to move insights along.
 
Which of your strengths do you find most useful in coaching your clients?
Creativity: I can see many facets of a situation, giving me an exploratory spirit
Notice patterns: I see relationships among factors that others might not consider
Be strategic: I understand the importance of context to someone's decision making and insights
Show compassion: I recognize the emotional part of someone's journey even with what seems like practical decision making
 
What project/job/initiative that you are working on are you most excited about? The state of Kentucky has embraced the use of coaching for their Early Intervention services [birth to 3]. They hired 3 experienced providers to serve as the Master Coaches for the state. I designed their entire training and competency plan. I am working with the Master Coaches to become excellent coaches themselves while also supporting them to create the materials and activities they will use with the rest of the providers across the state. We are also using a web platform for self reflection and feedback [TORSH]. We can upload coaching video sessions, and provide feedback and reflective questions in real time on the videos.
 
How has becoming a Certified Positive Psychology Coach® helped your career or helped you serve your clients? I had been conducting studies about coaching with families as the coaching profession was growing itself. I decided that someone on our research team needed to learn coaching from not just the literature, but from a substantial program. Since I use strengths based approaches in my work, the CPPC program was particularly suited to my philosophy and approach to care [I am an occupational therapist]. Having this certificate has provided external validation for our work in coaching, and has the added benefit of a positive psychology approach, which resonated with our research designs and practices. Colleagues ask more questions and are more reflective in their consideration of coaching approaches now.
 
What else have you studied since graduating as a CPPC? I am already an occupational therapist, special educator and have my doctorate in Applied Neuroscience. The CPPC program enhanced those areas. The CPPC program provided additional structure for how we teach coaching to others for their projects.

What’s next for you as a positive psychology coach? I am starting on a research project with a colleague at Thomas Jefferson University. I will be supporting interdisciplinary providers to coach families of children who are living with a spinal cord injury. We are working on additional studies of coaching using Telehealth communication to serve families in remote locations.

Do you have a quote about positive psychology and/or coaching that you’d like to share? Positive Psychology Coaching empowers others to live their best lives with our support...what could be a more satisfying way to engage with others but in service to their goals and aspirations?

What else would you like people to know about you and about what you do? People contact us through our website: www.dunnandpopecoaching.com

NOTE: Winnie's partner, Ellen Pope, also studied at School of Coaching Mastery
 
We're proud of the great work that pioneers like Winnie Dunn are doing to serve others. If you're inspired to keep learning and offering more to your clients, consider joining the Certified Positive Psychology Coach® Program:
 
Explore the Certified Positive Psychology Coach Program
 

Topics: Certified Positive Psychology Coach, positive psychology coaching, Strengths, CPPC Graduates

101 Terrific Positive Psychology Coaching Questions

Posted by Julia Stewart

Positive Psychology Coaching Questions

Here are 101 terrific coaching questions all based on positive psychology theory.

To get full value from these questions, it's important to understand the research and theories behind them. In a nutshell, positive thoughts and emotions are correlated with greater happiness, better health, and more success. That said, 100% positivity is never the goal. Even negative thoughts, feelings, and experiences can have positive outcomes, especially when we take the time to learn from them and to look for benefits and work on our personal growth.

Here is a quick course that will get you started as a positive psychology coach. Or to become masterful, enroll in the Certified Positive Psychology Coach® Program. You'll learn masterful coaching skills, such as how to know when to ask which question, how to follow up regardless your client's answer, how to craft your own questions, right on the spot.

If you're just getting started as a coach, print these awesome questions out for reference.

Download the free Become a Positive Psychology Coach eBook to learn more.

