Accomplish Your Executive Goals By NOT Trusting Yourself

As January draws to a close, many people realize their New Year’s resolutions are falling by the wayside. Why is this such a common experience?

David DeSteno is the author of the forthcoming book The Truth About Trust.  In a recent column, he points out that you cannot really “trust” yourself to implement your goals.  He outlines his research demonstrating that goals we set for the future are often linked to emotions present when we set new objectives.  He adds that as these emotions fade, so does our drive to accomplish the original goal.

For example, at New Years you might feel overweight and want to be thinner so you resolve to have a salad at future dinners. Then, as time passes, your enthusiasm for salad fades. Even if you are successfully eating salads during the first week of January, at the start of week 2, potential distractions may arise. As you get closer to that fast food restaurant on your drive home from work, your desire for that cheeseburger grows. This distraction threatens to circumvent your ultimate goal of weight loss.

Most alarmingly, DeSteno asserts that, not only will we break these promises we make to ourselves, but we will then create a story that justifies our actions and, subsequently, forget about our failure. Why? Because we don’t want to believe that we are untrustworthy.

As an Executive Coach I am interested in the results of DeSteno’s research because so much of what I do involves setting goals with clients to achieve metric outcomes. DeSteno’s findings underscore how important it is to add interim steps to ensure that those goals are realized. One effective tool is to remind a client, or for a client to self-manage and remind him or herself, of the emotional enthusiasm they felt when they initially set their goal. Emotions fade as time passes, so the ability to reignite their present day apathy into their former passion, increases the chances of successful goal completion.

Here are a few other coaching tips to optimize successful goal completion:

  • Visualize the future and why your goal will help you in the long run.
  • Make it fun! If you are going to the gym, bring music you like.
  • Utilize task management systems and apps so they help you stay connected to your goals.
  • Set smaller, manageable goals every day that serve as stepping stones to your ultimate or what I call “BIG” goals. Breaking up a big project into smaller pieces makes it less intimidating and allows you to retain your initial optimism.
  • Enlist a friend or family member to hold you accountable.

Let me know if you have other ideas for achieving goals that have worked for you!

Warm regards,

Joe Siegler

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How You Can Make the Most of a Bad Economy

What can young college grads do when four years of college and a degree draw next to nothing during a recession? A recent New York Times Fashion and Style article seeks answers. How will this new generation of college graduates make the most of their lives and careers, despite a recession and widespread unemployment?

Unfortunately, the economic recession has limited the career opportunities for many young and talented people. But many of those interviewed haven’t given up on living a fulfilled life. Despite a lack of work, they adapt and make use of their skills as best they can.

As many continue to search the job boards, there are some executive coaching tips which can help.

  • Find meaning in whatever you do. One interviewee graduated college with scant job prospects. While she made the best of a low-end job, she also did volunteer work after hours.
  • Make the most of what you’ve learned. What’s hard about unemployment is the feeling that your talents are being squandered. Many of those interviewed utilize their life skills by joining bands, blogging, and getting involved with their communities. It may take hard work, but finding that balance in your life is always worth it.
  • Talk to a career coach. A coach can help you make sense out of how you will design your next-phase career. They do more then offer you advice, they’ll be involved with helping your look at every option and making the best decision possible for your future.

The worst that can happen to many in this situation is stagnation. Those interviewed may not have the careers they sought in college, but they still continue to do things that matter. Being fulfilled is vital, almost as important as being employed.

 

JS


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The Future of Monogamy

With the dust settling over the infidelity of Anthony Weiner and Arnold Schwarzenegger, famed relationship columnist Dan Savage asks if we should prize honesty over monogamy. In a New York Times interview, Savage calls typical modern idea of monogamous relationships skewed and unfair. According to him, honesty and openness should be prized above all, even if we admit to our partners everything from flirting with others to infidelity.

The love sphere is inseparable from the rest of our lives, and it often becomes a focus in coaching. This can lead to a renewed investment in monogamy, an alternative vision of the relationship, or, if it’s best, a break-up.

Where there are problems relationships, I have some some executive coaching advice to keep in mind.

  • Talk to a relationship coach. It takes both partners in a couple to make any meaningful decision. A coach can work with them and help decide what is the best direction for both.
  • Ask yourself and your partner what you both want out of the relationship. Are you looking for something serious and long-term? Are you just looking for fun and like to flirt with others? Does you partner know what you want? Be clear with your partner your intentions in the relationship.
  • Open discussion of issues is the first step. Keeping destructive secrets from loved ones only exacerbates the problem and is a symptom of spinning out of control. Infidelity is damaging enough to the relationship, but denial can make it even worse. Admission allows both parties to move on and attempt to salvage the relationship.

