Sunday, November 25, 2007

Learning Lessons Learned

I'm about to go to Washington D.C. to do an advanced coach training with the School of Shadow Coaching™. I always look forward to these sessions as amazing minds come together, already masterful in the coaching field, to learn something new.

A great byproduct of my work is what I learn through the day. That's an advantage of being a Shadow Coach™, being in the middle of my client's world as it unfolds. I learn about what they do and learn about what I do at the same time.

Every time I teach, I have tweaked the program to integrate what I have learned as a professional. Add into the equation the great minds, knowledge and expertise of the participants and the methodology has to evolve along with it as newfound awareness of what's possible emerges.

What if we applied this across the board? Learning from lessons learned on a regular basis, not just after an event or assessment. If we shared better business practices, ideas, concepts that morph as they're tried and tweaked along the way. How could we not stay 3 steps ahead of the current trends?

Corporate memory can hold an organization back just as living your life by dwelling in the past will not only hold you back but stop you dead.

Once ever year or so I invite people who have done the training to come back for a grad basic of sorts; revisiting the basics from someone who's been there, done that to see what works really well and how to do other aspects of our work better. We always leave the room with a whole new perspective of our work and how to be better practitioners.

What would it mean for you if you could go back to the basics with your colleagues and revisit what you might have forgotten and change what's no longer working for you? How powerful would that be?

How can you make that happen?


Donna Karlin

*Note: Welcome 116th country subscriber from Mozambique. We hope you stay around for a long time to come.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Living Through a Rear View Mirror

My business cards have a shadow of a person driving with a reflection in the rear-view mirror. Why? Because I tell my clients “If you live your life by constantly looking in the rear-view mirror, you’ll eventually crash and burn. Objects (or past history) in rear view mirrors do appear larger than they really are. Our pasts seem to be magnified exponentially in our memories.

To build on my Fast Company Experts post for a moment from July 11th 2007 Direction Defined or Not , you can’t live your life through your past. You can build on it and move forward because of it, for good or bad but you can’t live on your laurels forever. You’ll have to start living your future right now or before you know it, you’ll be looking at just more of the same and no movement whatsoever. For leaders, that could very well mean being put out to pasture and replaced by those who build a future by the choices they make right now. Successful leaders celebrate their successes, build on them and move forward. They constantly reinvent.

Recently I was with a group of people working together to create business plans. What an amazing experience! Each person asked for help and support in making their professional (and in some instances personal) dreams a reality. Yet there was one who started off every sentence by “Oh I used to do that, and when I did, I did it this way!” His was the only way, the best way, and he seemed to have done it all. If there were twenty projects and directions the others wanted to take you can be sure he said he had done all of them at some point in his life, and yet he was the only one who had no definitive direction as to where he wanted to go for his future. The others around the table gave him some ideas he might want to work with. He nodded as if he was actually listening but ran with none of them. Through the week we kept hearing “When I used to do that…”

A few weeks have now passed and I’m watching as the others work towards their plans and are actually building a life they love. They’re making professional changes to grow and are collaborating on both small and large projects that will give them more visibility, knowledge, experience and expertise in their fields, helping them achieve their level of excellence. And yet this individual, while he looks in his rear-view mirror is at a standstill for now. He’s stalled in the past and has no vision whatsoever for his future.

Does this sound like anyone you know? You can only challenge someone so far to take a good hard look at where they’re at in the scheme of things, but if they’re not willing to truly see the path they’re on, they will eventually crash and burn. It’ll then be much harder to pick up the pieces and start from scratch.

Some points for you to ponder:

Do you find yourself thinking and speaking in the past tense?

Do you have a plan for your future? Not necessarily a list of goals but a dream you’re working towards?

Who can you ask for help so you can really get there and make it happen?

What do you need to know that you don’t know? (A great barometer)

People generally find it easier to help others than to ask for help. If you like the feeling of giving to help someone else to realize their dreams, why in the world would you deprive others of feeling the same way when they want to help you?

Have you articulated what your future will look like? Until you see it, touch it and breathe it, how can you figure out ways and steps forward to make it happen?

No ceiling, just sky.Best..

Donna Karlin

*Note: Many of you have been asking me about my travels and where I'll be teaching next. I recognize I can't be in all parts of the continent (and beyond) in one fell swoop but will post my whereabouts for you on here as well as my website. For those of you who want to learn the Shadow Coaching model, I'll be teaching in Washington D.C. on November 28 - 29th, 2007 and there's room for about 6 more people before we close registration. If you want to join in, I urge you to register now to hold your place. To do that click here to register.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Letting Go of Expectations

This afternoon I was tagged by Robyn McMaster for the "Think Different Challenge"

One of the things I have to continually work on is eliminating expectations. As far as I'm concerned, having expectations is like making a judgment before the fact and doesn't make a heck of a lot of sense to me. So why do we have expectations? Is it wishes? Dreams? Anticipation?

Regardless, I recognize I have expectations and, when I drop them and no longer let them have any power over me in any way, I'm usually pleasantly surprised.

So when it comes to expecting someone to call, to care, to engage, to act the way I might in a specific circumstance, I challenge myself to think let go of all expectations which takes others' monkeys off my back, gives others the freedom to act from a position of their values and integrity (or not) and for me to live in alignment with mine at the same time, regardless of what others do.

Whew! Freeing!

Thanks for the reminder Robyn!

The Challenge...

The Think Different Challenge is all about finding something in your life you currently have negative thoughts or feelings toward (eg work or your mother-in-law), and deciding to look at it differently. It is about realizing that some things are just a part of life, so we may as well try to find the positives in them.
The rules for this writing project are:
  1. Write a new blog post in which you “think different”. Follow my suggestions above, or be a bit different and interpret the challenge the way you want .

