Getting things into Perspective – Where are you now?

We spent some time looking at Mission Statements in my last post.  Now it’s time to make sure you’re living your life according to it.  I like to use something called the Change Chart for this.

Consider your life right now and all the things within it. How happy and satisfied are you?  Use the chart below to map this out using 1 as a low score and 10 as a high score.  Change the headings to something relevant for you if needs be.  Take time on each section to consider your thoughts and feelings for each area and fill each section of the chart from the centre outwards.


Now consider:

  • Which areas of your life need attention?
  • Which areas of your life are you happiest with?
  • Which areas of your life are the most significant?
  • What goals have/can you set for each area of your life to achieve?
  • How do these fit into your Mission Statement?

What’s it all about? Your Mission Statement

mission-statementAll of us have very different ideas about success. What’s important, however, is that you spend time defining YOUR version of success. Otherwise, how will you understand what you should be working toward, and how will you know if your decisions are helping you move toward your dreams?

Mission statements are useful for bringing sharp focus to your goals, and for helping you to quickly identify which opportunities you should pursue.  A mission statement defines your purpose.  It’s what you ultimately want to achieve out of life and is expressed in a specific and measurable way.

Shaping your mission statement helps you keep it at the front of your mind, and helps you focus your energy and resources upon it. Without this focus, you can be distracted, or you can spread your effort too thinly across multiple competing goals.

“A personal mission statement becomes the DNA for every other decision we make.” Stephen Covey

How to begin?
Take a blank piece of A4 paper and your favourite pen. Get seated somewhere comfortable, where you won’t be disturbed and write down some questions.  We like these ones:

  • I am at my best when…?
  • What do I really love to do at work?
  • If I had a year off, how would I spend it?
  • What do I really love to do in my personal life?
  • What keeps me up at night?
  • Which 3 people do I most admire in life and what inspires and motivates me about them?
  • My natural talents and gifts are?
  • If I had unlimited time and resources, and knew I could not fail, what would I choose to do?
  • What is most important to me?
  • What do I hope people say about me on my 80th birthday?
  • Who are the most important people in my life and why?
  • If I had my life over, I would…?

“Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart.” Carl Jung

 Allow your mind to wander around these questions & scrawl down anything that comes to mind. It really helps if you can be open-minded about this and not censor yourself.  No-one else has to see this, so feel free to be completely honest!

Another great thing to add to this is a selection of quotes or sayings that evoke strong feelings within you. Or, if you’re a visual person, pictures of things that inspire you.  From doing this, you can start to see patterns of what is really important to you.

When you’re happy with what you have on your piece/pieces of paper start picking key phrases/words that seem to keep coming up.  Weave them together to make a first draft of your personal mission statement. There are no rules: simply put words together & see what appears in front of you.

Next, go make a cup of tea or coffee and take some time away from your work.  This is important as it allows you time to reflect.  Then go back to it and put your finishing touches to your Mission Statement.  Remember it should ideally be no more than a sentence long, positively affirmed.  Here are some examples: 

“My life’s journey is to love myself, & to inspire others to love themselves too.”

“My passion is to help others realise their potential.”

“My mission in life is to be the best I can possibly be.”

 Now you have your Mission Statement make it big, and appealing to look at.  Use pictures and different colours if that inspires you.  Next, pin it up somewhere you can see it, by your desk, on your fridge, wherever you’re likely to see it and often.  Make sure you spend time reflecting on it every day.

New Year, New You?


It’s that time of year when we all get a bit reflective and start thinking about all the things we’d like to change in the New Year.  Stopping smoking, losing weight, changing jobs…  New Years Resolutions are decided and we set out to accomplish them with fervour when January the 1st comes knocking.

Sadly, many of us set unrealistic goals without allowing for real life to intervene.  So as time goes by and the weeks roll on, things get in the way!  With this in mind I wanted to share with you the tactics that I adopted this year which worked brilliantly for me and our family.

So, last year on New Years Eve, rather than thinking about all the things I wanted to change, I started to consider the things I’d like for us as a family to accomplish.  One of these things was where we lived.  We had a fabulous flat, suitably large with loads of storage space but all on one level and not suited to family life.  Together, my then fiancee (now husband – another achievement!) and I began to consider what moving might be like.  How much could we afford, where could we live, what would the house be like, what would we need to do to move house?…  We focussed on the practicalities of actually achieving what our goal and also considered what might get in the way.  In January we put our flat on the market, in March we had a buyer and found where we wanted to live.  Finally after a rather lengthy drawn out process (much to do with the state of the market) we moved into our new home in September.

