Saturday, October 30, 2004

Our Uniqueness

People travel to wonder at the height of mountains, at the huge waves of the sea, at the long courses of rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motion of the stars; and they pass by themselves without wondering. - St. Augustine

When was the last time you really looked at yourself and saw how extraordinary you really are? I’m not talking about solving the problems of the world, but of your talents and strengths and how, without doing anything special you touch other people’s lives in some way?

One can only demonstrate their strengths when they’re aware of them and the first step is to take notice.

It is the child in all of us that creates our uniqueness….the parts of us that we don’t restrain or erect barriers around. It’s letting the best of us come out and play. Try it and see how freeing it is. Let your creativity come to the fore and watch as your whole being takes a deep breath and plunges in with both feet.

Donna Karlin

Friday, October 29, 2004

Meetings....Waste of Time?

When was the last time you walked out of a meeting pumped, energized, enthused about what was to come? And to add to the list, when was the last time the meeting you called stayed on topic and actually spawned an action item to bring your organization forward?

Most people walk into meetings dreading there’s going to be a meeting. And those same people walk out wondering why there was a meeting in the first place. How many meetings are scheduled just for the sake of “just in case we need to talk about…” In this day and age of filled schedules, double booked meetings, 15 hour days and no more lunch hours, as meeting take place during lunch, or are held over through lunch, stress levels are increased, effectiveness decreased and habit changes mind set to start off as “Meetings are a waste of time” rather than “Let’s see what we can accomplish, brainstorm about and collaborate on!”

I was recently joking with a client (not so funny actually) that since the staff is so overtaxed with workload, crises, and tight deadlines, the powers that be should put conveyor belts around the desk areas so that drinks (even water) a sandwich during lunch, or anything else considered sustenance could move by the offices, as they rarely get time to breathe, never mind eat. Tempers flare, staff fighting is up, blood sugar down and heaven forbid, those who smoke and have to leave the building for their smoke breaks ….well, we won’t even go there.

Since I often work with the “powers that be” I’m going to push a few buttons….blogger’s prerogative. Taking a lunch break and allowing the staff one, isn’t an option. At least one 15 minute break during each half of the day isn’t an option either and that’s not for checking emails and making phone calls. It’s for getting out of your office, meeting and talking to staff and getting the blood circulation flowing. And if at all possible, fresh air. What a concept!

If you schedule meetings, make sure there’s a need for them. And if body language is telling you nothing sunk in and you’re not going to get much in the way of action or deliverables from it, then time to change the format of the meeting. If you always do what you’ve always done….

Let’s talk about what needs to be changed…

Donna Karlin

Try this great meeting template: The Rickover Method

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Our Unique Capacity to Shape Our Lives

“If we do not rise to the challenge of our unique capacity to shape our lives, to seek the kinds of growth that we find individually fulfilling, then we can have no security: we will live in a world of sham, in which our selves are determined by the will of others, in which we will be constantly buffeted and increasingly isolated by the changes round us.” - Nena O'Neil

For some it’s easier to let others shape our destiny for in doing that, when we fail, we can place blame. The reverse is true as well, however. In allowing others to have that power over us we also have to give up our right to celebrate our successes, as we wouldn’t be responsible for them.

I know I would rather fail than never try and I would rather celebrate my successes, knowing I was the one who achieved them, than give that joy over to someone else.

So I share this with you….”I accept complete responsibility for everything I think, say, feel, and do. I am not afraid of making mistakes or of taking reasonable risks. I am a life-long student. I am always ready to learn, and I know growth takes sustained effort. And through that, I own and celebrate my successes and failures as they are both instrumental in that growth.”

Can you say the same? Something a Coach can help you with, for sure.


Donna Karlin

Monday, October 25, 2004

Sacrificing Life

Don't sacrifice your life to work and ideals. The most important things in life are human relations. I found that out too late. - --Katharinde Susannah Prichard Australian Author

One day flows into the next….deadlines come and go as does one project after another. And before you know it a week has passed, then a month and then years where all you have to measure them by is the dollar or the deadline met or even a plaque given to you by your organization thanking you for a ‘job well done’.

And as you’re patted on the back and congratulated, your life has gone by the wayside. I hear from clients who have recently retired that the weeks are like a series of weekends. They had so looked forward to retirement and everything they were going to do. The time came and after a few weeks discontent set in. When I explored the whys with them it was usually because they had forgotten their life. People had come and gone without them even noticing and they were left with a great deal of emptiness. Then what?

I can almost hear the arguments coming….how it won’t happen to ‘you’. My question is, especially if you're that angry….hasn’t it already?

It’s the people in your life that will make the difference, not the things, the plaques or the company watch. Companionship they are not. The person who would have debated with you, explored, shared and laughed with you has moved on, tired of waiting for you to take notice or take the time. What have you sacrificed for work? What have you gained by losing the people in your life? Tough questions, aren't they?

