Saturday, August 26, 2006

Measuring Success

How do you measure success? Is it power, money, notoriety? Is it not having any worries in the world? Or perhaps it’s learning and growing every day?

If you don’t have an idea of what it is to be successful in life, then how in the world are you going to start living your life by design? So if I asked you this question, would you have an answer?

I tell my clients that everything you do starting this very moment will be how you invent or create your future. It’s not what happens years from now or how you set a goal for 5 years hence and magically it happens. It’s what you do this second and every one that follows that determines what your future will look like, because before you know it the future is the present and it looks way too much like what you’re living right now, simply because you haven’t done anything to change that.

In execuBookblog this week we’re discussing “Is Bigger Better?” and I love what perspectives are coming out of the conversation. I am frequently asked to join forces with large companies and have the conversations to see what it is they’re doing. As of now I’ve turned them all down. It’s not that they don’t do good work, because they do, but it’s way too generic for me. I truly believe those of us who coach from WAY outside the box are the ones who stay 2 steps ahead of trends and really partner with our clients to let them fly. Those who coach based on tools and canned approaches do achieve success with their clients but I firmly believe the level of success is nowhere near what they realise with those of us who rely on experience and expertise rather than what’s inside those various boxes of tools.

For some, success might be measured by what’s in their bank account and for others it’s fame. For me, it’s more subtle. It’s knowing I’m successful because of who I have in my life, that I learn and grow every day, and that I’m 98% free of tolerations. I know I’m successful by how I can’t wait to jump into the deep end of each day to see what gifts reveal themselves to me. It’s knowing I don’t want for anything and that I’m making a contribution in some way shape or form. In other words, the way I like to put it is "I know I am successful by how I can't wait to jump into the deep end of each day"

Here are some of the responses I’ve received from clients all over the world.

“I know I am successful by how I enjoy my creativity”
“I know I am successful by how I follow my whims”
“I know I am successful by how it doesn’t occur to me to even think that I need or want for anything”
“I know I am successful by how I fully enjoy every aspect of my life”

How would you define success according to you?

Donna Karlin

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Power Mentoring

This week for our ExecuBooks Blog we’re blogging about ‘power mentoring’. I love the insights that come out of our weekly topics and this week is no exception. It never occurred to me to go to one source for absolutely everything. That would be like hiring an accountant to give you everything from financial to medical advice and that would be ridiculous. Yet many believe they have to go to one person for the end all and be all of mentoring to help them move forward in their careers.

That too is ridiculous for how many people do we come across in this world who is masterful at everything? None that I know of.

Then I wondered how many people were hesitant to become mentors because of the pressure that’s put on them to have all the answers. I know I wouldn’t want to be put in that position. Mind you, from a coach’s perspective all that means is asking a few more questions. We don’t ‘do’ answers.

In all seriousness, I would love to hear your perspectives on this. Many organizations, government included, have mentoring programs, though often it’s hard for them to find people to sign up as mentors. This might be the reason why.

Secondly, we don’t necessarily need to know or speak to people to have them mentor us. All we need to do is pay attention….read what they’ve written and what others have written and spoken about their successes, their ways of being and how they’ve moved up the ladder of success. We don’t necessarily have to use everything they share in its pure form. We can and should tailor it to us, our personalities, professions and ways of being.

If we remember that every person we come across knows something we don’t know, that we can learn and grow from them, we will continue to evolve into our level of excellence. We can learn something from each of them but not everything there is to know from just one.

Donna Karlin

Monday, August 14, 2006


def: BUSY adj
1. actively or fully engaged or occupied; "busy with her work"; "a busy man"; "too busy to eat lunch";
2. crowded with or characterized by much activity; "a very busy week"; "a busy life"; "a busy street"; "a busy seaport"

I’m often asked how I have time to do everything I do in a day. I wrote about this a few times, the most recent can be found here, ( but as it’s a question / comment I hear frequently, I thought I’d look at it again to see if there were any tricks of the trade I could share with you. Perhaps I need a shadow to shadow the Shadow! But in the meantime, here are a few of my own observations…

First of all, busy doesn’t mean effective or efficient. It means just what the definition says; busy as in crowded with activity. How the activity is executed is the key.

I still believe the best way to accomplish the most, or work smarter as it’s called these days is to simplify. Whether it’s looking at an email once, not 10 times, or compartmentalizing the day into workable chunks, any way you can simplify a schedule is the first step. One of my clients, who has an intense, chaotic schedule on a daily basis decided to schedule meetings in the mornings, leaving afternoons for chunks of time to get through her own work.

What needs to be stipulated are the variables because one way will NOT work for all.

  1. People have different levels of energy and sustained focus time
  2. Some people have more control over their days than others, though they still have control over some of the day.
  3. Some people have a hard time making split second decisions and waffling eats up time AND energy
  4. Some people insist on maintaining control of their administrivia and that eats up an incredible amount of time. Automate everything that’s automatable and you’ll have all this free time to fill instantly!
  5. Basically everyone is faced with the same dilemma; not enough time to get everything done. Therefore choices have to be made. Choices for what’s first, what’s last, what’s urgent, what can be put aside for now….who to see, who not to see, when to meet, when not to meet….get the picture?
  6. People frequently chase success…often in the wrong places. A colossal waste of time and energy. Become masterful at what you do well and success will find you. Attraction Principles at their best. But that’s another conversation altogether.
  7. People think technology will make their lives easier. NOT! Technology is a tool. Period! What you do with it will determine whether or not it will simplify your life or make it more complicated.
  8. People have bad days and they have great days. The key is to figure out what made it so great and repeat it. Often!

