Monthly Archives: January 2019

Presence – the greatest gift a coach can give you

 

In her now legendary Ted talk of 2012, Amy Cuddy explores the suggestion that your body language may shape who you are. While it has long been understood that our non-verbal communication, like posture and other forms of body language, affects the way people see us, Cuddy and her colleagues focused their work on exploring whether our non-verbals affect how we think and feel about ourselves. Our minds change our bodies, says Cuddy, but can our bodies change our minds? Her TED talk answers this question by showing that the physical assumption of high or low power poses significantly impact an individual’s sense of what is possible.

Basically, what you present is what you become. If you hold the posture of a powerful, confident person, you begin to assume the power and confidence that you associate with that type of person. The same is also true of the inverse: if you adopt a low power, low confidence pose, you automatically conduct yourself with less confidence and personal power. Cuddy eventually distills this effect into one word: presence. In this context, presence refers to the ability to physically access one’s latent confidence, authority, passion and enthusiasm, and Cuddy selected the word as the title of her 2015 book, Presence – Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges.

Watching Cuddy’s TED talk for the first time I was struck by her zeal and sincerity – this topic clearly meant more to her than its academic interest. Towards the end of the talk we discover why: in the summer after her sophomore year in college Cuddy wa its involved in a major car accident which left her with a traumatic brain injury. She was told that she would never finish college, but through hard work and perseverance she not only finished college, she went on to complete her graduate studies at Princeton and land a job at Harvard Business School. Despite these accolades, Cuddy struggled to shake off a nagging voice in her head that said, ‘I don’t belong here.’ How she overcame that voice and arrive at her philosophy of ‘fake it till you become it’ is a moving personal story that draws the viewer closer to her.

Then, approximately 18:30 into the video, while sharing the account of a desperate student that approached her one day with the words ‘I don’t belong here’, Cuddy falters. She is overcome with emotion and needs to pause her presentation to regain her composure. In that moment we all feel what Amy Cuddy feels: the struggles, the fear, the hardship, the hard work, the pain and the triumph. We drop into a place of empathy and compassion that visibly impacts the live audience listening to her. We are connected to her and somehow to each other. In a talk about physical presence, Cuddy’s testimony and vulnerability give us an unscripted glimpse of a deeper, richer type of presence. Being able to access this kind of presence is what makes good coaches great.

Though the veracity of Cuddy’s scientific work has been criticized in recent years, it continues to point to an important aspect of deeper presence: the body. The Harvard teacher’s TED talk and subsequent book famously advocate the use of certain postures to achieve better behavioral outcomes, but there are, in my opinion, even greater rewards to be achieved through presence. And the body is a good place to start. The yogic traditions of the east have for centuries used the body as a gateway to specific states of mind. Mindfulness meditation – the art of training the mind – rests on the body as a primary tool, with foundational practices like Breathing Meditation and the Body Scan. Even the Navy SEALs use breathing practices to calm their nervous systems and bring themselves back into the present.

The key here is embodiment. Presence is not something you think about, it’s something you manifest. At its deepest and most authentic it can only happen when you are right here in this moment, not thinking about the past or future. In a coaching conversation this is critical. If your coach is planning your next steps while you are still busy talking or, even worse, trying to remember what’s for dinner, they are not fully present. And, because all coaches are human, all clients have experienced this before. Whether you’re aware of it or not, presence feels different. We can all sense when someone is not genuinely tuned into us – even if they are making all the right noises and gestures they are somehow not connected to us. Hopefully, however, you have also experienced what it is like when a coach is fully present. Everything changes. When a person listens to you with full attention you feel heard beyond just your words. You feel understood, safe and capable of great degrees of trust. In the words of Thich Nhat Hanh, “The most precious gift we can offer anyone is our attention.” In such conditions your potential for change and development soars. This capacity is called Coaching Presence and is one of the ICF’s Core Competencies, but coaches’ abilities in this competency naturally vary.

As a client, presence is one of the first things you should be looking for when choosing a coach. Use your free coaching intake session to get a feel for the coach’s level of ‘here-ness’. Is she listening to more than just your words? Is he showing up fully for the process or is his mind elsewhere? Do you think she has the potential to sit with you in difficult moments without flinching? Without a coach grounded in presence and authentic attention you may not achieve the results you deserve.

 

Photo by Timothy Eberly on Unsplash

Visit Koach.net to discover how our coaches can help you find clarity at work and at home, and can lead you to a more successful and fulfilled you.

