The Flip Side of Personal Growth

The Flip Side of Personal Growth


I have been guilty of it too many times to count. When I am working on a tough, deeply personal  goal that involves changing something about myself, I tend to get wrapped up in my own challenges. After all, it is my struggle. Nobody else can experience the frustrations or victories I feel in my pursuit of this goal, yet I know that everyone will feel the benefits of my success. Whether I am working on creating a successful business, earning a promotion or breaking a bad habit, I am motivated by the thought of creating a better life for the people I love. Chances are, you too get stuck in this train of thought too. Unfortunately, this focus on our own quest to achieve a goal often proves to be the one thing that prevents us from achieving it, and that’s because like everything else in life, personal growth cannot happen in a vacuum.

As we all know, personal growth involves getting outside of our comfort zone. We have to get out on the skinny branches in order to achieve something new and we can sometimes become blind to other people when we are busy charting a new course. Our focus on getting our of our own comfort zone makes us forget the flip side of this – that our comfort zone has become a part of the comfort zones of other people and we probably forgot to ask them to step out of their comfort zone with us. For example, when my daughters were young I started to lose weight. As a person who has struggled with weight most of my life this was a huge accomplishment for me and I was feeling fabulous. Then my youngest told me that I didn’t feel like mommy anymore and I started to believe that my husband wouldn’t like the thinner me either. I had lost a number of bonding activities with my girlfriends as I had been spending more time at the gym than I had with them and it suddenly felt like achieving this goal wasn’t worth everything I felt myself to be losing. So I gained back the weight, and some extra, and now I still have the goal of getting to a healthier weight and the guilt of a previous failure along with it. Additionally, I know that my loved ones would have loved the new me anyway.

Over the years of coaching I have seen many other people quit on their goals for the same reason I did. Fear that the achievement of it would come at too high of a cost, a fear that can only infect our thinking when we have forgotten to invite others into our change process. We need to recognize that our personal decision to change will make other people have to change too. They have to change their reactions to our behaviors, their estimation of us and they have to redefine themselves in relation to us.

Understanding this before and during our growth process makes the achievement of our goals exponentially easier. By thinking about the impact we have on others and asking them to join us in our quest to be a better person we simultaneously accomplish two things. We have shown the respect to those in our lives by inviting them in and we have created a support system for us as we start to climb our own Mt. Everest.

Coaches Challenge:

Whatever your mountain is think of everyone who you want at the summit with you. What considerations do you need to give them as you start your change process and how can you enlist them in the process? What concessions do you have to make for others to be a part of your team? Remember that the involvement of those that love you will be the one thing that makes achieving your goal possible.

The Power of Negative Thinking

The Power of Negative Thinking


When something traumatic happens in our life – we lose our top client, our job, discover that we are sick, or separate from our spouse we are often told to focus what we have left. The common wisdom is that thinking about the good things will help us avoid the depression that may follow an event like this. While this works to some degree, new research suggests that thinking about what life would be like if we subtracted one of the “things we have left” may actually make us feel much better.

Before reading further, test it out. What would your life be like if you had never met your spouse? What if you had never gotten the job you think most fondly about? What if you woke up tomorrow and discovered you were blind? Simply by traveling down this mental path of negative thought, we discover new reasons to appreciate the things we have, and we experience more pleasure in these things.

The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology recently published four studies that all prove the power of negative thinking. In one, people who reminisced about how they met their partner reported a lesser degree of satisfaction in their relationship than those asked to imagine what their life would be like if they never met their partner in the first place. In others, students were asked to either write about a positive event of their choice and how it changed their life, or choose a positive event and write about their life as though it had never happened. The students who imagined that the event never happened also reported greater degrees of happiness and satisfaction with their life than those who simply wrote about the event. The implications of this research are amazing. It suggests that we are taking the long way to happiness by thinking “positively” and that simply subtracting the elements of our life we are grateful for leads us to become more joyful and appreciative about our life.

It is all too easy to become depressed about the future of our business or our jobs these days. The economic crisis has been dragging on for too long and the instinct to either fret about the future or dream about the past can be overpowering. By making this information a part of our work life we can find a path to follow what will lead us to the future success we dream of and hope for. Imagine what your business would be like without a key employee, or what your life would be like if you never took the risk of starting your own business. How about that key client that helped change your business model? By focusing on those things we would hate to live without in our work life, we gain invaluable and potentially surprising insight into the directions we need to be moving toward in these tough economic times.

Call to Action:
What are you most grateful for in life? Discover the appreciation you feel by mentally subtracting that one thing from your life. You can do this in your journal or in an email to me.

How Do You Define Success?

How Do You Define Success?

What do you think of when you think of a successful person? If you are like most of us you expect that a successful person will be one who has made a lot of money or has achieved some degree of distinction in their field. If pressed however, you would agree that the man who has kept his commitment of 20 hours of quality time per week with his family while earning a comfortable living has been successful. Few among us would hesitate to agree that the single mother who finishes her degree, obtains a good job and sends both of her children through college has achieved success. We often think enviously of the person who gives up on the rat race and finds a way to support their dream of surfing full time as having achieved something most of us only dream of; so why do we automatically think of a “successful” person in terms of dollars or fame?

