Tag Archives: coaching

Sliding into Success

Slide, Don’t Jump, Into A New Role

Congratulations, you got that promotion, you landed that new job! Your focus and commitment to ‘moving on’ has paid off and you can relax now, right?

Unfortunately, no.

Sliding into Success

When I coach people through their career transitions, I can sometimes see the expectation that the work ends once the new role has been found and ‘won’.

For many people there is a tendency to believe we can immediately move out of one thing into another, with very little consideration about how we need to ‘be’ in the new role. We can cross our fingers and hope for the best, or we can equip ourselves to be far more effective by considering the following.

In managing personal change it pays to think on the real shifts that are going on as we move into the new. We don’t simply ‘jump’ into what is required of us. We transition through a phase of experimenting and adapting, gradually sliding from the old state into the new. ‘Joan Bloggs’ who gets the a promotion into a new leadership position may, or may not, be working in the same sector or department than before, bringing with it a certain amount of technical challenges. However, chances are it will be the degree of self-insight and self-awareness, and how best to apply that, which will offer the biggest hurdles (or opportunities) to being successful.

Jenny Bird and Sarah Gornall in ‘The Art of Coaching: A Handbook of Tips & Tools’*, describe this as the ‘Transition Slice‘. Simply put, this is a rectangle with the ‘old’ operating system on the left and the ‘new’ operating system on the right. Overlay that with a diagonal line with the old gradually decreasing and the right slowly increasing. Where you are at any point in your transition period can been seen as a vertical line cutting through both – a ‘transition slice‘. At that point you have a certain amount of the ‘old’ you are reducing and a certain degree of ‘new’ increasing, until eventually you emerge fully on the right hand side, in the ‘new’.

Looking at this model, you can start to appreciate that shifting into a new role is not a sudden jump into ‘being’ everything you need to be, know and act. It’s a gradual process of ‘letting go’ of old habitual ways of doing things as you develop and increase your focus and capacity for new understanding and appropriate behaviours.

For example, what used to work very well for you in your old job may not necessarily be what you need in your new role. Seeing yourself sliding into position in this way gives you an opportunity to reflect on ‘what do you need to give up?’ as well as ‘what needs to happen now?’ We can offer ourselves far greater chances of success if we embrace this process of transition and not pile the pressure on ourselves (and others) to be fully able to function in the ‘new’ right from the start.

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Rhian Sherrington is a Career Coach, Choose2Flourish Ltd, who supports people seeking to shift from a place of stressed out making do, to thriving in careers that make them happy and fulfilled. Her book ‘Choose to Flourish: How to change career and thrive in life‘ was a best seller on Amazon and can be found here.

* Bird, J & Gornall, S (2016) The Art of Coaching: A Handbook of Tips and Tools, Routledge.

 

 

 

 

 

Chimpanzee with fingers in ears

It’s Okay, I’m Not Listening

Given that communicating well is so important for our happiness and well being, how much time and effort do you put into ensuring you are highly proficient in this with all your relationships?

Some of us have behavioural preferences that make it easy for us to talk about the task in hand without any warm up with social niceties (something that is an enigma to others who want to hear the personal stories). Others need space to ‘think as they talk’ or a slower pace that allows for them to be quiet and think, and then share their thoughts.

Do you recognise the importance of adapting your natural style to suit the needs of the person you are communicating with or do you plough on regardless?

We all know we should take it turns to listen, to ask questions, to speak – but how many of us fall foul of the following communication ‘no no’s’ in our relationships, at work or at home – without meaning to?

1.     We ask a question but instead of following up with more in depth questions that show we are interested and have been listening, we switch the conversation back to what we want to talk about.

2.     We listen to someone expressing their feelings about a situation but promptly offer solutions to the situation rather than acknowledge and validate their feelings.

3.     We interrupt; assuming we know what else that person is going to say, ready to show our quality of thinking rather than listening to help that person understand their own thinking.

Now I’m sure you’ve all done the above at one time or another, and experienced those conversations where you’re left feeling unsatisfied, that somehow you’ve failed the mark, not been heard properly or unknowingly, made things worse. So perhaps knowing whether we, and who we are in conversation with, are in terms of an ‘I, We, or It’ state can help bring more awareness  – and ultimately more satisfaction – into our conversations.

