It’s foggy and cool around my home in the San Francisco Bay Area. That means it’s August and Labor Day is just around the corner.

Which has got me to thinking about what’s next. Where will I choose to put my energy? What’s important now? How will this inform my primary focus for the remainder of 2017? There are many options and realistically only so much time and energy.

How about you? How is the last stretch of 2017 sitting with you? Is there work to complete, work to generate, or are you already looking forward and planning for 2018?

Here are some DIY coaching questions to help you consider what’s next for you in 2017:

Clarity
This is my favorite place to start, with my clients and for myself:

  • What’s top of mind for you right now?
  • What options are you considering?
  • What’s not yet clear?
  • What’s getting in the way of seeing clearly?
  • What, if anything, are you avoiding?

Work-Life Integration
This is a good place to turn next next, looking at work, home/family, community, personal well-being and health:

  • What needs your attention most?
  • What causes your stress levels to rise?
  • What can you dial up, or dial down, in terms of your health and well-being?
  • What do you need to say ‘no’ to, at least for now?
  • How can you be more supported as you move forward?

Presence
Here, we’re looking at authority, emotional resilience, confidence, sincerity, and also at external factors like body language, tone of voice and how you’re dressed.

  • How are you showing up now in your work?
  • What changes do you want to make?
  • Who are the professionals that will help you in your transition?
  • What do you need to start doing, or stop doing, to keep you on track?
  • How will you handle the predictable distractions and bumps in the road?

Action
Finally, we’re focused on moving forward:

  • What’s a useful next step?
  • What’s an even smaller next step, towards that next step?
  • What will be the signs that you are moving forward?
  • How can you create good habits?
  • What will help you persevere and keep up your momentum when the challenges hit?’
  • How will you celebrate your success?

Here’s how I walked myself through this exercise today:

Clarity–I’m sitting with competing priorities. But, as I sink into this question I am being pulled in one direction more than the other.

Work-Life Integration–I need more energy to propel me through to the end of 2017. I know what works for me in terms of exercise, rest and intake. It’s time to put this front and center to create a stronger foundation.

Presence–I will pay more attention to how I can roll with the punches when things get stressful.

Action–I need to create structure, a specific project outline and then a plan. Executing is less challenging for me once I’m well set up.

If you’re ready to dig into the rest of your calendar year drop me a line! There are many ways for the team at Business Presence, LLC to partner with you to ensure you end the year fulfilled– from career, business and leadership coaching, to media training, image consulting and headshots. Contact us today for a complimentary Discovery session!

 

Photo by Johannes Plenio on Unsplash

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Coaching a Fortune 500 Executive’s Commencement Speech

In April and May, we were on retainer to prepare a CEO for an important milestone — giving his first commencement speech. It’s an honor for anyone to be asked to speak on such an important occasion and it’s out of the ordinary for a technology executive who more typically speaks about company products and strategies.

As we reviewed the executive’s on-camera performances at the start of the project — we could see that he was a passable speaker but he had some habits that kept him from being truly entertaining or inspiring. We set out to achieve three goals:  a) to identify with the audience of graduates; b) to feel ‘within himself’ as he communicated from the heart; c) to create a vision about the world in front of them and the opportunities and challenges they face.

Up first was to develop a script that would connect with his audience of several thousand graduates. As expected, this took several iterations over many weeks. It needed to be personal, which meant we needed to keep digging and prodding. Finally we landed on the themes of  embracing change, taking risks and learning from failure. It’s not easy for a successful executive to speak about their failures, especially when they’ve gone from being a self-made millionaire to being broke, all within 5 years, but as journalists we knew this would connect with his audience, and give him credibility.

Once the script was in good shape we started rehearsals. We first mirrored back what we were hearing — his speech was slow and fairly monotonous. This is always profound work, getting our clients to hear themselves the way we hear them. Once they can hear it, they’re motivated to find a better version of themselves. We also used a technique where we marked up his script, providing direction for emphasizing words, pauses, breaths. He found this very useful and became skilled at hitting his marks.

Finally, as we reached the last week, with graduation day in sight and with the core messaging in place, we took the script to some lighter places. Marilyn is a stand up comedian and she’s worked in Silicon Valley for decades, so that was a useful combination. Not all the jokes made it into the final draft but it helped the executive find his own path to some lighter moments.

As the executive spent time with the script in the final days before delivering the speech, he made it his own. This really helped him gear up for the big day. He had the words, he had the techniques, and he now he’d found the heart of what he wanted to communicate: that success and failure go together, that failure shouldn’t stop you from trying, that taking risks will lead to both success and failure and that we all learn from both.

The audience loved him and he soared in his presentation.  We were thrilled to have helped shape it.

Marilyn Pittman and Marianne Wilman were the coaches on this project

Photo credit: FatimehNadimi

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In April and May, we were on retainer to prepare a CEO for an important milestone — giving his first commencement speech. It’s an honor for anyone to be asked to speak on such an important occasion and it’s out of the ordinary for a technology executive who more typically speaks about company products and strategies.

As we reviewed the executive’s on-camera performances at the start of the project — we could see that he was a passable speaker but he had some habits that kept him from being truly entertaining or inspiring. We set out to achieve three goals:  a) to identify with the audience of graduates; b) to feel ‘within himself’ as he communicated from the heart; c) to create a vision about the world in front of them and the opportunities and challenges they face.

