In Self Management And Personal Success – Part 2 we continued this subject of self-management and how it affects your personal success and can limit you from reaching your peak performance.
We walled through an application and visited “growth vs. decline.” I think it’s worth emphasizing that whatever attitude you have about the world then you will bring this same belief upon yourself. Your attitude is a good indicator of the respect you have about your ability to bring about the type of vision and dreams you want to have.
Today we’ll continue this discussion…
Coaching and Taking Action
A coach has a powerful role to play in the “growth and decline” cycles. There are a number of things that a coach can do the help keep their clients stay “in the zone” where growth occurs and where they can experience peak performance.
There are also ways that they can create an intervention in a decline cycle to get people back into “the zone” once a poor choice has led to feelings like despair, frustration or a damaged sense of self.
First - A coach can help a client make good plans in the first place. We are all familiar with personal goals to get fit. They feature prominently in most people’s New Year’s Resolutions and often involve unrealistic personal goals like returning to a 20 year olds weight at age 40.
A coach could ask powerful questions to help, let’s say, Crystal step her way through a workable plan so that she can build on her own strengths while being aware of possible barriers to success. The final plan to get fit would be Crystal’s, because the client always determines the content of the coaching sessions, however the way the plan is put together can be lead by the coach because the coach determines the process.
Second – A coach can help a client to step through the likely effects of a choice to that they are prepared for any adverse reactions. Sometimes people are not prepared for the negative feelings that accompany a setback and unwittingly allow themselves to be hijacked by them.
A skilled coach can help a client to minimize their effects by keeping the client focused on the overall goal and by encouragement. Good examples of a potential barrier to get fit are the cold, dark early mornings of winter.
Goals that seem achievable on a bright, sunny morning can seem like insurmountable obstacles on a dark, frosty one. For example, when Crystal first began to feel the pain of getting out of a warm bed on a dark, cold morning to go walking, her coach could have helped her to think through strategies to ensure she kept going, as well as providing her with the necessary encouragement.
Third – If a client does start on a decline spiral, a coach can help create a “positive intervention”. Often when people are in a spiral of bad decision building on a bad decision, all it takes is one good decision to turn things around. The problem is that when people are reeling from the effects of a bad decision, their capacity to make good decisions is damaged and they’re not able to reach peak performance.
Going back to Crystal for a moment…At the time, her friend moved out of the area and this was a major barrier to her personal success. For the first few weeks, Crystal tried to keep walking on her own but she found it harder and harder to get out of bed. The park that had felt so bright and welcoming with her friend suddenly felt unsafe.
Crystal would see other groups of women walking and suddenly felt terribly alone. Crystal missed one morning in the first week, and then missed every day the next week.
Crystal had moved out of her “zone” and into a decline spiral. At these tough points, a coach can play an invaluable role for supporting the client to make just one positive choice that can turn the cycle around.
Crystal: I’m doing really poorly with my goal to increase my fitness. I didn’t go walking once this week.
Coach: Tell me about that.
Crystal: Well, it’s just so hard now that I don’t have Gail to walk with. It’s not fun anymore, plus I don’t feel safe walking around on my own out there at that time of morning.
Coach: How important is it to you to do regular exercise?
Crystal: It’s really important!! It was all going so well, but it’s so hard now! I guess I just need to try a little harder.
Coach: It was all going so well and it will go well again. I know you can do this! OK, looks like there are some new barriers to you achieving your goal. Let’s look at what they are. Then we can work out some ways to go around em, go under em, go over em or smash em down. Sound fair?
Crystal: (laughs) Sounds fair.
Coach: You mentioned not feeling safe as a barrier. Also, it not being fun anymore. Is that right?
Crystal: Yes, that’s right. Plus it’s lonely. I’m a people person and I don’t like being on my own. I approached my friend Sue to see if she wanted to go walking but she’s not like Gail. She really lacks motivation. I’d practically have to drag her out of bed. I don’t really know anyone else to ask.
Coach: Does it have to be a friend with you for you not to feel lonely?
Crystal: No anyone would do. I suppose I could join a club or go to a gym. But I’ve never been to a gym before. It doesn’t sound like my scene. It sounds more like a place for young people but then I heard that a women’s gym opened up in the area. That sounds more like me. Maybe I could just have a look at that one.
