How To Get The Most Out Of Executive Coaching (And How To Sabotage Your Own Coaching Experience)

Since 2007 I’ve successfully coached a variety of clients from business owners, CEOs, COOs, CFOs, CTOs, Directors, City Managers, Deputy or Assistant City Managers, HR Directors, attorneys, and entrepreneurs. So far I’ve only had one – that’s right, one single exception – where the client experience (and my own) wasn’t as fruitful as it should have been. One isn’t likely a statistically valid number from which to draw a conclusion, but I’ve visited with other coaches and collected a variety of stories of failed experiences. They all sound similar to my exceptional singular experience where things just didn’t go very well. Nobody bats a thousand. I’m pretty pleased that I’ve only had one client who didn’t make the progress he should have. 

Let’s start with what can go wrong. This is how you can make sure you don’t leverage executive coaching to your full advantage. 

How To Sabotage Your Own Coaching Experience

I’ll list the steps you can take to ensure your executive coaching experience is a complete waste of time.

Step 1: Don’t open up with the coach.

Make sure you don’t share anything. Ever. Answer questions with a yes, no, or maybe. Better yet, regularly say, “What do you mean?” Do not share anything. Make sure the coach has to carry the conversation. Your goal is to say as little as possible. 

Step 2: Don’t be honest.

Whatever you do, when you do speak, don’t be truthful or honest. It’s important – to make your coaching experience a complete waste of your time (and your coach’s) – that you’re never vulnerable. Your goal is to reveal nothing about yourself.

Step 3: Don’t put any effort into it.

Every time the coach tries to get on your schedule be busy. Behave as though your time is so valuable you can’t possibly squeeze in a session this week. Just make sure you don’t ever offer a reason. Go back and see steps 1 and 2. 

If the coach asks you to do something, don’t. Ever. Just memorize this excuse, “I haven’t had the time.” It’s easy once you start making the excuse. Have some fun and get creative in your excuses, but only after you’ve mastered this one. 

Step 4: Don’t commit to anything. Ever.

Your coach will try to find out what you want to do. Be very careful because if you reveal this, you may be held accountable. So avoid all accountability by refusing to commit to anything. 

When asked about your goals or what you’d like to improve, be brave. Just repeat this statement, “Nothing really. I’m pretty happy with how things are going.” Your coach will likely be frustrated and may probe a bit more to find out if there’s nothing you’d like to work on. Stay the course by saying, “Nothing I can think of.” Just keep saying those things and whatever you do, do NOT admit that there is anything you’d like to improve. Your words and attitude must reflect that you have everything as perfect as possible. 

Step 5: Just keep doing what you always did.

Change is hard. You don’t want to do any of that. You just want to let enough time pass so you can check the box that you had a coach for a period of time. 

If your boss hired a coach for you, it’s really important that you work all this magic at a slow enough pace to let the coach have about 6 months. Otherwise, your boss may think you didn’t give the effort. And of course, you’re not giving it any effort, but you don’t want your boss to know that. So the main thing you must do is ACT. Fake it until you make it to the sixth-month mark, then you could be proactive and thank your boss for getting you a coach. Tell your boss how productive it’s been and what a wonderful experience it’s been. If your head isn’t already on the chopping block, then maybe you can get rid of the coach sooner than later. Honestly, you’ve got very little to lose because telling your boss those things isn’t going to save you if your head is on the block. But it may help you get rid of the coach. So you really have nothing to lose.

Step 6: Cross your fingers and hope for the best.

This step is self-explanatory. Come on, who needs help? You’ve got this. Keep thinking your delusional thoughts that high achievers don’t need anybody. And you are a high achiever. Feel good about yourself. Don’t worry about getting better. That’s a job for others, not you!

How To Get The Most From Your Coaching Experience

Let’s flip the script and talk about the steps you can take to maximize the experience (and the value) of your coaching experience.

Step 1: Be vulnerable. Trust the coach.