Up first was to develop a script that would connect with his audience of several thousand graduates. As expected, this took several iterations over many weeks. It needed to be personal, which meant we needed to keep digging and prodding. Finally we landed on the themes of  embracing change, taking risks and learning from failure. It’s not easy for a successful executive to speak about their failures, especially when they’ve gone from being a self-made millionaire to being broke, all within 5 years, but as journalists we knew this would connect with his audience, and give him credibility.

Once the script was in good shape we started rehearsals. We first mirrored back what we were hearing — his speech was slow and fairly monotonous. This is always profound work, getting our clients to hear themselves the way we hear them. Once they can hear it, they’re motivated to find a better version of themselves. We also used a technique where we marked up his script, providing direction for emphasizing words, pauses, breaths. He found this very useful and became skilled at hitting his marks.

Finally, as we reached the last week, with graduation day in sight and with the core messaging in place, we took the script to some lighter places. Marilyn is a stand up comedian and she’s worked in Silicon Valley for decades, so that was a useful combination. Not all the jokes made it into the final draft but it helped the executive find his own path to some lighter moments.

As the executive spent time with the script in the final days before delivering the speech, he made it his own. This really helped him gear up for the big day. He had the words, he had the techniques, and he now he’d found the heart of what he wanted to communicate: that success and failure go together, that failure shouldn’t stop you from trying, that taking risks will lead to both success and failure and that we all learn from both.

The audience loved him and he soared in his presentation.  We were thrilled to have helped shape it.

Marilyn Pittman and Marianne Wilman were the coaches on this project

Photo credit: FatimehNadimi

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Client Story: “Trusting that when I take the initiative I won’t fall on my face”

Today I had a completion session with a 31-year-old client who I partnered with for three months. When she came to me she’d been in a job for more than 10 years and had been feeling stuck for some time. She was ready for a change but had a lot of fears about taking a leap. She didn’t trust that a new opportunity was going to emerge and her saboteurs were strong, magnifying the challenge.

In our coaching we came up with the metaphor of the long jump, and returned to it over many sessions. Early on we physically moved to a place that we called the ‘starting line,’ where all the possibilities and all the fears stood in front of her. Next she felt what it was like to pick up speed as she moved towards the white take-off line, (aka her job search). Then we went into slow motion — what would it be like to put just the ball of one foot on that white line? What did she feel as she began to lift off the starting line?  What did she notice as she looked out from the peak of her jump? What was the feeling as she brought her legs out in front of her reaching for maximum distance? And what was there for her as she landed? Slowing down each part of the process gave her time to see and feel more clearly. I love working with metaphor, it’s visual and playful but very, very real for the client-coach partnership, and a useful way for clients to get outside of their situation and into what’s possible vs. what’s not.

For my client there were false starts along the way as she looked to completely change the direction of her career. There was guilt around letting other people down as she stumbled. Half way through our work there was also a calling and deep connection to her spirituality which gave her a new confidence, strength and direction.

When I asked my client what she’d learned about herself she said, “I make things bigger in my mind but once I had trust it was liberating. I saw that by taking a big chance, bigger things can happen”.

I am proud of her getting herself unstuck. She was not living her values at her previous job, she was unhappy, unfulfilled and under-earning. But she liked her colleagues.

My client left her job two weeks ago and is now freelancing in the part of her industry she loves the most. There’s lots of room for her to grow and she’s not letting the fears get in her way, instead she sees opportunity. And she’s earning more in 6 hours than she was in a full week at her old job!

 

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Today I had a completion session with a 31-year-old client who I partnered with for three months. When she came to me she’d been in a job for more than 10 years and had been feeling stuck for some time. She was ready for a change but had a lot of fears about taking a leap. She didn’t trust that a new opportunity was going to emerge and her saboteurs were strong, magnifying the challenge.

In our coaching we came up with the metaphor of the long jump, and returned to it over many sessions. Early on we physically moved to a place that we called the ‘starting line,’ where all the possibilities and all the fears stood in front of her. Next she felt what it was like to pick up speed as she moved towards the white take-off line, (aka her job search). Then we went into slow motion — what would it be like to put just the ball of one foot on that white line? What did she feel as she began to lift off the starting line?  What did she notice as she looked out from the peak of her jump? What was the feeling as she brought her legs out in front of her reaching for maximum distance? And what was there for her as she landed? Slowing down each part of the process gave her time to see and feel more clearly. I love working with metaphor, it’s visual and playful but very, very real for the client-coach partnership, and a useful way for clients to get outside of their situation and into what’s possible vs. what’s not.

For my client there were false starts along the way as she looked to completely change the direction of her career. There was guilt around letting other people down as she stumbled. Half way through our work there was also a calling and deep connection to her spirituality which gave her a new confidence, strength and direction.

When I asked my client what she’d learned about herself she said, “I make things bigger in my mind but once I had trust it was liberating. I saw that by taking a big chance, bigger things can happen”.

I am proud of her getting herself unstuck. She was not living her values at her previous job, she was unhappy, unfulfilled and under-earning. But she liked her colleagues.

My client left her job two weeks ago and is now freelancing in the part of her industry she loves the most. There’s lots of room for her to grow and she’s not letting the fears get in her way, instead she sees opportunity. And she’s earning more in 6 hours than she was in a full week at her old job!

 

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