Where Is Your Awareness?

We’ve all heard of the proverbial “elephant in the room.” As we dig into ICF Competency #8 of Creating Awareness, let’s zero in on another manifestation of that elephant. It’s the elephant in our BRAINS!

Ubiquitous, yet invisible, this elephant takes up an enormous amount of space in our brains . Left unchecked, it constantly produces movies in our minds —and rarely are these movies rom-coms and fairy tales … more likely dramas and horror flicks.

Our movie-making elephant narrates stories about our circumstances—judging everything as good or bad, safety or threat. It has a tendency to whisper worst-case scenarios.  And, it has a powerful ability to create and communicate a variety of emotions to our bodies.

These mind-movie messages are simply predictions—negative predictions about what might happen to us. The bigger the elephant, the more real it becomes to us.

And what feels real to us becomes reality to us. It’s the truth of what we’re experiencing.

Even if others see things differently.

Shifting Predictions toward Positive

How do you shift people’s awareness when those mind-movie predictions are all-consuming, or predominantly negative, or pervasive, or threat-centered?

Here are a few coaching tips:

  • Don’t try to fix the client. Trying to fix someone’s perspective basically means you’ve fallen prey to the same duality that the client has.
  • See the client from the vantage point of the North Star. When you look upon circumstances from afar, the timeline trajectory grows and things change perspective.
  • Assume there is some form of beauty in the client’s circumstances. What can you appreciate in this situation? Perhaps it’s an opportunity for the client to fully experience his power to create, or her opportunity to grow in some way.
  • Explore inherent ironies and reverse-engineer strengths. There is often an inherent irony in the client’s situation. For example:
    • The “project management” client frustrated by the job search can begin to project-manage his networking activities.
    • The “empathetic” manager who has trouble delegating can turn her compassion inward and notice the personal/family impacts of not delegating.
    • The “analytical” leader who is frustrated with over-due deliverables from direct reports can analyze how his assumptions have contributed to the delays.

When the elephant in our own mind is pervasively positive, we’ll be much more able to operate from a stance that helps our clients to do the same!

Posted in Career Coaching Tips | Comments Off on Where Is Your Awareness?

Running as fast as I can…but getting nowhere.

In today’s busy world we are often pressured to do more with less. There is a way to increase capacity, but it’s not by putting your nose to the grindstone…find out how in this video.

The content from this video is taken from our Certified Capacity Growth Coach program. Our next cohort starts THIS WEDNESDAY, September 25th.
Learn more at: www.theacademies.com/capacity

In today’s work world, we’re so often expected to do more with less. We get the news that there will be a reduction in workforce, and poof… your team starts to disappear.

We’re already running at break-neck pace, and so, responsible human beings that we are, we run faster. But it can feel like we’re dragging a huge weight behind us.

And then with less people-power, we put in more hours … and yet we don’t feel like there’s enough time in the day to do all the things that need to be done.

And so, dedicated human beings that we are, we run faster.

And then we learn that the budget has been cut … we have to deliver the same or even bigger results with fewer resources.

And so, caring human beings that we are, we run faster.

Faster and faster, harder and harder, longer and longer … to get it all done.

But there’s a better formula for increasing capacity: one that doesn’t involve force, and one that doesn’t involve exhaustion.

It’s the Connect-and-Create process.

First, connect with yourself. Deepen your breathing, calm your mind, be uber-compassionate with yourself. This can help shift your brain state from beta to alpha waves, from Narrow Focus to Open-Focus.

Next, connect with others. Science tells us the social-bonding hormone of oxytocin helps both build trust AND helps us think better.

And, the research on collective intelligence tells us that when people come together and collaborate, they have a higher IQ than just the average of the IQs in the room. Literally, two or more heads are better than one.

So with this formula of Connect-and-Create, you have brighter ideas for working smarter, AND happier, not just harder. 

Posted in Career Coaching Tips | Comments Off on Running as fast as I can…but getting nowhere.

Name the Elephant in the Room

The old saying “elephant in the room” implies that there is an issue that is so big, or complex, or unmanageable, or unsolvable that it’s simply easier to pretend it doesn’t exist. In other words, ignore it, and it will go away!

When coaching leaders, the elephant that feels unsolvable might be…

  • A colleague who has the ear and favoritism of the boss, thus causing your client to feel powerless.
  • Or maybe it’s a budget constraint that feels untenable.
  • Or maybe it’s an old Achilles heel that the client thinks is impossible to overcome (e.g., a hot temper, an insecurity, micro-managing…you name it).

