Power Listening to God and Others

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Power Listening: The Secret to Successful Conversations

I only wish I could find an institute that teaches people how to listen. Business people need to listen at least as much as they need to talk. Too many people fail to realize that real communication goes in both directions. ~ Lee Iacocca

Listening may be the most important, yet least developed, skill for personal and professional success, especially in today’s fast-paced business climate.

To be honest, most of us take listening for granted. In fact, our brains love to try to multi-task: we assume we know what the person's going to say, so we let our minds wander, at the same time filtering it for similar experiences we've had, all the while formulating a response.

The problem is that while we are doing all that, we're not listening well, and we often risk subtle clues to important issues. This tendency to multi-task is almost universal. I see it with many of the clients I work with www.moleadershipcoaching.com

Good listening skills can help you:

·       Facilitate the right alliances

·       Foster sales and team alignment

·       Create healthy personal relationships

·       Find out what you don’t know

·       Make the right decisions

·       Develop innovative ideas

So many people I know, instead of actively listening, focus instead on how they are going to articulate their own views most effectively. This approach is misguided.

"Power listening—the art of probing and challenging the information garnered from others to improve its quality and quantity—is the key to building a knowledge base that generates fresh insights," according to author Bernard T. Ferrari in his book, Power Listening: Mastering the Most Critical Business Skill of All (Portfolio Hardcover, 2012).

Unfortunately, business schools fail to teach power listening. Of the nearly 300 communications courses the American Management Association offers, only two deal directly with listening skills. Professionals must nonetheless write and speak more persuasively, so it’s essential to improve one’s listening capabilities.

Listening to someone is a direct way to show you care and value that person. You are giving your time, your attention, your self. This is HUGE and the person talking knows when they are truly listened to well.

As you expand your capacity to listen well, you will find that the same skill can be applied when you listen to God. You learn to quiet your thinking. You seek to hear everything. You learn to hear the voice of the God who made you.

One of the more effective ways to improve your listening skills is to work one-on-one with an executive coach or a spiritual director.  As you can imagine, learning about it in a book won't give you the real-world practice you'll need to develop your power listening skills.

Suggested possible image, from Wikipedia page on Active Listening:

Listening - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Active_listening

Take a couple minutes each day to stop and listen to God. Try to be intentional about listening with other. Taking regular pause inside and ask yourself if you are really listening. As a coach (www.moleadershipcoaching.com) I work in this area regularly and find leaders make great progress quickly when they decide to work on the skill of listening.

What are you doing to pay attention to this key skill of listening?

I’d love to hear from you I can be reached here marc@moleadershipcoaching.com and on LinkedIn or text me at 714-267-2818

Here is my CALENDAR to make connecting simple

 

How to Grow Gratitude for Jesus

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I’ve been exploring the importance of feeling and expressing more gratefulness in our lives (Gratitude Post). Scientists are discovering how an attitude of gratitude is essential for health, relationships, as well as spiritual, emotional and physical wellbeing. I love it when science starts figuring out what God has proclaimed. There are 35 verses in the Bible encouraging a heart of gratitude.

But how can we grow more gratitude? Dr. Alison Chen, a naturopathic doctor, writes in a recent Huffington Post article that creating a nightly gratitude ritual is a powerful strategy. She suggests taking a few minutes at the end of each day to stop and reflect, as a great way to bring about more feelings of gratefulness in your life.

Chen’s other suggestions include:

•        Write thank-you notes: Whether in response to a gift or kind act, or simply as a show of gratitude for someone being in your life, getting into the habit of writing thank-you letters can help you express gratitude in addition to simply feeling it inside. The most powerful letter to write is to God, expressing your gratitude helps you draw closer. This process helps us to acknowledge Jesus as Lord and place ourselves properly.

•        Nonverbal actions: This includes smiles and hugs, both of which can express a wide array of messages, from encouragement and excitement to empathy and support. We do these nonverbal actions with those we can touch. Nonverbal actions with Our Lord are primarily prayer and communion. This is a discipline that impacts us greatly. Taking the time to sit in silence before the Lord in a posture of gratitude aligns us for the day and season of our life.

Expressing thanks during moments of reflection is another way to cultivate gratitude. While prayer often starts our day, reflection often is a part of the day or a way we may bring our day to a close. I often think of this as praying without ceasing. Practicing "mindfulness" means that you're actively paying attention to the moment you're in right now. You can sit quietly and focus on something that you're grateful for, such as a pleasant smell, a cool breeze, or a memory. Mindfulness of people and God creates awareness and heightens the beauty we are in. It is the concept of being present!

Perhaps the most powerful way to move into a mindfulness of gratitude is to make a declaration. Tell 3 people that you are working on developing an attitude of gratitude. Ask if you can share your journey and if they would help you. Do the same with Jesus! Share with the Lord that you want to grow your gratitude. This is a space that I am certain you will receive. The Lord says “seek” and you will find. He promises to give us the desires of our heart.

Is your heart’s desire to be more grateful?

If you want to see the touch of God spend 30 days seeking gratefulness and I guarantee you God will show up!

Take a couple minutes each day to stop and reflect. Taking regular pause is an excellent way to bring about more feelings of gratefulness in your life. Apparently, it doesn’t matter if we do this through silent meditation, or in conversation with others. I believe both is best. Make it a part of your desired growth. As a coach (www.moleadershipcoaching.com) I work in this area regularly.  

What are you doing to pay attention to this key emotion and to cultivate an attitude of gratitude? I’d love to hear from you I can be reached here marc@moleadershipcoaching.com and on LinkedIn or text me at 714-267-2818

Here is my CALENDAR to make connecting simple

Developing Gratitude with the ACTS Habit

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In my previous post (Attitude of Gratitude) I described the various benefits that cultivating an attitude of gratitude brings to our lives. But let’s explore this further. What actually is gratitude?

Robert Emmons, Ph.D., a professor of psychology and expert on gratitude, says that gratitude has two key components:

1.      An affirmation of goodness: When you feel gratitude, you affirm that you live in a benevolent world. God is good!

2.      A recognition that the source of this goodness comes from outside of yourself: You acknowledge that other people and specifically Jesus provide you with "gifts" that improve your life in some way.

According to Emmons, gratitude is "a relationship-strengthening emotion, because it requires us to see how we've been supported and affirmed by other people." That emotion is LOVE.

Gratitude and Health

One area of life that is easy to take for granted or forget to be grateful for is health – sometimes until it's too late.

We tend to take our health for granted until we're suddenly in the throes of pain or a debilitating illness... If you have good health and all your mental faculties intact, you also have the prerequisite basics for doing something about the less satisfactory situations in your life. ~ Dr. Joseph Mercola, physician and wellness expert.

Often health is a bridge back to the foundation for all thankfulness, God. It is in the losses of life that we recognize the greatest gift and the amazing gift Giver.

How to Cultivate Gratitude

First, start by cultivating gratitude for the little things, which will foster a more deep-seated sense of happiness. Like a muscle, your sense of gratitude can be strengthened with practice, each time you express it.

