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The One Thing You Need to Close the Deal on Change

The One Thing You Need to Close the Deal on Change

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    You know what you want. You know what to do. So why is nothing happening?

    There are thousands of texts and approaches in the productivity & success universe. Many of them are good, some are great. Some, like the writings of Marcus Buckingham approach genius in their rich simplicity.

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    So why, if there are so many great ways to become more productive and more successful, are so many of us still struggling to make real change happen in our businesses and lives?

    I believe we consistently miss one key element is undertaking a change process: the coaching relationship.

    Change is an abstract idea until it is made real in three ways: what you are committing to must appear on your schedule, have a line in your budget, and be supported by a coaching relationship. I have seen no evidence that it is possible to successfully conclude a change process without commitment through these three constants.

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    Of the three constants that must be brought to bear on a change process, the most important is the coaching relationship. I want to be clear that I am not talking only about professional business or personal coaches, but any person or group that meets certain criteria in order to play a coaching role in your process.

    Coaching relationships are distinct from others in your life. A coaching relationship is one that fits the following criteria:

    • Coaching requires fearless honesty. Not brutal, not abrasive, just consistent, unflinching honest feedback about your goals and your progress.
    • Coaching has a mentoring component. While it is possible to be in a coaching relationship with an individual or group that is not an expert in the area you are working on changing (health, finances, employee relations, etc.), the risk of making errors that may derail you will increase.
    • Look for commitment. The coaching relationship is a formal one, with a clear commitment to a particular process. If you have hired a professional coach like a personal trainer, a business coach, a re-designer, a financial advisor, etc. the commitment on their part is built in. The commitment is that you will work with them for a specified period of time to reach a specified goal. That same commitment can be made between friends, collegues, mentors at work, or other team members. The more clearly the nature of the coaching relationship is spelled out (preferably in writing) the greater the chance of success.
    • Look for ease and openness. A great coaching relationship has one additional hallmark: an inter-personal ease that encourages openness, honesty, and trust. Keep this in mind when seeking or establishing a coaching relationship. Mentoring is possible between people who do not share that ease that is also found in great friendships, but coaching is made more difficult without it.

    When you have established a coaching relationship, what role will it play in your change process?

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    • Outside perspective. We all have blind spots. The best coaching relationships allow the perceptions and voice of another person to help us avoid old patterns or see things in ways defined by our existing prejudices. Great coaching relationships allow us to break truly new ground in our journeys.
    • Scaffolding. A good coach will provide a manageable approach to the change process by creating a structure to follow, and by breaking down a huge task into small, daily or weekly pieces. This is the mentoring component of most coaching relationships, and why they should be knowledgeable in the area they are coaching you in. They erect the scaffold for you based on what they know about what needs to be done. You do the building.
    • Accountability. A coach will help you be accountable for your commitments. A coach will monitor your progress and encourage you to complete the tasks you have committed to.
    • Unconditional support. Change is hard. Sometimes change is deeply disruptive in unpredictable ways. There are always moments where everything feels like it is going backwards, and things are worse than they ever were. In those moments, coaching provides support, encouragement, comfort, and the confidence that you need to refocus on your journey. Coaching support is unconditional. It is without judgement, without expectations other than your success, and is unshakeable within the timeframe you have committed to.

    As you can see from this list, sustained success without coaching support is almost impossible. Without the outside perspective, scaffolding, formal accountability, and unconditional support, the likelihood that a change process will stall or go off the rails is unacceptably high.

    Without a coach, a plan is only a possibility. Without a coach, a budget and a timeline only signal good intentions.

    When you rely entirely on your own perspectives and habits there is a good chance that, like someone lost in the woods, you will find yourself where you started again, after months of hard work. When you work without a scaffold assembled by a knowledgeable mentor, the task becomes overwhelming, its foundations weakened by flaws right at the start. When you have not made yourself accountable to someone, in the darkest moments it is too easy to walk away, because no one will know. When you hit those those deeply disruptive setbacks that come out of nowhere, there are few of us who can keep moving forward without someone providing that steadying hand on our shoulder.

