1 is the Loneliest Number

Ever since I was old enough to hold my own passport I’ve been of the mind that the best way to travel was solo. No compromising, no catering to the desires of someone else. Travel was a rare, treasured use of time and resources so it was best enjoyed greedily, selfishly. This particular form of self indulgence was deep in my blood by the time I was 18, having already driven solo to and across Death Valley, backpacked solo across Rannoch Moor, and many more places few people have ever heard of.

Ten years later I tried travelling with a significant other and it proved to be the beginning of the end of that relationship. A kind of pattern developed around this. I convinced myself that I was destined to be a solo traveller. But there was one experience that fell outside of the pattern. I was in Egypt, travelling alone as you would expect. I had hitched a ride in an ancient Rusian jeep with some locals in Farafra, to traverse the Qattara Depression to Siwa oasis near the Libyan border. I believe I had some poetic notion of consulting the oracle of Ammon myself, just as Alexander had done 1,700 years before. 

Hitching a ride across the Qattara depression is no mean feat. Locals say someone tries it about once every month or two and about half fail and most of those are never seen again. It is a saline desert bereft of humans and known for its salt deposits and minefields left from the second world war. 

The night before departure I spent at a kind of guest house on the edge of Farafra, a place infamous for scoundrels. I shared a meal of lentils and rice fried in rancid oil with a Japanese solo traveler. I don’t remember his name but I do remember he was a hairdresser from Tokyo. It was his practise to work nine months of the year and travel the remainder. I told him of my intention to go to Siwa the next day via the Quattara depression. He voiced a strong interest in joining the expedition. The next morning the two local chaps who were to take me arrived in their well-worn Vaz 2121. I asked if there would be room for another passenger. They eagerly said yes and tried to charge him as much as me. I said it would be fairer to split the cost I was paying between the two of us. We agreed on something between the two positions — they seemed to enjoy the haggle.

We threw our rucksacks into the back of the Vaz and then joined them there, along with a large selection of tools, tyres, tins of oil, cans of petrol. Other cans of petrol, a tyre, and water jugs were haphazardly lashed to the front of the jeep. We drove north along the paved road to Bawiti and then turned off to the left, onto an unpaved, single-tracked road. Ten minutes into our journey we got our first puncture. 

My fellow traveller and I then witnessed a ritual we would get to know very well throughout that day — the removal of almost everything lashed to the vehicle, jacking it up, removing the wheel with the flat, removing the tyre from the wheel, replacing it and the inner tube with another, remounting the wheel and then inflating it with a contraption they screwed into one of the cylinders of the engine after having removed the spark plug. The compression of the cylinder drove a pump that re-inflated the tyre. Then we packed everything back on the jeep and got back underway. The chap who was not driving took the flat tube and  tyre onto his lap and patched/plugged the hole with scraps of old tyre he had in a bag at his feet and glued them into place. They repeated this ritual at least five times on that trip.

The trip was relatively uneventful except for the haunting landscape, the remote guard post where we were held at gunpoint by a soldier until we gave him some food and some money, oh, and when the driver, who had picked up an armful of rocks at the roadside during one of the six puncture rituals, began throwing them off into the seemingly empty terrain off his side of the road. We asked him why he was throwing the stones and he said in very broken english that he wanted to ‘clear the way’ of landmines. That got our attention. Thankfully, there were no explosions.

Over the course of a very long day spent smashed into a very hot, crowded, and smelly old jeep, my travel companion and I compared experiences as solo travellers. By the time we arrived in Siwa and got settled at the only available guest house in the village, we had become familiar with many of each other’s stories. We found numerous ways in which our lives differed and just as many ways they were similar. But what was most interesting was how often we shared perspectives on similar experiences that were quite different. This made me rethink many of my past experiences over the coming days, and try to see those memories through a different set of eyes. Over the next few days we explored the area together and continued to swap stories and asked each other how we were perceiving the things we were experiencing at that very moment.