There is no better way to build your gratitude muscle than to start your day than with connecting with God from a position of gratitude. Using the model of ACTS is simple and powerful.

A – Adoration – Lord you are the almighty and I adore you. How many ways can you adore the Lord?

C – Confession – Lord – I present to you these areas of my life that are off course. Be specific! Recognizing that your confession connect you with the Almighty leads to…..

T – Thankfulness – Lord I am grateful for Your Forgiveness, life, relationships, nature, Your Word – add more – Write down what you are thankful for!

S – Supplication – Now is your time to ask for what you need. Lord, here is what is on my heart and where I need Your Presence.

Try the ACTS prayer discipline for ONE WEEK and see how your attitude changes and how much lighter your life becomes.

Consider creating a personal journal to share thoughts and insights with yourself, all the while helping you move through problems and come to solutions. There are now a number of digital apps that allow you to journal from anywhere at any time.

In his Beginner’s Guide to Digital Journaling, Bakari Chavanu lists his four favorite apps, including Penzu, which allows you to express your most private thoughts by providing password protection (for both your journal and individual entries).

What are you doing to pay attention to this important idea of the power of an attitude of gratitude?

I’d love to hear from you I can be reached here marc@moleadershipcoaching.com and on LinkedIn or text me at 714-267-2818

Here is my CALENDAR to make connecting simple

Do you have an attitude of Gratitude

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Do you regularly express gratitude? It turns out that an "attitude of gratitude" is not only wise for building positive relationships, but good for your health.

"If [thankfulness] were a drug, it would be the world's best-selling product with a health maintenance indication for every major organ system," Dr. P. Murali Doraiswamy, expert in brain and mind health.

There are more reasons than you think for expressing gratitude. Beside the positive effects on health, gratitude brings about an increased ability to cope with stress, anxiety, and sleep problems.

Studies have shown that gratitude can produce measurable effects on a number of systems in your body, including:

·       Mood neurotransmitters

·       Reproductive hormones

·       Blood sugar

·       Blood pressure and cardiac rhythms

·       Stress hormones

·       Inflammatory and immune systems

·       Cognitive neurotransmitters

If you take your well-being seriously, you may want to increase the frequency at which you feel and express gratitude.

The Study of Gratitude

Traditionally, psychologists have focused on understanding distress rather than positive emotions. However, with the current focus on Positive Psychology, scientists are now looking at gratitude to understand the experience of the emotion, individual differences in frequency, and the relationship between these two aspects.

Some studies have looked at the connection between spirituality and gratitude. There is a link between those who regularly attend religious services and people who experience a greater sense of gratitude in all areas of life.

So much of the Bible points readers towards gratitude in verses like:

2 Thessalonians 5:18 “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” Imagine that the will of God for all of us is to give thanks, be grateful. God’s will is for our best and our best rises when we are grounded in an attitude of gratitude.

Psalm 136:1  “This is the day the Lord has made; let’s rejoice and be glad in it!”

Researchers have also looked at the obstacles to gratitude and found self-absorption and entitlement as impediments. 

When you are preoccupied with yourself, it is easy to forget your benefits and benefactors.

With an attitude of “I deserve this,” or “you owe me,” or “life owes me,” grievances will always outnumber blessings.

According to Mark T. Mitchell, professor of political science at Patrick Henry College in Virginia:

Gratitude is born of humility, for it acknowledges the giftedness of the creation and the benevolence of a Creator. This recognition gives birth to acts marked by attention and responsibility. Ingratitude, on the other hand, is marked by hubris, which denies the gift, and this always leads to inattention, irresponsibility, and abuse.

The power of gratitude is accessible to all. Given the important link to health and wellbeing, it makes sense to increase our experience of feeling grateful.

What are you doing to pay attention to this key emotion and to cultivate an attitude of gratitude? I’d love to hear from you. Here is my CALENDAR to make connecting simple

I can be reached here marc@moleadershipcoaching.com and on LinkedIn

or text me at 714-267-2818

Here is my CALENDAR to make connecting simple

Write - then RIGHT your BELIEFS

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I’ve been writing about self-awareness, inner monologue (Reality IS Your Friend) and how we can improve our connections to others through better self-knowledge.

This next exercise builds on the previous exercise where you simply write down your inner monologue. It is a little harder because it requires you to pay attention to your beliefs and write them down. During a week or more, write down about a dozen beliefs or interpretations gathered from your self-talk.

We generally don’t notice how our minds work with beliefs. For one thing, they are embedded, we take them for granted, and we assume they are universal truths. But beliefs are a way the mind filters out information. So as not to be overwhelmed with incoming perceptions, the mind forms a mental model or a representation of reality for a purpose.

Most people confuse their perception of the environment with the actual environment, concluding they can’t change things because that’s the way things are. If we remember that our perceptions are the map and not the territory, then we realize we can be flexible in changing our beliefs and considering alternatives.

As a believer in God’s Word it is amazing how often we act in a manner that does not match what we say we believe! A classic thought that is common for many is that our work doesn’t matter to God. Often the actions of leaders in the workplace are disconnected to Jesus. Those actions overtly display character traits that are not aligned with the Christian faith. The most common are pride, greed and anger. The beliefs that may be central to this kind of thinking and acting could be WIN or INFLUENCE. Could such beliefs be more foundational for you than the beliefs of SERVANTHOOD or SACRAFICE which Jesus declares? Scary!

Unfortunately, most of us pride ourselves on quick thinking and the ability to size up people and situations, and thus we forget that our interpretation of reality is not reality.

What to Do

1.      Carry a notebook, smart phone, tablet, or recording device.

2.      When you notice a belief or interpretation of reality, write it down as best you can, a few lines at a time.

Some beliefs that you notice will annoy you and others you will defend vigorously. The idea is to raise your awareness levels, not to make judgments. Try connecting your actions to your faith. Is there alignment?

This exercise led me to explore my beliefs around independence and dependence. I had to replace my striving for independence with striving for dependence on Jesus and those around me. My actions were centered in seeking independence. I believed I could only trust myself, depend on myself. So, my actions supported those beliefs. However, God calls me into a dependent relationship with Him and others.

What are your actions and the beliefs behind them?

Reflection and Learning

Next, reflect on your beliefs.

·       What did you notice most?

·       Did you notice any trends?

·       How hard was it to be non-judgmental?

·       Can you identify the link from your actions to your beliefs? Ask a friend or work with a coach!

Our actions all stem from a core set of beliefs. Take the challenge to look at your actions and identify what beliefs they are attached to.

Many people are resistant to changing life-long beliefs and yet often discover that their beliefs are not grounded. God offers to every person the grounding and the invitation to truth and from truth we can step into the foundation to become the leader we are called to be with our teams, our families and our selves. Leading yourself well will have a huge impact on those around you and bring you peace.

