Sunday, 12 August 2012

Celebrations, Winners & the Closing Ceremony

This blog post is not about the Olympics - sorry if you thought it was! However it is about recognising & appreciating positive practices to help you change… then doing something about it.

Celebrations & Winners
Prompted by a talk given by Sukh Pabial on Positive Psychology, I’ve been running a series of guest blogs on “Positive Practices in Coaching & Mentoring”.

It’s been an amazing series from quite different individuals all giving their distinct views on their positive practices. That the series has generated over 1250 blog views in just 5 weeks I think shows that many of you have enjoyed it just as much as I have!

So I’d like to thank & celebrate those guest bloggers for sharing so willingly their views on positive practices in coaching & mentoring... Thank you all!

I had mentioned there was a prize so you might expect as it's the Olympics that there could be Gold, Silver  & Bronze awards... nope.  Each blog & blogger is a winner in my eyes - they stepped up to share their own practices with all of us and that I think is a hugely positive thing to do.

So to gauge the two most inspiring blog posts, I approached someone with many years senior management experience who was not a coach or mentor and had not already read any of this series of blogs...

There were two posts which they felt particularly inspired by and in their own words "talked to the power of coaching". These were Meg & Phil's blog posts and both of you now have a ticket for Sukh's "Positive Psychology in Application" event on August 17th in London!

Closing Ceremony
It's the closing ceremony of the Olympics today and a celebration of this series of blog posts seems like a good place to end this Blogger blog...

Blogging has grown thing from something I was a bit scared of pushing out there to something I've incorporated into my whole life.  I'm still learning but I couldn't have done this without the support of friends, colleagues, other bloggers and above all readers of the blog. Thank you! Also, I love the fact that my young kids now use "blogging" as part of their diction - brilliant!

Yet, it's time for me to create some change... 

...there are things I'd like to focus more on and I need the impetus to make this happen. Stopping this Blogger blog is one way of creating this.

...I've learnt a lot and my blogging has matured. I now need to take this to another level with greater focus and challenge.

...I'm here to stay as a blogger but need a better platform.  Sorry Blogger but I've outgrown what you provide and I need to move on.

So above all, thank you for all the support here over the last 18 months.  You've given me the support & confidence to learn, change and progress. I'm ready to end this Blogger blog...

However, you can continue to read more blogging on all aspects of People Performance & Potential from myself and special guests at :
I think recognising when you've outgrown what you have and being willing to take on a new challenge is a positive practice. I hope you agree!

Thursday, 9 August 2012

The moon, a telescope, a waterbed and being centred

Our final guest post this week on "Positive Practices in Coaching & Mentoring" comes from Phil Willcox.  Phil is a coach, consultant and facilitator of learning. You can find out more about his work on his company website E3 Training & Consultancy and find him on Twitter posting as @PhilWillcox.

Phil's post builds perfectly on the previous posts - I hope you enjoy!

The moon, a telescope, a waterbed and being centred
I will begin with a huge thank you to Mr Goddin for letting me guest blog and I feel truly humbled to be blogging alongside some really inspirational people.

This blog is going to build on the last one from Jon Bartlett (@ProjectLibero) and hopefully round off some of the other blogs too.

We will be going post-coaching today and will look at themes such as listening, attentiveness, concentration, being present (thanks Jon) and we will reference emotions. I LOVE emotions (and by the way I don't think love is an emotion) they are so powerful and pivotal that they will be included. Finally, we will reference the beauty and vitiality of reflection.

The positive practice that I want to share is one that I have done for a few years and I hope it of use.

The words in the title of this blog is taken from Jon Kabat-Zinn and to put them in context, he says:
"... If you were trying to look at the moon but you set up your telescope on a waterbed, it would be hopeless to even find the moon, never mind keep it in view and study it carefully."
This is what I have and continue to purposefully and deliberately think about after each and every coaching session. Why? I hear you ask. Well, within us all we have:

- evolutionary and learned emotional triggers
- knowledge, skills, experience and expertise.

When embarking on any conversation (including a coaching one) us humans will react to the stimulus around us (in this context the person we are coaching) and this response may be emotional and/or cognitive. It may be that I am able to stop the response gaining momentum and completely hijacking me and/or my conscious thoughts, or I may not. Either way, for a moment in time (often seconds) I was not centred.

If I add up all those moments in time over the course of a 30/60/90 minute coaching session, how much information have I missed? How vital may that information be? 

So, after my coaching sessions, I take a moment to acknowledge that during it there were things I was thinking and feeling. I will go on a step (and this is where the purposeful reflection comes in), I will:

1) Go back through the conversation and catalogue the topics and content of the conversation from start to finish in as much detail as I can remember.

2) Taking each topic and content piece in turn ask myself
  • What emotion(s) was I feeling when we discussed this?
  • How was I experiencing them?
  • What was the intensity?
  • What was the trigger?
  • How will I be more aware of that trigger next time so I can catch the response quicker?
  • What impact did these emotions have on the other person?
  • Did it help or hinder the conversation?
  • What thought responses did I have?
  • Where did they come from?
  • How did I hope my thoughts would help or add value?
  • What will I do next time to either interrupt those thoughts or do I need to share them?
  • What did these thoughts do to the quality of that part of the session?
  • Did they help or hinder the conversation?