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    When you begin the next change in your business or in life, consider it truly started once it has a place on your schedule and budget. But most of all don’t start without identifying the one relationship that will make the difference between getting lost and getting there: the coaching relationship.

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    Last Updated on December 3, 2019

    7 Powerful Steps to Achieve Career Success

    7 Powerful Steps to Achieve Career Success

    I often hear people say, “I want to be successful but don’t know where to start” or “I’ve achieved career success yet I’m not happy.” And then I ask, “what does career success mean to you?” And many have a hard time articulating their response with much conviction.

    It’s common that people lack clarity, focus, and direction. And when you layer on thoughts and actions that are misaligned with your values, this only adds to your misdirected quest to achieve your career success.

    A word of caution. It’s going to take some time for you to think about and work on your own path for career success. You need to set aside time and be intentional about the steps you take to achieve career success. In my opinion, this step-by-step guide is apart of your life philosophy.

    1. Define Career Success for Yourself

    Pause. Give yourself time and space for self-reflection.

    What does career success mean to you?

    This is about defining your career success:

    • Not what you think you ‘should’ do
    • Not what people may think of you
    • Not adjusting to friends and family’s judgements
    • Not taking actions based on societal or community norms

    “A flower does not think of competing to the flower next to it. It just blooms” – Zen Shin

    When you strip away all your external influences and manage your inner critic, what are you left with? You need to define career success that best suits your life situation.

    There’s no fixed answer. Everyone is different. Your answer will evolve and be impacted by life events. Here are a few examples of career success:

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    • Work-life balance
    • Opportunities for growth and advancement
    • Feeling valued that my contributions had an impact

    Now even as you reflect on the examples above, the descriptions are not specific enough. You’ve got to take it deeper:

    • What do you mean by work-life balance?
    • What do you consider to be opportunities for growth and advancement?
    • How do you like to be recognized for your work? How do you know if your contributions have had an impact?

    Let’s take a look at some potential responses to the questions above:

    • I want more time with my family, and less stress at work
    • I want increased responsibilities, to manage a team, a higher income, and the prestige of working at a certain level in the company
    • I’d like my immediate leader to send me a thank-you note or take me out for coffee to genuinely express her or his gratitude. I’ll know I’ve made an impact if I get feedback from my coworkers, leaders and other stakeholders.

    Further questions to reflect on to help narrow the focus for the above responses:

    • What are some opportunities that can help you get traction on getting more time with your family? And decrease your stress at work?
    • What’s most important for you in the next 12 months?
    • What’s the significance of receiving others’ feedback?

    Now, I’m only scratching the surface with these examples. It takes time to do the inner work and build a solid foundation.

    Start this exercise by first asking what career success means to you and then ask yourself meaningful questions to help you dig deeper.

    What types of themes emerge from your responses? What keywords or phrases keep coming up for you?

    2. Know Your Values

    Values are the principles and beliefs that guide your decisions, behaviors and actions. When you’re not aligned with your values and act in a way that conflicts with your beliefs, it’ll feel like life is a struggle.

    There are simple value exercises that can help you quickly determine your core values. This one designed by Carnegie Mellon University can help you discover your top 5 values.[1]

    Once you have your top 5 values keep them visible. Your brain needs reminders that these are your top values. Here are some ways to make them stick:

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    • Write them on cue cards or notes and post it in your office
    • Take a picture of your values and use it as a screensaver on your phone
    • Put the words on your fridge
    • Add the words on your vision board

    Where will your value words be placed in your physical environment so that you have a constant reminder of them?

    3. Define Your Short-Term and Long-Term Goals

    When writing your short-term and long term life goals, use the SMART framework – Specific Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Treat this as a brainstorming exercise. Your potential and possibilities are limitless.

    How you define short-term and long-term is entirely up to you. Short-term can be 30 days, 90 days, or 6 months. Maybe long-term goals are 4 months, 1 year, or 10 years.