“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”   Matthew 7:24-27

The journey to becoming your best and maximizing your potential is for the courageous. Find a mentor. Meet regularly. Be open to share what you are thinking and you will find you make better decisions more quickly leading to growth and freedom. If you cannot find a mentor, hire a coach. I can coach you or help you find a coach.

I can be reached here marc@moleadershipcoaching.com and on LinkedIn

or text me at 714-267-2818

I’d love to hear from you. Here is my CALENDAR to make connecting simple

Self Talk - The Journey to Your Best

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Self-Talk: What We Can Learn About Ourselves

It’s not always easy to uncover our blind spots and gain real self-awareness. One way is to write down your self-talk, recording the exact words you use. Do this several times over the course of a week, and you’ll uncover a lot about how you think and perceive your world.

The exercise is even more valuable when we learn from it. Reflect on your inner monologue.

·       What did you notice most?

·       Did you notice any trends?

·       How hard was it to be non-judgmental?

If you’re like most people, you might be surprised at the amount of negativity and critical content of your words. But here’s what’s important to know: you aren’t necessarily a negative or critical person. Everyone is negative and judgmental; that’s the way the human brain works.

God encourages us to capture every thought and make it obedient to Christ – 2 Corinthians 10:5

Knowing how your mind-chatter works enables you to influence it.  It explains much about how we perceive and react to the world. It also influences how others perceive and react to us. It is the pathway to change.

This self-awareness exercise helps us manage ourselves emotionally. It also enables us to manage others’ perceptions of us. Imagine how much easier it is to acknowledge how we can misperceive and misjudge situations when armed with enhanced self-awareness.

Don’t miss the link between what we think and how we feel. God gave us feelings as a doorway to Him and our soul. When you examine your thinking, what do you feel? Take that feeling to God and ask Him to reveal what He wants you to learn.

God wants you to be your best you possible. He will help you get there. Seek and you will find is a promise from God to all.

The more we understand our own minds, the more easily we can understand others’. This enables us to feel more empathy and compassion for others. It’s the reason why self-awareness is so valuable. We can’t connect with others well without self-knowledge and acceptance. Of course, when we connect to others and move towards acceptance, we come face to face with the need to grow our forgiveness muscle. Forgiving others and forgiving yourself is the most powerful force in the universe and creates the pathway for remarkable change and freedom!

Self-awareness – Self-knowledge – Forgiveness – Acceptance

Where are you on this journey? Are you ready for change? Change towards your best self?

What do you think? I’d love to hear from you.

I can be reached here marc@moleadershipcoaching.com and on LinkedIn

or text me at 714-267-2818

I’d love to hear from you. Here is my CALENDAR to make connecting simple

 

Two Exercises to Build Self-Awareness

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Two Exercises to Build Self-Awareness

Our inner monologue runs nonstop, whether we pay attention to it or not. It is a valuable source of self-awareness and a key to knowing our blind spots. Some call it self-talk, mind chatter, or inner voice. It often tends to be negative and judgmental.

Even though our inner monologue filters, interprets, and gives meaning to our perceived experiences, we rarely acknowledge it―perhaps we don’t like to catch ourselves being critical.

Yet, becoming consciously aware of these inner thoughts liberates us from being controlled by them. It is a first step toward greater self-awareness because it enables us to use our thoughts and beliefs to improve our lives.

Since self-awareness is so important to becoming emotionally intelligent―as well as being a foundational asset for leadership―it is worth our time and energy to learn how to listen to our inner monologue.

An Easy Exercise

Here is an exercise anyone can try that will reveal what goes on in our minds. This is suggested by author Joshua Spodek in his book Leadership Step by Step: Becoming the Person Others Follow (Amazon Digital Services, 2017).

1.      Carry a notebook, smart phone, tablet, or recording device.

2.      A few times a day, write or record the words of your inner monologue as best you can, a few lines each time.

Each time you record a monologue will take about a minute. Do this exercise until you’ve got a few dozen passages. It’s important to do it for several days, under different situations. For example, write down some self-talk at work, at home, alone, with people, and when feeling different emotions.

Simply record your dialogue without making any judgments. Judgment clouds the ability to be observant. The goal is to raise awareness of the words we use. If you find yourself being critical of someone, write down the words, not how you feel about the words. Later on, in a follow-up exercise, we can examine meaning, beliefs, and what to do about them.

Remember, this isn’t as easy to do as one might think. We can’t write as fast as we think. The very act of writing changes what we say and feel because we can’t help but interpret at the same time. Persist and practice, focusing on getting the actual words we use in our self-talk onto the paper or screen, one line at a time.

A good reference for this exercise is Proverbs 20:5 “The purpose of a man’s heart is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out.”

And

1 Timothy 4:16  “Pay close attention to yourself (concentrate on your personal development) and to your teaching; persevere in these things …”

In my coaching practice (www.moleadershipcoaching.com) I’ve seen a number of people experience “a-ha!” moments of self-discovery. They tell me it’s an eye-opening exercise. If you’ve haven’t tried it, go ahead. Let me know what you think. I can be reached here (marc@mocoach4ldrs.com) and on LinkedIn

I’d love to hear from you. Here is my CALENDAR to make connecting simple

Tips on How to Give Effective GODLY Feedback

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Tips on How to Give Effective GODLY Feedback

Constructive critiques focus on what people have done and can do, rather than targeting their character or personality. If people believe their failures result from personal, unchangeable deficits, they lose hope and stop trying. The very foundation of all relationship is that we are all created in God’s image. Can you see the people you are leading as God’s “BELOVED”?

Let them know that the setbacks and mistakes they have made are just that:

“setbacks and mistakes”                 

When you lead well, you will find that those you lead can change and with good feedback there will be less and mess setbacks and mistakes. Start the feedback loop early so the challenges are smaller and less rooted.

This is a common reason people contact me for coaching services (www.moleadershipcoaching.com) they need to develop feedback loop process for their leadership development and the development of their people.

Prior to coaching either feedback has been poorly delivered, or poorly received. Remember the tongue is a most powerful tool. The Bible says: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Ephesians 4:29

Using a coach can help clear up limiting beliefs and assumptions so that feedback can be used effectively.

Psychologist and corporate consultant Harry Levinson provides the following suggestions for delivering praise and criticism:

1.      Be specific. Focus on the actual behavior, using verbs instead of judgmental adjectives. Communicate clear facts that people can understand and act upon. Describe what people did and how they did it. If you wish to address a pattern or habit, pick one significant incident that illustrates the key problem. Describe what the person did poorly and how it can be changed. Ask the reflective question: “When have you experienced the same feedback or what memories come to mind that might show a pattern that can be improved upon?” Finding patterns is a huge opportunity for growth. Don’t beat around the bush or try to be evasive. The same rules apply to giving praise. Specificity is required for learning.

God’s wisdom is: “teaching you to be honest and to speak the truth, so that you bring back truthful reports to those you serve?” Proverbs 22:21

2.      Offer a solution. A critique should identify ways to fix a problem. Otherwise, it only serves to demoralize and demotivate. Try to open the door to unexplored possibilities and alternatives. Your suggestions can provide a broader perspective or context. Remember that awareness is the most important step towards a solution.

