Time and Energy

Time and Energy was listed as the sixth item of the Top Ten list of things I learned by giving 100 free sessions.
#6. Time & Energy

Time and Energy #6

When I first announced this promotion, I had no idea how much support I would get in finding 100 people.  It all began when I had seen someone else post exactly what I had been thinking of doing, giving 100 free sessions to kick-start my business.  So when I saw it, I got a little mad at myself and said, “I’m not waiting anymore!”  I jumped right in and posted my intentions in one of my networking Facebook pages.   This very action got me out of my scare-d-y pants thinking and propelled me into a new place of getting it done!  I didn’t think about perfecting my promotional material, who, what or where.  Nope I didn’t wait. I just did it.  I found opportunities to talk about it at events, with strangers and friends.  When I braved those uncomfortable moments, more people offered to help.  I got an article published in The Hague On Line, an online publication for expats living in The Hague.  Also a few people shared my goal around Facebook which generated a lot of leads.  For a new coach this feeling was electric and palpable.  I never wanted this feeling to end! (cue “Time of my Life” song from Dirty Dancing).

I quickly realized I needed to get my administration in order.  That took some time as I had to figure out how to design it via my website.  This is known as “creating your conversion funnel“.  Those first few appointments I fumbled a bit.  Fortunately, no one seemed to notice but me.  I felt great about being busy but I also was starting to feel tired.  I had a lot to learn and I didn’t know how I could do it all.  By creating my funnel, I also had to establish a “firm” appointment schedule. Pffft! But because of lack of planning, I had to be flexible if I wanted to reach this lofty goal of 100 free sessions!  And by that I also had to be prepared to go anywhere.  I traveled everywhere to meet people.  Why, oh, why did I do this to myself?!

I was excited and just did it!  Something that comes natural to me.  But if I could offer any advice, should you go for it and do 100 sessions, start here:

  1. Sit down and look at your calendar
  2. Plot out what amount of time you are able to do every week towards your goal.
  3. Give yourself enough time to reach 100, so you don’t feel desperate and do impossible things with your time and energy. 🙂  For example:  Your goal, 100 sessions = 100 hours.  Each week you can devout, 10 hours for sessions.  That means it will take 10 weeks, or 2 1/2 months.
  4. Set boundaries.  Make sure to say you are only doing face to face sessions at these set times or don’t offer them at all.  You choose.  By the way, over Skype and phone is just as powerful as any face-to-face sessions I have conducted.  Let them know that!  And then bring it to them when you have the session.
  5. REST.  Do what it takes to give yourself a break.   You are helping a lot of people FOR FREE.  It will be exhausting.  I advise meditation.  Not your gig?  Go for a walk or take a nap.  Remember you are changing lives and that is a GREAT thing to be doing.
  6. Lastly,  really think about the reasons why you wish to do a 100 free session promotion.  It’s great feat. I realized later that maybe it was giving too much away and tarnishing the coaching profession.  I talk about here and referenced an article over why you shouldn’t do this.  See that article at the bottom of that post.

 

Feedback and Surveys #5

Number 5 on the Top Ten things I learned by giving 100 free sessions.

This topic is a relatively a businessy one rather than one about coaching.  But it is something I learned and a valuable lesson while building my practice.

imageflyer100chllge-reszdIn the promotion (see to the right) I asked that all clients fill out a feedback form.  I thought this seemed like a reasonable request.  What I experienced was quite the opposite of what I expected.

First I had to find a good resource to generate the feedback form.  I used SurveyMonkey as my solution.  For no other reason then it’s one I’ve heard of before.  I set it up to identify the person filling out the form. This would give me insight both on their experience and how I was for them as a coach.  But when one client told me that they were not comfortable filling it out, I then changed it to be anonymous.  Still, in the end, no matter what I changed, I only received 6 evaluations. Six. 😐

There are many questions I have on why this might have happened.  What did I do wrong in my promotion?  How could I have made the survey easier?  Why didn’t some of them fill it out and others (6, in case you forgot that overwhelming number) did?  Well, the fastest way to find out those answers would be to ask the audience involved but… You can see the problem I would have in doing that! 😉

Now I don’t want to sound like a whiny baby.  I do take full ownership.  It is MY business,not theirs.  It starts with me.  Sure, it would have been great if everyone had taken the 5 to 10 minutes to fill out my survey but they didn’t and I’m sure there are good reasons for that.  When I ask myself; What could I have done differently to get the results I desired?  Then these answers come up:

