Who did you want to be when you were in grade school? An astronaut, a rock star, a doctor, or a scientist? Since early on in my life I wanted to be a pilot. For some strange reason, I took a break from that dream when I was 11. During much of the fifth grade I wanted to be a movie director. The year was 1981, and walking to and from school I would engage my friends in imagining the possibilities. As a movie director I would give out the assignments. Boys would agree to drive a crew bus, work camera and sound. Girls preferred acting.
This was a short-lived dream. One day, Maxim, my classmate, decided to take my spot. He wanted it so bad that we got in a fist fight. We called it a tie when both of us got bloody noses. We remained friends, but after the fight, he went back to his dream of becoming a policeman, and I went back to wanting to be a pilot.
It was not until 1991 when I had a chance to videotape my own action. I was shocked by the sound of my own voice. I also disliked my own facial expressions and body movements. My confidence hit rock bottom. “Do I really look and sound like that?” was all I could think. Many other video and audio recordings had followed. With time I got used to seeing and hearing myself the way the rest of the world does.
Thanks to the Internet, we now can quickly look up the reason we sound different on the recordings. It is due to the fact that vibrations from the voice box travel to ear canals through the skull as well as through the air. Vibrations that travel through the skull are of lower frequency than the vibrations that travel through air. In total, our voice sounds lower when we listen to ourselves. That’s the voice we are familiar with. When our voice is recorded, the vibrations travel through air only. When played back, our voice sounds higher and somewhat foreign. That’s the voice we dislike.
Similarly, we like what we see in the mirror compared to what we see in photographs or videos. We grow up getting used to all of our asymmetries, spots, and other details as reflected in the mirror. When we see a photo or a video of ourselves, all of these tiny differences are in reverse. It looks unfamiliar to what we expect to see, so we dislike it.
These two examples illustrate how different the self-assessment of any skills may differ from the assessments of the others. Sometimes, we get what we consider a compliment. That would typically come from a family member or a close friend. Sometimes, we don’t like feedback we get. Performance review is a good example. The point is that the inside and outside perspectives hardly ever match!
So What? Here are some possibilities.
Many find themselves in between the two options. Delaying the action and, at the same time, not accepting themselves for who they are. This may cause job dissatisfaction, health and relationship issues. This is where coaching can help!
Imagine a possibility of writing your own screenplay, becoming the director of your own movie, and enjoying every take you are in.
Our lives are full of outside influences and agendas. They compete for our time, attention, love, and money. When you give in too often, you are running the risk of living a life others want you to live. Fighting back, we get knocked down. If this happens to you, get up, clean up, and get ready for the next take!
One of the topics that surface frequently during life coaching session is confidence, or self-confidence. A healthy confidence allows us to have positive yet realistic views of ourselves and the situations. When we scan different areas of our lives, our degree of confidence may vary. For example, one may be confident analyzing complex data and writing comprehensive reports while a thought of giving a public speech may reveal a low level of confidence. Low confidence can lead to negative thoughts and destructive actions. General lack of confidence can become a barrier for building relationships, both personal and professional.
As I have mentioned in previous posts, awareness is the first step towards a desired change. I have come to truly appreciate awareness while learning coaching through peer coaching, when I took on a role of a client. At one of the sessions a topic of my self-confidence arose. I shared with my coach that my confidence tend to fluctuate daily, and even within any giving day. Upon some further exploration, I have come up with a metaphor that confidence is like a checking account and that I should be aware of overdrafts. I have defined overdrafts as anything that caused my confidence level to drop below a certain level, resulting in feeling down and acting defensively.
What I have come to realize is that as I went through my day, there were activities and interactions that had three possible effects on my confidence. They have either added, subtracted, or had no effect on it. I have started to keep a daily journal where I would write down daily activities and the effect they had on my confidence. After a while, I have discovered, that similar activities may have affected my confidence either positively or negatively. At first, this did not make any sense. However, after some further digging, I have concluded that my own attitude going into the activity could largely determine the outcome! Eventually, I have come up with a system of thinking about my day the night before. I would look at the calendar and try to envision the day ahead. I would try to see the activities and interactions having only positive outcomes. This system really worked for me. More of the outcomes have either became positive, or had no effect on my confidence. Furthermore, I could now preserve and build on a positive momentum and carry higher level of confidence into an activity or interaction where I needed it the most.
As a coach I highly recommend keeping a journal around some specific areas my clients are looking to improve. Sometimes, I think of these journals as of check registers. In case of confidence, positive outcomes of interactions could be seen as deposits. Coaching also allows to build effective structures to minimize the withdrawals. It is intriguing how words “wealth” and “confidence” could be easily substituted in phrases like “wealth / confidence building” and “wealth / confidence preservation”. For some Wealth and Confidence has a causal relationship. How true is that for you?
In search of the meaning of life we think that it is written somewhere and is hidden from us. Therefore, we are looking for it as if someday we are to find a little treasure chest. Inside that treasure chest there will be a script with our name on it and it will say something like “Dear Dmitry. The meaning of your life is…”
Thinking about the meaning of our lives brings about thoughts that are empowering as well as disempowering. Many like to focus on the disempowering, negative thoughts. Being a product of the negative bias, so prevalent in a Western society, we like to dwell on negativity and share it willingly.
Let me assure you that there is no treasure chest with a written script in it. Also, thinking negatively about your life and dwelling on the past will not speed up the process of finding its meaning. I will risk the criticism and say that scripting the meaning of your life is not that much different than writing your personal mission statement.
Personal mission statement writing forces us to think about our long term goals and who we want to become. It is a discovery process of our values and roles that brings together positive habits, character traits, and action in one positive, forward looking statement. Once written, personal mission statement is a road map to a more fulfilling, meaningful life.
Work that is required to write a mission statement cannot be done by someone else. You cannot have an outline of your mission statement and give it to someone to write a draft. Unless you start writing, all the great ideas floating inside your head will remain inside your head. Unless you start writing, the page will remain blank.
I know many people who have not written a mission statement. They do not keep a journal. Yet, these are great professionals, caring parents, and college students. They live happy lives and contribute to the well-being of their family and of their community. A written statement is not, by any means, a requirement. It is rather an exercise in times of uncertainty.
Life coaching can help you to get clarity around meaning of your life. The important aspect of life coaching is that when the coach asks you questions, there will be no right or wrong answers. The answers you provide are based on what you know at the moment and what are your current values. As you engage in a journey towards your new goals, the learning and discovery processes will bring forth what will be important for you and you will start looking at your actions from the stand point of an alignment to your values. You will start seeing a total picture like a bird flying thousands of feet above the ground. Imagine that!
Life coaching, or any other types of personal coaching including career and business coaching, is not free and you may be wondering if it is worth the time commitment and the financial investment on your part. The answer depends on many factors that are unique to you and your coach. However, holding everything else equal, the stronger is your commitment to stick to the plan and do the work during and in between the sessions, the higher will be the return on your investment, or the ROI.
Individual’s results may and will vary. For some, it may take very little time to move to action. For others, the aspect of coaching that will be the most valuable will not necessary be action-oriented at all. Changes in perspectives, or a new way of thinking, can be just as rewarding because they will lead to new course of action in due time. Delay in action is not necessary a sign of a weakness. Sometimes, additional information and self-conviction is needed to take a first step in a new direction.
International Coach Federation has published statistical evidence of benefits of coaching. Some numbers shows the increases in productivity or the improvements in business management process. These could be easily measured in monetary terms. But how can someone assign monetary value to increases in confidence or improvements in relationships? For example, let’s consider your investment of $1,000 in career coaching. Let’s assume that as the result, you increased your level of confidence in your interviewing skills. After a few months, you landed a new job that pays $10,000 per year more. According to a standard formula, your ROI after the first year of employment equals (($10,000 – $1,000) / $1,000) or 900% . Furthermore, because of the new job, your confidence gets a boost and is now showing in other areas of life. Generally speaking, confident people are better equip to handle stress and set-backs. They have a more positive outlook on life. These traits often affect their relationships in a positive way. How will you measure the ROI in this case? Usually, the intangible benefits of coaching extend well beyond the first year, especially when clients continue to be engaged in a practice of self-learning and self-management once established during coaching.
What makes personal coaching different from other types of consulting is the fact that it is the client who decides what is important. Coaches recognize and hold in high regard the uniqueness of each client’s situations, their values and beliefs, and their goals. When a client experiences moments of clarity they often see things in a new light for a very brief moment. With the help of the coach, these discoveries are put in a more permanent state through an action plan. Just like with anything else, practice makes changes more sustainable. Often, the formation of new habits happen within the time-frame of coaching engagement. The dialog between the client and the coach helps to keep the commitment strong.
In not so distant past, a high-ticket executive coaching was the only option to experience personal coaching. While executive coaching is still at large, personal coaching arrangements have emerged. Today, tens of thousands of individuals who paid directly for their personal coaching have improved their lives in various ways. What keeps you from achieving your goals? What areas of your life can use improvement? Whatever your answer is, personal coaching can help!
If you were to do a keyword search for “side effect of” on Google, the first four words that will automatically be filled for you are Xanax, steroids, prednisone, and metformin. All are prescribed medications used to treat various medical conditions. Some conditions are more life- threatening then the others. If you were to do a keyword search for “negative side effects” on Google, the first four categories that will automatically be filled are weed, vaping, coffee, and caffeine. Search for “Top 10 negative side effects” on Google, the first four categories that will automatically be filled are smoking, steroids, energy drinks, and caffeine.
Looking at these search results, I have come to realize that people do care about negative side effects of substances that generate billions of dollars in revenue each year and, supposedly, should help with our physical, mental, and emotional health! By why things that are good for us are also bad for us? Why in an attempt to improve life we often get an opposite result? Now, I dare you to search for “negative side effect of life coaching.” I stress the word “life” as there are other types of coaching, i.e. executive, corporate, or sport coaching. What negative side effect of life coaching did you find? Next, I dare you to examine these, documented by PricewaterhouseCoppers, tangible and intangible benefits of using a coach. Dare I ask what your next step is?
If living a fulfilling life is, indeed, the ultimate job, then we have a number of interesting challenges. First, we all got “hired” regardless of our qualifications, educational backgrounds, skills, and references. Second, the “job description” does not come with the job. Finally, “job reviews” are often tied to “job descriptions” that are false.
Many high-functioning and high-achieving individuals do not share similar cultural and educational backgrounds. We have “book-smart” and “street-smart” success stories rivaling with “being-in-the-right-place-at-the-right-time” sensations. With the development of road infrastructure, the employment is no longer tied to a geographical proximity to an employer. The proliferation of personal computers and the internet has further changed our lives. Today, taking a class, going shopping, doing banking, investing, and even dating could all be accomplished from the comfort of one’s home or apartment. There are more life choices one can take today, compared to 20 years ago. Therefore, there are more “jobs” of living a fulfilling live to choose from.
How did you choose your path when you entered independent life? Do you remember what and who influenced your decisions about your first job, car, apartment, life partner? Where you happy with these decisions and why? Are you still regretting some of the decisions made 20-30 years ago? All of these decisions were part of “on-the-job-training” of the choice-making skill. We get better at making choices as we get better at understanding ourselves and where we would ultimately want to end up in life. Some know that destination point early on, while others keep looking for it for most of their lives.
Career in Life could be viewed in many terms, while each passing year is yet another year of Life experience. What does “promotion” in the job of Life means to you? Is that the attainment of wisdom, new friends, and family members? These are all challenging questions that each of us may answer slightly different. The good news is that there is no right or wrong answers.
Is it possible that when we ask “what is the meaning of my life?” we are asking for life’s “job description?” After all, wouldn’t it be great to have a clear set of objectives that are specifically written for each and everyone of us? While in my thirties, I have started to look for my life’s “job description” on my own but to no avail. Then, I have asked for it many times. Sometimes, I would ask politely, others – not so much. Finally, I got my answer! The proverbial treasure chest came to existence. As I opened it with excitement, it revealed only a blank piece of scroll with my name on it. A little note I found below the scroll had only one sentence “Do it yourself.” Thanks! Intuitively, I knew some of the items I needed write on that scroll. These were things I strongly believed in. These beliefs came out of my own life experiences that I was either running away from, or the experiences I was running towards. With time, I understood that the things I was running towards represented my values. Thus, I wrote my “job description” for a job of a Runner. Today, looking more like a bald Mario without a mustache, I run in pursuit of “gold coins”, or experiences that are in strong alignment with my values.
The minute we are born, we come with a set of “instructions.” The two primary goals of our existence as infants are to add inches and pounds to our bodies. Periodically, we get our “job review” that is nothing more than taking a few measurements. As a parent, I recall the instances when the pediatrician would say “good job” while reviewing my children’s measurements. “Good job” meant that the measurement made top 25 percentile. With time, the “instructions” and “job reviews” got more elaborate as they came from the doctors, teachers, friends and family. Soon, we got used to comparing much of our individual traits to some outside “norm”, or “job description.”
It is hard to have a meaningful “job review” without a “job description” that comes from within. “Keeping up with Joneses”, while a fairly common “objective”, comes from the outside and gets into “job description” that is often a source of disappointment during a “job review”. It has been my observation that the more advance we get in age, the less enthused we are about celebrating our birthdays. Why? I have my own and non-scientific theory that birthdays, class and family reunions, and New Years are the moments when we tend to subject ourselves to comparisons to our friends and family. These comparisons, or “job reviews,” are not based on self-written “job descriptions” and tend to be negative. Figuring out your own values and aligning them with your own goals is, in fact, writing your life’s “job description.” Getting clarity on how will you measure your progress during your “job reviews” is essential for living a happy and fulfilling life.
If you have been in a workforce for a while, you may have come across some hard-working professionals that put their heart and soul in what they do. They work long hours in conditions that are full of interruptions, noise, and artificial light. Learning about their compensation makes you feel better about yours. Some of the hardest working individuals are found in non-profit organizations and the US Army. I am yet to hear about a young man or a woman joining the army to become rich. So what are the factors that motivate some people to work beyond the job description and to risk their lives?
The dual-factor theory provides a framework to help us think about job satisfaction and motivation. Developed in the 1950s by Frederick Herzberg, the theory separates the factors that causes job dissatisfaction and job satisfaction. Counterintuitively and unlike words – antonyms, job dissatisfaction and job satisfaction are not the opposite ends of the same continuum. They are more like apples and oranges.
The first group of factors is called hygiene and includes job title, job security, salary, incentives, fringe benefits as well as physical working conditions such as quality of furniture, size of the office, etc. The hygiene also includes morale, relationships with co-workers, bosses, and the subordinates. In short, the hygiene is the workplace environment. According to the theory, the better the environment, the less dissatisfied we are. As the hygiene or environment factors worsen, we become more dissatisfied with our job. However, the hygiene continuum is limited to a certain range of dissatisfaction. At its best, hygiene will remove any dissatisfaction. Let’s call this highest point “lack of dissatisfaction”.
The second group of factors is called motivators. In short, it is the content of the work itself. By answering the following questions, we can quickly access our own level of motivation. “How significant is my job?” “What am I learning?” “How much of an impact do my decisions make?” “What higher purpose does my job serve?” Motivation is much less about the external job environment and more about what inside the job, and how well it is aligned with what inside of us.
When starting a first career, many students are mostly after the money. After all, money is that pays the student loans off plus what make up for wages lost during the time spent in school. Then the first mortgage comes along. Then family starts to grow. Eventually, one’s lifestyle requires (dual) income with large salaries and bonuses. Should it come as a surprise that monetary compensation and job security are the factors of the hygiene most often used to make one to perform according to the company’s agenda? Why do we see so many high paying professionals leaving corporate world and starting their own companies, making the fraction of what they used to make? The answer is the fact that salaries and bounces have nothing to do with job satisfaction.
If you were to look at how successful companies market themselves, you will find a lot of storytelling. The stories of passion and transformation tend to connect with our hearts and souls and move us closer to a purchase. Similarly, a good talent acquisition strategy will try to speak to our highest values and beliefs such as making a difference, saving lives, inspiring and protecting others.
Take a few minutes to reflect at your current situation using the dual-factor theory. Separate the environment from the motivators. Ask yourself, are you truly satisfied?