Biblical solutions always align with God’s guidance that we are to display love and humility.

3.      Be present and Listen Critiques and praise are most effective face-to-face and in private. Don’t try to ease your own discomfort by giving them from a distance or in writing. You need to be fully present and allow the recipient to respond and seek clarification.

Listening well may reveal facts unknown or challenges unseen. When you are “with” people, you honor and value them as human beings. This is the most important part of the process and can create the bridges towards change or a peaceful road out.

“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.”   James 1:19 | NIV 

4.      Start positive and be sensitive: Remember to start with a positive. You can always find a positive. You are “for them”, you want their best. Be attuned to the impact of what you say and how you say it. Even when your intentions are positive, you don’t know how your message will be received. Your greatest empathy skills are required. Criticism can be destructive. Instead of opening a path for correction, you may unintentionally provoke a backlash of resentment. Criticism is best used as an opportunity to work together to solve a problem, but you need to make this clear. 

“Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.”  1Peter 3:8

What are your thoughts about how well you last gave feedback?

Was it delivered well, or poorly?

I'd love to hear your stories!

Aim for a “Coaching Culture” that build trust and seeks growth. Perhaps now is the time to receive coaching so you can be more effective in all your relationships.

Text me at 714-267-2818 or email me at marc@moleadershipcoaching.com

Here is my calendar to make connecting simple.          MARC’S CALENDAR

To learn more here in my website :
www.MOLeadershipcoaching.com  

Positive and Negative Feedback

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Positive vs. Negative Feedback

Feedback isn't necessarily evil. I've always thought there isn't enough positive feedback going around. We don't have to wait until there's something to shout about. We need to make more positive comments about the little things as well as the big.

Many managers are too willing to criticize, yet stingy with praise. A partnership’s or team’s emotional health depends on how well individuals can air their grievances. People are more receptive to negative feedback when they’re used to receiving plenty of positive comments.

Therapist John Gottman’s extensive research on successful marriages reveals there should be at least a 3:1 ratio of positive to negative comments. Similarly, organizational psychologists Marcial Losada and Barbara Fredrickson found that business teams function best with a 5:1 ratio of positive to negative feedback.

What are your positive to negative ratios?

Across industries, most employees believe they don’t receive enough positive feedback. Problems are compounded when negative feedback is delayed — often because a manager is queasy about delivering it. Most problems start out small. When they’re allowed to fester, they escalate. By the time many managers decide to give feedback, there’s a backlog of frustration and anger that makes any conversation more difficult.

How often do you hold back out of fear to confront?

Do you believe that you would have better results if you stepped into the challenge earlier?

Early criticism allows people to correct problems, and it prevents a bad situation from boiling over. Managers should avoid giving feedback when they’re angry or inclined to be sarcastic, as the recipient will become defensive and resist change.

Can you control yourself to not engage when you are emotional?

Remember our encouragement from the Lord is: “In your anger do not sin!” Ephesians 4:26a

How to Receive Feedback

As a member of any group, team or partnership, you must learn to accept responsibility for your actions and accept that there’s always room for improvement. View constructive criticism as valuable information that helps you perform your job better — not as a personal attack. Feedback is beneficial because it facilitates teamwork and personal growth.

When you deliver feedback how good at you at remembering how you felt when receiving feedback?

Avoid the impulse toward defensiveness, which each of us innately has. Being defensive closes the door to receiving important information that can improve your work relationships and make your tasks easier. If you become upset, take a break; resume your meeting later.

Remember the ratio of positive to negative. Always start with a positive statement. State that you are “for” those you lead. State that you want their best and you are seeking a path towards your mutual success.

Remember the Lords example in Jeremiah “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord. “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.”

Remember: Criticism is an opportunity to resolve a problem. It’s not meant to create an adversarial relationship.

Learning to be effective in delivering feedback is an essential leadership skill. What are your blind spots around how you deliver feedback? What impact would you have on your company and in your relationships if you made improvements in this area of communication.

If you are working on leadership skills, feedback is one of many. If you are ready to grow your leadership let’s connect. Here is my calendar: MARC’S SCHEDULE

Check out my website for great leadership content www.moleadershipcoaching.com

The Art of Feedback - Truth + Love = GRACE

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The Art of Giving Feedback – Truth + Love = GRACE

“Getting people to welcome feedback was the hardest thing I ever had to do as an educator.” ― Professor Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture

Everything is connected today. We need to collaborate with others to succeed in our relationships, life and work. For that, we need to develop the art of giving —and receiving —feedback and critiques.

In its original sense, feedback is the exchange of information about how one part of a system is working, with the understanding that it affects everyone else within the system. If any part veers off course, prompt remediation is critical.

Feedback is every organization’s lifeblood — the mechanism that lets people know whether they’re doing a good job or if their efforts need to be fine-tuned, upgraded or entirely redirected. In a marriage, feedback determines whether each partner can adapt to the needs of the individual, couple and family.

Most people, however, are uncomfortable when giving or receiving feedback. I hear this from many of my clients who come in for coaching (www.moleadershipcoaching.com) It’s one of the most important tasks to master, but we procrastinate and try to avoid it altogether.

Without feedback, people remain in the dark. They have no idea how they stand with the boss, their peers or their spouse regarding what’s expected of them. Problems invariably worsen over time, so we need to use feedback to find solutions that help us adapt and adjust.

In the world of Christian faith feedback is God’s invitation to speaking the truth with love. This is grace. This is the greatest gift a leader can give those he/she leads. It is important to understand that both ingredients are necessary - truth with love for grace to unfold. Leaders who are direct with those they lead change lives for the better. For many leaders they fear truth. They falsely believe that all love and no truth will bring the desired result. The result is no grace. No growth.

In the marketplace the in-balance falls on the truth side of the equation.  We find a lack of or very little love. Often managers think love in the workplace is wrong. Managers hammer people with truth and once again there is no grace. There is no growth. In a study of 108 managers and white-collar workers, researchers found that most conflicts were caused by inept criticism (ahead of mistrust, personality struggles, and disputes over power and pay). After harsh criticism, people refuse to collaborate or cooperate, leading to stonewalling and disengagement.

If you unravel their histories, disengaged people usually don't start off that way. At the core of their problems you'll often find a hurtful encounter, usually delivered as inept feedback.

In the coming weeks I will look at positive and negative feedback and then review some tips on how to give feedback.

Before that I want to share with you Psalm 25: 1-12 as a feedback prayer. Take a look!