  • Do it at the end of the transaction.  If I saw feedback as my way of getting paid, then perhaps I should have done it right then and there at the end of the session.
  • Say it over and over: Maybe I could have made it clearer on the promotional material itself (I see where it could easily be read over) and at the time of making the appointment. “Thank you for making an appointment.  Just so we are both on the same page, I will send an evaluation form/survey for you to fill out after our appointment. I consider this a fair exchange for the one hour session. Is this agreeable?”
  • Be FAST with what you want: Make sure to send that survey ASAP! I was not really good in doing that in a timely manner.
  • Use Creative Accounting:  I could have gotten creative with it and sent an “invoice” with the billing that showed in the AMOUNT DUE:  Survey YET to be filled out. And if they become delinquent on their “payment”, bill the REAL amount.  😮 Oh no! that is potentially dangerous.   This one is just for FUN.  Please don’t take it too seriously.

I’m sure if I read up on this in small business magazines and journals, I would find that many an entrepreneur has had this problem a billizion times before me. I realized I was more focused on the sessions (as any good coach is 😉 ) rather than properly administering the feedback form.  As a business owner, I know how feedback is SO VALUABLE  especially in the coaching business.  In my training classes, we always practiced our coaching immediately after we would learn it and then we would give feedback to each other on what could have been better.  Feedback allows me to grow and learn faster.  But also how to support my client better.  Feedback is an important tool in business, coaching and life.

Remember that, next time a survey comes your way.  You may not think your opinion matters but to that person it means growing and learning. Which is priceless.

Commitment level – what it takes to succeed with coaching!

 

This is #4 of the Top Ten things I learned by giving 100 Free Coaching sessions:

When challenging myself to meet and serve 100 people I became acutely aware of how the vast majority of us live in the world of “fix me”. Or, in other words, solution-based thinking. We’ve given up and have handed over our issues to be solved with someone giving us a label, a pill, or other techniques to raise the claim that it’s something outside ourselves. The thing is: you will never experience change through others or anything else if you are unwilling to look at the problem yourself and make a commitment to change it.

Recently I had an exchange with a reader asking specifically how, as a coach, I would assess a situation and “help” a client with a specific diagnosis. I wrote back a few questions and gave a brief summary of what and how coaching works. This is exactly what I do at the start of any session with a client. I usually kick off the meeting by asking, “Do you know anything about coaching? Or have you ever received any coaching?” It’s crucial to know what your client knows. Sometimes they were coached by a consultant. And sometimes, they are just well read. Either way, I know where to start after the answer comes. Most times in my 100 journey I heard, ” No, this is my first time.” I always tell the person about the method I use, Co-Active coaching and how it works inside our session.Top Ten-100 free sessions #4

When the session gets rolling there comes a point where I would sometimes hear, “Well is that what you think I should do?” “How do you think I should proceed?”. If I answer those questions I’ve taken off my coach hat and put on an advisor’s hat or became a friend. It doesn’t always come across in a form of a question. Sometimes you can see that the person thinks YOU are the expert and YOU should have the answer. Again, this is not Co-Active coaching. I said this to a friend the other day, “It is not results-based coaching.” Her face changed color. I could see that this tipped her world upside down. To say that to her, in this blog and any prospective clients you might think is a hazard to my profession. But, far from it. Sure, there will be results. But that is gauged by the client. Sure, we make a plan, but that can change throughout the process. The part that is most crucial and where all the attention is focused is on this question; what is the client’s commitment?

It all boils down to what a client wants in their life and how committed they are towards that change, goal, or dream. I can give forms, exercises, recommend books, administer personality tests, sit with them week after week and listen. But none of it will matter if they aren’t prepared to do the work.

This can feel dangerous in the coaching world because it’s up to them and not me. I can’t give a precise outcome because I’m not in the business of numbers or graphs (or other easily measurable things). I’m in the business of changing people’s lives. The other day after a session with a client she stopped me and said, “I’m changing so much. Sometimes I think why couldn’t I do this for myself but I know I wouldn’t have been able to because I wouldn’t have made the time for it on my own. It’s really an amazing thing what is happening. I would have never guessed it had I not seen it for myself.” Ah yes! This is what it is, an experience of transforming. You can’t describe it. It must be felt.

