Tim O'Rahilly Life Coaching

Archive for the ‘What is Coaching?’ Category

Mindful Monday: Self-Confidence.

Do you lack confidence? When we are bombarded with negativity it is easy to wallow in it, either temporarily or over  the long term. Our self confidence can influence every area of our lives from work or study, to relationships and personal success. The way that you see yourself has a huge impact on the way others see you. The more confidence you have, the more others will believe in you and the greater your chance of success will be.

It may seem that many of the things affecting your confidence are outside your control. You may feel the need to get advice from someone else to help you out of this low place. A life coach is a good option as an impartial listener who can guide you towards a more self assured and successful future. There is also much that you can do to improve your own confidence levels and Mindfulness is just one of the many options. Some would say that goals oriented coaching is at odds with Mindfulness and it’s focus on the here and now, but I really believe that the two things can work very effectively side by side.

There are many strategies you can try to increase you self confidence. First and foremost, always have clear goals and visualise what it might look, sound and feel like being the new and self confident you. In order to do this of course you need to believe that you can be confident. Identify your limiting beliefs and negative opinions and be prepared to shed them. If you can only see negative outcomes you will simply reinforce you own well developed, poor self image.

Here are my 10 suggestions for action. Any or all of these will help to reinforce a powerful self image which others will perceive as your new found self confidence.

1. BE HAPPY. Personal happiness is essential to good health and well being. Seek out those things that make you happy and make them happen for you. This can be as simple as a stroll in your garden or park, or even a drink of tea from your favourite cup. Optimism too is a powerful tool that leads to persistence and ultimately to success. Think positively and distract yourself from any grumpy moods by visualising happy memories. Mindfulness meditation can be a powerful facilitator in this.

2. LOOK GOOD. Nobody is more aware of your personal appearance than you are yourself. When you don’t look good, your whole posture changes, as does the way you interact with others. Stand up straight, keep your head up and always make eye contact. This will make a positive impression on others and make you feel more alert and assured. Walking faster will also make you look and feel more important. Of course your appearance will also be enhanced by good grooming and good dress sense too.

“Hold your head high. Stick your chest out. You can make it. It gets dark sometimes but morning comes. Keep hope alive.”

– Jesse Jackson

3. NOURISH AND REWARD YOURSELF. Do you usually vegetate in front of the TV at night? Why not turn it off and engage in activities that exercise your brain cells instead. Reading, crosswords, Sudoku etc. can all help. Eat well and healthily. Treat yourself occasionally, even if it is to your favourite calorie-laden chocolates. When you do, buy the very best you can and really enjoy the quality and flavour.

4. PERSONAL TESTIMONIAL. Be your own motivational speaker and develop your own commercial. Ever heard of a business tool called the Elevator Pitch? Write your own pitch highlighting your best attributes and strengths. Recite it to yourself (in front of a mirror?) whenever you need to boost your confidence.

5. BE GRATEFUL. Sometimes when we dwell on what we want, our minds start to create reasons why we can’t have it and then we start to accept our own weaknesses. The best antidote for this is to set aside time to focus on everything we can be grateful for. Recall happy successful times, great relationships and individual skills. We have all made mistakes and will do so again. Do not judge yourself on the mistakes but how you deal with them. Be careful not to dwell in the past but learn from it.

6 COMPLIMENT OTHERS. When we are in a negative mood ourselves it is easy to see others the same way and we can get drawn into gossip, prejudice and insults. This cycle is easily broken by simply learning to give compliments and praise others. You will become well liked and as you seek the best in others, you will also bring out the best in yourself.

“It is in the shelter of each other that the people live.”

– Old Irish Proverb.

Of course our relationship with others can be our greatest source of happiness and contentment. Try showing your friends how much you care about them through small, meaningful acts of kindness.

7. SPEAK UP. Public speaking is regularly cited as the biggest fear for most people, We fear making fools of ourselves but in any group, others will be feeling the same, so go for it and try to say something in every group situation. You will be recognised by others as a leader and you will become a better public speaker.

Likewise, how often at school or in the office do we head for a seat at the back, hoping not to be noticed? Choose the front row, feel more confident and be more visible to the important people in the room, e.g. the speaker.