I teach balance. Some scoff and wonder if I practice it and the answer is yes. This week will be spent recuperating after an intense contract….exploring, taking pictures, writing and sharing time with some of the special people in my life. And for those who are too busy to join in, even on the weekend….I wonder if they’ll notice when the time comes and those they treasured just won’t be around anymore?

I know…I’m pushing your buttons right now and you’re getting angry. GOOD! It’s a wake-up call. Time is the one thing you can never recapture. It has to be taken… now, not later. Time doesn’t work that way.

So If I’m making you angry, I’ve achieved my goal. And instead of arguing with me about it, take that same amount of time to do something about it.

Wishing you the best RIGHT NOW…..not a day, a week, a month…..or a year from now….
It might just be a lifetime.

Donna Karlin

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Myths and Truths of Coaching

Another week has flown by. A lot occurred to me this week as I began to work with a new client. First and foremost was how much I learned in such a short time. Oh my client learned a great deal too and repeatedly shared with me his insights and perspectives as we debated and talked and shared our way through the chaos of the week. I walked in on Monday knowing exactly what it was I wanted to do with him, but not knowing the first thing about the work he did. I walked out at the end of the week actually understanding most of it.

Coaching Truth: A Coach can learn as much as he/she teaches and still be very effective. And in opening myself up to learning, my clients can learn by teaching and realizing just how much knowledge and experience they have. It’s not important to know what work a client does. It’s important to know how to Coach.

Another thing is the perception others have when I’m introduced to the rest of the staff. Very often the first question in others’ minds is “What does my boss need to fix?” or “Why is he/she bringing in a Coach? What’s wrong?” There’s a Coaching Myth for you! Something doesn’t have to be wrong to bring in a Coach.

My clients are awesome people who are great at what they do. They just want to be better. I’m not there to fix anything. I’m there to help them come up with new paradigms…to figure out what’s not working as well as they’d like, turn it around to make it work better…. to change their Personal Operating Systems (POS) and come up with new ones that fit their present life, job, challenge, or vision.

Once in a while a Coach is lucky enough to work with a client who wants to absorb everything like a sponge. Usually we’re approached with an idea of what the client wants to change, improve or learn, however in observing them, rarely are those changes the ones needed. Usually it’s a hidden dynamic that I share with them through observation that creates the AHHA! or lightbulb that goes off and only then do we create a strategy for change. I worked with such a client recently who wanted everything I could dish out to him, to process, debate, take from it what he needed to created positive change by choice. Generally it’s not changing as much as looking at things through new eyes or perspective that makes all the difference in attitude and choices. Feedback from an impartial observer is very powerful. Very often my clients are extraordinary people in many ways yet don’t see themselves as such.

Coaching Myth: The Coach is the one to come up with ideas for change. Not so. The client is the one to create and implement the changes. Not me. Once they discover the glitches or roadblocks, they just soar and figure it out along the way. I just facilitate the process.

Coaching Truth: Many think they have all the answers. They love to spar with a Coach and hear all the ideas to debate them or knock them down. However if they used all that energy to listen openly and be honest with themselves, they could do amazing things to attract exactly what it is they want in their lives. But they’re stuck. They think it’s a sign of weakness to work with a Coach. It’s fine for “everybody else” but they don’t need it. I’d like to hear their response to people like the CEO of Home Depot, Bob Nardelli who believes that “Without a coach, people will NEVER reach their maximum capabilities".

"Between 25 percent and 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies use executive coaches." --Recent survey by The Hay Group, International. I am proud to say many of the department heads of the Canadian Federal Government see the value of Coaching to increase effectiveness and grow new leaders.

As you’re reading this, I would love to hear what your gut reaction would be in working with a Coach. Would it be an immediate “I don’t need one” or would it be “I wonder what it would be like to work with a ‘partner in crime’, someone who would support me no matter what, be non-judgmental and help me get to exactly where I want to be?”

And I’m thinking…who would be interested in contributing to my R & D group in creating new Coaching Concepts and perspectives for you? Your ideas, even through the comments on my blog are listened to and utilized to create new ways of working with people just like you. Question is….are you open to the possibilities?

Life is full of them if you only take a moment to grasp them.

Donna Karlin

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Coaching in Health Continues.....

Well this last blog certainly created a flurry of activity. The emails are coming fast and furious from people who would love to see coaching within healthcare happen. Some, Americans are skeptical but still urge me to persevere and Canadians who are cheering me on from the sidelines. (and Senator Kerry, if you’d like to see the American people healthier and more proactive in their ‘wellness’ this is the first step in making this happen).

Train the trainer or in this case, coach the coach. Front line health care providers coaching patients as they’re being treated….not only does this empower the patients to do their utmost in partnering in their health care but gives an added boost of energy and feeling of “I made a difference with this patient” to the one coaching. Now how much better does it get than that?

