When was the last time you indulged in a moment of pure silence? On your own in the shower or out for a run? Everything paused; the to-do list, “should have done” and “must dos” faded into the background. Your internal chatter diminished and waves of silence washed over you uninterrupted by mobile phone notifications, nagging thoughts or any other typical incessant background noise of 21st century living.
Our daily lives are an endless cacophony of sound as noise assaults our senses. Cities are full of the ever-present hum of background traffic, screaming children, ringing phones, the latest episode of “The Great British Bake-Off” blaring through from your neighbours’ apartment. Adriana, creator of the “Huffington Post” and “Thrive” believes “we’re wired, plugged in, constantly catered to, and increasingly terrified of silence, unaware of what it has to offer” (Huffington, 2014, 188). We’ve become accustomed to clatter and find a strange comfort or I’d suggest distraction from ourselves in the sounds tugging at our attention.
The flow of our everyday conversation perpetuates this din through a permanent flow of words. Our constant transmission overlooks the prime motivator behind verbal interactions – to exchange ideas, share information and seek to understand. Western culture reinforces this phenomenon as silence is generally associated with negative values, beliefs or assumptions. Silence correlates to a stereotypical lack of interest, unwillingness to communicate, rejection, interpersonal incompatibility, shyness (Davidson, 2009) or insufficient knowledge. These perceptions combined with our noisy world mean it’s almost impossible to hunt out a moment of peace and quiet. The deeper role of silence as a means of communication has largely been ignored (ibid.) and definitely warrants consideration in coaching and everyday conversations.
Additionally, patterns of dialogue vary across the world and the Western cultures specialise in a form of verbal tennis. Words morph into tennis balls; batted backwards and forwards across a net with a chronic failure to notice or register the actual word, hidden meanings, veiled emotions or insinuations. This links back to the classic 1960s song “The Sound of Silence” where Garfunkel describes the lyrics deeper meaning to illustrate “the inability of people to communicate with each other, not particularly intentionally but especially emotionally” (Eliot, 2010). The deeper value, connection and understanding is concealed within the noise and found in the spaces between words, brief sentence gaps and pauses in-between. The Sound of Silence.
Within the professional coaching realm, the International Coach Federation core competencies are a practical framework to consider skills, knowledge and ethics. Many key competencies can be transposed across into the business world and everyday life to support the highly sought-after talent of “effective communication” or “active listening”. Silence underpins these skills to provide a moment in time to reflect, connect and provide balance to the words. Mocci and Penna elaborate further that “silence is used to underline, to increase the communicative value, both in a positive or negative sense, of a content already defined by the relationship, for instance affection, friendship, feeling of dissatisfaction, that silence shapes”. (2009, p.5). A coach (or indeed considerate conversationalist!) creates sufficient space for equal or more communication time (International Coach Federation, 2012). This incorporation of silence into conversations can initially feel disjointed, uncomfortable and alien; as one of my recent coaching clients explains further:
“The silence and space given to me, as the client, to do the heavy lifting was uncomfortable for me at first. However, that is where the meaningful and life changing awareness sprung forth. I felt supported and believed in all along the way which empowered me”. Brenda, Charity Sector
Grant yourself the luxury of silence to still your mind and open your ears. Welcome this time and space into your day and give your small, still voice hidden deep inside permission to vocalise their thoughts.
Gift your conversational partner a moment to simply finish their sentence. Simply hold the space and allow the opportunity for further reflection or consideration. Enjoy the moment and avoid the temptation to prematurely jump in to fill the gap.
Simon, P. (1964). The Sound of Silence. Columbia Studios, New York City, US.
About Anna-Marie Watson
Anna-Marie is a Performance Coach with a serious passion for the outdoors who loves to head outside for walking and talking conversations with her clients. She is an accredited Analytic-Network (http://www.analyticnetwork.com) and mBraining (http://www.mbraining.com) coach and certified in eDISC and iWAM psychometric profile tools. Anna-Marie is one of the co-leaders for the International Coach Federation Executive and Leadership Community of Practice (https://www.coachfederation.org/members/).
