As you consider the journey you’re on (that is: where you’ve been, where you are and where you’re going), you deserve to ask yourself a self-reflective question:
Where were you and what were you doing five years ago that is different from today?
All too often, successful people spend much time looking the current problems they’re dealing with and forget to stop from time to time so that they can look back on the issues they’ve managed.
Remember, it’s the pause between notes that makes music sound so good.
I recommend you spend 45-60 minutes each week to rise above the “noise” and strengthen the “signal” so that what you work on gets the appropriate amount your focus. Open your notebook and spend that time reflecting on your effort, productivity and results over the past few days. Of course, you can do this review by yourself, with a colleague or with your executive coach (if you’re so lucky!).
Would you like your routines and workflow practices to be more efficient and streamlined than they are right now? Call a friend or make a pact with a colleague at work. For the next four weeks, schedule self-reflection time so that you get out of only focusing on the current crises of each day. Build in some time to look at the week-to-week plans (and even the month-to-month plans) of what you’re managing.
Get Away, Come Back Stronger
Between May 26th and June 6th, I advised more than 20 startup founders and CEOs at the Menorca Millennials Startup Decelerator on the island of Menorca, off the coast of Barcelona, Spain (www.MenorcaMillennials.com). In fact, I’ve been involved in this conference for the past four years, but this was the first time I traveled from California to be here working with the participants. As I began the 1:1 coaching program with each leader, several people asked: “how we go about working together?”
Of the leaders I met with, I suggested that 7 of them schedule a weekly debrief process with their co-founder and management team. They realized that to continue performing at the top of their game, and growing their company as they want, they are going to need to work together – as a team AND with a coach – to more easily navigate the challenges ahead.
“How do we work together…together?”
That is a common question for anyone about to begin a formal coaching program and one that deserves an answer. If you’re leading a team, or about to collaborate with a new partner, make sure that you do this work ahead of time. I will make your work and life easier later…I promise!
Whether you’re just beginning your career or you’re getting ready to hand the reigns off to someone who’s going to take your place, pause now and take this opportunity to reflect on the three kinds of coaches you’ve learned from, and ask yourself, “What was the impact of the training I received from them?”
Of course, you can only answer that question in the context of something bigger; explore the higher purpose of reaching out and working with someone who can you help you think new, differently and better. If you learned something new – about how to work productively, lead effectively or work efficiently – what would the impact be on all areas of your life?
I’m lucky. As a leadership performance coach, author and conference speaker, I benefit by spending time with people who are self-determined to find out what they don’t yet know so they can move forward in both their career and life. While on Menorca, I lead two large-group sessions for the 27 startup founders and the 10+ advisors and investors attending the program. During one of the presentations, I introduced the three kinds of coaches you can learn from…and, the one question to ask.
To begin, I invite you to open your notebook or journal to a fresh page, and on top write this question:
“How will you I grow my career from where I am to where I want to be?”
If you give yourself the gift of your own attention, I believe you can make more progress – faster and more efficiently – than ever before. Meet with or learn from each of these coaches and look for answers this ONE question:
“How did you get to where you are?”
#1. The Coach You Know
Are you fortunate enough to be working with a coach right now? If so, schedule an in-person or video coaching call. Personally, I’ve met with at least one coach or mentor every month for more than a decade. For you, this could be a former manager, a colleague, or someone you look up to in your community. Think of someone who will answer your text or meet you for coffee. Ask them to tell you their story and as you listen, wonder how you can copy what they did OR be inspired by their journey.
There’s a fine line between asking someone to meet with you as a mentor and you hiring them as your coach. In my mind, I always assume that mentors meet with me, when they have time, at random and irregular times; I might call them my “lifeline.” When I hire a coach, on the other hand, we always create a plan, identify specific objectives and commit to a series of assignments and meetings scheduled over a term of 3-12 months.
#2. The Coach You Don’t Know…Yet
Who is out there doing what you’d like to do and who has more experience than you…right now? Follow them on social media. Subscribe to their email newsletter. Watch their videos online. As you learn about them, discover something specific you can do differently starting now.
If you want to maximize this opportunity, find someone who has written a book or (better yet) and online course you can take. Over the past decade, I’ve watched series of lectures via The Great Courses and paid to attend online conferences and webinars. I’m still amazed at how much information is out there that I can access at low prices.
#3. The Coach You Won’t Know
Think of someone from history. Maybe a famous businessperson, politician or sports personality. Never mind that she or he is dead, don’t let that stop you from learning from them! Here’s your challenge, pick an icon in your industry, someone you look up to. Find a biography (buy it), a documentary (download it) and a website (bookmark it) about that person and spend 3-5 hours this month learning about them to answer THIS question:
How did they get from where they started…to where they ended?
Remember that journal entry you started at the beginning of this article? Now it’s time to turn the page. There, write today’s date one year from today and think about this…
A year from now you’ll be somewhere else, doing something different, working with new people and teams.
Meet your coaches, ask your question, and be prepared to grow!