And then, just as quickly as our adventure together started, it ended. I continued to the north and he returned with our jeep guides to Bawiti where he would catch a bus to Cairo. It was a long and dusty trip on the bus to Marsa Matruh. This was most likely due to fact that most of the aft floor of the bus was missing, allowing both exhaust from the engine below to enter the cabin along with the dust from the wheels beneath the engine. To say it was unpleasant would be an understatement.

But that journey to Marsa Matruh, and for the rest of the journey to Alexandria and then Cairo, was completely different from what had preceded it. I couldn’t help but wonder what my Japanese friend might have thought of the things I witnessed. I could and did imagine his reactions and found I was beginning to see things through both my default perspective, and his. This was the first time I experienced how travelling with someone else could significantly enhance the experience. I stopped seeing things around me through just my own eyes — I began to imagine other ways of seeing.

Years later when I began to study the link between cognition and emotion, and then emotion and behaviour, the light bulb ignited as I thought back to that trip to Siwa. For the first time whilst travelling I had experienced something through a different set of eyes, creating a new sense of meaning — cognition. Subsequently I could then understand why I felt differently about things when seeing them through this different perspective, this different cognition. And, it made so much sense that my emotions and following behaviours also changed when I saw things in this different way. I am still wrestling with this chain of cognition every day and enjoying how wonderful this is.

So here is the rub. It’s my desire to take you on a little journey with me. I don’t want to take this journey alone. I want you with me not to just read my words or watch me tell stories that might connect some dots for us both. Like that journey to Siwa, let’s share our stories, let’s show each other how we see things and how that shapes our emotional and behavioural responses. I can’t do this alone. I shall need your companionship. 

So let’s start this now. I am thinking of moments where I managed to step outside my own perspective, and see things from a different one. I’m particularly interested in how this changed my emotional and behavioural response and what other ripples flowed from that experience. I’ll be writing one or two of my own in the coming days and I would love you to add your own here or tag to that next piece I shall post in the coming days. I’m not asking for a tome here, just a sense of what you saw differently and how that changed the way you felt. After all, no one has a monopoly on the ‘right’ way of seeing things.

A Bit More Choke and it Woulda Started…

I ‘m quite confident I am not alone when I report that it is becoming difficult to get up to running temperature these days. I am going to blame it on my middling attempts to transition towards an effective, lockdown working rhythm. Like that old car that needs nursing every morning to coax it to life, so too is it with my working life. And from what I hear from friends and clients, I am certainly not alone.

I know there are various celeb coaches and gurus out there who promise exciting breakthroughs with enticing consequences. I’m here to tell you that, while breakthroughs do happen, they are infrequent. Much of what my clients, friends, and yes, myself, get are glimmers of a gradually improving life. And this increase in the quality of life is not always appearing in ways we think it will, and it is perpetually arriving after long and hard effort. Yep, like my current work situation, and possibly yours too, it is a kind of siege war with every day feeling like a Monday. It would be very convenient if all our struggles we upended by glorious breakthroughs that come and go in a matter of second. Alas, you could weait a long time for one of those.

And maybe our breakthroughs are worth waiting for. But while we wait, let’s use our time wisely. Instead of waiting and thinking about why you are finding it so hard to focus or get motivated or organised in your work, for the fourth month in a row, let’s try something different.

Start with a breakthrough, and this is an easy one. Buy a cheapo whiteboard and pens. Now set it up and write down what you would like to change — focus, motivation, organisation etc. Then, once you write it down, set the whiteboard aside but still facing you. Now turn back to your computer and look at your agenda/calendar. If you don’t have one, smack yourself in the back of the head and then set one up — they are free to download or came with your computer. You didn’t get to where you are today in your life by not being focused, motivated or organised and you have not lost those capabilities during lockdown. What you have done is found yourself full of distractions and few of the pressures from work. Lots of carrot to do no work, and no stick to do good work.