I tell every client, upfront, that I’m only here to help serve them. I have no other dog in the hunt except their growth and improvement. It’s not my job to establish the goals for their life or career. It’s their life and I’m not here to tell them what to do. I’m here to help them figure it out. Every session is private and confidential. And when the boss has hired me for them, the information flow goes only one direction – toward them. The sponsor who hires me for a direct report (meaning the boss who hires me for one of their leaders) is told upfront that the information I learn from the boss will be used for the client’s benefit. This isn’t a tattletale session though. I use the information to help guide the work. I also tell the sponsor (the boss) not to ask me to report anything the client says because I won’t. My work with the client is strictly confidential. The only exceptions – which have never happened so far – are if I learn things illegal, immoral, or unethical are going on, then I reserve the right to talk directly with the client about those things and I may be compelled to report those to the boss. Again, it’s never happened. Hopefully, it never will. 

The point is confidentiality is critical to the process. Additionally, I show my own vulnerability in my first session with every client. It’s not a ploy. It’s completely genuine and honest. And I don’t script it. I say whatever I’m feeling at the time. It’s not about me, but it’s important that clients know I’m entering the relationship completely trusting them. I’m happy to earn their trust, but I’m going to give it to them free from the get-go. 

Step 2: Be open. Share.

Volunteer information. This is your opportunity to share anything and everything because professional coaches are safe. They have only your best interest at heart. Keep in mind, your success and growth are a reflection of their success and growth. They want you to be more successful. They also want this to be among the most rewarding experiences of your life because people who are attracted to – and good at – coaching professional people enjoy seeing others reach new levels of success. Your coach is genuinely interested in helping you. Let them. Don’t squander this opportunity.

Step 3: It’s your life. Figure out how you want to improve it.

Great coaches aren’t people who tell you what you ought to do. They’re not there to tell you how to live your life, but they are there to help you figure out to improve your life. Put in the work to figure out what you’d like to improve. Don’t be afraid to pursue whatever it is you’d like to pursue. 

Clients have told me they’d like to improve their faith, their relationship with their adult kids, their marriage, their ability to retain key employees, their ability to develop emerging leaders, their ability to spend less time in the details (and be more strategic), their ability to ready for retirement, their marketability to get a better job, and a host of other things. These goals are personal to each client. I’ve got nothing to do with what they want because it’s their life. My role is to help them figure out a path forward so they can achieve their goals. Imagine the loss these clients would have experienced if they didn’t assume responsibility for their own life…and if they didn’t put in the work to figure these things out. 

Step 4: Accept the challenge and do the work.

Yes, you’re busy. But this investment is in YOU. Nothing is more important than putting in the work to grow yourself. Make your coaching sessions a priority. In fact, don’t wait on the coach, take control. Your coach will respect your proactive approach to making sure you’re on the schedule weeks in advance. 

Dive into the work. Be ambitious about it because it’s your life! Don’t procrastinate. 

Hint: the more you dive into the work the more you’ll want to dive into the work. 

Go back to step 1 if you find yourself being reluctant. Do you not trust the coach? Tell them. You can’t avoid difficult conversations and move forward. Be selfish enough to make sure you’re getting all the value possible. Your coach will respect it. And your coach will do everything possible to remedy any obstacles or hurdles for you. 

Step 5: Own it all. 

I work hard to help clients paint themselves into a corner where there are no more excuses. I encourage people to accept responsibility (not the same as blame) for everything in their life. Why not? It’s the path forward because it empowers people to take whatever control exists in their life. When bad things happen (and they will), then we accept responsibility for what we’ll do now. 

Don’t resist accepting responsibility. It’s liberating to take control. 

Step 6: Be grateful.

List the things you have without being fixated on what you don’t have. You likely have tons of things for which to be thankful. Consider those things. Be thankful you had an opportunity – or you created an opportunity – to work with an executive coach. Most professionals will live their entire lives never having had this experience. Many will assume the people who are organically in their life can do for them what an executive coach can do. They’re wrong because those organic relationships have strings attached. We’re beholden to almost everybody in our life. A professional executive coach enters our life without strings. The only objective is to help us move forward. Be thankful you’re among the most elite leaders on the planet who experience such help. The highest achievers on the planet know what you’ve now learned – we all need somebody capable of helping us figure it out. 

Be well. Do good. Grow great!

30-Day Micro Leadership Course (September 16th 2021)

Day 16. September 16, 2021.

Writing your story means architecting your life. Living the life you most want to live. Hopefully, that means being as good as you can be. 

Today, we’re thinking about telling our story. We want to pursue our ideal outcome and give high effort to growing and improving. We also want others to accurately comprehend (understand) our story. 