To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul. O my God, in you I trust; do not let me be put to shame; do not let my enemies exult over me. Do not let those who wait for you be put to shame; let them be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous. Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth, and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all day long. Be mindful of your mercy, O Lord, and of your steadfast love, for they have been from of old. Do not remember the sins of my youth or my transgressions; according to your steadfast love remember me, for your goodness’ sake, O Lord! Good and upright is the Lord; therefore, he instructs sinners in the way. He leads the humble in what is right; and teaches the humble his way. All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and his decrees. For your name’s sake, O Lord, pardon my guilt, for it is great. Who are they that fear the Lord? He will teach them the way that they should choose. (Psalm 25:1-12)

What do you think about this? I'd love to hear from you.

Renewing Yourself - Work vs Play

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Renewing Yourself: Work vs. Play

Too much fun at work: That is something I rarely hear these days in my work coaching (www.moleadershipcoaching.com) people.  Yet, I wonder if we don’t discount the value of enjoyment for high performance on the job. There is power in play, even for the most serious of careers.

Studies show that play has a survival advantage in the wild. When young animals engage in rough and tumble play-fighting, they are learning skills and social rules. Those that play the most, grow more neurons, and have more robust mental as well as physical stamina.

Humans also benefit from play during their entire life span, not just as children and adolescents. In older adults, those who engage in the most cognitive activity (doing puzzles, reading, engaging in mentally challenging work) have a 63 percent lower chance of getting Alzheimer’s disease than the general population.

Adults who continue to explore and learn throughout life are less prone to dementia and less likely to get heart disease. The people who stay sharp and interesting as they age are the ones who continue to play and work.

When we stop playing, we stop growing, and we begin dying.

According to Stuart Brown, MD, author of Play: How It Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination and Invigorates the Soul (Penguin Books, 2009), the opposite of work is not play. Play and work are mutually supportive. Yet most of us have learned to be serious when it comes to our careers. We squelch our natural drive to have fun.

Play is not the enemy of work, in fact, neither can thrive without the other. We need the newness of play, the sense of flow, imagination, and energy of being in the moment.

Creative play mirrors one of the grandest descriptions of God: The Creator.

We also need the sense of purpose in work: the economic stability it provides, the sense of meaning and competence. The quality that work and play have in common is creativity. In both we are creating new relationships, skills, and making things happen. Play outside of work impacts your effectiveness in work.

Often an overwhelming sense of responsibility and competitiveness can bury our inherent need for variety and challenge. If we deny our need to play, we will eventually fall to stress and burn-out. Recognizing our biological need for play can transform work and life. This is often the doorway to life-balance that many of my clients are seeking.

If life-balance, play or creativity are things that puzzle you, let’s connect.

My work solves the puzzles of leadership and is designed exclusively for every individual.

Play helps us deal with difficulties, handle challenges, tolerate routines and emotions such as boredom or frustration. Play provides a sense of expansiveness, promotes mastery, and is vital to the creative process.

Text me at 714-267-2818 to connect or email at marc@mocoach4ldrs.com

Renewing Yourself with PLAY

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The Power of Play

What ever happened to unbridled joy in our daily lives? Remember the fun of play we experienced as children? Maybe we need to renew ourselves and start playing more.

Nearly everyone starts out in life playing quite naturally, having fun with whatever’s available. We make up rules, invent games with playmates, fantasize and imagine mysteries and treasures.

Something happens as we become working adults: we shift our priorities into organized, competitive goal-directed activities. If an activity doesn’t teach us a skill, make us money, or further our social relationships, we don’t want to waste time being nonproductive.

Sometimes the sheer demands of daily living and family responsibilities seem to rob us of the ability to play.

“I have found that remembering what play is all about and making it part of our daily lives are probably the most important factors in being a fulfilled human being. The ability to play is critical not only to being happy, but also to sustaining social relationships and being a creative, innovative person.” ~ Stuart Brown, MD, author of Play: How It Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination and Invigorates the Soul, Penguin Books, 2009.

Dr. Stuart Brown, founder of the National Institute for Play, presents his ideas on this TED TV video: Play is More than Fun. Sprinkled with anecdotes demonstrating the play habits of subjects from polar bears to corporate CEOs, Brown promotes play at every age.

Dr. Brown offers this definition:

Play is an absorbing, apparently purposeless activity that provides enjoyment and a suspension of self-consciousness and sense of time. It is also self-motivating and makes you want to do it again.

We underestimate the power of play. Imagine a world without play – not only an absence of games or sports, but an absence of movies, arts, music, jokes, and dramatic stories. No day-dreaming, no teasing, no flirting. Play is what lifts people out of the routine of the mundane, and offers a means to find joy in even the little things.

As we step into 2019 remember that play stimulates creativity. As we explored in the last series on coaching, when we create a safe environment creativity flourishes. So, make sure your play is safe and remember that sarcasm is not safe.

Play, fun or entertainment historically may have carried a religious bent to it of being sinful. I believe God loves for us to play. He enjoys us as Our Heavenly Father. The reality is that play, fun and entertainment are of themselves neither good nor bad. I would lean towards Colossians 3:17 – “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him”. Is our play pleasing to God? If so then I say more play, more better generating more creativity and reducing anxiety.

In my work coaching people (moleadershipcoaching.com) we discuss the importance of enjoyment and play. No matter the seriousness of your work, you need to find ways of renewing yourself through the power of play.

Giving Back the Monkey

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People don’t need to be managed; they need to be unleashed. ~ Richard Florida, Professor of Urban Theory

In 1974, William Oncken wrote one of the two bestselling articles in Harvard Business Review: “Management Time: Who’s Got the Monkey?” The piece compares an employee’s dilemma to a monkey. When the manager takes on the problem-solving job, he’s got the monkey.

The article focused on improving time management through better delegation (i.e., giving back the monkey). It didn’t, however, cover how to get people to come up with their own insights.

“Command and control” management practices were common back then. In a 1999 commentary about the article, leadership guru Steven R. Covey wrote:

“…much has changed since Oncken’s radical recommendation. Command and control as a management philosophy is all but dead, and ‘empowerment’ is the word of the day in most organizations trying to thrive in global, intensely competitive markets. But command and control stubbornly remains a common practice.”

Empowering subordinates is hard and complicated work. You have to be willing to give up control and let people work through their own thinking. Empowerment means you must develop people—a strategy whose success depends on dialogue and trust.

The Bible speaks of empowerment. I would point you towards 2 Peter 1:3-4 and Titus 2:12. God empowers us towards freedom and hope which is our call for those we lead. We are called to develop those we shepherd.

The best way to develop people is through coaching conversations (MOLeadershipcoaching.com) by letting people do their own thinking. This is also the best use of a leader's time and talents. A good leader acts as a guide rather than the all-knowing expert.

Here's what I've found to be true in the people I coach: People want to learn and want advice, but more than anything they want an opportunity to come up with their own ideas. A truly efficient manager helps her staff think things through so they gain insight and make wiser choices. Developing a coaching culture where people thrive in creating from ideas is a wonder to behold.

It all starts with the leader experiencing a safe place that slows down the fight or flight instincts and instead allows creativity to flow. Expand your thinking and the thinking of those you lead and you will gain time and your impact will increase.

