Listen to a summary of this post on followed by Part 2.
About a month before I quit my job, I was registered for a leadership course called ‘Coaching Out of the Box; Coaching 5/5/5’. It was one of the required leadership series my organization was taking. My own leader had warned me that she did not like parts of it, as the instructor got too personal and actually cried in one of her sessions. Personally, I was feeling that our organization could use a little more ‘human intervention’ and I was quite looking forward to taking it. The sessions were held weekly, online with the instructor and about 10-12 other leaders from my organization. We all called in and could contribute either verbally or by typing into a chat room. I tried to do a little of both – I always feel that there are pros and cons to each. By orating, a person can clarify their meaning easier sometimes, plus you can hear the inflections and tones of their voice. By writing, you can get it all out without interruption, and then the instructor reads it out, so everyone will hear it.
This course was the reason I came to my life-altering decision to finally leave my job.
Over the six weeks, the intent was for us leaders to learn how to coach our teams and possibly other people we work with or in other areas of our lives. Coaching is meant to persuade and motivate the coachee to think about solutions to their issue, not to provide direct advice, so that the person can naturally come to their conclusive outcome.
This course used the 555 model:
- 5 Core Coaching Skills
- Action Planning
- 5 Step Coaching Exchange
- Clear the way
- 5 Guiding Principles
As we delved into each part of the 555 model, I began to realize that I was both the Coach and the Coachee. I was indeed coaching myself through the issue of what was the best pursuit for me at this time in my life.
Now, I believe I know what coaching is, but it became very apparent that not all people think of coaching in the same manner. This is probably why I was having so much misalignment in my day-to-day activities at work.
‘Coaching Out of the Box’ clarified that:
- ‘Coaching supports the personal and professional growth and development based on self-initiated change relevant to specific action oriented outcomes.’
- ‘The coachee is held as the expert and capable of discovering and generating their own solutions.’
- ‘Coaches focus on goal setting, outcome creation and personal change management with individuals and teams.’
- ‘A coach will almost always ask more of the coachee than the coachee would ask of themselves and stretches the coachee out of their comfort zone and into their fullest potential.’
- ‘Coaching also uncovers an individual’s thinking that may not be informed by facts or even reality.’
- ‘Coaching is self-directed growth.’
- ‘In algorithmic work environments (routine, repetitive, measurable work), the old “carrot and stick” or “reward and punishment” worked well, but researchers have found that this approach can be devastating in a heuristic environment (enabling a person to discover or learn something for themselves). …competency in soft skills…tap into employee’s built-in and unique motivation systems.’
I learned about the three levels of listening
- Level 1 – focus on me, listening through personal filters and judgments.
- Level 2 – focus on we, listening with the intent to respond.
- Level 3 – focus on you (the other person), listening for meaning and feeling of what is being said, and the essence of what is behind the words.
In the encouraging section, I learned that we ‘hold the coachee capable’. We need them to believe in themselves, not just pump them up with false statements. You can do this through praise, compliments and acknowledgment.
Questioning people is key to unlocking resourcefulness. A powerful question typically has some of the following components:
- Stems from genuine curiosity
- Stimulates reflective thinking and conversation
- Are thought-provoking
- Surfaces underlying assumptions and limiting beliefs
- Invites creativity
- Demands innovative thought
- Unearths new possibilities
- Generates energy and forward movement
- Stays with the coachee
- Evokes more questions
You can use a combination of open-ended or closed questioning to get good responses. Types of questions to use in a coaching situation are: Clarifying, Self-Awareness, Challenging, and Action questions. And use the reporter’s format of Who, What, Where, When, Why and How.
To help someone move forward, we need to request of them. Requests send an underlying message that we see this person is capable of more than they think they are. I started to see this in myself; I knew that I was capable of more, but I was afraid to do it. Accept, Decline or Negotiate the request.
Lastly, there was Action Planning, where a plan is put in place to move forward. Actions were identified in three types:
- Tangible Actions – can be seen, measured and verified.
- Discovery and Learning Actions – Identify what is unknown and create a plan for how to become informed.
- Evolutionary Actions – examine what is below the surface and reflect on what has been learned or the new perspective. May result in a sustainable change that fundamentally shifts behavior.
With this process, there needs to be accountability.
I was starting to ask myself all types of questions and developing new listening skills. I began listening to really understand what was being asked of me at work, and also by the Universe to understand what was expected of me in my life. I could feel a shift in my thoughts and behaviors as I formulated my answers and rose to the request of actions I asked…no demanded myself to do!
Around week 3 of this course, we were sent a personal assessment to complete. I have no idea how many other people completed their personal assessment, but I was very excited about doing mine. Even though I was so busy that I was missing all my lunch breaks and staying late every evening, I took a couple of hours after work one day and completed this when no one else was around. I wanted to focus on the questions and really think through them to get to the root of my problem – which, I was pretty sure, that I no longer felt motivated in my job.
