When I’m overwhelmed, I have this pervasive feeling of stress that I can’t let go of. It is like there is this weight on me, and even if I’m relaxing or doing something I enjoy, the weight is still there.
When I search for the cause of my stress, I can’t pinpoint the source. Sure, I’ve got a few things I’m worried about, and I may have many things that are going great…but I’m still overwhelmed.
When I feel this way, the one thing that always helps me is a technique I learned a few years back. It doesn’t take much time or much effort, but there is a cost. And the cost is $1.67.
I was going to write a post this week on what it means to be nice vs kind, based on the work of Liane Davey, then I found that she has a video on the subject which would have been better than my perspective anyway.
Based on her work, and the book The Good Fight, I took away this key concept.
(these might be direct quotes, or a synthesis of what I heard in this podcast…either way these are ideas I’m working to integrate into my coaching practice.
“Nice is easy, kind takes candor. Kind is willing to make yourself uncomfortable for the benefit of someone else.”
We need more kind people in our lives. And we need to be more kind to those around us.
Most leaders who interact with a coach do so because they want something to be different. They may want to improve the performance of their team, or become less overwhelmed, or to prioritize more effectively, or to increase their impact as a leader. It could be one of a thousand things they want to be different.
Often the change they want seems so big or complex that neither the leader nor the coach know where to start.
My go-to approach is to take whatever they’d like to change and reformulate it as a question back to them:
If you team is performing better, how will you know?
If you become less overwhelmed, how will you know?
If you are better at prioritizing, how will you know?
If you have more impact as a leader, how will you know?
It is such a simple technique, yet it is incredibly effective. Let’s explore why it works.
When you’re on a video call, turn off your camera.
It is hard to focus while on a video call and having your camera on is a distraction. Turning it off will help you focus and be more attentive to the conversation.
But, wait. I’m saying that with your camera off you’ll be more likely to pay attention and less likely to get distracted? i find that when my camera is off, I can multitask without fear that people know I’m doing it?
I understand the confusion.
You need to keep your camera on for other people to see you. This helps you stay engaged and makes it easier for other people to read your body language.
But, you need to turn your camera off so that you can’t see yourself.
Turn off self-view.
We are easily distracted primates who are naturally drawn to images of ourselves. Self-view is helpful just like checking your appearance in the mirror before you leave for work is helpful.
But we don’t walk around all day with a mirror so that we can look at ourselves constantly. That would be a huge distraction.
If you wouldn’t bring a mirror to an in-person meeting so that you could look at yourself while you’re in the meeting, you shouldn’t have self-view turned on.
Turn off self-view and you will find your focus and attention increases.
The impact of coaching is difficult to quantify and measure. And it is difficult if not impossible to define ahead of time exactly what actions you will take as a coach and exactly what result those actions will produce.
But there are indicators that you are having an impact as a coach. Here is one.
If you have time scheduled with a leader you are coaching and you find that your 30 minute session becomes 60 or 90 minutes because you get into a good topic and the leader doesn’t want to cut the conversation short…that is an indicator that your coaching is impactful for that leader.
Leaders and executives are very busy and it is likely that their calendars are full. At the same time, they are willing to rearrange their calendars as needed based on shifting priorities.
If you have coaching conversations with these leaders and executives and find that your 30 minute session doesn’t end after 30 minutes because they are seeing the value of what you are doing, that is an endorsement of the impact you are having.
One thing that I’ve started doing is ensuring that my calendar has flexibility for the 30-60 minutes after a coaching conversation with a key leader or executive. Because the last thing I want to do is feel that I need to cut an impactful conversation short because I have another commitment.
People show you their priorities by what they do, more than what they say. If they say they are open to coaching and that your coaching is valuable, that is one thing. If they are also willing to move other meetings to continue their conversation with you, that demonstrates the impact you are having.
I’ve come to the conclusion that there are too many meetings. My calendar is sliced into 30-60 minute pieces. All day I run from meeting to meeting, just hoping that I might get lucky today and have time to eat lunch or use the restroom. And it is only when the day is done (or in the small hours before the day begins) that I’m able to do my ‘real’ work.
When we have an unmet need, our desire is to see that need met. When we have a project or task, we want to see it completed.
In order to meet a need or complete a project, there are usually several steps along the way. If there are 5 steps to a project, then each step is ‘necessary’, and all the steps, taken together, are ‘sufficient’ to complete the project.
For example, if I want a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, the necessary components are:
Two slices of bread
Assembling them correctly
Collectively, those are sufficient to deliver a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.