Your story, our platform: If you’ve got a story and would like to share it with other Femflectors, please let us know. Femflection is all about transferring learnings to help others, be they big or subtle. We want to connect with your feelings, your learnings, your reflections or your hopes for the future – in blog or interview format. Express yourself here. Get in touch with us via anja.uitdehaag@femflection.com

For more content visit our website http://www.femflection.com

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Be the best you can be

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No matter what you do, you should do it to the best of your ability. You should set goals and work as hard as you can to reach these goals. I measure success by how much effort I have put forth, not by other’s people assessment of my accomplishments. If I have tried as hard as I can, then I am a success, no matter what the result of my endeavor.

Your story, our platform: If you’ve got a story and would like to share it with other Femflectors, please let us know. Femflection is all about transferring learnings to help others, be they big or subtle. We want to connect with your feelings, your learnings, your reflections or your hopes for the future – in blog or interview format. Express yourself here. Get in touch with us via anja.uitdehaag@femflection.com

For more content visit our website http://www.femflection.com

Lindsay’s In Business: PART 64: We are beginning to see patterns

arms bonding closeness daylight

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What happens when you realise your path is entrepreneurship rather than employment? Lindsay takes up the challenge and shares an account of her journey as it unfolds…

It’s fascinating to discover that now, having some good experience, we are starting to see a pattern with the outcomes of Mirror Mirror. Having taken a step back over Xmas, a pattern is emerging. There usually is a core alignment issue at play within organizations that blocks effectiveness.  If you can spot that issue and start to unravel it, as we do, then other linked issues fall away. This means that while it can feel as if there are multiple problems going on that are difficult to track down and deal with, it may not be so chaotic.

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Lindsay’s In Business: PART 63: Learning how to take care

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What happens when you realise your path is entrepreneurship rather than employment? Lindsay takes up the challenge and shares an account of her journey as it unfolds…

A new year.  A new lens. And through this new lens I see that life is all about taking care.  Taking care of yourself, of the people around you, of the things you are doing, of the impact you are having.

  1. There’s a huge difference between using words that are sloppy and thoughtless, and using careful words that consider the listener and the meaning that will be received.
  2. There’s a huge difference between speeding through tasks to get them done, and doing things mindfully and properly.
  3. There’s a huge difference between doing what you think you need to do with a fixed mindset, and doing while keeping a constant radar out for alternative possible realities.

To explain what that last one looks like in practice, read this.

Anja Uitdehaag forwarded me some pointers from another female entrepreneur, Tara at www.taramohr.com.  One of Tara’s points is:

The first phase of a new venture is not about running a thriving business. It is about the process of figuring out what product or service is going to work out there in the world. The early years are about a kind of structured trial and error to find out what your business is going to be.

We start our entrepreneurial journeys with lots of unanswered questions.  Who will want what I have to offer? What of all that I have to offer is there truly an audience for, and what do people actually want to pay for? What language do I need to use when I talk about it, so that my audience grasps what I’m talking about and sees it as for them? What can I build a sustainable business around?

The first many months, or often the first couple years of the entrepreneurial path, are about answering these questions by trying things out in the world. They are about putting things out there to an audience and learning from what happens. If you see each trial that doesn’t work as a failure, your morale will be absolutely doomed. If you see them as exactly the process you are supposed to be engaging in, and you engage in it deliberately, you’ll be able to see all the learning as progress.

Thanks Anja – this resonates a lot with me. I know what I need to accomplish in 2019.  I’m going to do this with open mind and with care.  I’m going to stop trying so hard, and go with the flow.

Happy new year folks – take care in the year ahead xx

Mirror Mirror – … because when people at work have a better shared reality they are more effective.

Your story, our platform: If you’ve got a story and would like to share it with other Femflectors, please let us know. Femflection is all about transferring learnings to help others, be they big or subtle. We want to connect with your feelings, your learnings, your reflections or your hopes for the future – in blog or interview format. Express yourself here. Get in touch with us via anja.uitdehaag@femflection.com

For more content visit our website http://www.femflection.com

Lindsay’s In Business: PART 62: Momentum and Learning

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Photo by NastyaSensei Sens on Pexels.com

What happens when you realise your path is entrepreneurship rather than employment? Lindsay takes up the challenge and shares an account of her journey as it unfolds…

The Netherlands

On Friday 14 December, we discovered that some reports we had produced for an EU organization in Berlin were incorrect.  The reports were out of our normal scope, and created at the client’s request, for 15 managers based on ratings given to these four statements by people in their teams:

  • My manager sets clear goals and objectives
  • My manager is available to help with problems
  • My manager initiates discussions on progress
  • My manager provides feedback and direction as needed

This is part of a section of our work that looks at factors of team effectiveness that are mainly outside of the control of the team members themselves.

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