Why do the most successful leaders and organizations have coaches? Because coaching works. The average ROI for coaching is 6:1. That is the average!  What would the ROI be for you? 10:1 or maybe 100:1. How much is a great idea worth?

Minimizing the risk and maximizing the opportunity is the reality offered for the courageous through coaching.

Let’s connect. Text me at 714-267-2818

http://www.healingplace.info/resources/virginia_satir/208.pdf

http://region10.acui.org/Region/10/conference/2011/presentations/Hall%27s%20Iceberg%20Model%20handout.pdf

 

Asking Permission to Coach

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An effective coaching conversation (MOCoach4ldrs.com)  requires an environment where people feel safe enough to explore their thoughts and reach new insights. In David Rock's book Quiet Leadership, the author suggests four elements should be in place:

1.      Permission: “Is this a good time to talk and explore your thinking?”

2.      Placement: “Let’s see if you can come up with some ideas in the next few minutes.”

3.      Questioning: “Is it OK if I ask you to share your thoughts with me?”

4.      Clarifying: “Tell me more about this. What do you mean?”

There’s almost nothing more personal than trying to change people’s thinking. Given that our perceptions become our reality, asking people to think differently means we’re invading personal territory. It’s therefore crucial to establish permission anytime you want to hold a coaching conversation.

As you approach the most personal questions, ask once again for permission. People can quickly become defensive and stop listening to you. Asking permission frequently helps people feel safe, acknowledged and respected. Here are some sample approaches:

1.      I get the sense you have more to say about this. Could I probe a little further?

2.      I’d like to have a more open conversation than we’ve had before. Would it be OK to ask you some more specific questions right now?

3.      Can we spend a few minutes brainstorming ideas around this?

4.      I’d like to understand more about your thinking. Would you be OK with talking more about this?

5.      I’d like to discuss some more personal matters. Would this be OK with you?

Ideas are like children; we love our own the most. ~ Chinese proverb

Advice is rarely helpful. People are far more likely to act on ideas they’ve come up with themselves.

Adult learning studies prove this is the way we acquire new habits. We find a connection for other people's ideas in our own mental maps and decide to act. It then becomes our own idea—our own decision. The retention statistics on self-discovery versus information delivered and retained are stunning. If you are tired of people asking for your help on the same problem type over and over again, try a coaching self-discovery process and that will cease. You will suddenly have more time. Are you interested in more time? My guess is yes.

Text and let me help you build a coaching culture to deliver more ROI and more time: 714-267-2818 or jump on my calendar and I will give you a call. CLICK HERE

 

Questions for a Coaching Conversation

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I've been writing about the need for leaders to improve performance by helping others, employees, investors, partners and all stake holders to think better and improve their abilities to problem solve. Until leaders learn to do this, they will continue to contribute to stakeholder disengagement.

Starting a coaching conversation is an ideal way to encourage self-directed learning. How do you initiate a coaching conversation?

Posing questions allows you to focus the mental processes of those you lead. Asking them to share their thoughts:

·       Helps them find connections in their minds

·       Makes them more self-aware

·       Encourages them to take greater responsibility for possibilities and solutions

As they process their thoughts, they’ll begin to search their mental maps for insights and potential solutions.

The following questions can facilitate a constructive coaching conversation:

·       How long have you been thinking about this?

·       How often do you think about it?

·       On a scale of 1 to 10, how important is this?

·       How clear are you about the issue?

·       How high a priority does this issue have?

·       How committed are you to resolving this?

·       Can you see any gaps in your thinking?

·       What impact is thinking about this issue having on you?

·       How do you react when you think of this?

·       How do you feel about the resources you’ve invested thus far?

·       Do you have a plan for shifting this issue?

·       How can you deepen your insight on this?

·       How clear are you on what to do next?

·       How can I best help you further?

You will notice that none of these questions focuses on the problem’s specific details. Notice how the questions avoid suggesting what someone should think or do. (We all need to work to do less “SHOULD OF-ING” The questions are designed to help people become aware of their own thinking.

At this point, your stakeholders will begin to contemplate key issues on a much deeper level, which allows them to see things more clearly. This often leads to new connections in their brains that create fresh insights.

We need to abandon our need to find behaviors to fix and problems to solve. Concentrate on identifying and growing people’s strengths and abilities to think things through deeply and you will grow those you work with and lead.

A great, simple and powerful read for those seeking to grow in their coaching ability and understanding is The Coaching Habit

There are many resources on coaching like books, blogs, webcasts and more. Let me know if I can assist by pointing you to resources that are best for you.

Just text my cell at 714-267-2818 or email me at marc@mocoach4ldrs.com

Coaching Conversations

Many employees are highly capable individuals who want to work—and be—smarter. They’re crying out for help. I hear about it all the time in the work I do ( www.moleadershipcoaching.com )  As a coach my passion is helping leaders create a coaching culture in which people are heard as they grow into their best selves including obviously their work selves.  It’s up to their leaders to learn how to ask the right questions and conduct truly engaging coaching conversations and train others to do the same. This is a skill set is teachable. I find leaders who experience coaching for themselves often seek to spread the impact throughout the organization.   The greatest challenge to any thinker is stating the problem in a way that will allow a solution. ~   Bertrand Russell    Generations X  and  Y  have been making major organizational contributions, albeit with different expectations from their managers. They embrace personal development, while valuing freedom and independence. They want to work for leaders who will help them fulfill their career potential—mentors who can help them improve their thinking.  As these future leaders develop, they will move from managing themselves to managing others. Their leadership potential depends on their ability to change the way they think.  Regrettably, the organizations that employ them usually allocate few internal resources to help them through this shift. It’s time for leaders to learn how to train the next generation in higher-level decision-making.   What we think, we become. ~   Gautama Buddha   Some leadership experts have adopted  the “iceberg” model  to describe human performance. This metaphor suggests that some of our behaviors are visible, while most other behaviors, thoughts and feelings lurk below water.  Our work achievements are driven by how we think. Why, then, do leaders focus on what’s superficially visible when addressing employee performance? Evaluations rarely consider the factors that drive habits, nor do managers reflect on employees’ feelings or thoughts.  If we want people to think better, we must essentially let them do all the thinking.  David Rock , in his book  Quiet Leadership , suggests the following five-step process for establishing a coaching conversation that enables  self-directed learning :  1. Let the employee think through his specific issue. Avoid telling him what to do or giving advice. Ask questions about his thought process.  2. Keep him focused on solutions, not problems.  3. Challenge him to expand his thinking and stretch himself, instead of clinging to his comfort zone.  4. Focus on what he’s doing well so he can play to his strengths.  5. Make sure there are clear processes behind every conversation. To be truly helpful, a coaching conversation requires permission to ask questions and explore possibilities.  I would add a sixth that moves the organization forward.  6. Seek to explore specific next steps. Who can help and where will the best accountability be accessed?  Have you had a coaching conversation with your manager or your direct reports lately? Should you learn to coach those you lead? I'd love to hear from you. We all need trusted advisors that will reflect back on how we show up, push against our assumptions and thinking and be “for us” as we take our best next step.  I get coaching every month. I am a coaching advocate. Find your coach. Be your best version. Live life well!  There are many resources on coaching like books, blogs, webcasts and more. Let me know if I can assist by pointing you to resources that are best for you.  Just text my cell at 714-267-2818 or email me at  marc@mocoach4ldrs.com

Many employees are highly capable individuals who want to work—and be—smarter. They’re crying out for help. I hear about it all the time in the work I do (www.moleadershipcoaching.com)

As a coach my passion is helping leaders create a coaching culture in which people are heard as they grow into their best selves including obviously their work selves.

