Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The Greatest Lesson Often comes from the Smallest Among Us

This morning and every morning, my 7 year old son and I hold hands while I’m driving him to school and we say our prayers. Every morning, I’ll pray for God to protect us, to bless us, to provide us wisdom to live as we should and for everyone in our lives including our friends and families.

This morning I got learned a lesson from my son. When it was his turn, he said in earnest, “I pray for the people in Georgia with the fires, for the people in ‘upper Florida’ and the fires, and for all of the animals who might be in the fires. I pray for all animals everywhere, and the ones that are sick and paralyzed. I pray for all of the people in hospitals, those who are in wheelchairs, and for the poor. “

At that moment, I couldn’t contain my tears. I realized that my prayers are for us, and for my family and friends. But I learned that my son, prays for animals and people that we don’t know. He’s sincerely asking God to take care of the weak in our world. I started asking myself, ‘who else is praying for these among us and how did my little boy become so compassionate towards these individuals who he doesn’t know, but who probably need more prayer than my immediate family?’

I learned a valuable lesson today. I learned that that there are people praying for us who we don’t even know. There are people like my son all over the world, praying for the weak, the sick and the hungry and these people don’t even ask a thing for themselves.

I thanked God that I saw how special my son is and that I saw inside his heart and realized that he’s one of the most compassionate people I’ve ever met. I learned that in the quiet moments that he has a special gift to care for others in a way that I never have but that I want to try to achieve. My son was my greatest teacher this morning, and so today, if I start to worry about my life, or about the things on my to do list, I’ll reflect on my son and his prayer, and I’ll turn my thoughts to others and not to myself. And I will thank God that the smallest among us can be our greatest teachers.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Desiring the Old Time Summer

School is almost over and it’s time to get ready for summer camps. I think about when I was a kid and how every day was spent at the local swimming pool. We’d ride our bikes back and forth by ourselves from age 7 on up, we were independent and basically showed up for dinner when the street lights came on.

These days, in order to keep the kids busy, the alternative is summer camp. They get some sort of freedom, but they’re being watched over by older kids. They’re learning art, basketball or horseback riding, or learning about bugs or science. Kids these days have hundreds of options for a summer packed with exciting learning experiences.

But last night after watching a movie on TV last night called Sweet Home Alabama staring Reese Witherspoon, I was reminded of small town America and how simple life can really be. I started thinking about having a simple summer, somewhere in a small town, were my son can wonder up to the local store or local library or lake and go fishing or out to play where I wouldn’t be concerned. I started wondering if this life is available anymore in the state of Florida? I want him to have exciting learning experiences of course, but I also want him to enjoy out the outdoors and to find out about animals and nature outside of so much structure.

So I went on the hunt. It appears that there are many small towns in Florida that have small lake communities. The problem I find though is that they’re not sophisticated enough to write about it or perhaps they’re trying to keep the small town feel under wraps so others like me aren’t seeking refuge in a place of yesteryear. And if I’m seeking this small town existence, where the car you drive doesn’t matter, and the label on your shoes don’t matter, then how many others are seeking this sort of refuge too?

Do others get tired of the keeping up with the Joneses typical game that occurs in the suburbs? As I walk by the luxurious houses in our neighborhood that have exotic tropical plants that are neatly arranged, I start to stress about the professional landscaping that is lacking from my own yard. I have the plans to do it, and slowly we’re putting it together, but in the meantime, when it’s not as manicured as the two lawns on either side of us, I silently wonder what the neighbors are thinking about us? What about the cars? We’re not now driving our old cool SC 400 Lexus that we had before we had a child. We’re driving Mommy and daddy vans, a couple of SUVs that get us around town, but aren’t the chic glamour car of our past. That puts stress on me, because I want to appear that we’re smart and concerned about our outward image. But, we’ve been investing in our businesses, so we’ve put new cars on the back burner.

Ahh, the old days of summer… and the desire just to hide away to forget about the modern day stresses and to get rejuvenated for a few months. To get to sit by the lake, to fry up some fish, to drink a beer with friends and have the kids swim all day and come in just enough to eat and to plop in bed, tired and happy.

I long for those days, and I’m now completely obsessed with finding this life for us to enjoy for weekends and summers. Perhaps it’s at the beach, or perhaps a lake town, but now that I’m desiring it, I’ll have to find this old time place that’s in my mind.

Summer daze…. The wave of the future… of going back to how it used to be.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

How Coaching Works in an Organization

In my work as a coach, I’ve worked with nearly every level of employee from new hire to CEO and CFO. In nearly every case, I’ve found the people to be hard working and eager to improve. They all want respect for a job well done and they desire to get along well with the other employees and their customers.

I’ve found that the role of coach can serve in many capacities and that there are definite ways to be more successful. If the coach is an outside consultant, they have many advantages. They don’t have to answer to anyone within the company and so they are more than likely going to be honest about their feedback. If they’re employed by the company, they still have to play the political game that goes on in some companies. If a coach is employed by the company, then often times the coach is employed by the leader instead of being a partner to them. I’ve been on both sides of the coin, and I’ve decided that it’s far better to be hired as a consultant than as a long term employee.

I’ve also found that a combination of working in person and on the phone is more of an advantage. Even after working on the phone for years with people on and off, there is always an advantage of meeting face to face. So much about a person shows up in their body language, and in their mannerisms. The clients have a better idea of who the coach is and the coach has a better understanding of the client. After the face to face initial meeting, regular phone calls are great to keep the relationship going.

The coach can service their client in many ways. If a coach has an expertise in business, then writing articles and sending information on that particular subject is always of help to the clients. The role of mentor does happen within the context of the coaching relationship sometimes, because the client often does ask for advice or help. Some coaches state clearly that they don’t give advice whatsoever. As an expert in the field, I don’t think that is reasonable, or always the best answer. I’ve seen coaches ask clients the same question dozens of ways, and if the client doesn’t know the answer and wants the quick one, some advice from the coach is truly appreciated. Additionally, sometimes the brainstorm process between the coach and client helps stimulate other thought from the client. I never hesitate to offer suggestions, advice or ideas if the time is right.

In order to keep the busy client engaged, regular email check in’s work wonders. They might be on the road traveling but a quick line of encouragement is always appreciated by the client. I’ve sent cards, books, motivational quotes, articles, business leads, ideas for projects, or quick brainstorms I had outside of the calls or meetings. I’ve always been thanked for these additional items that I’ve added to my coaching.

Confidentiality is key within the coaching relationship. Often times, the client uses the coach to brainstorm ideas that they want to use at the company, and they practice with the coach before hand. I’ve coached numerous clients before they’ve entered big meetings or before they’ve spoken before their companies. It’s good to remind the client that all of the conversations are 100% confidential. This way, they’ll continue to open up as the relationship progresses.

I’ve worked with my clients in the areas of self esteem, leadership, branding themselves within the organization, becoming bolder, public relations in their industries, creating raving fans out of their clients, increasing their client base, creating ideas of projects to pitch, their image, their clothes, conversation skills, and maneuvering their way politically in their company. I haven’t met anyone yet who doesn’t want to be secure in their job and well liked. It’s key to every human being. And the key for the coach is to continually express to their clients, the strengths that the coach identifies and reminds him or her to be authentic to who they are as a person.

The role of coach is an honor. You get to know the clients incredibly well and it’s a thrill to see them develop professionally and personally. And when others in the organization start to see the growth and the changes in the client, that’s when they start taking notice. And that’s usually when other clients come knocking at the door!