Misunderstandings are common. Up and down every organization. People get pegged as somebody a bit differently than who they really are. The false assumptions don’t have to be dramatic to have a negative impact. Even slight misconceptions can derail a career. 

Are you responsible for people misunderstanding you? Yes. Remember the power of the corner, the mirror, and moving forward. You refuse to make excuses and you accept responsibility for everything! Again, we’re not finger-pointing. We’re working to find a path forward in our life. Can people still get it wrong in spite of our best efforts? Yes. But that’s on them. What is on us is giving it our best effort to help them get it right. We’re all able to do what we want – including people who are determined to think the worst or get it wrong. 

Consider the options here. You can refuse to accept responsibility for helping others understand accurately comprehend who and what you are – and some people will innocently fail to understand because you didn’t do your best. Had you done better, they’d have better understood. The folks determined to judge you harshly will likely always judge you harshly no matter what you do. Question: Should you still do your best? Of course. Because it’s the right thing to do. 

Words matter. Be sure you’re telling your story with language that helps people understand, especially your boss (and frankly anybody else you’d like to influence). 

Don’t be lazy. Or irresponsible. Remember, this is the story you are writing and influence is all about people reading, seeing, and understanding your story. We’re talking about your life. Professionally and personally.

Imagine Stephen King writing a great story. That is, he has in mind this awesome story that he knows will be as compelling as anything he’s ever written. Unfortunately, in an uncharacteristic fashion, suppose he fails to write it as clearly as he usually does. The story is terrific. He just fails to do his usual world-class job of telling it. Is it his responsibility or the reader’s responsibility to get it right? 

You must be the guardian to YOUR story. That means you have to handle it with the care it deserves. It’s in your best interest – and in the interest of the positive influence you want to have – that you take telling your story seriously. 

The easy excuse is, “Well, that’s not my problem.” Maybe it’s not your problem, but it is your responsibility. 

Consider Cindi, a VP of a software company that specializes in accounting for aerospace manufacturing. Cindi reports to the COO, the Chief Operating Officer. She is smart, capable and according to her boss, Kelly (the COO), “She’s not taking seriously enough building her team.” Kelly wants to help Cindi add some skills to her leadership, but she’s got a story built of how Cindi operates. Kelly believes Cindi views people development as a task to be completed. Kelly views it as an ongoing endeavor, one she’d like every member of her leadership team (about 7 direct reports) to make part of their ongoing work. The CEO is very intent on having a team that grows together because he believes part of the company’s competitive strength is having people who are learning together year after year. Regularly, he preaches about the power of continuity. Kelly fears Cindi doesn’t fully understand that directive or may not know how to achieve it in her department. 

Cindi is a high achiever. She has a reputation as somebody who will get the job done. Quickly, efficiently and effectively. People like her, too – which helps. She also has a reputation as somebody is knocking off a to-do list as well as anybody in the company. Turns out, Cindi does need a bit of help in the people development part of her job, but mostly, she needs to work on how others are reading her story. 

She is bringing along two people who are part of her leadership team. They report all sorts of things Cindi does personally to help them grow and improve. It’s clear they have great respect for her and both indicate she’s among the best bosses they’ve ever had. I start getting a different story from the story the C-suite knows. 

Over time it becomes apparent that Cindi is so intent on acting proactively that her speed is causing her to spend no time – I mean NO TIME – in making sure she’s accurately even telling her story. I’m not talking about bragging or looking for accolades. I’m talking about simply being informative to her boss, Kelly. Cindi admits she has never considered sharing some things with Kelly. “I never thought that was important. I just let my work speak for itself,” she says. 

Her work isn’t speaking for itself though. People are drawing conclusions that aren’t quite accurate about Cindi’s work in making sure her department has the bench strength so important to the CEO. At first, Cindi is put off thinking this is so ridiculous, but she quickly realizes her best response is to kick all the excuses to the curb and focus on doing what is best for the company, for her boss, for herself, and for her team. By accepting responsibility for the way others “read” her story, she now feels more in control of the narrative. And understands that writing is just part one. Part two is telling it in a way where everybody has the opportunity to truly understand it. 