It’s up to their leaders to learn how to ask the right questions and conduct truly engaging coaching conversations and train others to do the same. This is a skill set is teachable. I find leaders who experience coaching for themselves often seek to spread the impact throughout the organization.

The greatest challenge to any thinker is stating the problem in a way that will allow a solution. ~ Bertrand Russell

Generations X and Y have been making major organizational contributions, albeit with different expectations from their managers. They embrace personal development, while valuing freedom and independence. They want to work for leaders who will help them fulfill their career potential—mentors who can help them improve their thinking.

As these future leaders develop, they will move from managing themselves to managing others. Their leadership potential depends on their ability to change the way they think.

Regrettably, the organizations that employ them usually allocate few internal resources to help them through this shift. It’s time for leaders to learn how to train the next generation in higher-level decision-making.

What we think, we become. ~ Gautama Buddha

Some leadership experts have adopted the “iceberg” model to describe human performance. This metaphor suggests that some of our behaviors are visible, while most other behaviors, thoughts and feelings lurk below water.

Our work achievements are driven by how we think. Why, then, do leaders focus on what’s superficially visible when addressing employee performance? Evaluations rarely consider the factors that drive habits, nor do managers reflect on employees’ feelings or thoughts.

If we want people to think better, we must essentially let them do all the thinking. David Rock, in his book Quiet Leadership, suggests the following five-step process for establishing a coaching conversation that enables self-directed learning:

1. Let the employee think through his specific issue. Avoid telling him what to do or giving advice. Ask questions about his thought process.

2. Keep him focused on solutions, not problems.

3. Challenge him to expand his thinking and stretch himself, instead of clinging to his comfort zone.

4. Focus on what he’s doing well so he can play to his strengths.

5. Make sure there are clear processes behind every conversation. To be truly helpful, a coaching conversation requires permission to ask questions and explore possibilities.

I would add a sixth that moves the organization forward.

6. Seek to explore specific next steps. Who can help and where will the best accountability be accessed?

Have you had a coaching conversation with your manager or your direct reports lately? Should you learn to coach those you lead? I'd love to hear from you. We all need trusted advisors that will reflect back on how we show up, push against our assumptions and thinking and be “for us” as we take our best next step.

I get coaching every month. I am a coaching advocate. Find your coach. Be your best version. Live life well!

There are many resources on coaching like books, blogs, webcasts and more. Let me know if I can assist by pointing you to resources that are best for you.

Just text my cell at 714-267-2818 or email me at marc@mocoach4ldrs.com

Teaching Yourself and Others to Think

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Leadership practices need to keep up with the realities of organizational life. There’s an increasing gap between the way employees are managed and how they want to be managed.

One cannot teach a man anything. One can only enable him to learn from within himself. ~ Galileo Galilei

With so many employees being paid to think, leaders and managers should find ways to cultivate their staffs’ cerebral capabilities to boost workplace performance. But most leaders wouldn’t know where to start.

In the work I do coaching people (www.moleadershipcoaching.com), I hear complaints all the time about the frustration leaders have as they try to help boost performance. The process begins by improving the way knowledge workers process information—not telling them what to do or jumping in to solve their problems.

Countless surveys and headlines reinforce this revelation:

·       60 percent of workers are miserable.

·       74 percent aren’t engaged at work.

The solution is to create coaching environments that honor and challenge the individual. The challenge is the past has created “stinkin thinkin.”

It’s easy to see how we arrived at this sorry situation. A century ago, most people were paid for physical labor. The dominant management model was master/apprentice, with the master showing his employees how to perform their jobs.

The Industrial Age introduced systems. Process management became the dominant paradigm, with scientific analysis of linear systems for greater efficiency. Employees were trained to follow, unquestioningly, their bosses’ best-laid plans.

Over the last two decades, the most routine business tasks have been computerized or outsourced. As a result, today’s employees are increasingly hired to think. In 2015, 60 percent of employees were considered knowledge workers; for mid-level management and higher, the number is closer to 100 percent.

Modern leaders must increasingly shift their leadership styles to reflect the needs of a more educated labor force. Unfortunately, business schools have neglected to teach leaders and managers how to improve their knowledge workers’ thinking and decision-making skills.

Strengthening these abilities is critical, according to NeuroLeadership CEO David Rock, author of Quiet Leadership: Six Steps to Transforming Performance at Work.

“Yet we have not significantly reinvented our management models since the time Henry Ford hired a pair of hands and wished they’d left their brains behind,” he writes.

However, there is a revolution taking place. It is the coaching revolution. More leaders are getting coached and experiencing the impact.

The coaching process aligns so well with following Christ. The idea that reality is our friend. The idea that truth is good when delivered with love which creates the grace experience that builds hope, loyalty and community. Coaching changes lives.

What's it like in your work? I'd love to hear from you.

Building Your Life Plan

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If you haven’t already mapped out your life plan, take the first step now. Start with the foundation: your core values, purpose and life’s focus. List all of the realistic ways to achieve your ideal life. Break down these steps into short-term goals and make an action plan.

Write down your goals and action steps and convert them into graph form so you can track your progress. Share your Life Plan with the important people in your life.

One of the most effective ways to achieve your goals is to work with a coach (www.moleadershipcoaching.com)

 If you can’t do that, at least consider working with an accountability partner. Choose someone you trust and with whom you have a relationship based on honesty.

With your partner, you can brainstorm ideas, make plans and hold each other accountable. You can anticipate obstacles and make any adjustments. Make sure your partner challenges you to stretch enough so you grow and learn beyond what you would accomplish alone.

Most importantly, you should never give up, even if you run into formidable obstacles. You may have to adjust your plans but persevere. Remember perseverance is one of the character traits God points us towards regularly. Look at Romans 5:4, 2 Peter 1:6 and James 1:3. The last encouragement from James is that when our faith is tested perseverance is a product of our faith.

Keep up the faith. If you keep working towards your ultimate Life Plan objectives, over time you’ll get there.

Develop your grit – that ability to find what works no matter what. Grit is based on the profound belief that things may be difficult but not impossible. You only have to persist a little longer than most people to become a success. This doesn’t mean you can’t adjust your plans according to reality.

Of course, changing circumstances and desires mean any life plan will need to be amended over time. The goals you have in your 20s are considerably different from those in your 40s — and vastly different from those later in life.

