The most powerful coaching conversations begin with a clearly defined topic. Even when a Client comes to the call with a broad subject, my job is to help them narrow the focus into a topic that can be discussed 1.) within a 60min time frame and 2.) with the intention of creating some kind of forward movement as a result of the conversation.
Wondering what those topics are? Here’s a list of the Top 4 Topics I Discuss in Coaching Conversations:
This is the #1 topic I discuss with Clients. After all, how we choose to interact with others determines the quality of our relationships and significantly impacts on our own happiness. Since most of my Clients are Entrepreneurs, we explore communication challenges they may be having with a co-owner, employee, vendor or client. And since the personal and professional lives of any Entrepreneur are interwoven (your experience in one impacts your performance in the other), we often explore how to improve communication with a spouse, child, sibling, parent, friend or even neighbor.
In conversations related to this topic, I like to ask questions related to two guiding principles that influence my coaching: Embrace the Power of Choice and Take 100% Personal Responsibility. Owning one’s role and contribution to a challenging situation can be a hard pill to swallow, however honesty with one’s self is the spark that can ignite a shift towards more positive & productive behavior.
Coaching Questions: What are you willing to take responsibility for as your contribution to the situation? How can you respond/engage in a more positive way?
Self-care is vital to living a satisfying and fulfilling life, yet women instinctively set aside their own needs to prioritize the needs of others. Over time, a pattern is established, causing chronic anxiety, overwhelm and exhaustion. A bubble bath and a glass of wine tend to be common go-to solutions, yet these are only temporary band-aids, not long-term sustainable solutions to a deeper issue.
The most impactful self-care a woman can gift herself isn’t tangible or edible, it’s emotionally-based: the simple practice of mindfulness. Dr. Shauna Shapiro wrote a beautiful book on the subject titled, Good Morning, I Love You. She talks about mindfulness as the practice of setting an intention (what matters most), paying attention (to train and stabilize our focus in the present moment) and shifting our attitude (to one of kindness and curiosity).
In coaching conversations about self-care, I like to introduce practices that enhance mindfulness and also strengthen one’s personal foundation, as a whole. Practices such as identifying personal needs and establishing boundaries can help a Client clarify intentions, become more aware and start prioritizing what she needs to live a better life.
Coaching Questions: What feeling do you want more of? What’s 1 small thing you can do every day to get more of that feeling?
3. Stress Management
It probably comes as no surprise that this one made my Top 4 list. We live in a society that values results, action and achievement. Many people push hard to achieve success in their career yet suffer in their personal lives, experiencing high levels of anxiety, stress and mental/physical exhaustion (see also self-care).
When you are exhausted and your energy level is depleted, you typically default into a negative state of mind and become reactive to your environment (aka feeling out of control). One of my favorite exercises to work through with Clients is called Walk Back the Cat, a practice that originated in the world of espionage. I heard about this exercise in Martha Beck’s newest book, The Way of Integrity. It’s simple- when you’re feeling yucky/irritable/frustrated, take a pause and trace back your steps from the moment you felt not-so-good (out of control, reactive) to exact moment you fell-out of feeling good (in control, responsive). Upon reflection, what happened in the moment when you unconsciously made the shift and entered the downward spiral of emotions? Was it an uncomfortable conversation? Were you feeling over-stimulated and bombarded? Or were you simply hungry or tired?
Walking back the imaginary cat helps a Client get to the root of their stress, the trigger.
From this point, we can start to create a path forward 1.) by getting clear about the alternative, desired outcome in that or a similar situation in the future and 2.) by outlining 1 baby step they can proactively take to get one step closer to their desired outcome. Both of these simple steps help Clients shift into a more empowering mindset, which ripples a positive effect on her overall way of being and doing in the world.
Coaching Questions: What do you want most? What options are available to you? What do you ultimately hope to gain?
4. Time Management
How we choose to manage time, our most valuable resource, directly impacts how we manage our self-care and our stress, which I suppose also impacts our ability to communicate effectively. Oh, how all opportunities for growth are interwoven (insert maniacal laugh for a dose of humor).
Effective time management leads to action that looks like progress, momentum, results, achievement and ultimately fulfillment. Ineffective time management leads to action that looks like wheel-spinning, monkey-mind, chaos, confusion and ultimately stagnation.
Effective time management is possible when 1 additional ingredient exists: intention. Here’s what I mean…Effective is defined as success in producing a desired or intended result. Intention is defined as an aim or a plan. Without intention (a destination), there cannot be effectiveness (success in arriving at the desired location).
In daily life, action without intention may or may not be effective. While you may be in motion, if you have no idea what you’re ultimately aiming for, what you’re doing may not be helping you move forward towards bigger picture goals (aka. spinning your wheels). Alternatively, action with intention is almost always effective. Having a plan, you can design actions aimed at producing your desired outcome. Once you get going, even if an action doesn’t initially produce the desired result, at least you have a plan (intention) to cross-check, enabling you to quickly identify being off-track, so you can redirect and get back on-track.
Most Clients want to talk about time management in terms of a quick fix to accomplish something ASAP. While that may be necessary in some cases, the bigger growth opportunity lies in exploring and getting clear about what you are ultimately trying to achieve.
Coaching Questions: What 3 things can you change that would make the biggest difference in your life? Of the 3, which would have the biggest impact on the quality of your life?
Bonus Question: What is 1 thing you are willing to do differently, starting tomorrow, to create a better life or business?
Do you see a topic you’d like to explore on a Coaching Call? Have a challenge that continues to rear it’s ugly head? I’m providing a NEW service you may find helpful. Read more about a Laser Coaching/Consulting Session on my website. Schedule your 60min Session online. I’m ready to help!
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