Coaching Tips on Effectiveness

Or how to focus on what matters to YOU.

Freedom is Letting Go

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Two days ago I moved into a new apartment – and I wrote about the hassle it brings here. But there are also some benefits to moving. And I believe that’s why I love travelling so much. And why other people roam the world with their whole lives packed in a caravan.

Once you let go of what you own, you become free.

In the book Presence, sociologist Otto Scharmer tells how he found his new life meaning after a fire that destroyed his home. As a young boy, he was called from school because of a “terrible accident” and ran to find the last remains of his house burning. “As I gazed deeply into the flames, the flames began to sink into me”, he says, realizing that he is not his house, nor his belongings, but simply is. It took Otto a painful, life changing experience, to realize this.

When your world shifts, you need to change perspective.

Often we are forced to experience this, by deaths of loved ones, accidents or events that change our environment. But a smaller scale experiment can bring you closer to yourself.

1. You are not your job.

Your job is a name on your business card. What is it that you do, that creates meaning? I found myself fortunate enough to realize I could be anywhere, coaching. I would need nothing but a laptop to connect to the Internet. Heck, I don’t even need the Internet if I have people around. The value to them is my job.

2. You are not your belongings, nor your clothes, nor the place you live in.

As I stopped 2 days ago, to eat, between two trips moving boxes, I realized I don’t have anything with me (but my wallet and phone). And I didn’t miss anything. I was exhilarated. Hours later, finding myself in a room of boxes, I found that rather than being happy that I had everything I needed around me, I was annoyed. Annoyed that they were cluttering up the space. I didn’t need half of them. So I started throwing stuff away. Make an inventory like Dani here on her Positively Present blog. You will find out that you don’t need half of the stuff you own. Give it away. You will feel lighter. Most of what I truly cherish is in a bunch of notebooks I’ve written across the years. The rest is in my head. Cicero was the first to say “I carry everything I have with me”, and he didn’t carry any bags.

3. You are not the people you spend time with.

While moving, I spent time only with my life&apartment mate. And obviously, I had no access to Internet. I have no phone at the new apartment. And I limited my mobile calls to a minimum, cause I was busy. I don’t recommend this as a long term solution, cause social networking does make you feel good and lifts your spirits. But do, do, do try to keep away from time to time. Strip yourself from all unnecessary things you’re carrying around with you. Some are physical. Some are relationships. Some are thoughts you never wanted to admit, but keep coming back. Let them go. Take a trip somewhere. Take just your backpack. Why do we feel the need to pack so much when we leave home? In order to be really free, we have to let go.


Written by effectivenesscoach

December 1, 2009 at 7:44 am

Moving out and stages of change

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I am moving to a new apartment. I was congratulated, received many encouragements, good wishes and the like, yet I look around me in horror.
I hate moving. The clutter around, the dust, the confusion as you can’t find anything anymore.

But in the end, moving out is a renewal process. “You have a few days of chaos, and then you’re more prone to appreciating the order in your new home”, said my (wise) apartment-and-life-mate.

The stages of change

Ruba Homaidi coached me once on the stages of change:
1. Precontemplation (“No way, I’m not doing this!”)
2. Contemplation (“I might do this, but not just now”)
3. Preparation (“I may start, let’s have an attempt”)
4. Action (“I am doing it”)
5. Maintenance (“I’ve been doing it for more than 6 months”)

The hardest part is the Contemplation stage. Moving from Contemplation to the actual inner decision to do something is an inner process of self discovery.
Think about the last time you decided to do something different for yourself. How long did it take you to make that decision? When did you fight all the fears?

The “U” of Presence

In the book “Presence”, Peter Senge along with 3 other great management and psychology thinkers explore the process of change and human behavior.
They say that in order to achieve change, we go through a process similar to a “U”: first down, then up. The “down” is an inward movement, the “up” is an outward movement, together with the “solution” of the change process.
Immersion, complete silence, then readjustment.

Chaos, complete chaos and boxes around, then order in a new home.

What can I do to move the process forward?

I’m aware that my contemplation towards the piles of clothes, boxes and “stuff” in my living room is not gonna get me far.
Complete “immersion” is not a solution here.

