Posts

Focus in 3-Steps: Executive Coaching John Wooden Style

In a previous post, I talked about the acronym F.O.C.U.S.S. and how a person can create greater levels of purpose, self-confidence, and direction. Today, I’m going to approach the concept of “focus” from the perspective of one of the greatest coaches in basketball history, John Wooden.

“In 1948, I began coaching basketball at UCLA. Each hour of practice we worked very hard. Each day we worked very hard. Each week we worked very hard. Each season we worked very hard. For fourteen years we worked very hard and didn’t win a national championship. However, a national championship was won in the fifteenth year. Another in the sixteenth. And eight more in the following ten years.” ~JW

My question is this, “Did the teams develop to a point where they could finally win a national championship or did Coach Wooden develop himself into a national championship coach?”

 

First Step: Be clear who you are and what Skill you choose to pursue excellence in (internal focus).

If you are going to become a master at a skill or craft, make sure it is one that you love and will emotionally support you for the next 20 years. Then, work to be the best!

To support this assertion another quote, “I am not what I ought to be, not what I want to be, not what I am going to be, but thankful that I am not what I used to be.” ~JW   Focus on being your best now in this moment, every moment!

“For an athlete to function properly, he must be intent. There has to be a definite purpose and goal if you are to progress. If you are not intent about what you are doing, you aren’t able to resist the temptation to do something else that might be more fun at the moment.” ~JW

 

Second Step: You must set goals that align with the expression of who you want to become and the skill you are choosing to master.

Set BIG, HUGE GOALS (external)!

For example, I chose a skill set of running many years ago. After thousands of miles of mastery, there was room for growth to always set the bar higher in terms of external goals: a 10K, half marathon, marathon, Goofy Challenge, 50-Miler, 100K Ultra and the pinnacle…100-Mile Ultra. Those goals took 20+ years of focus. As I took yoga along the way to keep flexible and train, I didn’t set a goal to become a yoga guru.

Big Goals provide the impetus to learn to perfect yourself in the execution of becoming more. They create the pressure to become meticulous because every detail counts. A hot spot on your foot in a 10K or half marathon is not big deal, on a marathon it becomes a little more important but during an ultra-marathon it means the difference between success and epic failure. Large goals are critical because they provide motivation to be diligent, prudent, and sustain a heightened level of awareness; internal and external. That creates focus.

“Adversity is the state in which man most easily becomes acquainted with himself, being especially free of admirers then.” ~JW

 

Third Step: Large goals create large obstacles to overcome.

This scares other people away from you so you have more time and energy to focus on your pursuits and not be presented with their problems.

How often during the day are we interrupted, distracted and presented with other people’s problems and life issues? People tend to conspire with others who will give them solace, empathy, and commiserate with them on their problems. The more a person commiserates with another, the more they keep coming back for more commiseration! If a heavy set person starts telling you how bad they feel, most people think it is OK to say, “I’m sorry, you know, it’s not really your fault. After all its genetics, thyroid issues, etc.” What happens when they get that response?  They keep coming back!

Granted it’s not polite to say to them, “then get off your fat buns and do something about it.” BUT, if you are setting a high goal of health for yourself, that person will naturally shy away from you. They know intuitively, as they see you pack your bag for a lunchtime workout, they won’t get much sympathy. You scare them away by setting higher standards.

 

BIG Goals scare people away because they suffer internally by comparison.

This cuts down in interruptions, distractions, and people telling you their problems. FOCUS comes from setting a higher standard than your peers. An added benefit is that the only people who will interrupt you are the people who have high standards and the exchanges will be more in the form of support, encouragement and sharing of tips that help you refine and master your craft. These can be good because they actually boost your energy, efficiency and the time spent for the interruption is time saved with what is learned by sharing.

Welcome the adversity and feelings of “being alone” in your singular pursuit. This creates focus. Here’s a supportive quote.

“When everyone is thinking the same, no one is thinking.” ~JW

 

Let’s recap these three steps:

1. Be clear on who you are and what skill you want to master (internal mindset)

2. Set Goals in that skillset that are HUGE, stretch yourself as high and far as you can go!

3. Get comfortable with scaring other people away and being alone…set a higher standard. Your only interruptions will be from others with high goals. Those interruptions will be fewer but very supportive!

 “The road to real achievement is usually bumpy and long, but you do not give up. You may have setbacks. You may have to start over. You may have to change your methods. You may have to go around, or over, or under. You may have to back up and get another start. But you do not quit. You stay the course.” ~JW

To your continued success,

James, Executive Business Coach

Learn more about Coach John Wooden here:  www.coachwooden.com

You have problems, compared to what…?

Bad Monday

Are you having a bad day? I thought I was one day last week. I was going to be late for an appointment and I was really frustrated since being late is one of my pet peeves. My frustration level grew as I turned off the highway and my forward progress came to a screeching halt. In front of me was an accident and a long line of backed up cars. As I took the detour in front of me, I snapped the picture you see in the post above. An interesting thing happened as I drove past this accident. Somehow, seeing the plight of this truck driver, putting myself in his shoes, and thinking about the phone call he was going to have to make to his boss put my problem (frustrated by being 10 minutes late) into perspective.

One of the greatest questions I ask clients when they are frustrated and angry at a problem in life is, “OK, its bad, but compared to what?” As human beings, it is easy to get wrapped up in OUR life, OUR problems, OUR perspectives, and OUR beliefs. To jumpstart the process of getting a person out of their OWN way so they can work to a solution, just ask, “Compared to what?” When we shift our attention to the plight of others, the challenges of others, the life circumstances of others (that we can relate too) it helps to put things into a different perspective. When you can shift your “referential index,” how you are referring to something, with a different perspective, it lessens the emotional impact so you can think more clear and see the opportunities to think or do something different.

It is not to be used as a justification for NOT doing something different but a means of getting unstuckk so you can find a new solution and take action to achieve a different outcome. Next time you are stuck and think something in your life really stinks…just state the problem and then ask yourself, “Ok, this stinks but compared to what?” So you thought you were having a bad day, compared to what?

In the end, my ten minutes late was nothing compared to the delays this driver faced, his boss faced, and their clients and their customers may have faced. It’s good to keep life in perspective.

If you are feeling stuck and frustrated with your job, career, relationships or finances…CALL today to schedule your Introductory Strategy Session to start moving forward again. (919) 792-0085

To your continued success,

James

Effective Leadership…

Every manager and business executive is faced with higher and higher demands for their team’s productivity and work output. Pushing directly back against those demands are the employees’ needs to feel that they, and their work, is appreciated. With increased stress and pressure on performance and output, it is easy to see how management and employees can easily become divided.

As a top executive or business owner, how do you effectively bridge the gap between pushing for productivity and genuine appreciation for a job well done? One of the places to start is in understanding where you employees’s “finish line” is. Their “finish line” is the optimum place to give positive feedback and appreciation for their efforts.

Look at your employees and ask yourself, “What is John Smith weakest at: starting tasks, changing tasks or finishing tasks?” You may ask yourself, “why not focus on what they are best at instead?” The answer is because they already know they are good in that area, it comes naturally, and people only grow in confidence when they have to do something tough and overcome an obstacle.

The employees’ weakness identifies their personal “finish line.” This is where a leader can be most effective in showing appreciation because this is where the persons greatest obstacles lie.

Someone who has trouble starting things, needs reinforcement when they start. People who have trouble being flexible and changing things in mid-stride, need reinforcement when they are flexible. And people who have problems finishing tasks get the most from accepting what they “have” finished. Most managers just want to focus on giving feedback when the job is completed. This fails to acknowledge the moments when the employees overcame their limitations to get the job finished.

Simply stated, some people need reinforcement just for starting, others for being flexible and changing things, while others need the reinforcement when they finish the task. An effective leader will identify where their employees cross their own personal finish line and take advantage of it!

So take a little bit of a different approach with your staff and ask yourself, “Where are they weakest in their job; starting tasks, being flexible to change in the middle of things, or completing the task?”  Take advantage of when you see them overcome their personal weaknesses because that is the perfect moment appreciate their efforts and maximize the productivity of the team!

Leaders Think Outside The Box

One of the most important traits of effective leaders is to define a problem, think outside the box, and come up with an innovative solution. It is an art that some people seem to be a “natural” at. But, if we take a look at just throwing away the box, then there will always be a space for creativity to come into play. Here are a few ways to prevent putting yourself in a box!

First, be wary of being caught in an “either-or” mindset. A great way to look at it is that one choice is a dictatorship (no choice), two choices is a dilemma (either-or), and three choices are where creativity and opportunity begin. In business, statements like “we either need to do this or that” are restricting and put you in a box. When three or more ideas are generated, they have to be compared how they can solve the problem instead of being compared against each other. Stay away from thinking “it is this OR that.”

Second, listen for “if…then” statements. “If he would just do this…THEN I would be able to…” or “IF accounting would just…then sales would…” These statements are dangerous, especially from leadership within an organization. They can point blame and shut down ways for creative solutions to emerge. It is a great pattern to deflect taking responsibility for an issue. That creates a box that can be tough to get out of.

Third, is a proactive way to really think outside of the box, practice the simple art of “saying it the way you want it to be.” So many people can tell you what they “don’t” want. I know this sound simple, but simple things can create the greatest change. Many times the “box” is created by resisting change. Saying it the way you want it to be keeps the focus towards the future and away from the past. Moving from what you “don’t want” to what you “do want,” creates vision, possibility and solutions.

Thinking “outside the box” starts with staying away from “either-or” and “if-then”. Staying proactive by “saying it the way you want it to be” will open up a future oriented positive focus. Identifying these language patterns are a powerful first step to finding solutions.

How to Be a Magician…

Throughout time there have always been stories of knights, damsels in distress, Kings & Queens, Dragons and Magicians. One of the greatest magicians of lore was Merlin. And for the younger generation, I guess we have to include Dumbledore!

And inevitably, the magician always seems to fade into obscurity as humankind moves from the age of creativity, possibility and imagination to logic, reason and commerce. Did you ever stop to see how the story parallels the human condition?

As a child, anything is possible. Building castles in the sky, creating something from nothing and turning lead into gold. When I started coaching full time in 1999 with Tony Robbins Companies, my wife gave me a small Hallmark ornament of a magician, arms outstretched, in the clouds and a rainbow behind him. I have it on my desk and see it every day to remind me of certain things.

The magician is in all of us, you have talents and skills to create something bigger of yourself and your impact in life.

What is it and how can you reconnect to it? By looking through your experiences of life and seeing what no one else sees! Then asking, “where are my opportunities to create?”

My neighbor is an engineer and he is always looking at things like a simple light switch and is amazed how it works, but more importantly, he naturally sees even deeper than that. He asks, “Who was the person who was able to dream it, create it and make it work?” That is what he naturally wants to know and apply. That is how he creates his own magic.

I see people every day who tell me their problems. As they speak, somehow I am able to see the expressions, gestures, thoughts inside their mind; I can see their goals, challenges, emotions, and more importantly for my clients I can see the patterns of how it all connects. From there, I see the pathway of possibility and infinite potential for them to overcome it all. Somehow, that is how I create magic. And yet, I walk past a light switch every day without naturally noticing the magic there. But when I see it through my neighbor’s eyes, the light switch comes on and I see the magic he creates!

Being a magician and creating magic comes from being curious, learning, growing, and seeing the infinite potentiality in you, others, places and/or things in a way no one else does. It is noticing it in a way that is unique to you! Most of us shut down our internal magician with the thoughts that come right after these magic moments of awareness. Those poor questions come out like, “But how could I do that, what will people think, I don’t have the money, I don’t have the time, I’m not good enough” With those thoughts, your magician slips away and becomes a thing of the past.

Ask yourself this, “Where is the magic in your business, relationships, finances, physical health? What do you see that others don’t?”

Magic comes from knowing yourself and working what you have inside. Increase your awareness of your environment and take notice of what is important to you.

Be the magician, connect with your creativity, imagination and appreciate your special view of the world. Through that gift, work your magic. You will see a path that others don’t, be able to lead them down it, and bring out the infinite potential of yourself and them.

There are still dragons to slay, damsels to rescue, sunsets to ride off into and magic to work! And, if you look in the right place and work your magical gifts, you will find that Merlin is still very much alive.

 

Liked This Article?  Subscribe and Get my Thought of The Week newsletter directly in your inbox!  (You’ll also get a free copy of my “Emotional Mastery” training and my Free Special Report “5 Steps to Stop Procrastinating“)

 

A Great Reminder from Steve Jobs & Apple Computer

The other day my daughter was telling me how proud she was of herself because she knows how to “divide by 2.” So I responded, “did you know you are brilliant, like Einstein?” Her response was, “even more!” I just laughed and told her she was right!

Apple Computers stated once,

“The crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules and have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them, because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius.”

A lot of people are worried about the world now. But keep in mind, as always, there are people who get rich when the economy is down and people who go broke in an up economy. Now is the time to be a little crazy, a little bit of a rebel, or a troublemaker.

There is opportunity out there but it is like the last few minutes of an Easter Egg hunt. The eggs that were out in the open and easy to see have been taken. The opportunities are left for those who keep looking, don’t give up and think outside the box.

Stay associated to your goals, dreams, and visions. Trust yourself and keep the faith.  Let go of the “what ifs” and focus on what’s within your control and influence.  And Keep taking consistent action toward your goal.  No matter how small.

The end of the quote goes,

“the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

Be bold –whether in your thinking or in your actions! What might appear outlandish to others could be sheer genius!

***

Liked This Article? Subscribe and Get my Thought of The Week Newsletter directly in your inbox! (You’ll also get a free copy of my “Emotional Mastery” training and my Free Special Report “5 Steps to Stop Procrastinating“)