During my 100 sessions, I could always tell who would work towards change and who wanted me to fix them. I gave a 7-day test that each person could accept, reject or ask for a different offer. Most people accepted as it usually was a soft challenge. I didn’t ask them to run for president or something outrageous. It would instantly show where their level of commitment was. If they followed through then I would hear the excitement in their voices or read it in their emails. If they didn’t, I would hear from them usually before the 7-day test was over with a note “too busy” or “not interested in coaching at this time”. Notice all outside factors keeping them in their current state. I don’t take offense. It’s not personal.  It really is just not their time. It’s good to know what to expect. Coaching simply will not work for a client who is not committed. There will always be an excuse and blame involved if the commitment is not there.

[inlinetweet prefix=”null” tweeter=”null” suffix=”null”]Commitment is just another way of saying, taking responsibility for your life.[/inlinetweet@GreatLoveExpat]

I always say to every client, “It’s like training for a 5k. I’ll lace up with you. Run right alongside you. Pump you up with “you can do it”. But in the end YOU are going to run the race and finish it.”

 

Co-Active Coaching

Top Ten-100 free sessions#3Number 3 from my “Top Ten things I learned while giving 100 FREE sessions!” series.

Co-Active coaching is the method I use when I work with a client.  Co-active is better defined from the founders of the Coaches Training Institute (CTI), Henry Kimsey-House and Karen Kimsey-House.  “The term Co-Active refers to the fundamental nature of a coaching relationship in which the coach and coachee (client) are active collaborators.  In Co-Active coaching, this is a relationship – in fact an alliance- between two equals for the purpose of meeting the coachee’s needs.”*

Some people might call this co-creating. It’s not quite the whole picture.  Co-Active is two parts:  Being and Action.  The coach supports you in what you create but really, isn’t a part of what you create.  This is why co-create doesn’t work as a definition.  We are a team of a different sort. We can see this dynamic in movies.  Think Yoda to Luke Skywalker.  Yoda didn’t do anything for Luke but support him in finding his own way and helping him unlock his gift of using the Force. One is working and the other is guiding.

As a guide, the coach stands back while asking powerful questions to help the client find their OWN way. It’s tricky.  Here’s why.  While a conversation is unfolding, a listener (in any normal circumstance not necessarily the coach dynamic), jumps to conclusions or assumptions.  For instance,

Sally:  “I had a really rough night last night.”

Barb:   “Did your little one keep you up all night?”

Sally:  “No.” She looks annoyed. “The faucet was dripping all night.  I got out of bed to fix it but nothing worked.  My husband is on a business trip or normally he would have done it.  I got very little sleep because I never got it fixed.”

Barb: “When does your husband get back?  Maybe you can call a plumber today?”

Sally:  “He comes home today. I’ve already called the plumber.”

This is a pretty normal conversation.  There isn’t anything really “wrong” per se.  But Barb, didn’t really listen to Sally.  Rather she offered advice that Sally already knows.  We live in a world that solving problems means helping.  Telling instead of listening.  It’s as if we can’t be engaged in any other way unless we tell each other how to live.  Sally has the answers of what to do within her.  She knows to call the plumber.   What could have gone been better in this situation?  Ask questions from a place of curiosity to start.

Sally: “I had a really rough night last night.”

Barb:  “Oh, what happened?”

Sally:  “It started with Johnny not eating his dinner.  Then we struggled through the bath time.  Finally I got him to bed.  I got some house work done that was left from earlier in the day.  When all was finally done and cleaned I got to bed by midnight. My husband isn’t at home because he’s off on a business trip so I have a hard time getting to sleep when he is away.  I read for an hour and then just as I started to drift off to sleep I heard the faucet drip.  That incessant noise: drip, drip, drip.  I got out of bed to fix it but I couldn’t find the tools.  After an hour search, I found where they were and struggled to get the pipe tighten. I tried for a while but then gave up so I could try to get some sleep.  This morning I put in a call to the plumber.”

Already Sally is more open to telling her story here.  Of course, this is a fictional example.  Sally is a bit more open when telling this story then maybe other people.  Also the topic is pretty harmless.  But when you make assumptions about what is happening in someone’s life you are saying a lot without knowing it.  You are forcing yourself into their story instead of observing them.  When you ask a question out of curiosity it’s a neutral place.  It doesn’t come out of your experience and what you have done.  Let’s use a real life example.

While at an event a few weeks ago I had this conversation.

Me: “My daughter has recently been using the toilet and is now wearing underwear.  We are thrilled!  The one thing that is still an issue is that she still needs a diaper to poop.  We are letting this go for now.”