Cindi learns that telling her story is her responsibility. She starts learning how to tell it so Kelly, her boss, and everybody else, understand it better. In fact, within 30 days Kelly reports that she’s noticing Cindi’s progress. “I can tell she is starting to take more seriously ensuring the continuity of her team,” says Kelly, Cindi’s boss. Truth is, Cindi is putting on the work to get better at that, but mostly, Cindi has changed how she’s telling her story, and the influence she now has – and her narrative – is changing because of it. 

Sometimes it’s important for us to change the story we’re writing (by crafting our ideal outcome). Sometimes we need to alter the way we’re telling our story because people aren’t quite getting it right. Write your story well. Tell it even better!

…or if you fail to tell your story well. 

Be well. Do good. Grow great!

30-Day Micro Leadership Course (September 15th 2021)

Here we are at the halfway point in our 30 Day Micro Leadership Course. Day 15, September 15, 2021. 

Writing Your Story

View your life like a book comprised of many chapters. Your name is on the cover. You alone are writing the story. There may be many characters who are part of your story, but they’re not writing it with you. You’re in control of the writing because you alone are taking full responsibility for your life, remember? No more excuses!

Your humanity is going to come through in the book you’re writing. Some chapters of your life aren’t going to be ideal. Bad things are going to happen to you. Sometimes they might even be your own fault. But even if they aren’t, you’re going to own it all. There’s no downside to you when you do. It’s the path forward. 

You can write great chapters to your life. Chapter after chapter. Even when bad things happen, you can still write a great chapter of determination to get through the tough or bad times. Here in a few days, I’ll tell you more about the hero journey – the journey you’re going to write about. That’s in stark contrast to the victim journey many are writing. Maybe you’ve written your story as a victim’s journey in the past, but that was then. This is NOW.

Your story will be congruent with the pursuit of your ideal outcome. That’s why it’s urgent that you get clear on your ideal outcome. Again, don’t worry about it being unchangeable. Just make sure it’s what you most want to happen today! As you continue to write your story you’ll adjust for things that happen. Twists and turns will be a big part of your story. That’s how life goes. Your response to those twists and turns is what will characterize your story. And you’re in charge of those reactions

Based on my work I must insert here that your story is a complete story. It’s not singularly based solely on who you are at work. Are you a wife? A husband? A father? A mother? A son? A daughter? Are you a grandparent? How do you spend your free time? What things do you love? What do you hate? What are you saving your money for? There are a variety of things that determine your context. I’m not saying that your boss or your teammates know all these things…or that they should. I am saying all these things – and more – are part of your story though. 

I’m a husband, father, and grandfather. These are just 3 roles in my story, but they’re very important. And some of the parts of my story are horrible because I’ve suffered some tremendous sorrows. Some far beyond my control, but all of my reactions to them — fully in my control. My suffering is part of my story. Each time I have to carefully write and craft the story of my reaction to the suffering. So must you. 

I want to make sure you really understand the task. This isn’t about some fantasy or work of fiction. It’s you crafting your life – writing your story. Think of it as a completely accurate autobiography. Every detail is chronicled. Nothing is left out. 

Writers pre-think what they’re writing about. You should, too. Don’t just let life happen without thinking about what you most want to happen. And how you most want the story to go. 

Since we’re focused on leadership then we have to focus a bit more on that. Your leadership.

What kind of a leader are you – and how is that going to differ from the leader you most want to become? How can you begin to write a better story, one more congruent with how you’d like to be. Only fools think it can just happen. Heros know they have to make intentional decisions to bring out the best story possible. Act like a hero. 

Begin with your own dissatisfaction. What parts of your story do you acknowledge as true, but you don’t like them? 

It’s the quickest place to begin to write a better story. As you do, keep looking at the mirror to improve your accurate comprehension of who you really are. You can’t ignore reality and think you’ll write a work of fiction that you – and others – will see as true. This isn’t the work of a hypocrite. It’s not a work of fantasy. Or deception. Or self-delusion. It’s 100% true. So make it how you most want it to be because you’ll know if you’re lying. You are the writer and you’re also the first and most important reader of your story. Make yourself proud. 

Be well. Do good. Grow great!

30-Day Micro Leadership Course (September 14th 2021)

Welcome to day 14 of our 30 Day Micro Leadership Course.

We’ve covered an awful lot of ground and I hope you’re finding the course helpful so far. Just remember, there’s a vast difference between knowing and doing. Make sure you put things into practice. We want this information to benefit you in real life. When we get to the end I’m going to ask you to email me how things have helped you. 