    Here are a few self-reflection questions to help you write your goals:[2]

    • What would you want to do today if you had the power to make it the way you want?
    • If no hurdles are in the way, what would you like to achieve?
    • If you have the freedom to do whatever you want, what would it be?
    • What type of impact do you want to have on people?
    • Who are the people you most admire? What is it about them or what they have that you’d want for your life or career?
    • What activities energize you? What’s one activity you most love?

    Remember to revisit your core values as you refine yours goals:

    • Are your goals in or out of alignment with your core values?
    • What adjustments do you need to make to your goals? Maybe some of your goals can be deleted because they no longer align with your values.
    • How attainable are your goals? Breakdown your goals into digestible pieces.
    • Do your short-term goals move you towards attaining your long-term goals?

    Get very clear and specific about your goals. Think about an archer – a person who shoots with a bow and arrows at a target. This person is laser focused on the target – the center of the bullseye. The target is your goal.

    By focusing on one goal at a time and having that goal visible, you can behave and act in ways that will move you closer to your goal.

    4. Determine Your Top Talents

    What did you love doing as a kid? What made these moments fun? What did you have a knack for? What did you most cherish about these times? What are the common themes?

    What work feels effortless? What work do you do that doesn’t seem like work? Think about work you can lose track of time doing and you don’t even feel tired of it.[3]

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    What are your desires? Try it out. Experiment. Take action and start. How can you incorporate more of this type of work into your daily life?

    What themes emerge from your responses? How do your responses compare to your responses from the values exercise and your goals?

    What do you notice?

    5. Identify ‘Feeling’ Words You Want to Experience

    Do you have tendencies to use your head or heart to make decisions?

    I have a very strong tendency to make rational, practical, and fact-based decisions using my head. It’s very rare for me to make decisions using my emotions. I was forced to learn how to make more intuitive decisions by listening to my gut when I was struggling with pivotal life decisions. I was forced to feel and listen to my inner voice to make decisions that feel most natural to me. This was very unfamiliar to me, however, it expanded my identity.

    Review this list of Feeling Words. Use the same technique you use for the values exercise to narrow down how you want to feel.

    Keep these words visible too!

    Review your responses. What do you observe? What insights do you gain from these responses and those in the above steps?

    6. Be Willing to Sit with Discomfort

    Make career decisions aligned with your values, goals, talents and feelings. This is not for the faint hearted. It takes real work, courage and willingness to cut out the noise around you. You’ll need to sit with discomfort for a bit until you build up your muscle to hit the targets you want.

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    Surround yourself with a supportive network to help you through these times.

    “These pains you feel are messengers. Listen to them” – Rumi

    7. Manage Your Own Career

    Not to be cynical, but no one can make you happy but yourself. If you don’t take control of your career and manage it like your own business – no one will.

    Discern between things that you can control and what you can’t control. For example, you may not be able to control who gets a promotion. However, you can control how you react to it and what you’ve learned about yourself in that situation.

    Summing Up

    For many who have gone through a career change or been impacted by life events, these steps may seem very basic. However, it’s sometimes the basics that we forget to do. The simple things and moments can edge us closer to our larger vision for ourselves.

    Staying present and appreciating what you have today can sometimes help you achieve your long-term goals. For example, if you’re always talking about not having enough time and wanting work-life balance, think about what was good in your work day? Maybe you took a walk outside with your co-workers. This could be a small step to help you reframe how you can attain work-life balance.

    Remember to take time for yourself. Hit pause, notice, observe and reflect to achieve career success by getting deliberate and intentional:

    1. Define Career Success for Yourself
    2. Know Your Values
    3. Define Your Short-Term and Long-Term Life and Goals
    4. Determine Your Top Talents
    5. Identify ‘Feeling’ Words You Want to Experience
    6. Be Willing to sit with Discomfort
    7. Manage Your Own Career

    “When you stop chasing the wrong things you give the right things a chance to catch you.” – Lolly Daskal

    Good luck and best wishes always!

    More Tips on Advancing Your Career

    Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

    Reference

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