Sadly I have to tell you that there is no breakthrough that will fix this situation. This is where you must dig in, even though every day feels like a Monday, and just grind out the work. Move the coffee fixings into your home office. Keep a day’s supply of snacks in your home office. Remove easy access to Netflix, Disney+ and all social networks from your computer. Turn your mobile off and put it in another room. You need to replicate even the unpleasant parts of the old workplace whenever possible. Use your surroundings to drive you to focus. Find what works best for you. Build and enforce a routine. You need to accept that the way forward is not by a moon shot, it is with a hard grafting and relentless daily grind that will gradually build discipline and focus. It may take some time. And however much time it takes, it will feel like it took much longer.

Like all work, nothing is worth doing if you can’t measure it. Log your hours. At the end of the week audit how you spent your week. I like to make a daily pie chart of how i spent my time and in each pie segment i highlight the outcome. At the end of the week highlight the change in a trend chart. You will find that you can easily quantify what things you did more of and what things you did less of over time. Make adjustments where required — this is the whole point of measuring things. In your first week you will be horrified as you discover you spend more time on the toilet than you do actually working! In fact, it is likely you will find six or seven things you do more of than actual work! These horrors are also why we measure. Why? Because we have trained ourselves to feel that what doesn’t get measured doesn’t matter.

You may recognise this method as similar to what some of those gurus use to achieve breakthroughs. We want you to be shocked by your own behaviours. We want you to be horrified by how far you have strayed from your ideals. But in this case the feelings of horror and shock are not planted on your lap by Tony Robbins, they are identified and proven by you. They are hard earned realisations that belong to you. You spilled blood for these revelations and so the impact is much greater.

The breakthrough you may have wanted at the start may be achieved but not in the way you had hoped. Instead of paying someone else to find your failings and build a breakthrough moment for you, you did the same for yourself… and got some work done while you were doing it. Your brain and your wallet are fuller. There are some short cuts of course — you can always hire someone like me to help you get set up and started, but in the end it is you who will deliver the goods.

The bottom line is that you cannot buy yourself out of everything, and not everything has a simple and quick fix. Some things you just need to grit your teeth and grind them out. This is one of the truest faces of resilience. It is as much a state of commitment as it is a state of mind.

Shoulda Gone to Specsavers

Seeking and executing solutions to problems seems an admirable leadership trait. Now imagine if you are such a leader. So why, despite all our skills and admirable intentions, do we so often end up not with admirable solutions, but unintentionally unhelpful consequences? And what if I were to tell you that it is likely that at least 80% of your employees suffer the same consequences in their pursuit of solutions? Yep, the odds are highly likely you are running an organisation teeming with people who are being handsomely paid to frequently fail. And why, when you spot unhelpful results, the changes you and your colleagues invoke also fail to deliver the results you seek?

Do you remember the COB (Chain of Behaviour) I talked about last time? Well, the situation above is the reason the COB framework was devised. It was becoming so common for unintentionally unhelpful consequences to result from our actions that the demand for improving leadership and overall workplace performance blossomed. It had become clear that the path to growth was through raising the effectiveness of our people. Helping our people become more effective lead us to our understanding of the relationship of cognition-emotion-behaviour.

So here we will dive into the first link in the Chain of Behaviour — Cognition. When we say cognition we mean more than just seeing or witnessing in something. When we say cognition we describe a process where we observe something and then understand it more deeply by attaching meaning to what we observe. To do this well we must strip this experience of all judgement, bias, and emotion. We must train ourselves to create a direct connection between the mind and the senses, and then apply our life experience to try to find a context or understanding of what we are witnessing. And if this is a first time witnessing such a thing, we test our understanding to see if it fits.

This may seem like a cumbersome process at first, but if your train yourself, it will become second nature. If becoming a great leader is your goal, mastering the COB is a non-negotiable skill you must possess. And a truly great leader not only masters the COB, but this leader also coaches subordinates to master it as well. If you want to raise the effectiveness of your organisation it starts with you, but it does not end with you — everyone must reap the benefits of mastering the COB.

The first step is to see the world in an accurate way, so that we have something reliable to which we can surround with context, and from which we can derive meaning. We must have absolute faith in the accuracy of what we see, and the correctness of the meaning we reach from that. It is through this process, and the skills we develop within this process, that allow us to fully understand the threats and opportunities we encounter. Until we master this process, we are likely to mistake opportunities as threats and threats as opportunities.