101 Terrific Positive Psychology Coaching Questions:

  1. What's going great this week?
  2. What have you accomplished so far?
  3. What are three good things that happened at work?
  4. What are you grateful for today?
  5. What are you feeling really good about?
  6. What do you want to accomplish in this session?
  7. How will you measure success?
  8. Shall we explore your reasons for making this change?
  9. Which of your personal values will be expressed by achieving this goal?
  10. How will achieving this goal help you express your purpose?
  11. What other reasons might there be that you haven't explored yet?
  12. Are you ready to make this change or do you need to talk about it more?
  13. What would happen if you improved this by just 5%?
  14. What other benefits are there to accomplishing this?
  15. What reasons have been stopping you so far?
  16. How have you been stopping you so far?
  17. How could you address those reasons?
  18. How could you eliminate some the the drawbacks to changing?
  19. What preparations do you need to make before you start this project?
  20. Which of your strengths can help you here?
  21. What will you tell yourself as you take steps toward this goal?
  22. Who else can acknowledge you for your efforts?
  23. On a scale of 1-10, how committed are you to your success?
  24. How hard are you willing to work on this?
  25. What obstacles could you encounter and how can you overcome them?
  26. If everything goes perfectly and you're at your very best, what will that be like?
  27. What strategies will help you focus on what you want vs what you don't want?
  28. What's already going well?
  29. When was a time when this went well for you?
  30. What strengths were you using when this went well?
  31. How can you apply the same strengths to succeed this time?
  32. Who do you work well with?
  33. Who has complementary strengths who might collaborate with you?
  34. Who else will benefit from your success?
  35. How will you feel when you've succeeded?
  36. How will your strengths help you express your purpose?
  37. What are you curious about?
  38. What would you like your legacy to be?
  39. What circumstances are effecting your positive or negative emotions?
  40. How would you like to feel? Can you imagine feeling that way right now?
  41. How positive are you on most days?
  42. What are you currently doing to raise your positivity?
  43. What might be possible if you increased your positivity?
  44. How could you increase your positivity?
  45. Who are the most positive people in your life?
  46. How could you spend more time doing what you enjoy?
  47. How would your relationships be impacted by more positivity?
  48. How could you decrease your negativity?
  49. How could you be happy even before you reach your goals?
  50. If you're fully present for a few moments what do you notice?
  51. If you turn off your thoughts for a minute what do you know?
  52. What does your body need?
  53. It sounds like you're using a strength. What would you name it?
  54. How could you master this strength?
  55. What other situations could be improved if you started using this strength there?
  56. How could this strength help you meet an important need?
  57. How can you use your strengths to express your personal values?
  58. Where else could you use your strengths in new ways?
  59. Who could you collaborate with who has complementary strengths?
  60. What strengths do you need to develop to be more effective.
  61. What strengths do you wish you had?
  62. What can you appreciate about the strengths you do have?
  63. How could a weakness also be a strength?
  64. Do you ever overuse a strength? What happens then?
  65. Do you strengths ever get you into trouble?
  66. What would help you feel more engaged at work?
  67. What activities excite or energize you?
  68. Where else could you use your strengths?
  69. How can you use your strengths to help you reach this goal?
  70. When does time seem to fly for you?
  71. Who or what makes you laugh?
  72. What makes life meaningful for you?
  73. What activities feel most valuable to you?
  74. When is a time in your life when you were at your very best?
  75. What's most significant to you about that time?
  76. What do you do to help others?
  77. How could you build resources to support a happier and more successful life?
  78. Who has helped you immensely who you might want to thank?
  79. How do you want to thank others?
  80. Who or what could you be grateful to?
  81. What makes this accomplishment so important to you?
  82. What will help you persevere until you succeed?
  83. Who can support you to reach your goals?
  84. What will keep you on track?
  85. What do you need more clarity about?
  86. What's your first step?
  87. When will you get started?
  88. How will you remember?
  89. Once you've succeeded, how will you maintain it?
  90. What clarity do you still need?
  91. How confident are you of your success?
  92. What will your life be like when you succeed?
  93. What other aspects of your life will be impacted?
  94. How will you take care of yourself while working on this?
  95. How will you maintain other important aspects of your life such as your relationships?
  96. Who are you willing to tell that you're making this change?
  97. How will you maintain your positivity while persevering?
  98. How will you feel about yourself when you succeed?
  99. How will you celebrate?
  100. Who will you include in your celebration?
  101. How will you savor your hard work and accomplishment?

 

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Topics: coaching questions, Certified Positive Psychology Coach, positive psychology coaching, Strengths, Needs, Values, positivity

People Are Terrible at Assessing Their Own Weaknesses. Here's What Works

Posted by Julia Stewart

Strengths vs weaknesses - photo by ashley nicastro

According to scientists, people, including coaches, are generally terrible at assessing their own skills for two reasons.