What isn’t a variable is the number of minutes in a day. We all have the same amount of time. That’s a constant. How we spend them is key.

I know I left out a great deal but blogs shouldn’t be 10 pages long. We can continue this. First I’d love to hear what it is that you’re dealing within the chaos of your day and we'll talk about specifics.

Donna Karlin

*Note: Welcome 90th subscriber country from Kazakhstan!

Monday, August 07, 2006

Power: Possession of Controlling Influence

Power can be defined as possession of controlling influence. Is that leadership? And is that one and the same with power?

Or can power be the death of true leadership when defined as above?

I’ve been tossing this around a great deal. Leaders inspire others to greatness and to achieve their level of excellence. People in the position of controlling influence, or power, don’t necessarily lead….they can be destroying innovation, creativity and energy, one controlling, powerful decision at a time.

So how does one make sure they don’t abuse their position of power and continue to be true leaders?

I’d love your comments and insights on this.

Donna Karlin

Friday, August 04, 2006

People Seldom Picture This World Without Themselves In It

People are driven either to be someone special or to be the person others expect them to be. So who will be them? If they’re trying to emulate someone else, how will they hone their talents, discover their strengths and be known for their uniqueness?

People think their beliefs are grounded in logic, whereas they most often are based on emotions. They think life is all about them. It's not personal….yet it can feel so personal. But it really isn’t. So they miss amazing opportunities because they are distracted by the minutia of daily life…are so caught up in their worlds as they think it’s all about them, that they don’t see what’s out there.

Recently, I was interviewed about me and my work in a major US newspaper. The journalist interviewed a few of my clients. It was amazing to see their various reactions to being interviewed. One looked at the global impact of working with a Shadow Coach™ and was very forthcoming with stories, insights and anecdotes into how we worked together and the impact of my work. Another client made it all about him, how he looked, how he came across, that no matter what, he was quoted in the paper. It no longer had anything to do with the focus of the piece. It had to be all about him. Interestingly enough, when it didn’t turn out the way he wanted it to, he reacted, big time.

He’s still reacting.

From a coaching perspective, it told me volumes about roadblocks he was putting up that were stemming his success as that pattern is repeated regularly. It shows me where the focus of our work has to be and to help him see it. It’s not always easy to help my clients get over themselves.

It’s not always easy for coaches to get over themselves either and as I’m creating a new curriculum for the School of Shadow Coaching™, I realise that definitely has to be one of the proficiencies of our profession. If we make our coaching about us, what we think etc, then we are no longer serving our clients. Oh we’ll always have opinions as we’re human but it’s a matter of not letting those opinions and filters get in the way of how we work with our clients.

Donna Karlin

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

People Never Reach Their Limits, They Only Think They Do

It’s amazing how often my biggest challenge as a coach is helping my clients past their ‘AHHA!” moments. Reaching the first wrung on the ladder towards achieving their goals can stop them dead and be the biggest roadblock to the realization of their dreams. Go figure!

Still, once they reach half way and are flying, many don’t want to ‘press their luck’ as they’re doing better than ever before and I hear “Maybe I should quit while I’m ahead”. Why in the world they would think of quitting when they’re halfway there is beyond me! But they do. My job as a Shadow Coach is to make them aware of this and help them past it.

People’s personal and professional lives are integrated even if they think they’re separate. And if a family member or close friend is struggling, that can often be stumbling block #2 in my client’s road to succeeding, for how can they fly without feeling guilty that others close to them aren’t doing the same? I wonder why they see that as something to hide rather than an inspiration to those around them.

People usually believe their actions and choices are right, even when it comes to putting on the brakes, so my work is cut out for me. It’s the fine line between helping them celebrate their road to success and not stopping dead because of that victory. There’s no ceiling, no limits to how high they can fly if they stop putting barriers in the way.

People never reach their limits until they impose limits on themselves.

People want things to be simpler, even if their actions say otherwise. That includes looking for all the reasons in the book why they can’t succeed. It would boggle their minds if they used that same energy to reach for the sky. My job is to figure out why they don’t and feed it back to them in some way they see what it is they’re doing….which is self sabotage. The funny thing about that is people don’t stay at the level of their most recent self-imposed roadblocks. They start spiraling downwards along with their waning enthusiasm.

People might want things to be simpler but find very innovative and creative ways to complicate life.

Life can become extremely complex, even when rich with opportunities and limitless possibilities. Even wonderful opportunities create pressures at a great cost. Success is seductive and often elusive when we chase after it instead of attracting it to us. Stop running towards something, and let life catch up to you. You’ll be amazed at what unfolds. It might just be a new definition of success.

Donna Karlin