Today, I want to introduce you to a concept that is as powerful as anything you can do to improve your life as a leader. Yesterday we introduced the power of the corner, the power of looking into the mirror, and the power of getting out of the corner by moving forward. It’s all part of the process required so we at long last stop making excuses. 

Your Ideal Outcome Is Your Story

This is about your narrative, your story. Mostly, it’s about you taking full control over the story you’re writing. It’s not about you controlling (because you can’t) the story others write about you. We all have our share of harsh critics, people who enjoy making false assumptions about it based on beliefs they “know” are true. We also have our critics who read the worst chapter of our life and will forever judge us based only on that chapter. Don’t be preoccupied with them. Better yet, don’t even give them the first thought – much less the second one!

Ghostwriters abound. People are willing to craft your story to their liking. You can choose to let them influence your own writing of your life, or you can ignore them and get busy writing the story you want as you pursue your ideal outcome. 

Let’s just concentrate on writing the best story possible. That’s what we learn while we’re in that corner. Let’s not forget it. It’s an important lesson.

We have to keep in mind that sometimes people are listening or reading the story we’re writing and we’re unhappy with it. Now that we’re in the land of NO MORE excuses we’re going to accept responsibility for it. Sometimes people conclude things about us that we resent until we figure out that we’re the ones writing the story they’re reading. 

His boss tells me, “He’s not a very good delegator.” I ask him to explain. He mentions the many times this executive, one of his direct reports, talks about doing things himself. The boss offers me many examples of conversations where this member of his leadership team seems to perform tasks himself. The boss rightly concludes this member of his team likely needs to learn how to delegate. Additionally, the boss believes this executive’s team – of about 4 direct reports – is not being fully developed. He tells me, “There’s no way his team is growing with him taking full ownership of all these things. I need him to develop his bench better and be more strategic.”

Armed with the boss’ perspective, I meet with the executive. About 40 minutes into our conversation he has mentioned a few times the work of his team. I’m getting a very different notion of how he’s interacting with his team. It’s obvious the team members are performing, at least in his mind. I need to find out what’s true and what might be falsely assumed. The stories aren’t congruent. 

“Tell me about how your boss views the work of your team,” I ask. He goes on to tell me how the boss likes members of the leadership team to be in the center of things and be leaders who make a firsthand difference. “Tell me more,” I request. “Well, at every staff meeting it’s petty competitive for all of us to make sure we get credit for what’s happening in our area.”

I listen, making mental notes of just now different these stories are. 

Over the next few weeks, I follow the evidence. I dive into finding out what’s really going on. Conclusion? The employee thinks he’s telling the story his boss wants to hear. Instead, he’s telling the boss a story that doesn’t serve him, his team, or his boss. After visiting with his team it’s clear to me they’re strong, performing at a fairly high level. He is strategic, but he’s telling his boss a story that isn’t accurately portraying the work. So we get busy figuring out how he can not only write a better story, but tell a better story – one more accurate to who he really is and what he and his team are really doing. 

Sometimes we’re writing the story we want, but we’re failing to tell it as well as we could. Both matter. 

Next time we’re going to focus on writing it, then we’ll follow that up with a more focused conversation about how to make sure we’re telling it well. 

Be well. Do good. Grow great!

30-Day Micro Leadership Course (September 13th 2021)

Day 13. September 13, 2021. Welcome back to our 30-Day Micro Leadership Course.

“A change will do you good,” sings Sheryl Crow. She’s right. 

That doesn’t make it popular or easy. Transforming ourselves is arduous work. I suspect many people rather enjoy being stuck because it’s comfortable. “The devil you know” and all that. 

Change involves embracing the unknown, but it also involves the pursuit of the ideal outcome. YOUR ideal outcome. That should excite you. 

We want to get better. We just don’t want to change in order to do it. 😉 It’d be easier if others would change so we didn’t have to.

Here’s my 3-step approach to how we can foster growth and improvement. 

One: The power of the corner

My coaching obligation to every client is to help them paint themselves into the corner where the magic happens. It’s not my job to paint them in a corner – which is a metaphor for eliminating all the excuses. My job is to help them paint themselves into the corner because they’re ready or preparing to get ready to change. They want to grow and improve but may be struggling to figure out how. 

