Tuesday 15 June 2010

Sometimes, Before you Fly, you Have to Jump

I wrote this to a client this morning. I thought I;d BLOG it (I've changed the names) to give you some insight into how my clients are changing their lives. It's not easy sometimes, but it's ALWAYS possible.

Hi James,

You've managed to do a big and difficult thing. All the more difficult because a large factor in your decision was your own life journey and what you want from it. "Selfish" has become a dirty word in our society, but that's just wrong. In a world where we all live once then die, NOT to be selfish is to deny control, responsibility, and potential - to turn your back on what might be.

You're right - Julie's improvement is a response to your actions. In life, we tend to settle into stable states (stable in the engineering sense - it doesn't imply "good"), and it often tales quite large forces to de-stabilise the other components enough to get change. After the change, a new stable state develops (there may be some cascade changes along the way). That's another formulation of my favourite "Keep doing what you've always done, and you'll keep getting what you've always got", which I keep coming back to as a fundamental truth for us all.

You did something very different, and it took a lot of courage.

What happens now will be interesting and could very well be wonderful in ways that surprise all concerned. I hope so. I know you'll be watching closely, trying to steer a good course between the icebergs.

Take Care, do feel free to write from time to time if it's useful to you.


Friday 11 June 2010

More About Coaching

Life's challenges can be formidable - and that's fundamentally because of our minds.

The human mind is really a collision of two brains. Briefly, our higher brain is able to think rationally whilst our lower brain mediates intuition and is the seat of our emotions. When you understand that these two often conflict, and that the lower brain is generally in charge, then much of the human condition becomes more clear.

Let me show you:
  • You know you could do a bigger ,better job,. But you fear the devil you don't know, you're risk averse, and you have this irrational feeling that you're a fraud waiting to be found out.
  • You want to find your life partner, and you know they're unlikely to knock on your door on bended knee out of the blue. But you find the prospect of doing what's necessary to cross their path out there in the world daunting, and you're telling yourself convenient lies (I live in the wrong area/they're all weirdoes) to justified continued inaction.
  • You desperately want to be an author, but the prospect of sitting down and doing all that writing is desperately grim!
  • You meet almost any difficult situation by emphasising how miserable it is to anyone who'll listen, but the prospect of analysing it rationally, then designing and implementing a plan to fix it seems oddly inappropriate.
  • Diets, gym memberships, and shiny new things look like answers, but they seldom are, and we're content to fail to learn this lesson over the course of a lifetime, as our crammed garages will testify.
  • And wherever you go in the world - there you are - the same set of parts, doing the same set of things, whilst wishing things were different.
Am I depressing you?

I don't mean to, but I was never a happy clappy life kind of coach. I believe it's important to see things as they really are. That reality is the solid foundation on which we can build your new future. If we tried to build on anything else, it would collapse before very long.

My clients are not fearless cliff-jumpers with perfect teeth, iron wills, and washboard stomachs, they're people like you and me. And my job as your coach is to help you succeed - given who you really are - not who you can pretend to be for short optimistic interludes.

Only then do we start to get traction. Only then can you look forward to permanent positive change.

How do we do that?

Well, it depends on who you are, where you are, and where you want to go. Over the years, building on my training, I've grown a large box of techniques (or "low tricks" as I sometimes refer to them) to facilitate real-world/real-people change. But here is a flavour of what I'll be bringing to the table when I help you change your life:
I gained distinctions in theory and practice of coaching from Europe's largest training organisation - The Coaching Academy. I've also taught leadership coaching for them. I completely understand the coaching process and it's application in the real world.

I've had a real job! I was a manager in blue-chip multi-nationals for 17 years, where I learned a lot about people and personal effectiveness, people in teams, the growing of healthy corporate cultures, leadership, and the management of projects large and small, change management, building and maintaining strategies, budgets and so on. I use this expertise to help my executive clients and those who aspire to executive status.

