Posted tagged ‘Coaching’

Book Dreams

April 10, 2013

2013-04-10 20.23.16Many years ago, I had a fantastically colorful dream. In this dream I had a space of my own that was both a bedroom and a library. Bookshelves stretched into every corner and nook of the room. The room contained all kinds of reading spaces and was rich both in its feeling of safety and its practical conveniences, such as microwave, refrigerator, and bed. The colors of the book bindings  matched even more spectacularly the quilts my Mom had made and all the colorful decorations in the room. I could have stayed in that room reading for days or weeks – without an unmet need – or so the dream went.

In 2011, at my second Amplify Your Effectiveness (AYE) Conference, my Korean agilist friend, June Kim, introduced me to Clean Language coaching. Clean Language questions allow one to develop a vision or solve a problem very quickly using metaphors. I was trying to find ways to accelerate my learning.  I allowed June to try a few clean questions on me, and within 5 minutes, in answer to one of his questions, I had a building with a grand library that had cropped up in my path of learning.  Since my kids were now more grown, and I had time, I began constructing my library and started reading voraciously.

So what is the connection between the library dream, the books, AYE and the present work I am doing?   The books provide me intellectual and motivational fuel for my journey.  The conferences and retreats are the place I make connections to new ideas and new people.  In my present work, I am passing along what people are ready to hear about.

I’ve compiled a list of SOME of the books that have MOST influenced me in the past year or so as it relates to the modality of coaching and consulting. I don’t include any Agile, Facilitation, or Lean books, though those  are important to me too.

Each of the following books has contributed to my understanding of the things I need most for coaching work and am most passionate about:
how listening affects thinking;
how mindset contributes to ability to learn, change, experiment;
how making direct and congruent contact with one another is the key  to successful teams, organizations, and products
My new career journey as coach may have started with a dream, AYE, June’s interview, and many amazing books. The  colorful reading den is the symbol of my refueling, so I can go out and reach  people with my heart, my learning, and my listening again and again.
What do you do, as a coach, to refuel for your next gig or goal?
 

Being Present: Extending Your Capacity for More Effective Communication

March 6, 2012

I once had a doctor that amazed me every time I visited her. When she entered the room, she was fully present and ready for me. She would welcome me warmly and ask about my family life. This opened up a conversational space between us that allowed a bond of trust and closeness that made me feel comfortable. In doing so, she was thinking of my person, physical and social in an integrated fashion.

Contrast this with a typical doctor’s office visit now in which the doctor enters the room, shakes your hand and says: What symptoms are you having today? or What can I do for you today? Directed questions right off the bat make me feel a little uneasy and do not allow for that feeling of mutual respect. The second doctor chose a question to elicit just the response needed to identify the supposed one problem that I came in for.

What do you prefer, an open ended question that is inviting to the larger picture or a closed-ended question that demands a specific answer? Think about the knowledge work you do or the issues you need to resolve with people: do you stop first to reflect on the larger picture of the work you are doing and the person you are interacting with before delving deeper?

No matter which knowledge industry you are in, creating interactions that are as deep, broad and open as they can possibly be is not easy. It is my belief that individual developmental coaching can help people to change their approaches to problem solving and thereby improve results in their own careers and in those they serve.  Let me tell you another short story – again in the medical field.

Recently, I had asymptomatic diagnosis of a 3.5 cm gallstone after an ultrasound. Two doctors, a general practitioner and a gastrointestinal specialist told me in no uncertain terms that I must go to the surgeon and have my gallbladder removed.  When I went to the surgeon, he told me that he would not touch me with a knife as I had no symptoms.  He was thinking about the bigger picture, where as the two others were not.

Think about how easy it is to put your trust in a specialist in a field you are not familiar with. Do you instinctively trust their opinion, diagnosis, problem-solutioning approach?  How would you know that they are considering the full picture? What assumptions do you think they are holding tight? And how can you stay in a conversation to probe their assumptions when all non verbal queues indicate they have to move on to their next patient? From the point of view of being a patient (or being a member of a software team being assessed on your performance), how do you ‘hold presence’ to ensure your views, issues, and questions are heard?

This week I have been reading Presence-Based Coaching: Cultivating Self-Generative Leaders Through Mind, Body, and Heart. If you want to cultivate a more effective mode of communicating, you can benefit from the practices of ‘being present’ as described in this book.  An excellent coach will help you to cultivate the skill of ‘being present’ when you engage with your client and teams.

I wondered as I read this book whether the wonderful doctor who habitually invited me into a conversation about the larger ‘picture of me’ had had a good coach to help her relate to her patients. I also wondered whether she would have taken the time to make a better evaluation of my gallstone issue before sending me off to the surgeon.  Most knowledge workers, who have vast quantities of information and expedient seemingly viable solutions close at hand, would benefit from slowing down, testing their assumptions, asking open ended questions and establishing trust before attempting to solve the problems ahead of them.

As usual, I welcome your thoughts and stories!