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An Unfortunate Truth
In all my years of coaching, I have observed this as a consistent theme across business executives, business owners and business professionals, namely that despite all the continuity of energy, focus, ambitious hard work and expectations, that so many are still not where they wanted to be.
Whilst not willing to admit that to most others (often even to themselves), the confidante nature of the coaching relationship enables such truths to emerge and it doesn’t surprise me any more how many admit that they are disappointed with where they are at, when this is challenged. Whilst they agree that they are “doing alright”, deep down they know they could be so much further ahead or have enjoyed or achieved so much more.
It also doesn’t surprise me how so many of these simply don’t know what else to do or who to turn to in order to “turn this around”. So they don’t. Instead, they just keep trying harder, and often at the expense of very important relationships plus the increasing risk of burnout.
So go on – can I ask you to please just check in with yourself at this point. Could any of that be true for you too?
How Can I Thrive When I’m Always Struggling To Stay Ahead Of The Treadmill?
Life is so incredibly busy and we have to keep trying and working harder to keep up with the treadmill to remain competitive, don’t we? It is this very “busyness” that so often prevents us from “stepping back” and taking stock to assess where we actually are in terms of our purpose. Ironically, it isn’t necessarily that someone else is consistently increasing the treadmill speed either; we are often the culprits responsible for setting overly optimistic or ambitious targets and plans that keep us unrealistically stretched, to the extent that we can’t see the wood for the trees, right? Cliched as it may be, that’s akin to continue working hard instead of working smart.
In my blog “The 5% That Know Why”, I differentiate from the masses that small group of people that are willing to invest in themselves and that instead of listening to opinions of those in the same boat as themselves, they are willing to pay good money for good advice and guidance.
Which group do you belong to – the 5% that know WHY or the 95% that know HOW?
Thriving or Surviving – Putting Yourself First?
And in a recent session I found myself challenging my client why he appeared to mostly put “other’s” requests or needs of him first, even over the priorities of his loved ones, so that there was just nothing left for his own personal needs. How often do we find ourselves torn between responsibilities between our work and our loved ones, and feel trapped to have to grind our teeth and give work preference? I sense a number of you nodding as you acknowledge how this may be true for you too, right? Isn’t this part of what makes up or contributes to us “just getting by” instead of excelling in what we’re doing? As in thriving or surviving?
That opened up a whole new conversation about self worth and resulted in us exploring a range of unconsciously held beliefs. Many from “meanings” they had given to “events” way back in their childhood or adolescence where such unsupportive beliefs are unfortunately so often created. And then over our lifetime we have developed and perfected them into behavior patterns and (bad) habits that play out unconsciously and often even sabotage us or lead to procrastinating in our current lives.
I have learned from my thousands of hours of coaching hundreds of business people just like you and me that this in in fact quite normal for all of us, albeit to differing degrees. Nobody ever need feel ashamed or fear “being found out” about this because it has affected us all. All that matters here is that only a small proportion of us have the courage and the foresight to do something about it.
And that my friends, is a “bottom line reality” that differentiates those (few) of us willing to engage and address it from those (most) of us that aren’t. And those that are willing to address it usually end up thriving and those that aren’t are usually just surviving, or “getting by”. And it no secret that it is “these few” that have the foresight to find, select and work with a coach that I have the privilege to work with. They really want to be in that conversation and they are hungry to “fetch” the outcomes they seek.
Back to my recent clients, who at the end of that first coaching session, where we had worked through their pre-coaching questionnaires and started to set the agenda for our coaching program, emerged with a great sense of hope and enthusiasm and confidence that it wasn’t actually going to be “that hard” to refine their direction so as to convert their life from surviving to in fact thriving. You could feel their optimism in that :
- they could see the wood for the trees and had greater clarity of purpose and approach;
- they could have confidence in their track record leveraging them into the kind of roles they didn’t just aspire to, but could in fact see the reality of successfully pursuing
- they could choose to leverage their interests and their passion as well as their talent and experience to be able to do what they really wanted, not settle for what they “had to do”
- age was only a perceived barrier, that in most cases could be offset by the reframe of leveraging the right experience into the right opportunities.