Former British Army Officer, Anna-Marie has been at the forefront of leadership and professional development for over 16 years working with high performing individuals and teams often in challenging environments; from the Norwegian snowy Arctic tundra to sandy deserts of Central Asia. Anna-Marie is also an elite ultra-runner placing 2nd lady in the “toughest footrace on earth” the Marathon des Sables in 2015. Learn more at www.rfmcoaching.com
“The thing I’d most like to change about myself is my impatience. I don’t like being so impatient but I’ve always been this way”. Those were the words a coachee said to me a few years ago as an explanation for why she wanted coaching. When I heard her I was puzzled because I didn’t have the impression she was especially impatient. She seemed confused when I asked her how she knew that what she was feeling was impatience but told me that is what her parents always called it.
Next, she told me the context that went with their statement. She was the oldest of 4 or 5 children, outgoing, energetic, curious and when she would suggest an activity more than once to her parents their answer was to tell her to “stop being so impatient”. When I asked her if the energy she was feeling and labeling impatience might be some other emotion she came up with several: Excitement, enthusiasm, anticipation, exuberance, joy.
As she considered the meaning of each emotion and the way it felt she realized that although she did experience impatience a small percentage of the time mostly she was experiencing one of the other emotions. For her this made an enormous difference. For almost 40 years she had been calling several different emotions by one name. By doing that she could not differentiate and appreciate the other emotions. Furthermore, her interpretation of impatience was negative and so her self-image had suffered. Once she embraced that she was experiencing enthusiasm, exuberance and joy her self-image shifted considerably.
If you reflect on that scene you’ll realize that we learn many things in this way, through things our parents say, and emotions are one of them. But what if the name your parents are using for an emotion is inaccurate? What if you heard and learned something they weren’t trying to teach you? This type of coaching situation is why I find Emotional Literacy so valuable. If we understand that each emotion is offering us unique information and has a purpose we can begin to befriend and rely on them. We explore them non-judgmentally. If we know that we have a choice between reacting and responding when we feel an emotion they become effective tools.
So where do we start with Emotional Literacy?
Curiously, if you look for a universal definition of what an emotion is you won’t find it. If you look for a single comprehensive list of emotions you won’t find that either. So, to use emotions in this way we need a new understanding of what they are and have the ability to explain them to our coachees. Emotions, for me, are simply “the energy that moves us”. If you think about the “feelings” your body experiences you will notice that each moves you in a different way. The energy of laziness prompts you to rest on the sofa or go to the beach to lay in the sand while the energy of ambition focuses you on taking advantage of possibilities. Jealousy moves you to protect or hold on to someone you care about while joy urges you to celebrate. Although there is no universal list of emotions I work with about 250. This is an enormous range considering that most of us can only identify and articulate 10 or 15.
Emotions each have a unique message or information for us as well. Sadness tells us “we’ve lost something we care about” while envy tells us “we’d like to have something someone else has”. Anger tells us what is unjust and trust tells us we are not taking excessive risk interacting with someone. We can deconstruct every emotion into three parts: 1. The story or information it is offering us, 2. The impulse or reaction and 3. Its purpose or the reason it exists. After 18 years of coaching I find emotions to be one of the most useful and quickest ways to work with coachees.
What are the steps to Emotional Literacy?
To get started there are 3: 1) Listening non-judgmentally to your emotions which, of course, requires you noticing them first, 2) Reflecting on what those emotions are trying to communicate or inform you of and 3) Articulating the story, impulse and purpose of the emotions. Later you’ll be able to connect or group various emotions but the first and most fundamental step is beginning to identify, name and articulate them.
1) Listening: One thing you may notice when you begin listening to your emotions is that you have assessments or judgments about them. Fear, anger and jealous are “bad” emotions while loyalty, love and compassion are “good” emotions. This is not a very helpful way to think about emotions because we generally try to avoid the “bad” ones and experience more of the “good” ones. In this interpretation “emotions are just emotions”. Each one can help us or can get in our way. Without fear we would not survive because we wouldn’t recognize danger but it can also immobilize us so that we are unable to act. So, learning to listen non-judgmentally to the emotions you are experiencing is an important first step.
2) Reflecting: It isn’t always immediately apparent to us why we are feeling the emotion we are. Reflection can help us consider what message the emotion is trying to deliver. Emotions trigger reactions – fear to run away, loyalty to defend, etc. – but that isn’t always the most beneficial thing we can do. Learning to choose our response can sometimes be more effective in the long run. This requires reflection.
3) Articulating: Earlier I said that there are not universal definitions for emotions. This means that they are interpretations and the way I explain love, doubt or envy will be different than the way you do. What is most important is that we have our own clear articulation and that we agree on the interpretation we use in our conversations. When we are coaching, it is vital that the coach and coachee share the same understanding of the emotion they are working with otherwise they are not talking about the same thing.
Once you, the coach, have begun to build your own emotional literacy you can offer it to your coachees. You don’t need to have clarity on all 250 emotions to begin working with them. If you have 10 you are clear on you can begin with those and build your vocabulary from there. Even those 10 are likely to give you a greater range than most of your coachees.
Since emotions are “the energy that move us” they are at the heart and foundation of everything we do and every choice we make. If we want to help our coachees see new possibilities and choose different actions they are a logical place to start.
To take a step forward sign up for a Free Introductory Course on Emotional Literacy at www.studyemotions.com. I welcome your insights, learning and feedback.
About Dan Newby
Dan Newby trains and mentors coaches, works with organizations to elevate their emotional literacy, facilitates emotions workshops and is co -author of “The Unopened Gift: A Primer in Emotional Literacy” available on Amazon and Kindle. He lives near Barcelona, Spain and work worldwide with individuals and organizations. He offers on-line training courses in Coaching & Emotions through www.studyemotions.com. If you’d like to contact him directly his email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
So for those who have been following for a while you’ll have noticed that there hasn’t been any posts for some time. For a bit I wasn’t certain if I would keep the blog going because of practical logistical reasons.
I have an eye condition that when it flares up means that they get really, really sensitive to any light and one of the impacts this has is that it makes any computer/screen use impossible. (I know people can be squeamish about eye issue descriptions so don’t worry I’m not going to go into medical details.)
Earlier this year I had one of the worst and pre-longed flare ups I’ve experienced, and it took a lot longer for me to get back to a regular routine and back to full computer use. Previous attacks had only kept me off doing any computer work for a handful of days and I had plans in place for that – now I had to figure out if I could still run the blog in a way I wanted if I was literally out of action for much longer.
Having put some thought into it I’ve now put many things in place that hopefully that I won’t need to use but if I do will keep the blog ticking over without my sight being needed. I’m not promising that it will never go dark again – I don’t have the power to definitely foresee the future all I can say is that in theory it’s less likely to be impacted.
What does this all mean for you, the reader? I hope it will mean that you will start to see posts again that will be of interest to coaches. Guest posts will be starting again on Friday and I already have some TED talks I’ve spotted to share – I’ll post the first one later today, but I’m aware there’ll be stuff I’ve missed so what would you like to see and share?
What TED and TEDx talks have you seen recently that you think would appeal to other coaches?
Have you an idea for a guest post that you think would be perfect for an audience of coaches?
There are so many aspects to take into consideration when starting and running your own business; it can be overwhelming. Many coaches start out as typical solopreneurs – doing everything themselves – and some are missing out on their potential for growth, prosperity, and success by remaining in this limiting structure.
In a hypothetical situation, if you had to apply and interview yourself for the CEO role of your coaching practice, what characteristics would you be looking for?
Now, let’s pause for a moment to include here, that when brainstorming these characteristics, you need to take away any and all filters. There are no limitations here, so let your mind come up with the absolute ideal candidate for this role.
Go ahead, grab a paper and pen and jot down the most important characteristics that you would be looking for in this person.
When I do this activity, some of the characteristics and skills that come to mind for me are:
Ability to focus
Creativity and flexibility in overcoming challenge
Solid foundational understanding of business planning and finances including cash flow forecasting and budgeting
Ability to sell and close deals
Strategic business growth strategies including scalability
Strong sense of integrit
Trustworthiness, ethical behavior and clear value
Hunger for continual improvement
Strong leadership and ability to provide clear direction
Project management and planning for goal achievement
Ability to assess the value of opportunities
Zone of genius (whatever the superpower is that you sell to your clients)
There are more, but this is a good start. The point of this exercise is to highlight the following two insights:
As the CEO of the company, you’re not spending your time with low-level administration.
As the CEO of the company, you ARE spending your time on the things that no one else can decide or do for you,
a. Giving the tone and direction of the company
b. Big picture planning on where you want to take the company
If you take a moment to assess, what you are currently spending your time on in our business, what kinds of activities ARE you doing?
Be honest. Are these activities driving your revenues?
Are you spending your time in Canva trying to create your logo?
Are you spending hours trying to figure out some cloud-based technology that you’re not familiar with yet (such as creating your landing page)?
Are you following up with clients who had a declined payment because their credit card expired?
If the answer is yes, then I highly suggest you tune in here.
Keep reading for my top five tips to ensure you are running your business like a boss.
As a successful coach and CEO of your business, your own time is worth too much to be spending on tasks that don’t bring in money. You need to be focussing your own time only on the things that only you can do, and that bring in a high return on your time investment.
If you’re just starting out, you might think you can’t afford to hire someone to help. How can you delegate things to someone if you can’t even pay yourself? Well, for starters, you can sell something you already own. Go through your house, see what you can part with, and sell it on Craigslist, a local Facebook Buy and Sell group, have a garage sale, post it for sale on your local pinboards and even just broadcast it out to people you know. You can surely sell at least a few things that can bring in some money to give your cash flow a boost.
Failing that, jot down any other services you could provide for money, that would bring in more than it would cost you to hire an assistant. If you can easily provide guitar lessons for $50 / hour, and an assistant might cost you $20 / hour. Sell a few hours of guitar lessons and then use that money to buy over twice the amount of time from someone else who is efficient with your lower level business related tasks, to help get you started.
If you absolutely can’t afford to hire out these types of tasks, then try to follow this strategy: Work in your zone of genius as much as possible and continually try to increase the ratio of time spent on money-making tasks to non-money-making tasks as time goes on. Your ultimate goal should be spending 98% of your time doing only money-making, high-level work, and contracting out or having staff do absolutely everything else.
If you have enough cash flow and are already earning a steady income from your coaching practice, then brainstorm any tasks that you are currently doing that are time-consuming and could easily be handed off to an assistant. Then once you’ve delegated them, use the time you have freed up in your schedule for money making activities, such as booking more discovery calls or creating more content.
2. Get your head in the game
As CEO of your coaching practice, you need to be mentally in the game if you want to be successful. What does this entail? You’re a coach, so you’re probably already familiar with the whole idea of having a growth mindset. But do you always practice what you preach? Do you have what it takes to build up your mental toughness?
Mental toughness is the ability to be resilient and maintain confidence in your abilities. In an article from September 17, 2010, on Forbes written by Christine M. Riordan titled Six Elements of Mental Toughness, she explains that being a successful athlete isn’t solely a result of skill, knowledge, or ability. Success partially stems from having mental toughness.
Mental toughness is the ability to handle stress, recover quickly from setbacks, adapt and create strategies to overcome unforeseen hurdles, handle competition, and to have the courage to make the hard decisions to uphold your integrity, values, and ethics.
This need for the mental resilience doesn’t just apply to athletes – it’s universal and applies to everyone who is working on growing a business.
Do you ever find you’re allowing yourself to be dragged down because you’re comparing yourself to others (even other people you have never met before)? Stop doing this immediately. Nothing good will come from comparing yourself to someone else’s success unless you are celebrating it with them and looking at it as a case study from which you want to learn.
Keep your attention focussed on the next steps that will move you towards your own success and take continued and steady action towards achieving your own goals.
3. Persevere, persevere, persevere
Don’t let setbacks deter you from moving forward. Use your failures as learning opportunities. Do better next time. The law of averages dictates that eventually, you will fail at something. But don’t let it determine your self-worth or sway you from steering straight ahead towards your goals. Each mini failure is just a part of your journey. As CEO it is your job to dust yourself off, make any minor adjustments to your plan as you need to get back on course, and then keep moving forward.
4. Generate multiple streams of income
When operating as CEO of your coaching practice, it can be very limiting if you put all your eggs in one basket – one stream of income. Taking on clients solely in a 1-on-1 setting will ultimately limit your income earning potential because you can only take on so many clients every month. Time is your limiting factor.
Even if you’re operating in your zone of genius, spending your time solely on the money-making tasks that only you can do, if you’re exchanging your time as your sole offering, you effectively cap your income. You can realistically only raise your rates so much, depending on what the market will bear.
A more well-rounded business model will ensure that you aren’t relying on only one income stream. If you can fill out your services to offer products or services that are scalable, you can grow your reach, increase your impact, help more people, and do it all with less time.
Scalable business models include products and services that generate income, even when you’re not actively working directly with a single client. These passive income streams could include
Group coaching (online or in person
An information product or mini-course
Take the core principles that you go through while working with your 1-on-1 clients and package them up into a self-study course that your clients can buy and work through on their own time)
Affiliate sales or referrals
If you know of someone who offers high-quality coaching, mentoring or training in a very specific specialty niche and your clients could benefit from working with them, you could earn money through affiliate sales of their products/services or referral fees. Of course, I only recommend this if you truly stand behind the quality of their offering and have your clients’ best interests in mind.
Once you have these various income sources mapped out, you can design your business plan to reflect the various streams. You can stack them up, boost the value of one offering by including one of the others as a bonus ultimately increasing the earning potential per client while adding incredible value.
5. Create clear and concise goals and a plan to get you there
If you want to run your business like a professional, invest the time in creating a full business plan. You can’t know what direction you’re going in if you don’t have a clearly defined vision for your business.
Even if you aren’t running a brick and mortar, traditional style business, the value in having a thorough business plan in place is very high. As CEO of your company, you want to have a strong vision for the business. You need direction. You want to set the tone for all actions and decisions that you make as a business owner.
Every major decision you make should be supporting this bigger vision. You should gear your marketing, branding, growth, and sales strategies towards moving you closer towards your goals and keeping you in line with your company’s purpose, vision, and mission. Every investment (monetary or otherwise) has a clear purpose. Every product, service or other sources of revenue should be in line with the customer experience you envision for your business.
As your business grows and evolves, you need to review this plan (annually at least) and make any adjustments as required. It might seem tedious at times, but the time you invest in creating your business plan and reviewing it on a regular basis, the higher your chances are of achieving the things you set out to attain.
About Alison Beierlein
Alison Beierlein has international training and experience and over a decade of experience in business management. She coaches female entrepreneurs in the areas of leadership, empowerment, confidence, business growth, and self-development. Her goal is to empower women to uncover their larger purpose and design clear strategies to help them achieve their full potential.
In January, 2017, Alison is launching her own show called the License to Receive Podcast where she interviews thought leaders and presents case studies in the areas of abundance, self-improvement, career development, marketing, and entrepreneurship.
After tragically losing her father, Alison has begun raising awareness about mental health and donates a portion of her coaching revenue to the Canadian Mental Health Association and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
This week’s TED Talk clip is from an independent TEDx event: The success formula to drive extraordinary change | Frederique Murphy | TEDxTallaght
Ever felt like a change but not sure how to drive it? In this raw, personal and passionate talk, mindset strategist Frederique Murphy shares with you how, at the worst time of her life, she stumbled upon a success formula that led her to extraordinary change. She uses science to help you create a winning neural pathway in your brain, so that you too can hit the jackpot!
Clip length: 9 mins 17 secs
Prefer to watch via YouTube? In that case you’ll need to click here.
Frederique has been a regular guest poster here on this blog for many years. To read some of her previous guest posts click here