Mother: “Oh no! You should let her poop in her pants and she will never do it again.  Trust me it worked with my child.”

Can you see where this went all wrong?  She heard a problem and wanted to fix it.  Negating the fact that I’m pretty familiar with my child AND, more importantly, like Barb did in the first scenario, I didn’t ask for her advice on the subject.  In fact, I said, “We are letting it go for now.”  There are good reasons for this of course.  But she wasn’t listening to me, she was just fixing me. And with that comes a lot of implications.  This can make for an unpleasant playground for first time Moms.  No two Moms are alike just as no two kids are.  We do our best and that is all we can do.  It would have been better had the conversation gone this way.

Me: “My daughter has recently been using the toilet and is now wearing underwear.  We are thrilled!  The one thing that is still an issue is that she still needs a diaper to poop.  We are letting this go for now.”

Mother: “What things have you tried to help her with this?”

Me: “We’ve talked to her about using the toilet.  And immediately she just throws a fit.  We think something happened when she first started trying.  We can’t be sure since she won’t tell us.”

Mother: “It sounds like something a friend I know went through.  Could I offer a suggestion or refer you to a book I read that helped me?”

She has already shown that she is listening to my specific problem.  It’s amazing what a question coming from a place of curiosity will do for another person.  They feel heard.  This is a form of caring.  You, the questioner, are interested in their life.  It opens a door to trust, creating a space of safety and that allows the person to see new possibilities.

This is just the tip of the iceberg on Co-Active Coaching.  There is so much more.  But in my 100 free session journey, I discovered how just simply listening to someone’s problem, created so much for the person in front of me.  It was interesting at times because some clients wanted me to give them the answers, or some structure, or a “plan” but they can already do that for themselves.   I’m a place to check in with, a person to collaborate with you.  Someone to inspect the problem with you and confirm your solutions on it. And definitely, someone to celebrate with you!  YOU DID IT! WAY TO GO!! (my favorite part).

 

*Excerpt from Co-Active Coaching: Changing Business Transforming lives” by Henry Kimsey-House, Karen Kimsey-House, Phillip Sandahl and Laura Whitworth. www.thecoaches.com

 

 

The IMPACT of Coaching

This is #2 on the Top Ten things I learned by giving 100 free sessions.

photo credit: www.bandt.com.au

I discovered that this can also be a topic that is held solely by the client’s perception.  While that is true, there are all kinds of impacts that maybe can’t always be measured but definitely can be seen. I saw when someone went from “gloom and doom” talking to “HIGH-energy -yeah! I’m excited about this” talking.  That energy lifts the client UP and sometimes out of their chair.  I love being a part of this kind of immediate impact.  It’s the place where magic can happen and possibility is available.  If we are talking about problems, well, we will only find problems.  But once you have a conversation with a smile or energy shift that is when things can move forward.

In a session, I look for these opportunities to show the client the difference and how this is readily available to them.  Once in the possibility mindset, we as a team can brainstorm new ideas and find a way to work towards their goal/dream.  The impact can be magnifying in one session, but a whole six months can be life altering.  Especially if you have a goal of leaving your current job to find the work of your dreams.  As did one client of mine have.  I’m happy to say that is the life she is living, doing what she loves.  Other clients in my journey of 100 found excitement by building new things, rearranging and cleaning out an office space, some rid themselves of toxic relationships and got really clear what was important to them by living by their values.  Most of these all happened in one single session.

How does this happen?  Well, it’s pretty simple.  In coaching, we open the doors to people’s dreams.  We actually have conversations about those dreams.  Let’s face it most people don’t get to talk about their dreams on a day-to-day basis.  When there is someone so focused on YOU and your dreams, listening to what you believe and value, there is something that happens that brings about change and makes an impact for life.  If we all paid attention to each other this way, well, I’d be out of a job, but the world would change.

When we were children we talked this way:

“What do you wanna be when you grow up?” says one child to the other.

The other answers, “I want to be a firewoman with a tutu on because I think fighting fires should be magical.”  The first child simply nods.  There are no judgments because everything is possible to them.

This is why I set this topic as number two on the top ten.  I experienced it over and over in every session with each and every client.  Some impacts were bigger than others, but there was always the presence of one.  It makes this work so worthwhile and fulfilling.  I get to see how the impact has opened up this person in a way that I know they will never forget.