3) I will collate my responses and critically analyse them to create an action plan for the next coaching session I have with that person. The desired outcome; that I can be more centred next time.

Interestingly, I have found that the emotional and thought responses are different depending on the person. So the same topic or content may cause different reactions.

After practice and refinement, it takes me 20-30 minutes to complete this process. At first i took over an hour each time.

It is hard work, it takes time, effort and energy and I will continue to do it for as long as I coach. Why? Because I:

Am of more help.
Give more and better support.
Listen more effectively.
Increase my self-awareness.
Make more of a difference (and if I don't, what is the .............. point).

This practice helps me make sure that I am on firm ground so when I focus my telescope on the moon, I can find it, keep it in view and study it carefully.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Presence versus present

Our next guest post on "Positive Practices in Coaching & Mentoring" comes from Jon Bartlett. If you don't already know him, Jon is a professional coach, mentor and mediator. I can recommend taking the time to read his blog and in particular this post. Look out for him on Twitter as @ProjectLibero .

Jon's succinct post for me highlights perhaps the most important part of any successful conversation, not just as a coach or mentor...

Presence versus present
I think I must have been busy doing something when David chased me up about writing a guest post about the “most positive practice I use in coaching”. That’s my only excuse for my somewhat glib response “Pitching up is my most positive practice”.

Yet as I looked again at what I’d just typed to David it made a lot of sense.

As coaches it is incumbent upon us to create a conversation, a piece of time where anything can be discussed and examined. That’s not easy and it takes a lot of practice. We all talk about rapport and “holding the space” for the client, about active listening and open, empathic questions. We all know what we are meant to do but for me, there is a piece before that.

As a coach I prepare for each client in a similar way. I never schedule anything just before coaching and if I’m travelling I allow time to get over the journey first. I often listen to a piece of music to make sure that I’m in a good state to coach. Then I try to empty my head of anything else going on my life. That call I need to make to the bank? Forgotten. The invoice I need to send? Ignored.

You see it’s one thing to be in the room, it’s another to have truly arrived and be fully present. If my intent is to be fully in the service of my client then all my “stuff” needs to be locked away for the duration. Now that seems pretty obvious but have you been in a conversation where it’s quite obvious that the other person is mentally distracted? Now rerun that meeting in your head imagining the other person engaged, open and obviously focussed on you and the discussion you are having. I’m guessing it feels better?

So that’s my positive practice, don’t just be a presence in the room, be fully present.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Recently on People Performance Potential...

It's been quite an extraordinary few weeks here on the blog with our series of guest posts on “Positive Practices in Coaching & Mentoring”. In case you’ve missed any of them here’s a quick run down of each...

“Coach and Coachee: A Dance of Magnificence” by Clare Manning
Clare launched the series with a lovely reflective post examining how our regard for our clients makes a difference. Her post describes an approach she uses and its impact “where you actively hold your clients magnificence in your mind while working with them”. 

“It is ALL about the client” by Ian Pettigrew
In our second guest post, Ian shares his experiences and learnings as a coach. His emphasis on flexibility and humility in service to the client is well said and is certainly applicable beyond the world of coaching & mentoring.

“Developing my Practice and Staying Sharp!” by Julie Drybrough
Julies post shares her journey as a coach and how she expanded her coaching abilities and professional practice.  I won't spoil the ending for you but its message is something we all need to pay attention to!

“It’s getting on my wick!” by Kevin Wyke
We all like to have a whinge or moan now and then don't we?  The process of sharing negativity can be cathartic.  Kevin perfectly contrasts our natural behaviours with his practices of sharing his positivity whilst working with clients.

“Coaching – formalise your programme or just be brilliant at it?” by Perry Timms
Perry's post gives a sense of the both his passion and the power to be gained from the practical application of informal coaching. Perry might have positioned his 7 Steps as his theory, yet its resonance with other coaches I think shows it to be more than that!

Megs post beautifully deconstructed her own practice recognising the impact of receiving unconditional acceptance from others. I love the way she then illustrates how she has incorporated this into her own practice as a coach.

We're not quite done...
We've a few more guest posts lining up for you over the coming days but would be delighted to receive any further submissions.

You don't have to be an experienced coach or mentor. Your experience to share may not even have been recent.  You can post anonymously if you wish.

Just get in touch by email or on Twitter and we'll work with you to help share your perspectives and experiences.

Don't forget!
As part of this series we have 2 tickets to give away for the "Positive Psychology in Application" event on August 17th in London.

These will be given to the two most inspiring guest posts written and published here before Friday 10th August. Winners will be informed on Friday 10th August. In case you are not able to attend, the winners may choose to "gift" their prize to someone who would benefit and can commit to being at the event.

Of course any posts published after Friday 10th August won't receive such a prize but we hope to give you a great blogging experience anyway!