I’ve had the privilege of serving as a leadership coach for others for several years now, but recently I began receiving coaching again for the three reasons below.
Before we get to those, in a New Yorker article titled, Personal Best—Top athletes and singers have coaches. Should you?, surgeon Atul Gawande writes, “No matter how well trained people are, few can sustain their best performance on their own. That’s where a coach comes in.”
Atul continues to share how, at age 45 and at the top of his profession, he leveraged a coach to build his “expert competence” and move him into undiscovered areas of surgical development.
Like Atul, you are a “genius, at the top of your game, and highly respected by your colleagues,” so why on earth would you need to a coach to improve?
Will Rogers said, “When you are through changing you are through.”
Below are three reasons even the best high-achievers need a coach (and the benefits I received recently from several sessions with a leadership coach):
- Leverage a pair of outside eyes and ears. What we perceive is often quite different from how others see or hear us. The best performers look to coaches for a neutral perspective so they can view problems more objectively with less emotional attachment.
- Lift the “fog” and gain more clarity. Coaches help others see more clearly the path to action. They can ask just the right question or share a perfectly timed insight so that blinders come off and the coachee is able to create their own energy to execution…clarity is powerful!
- Make better, faster decisions. Life and work boil down to solving and acting on problems. Many of us make “emotional” or hasty decisions. Even the best lack a systematic approach for thinking through challenges. Coaches bring more rigor to the mind game while streamlining the decision-making process.
In the words of Dr. Gawande, “Coaching done well may be the most effective intervention designed for human performance.”
Every summer, my family would visit my grandparents in northern Michigan. They lived on a lake, so when I was young, I would go “treasure hunting” on the same small beach – the same beach I dug up the summer before. With a small children’s shovel in hand, I set out to get rich.
Of course, the only wealth I found was nice colorful rocks.
Finding the Treasure of meaningful work is much the same way – it takes digging and persistence. But you have to dig in the right place. Like a treasure map, these questions are “clues” to your treasure.
Answering these 4 questions can provide clues into your ideal work.
1. Where does your creativity come most alive?
Take a look back into your work history. When have you been the most alive? When has your creativity been released? When has your work just felt right?
Maybe your creativity comes most alive in a brainstorming session with others. Maybe you do your best work when you are alone and have space to think. We all have certain activities we can do that still leave us energized hours later.
2. What type of work would excite you the moment you woke up?
Have you ever woke up excited about your work? Have you ever had trouble sleeping at night because you were excited about work the next day?
If your initial response is “never” than you are in for a big surprise. It is possible. I have had nights when I couldn’t sleep because I was so excited about the work I was going to do the next day. I’m not the only one. If it were your choice, what type of work would keep you up at night (in a good way).
3. What energizes your emotional batteries?
We are all wired a certain way. There are certain things that re-fuel our batteries. Many working professionals are burned out with their work because they do not have a clue as to what type of activities re-fuel their batteries.
Some of us are fueled when we are around people. If we spend too much time alone, we can become depressed and drained. Others of us are drained with too much people interaction. We need some time alone to get our batteries recharged. Having space to think, write or read is what we need most. What energizes your emotional batteries?
4.Where does your genius meet the needs of the world?
Your core genius is hidden to you. Since you live in your own skin, you often miss what it is that you do best. You mistakenly believe that what comes easy to you comes easy to everyone else. That is just not the case.
You have talents that when combined with the world’s needs make a powerful combination. It’s the place where magic happens. You do what you do best and you meet the deep needs of others. What are your top talents? How can they meet the needs that others have?
You are energized by the energy of others.
The people we surround ourselves with greatly influence our growth and success.
Although unavoidable, negative interactions can derail you – even stunt your progress – if you don’t know how to handle it.
And, there’s a HUGE difference in receiving feedback from a generally positive person who makes meaningful contributions to the culture and people around him or her, and receiving feedback from a truly negative person.
Negative comments from a positive person can almost always be helpful. Negative comments from a negative person is designed to tear you down.
The key is to differentiate between the two. Here are 5 Questions to determine someone’s impact on you:
- Is optimism or negativity part of a pattern?
The criticism you’re dealing with is either ‘in character’ for them or ‘out of character.’
If it’s in character, then they are negative about many things in life. You just happen to be one part of the whole.
If it’s truly out of character (and they are generally a positive person), its time to listen.
- Do they Pass the Caller ID test?
As subjective as this sounds, the call display test is a pretty good indicator of whether a person drains you or energizes you. When you see anyone’s name come up on your caller ID, you get an immediate emotional reaction to it.
