Learning Via Others
One thing I have noticed in the past few years is that there seems to be an explosion of coaches in the market, similar to the explosion of entrepreneurs and consultants that occurs when the economy sours, and people are driven to tackle a new venture. As with any major influx of resources into a crowded market, you will likely find some good coaches and some that, well, are less than stellar. Find a good one though, as I did recently, and you can learn quite a lot.
I have long thought that one of the most valuable contributions I make when I am consulting with others is that I come at the situation from without any baggage or pre-conceived notions. I am able to ask the naïve questions, and often expose the long-invalid assumptions. The coaching sessions I’ve been involved with over the past 6 months have strongly reinforced that need for an external perspective: not only for the validation of the initiatives that I am interested in, but for the value of someone helping me think outside of my box.
The focus on the ‘big picture’ has been essential to pull me out of the tactical perspective that I was buried in. I had become completely focused on work to be done in the short term, and all strategic initiatives had found a permanent spot on the back burner. Over the past 6 months, I have managed to complete two strategic initiatives, and am making inroads on several more.
While I learned a lot about myself and my business, I have a much greater awareness of the relationship between my work and everything else in my life. I’m not entirely sure whether the sessions started out as business coaching (they did carry the term ‘Entrepreneur Coaching’), but very quickly they were translated into more of a life coaching perspective. In hindsight this makes immense sense, as I definitely see the holistic view is appropriate. I feel better equipped to prioritize and balance between work and home life, and have a better appreciation for the need to maintain a sustainable workload. This may be coincidental with the personal challenges near the beginning of this coaching session (likely from working too hard last spring), but at least part of this is due to my coach’s ability to inquire about and focus on that wider perspective.
Aside from the tools and insights that we have used and discovered over the past 6 months, I have come to recognize that my network of family and peers are a valuable support group for maintaining the momentum I am building. Indeed, with the changes that have transpired over the past 6 months, I have re-connected with several important people I respect as mentors, and resurrected the deep discussions that had faded away in the past. I have also deepened and strengthened relationships with my family, and this serves to remind me of that bigger picture, that success is measured in broader terms than typical business measures.
I don’t think that it would make sense to continue a coaching relationship in perpetuity, but a periodic reflection and external validation is still important. One of the things that I used to do regularly (but stopped a couple of years ago) was to take a few days a year and head off to a B&B somewhere (out of cellular range) to reflect. This was a valuable exercise, but I guess I got too busy to sustain it. This needs to be resurrected, and I have diarized to make it happen again in the late summer, after our family heads to France for July (during which, I’m sure there will be plenty of discussion of where we head as a family).
As with all things in life, your mileage may vary. In the grand scheme of things, though, there is nothing like a good coach to question your naive assumptions and challenge you to step back and focus on the big picture. More than anything else, their external perspective to your situation is essential, and is something you can’t leverage on your own. – JB