  2. State that the post is a part of the Think Different Challenge and include a link and/ or trackback to this post so that readers know the rules of the challenge. Feel free to use the above banner (inspired, of course, by Seth Godin).

  3. Include a link and/ or trackback to the blogger who tagged you.

  4. At the end of your post, go ahead and tag some fellow bloggers. Don’t forget to email them to let them know they have been tagged.

  5. That’s it! Just sit back and enjoy reading peoples’ responses to the challenge.

So to keep this going, I Tag:

Donna Steinhorn from Rethinking
Steve Harper from the Ripple Effect
Phil Johnson from Master of Business Leadership
John Lazar from Leading Edge of Leadership
Alexander Kjerulf aka The Chief Happiness Officer
Joe Raasch from The Happy Burro
Prince Rahman at MagnumVox Leadership

If you weren’t tagged, but would like to participate, please go ahead and write a post that fits in with the challenge. Thanks for playing!

Donna Karlin

Saturday, November 10, 2007

OnGrowing Weekly Challenge

Colleague and dear friend Donna Steinhorn and I have decided to create an OnGrowing Weekly Challenge to hear how people deal, cope, thrive and grow in their lives.

I maintain that the gap between where you are and where you want to be is filled by what you choose to do in the time available to you; every conversation, thought, choice and decision.

We can either blame someone else for our shortfallings, our level of success, our happiness or anything else you can think of but bottom line is, when we give the power of our destiny in whatever realm to someone else, we are choosing to give up control of our lives.

I truly believe that.

My challenge to you is, who are you giving your personal power away to and how are you going to take it back?” Tag 5 people to join us in this challenge. We can either choose our future or let someone else do it for us. Which would you prefer?

I realized that by trying to fix the world, dive in and help a gazillion people and organizations I wasn't picking and choosing how I could have the biggest impact. By doing that, I was so worried by everything and everyone else that I was sacrificing myself for other causes. A friend and colleague of mine shared that to sacrifice something, (or ourselves) was to make something sacred. When she told me that I realized that I was making things sacred that just weren't and compromising my practice, my business and my health by doing it. Now I'm making choices that are in alignment with my goals and purpose. It feels great to be able to say that!

I believe in order to be leaders in our fields we have to make choices about how to use our time, what work to do and how we do it in the best possible way that is in alignment with who we are and what we envision in our worlds. Far too often we are talked into doing things that take our focus away from our life long goals or purpose. For us to be strong leaders we need to learn how to make those choices. It's not always easy but the rewards are extraordinary.

Here are 5 people I'm tagging to join me in this:

Susan Meyer
Paul Markle
Phillip Clark
Lorraine Cohen
Michelle Randall

...however I open this up to all who reads this and invite you to play with us!

Looking forward…
Donna Karlin

Wednesday, November 07, 2007


I’m just back from the 2007 International Coach Federation Conference in Long Beach California. It was an amazing experience for me. The reason I’m starting off this post with that comment is, my expectations for this event, based on last year’s experience was as low as they come. I made a conscious decision, in spite of low expectations to go and to turn those expectations around into what I decided would be an invaluable experience.

It was.

I wonder how many times we expect something to be a “1” on a scale of 1- 10, thereby choosing not to go. There were many criteria at play here. First of all, it would be an expensive event to go to simply by virtue of having to travel pretty much the length of the continent to get there. Little did I know when I booked it and registered that the Canadian dollar would be stronger than the US dollar. It’s been many years since that had happened. Bonus. Travel was less than optimal as because of mechanical problems the plane had to return to the tarmac for 2 hours. I knew I had missed my connecting flight before we had even taken off. Still, ever part of this trip was an amazing experience. From wonderful ticket agents trying their best to get me there are quickly and safely as possible to the amazing people I interacted with along the way, it was extraordinary.

If I had let my low expectations dictate whether or not I would have gone, I would have missed out on the following:

  • Meeting up with my ICCO colleagues and friends, which I rarely get to do in person
  • Supporting my dear friend and colleague in his presentation (awesome)
  • Meeting some fascinating people from my home town and from other parts of the globe
  • Learning more about the Foundation of Coaching and perhaps becoming more involved
  • Lunch and networking meeting with my friend Marion and people from her world
  • Planning some future work with someone I respect so highly and would be honoured to work with
  • Learning about internal coaching programs from the Deloitte perspective
  • Meeting someone from Tokyo Japan and sharing ideas with him about a program in his company

I could go on and on and not have nearly enough time and space to list them all. Even the shuttle bus ride to the airport was an experience as I met coaches who had participated in this event, all fascinating in their own right.

Bottom line is, I could have as many expectations as I want; the best part of these conferences isn’t the continuing credits that I get or even the breakout learning sessions. It’s the people, the cultures that come together, insights, ideas and enough energy to raise the roof! Yes, I have to weigh cost with value, but how does one put a value on being inspired and growing in leaps and bounds?

I made a conscious choice to toss expectations out the window from now on. I had started on that journey but I’m way ahead after this past week.

The question I ask of you is, what expectations do you have that might be holding you back from something amazing, if you’d give it half a chance?

Donna Karlin

*Note: I often recommend products, technology or services, a book or two or program that will move you forward in some way. Well today is no exception. If you’re a coach or someone who grows people for a living or passion, I recommend you subscribe to IJCO, the International Journal of Coaching in Organizations. It is brimming with ideas, expertise, latest concepts and trends, research and dialogue that you’ll refer to again and again in your work. Every issue brings a new level of awareness. It’s a magnificent publication in every way shape and form. Click here to learn more.