Coach: Well that’s excellent problem solving because the gym would overcome all of the barriers you mentioned. It’s safe, there are plenty of people and gyms can be a lot of fun.
Crystal: Sure, okay.
Coach: How can you explore whether this women’s gym could be part of the solution?
Crystal: Well, if I just visit it, I can see whether I think I’d fit in or not. OK, I’ll do some investigation this week. Maybe I can phone to organize a visit.
Coach: Fantastic. Good for you. You are so much fitter now than 6 months ago. I know you will make this work.
Notice that Crystal’s coach “enthused” her into making just one good decision. In this case, all she had to do was to investigate the women’s gym. She didn’t have to sign up or attend or do any other exercise. Her coach was skilled enough to read Crystal’s feelings of despair and to realize that in this state, she would not have enough positive energy to tackle a big goal.
When she was in a growth cycle, Crystal’s coach could have suggested a much bigger goal, perhaps attending the gym for a trial period or joining a sporting club. When Crystal was feeling positive she probably could have handled a challenge like this.
However, in a decline cycle, a coach’s focus is on turning the corner and just one small positive choice plus a lot of encouragement, is enough to do this.
First Things First
Coaching involves strategic learning and strategic action. In the information age, there are many areas in which we could be developing. We can’t be all in a state of growth about everything all the time.
For example, at the time that Crystal was going through a period of spectacular growth in physical fitness, she was in a state of decline playing the piano. Having learned to play as a child, Crystal lost interest at an adult. She now plays less and less and finds herself slightly less capable every time she has a try.
However, playing the piano is not one of Crystal’s priorities. When Crystal began working with her coach, she determined that becoming physically fit would have significantly positive effect on so many aspects of her life, that she would make it her number one priority.
Playing the piano scarcely rated a mention. The fact that Crystal is in decline in playing the piano is not nearly as significant as if she were in decline in an area that she determined was important.
How Much Action is Action?
Growth is anything that keeps us going in a forward motion. For that reason, everyone’s personal goals will be different to each others. If we think of how adults learn, part of the cycle is experience, but the next part of the cycle is reflection on that experience.
Taking time to reflect on an achievement, to unpack what worked and what didn’t, to acknowledge your personal success and to think about how this might impact on future decisions is all “action” you achieve in a year.
It is still action; it is just action that is harder to see. It is important that you recognizes and acknowledges these less visible forms of growth.
At any given time, a plant is either growing or dying. Even in the dead of winter when it looks as though nothing is happening, somewhere the roots are taking in water, the stems are thickening up and callusing to protect themselves from the cold, or little buds are being produced inside the stems, ready for spring to speed things up.
The plant is not dying during winter; its action is just hidden.
Similarly with people, we all go through periods of less visible action. A skilled coach is able to discern when a person is in a period of less viable growth as opposed to a spiral of decline. This can be particularly important when the environment might involve “outside” pressures like employees, business partners or significant others for fast, visible results.
Part of my role in these circumstances is to support my client in their cycle of non-visible growth and assure them (and others) that, just like the cactus that produces a spectacular bloom every few years, some results are worth waiting for!!
“Very small increases in positive emotion can tilt the overall balance and can lead to significant differences in the extent to which people languish of flourish” (Kaufman)
A coach is to shine a light on the positive choice when a negative one seems all that is possible.
In this way coaches are able to lead clients into a cycle of growth and peak performance and steer them away from a cycle of decline.
Just as it takes one good business decision to turn around a company in decline, a coach’s positive energy can be enough to set a client back on the path to their most important goals, back on the path of great self management.
- Do you agree with the idea that people are never really “standing still”?
- Can you think of some areas in your life that are in a growth cycle and some that are in a decline cycle?
- What priorities are important in your life?
- How can you detect a potential barrier to growth?
- How can you identify and support “non-visible” growth?
- What practices do you have in place to self-manage?
Want to feel what coaching is like? Request an Introductory Consultation with me HERE to explore coaching further how to get into this flow state for peak performance and personal success.
- Kaufman, Carol, 2006, Positive Psychology: The Science at the Heart of Coaching, in Stober,
- Dianne and Grant, Anthony (eds), 2006, Evidence Based Coaching Handbook,
- John Wiley and Sons, New Jersey Kolb, D. 1984, Experiential Learning. Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NJ
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