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Leadership is about telling people where to go and what to do. Right?

Well, no.

The truth is that, as Marshall Goldsmith proclaims, leadership is 80% listening. How do we resolve this disconnect?

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It’s now becoming a little easier to be optimistic about the future of my business and those of my clients. But, for me, optimism has always been an essential tool for success.

Sometimes optimism is just about putting on a good face, kind of a “fake it ‘til you make it” affair. But I strive for something deeper than that.

There are three reasons I find this important:

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I started my career as an engineer, so I was ingrained with the concept of “good enough.” Not perfect, but practical and appropriate. Leave the perfectionism to those mathematicians and scientists who didn’t have to worry about being practical.

And yet, perfectionism can be valuable.

When it comes to your principles and values, it’s great to be shooting for the ideal. Yes, you’ll fall short, but each time you do it can inspire you to do better.

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Results. RESULTS! People don’t buy coaching, they buy results! I get that. But it’s not the whole story. Yes, clients are spending their valuable time and money because they want to solve a problem. Whether it’s relationships, careers, leadership, business issues … that’s what compels someone to hire a coach. It’s also what usually drives the goal they’re working toward.

It’s all pretty straightforward. But I have this nagging voice in the back of my head: Why is that not what captures the client’s heart? It’s not an irrelevant question.

When I talk with my past clients, or clients of other coaches, I often hear much different testimonials:

  • “It opened my eyes to what’s really going on.”
  • “It brought me hope that I thought was lost.”
  • “It set me on a direction in my career that I couldn’t have imagined.”
  • “It transformed my entire team.”

This is why I’m a coach: to deeply improve someone’s life.

Yes, I work on issues and roadblocks and solutions with my clients. I tend to be a more analytic type person, so seeing tangible results is very motivating for me. Intentions lead to actions which lead to results.

That’s wonderful. Everyone wants to work through problems and achieve even greater things.

But still, that’s not where it ends.

While a coach is helping her client build a stronger relationship with a spouse, they’re generating self-awareness, exploring possibilities, and strengthening hope. They’re even creating a new dream for a better future.

I might be working with a business owner who’s mired in details and a dysfunctional organization. So we’ll work on that, of course. But there’s a deeper transformation taking place, of the heart, culture, and character – of my client and everyone they’re working with.

I’m not saying that having our clients address their issues is unimportant. It absolutely is. But we shouldn’t be satisfied with just doing that, because it won’t do very much to fix the truly important problems our world is dealing with.

And that’s where this really gets exciting!

Society’s largest issues are addressed through people. Someone steps up to the challenge, tries a solution, and moves forward with intention. That brings in someone else who adds their own ideas and resources, creating whole new possibilities.

Where does it start? With an individual conversation, perhaps even the one you’re having with your client tomorrow. She might just start those ripples in the pond; there’s no way of knowing. But your conversation tomorrow just might make the difference.

Possibilities spread by one heart connecting with another. It’s not just information transfer. Yes, that might happen – but it’s more about people connecting their hearts through empathy, compassion and enthusiasm. That’s exactly what coaching excels at.

You’ll never know how far your influence spreads, but that really isn’t why we do this. We believe in the power of the right kind of conversation.

Your coaching can transform and revolutionize the world. One conversation at a time.


This article was first published in Choice Magazine. Subscribe at www.choice-online.com.

You don’t know how strong something is until it’s truly tested.

This last year has been a huge stress-test for every client I’ve worked with. It’s not just because the pandemic has altered the landscape of many industries. It’s also that restrictions have faced us with deep personal and business decisions.

Every week, and even every day.

It’s tempting to just hunker down and wait for this to all blow over. Many did that in the early days, because we were hoping that things would “get back to normal” after just a few weeks. Well, that didn’t happen.

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The first time I saw a work like this, it just blew me away. With such intricacies and powerful colors, I couldn’t even imagine how someone had thought of such a thing. Much less created it.

After I saw an artist create the painting, my respect changed … to their accuracy and how they used this abstraction to evoke emotions.

I’ve realized that this applies to business too! Much of what we do might seem like magic, but that’s not where the skill lies.

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I heard the recent report of a Nepali team reaching the summit of K2, the world’s second highest peak, during winter. A magnificent achievement of incredible difficulty!

But, of course, the lurking question is: Why bother?

“Because it’s there”

— George Mallory, 1924, on summiting Everest

Not everything can be measured in quantifiable terms.

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I tend to avoid conflict. There, I said it.

But problems and disagreements do arise. We can blast social media with our opinions and viewpoints, all perfectly valid of course. 

The problem is when it gets personal: I’m trying to move forward, and someone is blocking my path or otherwise giving me anxiety.

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There have been a whole lot of distractions lately! I’ve had a tough time getting back to what’s important in the new year.

And this picture is so incredibly appropriate to me and the topic! I couldn’t resist. OK, Carl, get back on track.

I have a “short list” of weekly topics sitting in front of me, and that really helps. It has a handful of tasks that I need to pay attention to. And I found it important that this is on an actual sheet of paper on my desk, not hidden in a window that I’ll probably cover up.

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As we roll into a new year, we have an opportunity to look at things with fresh eyes. Of course we all know that there’s little that’s actually special just because it turned to January, so it’s mostly a mental game we play with ourselves.

But mental games matter – a lot!

And because we’re all going through this experience together, momentum tends to grow at a faster rate. So it’s time to take advantage of this

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