The same is true for setting any goals.  To be successful you must decide what you want to achieve in your life.  Picture it in all its context.  Draw it, map it out.  Make it something that is tangible to you.  Encourage yourself and those who have a part in your life, that you will be successful in achieving your ambition. Make sure you involve all concerned.  Separate what’s important about your goal from what might get in the way or distract you.  Put an action plan in place for all eventualities.  Finally Motivate yourself – be it words on your bathroom mirror or signs on your fridge.  Remind yourself of what you want every day.

It needn’t be complicated.  Good Luck!


Preparing for your first Coaching Meeting


So you’ve found a coach, you’ve had an exploratory chat to ascertain the key elements of your coaching requirements.  Now it’s time for your first Coaching Meeting.  Be it face-to-face, by Skype/Video conference or phone, it’s important that you spend time focussing on what it is you specifically want to get out of your caching.

Coaching is based on developing your strengths, so you might want to consider your technical and personal skills, and what strengths you bring to your team, business or organisation.

You might also like to consider how you like to receive feedback.  Giving and receiving feedback is often a challenge for people.  Are you someone who thrives on praise or do you want constructive criticism?  It’s important that you take time to think about what would really support you and your development.

Here are some questions that I give my clients to help them prepare before our first meeting.  It’s not rocket science and is a start to the conversations that we’ll have as we work together.

1)    What do you want to get out of your Coaching programme?
2)    What are the top 3 things you would like to focus on as we work together?
3)    How will you know that you have achieved your desired outcomes?
4)    What might prevent you from making the most of your Coaching programme?
5)    What commitments are you willing to make to ensure it’s successful for you?
6)    What would you like from me, your coach?
7)    How do you like to receive feedback?
8)    How much, and in what way, do you like being challenged?  What’s comfortable/uncomfortable for you?
9)    What is this NOT about?

This first meeting is crucial in determining how your coaching will work going forward. Goals are agreed and defined and action plans written. Make sure you get out of it what you want.

5 Key Aspects of Coaching?

So we’ve considered what Coaching is, it’s benefits, how to find a coach and what a coach isn’t.  I’d like to take a look at five important elements of Coaching today.

To be able to move towards your goals you need to be able to talk about yourself in some detail and perhaps refer to situations relating to your beliefs, values, aspirations, current challenges and opportunities.   A climate of trust and confidentiality are critical to ensuring this.  I always assure my clients that no element of what we discuss will be divulged outside the confines of the Coaching relationship.*

Advice giving
I’ve talked about this before but it’s important to remember that your coach shouldn’t tell you what to do.  It’s up to you to take responsibility for getting the results that you want.  How committed you are towards this is how successful you will be at achieving your dreams.  Consider your motivation, self-believe, self-discipline and willingness to change and challenge here.

An Appreciative Approach
As humans we’re exceptionally good at stepping away from taking action.  Be it anxiety, procrastination, worry or negativity that gets in the way.  By using an appreciative approach you work on what you want rather than what you don’t want.  You’ll face options, rather than constraints.

Your Coach will help you to identify the steps you need to take to step forward and shrug off those negative behaviours and patterns.  By identifying that they exist and using an appreciative approach, you will understand that what you want really is possible, and you’ll set off on this path of achievement.

Monitoring your Progress
Through the course of your Coaching your coach should establish and agree outcomes and actions that you’re working on at each step of the way.  You are accountable for these actions and your part within them, just as your coach should be accountable for ensuring that goals are set and reviewed.

Most of our clients also use a reflective journal or diary in which they jot down how they’re getting on, the progress they’re making toward their goals and any obstacles they encounter on the way.  This self reflection really does enhance awareness of yourself and is also something that we will discuss at our regular sessions.

Right here, Right now
Being in the moment is another important difference about Coaching.  We look at where you are right now rather than on where you’ve been.  By adopting this method, we see options, challenges and opportunities ahead, rather than on preconceptions and baggage.

*Unless of course there is some legal or medical reason that prevents this ie a crime has been committed or I’m concerned for my clients health and safety.

4 Questions to Ask Before You Hire a Coach

So you’ve established you need a Coach.  Now how are you going to find them.  Here are four questions I’d recommend you to consider before you hire a coach.

1) Who are they?  The first step is to do a little research.  In my experience my coaching work has come through word of mouth.  People like people like them, and in this case, who they believe do a good job.  So who do you know who has a Coach?  What do they believe makes their Coach work best for them?   If this isn’t an avenue you can explore, take a peek at Linked In and see if there’s anyone there that is known to your network firstly, or secondly that you like the look of.  Before you start a conversation I’d suggest that you research their background as far as you can, how do they help people?  What are their areas of expertise and credentials.  Usually you can find this on their websites.

2) Do you like what they have to say?  The rapport that you get when you’ve found the right coach is palpable.  The same can be said for when you haven’t found the right coach.  A starting point is to see if you like what they say on their website or on the phone when you call them.  The relationship you will forge together is crucial to the success of your Coaching so be sure to spend time on this and trust your instincts.

3) How will you work together?  Many coaches offer telephone/Skype or internet coaching rather than face-to-face meetings.  Does this work for you?  You may want to fit your coaching in in the evenings after the activities of day have died down.  Do they offer flexible coaching sessions?  What resources do they have to give you?  I provide resource packs to our clients which we work on through our coaching programmes.  It’s a great way to evaluate how you’re getting on, plus gives you something to do between coaching sessions – like you’ll need that excuse !

4) How much will it cost?  I’ve left this till last purposefully as it’s often the stopping point for many.  Coaching works – FACT.  However, a good coach comes with a cost.    Consider what you get for the money.  Your coach should be able to  give you testimonials/references so you can vouch for their services but is this enough.  We offer a free try-before-you-buy session so that you can test out our services.  Do they?  Focus on the outcomes of what having a coach will give you.  It may be that your business will co-fund a coach or that funding is available (in the past this was the case for SMEs).  Talk to your coach about what is possible for you.


What a Coach Isn’t

By now you should have a good idea of what a coach is, and it’s probably useful at this point to summarise what we aren’t.

As a coach

  • We aren’t a psychotherapist or counsellor much though we can tread softly through some of your most private thoughts and feelings.
  • We aren’t a priest for when you want to say confession but we will listen impartially to what you say
  • We aren’t a doctor, who can tell you what the matter is and give you medicine for it – although we can help you find the cure to your problems.
  • We aren’t a personal trainer who can get you fit physically, but we can help you get mentally fit to take action.
  • We aren’t a mentor, setting ourselves as the expert and we aren’t a business advisor either, ready with commercial solutions.
  • We aren’t your friend to call up on a whim, but we will be here for you when we say we will.

What we are is a place to come to talk through issues and challenges confidentially.  We expect you to take responsibility for yourself and resolve your own issues.   This means that we rarely give you advice (unless you’re really stuck – see my last post) .  By doing so, it means that we’re designing your solutions for you instead of helping you to clarify the possible choices that are available to you.  It’s up to you to take responsibility for getting the results that you want.  How committed you are towards this is how successful you’ll be at achieving your goals.

Finally as a Coach we will help you to identify the steps you need to take, big or small, hard or smooth, to be able to step forward and shrug off negative behaviours and patterns.  We’ll look at how to do this later in the series in my next blog post – Monitoring your Progress.  Next week we consider what questions to ask before you hire a coach.



Coaching – So what’s in it for me?…

So why pay someone to listen to you wax verbatim about you, instead of setting the world to rights with friends?  What are the benefits?

Well because you’d be surprised at how effective that can be!  I’ve lost count of the number of people who find they open up to me more than they would say their husband or wife, about things that really matter to them.  There are no barriers or issues around self confidence, because as a coach, we don’t judge what you say or have done.  It’s actually very refreshing to be able to turn to someone who’s totally impartial to you and tell them about things that are on your mind and also to have some space and time to work through how best to overcome the challenge and/or work out the best way forward.

Let’s take Michael (name changed for his privacy). Michael was made redundant from a company and job that he’d had for many years. He hadn’t had to look for work since he left school and as the main breadwinner in his family, was very anxious about his wife and family’s feelings for him now that he couldn’t contribute at home in the same way. Michael had obvious self-confidence issues (despite having worked successfully in his job for many years) and felt like his sense of choice and power had been taken away.

Coming to a coach helped him to reevaluate what’s important to him, to clarify what his life’s ambitions were rather than follow along a path that he hadn’t truly considered during the 20 or so years he’d been with XX company. He’s addressed his concerns about his relationship with his wife and family and spoke to them openly about how they felt about what had happened. He’s taken control of his finances and worked out a plan as to how long before he actually needs to be concerned about work and he’s taken up a voluntary job to fill time in the day. Michael has very obviously taken back control of his life and when we meet now he is considerably different in terms of body-language and tone of voice to how he was when we first met. We’re working on his plan for getting another job and have narrowed it down to a totally different type of lifestyle!

But that’s not all.  Other benefits of coaching include a greater self-awareness of your strengths and weaknesses, improved clarity and direction, a sense of owning your destiny, greater self-determination, an appreciation of your values, goals and life aspirations, a clear recognition of your comfort zones, ways to overcome conflict…the list goes on.