The corner literally puts our back against the wall with nowhere to go except forward. No more backing up. No more wiggling out of it. Time to face the realities of where we are and where we most want to go. 

Until we suck all the oxygen out of the room where our excuses live, they’ll continue to thrive. That’s the power of the corner. We have willingly go there though. It’s unprofitable most of the time when others attempt to paint us in the corner. Self-improvement is how we refer to the work. For good reason. It’s something we must do for ourselves! Sure, others can help us, but helping and telling are different things. 

Today, I encourage you to look at the corner not as a place of punishment (like a doghouse) but a place you can finally – at long last – you can move forward. Maybe in an unprecedented fashion.

Two: The power of the mirror

Once we’re in the corner, ready to ditch every excuse it’s time to grab the mirror and stare intently into it. It’s time to come face-to-face with ourselves. To look at our weaknesses, strengths, challenges, and opportunities. Self-examination is required, but there’s much more to it. Accurate self-examination. Merely looking at ourselves isn’t enough. It’s urgent and critical for us to make sure we’re seeing ourselves accurately. Remember my definition of understanding — 

Understanding is accurate comprehension.

Self-examination is worthless unless it’s accurate. 

The mirror also represents our commitment to look squarely at ourselves and avoid blaming others. Or blaming circumstances. We refuse to hold the mirror up to others. It’s for our use only. 

As we stare intently into ourselves we acknowledge whatever we’re thinking, feeling, believing, and doing as our responsibility. It’s not about assigning blame. Blame doesn’t matter. This isn’t a fault-finding exercise. It’s time to let all that go. Forget about it. 

Instead, focus on accepting responsibility for everything. And I do mean everything. 

Why not?

Here’s what happens when you do – you empower yourself. You give yourself permission to control whatever you can. That frees you to change anything having to do with your own choices – which includes quite a lot of your life. More than you may have earlier thought. 

Three: The power of getting out of the corner.

Once we come face-to-face with ourselves and accept responsibility for our ideal outcome – or whatever outcomes have occurred up to this point – now we’re ready to move forward. The power of the corner isn’t found in staying there, but in going there and staying long enough to rid ourselves of making excuses. It takes however long it takes. Spend whatever time in the corner with the mirror until you see things clearly and accurately. And until you willingly say, “If it is to be, it’s up to me!”

Only then you can move forward and escape the corner. 

Everybody needs redemption. Think of your forward progress out of the corner as redemption. It’s your get out of jail card where you can at long last be in more control over your life. 

Now you’re not running from anything. Instead, you’re running toward something – YOUR IDEAL OUTCOME.

It’s not my ideal outcome. It’s not anybody else’s ideal outcome. It belongs to you and you alone must figure out what it’s going to be. And it’s not static. It’s always subject to change because you’re now fully committed to growth, improvement, and transformation into a better version of yourself. That’s not being fickle – that’s adjusting your ambitions to more ideally suit what you most want to happen. And as a result, you adjust your thoughts, beliefs and actions to make it come true. 

No, there are no guarantees. You might achieve your ideal outcome. You might not. And you might change things up realizing what you thought you wanted wasn’t what you wanted after all. You can change your mind. You can change your life. All for the better. It’s your life and you can direct it as you’d like. 

Just remember, you’ve now accepted responsibility for everything. All of it. Failure. Neglect. Achievement. Constraints. Opportunities. You own them all, which means you have a large degree of power over them. 

Can you overcome all of them? Maybe not. But the ones you can’t overcome…they can be endured. 

Influence as much as you can so have the life you want. Hardships will come. And those will be your chief learning opportunities. That’s how it works. Don’t resent having tough times. See them for the chances to grow stronger because that’s what they are. 

So get busy thinking about how quickly you want to get to the corner and rid yourself of all the excuses you’ve been making for why you don’t have the life you want – or why you’re not the person you’d most like to be.

Be well. Do good. Grow great!

30-Day Micro Leadership Course (September 12th 2021)

Day 12. Sunday, September 12, 2021. Today we’re talking about creating!