Sometimes you’re thrilled to see the name and can’t wait to take the call. Other times you’re neutral. But sometimes you wince. Whether it’s a phone call, a text or an email, you respond negatively and quietly think “oh no.”
That’s a sign that the person’s overall influence in your life has been negative, not positive.
- Are they “for” something, or just “against” something?
Sadly, negative people rarely know what they stand for; they only know what they stand against.
If the person you’re dealing with isn’t “for” anything positive, they likely have a negative worldview
- Are Compliments sincere, or are they followed by the word “but”?
A positive person (and even a neutral person for that matter) can give a compliment. Negative people can’t.
What starts out positively (“I really enjoyed the event today”) is inevitably followed by a “but” (“but had they turned the volume down and shortened the message it would have been better.”)
People who can’t give a compliment are rarely the kind of people you build the future on.
- Do they Add value or Extract value in relationships?
Negative people rarely give themselves to something that benefit others.
Because they are against so much, few people want to work with them. Stalled out careers, a history of frequent job changes, financial trouble and other similar markers often characterize negative people.
Honor the humanity in everyone. But you don’t have to hang around everyone.
Scientists did a study to determine what the most depressing hour of the week was for Americans.
Can you guess what it was?
Sunday at Noon.
Because that’s when Monday lands on your shoulders. Sunday afternoon is when the reality of Monday sets in. The weekend is over. The freedom of a day or two off is done. The break is complete.
And in the shadows, Monday waits. It lurks there as the hours of Sunday tick by, ready for you. It’s not alone either, no, it brought a friend. Who?
The job you don’t love.
And you don’t have to hate your job to dread Sunday. Your boss doesn’t have to be horrible.You might even like your job some days, but the true test is on Sunday.
Is that feeling creeping in?
Maybe it’s not for you, but maybe your spouse is feeling it. Sometimes I felt like a “Sunday Jerk” because on Saturday I was carefree but on Sunday I could feel Monday weighing on me like a ton of bricks.
Maybe you see something in your spouse that you wish he or she saw too.
I know that feeling because I lived it for years and didn’t understand why. However, after encountering a few “Necessary Endings” professionally, those experiences shifted me from ‘Sunday Dread’ to ‘Sunday PEACE’.
I learned I didn’t have to dread Sunday and I don’t want you to dread it either.
If you resonate with these thoughts, here’s why: You’ve told yourself a thousand reasons why this Sunday will be different or this year will be the year you write a book, start a business or get in shape.
But the big change is your career. You invest at least 40+ hours a week, and if you’re dreading going back each week – it’s time for you to discover:
1.) What you’re really Passionate about,
2.) What Talents and Skills you have, and
3.) How those two pieces can come together to bring purpose, excitement and destiny to your life.
I’ve encountered hundreds of people just like you who swear they’ll never regret another Sunday again. I hope you’ll join them.
People who make a real difference lead out of Influence, not Title.
And that person can be you.
Ever wish to really add value to others? Have more friends than you know what to do with?
It’s part of our make up to want acceptance and approval from our piers.
However, few ever fully understand the real things that make us attractive to others. This is absolutely vital as we seek to be gain influence in the lives of those around us.
Artie Davis defined the term “Craveable Leader” and shares several habits that actually make people “crave” to be around you:
- Listen to others’ ideas.
Nobody likes a “know it all.” So get over your own ideas, and actually become interested in someone else’s ideas. We all like to talk about ourselves and what we think. So, when we find a person who cares what we think, Bam! We love to be with them!
- Speak only good things about others.
Let me tell you a little secret. If you think talking about others, just the things, “you heard” is going to win you juicy friends, you are in for a world of hurt!
If you talk negatively about someone else around someone, they are going to ask themselves, “what are they saying about me?” Gossip will ruin your reputation and sabotage trust in a friendship, don’t go there!
- Give generously when you can.
Nobody likes a “mooch!” Don’t develop a reputation as the “cheap-o” of the group. There is a Proverb that says “everyone is a friend to him who gives gifts.”
Generosity makes people feel valued, and not used! So always pick-up one or two more checks, bring something to dinner. Be the one everyone knows will be generous. Not an issue of amount, but rather attitude!
- Initiate with others.
If you are sitting by the phone, waiting for the invitation.. you are in for a long wait! Get over yourself and make the contact. I know it is hard, always feeling you have to make the first move, but that’s just the way it is.
People feel appreciated and valued when we make the first move, but don’t keep score! Just always make the move. Done!
- Authenticity is irreplaceable!
Don’t put on a mask. Don’t try and be several different people around different groups. You will always be found out! Be yourself. Trust who God made you to be.
If they don’t like you, you don’t need them. Find, initiate and love those who love you for you! They are the only ones that will be there when you need a true friend!
These are some things I have noticed that make me attracted to others, even makes them “craveable.” As I reflect on areas where I am growing as a leader, I keep coming back to a few seemingly basic –yet foundational habits.
These are things I am still very much learning, so I don’t pretend mastery. Any others you have noticed?
Over the years, we’ve seen lots of changes in both high school and college sports. Better equipment, stronger pads and helmets, even better rules to foster sportsmanship among the players.
But in my opinion, the last move made in Wisconsin is a well-intended mistake.
Author and speaker Tim Elmore commented on this decision. He states: “The Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association stated that certain chants are officially banned at games. Now, on the surface, this rule may sound logical—such as excluding off-color remarks or profanity. But this ruling goes far beyond inappropriate language. The ban prevents chants like:
- “Air Ball.”
- “You Can’t Do That.”
- “We Can’t Hear You.”
Why has the WIAA officially banned such words from the fans?
Well, it might hurt a player’s feelings.
They’re called “infractions” by the WIAA. The fans are not even allowed to sing the popular song, “Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye” song.”
Why I Don’t Agree
Yes, we need to build empathy into the values emerging leaders.
However, whenever we solve teens’ problems by getting other people to do it for them, it simply weakens their resolve. They become conditioned to look for rules from the outside to make life better. It actually fosters entitlement. Teens eventually find themselves saying, “We need a new policy,” or “It’s the school’s fault that I don’t have good self-esteem,” or “I deserve a reward, since I’m a victim.”
It’s a victim mindset that later produces an adult who looks to someone else to solve the problems he or she has internally.
We prepare the path for the child, instead of the child for the path.
Today, I am concerned we’ve cultivated such a fragile generation that they will need special rules on the job, or special favors or personal days, or special perks because they are… well, special. This is not a good thing.
Roll Back the Tape
Tim Elmore goes on (and I agree) “If I was a coach in Wisconsin and heard those banned chants from the crowd during an away game in a gym, I would meet with my players afterward and teach them the right way to respond to such chants:
- Reflect – What can we learn from this?
- Resolve – Let’s decide we won’t let it happen again.
- Resilience – Let’s bounce back and succeed.
The WIAA gave no indication it intends to change the rules, but state representative Dale Kooyenga — a former basketball player in the system — wrote the association a letter, urging it to do so. The letter is logical and heartfelt, and the best line of his letter, in my opinion, was, “If you think a high school student section is rough, try playing basketball on a playground on the south side of Chicago.”
Let’s go build some future leaders who are ready for the real world.
Empowerment – it’s such a buzzword. And yet few experience it because they are depending on someone else to empower them.
Your empowerment starts with you and is birthed by high-impact questions that shift your thinking.
I appreciate what Tony Robbins said recently: “The difference in the quality of people’s lives often comes down to the difference in the questions they consistently ask themselves.”
If you ask a disempowering question — such as, ‘Why does this always happen to me?’ — your mental computer will look for an answer, and to satisfy the question, your subconscious may even make something up, such as “Because you aren’t good enough” or “Because you are not smart enough.”
But if you start asking yourself empowering questions, such as “How can I use this experience to grow and learn more?” your brain will look for answers to this question and often come up with an answer that not only energizes you, but energize those around you also – family, friends and co-workers.
This is why making the shift towards powerful questions is so important. Because powerful questions create a powerful life. They direct our mental focus and ultimately determine how we think and feel. The key is to develop a pattern of questions that empower your life and leadership.
For example, try focusing on powerful questions such as:
- What am I most excited about in my life now?
- What am I most proud about in my life now?
- What am I most grateful about in my life now?
- What am I enjoying most in my life right now?
- What am I committed to in my life right now?
- Who do I love?
By making quality questions part of your daily ritual, you will be able to access your most empowering emotional states. And, you will be engaged with those around you.
And over time, as you consistently practice doing so, you will be able to create mental highways to excitement, pride, gratitude, joy, commitment and love — which is who you are at your core.
Some of us love to plan.
Some of us love to dream.
However, those that dream and plan will be those influencers that change culture and add real value to people.
I have many dreams. I have some plans. Only the dreams that are followed by planning will be accomplished.
First dream then plan. A dream by itself is just a fantasy. Execute on the dream to make a real difference.
We need to do both. And in the right order.
The world needs your dreams. For some of those dreams, you should stop dreaming and start planning. Get to work. Start hustling to see those dreams come to life.