1. We don't know what we don't know. This is also known as Unconscious Incompetence, a.k.a. the Dunning-Kruger Effect. A recent article in Smarter Living in the New York Times says about it:

"The effect creates a vicious loop that boils down to this: The less skilled you are at something, the less likely you are to recognize how unskilled you truly are, and thus you overestimate how your abilities. Worse still, because you can't see your errors, you'll never know what you need to correct."

2. We don't know what we do know. This is sometimes known as Unconscious Competence, a.k.a. Imposter Syndrome or the Fraud Factor. Sometimes we have an abundance of strengths, but don't know it.

Both these issues are common among newer coaches and sometimes even veteran coaches.

Sometimes coaches who have little or no training aren't as skilled as they think, or may be skilled in only a few tools that a coach would use, or may be advising or consulting instead of coaching. For example, I recently had a conversation with a coach who's been an "internal coach" for major corporations for decades. She has a masters degree in counseling, and even an ivy-league background, but recently discovered that she can no longer get hired without coach certification. She called me for advice and I gave her some. But at the end of the conversation, she said something telling. She said, "Thanks for the coaching." I didn't coach her. Advising isn't considered coaching in today's world. Coaches have more powerful tools. That's one of the reasons organizations require proof of certification, now.

On the flip side, some highly skilled coaches don't realize how extraordinary they really are. They generally assume others can coach as well or better than they can. They literally need someone to tell them what they are doing well in order to own their mastery. Owning it can help strengthen it.

Mastery happens when you've practiced your skills to the point they are second nature to you. You can call on them without thinking about it. They have become implicit, rather then explicit, or "Unconscious Competence."

Here's the Mastery Matrix:

Matrix of Mastery

What are the solutions to reaching competence and even mastery?

There are three. One is learning. Work with people who are ahead of you on the path. In coaching, that would be qualified coach trainers and mentor coaches. The second is a tool used by all effective trainers and mentors to help their coaches strengthen both their strengths and their weaknesses: Feedback. The third is time. If you're getting effective training and feedback, all you need is time spent practicing what you've learned and applying your feedback and you will progress.

Getting feedback from clients is helpful, but usually incomplete. Getting feedback from fellow students may fill in some of the gaps left by clients, but may not cover everything. Getting feedback from experts helps fill in all the gaps. Best of all, get all three types of feedback, if you can.

Without any training or feedback, even people who've been calling themselves coaches for decades may not realize they haven't developed all the skills of coaching, or perhaps they are truly masterful, but don't know it, and neither do those who would otherwise hire them.

Don't lose even one client because you aren't a certified coach.

Get on the path to mastery with evidence-based coaching skills and get certified:

Explore the Certified Positive Psychology Coach Program

     
     

Topics: Coach Certification, masterful coaches, certified coach, Strengths

Can Positive Psychology Strengths Coaching Actually Weaken You?

Posted by Julia Stewart

positive psychology coaching photo by Denis De Mesmaeker.jpg

Lately, I've read a couple of blog posts, from reliable sites, that attack the effectiveness of positive psychology, positive psychology coaching, and specifically, strengths-based coaching*. I appreciate a well-written contrarian point of view, because it can highlight incongruities and exceptions to rules that we might easily miss, because the accepted wisdom on a particular topic, would rarely address it.

Plus contrarian titles make us curious.

That last point is the real reason you see so many contrarian articles: Angelina Gives Birth to Alien Baby! Man Bites Dog! Stand in line at the grocery store and entertain yourself with contrarian titles in the magazine stand. The good ones make you want to buy the magazine.

I frequently write contrarian articles, myself. My post on why Tony Robbins wouldn't qualify for ICF certification has had nearly 100,000 hits, because it suggests one of the most famous coaches, worldwide, couldn't get certified.

That was pretty cheeky of me.