I, We, It ,Conversations

In the ‘Bodywork for Coaches’ training course I am currently doing with Mark Walsh, he highlights the importance of knowing what kind of state we are in.

When we are in an ‘I’ state, we want to go into ourselves and reflect on what is going on.  We’re more likely to bring things back round to us and our needs because that is where we are.

At other times we may be in a ‘we’ state, when we are ready, willing and able to be with another, to listen with an aim to understand the other person.

And then there are the ‘It’ states, when it’s all about the task and getting things done.  There is little space here for feelings, to recognise subtle undercurrents or meaning. In an ‘It’ state, we are best able to focus on the job in hand.

Problems in communication arise when people are in different states (or cross states) and are unaware of what state they are in. You will just not be able to give someone the quality of listening and engagement required if they are in an ‘I’ state but you are in an “It’ state for example.

So, moving forwards;

Firstly, spend time and effort to realise what your behavioural preferences are.

Secondly, consider how you can recognise when you are in your ‘I, We’ It’ states. How can you best then respond or instigate conversations that will ensure you aren’t in a cross-state with that other person?

Do you know how to say no?

Do You Know How to Say No?

Stop, Look, Listen – And Say No!

Is time slipping away for you? Hardly believe we’re 5 weeks away from Christmas and the holiday season? Yes I know – where did 2015 go?

If that sounds like you, perhaps the following can help.

Traffic lights

Project management systems will often apply a ‘traffic light’ approach to seeing whether things are on track or not. I think it offers a useful tool to help us prevent overwhelm and consciously choose how we spend our time and energy, helping us to say ‘no’!

RED – STOP! 

How is what you are about to do (or thinking of doing) really going to serve you? Be aware if you are committing yourself to actions that are linked to feelings of guilt or inadequacy. We don’t need to keep up with ‘The Jones Family’. The children honestly don’t care about homemade cakes!

AMBER – Pause, Reflect

What do I really need to do right now? (remembering that doing nothing is always an option). Listen to your heart. Give yourself time to reflect. We can’t make good decisions when we’re frazzled. Go for a walk, run, have a bath, switch off the phone. Just ‘be’. Breathe.

GREEN – Go, Consciously

Being aware of your focus, of the reality behind your decisions, move forwards with action that is in tune with the ‘real’ you.

We seriously don’t have to do everything we think we have to. 80% of our results come from 20% of our action – the key is to understand what are those productive 20%. Applying a traffic light system to your reactions just might help.

 

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Written Down or Visualise – Which Way to Goal Success?

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We all know that having and achieving goals is an important aspect of living a fulfilling and meaningful life. It gives us confidence and motivation. It allows us to recognise accomplishments in our lives, something many of us can find hard to do. For many people, just giving ourselves permission to have goals can be a barrier. For others, trying to realise their dreams and ambitions brings them face to face to enemy number one, fear – of failure, of being judged, of being too successful – the list is endless.

Successful goal achievement is the one of the fundamental benefits of working with a coach. We help you identify not just any old goal but powerful, inspiring goals that are congruent to who you really are and what’s truly important to you. We enable you to work out where it is you want to go by getting your vision crystal clear and using that to work for you as a powerful motivator for action.

Once we’re proficient with setting congruent goals, the next important step is understanding how we should be using them to greatest effect.

For many, it’s writing them down that is the essential part. Whilst the popularly quoted study about Harvard students is a myth, a study undertaken at Dominican University does support the belief that those who write them down and create some accountability towards achieving them (either by sharing with a friend or coach), will be much more successful in accomplishing them.

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Many others put tremendous store in visualising goals, seeing the mental preparation in our minds eye as being a key part of attracting that into our field (think Law of Attraction). It’s also seen as a vital means of training our subconscious to align our decisions and actions with what it is we want to do. Visualisation, without doubt, is a very powerful tool that many highly successful Olympic athletes, speakers and business people use. But can you rely on visualisation alone?