The stories of successful people who dominate our lives are not those of people who have achieved a specific dream or goal with their lives. We may know of some individually, however the stories that we have all heard revolve around the people who have achieved financial success and public recongition. Tabloid covers scream at us in the checkout line with stories about the romantic misfortunes of screen pop starts, while financial news becomes dominated at times with information about rock star executives and all -star investors. The majority of us only watch professional level sports and even non-sports fans know the names of the most accomplished players. The rich and famous get full page obituaries in national papers and magazines when they die, and the remainder of us are memorialized by a short paragraph listing our survivors and the time of the service. All of this combined impacts our perception of success to the point where we no linger think about success in a way other than money or fame. The perception of success as being related to either money or fame guides our drive toward success in one of those two directions instead of toward a definition of our own choosing.

If you free your mind from outside influences, what does succcess look like to you? This is an important question because we may work hard to achieve something that we don’t actually want – imagine reaching your goal of weatlth or fame only to find out you don’t actually like it. In addition, if we aren’t deeply passionate about a goal, it will be a monumental struggle to accomplish it. When we know that we are working toward our personal idea of success, we enjoy the work. Knowing the specifices of what we want gives us a greater degree of focus and opens our minds to new ideas. In Short, creating an individual idea of success exponentially increases our likelihood to achieveing it.

Think about your idea of success. How does it differ from the popular idea of success? How much of your vision of success truly relates to your goals and core values? If you have difficulty with this, think about how you want to look back on your life as an elderly person. What types of comments would you like to hear if you could attend your own funeral? If you want others to talk about more than the amount of money you made or your career achievements then your definition of success needs to encompass it.

Coaches Challenge: In an email to me or in your own journal write down your personal definition of success. Think about this deeply before you send it to me. How does having this definition change your goals and /or current direction? I am looking forward to hearing about success in YOUR terms!

Coach Corinne

Click here:  A kinder gentler philosophy of success

Letting Go Of The Expert

When I first encountered this concept of letting go of the expert, I thought: That is crazy, I’ve educated myself and worked hard to become an expert, why would I let it go?!

Perhaps the most understandable way to start this discussion is to discover what is an expert. Webster’s defines an expert as: A person with a high degree of knowledge or skill in a particular area. Some synonyms: master, proficient, and whiz. The suggestion is that you have arrived, and your work is done. OK, that sounds pretty good, so why do I want to let go of that?

Let’s also look at the reverse of expert as in a learner and a discoverer. Learner: again Webster’s definitions: To gain knowledge or mastery of by study. Discoverer: to obtain knowledge or awareness of something not known before, as through observation, study listening.

So why let go? Because letting go could lighten your workload, reduce your stress and responsibilities and open the door to incredible discoveries and personal and professional growth for yourself and your team.  Are you interested?

Here are some ideas that have been shared with me. After all, I am not the expert. I, too, am in the learning process. Review the concepts and choose what works for you. There is no right answer only exploration into possibility.

Consider these options:
When we present ourselves in the world as an expert, whether it be at home: as a parent or spouse, or at work: as a manager, we are opening a communication channel, one that most often is one way. It is up to us the expert: to distribute the information in a way it can be heard and understood, weigh the consequences, to make the decisions, get cooperation or accomplish the tasks ourselves, set a timeline, determine what is success and take the credit for success and or the failure. Whew! Granted, we are basing our efforts on time-tested expertise, this is a good thing, and there are times that this is the best method, as well as the best use of our time, energy and resources. There is little room for growth for the expert or the team in this situation as the task is to disseminate expertise in an effort to create the outcome upon which we have decided.

When we present ourselves as a learner or discoverer we also open the channel for communication, and in this instance, the communication is more likely to be two-way. We listen, ask questions and receive input from various sources. We have the chance to make changes based upon the input we have encountered. We may discover a better method or process through this discovery. We will probably get a more thorough buy-in by our team if they have some input to the process and outcome. We are not necessarily alone in determining what is considered success, neither are we totally responsible for the tasks at hand or the outcome. The result can be a workload spread over several more willing members, less stress, and an excellent opportunity for both personal and professional growth. As a learner we can add to our pool of knowledge, and potentially grow through the experience of collaboration.

True, you no longer have total control of what the actual outcome may look like, and it could possibly be even better than you could imagine. And the trade off may be worth it: If you gain time to work on other projects, what if your team is more motivated with their role of contribution and accomplishes more, if the atmosphere in the office improves with their added input, almost anything is possible. Your team is also given the opportunity for personal and professional growth so they can potentially contribute even more in the future.

Here is a simple example of how I learned to let go of being the expert and the effect on my quality of life.

I dislike doing dishes; as a matter of fact other than eating brussel sprouts it is my least favorite task in life. My husband promised that if I did the cooking, which I love, he would do the dishes. Wow! He continued to explain that his Mom taught him how to do dishes and that she always said he was terrific at it! Double WOW! So the bargain was made. I cooked and he did the dishes.

What I immediately discovered is that if I stand at my place of expert and review his work, he doesn’t do it the way I would do it myself. I began to approach Michael on this subject of his expertise. Then I stopped myself and thought: If I get to be the expert here, I also get to do the dishes. If I become the discoverer and encourager, I get to have half an hour of quiet time for myself after the dinner hour.

The next time I visited with my Mother-in- Law, I mentioned what a great dishwasher Michael is and thanked her for teaching him so well. She winked at me and I realized she had always had that half hour of quiet time. We chatted and smiled while Michael did the dishes.

Coaching Challenge:

Look at your world and ask yourself if there are times when being the expert is holding you or your team back? Pick a situation and become the discoverer and learner and smile!