My 40’s Manifesto #6

My 40’s Manifesto #6

Previous updates:

Update #5

Update #4

Update #3

Update #2

Update #1

Illusions

I am more than halfway into my forty-second year. I wrestle with several illusions including not properly managing time, that someone else is responsible for my current station in life, and that the position I find myself in is responsible for my restless desire for more.

Hmmm…

I just read a fantastic book on time management – or perhaps it’s an anti-time management book -, Time Management for Mortals, by Oliver Burkeman. It describes our obsession with time management pointing out that we’ll never actually achieve the state of control we desire and that most of our truly memorable time is that when we are not concerned with it. This is the first illusion, time. (Defeats the idea of this whole 40’s manifesto thing, eh?) The illusion is that I (and perhaps we) are not being as productive as we could be with our time. I often feel I am wasting a lot of time. Yet, I sleep only 5-6 hours per night to be productive early the next day (not enough!) and feel defeated with a to-do list that never seems to be finished. There will always be more items to add to the list! And this is why it’s an illusion – the illusion of control.

Next, even though I pride myself on having an internal locus of control, I often feel (almost subconsciously) that someone else ‘put me’ in the position I am in. This is often a thought under the surface when things aren’t going well. But it’s there (and also kind of embarrassing to admit). Blame is a strategy that doesn’t work and often follows overwhelm. Bottom line: I’VE MADE THE CHOICES THAT PUT ME IN THIS PLACE IN LIFE! Therefore…another illusion.

The final illusion I reckon with is that of having a great life yet wanting more. As if this ‘more’ will bring more happiness or well-being. But truth be told, life is pretty good.

As I was describing a new business venture to a team member, she made the comment “But, haven’t you already ‘made it’?”

No.

That was my thought, anyhow. My current position is nothing compared to my potential! The conversation triggered an existential fear best exemplified by the quote from the recent TV show Station Eleven, “I don’t want to live the wrong life and then die.”

Heavy, I know. But I do want more. I want a successful romantic relationship, a full-time career as a life coach, to backpack Australia for a month, to run 50 more marathons, and to publish my novel. I am not satisfied with the substantial successes of this past year including having the best financial year, the greatest degree of personal growth, and the best overall well-being in my life! I want more. ‘Restless desire for more’ – is that too strongly put?

I find myself faced with these illusions and still I know they are illusions. But when they arise, they are all-consuming to my awareness and therefore challenging to navigate.

Gateways and Synergies

I woke up early today and meditated for an hour. It went by in a flash. There was a time when I could barely tolerate ten minutes! I credit this to using a sensory deprivation tank or REST therapy two times per month. I float in saltwater, no light, no sound – NOTHING! This is very meditative and has been a gateway to deeper meditations. The space that exists between stimulus and response is extended. I am happier, less reactive, and better able to self-regulate. This synergy serves me well and causes me to consider whether the possibility of this type of synergy could exist in any other area of my life.

Overall, I’ve built a solid practice that has transformed my experience of living – and I’m just at the beginning.

The 40’s Manifesto Tenets

Connect & Engage in Relationships

The Vision: The value of my life should be sourced from relationships.

This tenet sits at number one for a reason. The relationships and the degree and depth to which I am engaged are key to the success of life in general. I can see the anxious-avoidant attachment style play out daily in my interactions. I seek to correct this pattern and feel secure in the engagement. This has impacted my success at work, in family, and in intimate relationships.

I’ll continue to face this head-on and continue to get comfortable with close relationships.

Be Authentic Without Sacrifice

The Vision: To be 100% to the core authentic with no second thought.

Boundaries. Probably the most success is experienced here. I’ve protected my time, space, and emotional energy from things that would have historically caused harm. I’ve also learned to be more accepting of what I deem my shortcomings. I’ve found that a lot of the time, what I consider a weakness isn’t seen that way by others. It may not be considered a strength, but instead simply a facet of my personality. Neither good or bad.

Accept Love With Grace

The Vision: Allow love and care to happen without second thought or impedance.

It was suggested to me to keep a compliment list. This is really just about putting up my antennae and becoming aware of the compliments I receive. This is a great activity because usually, I’m too busy tracking my weaknesses rather than hearing compliments from others.

Think Deeply

The Vision: To be a source of wisdom, peace, and groundedness for all of those I come in contact with.

This vision is really credited to Kevin, one of my yoga instructors. I used it as a declaration for the new year on a coaching call last week and many others gravitated towards its meaning. Lately, I’ve begun reading one book of fiction, one for knowledge, and listening to one book on either. I have exponentially increased the number of books I read through this practice.

I think another thing that comes from this practice is to listen to what people say and think more deeply about this as well. In reflection of past interactions and relationships, I have come to be aware that many times I wasn’t listening in the right context. This is not for lack of trying, I certainly did all that I could to really HEAR. But I wasn’t always able. Often I need the space and time to properly reflect on what the other is really saying in the context of their own experience.

Another challenge is effectively using deep thinking to drive you towards goals and planning to feel a certain way in certain scenarios. You don’t want to overdo this and become robotic. Yet, it is a tool for effectively navigating life.

Go Public

The Vision: To be publicly known for helping, inspiring, and coaching others.

At the direction of a life coach, I have taken on some clients myself to begin my journey as a life coach. I am currently constructing curriculum and coaching via zoom. I have not ever enjoyed anything more.

I will begin the certification process to become a yoga instructor in two weeks. I am excited about the hard work and growth that is coming down the pike this year.

Also, my new boss is supporting me to do a training workshop on Burnout. I am really excited about finally doing more to go public!

Happy New Year!

As I move into the new year, I am beyond excited about deepening my yoga practice, developing and growing my coaching business, and making some changes in my living situation to better support my goals.

Here’s to 2022!

Coaching is Leadership

Coaching is Leadership

The antiquated management philosophy of ‘you’ll do it because I told you to do it’ is no longer a valid or productive attitude. More than ever, being a leader in an organization requires being relational, emotionally intelligent, and a willingness to teach. In short, leading is coaching (and vice versa).

The nature of the workplace has become a source of “rapid, constant, and disruptive change.”1 The traditional model for management, “command and control”, is quickly being discarded in trade for this new coaching model. Although leaders often report coaching as their least favorite type of leadership, the trend continues to rise in companies’ adoption. In the end, organizations are beginning to understand a culture where coaching is expected is more impactful at improving behavior than any guideline or policy they might adopt.3

Coaching vs Management

So what’s the difference between coaching and managing?

Coaching is the ability to “guide, assess, influence, and motivate”.3 In contrast, management can be defined as “instructing and supervising the work of your employees or direct reports.” The raw definitions themselves feel very different from one another.

The two differ in their goals. The goal of coaching is to facilitate the growth of teams while management’s aim is for team members to meet objectives. Simply put, the coach’s role is to support, the manager’s role is to judge.4 Additional insight points out that managers focus on one-to-many relationships, while coaches focus on one-to-one relationships. The best managers can instinctively oscillate between the two.

Additionally, a coach does not position his/herself as superior, but as a partner for growth.5

Coaching is a relational partnership focused on growth. It can have the effect of improved performance, increased engagement, and provides the coachee with constructive feedback. Coaching can also provide teams with increased confidence, improved attitudes, and behaviors.

Effective Organizational Leading

Dr. Shonna Waters describes four types of coaching, in a June 2021 article. Directive, Situational, Laisse-Faire, and Non-Directive.

Directive“Telling”

Lasses-Faire“Left alone to productively work”

Non-Directional “Listening, questioning, withholding judgment.”

Situational“Balancing directive and nondirective styles from moment to moment.” 

Situational coaching is the desired coaching style.

In two dimensions, we can examine characteristics of each style – the information (advice & expertise) the coach puts in and the energy the coach pulls from the coachee.

Directive styles put in a lot of information, yet don’t pull as much energy from the coachee. Laisse-Faire has the coach putting less information in and still not pulling out much energy from the coachee. Non-directive coaching puts in less information from the coach and yields a higher level of energy. And finally, Situational coaching puts in more information and yields the most amount of energy from those being coached.

The more advice and expertise given through coaching, the more energy created by the coached. This is exemplified in the Situational Style. How the information is conveyed becomes the subsequent question.

Improving The Workplace

Whether working on an organization’s culture or development among individual members, the purpose of coaching is to improve. This improvement can be exaggerated by improving listening skills, asking better questions, and modeling a growth mindset.7 In addition, these actions facilitate the Situational Style of coaching.

Improving Listening Skills

Listening is not a skill with which we are naturally endowed. What we hear is perceived through the lens of our own fears and goals. Coaching often involves reflective inquiry or an active, persistent, and careful consideration of a belief or supposed form of knowledge.6 Much of coaching involves listening in this way.

Relatedly, Active Listening focuses on what is being said and not said, including body language, tone, and emotional state of the speaker.8

Ask Better Questions

Once we’re effectively listening, we can then ask questions that get to the heart of the issue. We use strategies to navigate through our lives as is true at work. Often, we may not be fully aware of the strategies we use to traverse and perceive our roles. The best questions call us to question or pivot on the strategies that aren’t serving us or those we coach.

Avoid yes or no questions. Instead, ask open questions. Ask “What would it mean/look like/do for you if …” and describe an outcome or scenario you want the coachees to consider. Often when we hear ourselves say the words out loud, they sound very different than when they are thoughts bouncing around in our minds.

Modeling a Growth Mindset

Of course, the proper behavior should consistently be modeled by leaders. Yet, members of the team should be allotted the space to help make decisions on behalf of the team. Sharing this power often requires a growth mindset, a focus on the process leading in the desired direction and not necessarily the outcome.

In relation to leadership, leaders with a growth mindset believe that people can improve in skills and intelligence.9 Success in the workplace comes from a growth mindset coupled with working towards a goal. Other important features of a growth mindset include a focus on the process, a belief that necessary skills can be acquired, and a desire to embrace challenges.

Blogger’s Note

I have noticed a shift in leadership over the last ten years. In times when I was less emotionally intelligent, I certainly used rhetoric such as “I’m the boss! You’ll do what I tell you!” I grew up hearing tropes like this and they elicited fear. I responded in silent obedience only to carry them with me to offer to future generations. But today, power is questioned. Rightfully so.

While roles – even sometimes hierarchical roles – in organizations are necessary for assigning functions, the trend towards “flattening”, or companies having fewer higher-ups (middle managers), is increasing. The new, more collaborative coaching model feels better for those on the front lines. It is, however, much more uncomfortable for the managers (leaders) of these organizations. It certainly feels as if one is giving up power. But I would argue that there is true power in connected teaching. We should strive to share all we know, pouring the knowledge from the cups of our minds into those of our teams, facilitating their growth, and making their roles more bearable in the headwinds of these tumultuous times.

This is where the heart of the leader – the coach – should lie.

References

  1. https://hbr.org/2019/11/the-leader-as-coach
  2. https://hbr.org/2000/03/leadership-that-gets-results
  3. https://hbr.org/2012/07/cultural-change-that-sticks
  4. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/differences-between-managing-coaching-what-best-people-mike-horne
  5. https://climb.pcc.edu/blog/the-difference-between-managers-and-coaches
  6. https://www.hawaii.edu/intlrel/pols382/Reflective%20Thinking%20-%20UH/reflection.html
  7. https://www.betterup.com/blog/coaching-vs-managing
  8. https://www.betterup.com/blog/the-importance-of-listening-as-a-leader-in-the-digital-era
  9. https://www.betterup.com/blog/growth-mindset

BOOKCLUB: The Art of Impossible, By Steven Kotler

BOOKCLUB: The Art of Impossible, By Steven Kotler

Without realizing it, I have read several of Steven Kotler’s books including Stealing Fire and The Rise of Superman. They were unique in both the subject material as well as the orientation from which the information was presented. With his latest release, The Art of Impossible, it was clear that we shared similar interests. Perhaps this is a question of nurture as we grew up in the same part of the world, Cleveland, Ohio, and was part of the same social culture, the punk rock scene.

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