I was asked to rate several statements related to six different categories that centre in everyone’s life. The categories were:
- Your Physical Environments – home, work, other
- Health & Wellness
- Money & Finances
- Relationships and Communication
- Time and Space (space here means bandwidth or your capacity to download and process what is coming at you in the moment)
- Career & Business
The rating system was a scale of 0 to 5 on how TRUE this statement is for you in your life.
0 = doesn’t weigh on my mind at all; never give it a second thought; is 100% TRUE.
Some of the statements I was asked to respond to are included:
- My home and yard is in good condition and does not require repairs.
- I have the proper equipment and machines I need to do my job well.
- I am working in the geographic area of my choice.
- I get the proper amount of physical exercise.
- I rarely get sick
- I don’t have habits that interfere with my wellbeing.
- My beliefs and attitudes about money are my own and not someone else’s (parents or other early role models or influences).
- I don’t feel embarrassed or shameful about money.
- I am well aware of what is coming in and what is going out in my personal finances (and business if applicable).
- I have no one in my life that I have unfinished business with and avoid seeing or running into.
- I am a change agent, not a complainer.
- I feel comfortable saying “no” to others.
- People come first – before results.
- I use my time well.
- The day seems to go by quickly each day.
- I feel I respond to situations versus react to them.
- I am inspired into action frequently.
- I get a sense of fulfillment from the work I do.
- I feel like my opinion counts.
- I don’t let workplace politics get in the way, upset me, or take me off course.
- I feel safe and confident about expressing what is on my mind or what I am feeling with regards to work matters to co-workers, employees, bosses, etc.
Remember, these are just samples of the questions. There were dozens in each category to evaluate. Then, I totaled all the scores to my ratings and assessed these ‘load’s on my life from ‘heaviest to lightest’. I personally discovered that Career & Business was my number one life load, followed by Time (more than space) and My Physical Environments.
After finding out which areas were causing me the most grief, I was asked to select my areas of focus by going back to the categories from the lightest load to the heaviest and finding the statement that was most compelling to me!
- What are the facts? (about my situation related to the compelling statement).
- What has kept me from improving this so far?
- Why is this important to ME?
- What has my belief been about this?
- What new belief would serve me better?
- Are there any boundaries that need to be put in place?
- What standard(s) do I want to raise/lower/modify/create to keep me on track?
- Which of my core-essential values does this keep me from and how?
- Thumbnail Strategy (basically a mini plan of the strategy to conquer this compelling statement).
After completing this assessment, I have six months’ worth of strategies to conquer those things that were impacting my life in all areas, from easiest to hardest. In month five, which was July, my strategy was to quit my job. I could not believe it. I had answered the questions truthfully, and this was the only resolution I could come up with. The work in the four preceding areas were all related to making the work environment better, but it was inevitable that I would have to leave.
Now, it ended up through circumstances, I actually quit three months earlier than planned, but I think I was actually seeing things much more clearly now. I was willing to do the work and make myself capable and accountable, so the timeline naturally moved up.
For me, the categories and strategies went like this, from Lightest Load to Heaviest Load:
- Thumbnail Strategy – Don’t accept all meetings; speak up when it cannot be done; delegate and manage; use every minute wisely; stand my ground; take breaks.
#5 – Relationships & Communication: I feel as if I am part of a team at work.
- Thumbnail Strategy – Build my own team- encourage/coach; work with the Analysts on my team – encourage/coach; work with other teams I rely on.
#4 – Money & Finance: Money does not control me.
- Thumbnail Strategy – Put all my passion and energy into my business; feel free to say and do what I want with integrity without the fear of losing my job/money (i.e., this should not be a condition to what I say); keep my expenses low.
#3 – My Physical Environments: All of my storage areas in my home are organized; I don’t own anything I do not use.
- Thumbnail Strategy – Set up the spaces I need first (basement, bedroom, spare office); get rid of all excess in those rooms; go through storage (bedroom, basement closet, garage); ask kids to take what they want.
#2 – Time & Space: I feel that my time is truly mine. At least 90% of my time is spent doing things that are easy, engaging, I look forward to, fulfilling, rewarding, creative, positive, aligned with something that is important to me, etc.
- Thumbnail Strategy – Quit job! Work on my passion every minute like it was my job – it is; don’t stop!
#1 – Career & Business: I get a sense of fulfillment from the work I do. I feel I have the freedom & choice about how I perform my responsibilities.
- Thumbnail Strategy – Plan a scheduled day; Plan goals, tasks, milestones and deadlines; work on these; celebrate, take breaks, enjoy, love, relax, play, dance.
I added a weekly reminder to my calendar of these strategies so it would pop up on the first work day each week and get me to focus again. This was extremely helpful and uplifting.
I must say that I took action on every one of these strategies and continue to do so. After I left work, I dove into the organization of my space – this will be a future blog topic. I am feeling free-er, more fulfilled, and motivated to keep going. I know that I have a lot more work to do, but the skills I have learned from the ‘Coaching Out of the Box’ course have helped me tremendously.
Questions and Activities: