Aside

Today, while practicing yoga, I was thinking what a great world of business we would create if the top executives of every company practiced yoga.

Current estimates suggest there are up to 20 million Yoga practitioners in the United States, yet in my travels, I haven’t come across too many top executives who admit to practicing yoga.  Yoga has been rated as a highly beneficial practice on multiple levels of body, mind and spirit.  I have been practicing yoga for the past five years, and given the many benefits I have experienced,  I am convinced we could use more executive yogi’s in the business world.

Here is my vision of what yoga-practicing executives would inspire in their employees and businesses:

  1. Discipline to work at being our best selves and companies
  2. Positive intent and commitment to unlocking our full human and business potential
  3. Union with ourselves and each other; no silos; together we support each other’s evolution in a balanced way
  4. Rigor to work and grow; to find our optimum performance edge that working towards can be uncomfortable, but won’t hurt us or be more than we can handle and leads us to exceed our expectations of what is possible
  5. Individuality in self expression of the flow, that is also guided by a shared framework and goal within a community
  6. A “mindful state” where one recognizes distractions and attachments, acknowledges them and then returns to being fully present in the moment.  Yogi’s turn off cell phones, lap tops, and thoughts about past and future and focus on RIGHT NOW and doing the best you can at that very task
  7. Calmness of mind that inspires confidence in times of change
  8. Clarity of mind and enables us to see things more clearly to inspire creative and strategic solutions to complex problems
  9. Emotional and physical strength to face difficult situations and people
  10. Stress management techniques for facing outdated habits, new challenges and other stressed out people or customers

Wow, just listing these benefits makes me want to get to the yoga studio.  The funny thing is, yoga can be as simple as taking time to sit with your eyes closed and breathe deeply for 5-10 minutes.  Clearly, if we are all breathing, we can all practice yoga no matter how busy – even executives.

What do you say?

Companies Led By Yogi’s – Wouldn’t that be cool?

Secrets to Maximizing Your Investment in a Executive Coach

I have the honor to coach some pretty sharp people in the corporate world.  It is a special role to serve as their guide on the side on their journey toward leadership excellence in the name of getting great business results.  I get paid to push them out of their comfort zone so that they can grow.  I am successful if they have some self realizations that motivate them to try new things.  I am effective when I can show them new ways to work toward their goals.  I am rewarded when my clients are energized to discover more potential in themselves than they knew before and contribute that to make a difference.

I am always very mindful in my work of the investment a company is making in the clients I work with.  Today,  time is an even more precious resource than the dollars being spent.  Time spent in coaching better be worth it!

Yet too often, I am of the belief, value is left on the table.  I reflect on this when I have had a great session with a client where both me and the client are feeling really challenged, energized and connected.  Why don’t I feel this with ALL my clients?  I want to be soaked for all I am worth – all I have to offer.  This is what I sign up for when I work with a client.  Most clients start off saying they want that from me too.  Yet sometimes, I see that behavior peter out.  The client THINKS they are working hard, but from my seat, they could be doing so much more to maximize the value I can offer.

So I would like to give anyone working with or thinking of working with an executive coach some suggestions for how to make this investment in leadership coaching really worth your while – at least if you work with me anyway.

  1. Know the WHAT: Have some specific, measurable results you can measure your coaching experience to.  We should both be aware of the intended impact you desire to create and keep our sites set on that in every interaction.  If you aren’t getting the results you want – challenge the coach.  Aim for results that are direct and indirect – not just one or the other.
  2. Know the HOW: get focused on a few very specific behaviors that you want to grow and that support your goals.  We can’t change your personality, but we can help you change a behavior if you really want to.
  3. Push the learning envelope: Challenge your coach to fill you with ideas to the extent that you can handle, for how to enhance the behaviors you are working on.  We have a plethera of resources.  Challenge your coach to dig into our resources and find the best – the best book, the best chapter, the best article, the best role model to study,  until you can’t handle the input you get.
  4. Practice: Engage your coach practice new behaviors with you – more than once.  Role playing is one of our best tools for preparing you for a real situation in advance.  It works. Invite the coach to watch you do new skills in real life.  We can give you so much better feedback when we see you in action than just talking about what to do.
  5. Show up: Even if you aren’t prepared for your coaching session, keep the appointment.  There is always a conversation to have that will make a difference.  Of course you are busy and things come up to get you off course.  But the rigor in the coaching schedule that you agreed to upfront was designed to help you stay focused on your goals.  Missing coaching sessions prolongs your route to success.
  6. Be laser focused:  Get to the heart of what is important to you as soon as you can in the coaching session.  An average session is only an hour.  Tell it to the coach like you see it as efficiently as you can.  General updates are helpful, but keep it quick.  We want to get to the meat of the session as soon as you are ready, but we set the pace by your readiness.
  7. Monitor progress: Don’t wait longer than 3 months before you do a review of how the coaching process has benefited you.  Seek feedback from people who interact with you frequently about how they percieve your progress.  Review the results of the What and the How.  If you aren’t seeing a positive trend within 3 months, ideally in both, that you can validate with some objective data, you should change direction, or maybe the coach.
  8. Be courageous: Try new things and sometimes, try some REALLY new things.  There is no better time than when working with a coach to test your limits.  Life is short and our habits run deep.  You and your coach will find it exhillerating to hit a home run in addition to some base hits.

I could come up with more, but these are top of mind when I feel like a client is using me up.  Put some serious rigor in your coaching relationship and get some huge ROI for your investment.

Hello 2010 and Why I Finally Decided to Start Blogging

I saw Tom Brokow on a recent year-end interview commenting about what he thought the theme of this new decade would be and it really resonated with me.  He said he thinks the world is in need of ‘resetting’ itself and that if we choose to work together, we can take the challenges facing us and really create some positve and better conditions for people and our planet.  The choice is ours.

So as I embark on resetting my outlook and behavior this first day of 2010 (and the decade I’ll spend in my 50’s which I am sure will come up from time to time in my blogs as I approach that big milestone in October), I couldn’t think of a better theme to begin my journey into blogging with.

I have resisted this for some time.  But now, I can’t resist.

I’m not one to crave attention.  Blogs feel very showy to me and for people who need the limelight and public praise for who they are.  This may be true for some,but surely not all who blog are ego maniacs.  Anyone keeping up with trends, which I like to think I do, knows that blogs are becoming an integral means to branding, marketing and selling products and services.  Social media is here to stay so I am surrendering to this cultural phenomenon.

And beyond business purposes, blogs are a fantastic tool for having a say in the world, using our voices to make an impact on whatever is important to us. Now THIS part of blogging gets my attention and ties right into why Tom Brokow’s comments hit home with me.

I have alot to say about things like leadership in today’s world drawing upon my work in executive coaching.  Living with a chronic disease such as Mulitiple Sclerosis which I’ve had for 11 years.  Parenting two daughters, ages 17 and 21 and preparing them for a world far different than the one I was raised in.  Living in Michigan – soon to be one of the poorest states in the country. And these are just a few of the many things that intend to blog about.

I already feel different about this year.  I can’t help but think that being part of the global dialogue on issues I care about will help me reset some ways I think and act.  Since I help my clients to do this as an executive coach, it can only be good practice for me to challenge myself too.

This was fun.  Talk to you soon!

PS – thanks to my sister Kathleen, head of sales for Storyteller Productions in Minneapolis.  She was my inspiration to get this going.  They do this for lots of clients and getting some free advice sure was a bonus!