Specifically, I’m talking about you creating your own ideas, philosophies, beliefs, and courses of action rather than relying on experts, thought leaders, authors, or even podcasters. 😉 

Research has shown the powerful impact teaching or coaching can have on the person doing the teaching or coaching. We think if we insert our wisdom on a person trying to transform will help, but the opposite is true. Instead, when we ask a person attempting to change to tell us how they’d go about helping somebody trying to make the same one they’re working on…they engage and it can help them more figure out their own path. 

That speaks to the power of creating versus consuming. Creating is more positive action. Consuming tends to be much more passive. That’s why the books, articles, podcasts, videos, seminars, and conferences rarely make much of a difference in helping us improve.

Knowing isn’t doing. 

Knowledge isn’t to be discounted, but doing accelerates knowledge enabling us to better figure things out. Labs all over the world are failing at an incredibly high rate, but that failure is vital in the pursuit to solve whatever problem each lab is tackling. 

Examine what you already know about whatever it is you want to improve. An easy example is weight loss because so many of us can relate to it. Is a lack of knowledge the issue? You’d think so based on the number of books and articles written about it. All of us understand we should eat a more healthy balanced diet with a modest amount of daily caloric intake. And we know we should exercise daily, even if it’s walking for just 30 minutes. The benefits of drinking water are well-established and rather common knowledge. Those last 3 sentences represent knowledge we all have about weight loss. There are thousands of little details – or big ones – that aren’t included in that, but are any of them likely to be the one missing piece of knowledge to spark us to take action? Not likely. 

The real problem isn’t knowing. It’s doing. Specifically, it’s doing what we already know to do. 

Get busy creating. Reduce, if only temporarily, your consumption. Wean yourself from the habit of passively taking in information thinking it’s the path forward. Picture a lab full of scientists who daily pour over white papers from all over the globe. They never test anything. No experiments are crafted and performed. No failures happen. No success either.

Success will not happen as long as we’re neglecting to do what we already know to do. It feels better to learn – conning ourselves that we’re doing something – and avoid risking failure. Not doing something doesn’t feel like failure. We fool ourselves into feeling, “Just not yet.” We’re going to do it, but we’re putting in the time to prepare. After all, preparation is a big part of success, right? We don’t want to go off half-cocked. This is why I said that consumption’s biggest negative is it fuels our procrastination. It keeps us from actually doing something – creating. 

What is your very next step – the action you’ll take? And I don’t mean research, reading, listening, or watching. 

I don’t remember a client ever failing to be able to answer that question. We may not know step 5, but we always know step 1. The very next step is more often than not obvious to us. So the question becomes, why don’t we do what we already know to do? 

Well, it could be lots of different things, but fear is the likely culprit. Oh, I know. You’re not afraid of anything. But you’re deceiving yourself. We’re all afraid of something. Some of us are afraid of lots of things. The two most common ones I’ve found are looking foolish or stupid (insert any fear that has to do with how we appear to others) and failure (“what if it doesn’t work?”).

Would you agree that much of what ails us is our refusal to close that gap between what we already know and what we’re already doing? Stop and think about that in your life. You’re not taking any action with the knowledge you already have. What makes you think adding more knowledge on top of your existing knowledge will change that? Storing up knowledge is useless except in games of trivia. 

Creating is taking the very next step. Do that one thing you already know to do. See how it works out. Adjust. Adapt. Get busy figuring it out. And know that figuring it out isn’t just a cerebral activity. It’s physical, too. Move. Do something. Create. 

When I was young I aspired to be a writer. Not seriously, but it was a dream. I was quickly taught the truth about writing. Writers write. 

Subjects (nouns) have verbs. I rightly concluded that if writers write then singers sing, musicians play, speakers speak, coaches coach, podcasters podcast and on and on. The people who are achieving are doing. They’re not just reading. They’re not just consuming. They’re not just learning. Mostly, they’re doing and in that doing – they’re creators who are making the biggest differences. 

Lastly, when it comes to figuring out who you most want to be, creating is key. You’re writing the story of your own life. Nobody else can write your story. That doesn’t mean they won’t try, but you must wrestle the pen or keyboard from anybody who would dare live your life for you. You have to be responsible. 

Starting tomorrow we’ll peel back how you can at long last get on the path to accepting the challenge to transform your life to what YOU want. Warning: it’s not magical. Or easy. It’s not complex, but it’s difficult. But you can do it. We all can. 

Will YOU? 

Let’s find out.

Be well. Do good. Grow great!

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