8. LEARN SOMETHING NEW. Make a commitment to learning a new skill or some new knowledge and devote an hour a day to do it. Find time when you can focus without distractions from family, TV or mobile phone. Knowledge breeds confidence.

9. EXERCISE. In the same way as personal appearance can lift our spirits, physical fitness can have enormous impact on our self confidence. We are all well aware that being out of shape can make you feel unattractive, insecure and can be a drain on our energies. Working out or exercising can help in two ways. We can feel energised, have more stamina and improve our appearance. Secondly, the actual discipline of a regular workout will create a positive momentum of its own which helps in so many ways.

We should exercise daily for 20 minutes, in order to release feel-good chemicals into the blood stream. It is also important to get regular, good-quality sleep and daily doses of sunshine (or at least daylight), especially during the winter months.

10. MAKE A DIFFERENCE. It is easy to get caught up in our own desire and become self-centred. if we turn our attention outward and look at the contribution we are making to the rest of the world, it can distract us from our own worries. This could be helping in your own local community where there are many opportunities to volunteer or it can be in the wider global community. This contribution will reward you with personal recognition and success.

If you need any help with confidence issues or developing self-esteem, then these are areas where Life Coaching can definitely support you. Drop me a line, and let’s see what we can do for you.

The Value of a Writing Coach

The writing life can be a lonely one. I’m probably not imparting any Earth-shattering revelations there – one of the most commonly-expressed sentiments about writing is that it involves long stretches of isolation and solitude. The thing is, it doesn’t have to be that way.

The greatest asset a writer can have is another writer who operates on a similar wavelength to themselves; a friend, a colleague, a shoulder to cry on when things are going badly. A writer will understand your struggles better than anyone else – after all, they’re going through the same things themselves. They can also be an invaluable source of inspiration, or act as a sounding board when you need to try out new ideas.

Of course, not every friendship between writers will turn out to be so fruitful. Some writers work best alone. Some writers actually make terrible writing partners because they don’t know how to critically evaluate another person’s work the way they evaluate their own. Some are simply not very good at the kinds of social interactions necessary for such a partnership to work. (Writers being anti-social? Shocking, I know.)

This is where a different kind of partner can come in useful, one who has enough distance from the writing process to see problems and find solutions that might not be obvious to you. That person can be an editor, if you’re looking solely for help with the manuscript. Or they can be someone like a life coach, if you need help with those aspects of the writing life apart from the book itself.

But this post isn’t just a sales pitch. I genuinely believe that having a professional coach (or someone like a professional coach) can be of immeasurable help to struggling writers. Everyone can do with having someone who they know will always be in their corner, creative people in particular. The loneliness of the writing life has been the undoing of more potential authors than anyone could count.

At this point it’s important to mention what a writing coach isn’t. Specifically, a writing coach is not any of the following:

  • An editor – they cannot edit your manuscript for you.
  • An agent – they cannot place your books with editors for you.
  • A ghostwriter – they cannot write your book for you.

What a coach can do is help you clarify your goals, your aspirations, and your strengths and weaknesses. They can give you perspective about a part of your life that is extremely difficult to judge with any kind of objectivity. That might not sound like much, but it can be of immeasurable value.

So, here’s the sales-pitchier part of the post: a description of the services I offer as a writing coach. Interested? Get in touch! Or else get in touch with a coach who looks like they might be more your style. Whatever you do, don’t walk that lonely road alone.

What Is Coaching: The Wheel of Life

Since I first started this blog series, I’ve been asked many questions about the coaching process. One recurring theme in those questions has been ‘How do I choose my goals?’ or ‘How do I know which areas I need to work on in our coaching sessions?’ To answer these concerns, I’m going to look at a tool which I like to use with new clients early in the coaching conversation.

It’s called the ‘Wheel of Life’, and is a simple but effective tool which can quickly determine the level of balance (or lack thereof) in your life. This will also expose those areas which are less balanced, and which can be focussed on during coaching.

The Wheel of Life is probably the most widely used of all coaching tools. It has been adapted into many forms. The version I will use here is a generic wheel which you can use at home to achieve quick and useful results.

We will take 8 aspects of your life to measure on the wheel. In no particular order, they are:

  1. Career (e.g. work, business, school/university)
  2. Money (personal finances)
  3. Health/Fitness
  4. Friends and Family
  5. Relationships/significant other (partner, spouse or single status)
  6. Personal Growth (education, development, ambition)
  7. Fun and Recreation (leisure, hobbies, vacations)
  8. Physical Environment (home, office/workspace, desk)

These can be changed to suit the individual or circumstances. Occasionally clients like to add or even replace some headings, for example with ‘Creativity’ or ‘Spirituality’.

Draw your wheel as shown here, or e-mail me for a blank copy. Whatever version you prefer to use, it should have 8 ‘spokes’ and 8 segments. The spokes need to be numbered from 0-10, with 0 at the centre and 10 at the outer circle, so that the whole diagram forms a series of concentric circles. Now fill in the labels for each segment around the outside, and you’ll be ready to begin!

This wheel is a measure of your level of satisfaction with each of these areas. Grade your yourself in each area according to how satisfied with them you are right now. be honest with yourself and you will end up with a good snapshot of your own life balance as it is now.

Look at the wheel you have drawn and ask yourself a few simple questions. How round is your wheel? How large is it? How bumpy a ride will your wheel give you? Is a large or a small wheel more stable? Which will be knocked off course most easily?

The really important part of this exercise is what you now do with your wheel. You should look at those areas where you wish to improve your level of satisfaction. Begin to think what you might do about it and set some action Goals.

Coaching: The GROW Model

I am frequently asked about what form my coaching takes. My usual response is to ask more questions, as there are so many different factors involved in the coaching process. These will be influenced by the individual, their circumstances and the type of coaching they are looking for. That said, whether I am coaching one-to-one or in group/workshop sessions I will usually follow the GROW Model, or some variation of it.

GROW is an acronym for Goals, Reality, Options and Way forward (or Will). The model was first used by Graham Alexander in the late 1980’s before being refined and made more widely known by Sir John Whitmore in his 1992 book Coaching For Performance. This model provides a structured framework which helps to set powerful goals and also enables an effective problem solving conversation.

Once a coaching topic has been agreed upon by coach and client, the most important first step in the process will be the setting of end goals. Clear, clean and powerful goals need to be in place for the coaching process, and also for each individual session along the way. I have discussed goal setting in more detail in a previous blog post, but they should be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Agreed, Realistic and Time-framed.

The Reality stage is the ‘now’ in the process. How far away are you from the end goal, and how far have you already moved towards it? At this point it is essential that time is taken to better clarify the goals and engage with them.

At the Options stage, we do not attempt to resolve the topic immediately. Rather, we come up with as many options as possible. These options should be in the form of action steps towards the goal. This can take time and needs to take into account another ‘O’, namely Obstacles. Is is not unusual at this point to revisit ‘Reality’ or even ‘Goals’ again. At this stage the coach will ask many questions to aid the client’s thinking. Things to consider might include:

 

  1. What knowledge or resources do you already have?
  2. Where can you get additional knowledge or resources?
  3. Can the obstacles in your way be minimised?
  4. Have you dealt with any similar obstacles in the past?
  5. How might someone who could deal effectively with such an obstacle go about it?

At the end of this stage there should be one or more agreed options to take on to the Way forward.

At the final stage, goals will be firm. The’ reality’ stage will have defined a need and we will have chosen options to put into action movings towards achieving the goal. Along the way it is the coach’s task to help the coachee recognise WHAT they are going to do and WHEN they are going to do it. We will consider HOW these actions will get the coachee closer to their goals and WHICH obstacles need to be overcome. It is also important to establish WHO they can ask to help with the journey.

Any internet search will produce other coaching models and even other variations of the GROW model. I have a preference for this model because it is flexible around specific needs. It also starts with a rigorous goal-setting stage before committing to clear action steps for achieving those goals.

Goal Setting

Or – Tell me what you want, what you really really want.

In my blog post ‘What is Life Coaching?‘ I talked about how we live in a rapidly changing world and how it can generate a feeling of helplessness when we are not in control of our own path through the craziness!  The job of the Life Coach is to be your guide on that journey. The first thing we must establish are the goals, so that your journey has a destination.

