Problems and issues. We all got ’em, we don’t always know what to do about ’em.
I tell prospective clients that a coaching engagement with me begins with problem solving and issue resolution and moves to designing and creating one’s Ideal Life. I really and truly believe that one can design and create their Ideal Life, not all at once mind you, but over time.
Before moving to design and creation though, any pain the client is feeling needs to be addressed. Just like one can hardly walk — let alone run — with a pebble in his/her shoe, the coach must help the client identify those areas where there is pain (problems), or stuck-ness (issues) and help develop and implement strategies to solve problems and resolve issues. And, ideally, to do so in a permanent way.
The problems we have today are not unlike the problems of yesterday. And most of the problems people have are not novel or unique to today’s day and age. That means that someone, somewhere has experienced something akin to what we are going through today, and has solved it. But if that was all there was to it — read a book or something similar, do what they say and the problem is solved — things would be easy (but they’re not . . . ).
We need help in finding the right strategy, customizing it to our personality and situation and consistently taking action while learning and adapting. Everyone needs a expert versed in these things, and better still if we can trust them to support us, hold us accountable and not judge us. That person, that unique skill-set and agenda is a (success/business/executive/life) coach. What is more, a coach can see things about ourselves that we either can’t, or won’t.
But what kinds of actual problems do coaches help people solve? Great question (I’m glad you asked . . . ). I help my clients with the following learning and growing opportunities — ahem! — I mean problems and issues:
Obstacles, Frustrations, Annoyances . . .
I written about this more extensively here, but suffice it to say, whenever you have a problem, issue or frustration with something, or someone, it is because of your approach to it and/or the story you tell yourself about it. Someone once said: “when you change how you look at things, the things you look at change” and it’s absolutely true.
There some key distinctions here: do you have a fixed or a growth mindset (meaning: do you believe that the talent and capability you have is fixed, or can be increased through hard work and diligence)? (See Carol Dweck’s work for more on this.)
Do you approach things with as a Learner or Judger? Meaning, do you seek the lesson in things and look to take responsibility for your situation and examine (possibly faulty) assumptions (and ultimately learn and grow) or do you blame and find fault with others and yourself (and end up feeling like a failure and that others can’t be relied on or trusted)? (See Marilee Adams’ work for more on this.)
And finally, on mindset, do you know about the 3Gs (Global, Good and Grit)? Do you think about the world and how what is happening “out there” affects you and your prospects; do you routinely evaluate your behavior and choices against a filter of ethics and morality and do you have Grit (do you have the courage and sense-of-purpose to persevere when things get tough)? (See Reed and Stoltz’s work for more on this.)
I think in reading that paragraph you can come up with a number of mindset items we could work on together. But wait, there’s more!
Time Management, Lack-of-Energy, Exhaustion . . .
If there’s one term I would eliminate from our consciousness, it’s time management. It’s such a misnomer it’s ridiculous. Time cannot be managed. Time just is. It’s merely a construct developed by humans. We do ourselves a huge disservice when we portray time as something that can be managed. Because once we think we can manage something that is unmanageable, we become failures by definition. Okay, “time management” rant over.
What we can manage is our energy — and we can create more of it, at a higher quality. We can also manage our priorities.
First, energy. I subscribe to the notion that there are four types of personal energy: physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. And that the quantity and quality of energy in those four areas is dependent on the habits we have in each of those areas.
I guarantee you that if you identify one non-resourceful habit in each area, stop doing it and replace it with a positive, resourceful habit, your life will transform for the better. And, if you do such for 90 days, it will be a part of who you are — for the rest of your life.
Managing priorities is how you steer the ship of your life, and determine whether you hop from wonderful port to wonderful port (and enjoy the journey in-between), or are some form of miserable until you eventually run aground. (This is why I help my clients identify their values, vision and goals and develop a comprehensive plan for their lives.)
I challenge my clients to both look at their habits and the quality and level of their energy, but I ask them to decide what they want in life. One of the most courageous things you can do is to say “Yes, I thought carefully about this, and I am willing to hard and adapt as necessary, and I want _______.”
Lack of Trust, Deceit, Duplicitous-ness . . .
With a section headline like that you might think I am talking about dealing with people who lie and cheat. But I’m not. I’m talking about you (and me . . . ). I’m talking about how you can’t trust yourself, and you don’t even know it (you might suspect it, but dare not consider the notion . . . ).
I know that’s hard to read and likely you disagree. But I believe I’m right. The reason being is that we are not careful with and don’t keep our word to ourselves. Or at least not enough. Case-in-point is New Year’s Resolutions. The vast majority of resolutions are not kept, and few more than a week. We tell ourselves that we “need” to do something, or stop something, and we do, for a very short time, then we revert to our old ways — and joke with our friends about how New Year’s Resolutions never work. (They don’t work because we don’t.)
But the more salient point here is that when we say want something, or are going to start or stop something, and we don’t, we begin to lose faith in ourselves. We believe less and less, over time, that we will do what we say we will. And when we don’t trust ourselves, we 1) stop asking for big things from ourselves (because we have no reason to believe we’ll follow through) and 2) we like ourselves less (because, let’s face it, who likes a liar?).
Fixing this takes time. Whenever trust is lost is takes a long time to earn it back. The environment of coaching is a wonderful place to re-build trust with yourself. Because you have help in making good decisions about what to do about what you want. You have someone dedicated — solely — to helping to develop authentically and someone who will help you keep your promises. (Of course, you still need to do the work and keep-your-word, but you’ll find doing so with a coach is unlike anything you’ve tried before.)
But What About . . . ?
You have probably noticed that I haven’t mentioned a lot of specific situations or problems people have. And you’re right (and very observant!). I haven’t talked about a lot of the things that people see in the “How Solving These Problems Will Change Your Life” or “The X Problems You Need To Solve Now” articles that predominate on various web-sites and blogs. Why not? Because it’s not that easy. And the solution to “those” problems are different for everyone.
What’s more, it’s not valuable to anyone to just solve a problem. Much better to grow beyond having the problem. That way, it likely never shows up again. When we understand how a problem arose, the role we played in its creation and sustaining and what needs to change (internally and externally) to grow beyond the problem, we have something of true value.
The themes of success are consistent: having an accurate and resourceful mindset; having the energy and inspiration you need to thrive (and not just survive); knowing what you want, why and having a good plan to get it and being the sort of person who is valued and respected (by others and yourself) are the keys to solving problems. And better yet, the key to having better problems. Because problems never go away, they either get better or worse.
I invite you to join me in the pursuit of better problems, greater challenges and real living. Click here to learn about my free initial consultation.