According to Savage, most couples can live happily in monogamously. He asks that couples try to be open, honest and flexible with one another. Executive coaching values the feelings of both members of a couple, and works to make sure any solution to a problem is mutual.

 

JS

 


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How to Beat Burnout

No matter what field you are in or whether your business has managed to stay prosperous despite the economic recession, your team members may experience fatigue and burnout. If your business has fallen on tough times and has faced downsizing, burnout will most likely surface in some form.

The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) studied how fatigue currently plagues the American workforce: the prevalence of fatigue in the US is as high as 37.9%, with 65.7% of these fatigued workers reporting their productivity was severely hindered. This loss of productivity and weak performance is said to cost employers $136.4 billion annually. As the economic climate remains on edge, organizational leaders must do something to curb fatigue or risk dealing with its much more severe and costly counterpart, burnout.

Organizations must make preventing burnout and fatigue a priority. While fatigue may surface as exhaustion or a “funk” caused by stress, burnout is a syndrome with more troubling symptoms. These include:

  • Insomnia
  • Loss of interest in work and hobbies
  • Absenteeism and low performance
  • Low or levels of confidence, energy and concentration
  • Feelings of hopelessness

Fatigue left unchecked can kindle into burnout – it must be caught and corrected as early as possible. If you see symptoms of burnout in yourself or your coworkers, be sure to consider the following in order to address the situation:

  • Offer encouragement and ask how you can be of assistance.
  • Identify and empathize with their distress. Do not pass judgment.
  • Mention existing employee assistance programs and other referral options, such as executive coaching.

Learning to prevent burnout in your team or organization is paramount to your continued success. If you notice potential problems in your team members, don’t be afraid to suggest the following steps to avoid burnout or fatigue.

  • Identify and eliminate sources of significant stress.
  • Pay special attention to your physical well being.
  • Be vigilant of all your various responsibilities in life, not just work-related duties.
  • Recall what makes you passionate about your work and why it matters.

Executive coaching can help you assess your priorities and keep burnout at bay. To learn more, get in touch today.

JS
 


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Physicians Must Have People Skills

You won’t find a real life doctor with zero people skills, like TV’s “House,” around the clinic these days. Future physicians are learning new techniques for achieving people skills and teamwork, according to a recent article in the New York Times. New thinking about medical outcomes emphasizes that doctors need clear lines of communication between the medical team, nursing staff and especially patients. Beyond medicine, executive coaching stresses first-rate people skills as an important factor in team and business-management.

What do I mean by “people skills?” For starters:

  • Talking without interrupting
  • Listening with empathy
  • Calmly and diplomatically handling disagreements

The social lessons being taught to doctors can easily be applied to executive coaching.

Here are a few tips on people skills and proper teamwork:

  • Dominating a brainstorming session or meeting hurts everyone when you don’t let others add to the conversation. Be thoughtful of your team and if you’re leading, make sure everyone has a fair say.
  • Make clarity a priority. Nothing ruins a project like a failure to communicate. Open dialogue will help keep focus and prevent confusion.
  • If there’s a problem with someone on your team, don’t single them out in from of everyone. Take them aside and quietly let them know what’s wrong. For all you know, they might not even be aware of the issue. Also, try to let them know what they’re doing right.

People skills don’t demand that we all become social butterflies. They ask us to be patient and understand those around us. Keep these concepts in mind, and you can be a better people person.

What people skills are the most important to you?

JS

 


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Wellness, Executive Coaching and the Spheres of Life

There is no shortage of dietary challenges we face day in and day out. Most Americans simply eat too much, lead inactive lifestyles and uphold unrealistic images of bodily perfection which are celebrated by the mass media. No matter what challenges you face, the right diet with the right exercise regimen can do wonders for your spirit, your mind and, of course, your body; an enhanced focus on your body sphere can improve your personal and professional life.

The SpheresTM approach to executive coaching touches upon improved diet and fitness, but these alone do not cover the body sphere. Instead, the focus is overall wellness, including an enhanced body image and ensuring your health is a primary concern. In fact, the body sphere can act as a foundation for improved longevity and can help you achieve high-energy performance.

