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The Possibility of Doing Less

Sue was the vice president of a subsidiary of an international parent company. She had responsibilities for five direct reports and indirectly, of another 30 employees. She served on the executive leadership team of her company and several committees. Additionally, her role required that she served on a key committee for the parent company. This required frequent travel to Germany. Sue was dedicated, determined and of high integrity yet she often worried that she was leaving something undone or not done well.

In her Personal life, she was the single mother of two elementary school children and the sole caretaker for elderly parents who lived 30 minutes away. Sue reached out to me at Ascend Consulting for coaching, because the holidays were coming up and the added stress made her realize something had to change! It is often said, “if you want something done, ask a busy woman.” While this may be true, as my grandmother used to say, “there is a limit to all things!”

Sue and I began our coaching conversation with assessment. We explored her current vision of leadership, when & how she delegated to direct reports and the amount and nature of feedback she gave them. We also got clear about her definition of what it meant to be a “good mom.” Sue realized that more often than not, she didn’t ask for help, she didn’t delegate enough, and she held herself to unrealistic standards without checking out her expectations with her boss, her parents, or her children.

Through coaching, I shared with her the concept of creating a “we” mindset rather than an “I” mentality. This meant having open fact-finding and brainstorming conversations with her team and her kids about what really needed to happen and how. She stopped making assumptions about what her performance should be. Rather, she learned to check out with her boss what his top priorities actually were and what the definition of done “well enough” really was in each case.

As a result, Sue began to see many opportunities to do things with a little less angst and with a lot more empowerment of others. Most of all, she began to enjoy what she was doing and to allow others to create an atmosphere of ownership and collaboration. The result was greater enjoyment of everyone’s accomplishments- both at work and at home.

As Sue did less & was choosy about her definition of achievement, she had more time to listen to colleagues and spend quality time with her children. Turned out when they talked about what mattered most to them, her children chose playing board games with Sue rather spending her weekends on creating a perfectly decorated home.

So, as each of you go into the holiday season this might be a great time to reconsider some of you own definitions of leadership delegation, achievement, and perfection. It may just turn out that less really is more!

Mindfulness Meditation Group Starting in October

September/October 2019 Power Points

As Fall arrives- seemingly overnight, many of us are back to early mornings, school and work routines, volunteer positions, homework and busier days!! In this Newsletter I’ll share strategies on goal setting and planning, staying present and mindfulness to help your reentry go a bit more smoothly.
Enjoy!

September/October 2019 Power Points

Best Planning Strategies for Short and Long-Term Goals!

I’ve got a 2 -year goal to achieve my next position,” said a client recently.  She explained that she has a time-consuming, multi- stage project she needs to accomplish first, however, which if she completes early, will make it possible to leave before 2 years.  We often have long term goals that depend on tasks and projects that precede them.  This makes planning and organization of time, materials and actions more challenging.

When we’re faced with a looming end goal complicated by an important, shorter term project, we can get overwhelmed hyper focusing on one to the exclusion of the other or go back and forth chaotically between the two projects.   Here are some strategies that can help us work steadily towards a long- term goal while making progress on sorter term but essential projects:

  • Map out in big strokes initially the tasks necessary to achieve the long- term goal. A two- year goal might be broken down into stages with benchmarks to achieve every month or quarter.
  • On the same large spreadsheet or flipchart, in a different color enter the near- term project with its high-level sub goals and associated benchmarks.
  • Identify the priorities for each benchmark according to the ABC rule:
  • time sensitive or urgent and important, B- important, or C- not urgent and not important in the near term.
  • Plan out the first month of tasks for each week with a high- level look at the 2 yr. goals and a more detailed eye to the near term one.
  • “Chunk” tasks for both goals- break the work into 15 min- to- several hours each week to chip away at the projects. Careful! Be realistic about the time you honestly have available to put towards both goals.
  • Review your progress each week and, if tasks are planned daily, each day. Did you put the time in you planned or did life get in the way?  Adjust your plan each day, each week, and each month to hit your benchmarks.
  • Assign a specific time on your schedule in writing to work on a specific task.  If we say, “I’ll do it tonight,” that is not specific enough…suddenly it is 10 pm and we’re fatigued- after 3-4 nights like that we can find ourselves behind schedule and discouraged!
  • Ask for help!! Family, Teammates, colleagues across disciplines can offer information or take on parts of one or both goals.
  • Reassess the end dates for each project. Is the 2 -year goal for the new position a want or a need?
  • If you are getting behind, hard on the facts but be soft on the person. Self-talk can demotivate us if we are overly critical when our plan goes awry.
  • Finally: Celebrate! Celebrate both the benchmarks you achieve along the way as well as the completion of each goal!

Be Present While Planning for the Future!

Setting Goals and planning are essential for progress.   We benefit from the clear sense of purpose from pursuing a dream, setting goals and identifying action steps to achieve them.  Often, however, we find ourselves mentally living in the future and missing out on today!   How can we keep our end goal in mind while living mindfully today?

* First, start your day with a Mindfulness Practice. This could be as simple sipping your coffee, really noticing the smell and taste without looking at your phone!  Or, you may wish to sit quietly following your breath with your full attention for 10 minutes. Others may wish to meditate with a free app like “Calm” or “10% happier”. This sets the tone neurologically to be more attentive and present.