COB: another TLA

Anyone who knows me, knows that there is little I like more than a good TLA, (Three-Letter Acronym). Today’s candidate is C.O.B., or Chain of Behaviour. The COB is a simple framework for better understanding why we do the things we do. The COB, is made up of three links — Cognition, emOtion, and Behaviour. Let’s dive into this simple, yet powerful way of examining why we do the things we do.

So often, my clients recognise they have a behaviour or habit they would like to change. Notice I said Change and not Understand? There is a good reason for this. It is very common in humans to want to jump to a solution before we even fully know what the problem is. We have come to expect that our impression of the thing needing a solution is an absolute reality. And when our solution or behaviour when responding to this reality results in unappreciated consequences, we jump again to a premature solution by focusing on the the behaviour that we believe was the cause of the unappreciated consequence.

The COB model forces us to stop and really look before we leap into solutions. As mentioned above, it is a chain that is made of three links — Cognition, emOte, and Behaviour. In my following posts I will go into detail on each of these links, so here I will give the overall context of the chain and how we use it to drive meaningful change.

Cognition is the initial link in the chain of behaviours and many feel it is the most important one — fail at this step and nothing you will do in the others can save the situation. Cognition is not just observing something, it also involves interpreting what is experienced and attaching meaning to it. When I say a failure of this step, I mean a failure to attach an appropriate meaning to what is experienced. Like any chain, the following links rely upon a secure first link.

Emote is the second step or link. In this step we react to the cognition of the first step. Whatever meaning we apply to what we experienced in the first step, we respond to emotionally. And it is that emotion, that feeling, the shapes our behaviours.

And no matter how logical you think you are, you, like everyone else, behaves in response to an emotion that was triggered by cognition. This chain works beautifully and mostly automatically. We happily tick along making sense of the world around us, experiencing feelings based upon those and past experiences, and then behaving in response to those feelings. Simple, eh?

Well, it is as long as the consequences of those behaviours meet our desired outcomes. Sadly, they often do not. So what do we do about that? Mostly we promise to ourselves that we will learn from the experience and do things differently next time — which we often fail to do. Or we respond in a different way that is equally unhelpful. The lesson here is that as long as we keep focusing just on our behaviours we are unlikely to find lasting and satisfying change.

We must open ourselves to unpeeling the COB and really looking at why we do the things we do. We must ask ourselves if we are really assigning appropriate meaning to the things we encounter in the world — things, places, people, other’s behaviours or words. We must also be honest with ourselves in understanding what underlying emotions are triggered in us when we observe or encounter things in our lives that tend to trigger inappropriate or unhelpful behaviours. Finally, we must look then at our behaviours and understand which of our behaviours we feel drive unhelpful consequences and do our very best to understand why that is.

It is only when we master our understanding of how we see the world, how we feel about it and why, and then why we react the way we do to those feelings, that we can identify effective change tactics. This can often mean unpicking experiences in our past that have formed deeply held, almost invisible understandings, and emotional attachments to those understandings, and then question whether or not these are valid or helpful — this can be a very involving journey, and a life changing one.

If you think that this seems a lot of work and of questionable value, let me share with you an eye opener: real leaders are not only analysing their own COB every day, but they are also doing the same with everyone around them. Great leaders do this instinctively. And they are not the only ones — if you have ever met a really good negotiator, you have met someone who has mastered the COB. So if you think the COB is a nonsense, I would say that your chances of being a really great leader are slim. That is how important it is.

Make the Change, or Be The Change

We’ve all see or heard the phrase, “be the change,” but what does that really mean? On the face of it, the phrase may smack of some kind of new-age platitude commonly seen on inspirational lunch-room wall posters. I’m not sure myself what the anonymous authors meant, but to a change agent such as myself, it has obvious and relevant meaning for both me and my clients.