I realise many believe (especially in the US.) that as long as drug companies and physicians benefit from giving long term care and rely on making their big bucks only when patients remain needy and continue to return to their doctors again and again, this concept will never become a reality. Yet I do believe most physicians act from a basis of integrity and if their patients were more proactive in their own care, they would be more than happy. And with that, there is a possibility that the mind set and culture will change ….albeit slowly, however there is light at the end of the tunnel. For those of you who know me, I always look forward to the possibilities and in a case like this, where there are only benefits, I won't give up.

I encourage your comments and suggestions and ideas for how to speed this up and make it happen in your neck of the woods and mine. If we put our heads together it will happen sooner rather than later.

Let me leave you with a story….an simplistic example, but a powerful one...

About two years ago, someone close to me was diagnosed with cancer. It was treatable, but still the idea he had cancer was more than he wanted to handle. Success rate for his type of cancer was very high. He couldn’t even verbalise the “C” word. He was sure he was going to die. He was so miserable from his treatments that he wanted to die, and blatantly told me so.

I sent him a planner…an agenda with the instructions that he was to take responsibility for making his doctors appointments and to keep track of all treatment schedules. As well, when he was up to it, to plan his social calendar and record everything himself, not to rely on others to do that for him.

He agreed.

A week later, I called him and asked what was on the agenda for that coming weekend. He listed off a few things he had planned. My response to him was “So you are planning to live after all, hmm?” There was silence after which he laughed, called me a wise guy and waited for me to continue. I responded with “If you had no intention of living then you wouldn’t have planned ahead. There would have been nothing in your agenda. So tell me, what exactly IS your intention?” and we went from there.

It was an eye-opener for him. He didn’t realise he had sounded so depressed and had almost given up. It’s almost three years since we’ve had that conversation and I’ve sent him 2 refills for that planner. It’s still being filled. Now I realise it’s a simple example, but it was very powerful in effect. It was what he needed to get past what was stopping him from working towards health, not death.

A huge difference for his family and friends. A huge change of outlook in life.

Any suggestions? Comments? I’d love to hear them. Let's get past all the reasons why this isn't going to happen (human nature....people always share those first) and start working on solutions and plans of action.

Let’s get this going.

Donna Karlin

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Coaching and Health Care

My goal….to bring the coaching model to health care so health care providers coach patients as well as treat them. Easy to implement? No. A win-win situation? Definitely…. which makes me wonder why it is so difficult to get a program like this going. One would think health care providers would jump at the chance for a model that has no downside. However that would entail them thinking outside the box and in a profession of ‘old school’ mentality when it comes to the dynamics of health care provider vs. patient or recipient, implementing this model might be a very long way off.

Benefits of coaching are evident. The increased effectiveness in the workplace, appreciative approach to staff and colleagues and reduced levels of stress in the workplace are well documented. Throughout the years, working with long term care patients I have personally seen the benefits of coaching patients through their challenges. What could be a better scenario than patients being more responsible for their well being, stretching beyond their comfort zone and accepting where they’re at in their lives without guilt or feeling sorry for themselves? And what could be better for the providers to know they are helping the patients have a better quality of life, no matter what the challenges?

I can’t see any downside, can you?

I would love your opinions on this.

Donna Karlin

Monday, October 04, 2004

Memories of the Yukon

There is so much to write about my experiences in the Yukon, but I'll begin with this.....

My stay in Whitehorse came to an end much too quickly. It was filled with teaching, coaching, learning and laughter. The people there welcomed me with open arms and were eager to learn and experience as much as they could absorb about Coaching. In the interim, I learned all I could about the First Nations people and their history. It was fascinating and I couldn’t believe how much I didn’t know about their past and present….a history rich with culture and pride.

One of the class shared with me some books of stories of his people of the Kwanlin Dun First Nation. The stories were so simple yet each one touched a place deep inside me and will stay for a very very long time.

On the last morning, as I wandered with old friends and new, meeting up with some of the class on street corners and in shops, the week flashed before me. The 9 days flew by and now that I’m home I know I’ll look for the streaks of colour in the sky at dawn and snow capped mountains covered with morning mist in the distance….wishing this magical place was just around the corner so I could visit it often.

The time flew by way too quickly for me to learn all I wanted. Will I go back? I can’t imagine anything else. There is so much more to see and explore and learn and for me to teach whenever the opportunity strikes. And in the meantime I’ll have my photographs to remind me of its magic. Looking back at that brief moment when I questioned whether or not to go, I know now to never question anything like it again. If I had let this opportunity pass me by I never would have seen anything like this…

Donna Karlin

Bennett Lake - Carcross, Yukon

For more pictures, click here " Memories of the Yukon"