Why Do We Avoid the Elephant?

As coaches, we might avoid addressing the elephant because

  • We’re afraid of it ourselves, wondering if there really IS an answer to it?
  • We afraid of our client’s response to it—What if they feel offended… what if they get mad… what if, what if, what if?
  • We’re afraid our client isn’t ready or won’t be able to hear it.

What Happens if We Avoid the Elephant?

  • We appear tentative, timid, or just plain chicken!

  • We lose the client’s respect because they sense we’re not courageous enough to be direct.

  • The client doesn’t get the opportunity to rise to the occasion, to stretch, to grow, to experience a win.

How to Name the Elephant!

Here are two suggestions for naming and playing with the elephant in the room.

(Note: these ideas assume that other ICF coaching competencies are already in place, such as ICF #3 Establishing Trust & Intimacy, and ICF #5 Active Listening).

  • The Curious Observation: The technique of making an observation is a good starting point for elephants. For example, the coach might say, with warmth and humor: “So I guess the elephant in the room here is the impact of the boss’s favoritism toward ‘Joe,’ who seems to have advanced dexterity at pushing your buttons.”

  • The Curious Question: You could also ask the client their thoughts on the elephant. For example, “Feels like there’s an elephant in the room—something that appears too big to solve … how would you name it?”

Play with the Elephant!

Once the elephant is named, it can be reflected on. It’s important that the reflection be from a stance of curiosity, creativity, and optimism. There is always a solution. Always.

Remember that “what we focus on grows.” If our brains focus on curiosity, creativity, and optimism (as opposed to unsolvable, unmanageable, difficult), then we’re guaranteed to notice new ideas and strategies.

Name those elephants! They can carry us into new and adventurous territory!

Posted in Career Coaching Tips | Comments Off on Name the Elephant in the Room

Are Your Coaching Questions Brain-Friendly or Brain-Frazzling?

Have you ever been asked a question you knew the answer to but froze?

That frozen reaction was likely caused because the question elicited the fight-flight-freeze response in you. Your brain heard the question, but your body interpreted it as some kind of threat.

Neuroscientists say that the subconscious can process over 40 million nerve impulses per second, whereas the conscious mind’s prefrontal cortex, only 40 nerve impulses per second.

Let’s say you’re coaching a leader who is trying to land the next promotion, and she gets a behavioral interviewing question during her formal interview—“Tell me about a time when you…dealt with conflict on your team.”

While her conscious brain is trying to think of the right story, her subconscious brain could be working overtime, remembering an embarrassing moment or the painful fall-out associated with the conflict.

Her inner critic can show up with its own story of “you should have handled that conflict better… you really blew that… if you tell the interviewer this story, you might look incompetent, and then you might not get this promotion, and then all your coworkers will know you didn’t make the cut, and then what about the raise you were hoping for… your son needs braces and you want to be able to enroll him in that summer program that will help prep him for his college entrance exams … gosh, do I have what it takes to manage this role … and and and…)

As coaches, when we recognize the body’s natural tendency to shift to fight-flight-freeze, we can adjust our questions to lessen this reaction.

Enter Curiosity vs. Quiz Questions.

We can’t prevent the people we speak with from going into the Red Zone of fight-flight. Some questions we ask will be uncomfortable—both for the client and for you. You may be hesitant to ask a question for fear of making the client scared or offended, or opening up a can of worms.

So when you’ve got a question to ask your client that might be perceived from a fight-flight state, here are two brain-friendly tips:

Bathe it in curious compassion

  • Remember your common humanity—the client is doing the best they can, just as you are.
  • Remove judgment or bias from your questions.
  • Wonder where/from whom the client first conditioned himself/herself to fear whatever it is that’s causing concern.
  • Appreciate the client—his/her essence, highest self, strengths, journey.

Consider “buffering” questions:

  • “This might be an uncomfortable question, so let’s get it out in a safe space to explore…”
  • “A question is coming up, and it’s being posed from the position of ‘on-your-side advocate’ …”
  • “Just between you, me and the fencepost, what’s the scariest question you could be asked right now?”
  • “This question is being addressed to your higher self—that part of you that easily sees the big-picture trajectory in all of this…”

Avoid Quiz Questions, and enjoy asking Curiosity Questions! Coach on!

Posted in Career Coaching Tips | Comments Off on Are Your Coaching Questions Brain-Friendly or Brain-Frazzling?