I've been certifying coaches for nearly 15 years. I know something about coaching standards, but I actually admire Robbins and say so in the post. He doesn't need coach certification, because he's famous, skilled, and has a powerful reputation. My post isn't a condemnation of him, but a nuanced look at coaching and certification, plus a suggestion that there are multiple ways to coach well. I raise points that most coaches don't talk about. Hopefully, that gets them thinking more deeply about a controversial topic.

So lately, when I read a couple of take-downs of positive psychology, I first thought, "Okay, fair game. These posts create curiosity."

But these articles don't just offer contrarian points of view. They are more like beatings and the writers betray a shocking ignorance of their topics, especially considering their platforms. One was from The Atlantic. The other from Harvard Business Review.

Ignorant writing, hiding behind contrarian titles, on well-respected sites, is the academic equivalent of "fake news". It's misleading, creates confusion, and promotes discordant thinking.

To be fair, both HBR and The Atlantic shared multiple sides of the topic via separate posts and that's legitimate. But the writers of these articles (see below) still betrayed an ignorance of positive psychology. They sounded like hacks, who did a quick Google search on the topic, then reacted negatively to their superficial understanding of the material, and then wrote a pounding about it. And if you found the articles via Facebook ads, or Google searches, you might never read the opposing view.

Before we knew about online Russian propaganda, this type of article was known as "click bait." Click bait sites are blogs intended to pull in traffic, with false or misleading material, in the hope that readers will click ads, while on the page, to make money. Has journalism fallen so low that even Harvard has succumbed to this type of cheesy approach? By the way, I found an excellent rebuttal to the HBR article, on a different site, here.

Many people, who left comments on the HBR article, display a stronger understanding of positive psychology than the author. Below, is one concise comment from Peter Peckarsky:

"This is not a HBR-quality piece. It's speculative and published for clicks. An accurate title should read something like "Poorly Applied Strengths-Based Coaching Can Actually Weaken You - Just Like Any Program With No Balance."

I'm going to address the basic misunderstandings displayed by both the author of The Atlantic article, When Grit isn't Enough, and the HBR article, Strengths-Based Coaching Can Actually Weaken You, below.

  1. Positive psychology was never intended to to replace other valid psychology tools or theories. It's intended rather to balance them and fill out gaps in theories that previously fell short of helping people thrive. As with any other theory, when applied ineffectively, it may actually harm. When used appropriately, it can transform lives. The founders of the positive psychology movement set a goal, twenty years ago, to make positive psychology obsolete, because psychology interventions should never be a binary choice between positive vs. negative.
  2. Positive psychology interventions such as strengths, grit, and growth mindset; are descriptive, not prescriptive. They describe what people, who are already flourishing, have been doing, with the suggestion that those who want to flourish, may choose to experiment with similar behaviors. Of course, there are environmental, personality, and other factors that impact outcomes. To turn these tools into dogma, political correctness, judgmentalism, or any other type of rigid thinking; is as wrong-headed in positive psychology as it would be with virtually any other topic.
  3. Thousands of peer-reviewed research studies have been published in the two decades since Martin Seligman declared positive psychology an official field of study, while president of the American Psychological Association, and they continue. In fact, they have since early days, addressed many of the deficits the authors raised, but failed to find in their own research. Apparently, if you were to read even one book by Seligman, you would know more than a writer from Harvard.

My takeaway in this age of fake news, click bait, and Russian propaganda; is that truth still matters and those of us who care about it need to be more vigilant than ever. Reading a blog doesn't make you knowledgeable, not even this blog.

Also, the fantasy that education would become obsolete in the era of Google has proven itself to be a lie. But where will education come from if educational and journalistic institutions lower their standards?

I don't have any easy answers, but I can say that at this school, we're still taking responsibility for the content we publish. We don't run ads on this blog, because we don't think it's wise to put our motives in conflict. So, If you trust us and are curious about becoming a positive psychology coach, you're welcome to download the following eBook.

Free Become a Positive Psychology Coach eBook

 * Thanks to Coach Louise Santiago, PhD, for sending me the HBR post mentioned above.

 

Topics: Free, ICF, Tony Robbins, Positive Psychology, Strengths, Martin Seligman, positive psychology blogs, become a positive psychology coach

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 ICF ACSTH or CCEs.

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

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