To Resolve or To Resign?

Recently, I went to Sudan to coach a group of engineers to become coaches. For them being highly technical people, such soft skills concepts like Coaching were totally new to them.

After the session, a small group of them came privately to confide in me that, while they are excited about using their new coaching skills, they are also worried and concerned about their current reputation and credibility in the eyes of their subordinates. From what they told me, the relationship between them and their subordinates have not been good for a long time.

Inevitably, the subject revolved around 2 options:

Option 1 – To “resign”, meaning, to give up their plans to be coach-leaders; or
Option 2 – To ‘”resolve”, meaning, to find a solution to their concerns.

So, the million-dollar question was : which of these two was better.

Often in our lives, we are faced with having to exercise one of these two options as a way to get out of our woes or predicament. Whatever decision we choose will impact us differently. So, when we are at the crossroads of having to choose an option, we better think hard.

In my opinion, “to resolve” means having the courage to get it over and ensuring that the issue is laid to rest. There is a finality and acceptance to the issue and we also learn to adopt a perspective to challenge it with greater clarity should it surfaces again.

On the other hand, “to resign” is another kettle of fish altogether. It implies that there is a great feeling of powerlessness around us. It is a kind of shrugging off our shoulders as we have no power or choice in the matter.

So, what’s the next move?

The first thing to do is to ask ourselves what our value is and why is it important to us. Very often, we spend an inordinate amount of time thinking, talking and reacting over stuff that are not really important in our lives. In the bigger scheme of things, does it really matter?

Take an example of your spouse or friend not appreciating what you have bought for her/him, or your boss’s “bad taste” remark that your children do not listen to you! What’s your immediate reaction? Get upset, angry, or frustrated? Start an argument even though you know you may not win? Blame the other party and wait for an apology (which may not come, or takes a long time to come)? Wait for the other person to change his/her ways?

Or you can take time out to reflect on what’s really going on and look for an opportune time to talk it out when the emotions are not so high. Now, for the important part – act on what you know now. It is no point keeping it to yourself or hope the other party can read your mind and make the first move. Always remember, it is your call!

Do you always have to do this? No. It depends on the sort of relationship you want to have and the kind of life you are willing to work for. You can either work towards resolution or resignation. The choice is yours!

Powerful Questions:
• How often do you have to choose between “resolve” or “resign” as defined above?
• What does it involve?
• What will make you decide if it is important enough to pursue the issue?
• What action will you take?
• How will you feel about it?

Knowing the "Deeper You"

In this post, I would like to talk about the “deeper you”.

To start, I remember a quotation : “We don’t see things as they are; we see things as we are.” I cannot remember who wrote it but it stayed in my mind for years.

Think about it: What does it mean to you? It seems a straightforward statement but yet can cause some confusion, second-guessing and even arguments! I came to the conclusion that the real you are not seen from the outside, but is found deeper in you.

When you ask someone, “Who are you?”, how much will you know him or her? If I were asked this question, I would say that I am a father to my children, a spouse to my wife, a corporate coach, a friend to many, a servant of God, a boss to my staff, blah, blah, blah… But do you really know who am I? I don’t think it will be very much. This is the first level of me.

Let’s go a bit deeper. How do you describe your personality? If I were asked this question, I would say “action-oriented, focused, assertive, fast-moving, lover of jazz and blues, etc.” Do you now know me? Yes, a little more than before.

Like many others, my personality has been influenced by the events that took place in the early years of my life. My dad was very disciplined and strict to us and I had learnt quite a bit of his ways. When young, many of my friends were musicians and we wanted to be different from our “next door neighbors” so we dressed differently, and played and listened to different sets of music. A large part of this stayed with me till today. This is the second level of me. So, do you know about me? Yes, a little more, but not all of me.

The third level of “me” would have much to do with my beliefs and what I want out of life. If asked, I would say this : “I always want to be positively dissatisfied so that I keep searching for improved ways of doing things, thinking out of the box, and looking for new possibilities where others only see problems.” Know a bit more about me? Certainly, yes.

Which leads me to this question: As a coach, do we need to go deeper to find out more about the person after having gone down three levels? My answer is a resounding “Yes” if there is a valid reason to do so. We need to find out the extent of misalignment between their actions and the bigger purpose of their life. Only then can we support them to reach the goals they really want. Not only my clients but many of us (including you and me) cannot explain why they do the things they do. Take me for instance, I know a lot of me and I can explain why and how I came to be the person I am today, but I still do not have sufficient explanation to know the real me fully.

For me, I like this challenge of my life. Apart from the intellectual stimulation, this journey of self-discovery has indeed helped me make peace with myself over so many issues. I can now succeed more in separating my behaviors from my “beingness”.

And, at the end of the day, if we are able to help your clients fulfill their goals and life purpose, the journey of their self-discovery would have been worth it.

Some questions to ponder…
• How well do you really know yourself?
• What do you need to do to know even more of yourself?
• How can you help someone close to know themselves more?
• What do you gain when you do this for yourself, and others?
What do you think? Would you like to share your thoughts with me?

Small Wins, Quick Success

Let us suppose we have defined our goal/s for our lives, say, for the next 2-3 years, in several important areas. And for each of them, we have the “perfect” Action Plan. Then, why do we still delay and not act when we already had said that we wanted to? And why is it that we still fail when the Action Plan is meticulously laid out and all set for success?

Many coaches, managers and people in the street will have many such “paradoxes” that make us wonder what then is missing or not right about the commitment we have made or the Action Plan/s we have created.

What I do know from my years as a coach is that a commitment can mean nothing, or a plan can still remain hazy if we do not create small steps to gain quick success or small wins as fast as possible.

Is there a winning formulae that can be applied in all situations or coaching issues? For me, for example, I jog a fair bit to keep healthy and at the last 100m or so of my jogging circuit, I have 2 routes to choose: a “lazy” route which is definitely easy but does not give me the satisfaction of a good aerobic workout for my heart, or a challenging route that goes uphill. As I prefer to take the more challenging route, the answer or formulae is to break the distance to be covered based on the 3 bus stops enroute. The motivating thing is when I get to the first bus stop, it fuels my desire to reach the second one, and then the third. By then, I would be “over the hill”. Wow! What a great joy and sense of satisfaction!

So what is the learning lesson? Break it up into bite sizes. For example, you want to make a big commitment, but you delay taking action. Why? Because the commitment is too huge with results that will only be known in the near or distant future. So, the waiting time is long, and there is nothing you can shout about right now.

What is more important is our intention to get it done with small broad steps instead of a beautiful detailed plan. And while we are in that process, we should have some fun and throw caution to the wind a little.

And this is what business coaches do when they talk about the importance of focus. It is really on the intent to achieve the activity and, along the way, putting in small steps to allow for change/s. Each step will reveal the next step of the journey, even as we keep our eyes on the big picture and not on the small details which can trip us up.

So, go out there and get some quick wins and early success fast!

Some questions to ponder:
1) When in a pursuit for a goal, what exactly do you want out of it?
2) What is the big picture of your overall action plan?
3) Why is it important for you to want it?
4) What will keep you focused in getting it?
5) How can you have fun and enjoy the journey?