If you want to achieve a goal, finding someone who will coach you will help make that goal a reality. But, if you’re not ready yet to commit to someone else you can still get started. Practice self-coaching and you’ll get an idea of what it’s like!
There are two ways to change the momentum and direction of your life: Ask a question and pause. Remember this as you continue reading this post.
You have to ask questions, you have to press pause. Of course, you don’t have to do both — though they go hand-in-hand. I consider each as among the hardest of all “soft” skills to master.
Can you imagine what things will look like in your life, your work, your health, your family and your community 60 months from today? If you haven’t thought about it lately, here’s what I suggest you do:
Stand in front of a whiteboard (or a get a notepad) and make 5 sections.
Next, starting with 2020, write the next 5 years as the titles of each column. Then, just brainstorm what you know is coming (kids’ graduations, milestone birthdays, big-debt payoffs, etc) and write those in as bullet points. Also, add in some things you hope are coming…let yourself imagine! (It’s ok to dream, just think: Some guy named Disney wanted to make a new land way back when!). Keep going for about 15 minutes. I challenge you to write 5-15 bullet points for each.
This kind of thinking is called creative, innovative and even “out-of-the-box.” It’s more than likely you’ll write down some things and roll your eyes (“yeah-I-know-I-have-to-think-about-that”) and you’ll also write some other things (and think, “where did THAT come from?”). No matter what, you are creating the conditions necessary to be coached.
What does that mean?
I serve as a coach to entrepreneurs, vice presidents across industries, military leaders and more. The people I serve have usually found my books (or podcast, or videos), and email to ask, “Do you help people 1:1?” The answer is always, “Yes, but…”
Yes, there’s always a ‘but!’
I will ask, “Do you ever coach yourself? Do you ever slow down enough to study your
(2) actions, and
To me, that’s what coaching does. It puts attention on what you do and what you get, and then your coach should give you ways and ideas to change what you do … so you change what you get! Would you like to practice? One of the best ways to self-coach is to answer specific questions. Questions that get you to give yourself the gift of your attention and then — if we’re lucky! — get you to take some actions to make things a little bit better. In fact, that’s where we’ll start!
The purpose of asking questions is to get you thinking in a positive direction, focused in a direction you want to go. And, if you do this right, you’ll find that you have to pause (or, at least, slow down) so that you can hear yourself answer yourself. In fact, to get the most from the next series of self-coaching questions, I recommend you copy the prompts below (questions) in your notebook and spend up to 5 minutes hand-writing your answer to each. (And, if you want to get even MORE value, take your draft answers to your next meeting with your mentor!)
QUESTION #1: What do I want to be better at, as a human being?
Recently, I asked a group of more than 200 leaders to make their list. At the end of the two minutes I gave them to write, they turned to the person sitting next to them to share their list. Over the next two minutes, I watched as three things happen:
1. It seemed that EVERYONE had written something down. From what I could tell, everyone had something to share that was on their list.
2. A lot of people nodded their head up and down as they talked. This makes me think that they shared some of the same ideas.
3. At the end I asked, by a show of hands, how many people added to their list while listening to the other person share. Again, from the stage I was standing on, it appeared that MOST people raised their hands.
There are many reasons you want to self-coach through this process, but here’s the most important one:
The moment you write down what you want to improve, the universe pays attention. I can almost promise you from here that over the next week you’ll meet someone, see something, or find a book that could help you get better at something you wrote on your list.
QUESTION #2: Why is it important to become better [more productive, healthier, a better leader, etc] now?
Ok, it’s not enough to simply write down WHAT you want to be better at. Why? If that’s all you do, you’ll just stress yourself out and feel bad. You’ve got to take this a step further and create a sense of urgency.
No, don’t get all stressed out, don’t “should” all over yourself, don’t wish things were different.
For each item on yourself, respond to the “So that…” prompt. This is something I spent an entire chapter on in the book, “Your Best Just Got Better.” It’s a great self-coaching technique that pushes on you to take yourself, your goals, your contributions to the next level. Here’s how it works in just three steps:
- Step 1: Fill in the blank lines: I want to be better at ______ so that ______.
- Step 2: Take the “so that” and respond to the prompt again, “I want to be better at _______ so that_______.
- Step 3: Repeat that at least 7 times. Each time, you move the SO THAT to the front, and dive deeper into your “why.” (If you’ll share a picture of your “so that” statements, tag me on Twitter or Instagram so I can see and give you some feedback!)
QUESTION #3: Who do I know who can help me? (And, when can we meet?)
Ok, I know those are two questions, but they go together, right? There are many authors out there who write and talk about being vulnerable. The popular TED speaker Brené Brown is quoted as saying, “Vulnerability builds trust and elevates performance.”
Here’s what I know:
When you know what you want to be better at, and why, it makes it a lot easier to look around and ask for help. Sometimes you’ll know someone personally you can ask. Other times, you’ll need an introduction from someone in your current network. And, if the goal you’ve set is really, really big, and you’re still working toward it in “stealth” mode, now you’ll know what books to look for at the store!
Seriously, any time I’ve taken a step toward a new reality — to cast my goals to the next level — I have been helped in direct proportion to the assistance I ask for. Here’s the truth: the people around you WANT to help. It’s up to you to let them know what they could do to help you.
I got you into reading this article by promising you a methodology to do “self-coaching.” It’s all it takes, asking yourself a question at a time, and pausing long enough to put the answer in your own writing. By the way, some of you are wondering if you can type your answers…my response is (always): Try it both ways. Personally, I find that hand-writing my answers slows me down, and gets me thinking more deeply about what I’m writing.
I think most coaches would say that’s a good thing!