For many of those with whom I work, change is something that happens to them — a work crisis, a promotion, a failed relationship, an unwanted move, etc. Much of my work is helping people to avoid avoidance, to grasp the nettle of change and put everything they can behind a conscious change and not just ride a random wave of change.

“Being the change” is a close relation to this. But there is a key difference. Those of us who are the change do not simply respond healthily to their environment and embrace change when it comes upon them. These people actually seek out change. They recognise and engage with things in their lives they feel could be better and they seek out the nettle of change and initiate change. Not everyone is wired this way. In fact, most of us prefer the comfort of avoidance of reacting to change, never mind initiating it!

Is it desirable to ‘be the change?’ There is no simple answer to that question. It is possible to lead a relatively happy life simply drifting from one avoidance tactic to another and avoiding change altogether. I believe, however, that most people are happier when they lead a life that recognises change opportunities and takes advantage of them. I also believe that, like most other opportunities in life, they don’t always land in our laps. Being able to see opportunities for change and then proactively assessing those change opportunities and acting upon them can feed the mind, body and soul in ways you might never imagine. If this was not true we would not have the phrase, which we all know well, that begins with, ‘if only I…’

The ‘Awfulizing’ Leader

As a change-agent coach, it is common for me to come across leaders who report being told they over-react to situations. When asked if they believe the accusation, few admit they do. At first, that is. But when pressed, most admit that they do, but don’t see that as a problem. In fact, many say it helps them temper their otherwise possibly more rash impulses. This rationalisation, and what it masks is something that deserves closer scrutiny.

In the early 1950s, psychotherapist and psychologist Albert Ellis came to belief that all people have both rational and irrational tendencies.

Rational tendencies are considered self-helping and constructive. But irrational tendencies are self-defeating and unhelpful. Ellis believed that these irrational tendencies manifest when we ‘consciously and unconsciously construct emotional difficulties such as self-blame, self-pity, clinical anger, hurt, guilt, shame, depression and anxiety, and behaviors such as procrastination, compulsiveness, avoidance, addiction and withdrawal .”

I could count on one hand the number of clients I have had who did not describe a desire to change at least one of these behaviours, and I would probably have fingers left over! Why is this?

Ellis would no doubt say that this is because we all possess the irrational tendencies that spawn these self-defeating behaviours. In fact, he went further, listing common irrational beliefs most of us possess:

  • It is a dire necessity for adult humans to be loved or approved by virtually every significant other person in their lives.
  • One absolutely must be competent, adequate and achieving in all respects or else one is an inadequate, worthless person.
  • People absolutely must act considerately and fairly and they are damnable villains if they do not. They are their bad acts.
  • It is awful and terrible when things are not the way one would very much like them to be.
  • Emotional disturbance is mainly externally caused and people have little or no ability to increase or decrease their dysfunctional feelings and behaviours.
  • If something is or may be dangerous or fearsome, then one should be constantly and excessively concerned about it and should keep dwelling on the possibility of it occurring.
  • One cannot and must not face life’s responsibilities and difficulties and it is easier to avoid them.
  • One must be quite dependent on others and need them and you cannot mainly run one’s own life.
  • One’s past history is an all-important determiner of one’s present behavior and because something once strongly affected one’s life, it should indefinitely have a similar effect.
  • Other people’s disturbances are horrible and one must feel upset about them.
  • There is invariably a right, precise and perfect solution to human problems and it is awful if this perfect solution is not found.
In the context of reading this post, it is easy to dismiss these as extremely irrational beliefs indeed. But look again and you will likely find at least on or two of these you have held at some point in your life, possibly weekly. And this is not an exhaustive list.

Indeed it is quite common in that a second or two after experiencing something less than a desired outcome or consequence, that one leaps to an irrational reaction. Most times we quickly rebound, talk ourselves down after the initial disappointment and then set ourselves to the task of overcoming the perceived set back. But sometimes we don’t bounce back.