- they felt challenged but accompanied so they could confidently set and go after the goals that really mattered, and then be kept on track towards reaching and exceeding them
- at last they just might identify and break through those barriers they knew deep down were always going to hold them back until they were ready to “lick them”.
How would you like to confidently know that each of those points were becoming true for you? Again I can sense some of you inwardly nodding. Well, I can tell you with great confidence from my own and the experience of these clients that the answer is a resounding “YES”!
OK, Is This Thriving Or Surviving For Real Or Fiction?
How so, I hear you ask? Well, can I share a personal example to illustrate? In the last few years I had worked very hard in my business and on my business and I have to admit that I wasn’t happy with the results of my efforts. The truth was that despite my passion and enjoyment from my work (and the results I always got for my clients) in a sustainable business growth sense I was “just getting by” or surviving in terms of my business success. I love what I do as an executive life coach and I am very good at it. My business model of engaging my clients one on one means I am working within a reasonably small market because as we found above, it’s only a small proportion of people willing to invest in themselves in this way. That’s exacerbated by the fact that many businesses prefer to buy from other large businesses creating large competitive forces for me. As a result my business just wasn’t growing in line with my intent, my expectations and my goals.
As a consequence, as I do whenever I coach and mentor my small business clients, I invested in working with different professionals in a business mentoring sense for my own business, and set about exploring different options and perspectives that would create new and more sustainable opportunities.
I invested in technology and Internet supported engagement models and whilst the feedback was good I just wasn’t inspired and so it didn’t work. In fact it became a distraction and interfered with what I love doing best – coaching business executives, owners and professionals one on one.
I wasn’t myself and quite “down and out”. My negative self talk affected my attracting enough of the right clients no matter how hard I networked. These “negative vibes” interfered with the “Law of Attraction” no matter how many goals I set. The phone just wasn’t ringing any more.
So I chose to take a sabbatical because trying harder at doing more of the same that wasn’t working is the definition of insanity. I practiced what I preach in that it is very rare that the economic development of a business will come before the personal and professional development of its owner(s) or leader(s). I worked on myself. I worked on my attitude. I worked on identifying and addressing more obstacles still holding me back in my confidence. I devoured more books. I sought and carefully selected the right coaches and other professionals, also in some alternate spaces. In all that time I kept meeting and exceeding the expectations of my existing clients, but didn’t seriously pursue the finding of new ones.
And in September last year I had the courage to reset the goals I had been failing to achieve for so long and got back into what I love and do best – finding and working with business individuals one on one – with renewed passion.
Well in the last 5 months I have met and even exceeded those fairly aggressive goals every month, even over the festive season when I have always believed in the past that “business stops”.
What’s changed? My belief. My confidence. What comes out of my eyes. But most importantly it’s my knowing that I know why I’m doing what I’m doing. And not only am I attracting more clients, I’m also attracting a different caliber of clients and together we are engaging to achieve an even greater level of outcomes that are just incredible. My business is thriving. And as a result my clients are thriving. How? By seeing that they were living a “settled for life” and in fact while they were “doing alright”, they were actually just “getting by” compared to the focused, planned and inspired goals and actions they are now striving for and achieving.
This is borne out by the wonderful testimonials you can read about on my Linked-In profile. I am just blown away by it all.
Thriving Or Surviving – So what?
Time for the “so what” question? If the above has struck a chord with you and got you thinking, what are you going to do about it? Are you going to allow this to perhaps be “valid for others, but not for me“? Or have you already started saying: “yes, why not me“?
What will you be willing and able to achieve by yourself? When will you set the right goals to “have a go”? And what sort of help and guidance will you acknowledge you might want as a catalyst, a challenger and then to hold you accountable? And if so, where will you find the right help?
You see, the majority of you will be in the first group that are either doing great or reluctantly admitting to yourself that it’s OK to continue “getting by”. And it will only be a small group of you that will see the value of engaging a coach and actually doing something to find the right one.
If you are in the latter, why not contact me and let’s have that free exploratory conversation. What have you got to lose? And what might you gain? I really look forward to hearing from you and then talking with you.
There are a few additional and related blog resources you might find useful around this topic: