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Can You Afford Coaching?

Posted by on Sep 20, 2012
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A friend of mine recently asked, “Do you find that the people who most need coaching can least afford it?” and it got me thinking about money and about the value of coaching. The question of what you can afford it highly subjective and value-laden. Look at any budget — your own or the government’s (okay, maybe you don’t want to look at that)  — and you will find choices and priorities based on implicit or explicit values.  (more…)

The Secret of Goal Setting: Values Alignment

Posted by on Sep 13, 2012
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The Secret of Goal Setting: Values Alignment

One of the first things we do in a coaching relationship — whether it is career coaching, leadership development, team coaching, or personal life coaching — is set goals. Like most coaches, I encourage my clients to (1) be very specific about their goals, (2) make them measurable (how will you know if you have succeeded?), (3) set a time limit, (4) identify what actions will move them toward their goal, and (5) relate their goal to their values, so that it inspires and motivates them.  It is the last element that is the true engine of achieving your goal. As an example, I will share a goal with you. (more…)

What Do You Want?

Posted by on Aug 31, 2012
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One of the first questions I ask new and prospective clients is “what do you want?” More often than not, the answer is: “I don’t know,” or “I’m not sure.” The first phase of coaching then focuses on clarifying what the client wants so that he or she can begin to move forward with change. If you, too, are dissatisfied and having a hard time figuring out what you want, here are some coach’s tips to help you answer your big question. (more…)

Follow Tina Fey’s Advice: Say Yes, And…..

Posted by on Aug 24, 2012
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There are a number of lessons I will take from Tina Fey’s memoir, Bossy Pants. Stay away from the paper cups in male writers’ offices at Saturday Night Live is one.** Another is that fame and fortune do not make women immune to the often agonizing trade-offs between career and parenting. But the lesson that is sticking with me the most is a lesson from the world of improvisational comedy:  Say “yes, and ….” (more…)

Grading on a Curve Undermines Performance

Posted by on Jul 18, 2012
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Microsoft offers a lesson on how not to conduct performance reviews. Its evaluation process, called “stack ranking” — essentially grading on a curve — has had a disastrous effect on morale, performance, and innovation, reports Kurt Eichenwald in “How Microsoft Lost Its Mojo.” His article in the August Vanity Fair describes a system in which managers are permitted to give only a few employees top reviews, while the majority receive mediocre reviews, and a few receive poor ratings. This structure sets up a competition among employees and fosters an environment in which it is not enough to do outstanding work, but also to make sure that you outshine your co-workers. Said one former Microsoft engineer, “…people do everything they can to stay out of the bottom bucket, [including] openly sabotaging other people’s efforts…. I learned [] to give the appearance of being courteous while withholding just enough information from colleagues to ensure they didn’t get ahead of me in rankings.” This zero-sum thinking undermines collaboration at all levels. Particularly in an industry in which engineers must collaborate to create innovative products and teams must pull together to meet aggressive timelines, fostering competition between teammates is toxic. (more…)

Going Pro

Posted by on Jul 13, 2012
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If you read my last blog, you know that I am battling resistance. Today it has taken on many forms, from errands to housework to the season finale of “Smash.” And now it has gelled into writer’s block. I have several ideas,  each of which has some merit, but none of which takes me past the opening sentence. I type. Backspace. Type. Backspace. My stomach is all bunched up, and I feel trapped. (more…)

Battling Resistance

Posted by on Jul 9, 2012
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Today I’m writing about the ways in which we stop ourselves from pursuing what we want: resistance in all its forms. Sometimes it is personified as our gremlin, saboteur, or negative voice that tells us that we are not capable of doing or creating what we want or that we don’t deserve it. Sometimes resistance looks like a long to do list that includes so many urgent tasks that we never get around to the really important stuff like starting our business or writing our novel (or blog!). Other times it is the whisper of procrastination “I’ll start my [diet/work-out regime/grad school application] tomorrow.” Resistance, according to Steven Pressfield in The War of Art, will “perjure, fabricate, falsify; seduce, bully, cajole …. It will reason with you like a lawyer or jam a nine-millimeter in your face like a stickup man. Resistance has no conscience. It will pledge anything to get a deal, then double-cross you as soon as your back is turned.” (more…)

Summer Camp is a Big Step for Parents, Too

Posted by on Jul 4, 2012
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On Sunday we delivered our nine-year-old daughter to the bus that will take her to sleep-away camp for the first time.  It was far from a tearful goodbye – she was first in line to get on and gave me a warm but brief hug before boarding. I smiled bravely and waved at the tinted glass windows, not knowing if she was even looking, and she was gone. (more…)

Re-Defining Having It All

Posted by on Jul 2, 2012
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I feel the need to explain myself.

My last two posts on the topic of Having It All — both which might be interpreted as discouraging — are probably not very good marketing for someone in my profession. After all, my job as a coach is to help people dream big and achieve their goals. So where do I get off telling women and men that they can’t have it all and asserting that the very notion of “having it all” is not even desirable? What happened to following your dreams, overcoming obstacles, not settling for less? (more…)

Having It All Isn’t All It’s Cracked Up to Be

Posted by on Jun 28, 2012
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What do we mean by “having it all,” anyway? What ever happened to “enough”?

Anne-Marie Slaughter’s Atlantic Monthly article, which I already blogged about earlier this week, asserts that we are lying to young women when we tell them that they can have it all. Instead of blaming women’s lack of ambition, Slaughter, former Director of Policy Planning at the State Department, recommends sensible and forward-thinking changes in workplace policy and culture that would improve the potential for women (and men) to achieve professional success without sacrificing family. I agree with her suggestions and share her aspiration of greater representation of women in top jobs. But that is not what I am writing about today. Instead, I am questioning the goal of having it all.  Even if it were possible to achieve maximum success in every area of our lives, would having it all make us happier or increase our well-being? (more…)