So when you consider what’s in it for you from having a coach, you can see there are benefits you probably hadn’t even thought of.  I’d love to hear other success stories please.


Coaching Methodology and How to Coach

So last time I shared with you what Leadership Coaching is, but how does that translate into real English? Well there are many schools of thought when it comes to coaching and about a gazillion schools/faculties offering coaching accreditation or qualification.

For the textbook answer to this question see Wiki here failing that here’s what I do:

  • I like to coach my clients face-to-face and preferably over a period of time. If face-to-face isn’t possible Skype works brilliantly, or a phone as a last resort. I like to see the whites of my clients eyes and it’s important to build rapport.
  • A Coaching Programme typically begins with an exploratory chat (either face-to-face or by telephone) to assess your current situation, define the scope of the relationship, identify priorities for action, and establish specific desired outcomes.
  • My coaching is appreciative in approach.  This means I work on what you want, rather than what you don’t want.  I will help you to identify this and explore what you need to get there.
  • When coaching I listen, observe and feedback, customising my approach to individual needs and helping my Clients to focus on something specific and tangible to them – that’s the “goal” that Coaches talk about…
  • I don’t use jargon or namby-pamby psycho-babble as favoured by some coaches. For a start they’re much better at it than me and I’d rather my Clients got the best out of our time together rather than be confused!  Besides all that I need to pay attention on what the Client’s saying!
  • Controversially and going against many schools of thought, if I’m asked specifically to tell a Client how I think something should/could be done, I will tell them…. Only after I’m sure they’ve exhausted all their own avenues for solving their dilemma and being sure that they know this is my version of success and not theirs! I’ve been told this is most helpful as often people get stuck in the detail without a clear way out and providing them with tools is part of the journey.
  • When coaching I always provide resources, structure and support to elicit and enhance the skills and creativity my Clients already have. At the end of each meeting, which usually lasts anything up to an hour and a half, there’s always a wrap-up and an action plan is written up by my Client which we’ll use to form part of the start of our next meeting.
  • Between Coaching sessions it’s likely you’ll have specific actions to achieve that support the achievement of your goals.
  • I like to use Personality profiling tools such as SHLs OPQ 32 or Thinking Styles which provides objective information which can enhance your understanding of yourself and your preferences.  They also assist you towards establishing an awareness of others and their circumstances, so that you can benchmark people-specific goals and actionable strategies.

How I what I do is a mix of different models, concepts and principles drawn from varying disciplines and experience such as ICF (International Coach Federation) accredited Leadership Coaching Training, NLP (neuro-linguistic programming), Clean Language, management literature and also experiential and practical coaching expertise.

So what do you think about Coaching from what we’ve discussed so far?  How is it different from a simple conversation?  What do you think about coaches who fail to provide feedback?

Next week we’ll look at some of the Benefits of Coaching



What is Leadership Coaching?

Thanks to Redbubble for this image

When I tell friends that I’m a Coach many laugh, incredulous that I can forge a living out of what seems to them to be about just having a conversation with people!   So this series seeks to expel the myth held by many in some ways and explore how to get the most out of Coaching.

The concept of Coaching means different things to many people.  We have the Sports Coach, the Performance Coach, the Life Coach and the Executive Coach (not to be confused with a mode of transport!) amongst many who purport to offer coaching services.

So what is Coaching?  Well I believe that Coaching is about supporting others to achieve what they want in life – be that to succeed in a particular role, scenario or even to change direction completely.  Words like facilitating, enabling, realising and achieving all come into play when being Coached.  And as a Coach its important that we listen and let the Client voice what it is they want without interrupting or getting involved in any way.  This can be especially difficult if asked how to do something!  More of that later…

Taking this a step further is Leadership Coaching, as it includes the impetus of success,both personally as well as in the business and for others.  Our Leadership Coaching therefore supports Leaders in all their facets – personally, as a People Manager and as Business Leader encompassing:

  • Leadership Effectiveness: developing your leadership style, understanding your emotional intelligence and enhancing your personal effectiveness
  • Leading your Team: optimising your team’s potential, considering your impact on others.
  • Leading your Business: enabling innovation, adaptation to change and improving working relationships
  • Career development – Building your vision and strategy for the future and supporting your personal success
So now you know a little more about what Leadership Coaching is, you can begin to appreciate that it’s complexity of focus lends itself to more than pure conversation.  Next time we’ll take a look at Coaching Methodology and How to Coach.
For more information about our Coaching please get in touch today