I spent about four years as a freelance lecturer at my local college and I've been a private tutor to young people. They taught me a lot about helping people who may be stressed and feeling down on themselves to think more clearly and motivate themselves to do well.

Since qualifying in January of 2004, I've grown my coaching practice. I've coaching many hundreds of clients and learned a huge amount along the way. I DO THIS A LOT! This uniquely privileged perspective alone, is a huge asset which I can bring to bear on our work together in the service of your goals.

I'm an old bloke - well 50. I've lived a bit, so I know how it really goes - some of it just plain ugly. Life can be very difficult. I won't be trotting out any platitudes or candy coating. But I may well be showing you how my own broken life has been mended with the techniques we'll be using. Nothing too heavy - you'll be my guide!

Our sessions will be relaxed, friendly, and usually fun. I need to in a resourceful state, and that means as free of stress and fear as possible. I use humour quite a lot to accomplish this; by re-framing your challenges I can loosen the grip of stress and fear, by sharing my personal experiences, I can show you you're not alone and you're not any worse than others.

Together we use our intellects to analyse your situation and how you'd like to change it. We'll develop a strategy which, usually, you'll implement between sessions. I'm here to help you, but you're in charge. I'll need to work within the parameters you set. We might haggle!

Our sessions will explore how things went, and why. I'll be listening carefully for your hidden beliefs and fears. If it's appropriate I'll help you to see them more clearly, to analyse them with your higher brain, and to dissolve them in a solution of reason, freeing you up to make further progress.

Mostly, I'm a CBT coach - I use our intellects to understand your behaviour and the lower brain stuff that drives it, and we'll develop strategies based on that understanding. I may also use reflective exercises, some NLP techniques, mind-mapping, meditation, force field analysis, and other bits and pieces.
Well, I hope I've given you an insight into how I can help you.

More to Learn

You can find a great deal more, including self-help articles, free newsletters online quizzes and more at my website (http://www.uklifecoaching.org/index.htm).
There's also my real-lie coaching BLOG (http://real-life-coaching.blogspot.com/)
my working life BLOG (http://success-at-work.blogspot.com/)
my Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Chris-Wesley-Coaching-Consulting/8967250732)
and my Twitter feed (http://twitter.com/Chris_Wesley).

Friday 4 June 2010

Carpe Diem

Recently, I've been doing a lot of "carping" (zeizing) my "diems" (days) as the sunny weather has shown up for what might be a fleeting moment, and this has lead me to make new connections in my thinking and my philosophy of life.

I do a lot of work with people on time management, and we look at priorities, and try to align how we spend time with what we want to get done. This is another kind of seizing the day - in that we seize it by the throat and meld it to our own wills. That certainly has its place in fending off the default drudge which would otherwise confiscate every waking moment.

I also work a lot with people who "SHOULD all over themselves" - they are stuck in what ought to be and not in what actually IS.

This distortion serves to divert attention from the "make things better" paradigm to the "lament why things are all wrong" paradigm".

Are these strategies in opposition? Well - yes and no. Choosing the right strategy comes down to being awake and alert. Most of us spend much of the time semi-conscious - our auto-pilot is saving us the bother of living through the drudge of working, eating, driving, and so on (more on that here), but this severely limits our opportunities for choice-making in the here-and-now.

In a place where we may get ten decent sunny days in a year, making the most of one of them can be more important than what you were planning to do today. (You DID have a plan, right? Of course you do, and I'm sure it's carefully aligned with your life goals too).

In a world where health is fragile and life is fleeting, where friends are important, where the life plan our society imprints on us is dubious at best, where crystal balls don't work, being awake, being flexible and keeping a keen eye on what's important seems smart.

So the "solid strategy" view might not be the best one in all cases. Think instead of a sea. Sometimes calm, but often not - waves, tides, winds, storms, passing ships, the odd man-eating shark, some sun, the odd sandy beach.

What I'm saying is - try for this.

See what really is,
See what you really want,
Be open, agile, creative & determined to
Stitch the two together

In other words, Carpe Diem!