One research study reported by Amy Brann in her acclaimed book ‘Make Your Brain Work‘, examined the improvements in finger muscle tone in groups of people who actually did the finger exercising compared to those who just visualised it happening. Amazingly enough, the later group of ‘visualizers’ saw a 22% increase in muscle tone over the study period compared to a 20% increase in muscle tone of those who actually did the exercising…

From seeing the success in the clients I work with, and from personal experience, I’d say if you were to combine the two techniques, you’re going to be flying – and getting real results.

Choose2Flourish Ltd

We all know that having and achieving goals is an important aspect of living a fulfilling and meaningful life. It gives us confidence and motivation. It allows us to recognise accomplishments in our lives, something many of us can find hard to do. For many people, just giving ourselves permission to have goals can be a barrier. For [...]

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Focus on your strengths – It will make you happier and more effective: Part 2

SO, WHAT ARE YOUR STRENGTHS? shutterstock_81178216

How do you know what your strengths are? You are probably aware of some, but identifying your strengths can be tricky. This is due partly to our innate ‘tuning into’ the negative about ourselves or situation, and the difficulty we all have in recognising what we are truly good at!

One way is to ask yourself what strengths you have just used when you have done something you feel good about.  You could also try asking a friend or trusted colleague who you feel can give you honest feedback (itself a real skill).

Research shows there are 24 character strengths recognised across cultures as being inherently desirable human traits.  Martin Seligman has used these as the basis for his ‘VIA Character Strengths Tests’ questionnaire which is available, for free, on his website http://www.authentichappiness.org You need to register and the questionnaire will take about 40 minutes to fill in. That time is well spent however, as the results can be truly illuminating.

“OH, THAT WAS NOTHING!”

If you do ask for feedback on your strengths, it’s worth noting how hard it can sometimes be to actually hear a strength being identified in you, or indeed for others to hear it said of themselves.  How many times have you heard, or said yourself, “Oh it was nothing” or “the others did it, I did very little” when being praised for something done well, whether it be at work or in your personal life. Giving and receiving positive feedback is a skill, and given that it can be so powerful in shaping many things, not just our ability to identify strengths, it’s good to know that we can all learn to give and receive it.

TOP TIP: USE EVIDENCE BASED, POSITIVE FEEDBACK

Here’s where providing evidence for the strength is so valuable. Next time you listen to a friend or colleague talk about something that went well, identify a strength they used in order to achieve what they did. Identify specifically what they did so when you then feed their use of that strength back to them, you can provide the evidence.  See and feel how different things appear by trying it out when you don’t use the evidence.  For me, it carries far more impact when my husband tells me I’m good with people when he also refers back to the specifics of the situation he has perhaps just seen me in, letting me see the strengths of kindness, patience and empathy, for example.  Collecting your evidence of where and when you have used your strengths is a great activity for building up your self-confidence and self-belief in your abilities.

RE-CRAFT YOUR WORK / LIFE AROUND USING YOUR STRENGTHS

The next, essential step, is to actively use your strengths in different ways across your day. Remember, using your strengths builds positive emotion, opening you up to new ideas and alternative ways of thinking. You’ll feel good and will be more likely to ‘get into flow’ at work or whatever activity you need to focus on, when you are applying your strengths. (Go back to Part 1 of this blog series if you’ve forgotten why it matters).

As a mum, I’m aware how powerful this all is for my children. I help them recognise the things they have done well and encourage them to reflect back on things they feel good about. Being a coach I find it fairly natural to bring into use all those great empowering questions with them, such as “How did that make you feel?”, “What did you learn from that?” And “How could you use (insert strength) with (new challenge or difficulty)? I actively help them identify their strengths, celebrate their use and encourage them to think of where they can apply their ‘good skills’ to tackle their problems.

I’m still not brilliant at doing it for myself though. So, time to apply a bit more positive psychology on me I think, and here’s an immediate opportunity: how can I use my ‘optimism, zest and energy for life’ to work out an approach to cooking dinner for the children when much of it is likely to be immediately scraped back into the compost bin…

Still optimistic that the next day's dinner will be eaten...

Still optimistic that the next day’s dinner will be eaten…