If you’re a coach, you’re always looking out for methodologies or strategies to use or share with your clients. When I wrote my new book Leading Lightly, I wanted it to be a useful and inspirational resource — not only for leaders, but for executive coaches and life coaches, too.
So, one of the first podcasts I did in conjunction with the book’s launch was Conversations with Coaches with Kevin Stafford of Boxer Media and Growth Marketing. Kevin talks with the best coaches about the state of our industry, the foundations and principles of their practices and what they’re most excited about in the future.
It’s no secret I am an introvert, though you may find it surprising since I conduct leadership workshops and corporate speaking engagements for hundreds of people at a time. Some of the opportunities that go hand-in-hand with becoming a Wall Street Journal bestselling author are media requests, specifically podcast interviews. I’ll be frank: I don’t like doing them. I am uncomfortable putting myself out there in a way that I don’t have control over. But I understand these opportunities are necessary to get the word out about my book, which literally took me years to write so I am working on my podcast protocol.
Kevin made it easy to talk about my life experiences and my work. Below, I share with you some of the best moments of our conversation, including how I got started in coaching 25+ years ago.
A Walk Down Memory Lane
We began the conversation with how I got my start in coaching, which is a pretty interesting story. In the mid-1980s, I was working in the finance industry for Goldman Sachs, poised to get my MBA. One day, a friend called me to tell me I absolutely needed to fly to California to hear Fernando Flores speak. Fernando is known as the “father of ontological coaching.” I knew within ten minutes of hearing this man talk that I was going to opt for what he touted as his three-year alternative MBA program. (There was no such thing as executive coaching back then; it wasn’t even in our vernacular!) During those three years, we learned ontological coaching, the power of linguistics in re-inventing ourselves, and the neuroscience of how the brain works – all of which became the basis for my coaching methodology.
In 1997, I left the finance industry, went to the University of Chicago for formal training to become a licensed psychotherapist so I could also have a deeper understanding of psychology and human behavior. It was there I built an even deeper understand of our physiology, how the human brain works, and adapted neuroscience best practices to facilitate exponential systemic change with my clients. I wanted to make sure my toolbox had the depth and breadth needed to impact and improve my clients leadership, performance and lives. I consider myself in service to everyone I am coaching, which as Kevin says in the podcast, is a lovely way to live and a very effective way to coach.
Kevin agrees that sometimes we need help straightening out the wiring that may have gotten crossed in our brains. It’s something I address directly in my coaching, and it all starts with self-awareness. Most people think they are self-aware, but research has shown that only 10-15% of people actually fit the criteria of being self-aware.
Small Changes Yield Profound Results
Kevin and I discussed how there’s an understanding that this kind of growth is a lifelong journey but that individuals shouldn’t get discouraged by the timeliness. Your path to mental fitness can begin now and it can move along much more quickly than you may think.
I can’t tell you how many clients have told me they never thought they would be able to achieve what they have in just one year of working with me. I’ve literally had spouses call and ask me “What have you done with my husband? He’s better than the man I married thirty years ago!”
Proof of Coaching
But just because I know it can happen doesn’t mean coaches have an easy time convincing clients of the effectiveness of coaching. It can be a hard sell, simply because it’s intangible. A coaching engagement can be a significant investment yet the client isn’t getting a car, or a new big screen TV in return. Coaching is not something they can physically see, so the concept of success is much harder to grasp.
But today, more and more people are understanding the value of coaching in their lives. Kevin compared it to a gym membership, which I love. A gym membership pays dividends now and later. You spend money on yourself, your body, your health and well-being. Coaching is a similar raising of profile because it can have a domino effect.
It’s all about resiliency – a word that Kevin says he comes across in his daily life, whether he’s thinking about his own or someone else’s or even the resiliency of an idea. But in order to perform as a Teflon leader, you need to understand that your thoughts influence your moods which affect your behavior and drive your results. And the biggest thing to understand is that these thoughts just don’t “happen” to you, you actually create them yourself.
With 25+ years of coaching, I understand first-hand the obstacles that often stand in the way of effective leadership, as well as the best methods to overcome them and maximize performance. Let me introduce you to them in Leading Lightly.