Here are a few ideas to remember when trying to focus more on improving your body sphere:

  • Portion control is paramount. Rather than eating two or three larger meals in a day, try eating four-to-six small meals each day.
  • Breakfast should be your biggest meal of the day. Eating larger portions later in the day can negatively impact the body.
  • Eat healthy protein like chicken or grass-fed beef or legumes.
  • Avoid cheese, pasta, and white bread as much as possible.
  • Drink a glass of water several times a day.
  • Sleep 7-8 hours each night. Only a few people can thrive on less.
  • Exercise and leave yourself ample recovery time. Use weights, do cardio or any physical activity you enjoy.
  •  Yoga is often an excellent pursuit for balance, meditation, and flexibility.  Many athletes find it is synergistic with other sports.
  • Live without judgment of yourself and others.
  • See yourself in reality so that you may better focus on what areas of your life you’d like to improve.

What else would you add to your wellness plan? Leave your comments below!

JS

 


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What Can We Learn From New York’s Gay Marriage Victory?

On June 24, New York became the largest state in the nation to recognize gay marriage. According to a New York Times article, the state government approved it by 33 “for” votes to 29 “against.” Four Republicans ended up becoming the deciding votes by basing their decisions on their personal and professional feelings, rather then voting the party line. Had it not been for them, the vote could have been deadlocked.

Even Senator Mark J. Grisanti from Buffalo chose to remain undeclared after, by his own admission, struggling with his own party and with his personal opinions. He stated that he could not deny a fellow New Yorker the same basic rights he and his wife enjoy.

In executive coaching, it’s important to come to terms with change. What was once taboo can actually be accepted in time. Our values, opinions and goals may evolve. Humility and respect are often integral values involved in personal and professional growth.

New York’s groundbreaking civil-rights breakthrough can teach us a number of executive coaching lessons:

  • Though we may feel offended, or disagree with what’s popular, we must consider respectfully tolerating our differences.
  • For Senators like Grisanti, it became increasingly difficult to find a clear legislative reason to vote against gay marriage. If we don’t like a person, or group of people, it helps to ask why we don’t and if our position is reasonable. Quiet introspection is a very potent coaching tool.
  • According to the article, a statewide poll revealed the proportion of residents in New York supporting gay marriage ballooned from 37% in 2004 to 58% at the start of 2011. Society continues to change and evolve. Accepting changes over time may help us accept those we used to consider so different from us.
  • Lastly, remember legalization of marriage in one state is only one big step on this particular civil-rights front – an important one, but one that needs to become accepted more on a national level to have greater impact on the culture at large. This relates to the concepts of follow-up and maintenance in executive coaching – as you achieve new goals at work and in life, it’s important to stay focused on what’s ahead.

What do you think? If you enjoyed this post, please use the buttons below to “share” it with your friends and colleagues.

JS

 


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Hero: Elena Bonner

On June 19 2011, Russian Human Rights activist Elena Bonner passed away at age 88. Her legacy includes a long marriage to the famous Soviet physicist and dissident humanitarian Andrei Sakharov. But she was a force all her own as an activist, fighting for human rights during and after the Soviet Union’s brutal Stalin regime.

Bonner grew up when dissidence and criticism of government was discouraged, to put it mildly. She and her husband’s abandonment of their Soviet government positions turned the KGB against them and led to their banishment from the country. Even in exile, they continued to push for human rights even after the USSR’s collapse.

Bonner stood up for those who couldn’t stand for themselves, even when it lead to scorn, hostility and exile. Her heroic example reinforces a few key executive coaching lessons:

  • Elena Bonner had great respect for people of all religions and faiths. Learning how to practice tolerance and acceptance, and to foster cooperation despite different points of view, is important for those who want to grow as leaders and people.
  • Bonner and her husband took a lot of flack when they fought for human rights. Do what you know is necessary, even if it doesn’t make you popular.
  • No one sphere of life exists independently of the others. Thus, it is important for business leaders to support, and sometimes join, global and local activists who are fighting for positive change.
  • According to Bonner, “The most deplorable teaching is the superiority of any nation over another.” To put it another way, arrogance is a dangerous enemy. If you consider yourself entitled or superior, you lose your true power in negotiations and your actions may make things worse for everyone involved.

We can’t all fundamentally change the course of a nation’s history, but those who fight for humanity and responsible freedom over tyranny are powerful examples for all occasions.