The catastrophising leader can go from eager optimism to feelings of imminent doom in the blink of an eye. And it doesn’t stop there. Next stop on the catastrophising train is swings in mood and corresponding knee-jerk swings in direction and command. Then comes the blaming. In short, subordinates end up on an exhausting rollercoaster that never seems to find level track. Things are always euphoric or catastrophic. the catastrophising leader is incredibly efficient when ti comes to alienating and burning out staff. In fact, turnover and 360 degree assessments are often the quickest way to spot such leaders.

So what is to be done with the catastrophising leader?

At the core of REBT is the acceptance of cognition, emotion and behaviour as inexorably interwoven. In the eyes of an REBT practitioner, there is not one without the other. We perceive something, which triggers emotions, which in turn trigger behaviours. So the REBT process is one with training that focuses on each element — cognition, emotion, and behaviour.

It is critical that all are addressed. It is critical that we understand that our cognition is often not as accurate as we think. And our emotional reaction to our perceptions, whether accurate or not, are also often without a logical basis, and finally, that our behaviours, triggered by inaccurate perceptions and/or inappropriate emotional reactions, are also far from rational.

The REBT process is a directive process. Think of it not so much as a traditional, reflective therapy, but more like a kind of training, or retraining. It is a step by step process of unlearning old habits that are no longer appropriate or helpful, and and learning new was of perceiving, feeling, and behaving that is more appropriate, more helpful.

This is not an open-ended therapy where the goal is to achieve relief through recognition. This is concrete change in behaviour through training. It starts with cognition — really understanding yourself and the world around you. Then it continues with understanding how you feel about the world around you and why, which gives you deeper self awareness. Then, finally, you learn about how these perceptions and feelings can influence you behaviours. We work backward at first, identifying behaviours you may seek to change and tracing them back to the cognitive roots that lead to them. We then end by picking out perceptions you feel have been inaccurate, corresponding feelings that were inappropriate, and the behaviours drove. It is then we can see how a chain of change in how you see the outer world, the inner world, and how you put the two together in the form of new, more helpful behaviours.

If you decide to embark on a course of REBT I can guarantee that you will spend no time on a couch. It will be more like active study, organising observations, giving them context, and then making concrete plans for how to identify them and executing new behaviours to break old chains and create new ones. Another thing I will guarantee is that you will not leave the last session the same as when you began the first.

Curious? Give me a call.

That Damned Pendulum

It has often been said that when things are going well we cannot imagine a time when things will go badly. Likewise, when things are going badly, we cannot imagine them going well again. I think we all have seen evidence of this. How many people, when times are good, stack away reserves, saving for a rainy day? And how many people, when times are tough, see that as the time to push the boat out, take a chance, and embrace change? Instead, when times are good we celebrate and when times are bad we circle the wagons and burn the furniture.

It is easy to forget that when all boats are rising, so too are the cost of boats. It is also easy to forget that opportunity costs are often much lower in down economies. Down economies are often the very best time to test business ideas that have been ruminating during the good times but never acted upon because time was such a scarce resource. As sure as the sun rises in the morning, so too the economic pendulum will eventually swing the other way. But instead of allowing a down economy to stifle your growth, use it to accelerate it. Our frustration is poorly aimed if we just focus on the fact that the pendulum exists as there is nothing we can do about that. Our frustration is also poorly aimed if we focus just on when the pendulum might swing next — again, it is not something we can easily influence, but keeping an eye on this is smart. Our focus will always be best employed in thinking about how we can best use the current pendulum state to our best advantage. And every pendulum state offers opportunity.

How to Avoid DIY and Anything Else

So now you have some idea of what I mean by life’s hammer. More than likely you have already experienced it. To reiterate, it is not just what we might call catastrophic loss (but it could be). It could be any setback in life. But what really defines life’s hammer is how you react to the setback. So, it’s not the setback itself that gives the hammer its power of impact — it is how we perceive the setback that gives it the power. let me explain…

I consider myself pretty capable when doing DIY projects, but like may people, I procrastinate doing them. I’ve struggled to know exactly why because I so appreciate a job well done. But the answer is in that last sentence. You see, without knowing it, I am setting myself up for the blow of life’s hammer each and every time I undertake a DIY job, even before I get started! I watch the YouTube videos and read the online posts to prepare myself for whatever the job is. So I have an image in my mind of how I expect the job to proceed. I know what tools and bits and pieces I will need to do the job. And I visualise what the outcome should be. So expectations are running high before I even get started.

