Saturday, November 15, 2008

How To Be Better Than Great

I was talking to a dear friend and fellow Coach the other day about ‘waiting for a crisis to change our ways of being’ as it applies in all aspects of our life, work, personal relationships, and health, as well as the health of an organization.

To say human beings process things in a certain way, in this case waiting until things are ‘broken,’ is to give validity to a perspective or paradigm that doesn’t serve us. Why wait for a crisis to implement change or rethink and reinvent something? Why not just create something incredible to start with, when everything is already good?

Could it be we automatically settle because amazing things happen to someone else, not us? Is it possible we don’t want to ‘press our luck’? Many have a hard time getting past their successes and so stop dead halfway to their dreams. Many become workaholics and yet won’t redefine their lives until their partner is about to ‘walk.’ There are those who won’t redefine how a company operates until it’s in crisis and about to go under. Why wait until the last moment when digging yourself out is so much harder than building something new on a foundation of great?
I believe we can do our best when we have the conversations we need to have with people in all fields of practice. It’s not just talking to clients or colleagues, it’s talking to everyone and anyone to find out their story, how they got to where they are. How does it apply to you?

Questions I ask my clients are simple yet shine a light on what they have to pay attention to. One of the key questions is "What aren't you thinking of?" That might sound strange yet those who stumble and feel as if they can't figure out why they're stagnating are looking at the same solutions they tried over and over again. What haven't they tried? What haven't they paid attention to? As a Coach that's one of my main make sure I can help them see beyond the immediate.

The second question is "Who do you need to talk to that you haven't spoken to yet and what does that conversation have to look like?" Again people have a wealth of knowledge and wisdom, however if it doesn't apply to you or where you dream of going then you have to ask the right questions to get the right answers. So again I ask "What does that conversation have to look like?"

Sometimes what I do as a coach isn't adding something; often it's the removal of something which might be an assumption, an expectation or a judgment. Remove what stands in your way and there is clear sailing. I ask you this... What do you need to know that you don't know? How is it relevant when it comes to removing roadblocks in your life?

Donna Karlin

Monday, November 03, 2008

Just Perfect

I recently started with a new client, someone very high level in the organization and wasn’t sure what to expect as not only was she a new client but was new to the organization, so I hadn’t yet seen much of her in action.

As I usually do before starting my day Shadow Coaching™ my client is to see ongoing clients for a few moments for reality checks, scheduling, contracting and just to touch base. This organization is going through a major restructuring at all levels. Every department is short-staffed and on top of this, all the systems have to be changed to meet the growing needs. Their entire world is in a state of flux. Those in positions of leadership are doing twice the hours they were doing before to pick up the slack and to create a strategy for implementation of this giant re-org. Needless to say, tempers are short, people are burned out and there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight.

Strangely or wonderfully, I’m not sure which would be the most appropriate term, this one particular day seemed to be a turning point for me in my work because it was as if a switch was flipped and all of a sudden, many of my clients ‘got it.’ They realized why I was saying what I was saying and gave it back to me in spades.

When this re-org began and they weren’t quite sure which foot to put in front of which first, a couple of my clients were having a very rough time. In our sessions I turned to them, separately and at separate times and asked, “What is so perfect about this when it clearly isn’t?” One almost threw something at me and the other cracked up because he’s never quite sure what will come out of my mouth. It was the start of a long insightful conversation.

Well a few months have passed and here I was with this new client standing at the elevator to go to a meeting when one of my other clients asked me how my day was going. I smiled and said “Fascinating” because it was….but they always are! He started grinning and turned to me and asked “What is so perfect about it when it clearly isn’t?” I told him just being asked that made it absolutely perfect!

He got it. He knew what I was dealing with, new leadership and all, and although I love chaos and the unexpected, after all it’s my life in a nutshell, he knew I saw it as perfect, just as he started seeing his chaotic world. Because of the change in perception, he started having fun with the craziness. Bottom line is, if you can’t enjoy the most intense, unpredictable times and those times are going to be sticking around for a while, then get out because in the world we live in, things are no longer predictable, no matter if you’re at the top of the totem pole or the bottom.

When I got to the meeting room another client who was having a really rough day saw me 'Shadowing' my client and started smiling. When I asked why the smile? She said “I was just trying to figure out how I could tell you just how perfect this craziness is”. Yep….life is just perfect.

Can you look at something that happened to you today and ask yourself “What was so perfect about this when it clearly isn’t?” and have an answer? It works. And it’s contagious. Try it with your staff or peers when they’re going through a particularly rough time and see how the attitudes change on a dime. Fascinating!

It might sound simplistic, yet defining perfection for you is never simple. What it does is put things in perspective, take the power away from the chaotic moments and put it back in your hands. Nothing simple about that, not by a long shot.


Donna Karlin