Don’t let life just happen to you. Shape it into your ideal version — and have a nice life!

I’d love to hear if you’ve done a life plan and learn about how it helped you. Please leave a comment.

What’s been your experience as you face the challenge of creating a life plan? Most people say that it helps them to have someone walk with them and hold them accountable.

What about you?

Marc Ottestad leads MO Leadership Coaching – Connecting the DOTs of Your TRUE-Self, Your Work and Your God – through One to One coaching and peer team experience.

If now is the time to get unstuck, let’s connect. Here is my calendar for a complimentary coaching session. CLICK HERE or text at 714-267-2818

 

Practice Makes Perfect - Here's the Plan

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When working with a client (mocoach4ldrs.com)on personal development goals, I often suggest doing life plan. You can use a classic business strategic planning model to map out your life plan. Here are seven-steps to get you started.

1.      Purpose:
Identify your purpose (mission statement)
. Describe your life’s focus. If you’re young and just entering adulthood, this step may be challenging. Imagine you’re approaching the end of your life, and figure out what you’d tell people about a life well lived.

Your statement should reference your values and explore how you intend to spend your time at work, at home and in leisure pursuits. Outline the needs you intend to meet (community involvement is sometimes mentioned). Recognize that your mission statement will change over the years.

Seeking to connect your purpose with God’s purpose can be very rewarding. Often leaders miss the opportunity to see their purpose is about the people they work with and serve. This creates a whole dimension of impact that has eternal reverberations.

2.      Vision:
Establish a vision statement
. Describes your life at various points in the future. What happens when you live out your “purpose” well over time. This can be a most inspiring place to spend quality time exploring your mission and vision dynamically. What would happen in 3 years if we were excellent at the mission? How about 5 years? This process creates more clarity around both the mission and vision. What might God say about your vision? Is it big enough?

3.      Goals:
State the goals you must reach to achieve your mission.
Goals are general statements that (a) define what you need to accomplish and (b) cover major issues. While your vision is longer from a time perspective, goals may be mid-range (for example, 1 to 2 years into the future). Break them down into short-term steps, as well. Remember with goals less is more. What are the 3-5 goals that would be the best runway towards your mission and ultimately your vision?

4.      Strategies:
Identify strategies you must implement to reach each goal.
Your specific approaches will change as you engage in more robust strategic thinking—particularly as you closely examine external and internal environments. Aim for 1-2 strategies for each goal. Remember less is more! Keep strategies inside of 1 year and down to quarters.

5.      Action Plan:
Identify strategic action plans or goal objectives.
State the specific activities or objectives you must undertake to effectively implement each strategy in order to achieve each goal. Use clear language so you can assess whether objectives have been met. This area target is 2-3 action plans for each strategy. Here you are looking at your plan a quarter at a time. What goals need traction first? Pick a goal, declare the strategy and now action plans are using a monthly time target.

If you decide to work with a coach or accountability partner, include this as part of your action plan. Most experts agree that working with another person enhances successful goal achievement.

6.      Document:
Compile the mission, vision, strategies, goals and action plans into a Life Plan document.
This can be done as a written text or in chart or diagram form. Work to get your plan on one page. You don’t need 1000 words for description, keep it simple and engageable. You start with the “WHY” and use that in your Mission/Purpose as your “North Star.” Working the process downwards until you are looking at this quarter, month and week is where the power of planning takes place. Here you can focus on the next most important thing to do. Make a declaration for this week and quarter and watch it daily. You will be amazed at your progress. Write it down.

7.      Track Progress:
Monitor implementation of the plan; update it, as needed.
Regularly reflect on the extent to which goals are being met and whether action plans are being implemented. Use a spreadsheet or graph to monitor your progress, adjust your plan and remain challenged. Remember you can make changes as you go forward. There is no judgement. Reality is your friend.

8.      Get Help

Get light on what you are doing regularly. Schedule time with a friend, mentor or co-worker. Get a coach. Be accountable. Expand your thinking and possibilities.

What’s been your experience writing down and tracking your goals? Most people say that it helps them. What about you?

Marc Ottestad leads MO Leadership Coaching – Connecting the DOTs of Your TRUE-Self, Your Work and Your God – through One to One coaching and peer team experience.

If now is the time to get unstuck, let’s connect. Here is my calendar for a complimentary coaching session. CLICK HERE or text at 714-267-2818

Do you have a PLAN for your LIFE?

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When is the last time you sat down and mapped out a life plan for yourself? Perhaps you regularly update yours and discuss it frequently with your coach, friend, mentor or spouse. Chances are, however, you’ve never created a Life Plan.

“If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much.” ~ Business philosopher Jim Rohn

If you’re not the one to map out your life, someone else will.

“Life is what happens to you when you’re making other plans,” according to John Lennon’s lyrics for “Beautiful Boy.”

Of course, you can listen to Woody Allen, who famously said: “Half of life is just showing up.” Per this philosophy, you get ahead simply by being present—a concept that certainly relieves a lot of pressure. It allows you to live in the moment, responding to what is rather than trying to shape your life. It also requires a hefty dose of passivity and abandonment of future possibilities. (Let it be, to quote Mr. Lennon again.)

But most of us want to influence the path our life takes to ensure we have enough freedom to express our strengths and talents. We want to control our own destiny when planning for our careers, partnerships and families.

As we head into a new year now is the perfect time to prepare for 2019 to be the best year ever. Experts generally agree that you cannot achieve your goals without a plan or road map. Given the unpredictability of love, work and the lottery, exactly how much of your life can you plan?

What does a life plan look like?

A Google search for life plan yields two billion results! Myriad life-planning experts and coaches  are advertising their services. But let’s simplify things and use a classic planning model you’ll likely recognize. It’s frequently used in business organizations and can easily be adapted for personal use.

One caveat before we start: Just because the plan is simply stated doesn’t imply it’s easy to implement. You must invest several hours of thought, and it may prove beneficial to discuss your ideas with a trusted mentor, coach, friends and family. It is in the exercising of dreams, desires, priorities and limitations that clarity arises.

Planning out your life, whether personal or career, is one of the things I work with clients on regularly. You can start by making a list of trusted people you can ask to help you with your life plan. You may know of someone or you’ll need to ask around for a referral to a professional coach with experience.

My coaching will always include your spiritual journey. What does God say about plans? He is very specific in Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.”

Can you imagine connecting with God and the plans He has for you?

Start making some notes about the things you value most, and the direction you’d most like your life to take. Visualize your life in 1, 3, 5, 10, 20 years later to help you clarify what you want. Each step of the way check-in with God! Ask Him to affirm your thoughts, add to them or move you in another direction.

In my next post, I’ll provide a 7-step process for making a life plan. Let me know what your experience has been with making a life plan.

It is time to plan for 2019. Make your declarations. Be accountable. Eliminate distractions. Call me at 714-267-2818 or CLICK HERE for my calendar to explore how executive coaching could get you going!