1. Put up some resources to help.
These can be friends, helpers, or simply physical resources to prop the process. Little by little.packing_box 2. Set up some milestones for the change process.
By when do you want to be done with it?
“I want to gather all clothes in these 3 boxes.”
3. Set rewards – after each milestone
I am going to take a nice bath after I’m done with the cleaning. Not to mention the housewarming party!

Only getting myself focused on this process has already gotten me to the “Preparation” stage. Now all I need to do is to move to “Action” and get these piles ordered up.

** If you liked my rambling about how moving can destroy your life (ok, for a few days), read my friend’s experience here.  I definitely need to remember the other direction of the bathroom in the night too.

Written by effectivenesscoach

December 1, 2009 at 7:40 am

Do you want to shoot him now or wait till you get home?

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Don’t worry, this post is not about shooting rabbits. Although Daffy would really want that.Daffy

In this very funny classic cartoon, Bugs Bunny asks Elmer Fudd: “Would you like to shoot me now or wait till you get home?” while

Daffy Duck yells: “Shoot’im NOW! Shoot’im NOW!”
Unfortunately Daffy always ends up being shot himself.

This post is about the “NOW”.

The Marshmallow Test

Do you remember the Marshmallow Test? I read about it first in Daniel Goleman’s “Emotional Intelligence”. Dragos Roua writes here about it, on his blog (and does an excellent new perspective on it).

Here’s my take:

A bunch of kids were given a marshmallow, and were told that if they resist NOT EATING IT NOW, they would be given another one in a few minutes. And the kids who succeeded in NOT eating the first marshmallow were the ones who were successful in life later on. It’s called the principle of deferred gratification.

And I say, isn’t this just the way we were educated?
“Do your lessons, so that you can enter a good college.”
“Learn well now, and you will know how to have an interesting conversation and people will like you.”
“Work hard now and you’ll have money for a house when you retire.”

I’ll have to wait until I retire

My boss told me something that startled me a few weeks ago. He was talking about his oldest son graduating highschool and going to college. Then he mentioned he can’t wait for his daughter to do this as well, so that both his kids would be on their own and start their life. Then he could retire and do what he wanted.
Whoa! Do you have to wait 10 years to do that?

What about me? I’m 27 now. Do I have to wait until I have all the money/raise my kids/spend my life to do what I want? That’s gonna be ages!!

Life around the world

Here’s an empowering example. A Romanian family (but the idea belongs to a French family) sold their house, bought a caravan, and together with their kids roamed the world. Kids were learning about the Magellan Strait while they were sailing it. How’s that as a perspective?

Their full story (in Romanian, French and Spanish) here.

In conclusion

Don’t wait until you’re old.
Do what you dreamed of NOW.

You might never get a second marshmallow.

Written by effectivenesscoach

November 25, 2009 at 9:55 am

Transferring to!

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Hello all,

As my new website is now up and running, I’ll be posting there primarily.

Please subscribe  to (there should be a big orange button on the right) 🙂

I’ll still keep copying the posts to until end December.

Thanks for visiting!

Written by effectivenesscoach

November 22, 2009 at 6:05 pm

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Your hardships are your lessons

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Let me share two stories with you:

One of the persons most dear to me in the world has serious issues. She believes that she means nothing as long as she can’t have the man she loves. Who left her about half a year ago. She is paralysed by suffering and cannot move her life an inch. And nothing will change, until she will chose to change.

I have a colleague who’s very action oriented. She can’t stand people who are resistant to change. Ironic or not, she will change her job soon enough, and one of the people she will have to work with is one who is rather conservative and detail oriented. She’s in for a hard time.

What do both have in common?

Both have a barrier that they’ve set to themselves. One of them is “I can’t do anything”, the other one is “I need to get something done”.
And both have a lesson to learn.

It is said that the hardships you get in life are your lessons. They will keep coming back to you until you’ve learned your lesson.

How does this work?

Your mind has  patterns. It creates millions of canals through which synapses form. Practically, these canals are the way you keep reacting to certain stimuli. And if you keep reacting in the same way, you’ll keep getting the same results.
Think about the recurring issues in your life.
What pattern can you see around them?
What behaviour of yours keeps repeating?

I am very fast. I am so fast, that I tend to hit the reply and send button without thinking much about what I type in between. This caused me serious trouble one or two times.
So, ironic or not, I got a job where I’m involved in extensive sensitive communication. I now have to think through messages and procedures, and carefully analyse possible implications. Nightmarish at first, but a good education for my buzzing self.

