11Dec/140

Do You Love What You Do or Are You Living in New-Age Professional Hell? by Marshall Goldsmith

Posted by WABC

Do you love what you do or are you living in new-age professional hell? This may be the seminal question of our age.

In yesterday’s world, people worked 40 hours a week and took four weeks of vacation. This question was practically moot. If you didn’t like your job it was practically part-time anyway, the benefits were glorious, and it just wasn’t that bad.

I remember visiting the corporate headquarters of one of the world’s most successful companies at 5 p.m. sometime in the early 80s. There was almost no one there! You could fire a cannonball down the hall and not hit anyone. Those days are gone. It was much easier to find meaning and satisfaction in activities outside of work when we were under a lot less pressure and worked far fewer hours. Not only did people have more time, they weren’t as tired.

Today’s professional has much different experience. Almost all of the professionals I work with are busier today than they ever have been in their lives, working 60 to 80 hours a week. They feel under more pressure than ever. Cell phones, tablets, and laptops tether us to our work wherever we are whether we like it or not. Put it all together and you quickly realize – if you don’t love what you do, you are in the new-age of professional hell where you spend your days waiting for a pause in the steady flow of work so that you can take a break. Let me tell you, that day never comes!

 

Making the Move to Loving What You Do

Life is too short. It’s not worth it. In the new world, we don’t have to love everything that we do, but we need to find happiness and meaning in most of our professional work. One of my coaching clients, Vicky, has a mind that races at about 1,000 miles an hour. She’s extremely creative and entrepreneurial. Vicky was working as a division president in a large, somewhat conservative company. The people who hired her believed that they wanted someone who would “rock the boat” and “make waves.” Once they began to experience “waves” and “boat rocking,” though, they decided that this might not be such a great idea after all!

Although I was hired to help her fit in with the existing culture, it was just a bad match. She was becoming frustrated with her life and was frustrating many of the executives who were running the firm. Summing it up in one sentence, she groaned, “I feel like a racy Ferrari that’s being asked to act like a Ford pickup!”

As her coach, my advice was simple: “Leave.” She had beaten me to the punch, replying, “I just did!”

There was nothing wrong with Vicky. There was nothing wrong with her company. She just didn’t belong there. When she asked herself, “Do I love what I do?” her answer was a clear, “No, I am living in new-age professional hell!”

Vicky’s time off for reflection after leaving her job didn’t last long. She’s playing a key role in an entrepreneurial startup, she’s on two boards of nonprofits doing a lot of good things for her community, and most important, she’s having a lot of fun. She has successfully made the move from new-age professional hell to loving what she does. And, you can too!

Watch the video here:

Do You Love What You Do?

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8Dec/140

Coaching and the Attention Challenge by Melinda Sinclair

Posted by WABC

Attention matters

“A primary task of leadership is to direct attention. Leaders tell us where to focus our energies. But leaders need, too, to manage their own attention. Leaders who do this effectively can soar, those who do not will stumble. The reason is simple. “Your focus,” Yoda reminds us, “is your reality.” Daniel Goleman

What is our most valuable resource – the key resource that allows us to be an effective leader, to succeed in business, and to enjoy life?

Some would make the case that it is time. Others would say energy or expertise and experience, or our network of relationships.

There is no doubt that all of these are very important. Yet they all require that we’ve mastered the deployment of a fundamental mental resource: Our attention.

The ability to direct and manage our attention is at the root of everything we achieve. It determines the quality of the decisions we make, the quality of our relationships, our level of performance and enjoyment in life.

Our effectiveness as a leader also depends crucially on how well we’ve mastered the art of focusing and directing attention. Leaders need to know when and where to direct their attention, why and for how long, and how intensely. As Daniel Goleman argues in his new book Focus. The hidden driver of excellence (2013), the difference between soaring and stumbling as a leader lies in lies in effective attention management.

Quite simply: Mastering the art of directing our attention is the key to success in leadership, in business, and in life.

 

The attention challenge

"At the psychological level, the most basic resource involved is attention. Attention is the brain's capacity to process information, and to direct action. It is a limited resource, because we cannot process more than a few bits of information at any single moment, and thus we can only be aware of a tiny fraction of what is going on inside us or around us."    Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

And this is where we run into a challenge. Attention is a psychic resource - and for that reason limited. At any given time there are far more things that we could potentially pay attention to than we are able to. Hence, we are constantly noticing and knowing some aspects of our reality while being oblivious of others.

And we are all attention challenged in multiple ways. There is the distraction of being pulled in multiple directions by multiple, competing demands. There is the problem of focusing appropriately in the midst of vast streams of information coming at us at high speed. There is the spiraling down effect when our attention gets caught by bad news. There is the challenge of knowing when to focus in tightly and maybe risk missing important information – or when to focus wider and maybe risk getting lost in too much information and too much complexity.

Our attention challenges are exacerbated by the information rich, complex and fast changing world we live in. We’ve become “attention poor” amidst our information riches, to quote Herbert Simon.

In our world of constant change the heuristics from the past may not work at all, and it becomes extra important to have a valid current assessment of 'what is true now'. So we need to continually process new information in order to stay updated and grounded in our ever shifting reality. Add to this the complexity of the information and of the challenges we face, and it is no wonder that we often feel overwhelmed.

We can say that how we pay attention is "fateful" - for us as individuals and as organizations.
The problem is that very few of us - as individuals or organizations - are masters at the art of directing our attention.

 

Coaching as an attention structure

This brings us then to coaching. Coaching is often described as providing an accountability structure – a structure that supports clients to follow through on their commitments to themselves. It may be even more powerful to conceive of coaching as providing an attention structure – a structure to support clients in the mammoth task of effectively monitoring and managing the deployment of their attention.

