Category Archives: Coaching

Entries about coaching

Decision making in three steps: Part 3

In case you missed the other parts of this process:
In step 1, you assess the danger of a situation. If there’s blood, attend to that immediately. 911 is the standard call for help all over the US — so people know what to do in crisis.
Step 2 addresses the need for survival past flowing blood. Money allows you to buy what you need. So people who want to give you money should have a pretty high priority.
Step 3: Everything else is negotiable.

Maybe that’s what makes deciding hard. Because there are so many options, so many reasons for making one choice or another. It means you have to think about what you decide. Negotiate, evaluate the options and adjust — and readjust –the priorities. Do what must be done.
Rules just eliminate possibilities. Sometimes you need that. But don’t be too quick to presume that limited options make deciding easier. You could miss a really great choice. Or an opportunity to learn something new.

My father told me “NEVER mess with batteries. The stuff inside them is acid and can burn you.” So I didn’t. It was a rule and it made pretty good sense.

When my son was about 10 he and a friend decided to find out what really is inside batteries. They gathered all the 9 volt batteries they could find. (Sorry about your burglar alarm, folks.) They put them in the street and waited for cars to drive over them.

They learned that 9 volt batteries are made up of six little skinny batteries, all wrapped together. Cool? Huh?

If he’d followed the rule, even I wouldn’t know that.

I’m glad, however, that they didn’t get further, because there’s acid in there and you can get burned!

Experiment! What away to learn.

Risk Takers Live Longer

The Times OnLine, the UK’s most respected newspaper, published an article in the February 18, 2006 online edition, Who dares usually wins: Risk-takers will live longer, have more friends and are less likely to get Parkinson’s.

Quoted in part:

A study published this week in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry showed that people with a strong streak of sensation seeking were less likely to develop Parkinson’s disease, a disorder caused by the death of brain cells that make dopamine, a chemical that activates pleasure centres in the brain and which is involved in whether we feel a reward or motivation.

And further:

High-stimulus seekers actually drop their heart rate briefly and become more alert, which allows them to process all the information needed to stay upright on a black ski run. For the rest of us, heart rate immediately soars and our dominant thoughts are freeze or flee An appreciation of the benefits of pushing ourselves to extremes may be just what we need to fend off the rigours of ageing. “Quite the worst thing you can do is to avoid stress to either mind or body,” says Professor Mario Kyriazis, a GP specialising in anti-ageing medicine. “Ageing is due to the loss of complexity in our system and the way to boost complexity is to challenge the system. Don’t let it know what to expect if you want to live long and healthily; don ’t settle into routines.”

People who don’t know me but talk to me on the phone often think I am much younger than my 50 something age. Heck, I can’t really remember my ACTUAL age so I just claim 50. I’ll claim it ‘til I’m 60. It’s not about not wanting to get old, it’s really about not remembering the numbers.. But wait, I digress.

Some people in my family think I attract stress. Not the kind that makes it hard to manage my life, but the kind that really does a number on a routine. A plan of action that is sending that skier on the black slope to certain death, a complex organization structure that is careening out of whack, missed details in an event plan. These are the things that really put me on the jazz, as Colonel John “Hannibal” Smith used to say on the A-Team.

I can’t speak to the part about reduced Parkinson’s disease, but the rest of this sounds to me a lot like people with AD/HD: high-stimulus seekers, processing a whole situation in a flash, trying new things. I can’t say that all people with AD/HD have more friends. But I bet the ones who are most centered in themselves, the ones who know who they are and who they’re not – AD/HD and all – are more passionate about enjoying life and trying new things. People want to be with people like that.

I think it was Gail Sheehy who talked about passion, not sex, being the thing that keeps a person young. Passion keeps you looking at your world with open eyes and seeing what’s new. So, if you don’t have AD/HD, and therefore a natural bent toward seeing it almost without looking, make it a point to shake up your life. You’ll live longer. Or as they say in the movies.. Die tryin’!

Get a Coach – Be Among the “Worried Well”

A great article about coaching appeared in USA Today. Sorry I saved the link, but not the date. In part, it said:

“[Coaches] give clients the confidence to get unstuck — to change careers, repair relationships, or simply get their act together…

“We are not talking about being incompetent or weak. They are everyday, normal people who have their lives together. They realize the value of having somebody to help them think outside the box.” — life coach Laura Berman Fortgang.

“Life coaches are a new option for the worried well — those whose lives are only slightly askew. No longer do they need a diagnosis from a psychotherapist who delves into the painful past. Using the telephone or Internet, they can sign up with an upbeat life coach who becomes a partner in defining a better future.”

I love that concept of the “worried well.”

I use a management style I call “Management by the Group Worry.” When the boss is worried, she says to herself, “Why should I worry alone?” and she calls a meeting.
She tells her staff, “I’m worried about….”
Inevitably, someone at the meeting will say, “Oh, I have that covered.” Or “Oh, I think that’s part of my job.”

Sometimes no one has an answer but the group can come up with one together, and the boss goes away no longer worried.

So the “worried well” get coaches to help them see what they really already have undercontrol and what they don’t. The coach can help determine the problems and help guide the client’s plan of action.

The article continues:

“Although many coaches take extensive courses, many others are without credentials. Virtually anyone can declare himself a life coach, says David Fresco, a psychology professor at Kent State University, Kent, Ohio. “There are no qualifications, no unified approach to coaching, no oversight board. Basically they fly under the radar screen of any sort of oversight.” And the virtues of what many offer are unproven, he says.”

This is the truth. But coaching is all about the relationship. Do you think you’re getting value for your bucks? Great. Do you feel in control of the sessions and the relationship? Great.