What you have issues on is precisely what you’re going to have to work on.

You may decide to postpone this, but you’re in for a long and hard journey. These lessons are going to return to you until you take the challenge and accept what they have to teach.

Practical self – work:

  • Think about the most annoying person you’ve had to deal with.
  • What are 2 things that you can’t stand in this person?
  • Now, can you name one more person who has the same characteristics, and who showed up in your life previously?
  • How did your behavior influence the relationship with this person?
  • Is there any part of your behavior, that, if changed, would make a drastic improvement?
  • Can you make this change?
  • As of when?

Written by effectivenesscoach

November 17, 2009 at 8:08 pm

Life Management workshop – Take 1

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I delivered a 3 h Life Management workshop yesterday, to the newies of AIESEC student organization. The whole Prezi of the workshop here.

The main ideas :

Do you have a fulfilling life? (Of course you do, you’re only 21 and your worries are passing exams and overcoming long drinks with friends). But your life gets only more complicated from here on. You’ve entered a student association, and this means an additional role to you. How are you going to manage that?

There’s two things I want you to remember from this workshop. In order to manage your life effectively, you need these two:

1. Focus. Knowing who you are, what you want to do. List the top 10 of your Bucket List. What do you want people to say about you once you’ve passed away?
Most participants said they want to make a contribution to other people’s lives. I’m fascinated how often this appears in the dreams of the young generation. I love to think about where it will take us if a critical mass of young people starts to really make a contribution to development.

2. Discipline. It’s ok to know where you’re headed, but the tough part comes only from now on. How are you going to manage your day? How can you ensure that what you set to accomplish, you will actually do?
You need to be disciplined and hold yourself accountable. You need to know your limits and how much you can take. Don’t try to do everything. But in what you do, be the best you can.

“But I don’t need an agenda! I keep everything I need to do in my head!”
“Sure you do, cause you got only your courses schedule there. But once you start managing projects, getting an organizer will be the smartest thing you need to do.”

“Yeah, but it’s so difficult to write everything in there!”
“You don’t need to write everything. Just your appointments and important tasks.
And remember, when you put a project on your to do list, always think
“What’s the Next Action?”‘. That will help you transform a big elephant into the next task that can take up to 3 minutes. ”

I love David Allen’s example:

  • “So I need to get new tires for my car. “
  • “What’s the next action?”
  • “Calling a tire company.”
  • “Do you have the number?”
  • “Damn, no…I will need to research that. Oh wait! Fred mentioned something about a good place to change your tires. I’ll give him a call and get the number of that company.”
  • “Do you have Fred’s number?”
  • “I do.”
  • “So what’s the next action?”
  • “Calling Fred for number of tire company.”life

So Take 1 of the Life Management workshop is now complete.

Would you be interested in better managing your life?

Written by effectivenesscoach

November 15, 2009 at 8:47 am

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The Purpose of Meaning

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Looking at how events unfold in the past year, I say this is so true. And it’s not only me – it’s the entire world. I suddenly feel part of a “greater future waiting to emerge“. We young people are  focused – not focused – we are driven to make a difference. We are looking for activity that makes us feel human beings.

Isn’t it ironic? We’re all careerists working in multinationals, spending our days in cubicals and fantasizing about making a difference. We read about leadership and inspiration. We thrive on motivational talks. We look into “what makes people tick”. And from our cubical corner, we hope that our little corporate job makes a difference somewhere out there.

We’re looking for the greater purpose, and yet, somehow, we end up doing small work.
Are we?

What if you take this small work and multiply the effect?
What if your email turns into a project? What if that project gives an idea to someone? What if that idea ends up changing lives?

I believe that’s why so many young people – and let’s not forget Gen Y are the future leadership of major companies – are into Corporate Social Responsibility projects. That’s why so many people are going into the personal development field. That’s why coaching is exploding.

Because we want to make a difference. Because the purpose of life is to find a meaning. And most of us are looking for this meaning in our everyday job.

I’m recently more and more focused on mine…and boy, I do feel the difference when I wake up in the morning.

What’s YOUR passion? What is the one activity that gives your life meaning?

Written by effectivenesscoach

November 11, 2009 at 4:00 pm