The increasing focus on mindfulness practices is one expression of the awareness that attention mastery is key. However, in additional to classic mindfulness practices, there are several other ways that coaching could support leaders in dealing with their attention challenge. Here are just three related ideas.

  • Creating self-awareness of leaders is seen as an integral part of coaching. But shifting to the idea of coaching as providing attention support would mean focusing coaching not only on helping leaders become more of aware of the unique, personal content of their minds. It would also involve helping them develop a good basic understanding of key features of attention and how it works - for them and for those around them. This implies, of course, that we as coaches have a solid understanding of the relevant key features of attention.
  • Each client will have their own specific attention challenges and demands. A significant contribution of coaching is to help each client enhance their capability to monitor and manage their attention in ways that best serve their aspirations and their context. This goes beyond ensuring that clients understand the basics of attention. This involves actively collaborating with the client to help them develop customized attention monitoring and attention managing capability. Again, this requires us as coaches to engage in this mastery process ourselves.
  • As we swim in turbulent sea of information, we need to develop filters to help us sort, stream and process information. This is another concrete domain where coaches can support leaders to deal with the attention challenge. We can explore with leaders what filters and frames they are currently using and help them assess how well they are working. We can challenge them to either narrow or expand their filters. We can bring forward additional and frames for consideration, and work with our clients as they experiment with new filters and frames. And we can stay alert, along with them, when something totally new is emerging which requires new and fresh attention beyond the existing set of filters.

Every coaching conversation can be seen as essentially a mutual focusing of attention in ways that best serve the client. And we can conceive the process of coaching as supporting our clients to become more masterful at monitoring and managing their attention – their most vital mental resource. In our “attention challenged” world, this may be one of the best ways we can serve our clients.

 

Melinda Sinclair of PeopleDynamics Learning Group is a Chartered Business Coach™ practicing in Toronto, ON. Her work with leaders and teams focus on enhancing the conditions and skills required for high quality collaboration. In addition to her executive coaching and leadership development practice, she is also one of the lead faculty for the WABC Level 1 Accredited Business Coaching Advantage Program™.

www.peopledynamicslearning.com;

www.businesscoachingadvantage.com

 

 

 

 

 

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28Nov/140

Why You Should Get a Handle on Your Identity by Marshall Goldsmith

Posted by WABC

Marshall Goldsmith

Who do you think you are?

Take your time. This is not a test with one correct answer. And it is very important because how you define yourself will impact how successful you are at your job, how good a friend, partner, or parent you are, and even how happy you will be in life. Answering this question, becoming aware of your identity, who you think you are and how it coincides (or doesn’t coincide) with who you want to be, could be the beginning of a behavioral change that could alter your life in unimaginably wonderful ways!

Identity is a complicated subject. You may be inclined to look back to the past for signal events, memorable triumphs, or painful disasters to answer the question. You may rely on the testimony of others, a boss or teacher’s positive review, a parent’s approval of your energy and prowess in certain areas. Or you may project into the future defining yourself based on who you want to be or who others have told you that you will be rather than who you actually are. All of these are important, because they make up the essence of who you are.

How do we know who we are? Our identities are remembered, reflected, programmed, and created. These four sources of our identity can be defined like so,

1) Remembered Identity: How do you know who you are? Because you remember events in your life that helped form your sense of self. It’s not so important that these are sometimes inglorious moments or events you’d rather erase; you can’t forget these touchstones, good or bad. For better or worse, they’ve left an impact—and when you write a profile of yourself, these moments inevitably get reported.

2) Reflected Identity: What do people tell you that they remember about you? Other people remember events in your past and they remind you of them, sometimes constantly. It’s one thing for the executive to admit to poor follow-up. But if her boss or partner or customers tell her the same thing, it reinforces the picture that she already has of herself. You might know this as feedback. Feedback from others is how we shape our reflected identity.

3) Programmed Identity: What message do people give you about who you are today or who you will become in the future? Your programmed identity has many sources. It can be influenced by the profession you enter, or the culture you grew up in, or the company you work for, or the entire industry you work in, or the people you select as your trusted friends. Each of these can shape your opinion of yourself, some more vividly than you may realize.

4) Created Identity: Who do you want to be? Our created identity is the identity that we decide to create for ourselves. It is the part of our identity that is not controlled by our past or by other people. The most truly successful people I have met have created identities to become the human beings that they chose to be—without being slaves to the past or other people.

Now that you have a basic understanding of identity, my suggestion to you is simple. Review the various components of your current identity. Where did they originate? How do they impact how you see yourself today, and, who you would like to become in the future? If your present identity is fine with you, just work on becoming an even better version of who you are. If you want to make a change in your identity, be open to the fact that you may be able to change more than you originally believed you could. Assuming you do not have “unchangeable” limitations, then you, can create a new identity for your future without sacrificing your past.

So, I’ll ask you again. Give it some thought. Who do you think you are?

Watch the video here:

 

 

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30Oct/140

Two Elements For Effective Delegation: Coaching For Leaders

Posted by Marshall Goldsmith

Many leaders think they need to delegate more to be more effective as leaders. This is frequently not true. Most often leaders don’t need to delegate more, they need to delegate more effectively!

About the Marshall Goldsmith Thinkers50 Video Blog:

The Marshall Goldsmith Thinkers50 Video Blog and accompanying written articles incorporate learnings from my 38 years of experience with top executives, as well as material from my previous research, articles, and books, including What Got You Here Won't Get You There, MOJO, and Coaching for Leadership. Later in the series, you'll learn about my exciting new research on engagement and my upcoming book Triggers.

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