* Periodically throughout the day, pause and simply breathe for 30 – 60 seconds with your full awareness on the physical sensation of breathing.   I recommend setting an alarm or reminder at regular intervals perhaps 10 -, 12, 3 and 6. This simple technique may show you if you hold the breath or breathe in a rapid- shallow pattern, a common; unconscious stress response.

*Make a deliberate choice to notice your surroundings.  If on a walk, notice the flowers, changing leaves, or birds singing rather than worrying about what happened yesterday or what might come next. If in a meeting, really listen to the people speaking – listen for meaning and emotion.

* At the end of each day, focus on the accomplishments you made including effort and progress.  And, list 3 things you are grateful for from that day.

*Pay attention to balance: Are you focusing too much on the long-term project and neglecting a significant responsibility?  Neglecting self-care?

When we live each day consciously, we can be more at choice so we enjoy our todays while working toward that future goal.

If you are interested in learning more about Mindfulness you might benefit from my Mindfulness Based Support Group starting Oct 23, 2019 at 7:30 pm.  See upcoming events for details.

Hold the Date: Mindfulness Based Support Group Begins October 9, 2019

Why Hire an Executive Coach?

Are you a leader who wants to communicate influence and inspire your peers, Manager, or employees? 

Are you an organization who wants to empower High Potentials thru Sr Executives to improve their professionalism, leadership presence and results? 

Ascend Consulting provides customized solutions including:

  •  Individual Coaching
  •  Workshops
  •  Keynotes
  •  Leadership Retreats

 

Coaching, distinct from consulting, is a process that empowers leaders

  •  to improve self-awareness
  •  add to their leadership “toolbox”
  • gain 360 feedback
  • create an intentional customized development plan
  • take meaningful action toward their goals
  • gain support and accountability

 

 My clients improve their emotional intelligence, management skills, communication and resilience.  Mindfulness is a key underpinning of my approach- we cannot mange or alters behaviors and emotions of which we are not aware.  Mindful Leadership Coaching, integrated with “Conversational Intelligence”* can transform organizational culture!

 

If you are serious about transforming your own or your employees’ development, I invite you to check out my website and call me for an initial conversation.  www.ascendconsultng.net

 

*Conversational Intelligence, Judith E. Glaser. Bibliomotion, Inc., 2004.

The Rigors of ICF Coach Certification

Once upon a time, I became a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Owner of Ascend Consulting, Inc., providing Psychotherapy and Counseling.  Then one day, I had the honor of attending 3 days of Coach Training in Philadelphia with Thomas Leonard, the “Father of Coaching”.  It was fascinating to watch Thomas’ compelling style of asking insightful, challenging questions to move clients to act!  to achieve their goals.  I enrolled in his coaching school “Coachville,” on the spot! 

During the next several years the ICF was growing and credentialing requirements were evolving. After taking over 265 hours of training and meeting the additional requirements of 2 recorded sessions, a live coaching exam and over 250 coaching hours, I was certified by the ICF as an ACC (Associate Certified Coach) in 2007.

 Over the next several years my training continued and my coaching hours serving clients began to add up. In 2012, I was President of the ICF: Philadelphia Chapter.  In 2013, I achieved my PCC (Professional Certified Coach) designation after mentor coaching continuing education and an exam that took 13 hours!

Since then, I have become certified in the EQ-I and Hogan assessments, and graduated from Judith Glasser’s Conversational Intelligence coach training.  I love this work which allows me to partner with my clients to expand their self-awareness, go deeper and wider than they thought they could, and to support them as they tap into their own answers.  I am a professional nudge, so they stay accountable to themselves and achieve their goals.

The story continues as this year I will submit my 40+ hours of ICF: approved continuing education and renew my PCC.  And, I will continue in my 2 peer supervision groups so I can keep learning and honing my skills as an Executive and Career coach.  The requirements are rigorous and I am proud that they are!

Listening Begins with the Pause

Stephen (not his real name) was in his weekly management meeting and as usual, he found himself getting frustrated with his colleague Bob.    Every week, Bob was vocal in his opinions and Stephen often found his mind wandering when Bob would launch into an explanation or ask questions that Stephen thought were unnecessary.  The fact was, that although Bob was extroverted, he often brought up information that needed to be addressed. Stephen knew he was missing potentially critical discussions by “zoning out” but he didn’t know how to force himself to listen. As his executive coach, I asked Stephen how well he listened to himself.  Was he aware of the subtle tension that preceded his annoyance with Bob?  What was the thinking that preceded him tuning Bob out? How adept was Stephen at listening to himself when he was anxious or stressed?  I suggested that he try Mindfulness Meditation:  simply follow the breath noticing the full inhale, pause, exhale, pause, inhale.  As he practiced every day for 10-15 minutes, he noticed the pause, between inhale and exhale and the longer pause between breaths.  He became aware of his wandering thoughts when practicing and eventually this carried over into his workday.  As he learned to pause and to listen to his wandering thoughts in meditation, he became able to pause before zoning out in management meetings.  The pause helped him to be at choice so he could to listen to Bob’s message despite his talkative style.   

March/April 2019 Power Points

No one is perfect, everyone makes mistakes.  Even though we all make them,  it isn’t always as easy to live with the fear and judgment we put on ourselves because of them.

How does one turn down the guilty and self-critical voice we hear inside when we do make a wrong decision, and turn up the Self-Compassion to recover from it?

Read my latest March/April 2019 Power Point for tips on being more Self-Compassionate during those times:

March/April 2019 Power Points