You should ask about training and credentials. But like your SAT scores on the way into college, they aren’t the final word in the acceptance process.

By the way:
On the Christmas eve, I got word from the ICF (International Coach Federation) that they have accepted my application for certification as a Professional Certified Coach. The PCC designation requires certain training and verification of 750 hours of coaching.

Thanks to all who helped me file the paperwork!

Coaching skills will make you valuable

When I took my first coaching course thru CTI in 1999, I wasn’t entirely sure that I wanted to stop being a craftsman and start being a coach. I took the introductary course so that I could find out more about coaching. I reasoned that what ever I learned it would have value — even if all it did was make me a better friend. (As if being a better friend is “just” anything!)

But according to a January 4, 2006 article in the
Globe and Mail
, a Canadian national newspaper,

Redesigning your job so you have coaching and mentoring responsibilities will make you extremely valuable … And if you want to ease out of full-time work, employers are likely to be open to retaining you on a consulting or contract basis.

“You need to keep upgrading your skills, so take advantage of continuing education that your employer may offer.”

Both kinds of “helpers” are useful. Knowing what to ask of each is key.

A good mentor has been down your road before and can show you where the pits are.
A good coach might have that information but understands the value and the necessity of your figuring out for yourself if that’s really a pit or maybe a wormhole to a different dimension.

Having your own coach will help you see the difference between coaching and mentoring. And it will help you to learn to ask the really big questions of your staff or employees.

May you find your own best way in the new year.


Having the Information to Be a Good Coach

Coaches are committed to the belief that their clients are “naturally creative, resourceful, and whole.” But that might not be enough information to enable us to do the best job for our clients. What if you didn’t know your client was blind? Some people don’t see their disabilities as such and might feel no need to mention it. What if you never met him and worked only on the phone? Maybe he thinks it doesn’t or shouldn’t matter — And what if more than anything he wished he could drive a car, would you send him out alone? If you didn’t know he was blind, you might not think about the problems. Aren’t we charged to do more than just watch?

I once taught papercutting (as art) to a group of students at a special school for kids who were developmentally challenged AND had been in trouble with the law. They were so disruptive that no regular public schools would have them. It was that school or prison. Some kids had an aid who followed them around all day. Some kids had more than one aid — PLUS the class teacher. Oh baby, they did have ISSUES.

But I thought it would be a great experience to bring my brand of respectful teaching to the school.

I showed them some examples of what was possible to do with a scissors and paper, handed out the paper and scissors, showed them how to hold their paper, I showed them how to hold the scissors.. how to turn the paper and not the scissors.

Most kids picked up their supplies and jumped in — making snowflakes, or designs. Some just cut the paper into tiny shreds. Each to his or her own abilities and talent. All of this.. OK.

But one young woman, scissors in hand said to me, “You’re gonna have to help me.”
“Of course,” says I showing her the paper in my left hand, “hold the paper like this.”
“You’re gonna have to help me.”
“Right,” I say. I hold the paper up to show her how to put the paper in her hand. “Hold the paper like this,” expecting her to pick up the paper and at least TRY to copy me.

It was then that the teacher sitting next to her gives me the news to use, “She only has one hand.”

OK …so.. now that shifts everything. I have to hold the paper for her.. She, just this side of prison, with a sharp scissors and me holding the paper. Now THAT’s what I call a dance!

As coaches we absolutely have to believe that our clients are naturally creative, resourceful and whole. Otherwise we might be in trouble for practicing medicine without a license, trying to fix something broken. We have to be able to discern if they might be broken so that we can help them to figure out what to do about it.

But a person with ADD is not broken.. just different.

On the other hand (no pun intended), we also have to know how their brains work. We do that for our other clients when we ask about their values and order to do our jobs as coaches to keep them on the paths they have determined.

So knowing how a person with ADD approaches problems — what they are likely to see first, or not see at all — is really key. We have to know ABOUT medications so we can remember to ask if they are getting what they think they should be getting from it. And we have to be able to notice if some thing they don’t understand really might be a side effect of that medication. We have to know to ask.. to remind them to ask their doctors.

Having ADD is, in my opinion and in my experience, a wonderful way to be in the world. I know there are those who disagree. But I also know that if an coach untrained in ADD issues, thinks they’ll coach me thru a simple structure for success and that I’ll just “get it” and go forward…. well, to me, that’s just cruel. It’s like one more person in my life who just can’t understand why I can’t do what I said I’d do, one more person in my life who I imagine I’ll disappoint by not doing what I am supposed to… by anyone’s standard.

and THAT, boys and girls, is perhaps the worst part of having ADD — being consistently inconsistent with what we tell others we’ll can do or will do, and being consistently inconsistent with what we tell ourselves.

A compassionate, but no nonsense coach who really does dance.. might have success. But it seems cruel to both the coach and the client. To the coach to expect him (or her) self to be able to take consistently inconsistent answers from the client without understanding the reasons.. and then expect themselves to keep on going without feeling like a failure. And cruel to the client who hopes someone will have some information to help adjust his progress.

And I think that lack of understanding and lack of ability to build a consistent and dependable structure is what makes a lot of people with ADD feel just rotten about themselves.

We all have to work WITH our life issues.. find ways to work around them if we can. And find ways to keep getting up in the morning and thinking of new ways to put one foot in front of the other.

If I’m not like everyone else, if I only have one hand, then please let me have a coach who knows about having only one hand. Don’t make me think up all my own answers to all my own questions because I really don’t know how to BE with only one hand. I don’t have any models of people who only have one hand. I don’t care if YOU, my coach, have two hands as long as you have some information about what it’s like to be like me.

Get it?