JS
 


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The Balance of Manhood

Former U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner now joins the elite group of public officials who’ve damaged or destroyed their political careers over a bad decision. A New York Times op-ed article, “Those Manly Men of Yore,” looks at why powerful men make these kind of mistakes. The piece explains how, historically, sexual restraint was proof of a more capable man.

The idea of self-restraint is nothing new as writers from the Roman age celebrated men who controlled their desires, according the article. Obviously, many women have been in favor of greater restraint in men, in order to help protect family unity. (The author of this article happens to be female.)  Can greater restraint potentially strengthen the family and honor marital vows?   Possibly but the issue is greater than this question.  For each man, to be alive and strong, actually needs to strike a balance between restraint and pleasure.

The concept of managing oneself is important in my model of executive coaching. For example, it’s vital for those looking to quit smoking or excessive drinking to exert greater self-control. For those like Anthony Weiner, former California governor and Hollywood star Arnold Schwarzenegger, or struggling Presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, restraint theoretically would have saved both their careers and reputations.

However, in life, and in coaching, we discuss when there are  pulls in two directions, as there are with the forces of restraint and “nirvana.”   Nirvana, enjoying and living in the moment,  is the opposite of restraint.  This tension is managed by all throughout the life span.  All men deal with these tensions and generally strike a balance that works.   Each man finds himself in a unique situation, culturally, situationally (i.e, married/unmarried, living in a dictatorship or free country,etc.), and needs to determine his approach to this tension.

Some coaching ideas include:

  • There is nothing at all wrong with feeling physical attraction to someone, even if you’re in a relationship. But there is a difference between recognizing attraction and acting on it.
  • Unfaithfulness can belie a lack of responsibility in a married person (unless a couple is in an “open” relationship that is mutually agreed upon).  A lack of restraint is apparently far more serious in the public eye in a married man than in a single man.  Anthony Weiner “sexted” women while his wife was flying around the globe with Hillary Clinton.  In general, the public has a different standard for a married man.
  • Managing oneself  is apparently one component to leading a healthy lifestyle. Knowing how to manage habits such as food, drugs, gambling, and alcohol can prevent a lot of bad consequences.
  • If you are having difficulty with the tension between nirvana and restraint, consider talking to an executive coach or counselor who can help you get clear on what you want.

 


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Hero: Masao Yoshida

On March 12, as the world watched the unfolding disaster in Japan, a monumental decision was made at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. The plant manager, Masao Yoshida, ignored a direct order from his company superiors to stop pumping the sea water that was cooling the reactor. In one act of defiance, Yoshida prevented another plant meltdown, saved thousands of lives, and exposed the troubled relationship between his company Tepco and Japan’s ruling government.

Yoshida’s actions and their aftermath are chronicled in a June 12 article from the New York Times. The piece suggests that the complacency of Tepco and the numerous bureaucrats surrounding the Japanese Prime Minster created a situation that left plant workers to fend for themselves. The move to stop the cooling of the Fukushima plant was not based on reason – it simply had to be done.

Thankfully, Yoshida received only a light verbal reprimand from his superiors. Though they may not admit it, his actions prevented a terrible situation from becoming worse. Masao Yoshida joins the leagues of those who’ve had to disobey in order to do the right thing.

We can learn a lot of useful coaching approaches from Yoshida and from those who came before him. “Deep Throat,” a/k/a W. Mark Felt, helped expose the Watergate scandal by divulging information to the Washington Post. During the reign of the Nazi Party in Germany, many Germans put their lives at risk to help Jews and other minority citizens hide or escape the country. Frederic Whitehurst exposed the inefficiency and lack of investigative rigor in the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Today, he oversees the Forensic Justice Project for the National Whistleblower Center.

What can we learn from these defiant heroes? Here are a few takeaway coaching tips:

  • Always do the right thing. Never rationalize destructive or ineffective behavior by claiming, “I did what was asked of me” – that will never be a suitable excuse.
  • If you fear that following your conscience will draw the wrath of your colleagues, consider the consequences of not doing the right thing. Think of how you will feel if you don’t take the risk and stand up for what you believe.
  • Remember that people doing the wrong thing often think they are right. When you follow your conscience, be prepared to face strong opposition with few allies.
  • Doing what you know is right is always, ultimately, its own reward.

When you take responsibility for following your own sense of what’s right, you may save lives or you may simply make things brighter in your own corner of the world. Whomever you are, this challenge is yours to accept.

 


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