And then I begin…
First, I don’t have all the right parts but think I can substitute something I do have or can modify something or riff on the original plan in some way. This seldom works out well. Then I find I do not have the right tools for the job so I try using other tools to fill in the gaps, or fashion something out of a coat hanger etc. Then I start injuring myself and then I break or damage something. Then I manage to get the job completed but it doesn’t look anything like what it did in the YouTube video. At each step of the way I am getting more and more frustrated at the job, the tools, the pieces, the weather, myself. I step back at the end and am relieved the job is over and disappointed in the result and in myself. I have failed to meet my own standard. This sequence happens every. single. time. Well, it used to.

As a coach I should know better. This is classic territory for rational emotive behavioural therapy (REBT). The core tenet here is that it is not the stimulus event that is the problem, it is how we perceive and respond to the problem. We can, as in my DIY example, have irrational beliefs about how things in life should go. These irrational beliefs create irrational expectations which then create self-defeating thoughts and behaviours. Self defeating thoughts can lead to all sorts of issues from procrastination to full-on depression. While this may all sound a bit daunting, there is good news in this — it can be fixed!

The most common symptom of avoidance is procrastination — be easiest way to avoid doing something is to avoid doing pretty much anything or everything. Why take a risk doing something that might end up in catastrophe when you can simply not do the something in the first place. It is not a stretch from that to not doing much of anything just in case anything might end in catastrophe too. One of the most effective ways of addressing the root cause of chronic avoidance, including procrastination, is to engage in some form of REBT within a relational coaching scenario. We’ll talk about that soon…

Other Development Options

In-house development professionals

They can help you to decide whether to use a coach or whether there is an alternative development approach e.g. executive development programme. They can also help you to think through your goals so that you are better prepared for meeting and choosing a coach.

Employee Assistance Programmes

These confidential employee assistance services provide professional and confidential support where situations at work or at home are making it difficult for you to cope or perform effectively.

Occupational Health Services

These professionals will see people quickly and confidentially, they are experienced in dealing with stress and illness at work.

Other development options

Coaching is a great approach to development where the development goal is particular to you and the means of achieving it is within your control. The assumption in coaching is that you have the basic knowledge, but need support to bring your learning effectively into your performance at work.

Where your development goal requires further knowledge, it may be more appropriate to seek training or learning through internal or external programmes.

Sometimes the development goal is dependent on team or relationship performance – where this is the case it may be more appropriate to work with a facilitator or Organisational Development consultant who can work with both you and the group / team members to achieve their potential.

Pre-Coaching Considerations

Clear Purpose

The most effective coaching takes place when we are both clear about the change you are seeking. This may be straightforward, e.g.

  • Demonstrating a particular leadership competence in the workplace
  • Helping to create an effective personal plan for transition into a new role
  • Preparing for a significant career event
  • Guidance and support as you deal with a complex team situation

It may be that the purpose is less tangible and is around building your confidence and commitment e.g.

  • Guiding you as you learn how to deal with complex or difficult political/relationship issues
  • Coaching you to overcome a limiting behaviour that is impacting your performance and how you are perceived at work
  • Supporting you as you resolve career and personal work-life conflicts.

Measurable goals 

Whatever the intention of the coaching, you should be able to articulate the outcomes of working with me in measurable goals. The goals may be fairly tangible and have measures attached, They may also be more behavioural where your goals describe what would do differently: What would you be doing, saying, hearing and feeling that would be different from how it is now?

Way of Working

I work in a number of ways and bring a wide range of professional skills and experiences. It is important for you to think about what you want and don’t want from the way we work together. Some questions you might ask are:

  • What is your coaching approach?
  • How long have you been coaching, and what kind of clients/situations do you normally undertake?
  • Describe how you coach someone – how did you work with them, and what were the outcomes?
  • What situations and issues don’t you undertake?