To begin with the end in mind means to start with a clear understanding of your destination. It means to know where you are going, so that you better understand where you are now and so that the steps you take are always in the right direction.

-Steven Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Without Goals we cannot be in control of our own destiny and we will tend to drift from crisis to crisis on waves of uninspired intuition. Once we set some goals we have purpose, drive and we can make good choices. We can start to develop our own path towards happiness and fulfilment. These goals must not be vague or woolly. So often when we ask anyone what they want the first response we get is a list of what they DON’T want! We need to delve deeper and ask searching questions to get to ‘what you really really want!’ It is essential that your goals are challenging, achievable and measurable.

Are you in earnest, seek this very minute. Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Just begin and the mind grows heated. Continue and the task will be completed.

-Goethe, Faust.

I like to think of SMART goals as being:

SPECIFIC – This can be the most challenging part of the process, requiring deep questioning to arrive at one clear phrase or sentence which is personal and  positive so that it fires the imagination.

MEASURABLE – It makes sense that any meaningful goal must have some measurable objective, such as weight loss achieved or salary earned. Some goals may not have such a clearly defined end point, but it may help to set the goal in the present tense so that you can say that the goal is achieved “When I am …” One example for a confidence goal might be “When I am speaking to people in a much more confident and relaxed way”

If you think you can, you can. Henry Ford

AGREED – Goals should be written down. They must be congruent with your personal values and beliefs and they must be morally and legally acceptable. There should be an understanding of why your goals are important to you. Of course, just setting goals will improve nothing unless there is a commitment to action. Part of the process must be a set of actions that you need to take in order to achieve your goals.

REALISTIC – There is nothing to be gained by setting goals which are not achievable. If you are a heavy smoker, very overweight and not used to physical training, would it be realistic to set a goal to compete in next years Olympic games?

TIMED – All goals should have a start date date and a finish date in order to focus the mind and fire the imagination. It may also be useful to set specific  ‘step goals’ along the way in order to measure progress towards the end goal and fulfilment.

Going through life without goals is like trying to sail a boat without a rudder. You will be at the mercy of outside forces controlling your destiny for you.  How often have you heard the phrase ‘Fail to plan and you plan to fail’ ? Take all the time you need to set meaningful goals which have emotional power for you, then take action to achieve your dreams.

I dream my painting and then I paint my dreamVincent van Gogh

What is Life Coaching?

I am often asked what Life Coaching is, and so I have decided to use this blog to try to answer this question.

Coaching means many things to different people. On the front of my website I posted a vision statement summarising what is important to me about coaching, but I accept that this still needs a simpler, more basic definition. The origin for this use of the word may go as far back as the horse drawn coach which transported people from one place to another. At its heart coaching is about transporting you from where you are now to a better future. We also  accept the use of the word in the sports performance context where a specialist will support and encourage the athlete to be the best they can be. This too is the goal of a Life Coach.

One definition of Life Coaching may be that it is the application of processes which allow you to take stock of your current situation and then, by taking action, move forward to where you want to be. There are many styles of coaching, but personal coaching seeks to equip you with the tools and resources to take control of your life in any chosen direction.

We should also be clear about what coaching is not.  Life Coaching is not counselling, and so does not seek to interpret the past. The starting point of coaching is where you are now, not where you might have come from. Also, coaching is not a set of rules or instructions, nor is it a load of ‘expert’ advice about what you should do. Your coach will ask searching questions to draw out strategies based on the powerful resources which we each carry within us.

Whatever personal challenges you may be facing, your coach will assess whether or not coaching is appropriate for you and your situation. Once this is clear, you coach will apply a variety of techniques and processes to guide you on your life changing journey to a brighter future.

As a Personal Performance Coach I offer support in many areas, so if you want to talk about one-on-one coaching then contact me. If you have any questions or comments about what I have said here then please post a note here.

Future blogs in this series will look at Parent Coaching, Youth Coaching, Transition Coaching, Small Business Coaching, DISC Profiling, Stress Coaching, Goal Setting, Career Coaching, Coaching for Teachers, NLP Coaching and Coaching Workshops.