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Twelve Things I've Learnt ......

.... from those I coach

Your values are like an internal compass to your personal truth:

They guide your actions and decisions. When things feel ‘right’ they are probably aligned to your values.

Developing clarity on what your values are, and how they show up, is really helpful.

We all have a tendency of getting in our own way:

Whether consciously or otherwise, our limiting beliefs can hold us back.

We all have limiting beliefs.

Building clarity around how we self-sabotage can help us manage ‘us’ better.

Noticing and naming our inner saboteurs is a great place to start.

Our best version of ourselves:

We all have a great version of ourselves. There are times when we know we ‘showed up’ with our best selves.

We can all tap into this ‘best version of ourselves’ at times when we need to.

We are blind to our blind spots:

We all have them…. Things we just don’t see. Ways of seeing things that somehow ‘miss the obvious’

When you talk through an issue with a coach the process can help you identify unconscious assumptions you might be making, or help you add additional perspective.

A coach coaches you, not ‘the problem’

Small steps to insight and transition:

The stepping stones of today can be the building blocks of tomorrow

It takes time to build our inner resources and capacity to tackle or challenges and achieve our goals

Personal and professional transition takes time and requires patience and commitment to self.

Every step taken is a step forward because there is always something to be learnt from any experience or outcome (whichever way it turns out).

Talking something through can help us ‘process’ it, and move us away from ‘judgement’ towards ‘insight and learning’

Acknowledgment and Gratitude:

Many of those I work with live very busy professional lives. Most are in leadership roles in complex environments.

Rarely do they set time aside, whether intentionally or otherwise, to practice gratitude and acknowledgment.

Coaching sessions can help develop habits that honour the importance of making space to practice gratitude in the few opportunities our complex environment affords us.

How often do you pause to practice acknowledgement and gratitude?

Decisions usually have a starting point…. But it’s not necessarily ‘the’ starting point:

Making decisions is a multi-layered process. Many decisions are made in an environment characterised increasingly by ‘complexity’.

Gut and instinct play their part as much as process and evidence.

Your starting point isn’t necessarily where you’ll begin your next steps.

Decisions made by focusing on expected outcome can lack ‘heart’. Decisions made for the right reasons are equally important.

Sometimes ‘outcomes’ are part of that ‘right reason’……. Sometimes values, instinct, ‘gut’ are the driving catalysts.

There is value is ‘testing your starting point’ because whilst it is likely to have merit, there are undoubtedly perspectives you have not yet considered.

There may also be assumptions that you have made and are not yet conscious of.

A coaching conversation can help you ‘stress test’ your initial starting point and consider any viable and preferable alternatives.

Reframing happiness’ (Happiness is like that thing you have misplaced…… it’s probably right in front of you…. Staring at you in the mirror):

Many leaders I work with are exploring important issues such as ‘fulfilment and purpose’, or seeking a greater work-life balance, or looking to enhance their sense of wellbeing.

There can be a belief that any of these issues requires change, personal change, by doing something different.

Often, we are not as clear about what happiness looks like for us to be able to effectively work towards that change.

Sometimes, the change that is needed is simply to LOOK AT THINGS DIFFERENTLY rather than DO things differently.

Sometimes happiness is staring us right in the face and we just weren’t looking in the right place or in the right way.

Reframing (changing how we view) happiness is often the key to having more of it in our lives. Most, if not all, comes from within.

Buffet or set menu? (The power of being at choice):

Perspective is like an opinion. We all have at least one!

Many leaders I work with are clear about how they see an issue. This helps the process of making a decision (see our first point above)

Sometimes there is a more cloudy outlook and there is more uncertainty or ambiguity about the issue at hand.

Developing multiple perspectives is likely to bring with it multiple choices. Having the buffet of choice tends to be preferable than having one way forward.

The challenge is shifting to hold multiple perspectives concurrently and seeing the relative merits and deficiencies of all.

Past, Present and Future focused:

Most leaders I coach are future focused. They are scanning the horizon, looking for the next challenge and opportunity.

Many reflect on the past. Experience, strategies that have been successful, precedent….. all are helpful in mitigating risk and assuring future success.

Rarely are they ‘present’; I mean REALLY PRESENT. Completely focused on the ‘moment’, self-aware and tuned in to what is being experienced right now.

And yet, all will point to mentors and those who have been positive influences on them and note that it was a sense of being ‘fully present’ that was a defining characteristic of their interactions.

There seems to be real value is slowing down, getting present, and tuning in to self.

In the mix of past-present-future….. what weighting do you give to each?

Judgment v Discernment:

We often instinctively jump to judgement.

We can be brutal in our own self judgement. Cruel and unforgiving.

Question: when you tell yourself off, what do you say? What is your tone? What is your inner voice like?

And…… would you talk to another person in that way?

We can also jump to judgement of others. It can be instinctive to form an opinion. It is part of how we build relationships.

Question: on what basis is this opinion formed? What evidence is there? Have you written your own narrative?

We also form judgements around situations and circumstance. It can be easy to regard experiences as ‘good or bad’; outcomes as ‘success or failure’.

Is the reality a little less binary?

How can we step back from the initial framing of self, others or circumstance with a binary judgement? Is this too simplistic a label?

Is there value in going a little deeper? Suspending our judgement and moving to non-judgmental exploration and learning.

Discernment is the providence of the wise. And wise leaders make great leaders.

It’s good to talk:

What is it about a confidential, non-judgmental space that feels so supportive and helpful?

Many I coach say that the simple process of ‘talking things through’ helps build insight and clarity.

Having to share complex issues means you have to build structure around them in order to articulate them.

This ‘structure’ helps build clarity.

Saying things out loud, and then hearing elements back through summarising and paraphrasing, helps to develop insight about emphasis and what is most important.

Additionally, many I coach share the benefits of what we have termed the ‘pressure cooker’.

Talking things through can be akin to ‘letting off steam’.

We know that ‘stress’ releases a number of different hormones, one being oxytocin.

This hormone, sometimes referred to as the ‘cuddle drug’, has a number of physiological as well as behavioural influences on us.

One of the things oxytocin does is encourage us to ‘connect and reach out’ to others at times of stress.

In essence, this can be why it feels good to ‘talk things through’.

Whatever your circumstance or context, there can be great value in engaging in a coaching process.

As always, thank you to everyone I have worked with and coached over the years. Your reflections and feedback helped me write this!

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