Simon Sinek says
Leaders dream. Leaders stand for a cause greater than themselves. Leaders are remembered. Leaders have a legacy that lives on through all those they touch and inspire.
Look back over any recent texts and emails you’ve sent to friends, associates or your team. If they look something like this, you’re caught in this word’s trap:
“I’d love to…. but I’m really busy.” “Sorry I didn’t get back to you earlier! I’ve been so busy.” “What’s going on with me? Just busy as usual!”
You guessed it. The single-word saboteur is BUSY.
To be clear, there’s nothing wrong with actually being busy: People can certainly have many obligations and still maintain great relationships. And it’s not being busy that drives people away; it’s the word itself.
- Everyone is busy.
These days, saying you’re busy is basically like saying you’re alive.
Being busy may once have been an indicator of importance; it may once have implied that many people and projects relied on you. Now, it’s a filler word that can be applied to any situation: You could be 10 years into your job and be “busy.” You could be between jobs and be “busy.” You could be vacationing and be “busy.” The word itself no longer relates to any specific, making it basically meaningless — and meaningless language is a problem for relationships because it doesn’t help other people understand what, specifically, you’re going through. It actually impedes mutual understanding.
- It’s open to (negative) interpretation.
The vague nature of “I’m really busy” leaves the real reason why you’re being unavailable open to interpretation. While many people will accept “being busy” as enough of a reason for not meeting for coffee, eventually your team (or friends or family) will see it as a veil over a more sinister reason for staying away.
In other words, “busy” allows others to fill in the blank of your true intentions. Often, they will fill that blank with a negative assumption. In a worst-case scenario, friends may feel like your “busy” is a way of blowing them off without having to state a reason for doing so.
- It means “not right now.”
Often, “busy” simply means that you have higher priorities right now than seeing friends — which is totally fine. You may be caring for a child or launching a new product; there are lots of legitimate reasons why friendships fall down one’s list of priorities. The issue is that “being busy” doesn’t communicate any of that.
Saying “not right now” when someone tries to engage with you is a relationship killer because it fosters a feeling of rejection. “Busy” is the friendship equivalent of “not right now.” It lacks a sense of caring about the other person and fosters distance as a result.
Three better options:
- Be more specific
There’s an easy way to eliminate the vagueness of “busy” and that’s telling others specifically what you’re busy doing. Of course, this takes more of your time and effort — something that can be challenging when you’re already really swamped. But it’s worth doing because the difference in how the message is received is significant.
- Set a time frame.
If you’re busy because of an especially difficult crunch time either at work or at home, it’s helpful to make others aware of just how long this “busy” time will last. For example, if you know your project will wrap up in a month and your schedule will open up soon after, communicate your desire to reconnect with everyone then. Even if that month turns into two, your friends will appreciate that you expressed the desire to be together again as soon as possible.
3. Determine if you need to have a crucial conversation.
And now, it’s time to confront the dark side of “busy.” As we all know, “being busy” can be a method by which we disengage from a relationship we no longer want to have. If you’re using “busy” in this way, it’s worth determining if you need to have that difficult conversation with someone you’ve been avoiding.
No, you didn’t.
You wanted to ask and there’s a big difference between those two things.
Your personal influence is really your leadership in all types of relationships -regardless of title. Relationships sometime involve “transactions” – when we sometimes give and also sometimes receive.
And, your Relationships are not just something -they are everything. Why? Because in your professional life, relationships often get you the first opportunity. Someone will take a chance on you because they know you and trust you. Someone will give you an opportunity your skills might not have earned yet because of a friendship. And phrases like “I had to ask” tend to wear away at relationships.
Author Jon Acuff states “If you say, ‘I had to ask,’ it removes the responsibility from you. Some outside force made you ask. Your hands were tied, there was nothing you could do except ask.”
So you did and the person you asked for a favor said no. You responded to his/her no with “I had to ask!” Or, instead you said, “Well, there’s no harm in asking,” only that’s not true either.
There can be harm in asking. Maybe the person you asked feels used. You barely know them and have jumped gigantic intimacy levels by overreaching with your favor request. Maybe they felt manipulated by the ask. Maybe they’ve now quietly moved you from, “People who are my friends” to “People who just want favors” bucket.
Don’t kid yourself. There’s harm in asking, especially if you do it the wrong way with the wrong person.
Does that mean you shouldn’t ask anyone for anything? Of course not. Your friends want to help you. They’re excited to help you. The time you’ve invested in that relationship completely changes the request.
Asking is hard but it’s not complicated. Jon Acuff states that there’s a simple way to remember the right way to do it:
Ask friends for favors. Ask strangers for friendship.