Coaching Concepts: The Root of Roadblocks

This post shared from Leadership Coaching faculty member Sharon Keys Seal’s website  See the original version of the post here!

Years ago I was invited to be part of a panel of professionals to discuss the topic of getting “stuck” in life. The moderator asked us in advance to consider some areas of our lives where we have found ourselves “stuck,” what it was about, and how we worked through it. It proved to be a very thought-provoking exercise for me and the source of a tool I’ve now used for many years to identify reasons that I get stuck or feel blocked, so that I can then work from there to get back on track.

During that exercise I thought I’d begin by listing just a few of the times that I felt anchored in one place, not getting any traction. Things like: stuck in an outdated version of how I view myself, mired in an unfulfilling relationship, blocked access to my creativity, stuck in making the same unhealthy choices at meals, unable to attain a certain professional goal, closed off to scary new ideas. Let’s just say the flow of examples was one thing that was not stuck.

As I studied my list, it occurred to me that there are three reasons I get stuck:

  • Falsehood – When I’m not telling the truth to myself or others; when I’m not in reality; when I can’t answer “yes” to the question “Is this true?”
  • Fear – When fear rears its ugly head, it usually brings me to a screeching halt until I’ve named it specifically and then dealt with it at the root cause.
  • Forgetfulness – When I “forget” my purpose, lose sight of my vision, and/or don’t remind myself of my goals, I end up going down paths that drain me of my energy until I remember where I’m supposed to be heading.

I use my Three F’s theory by noticing when I feel stuck about anything, and seeing if it is sourced in any of these reasons. The next step is corrective action, such as looking for the truth and not continuing to deceive myself, or taking actions to address a fear, or refocusing on my mission statement. So far in my little experiment, the results have been positive and I’m feeling (and acting) a lot more free.

The next time you feel “stuck” in your professional or personal life, I invite you to see if my Three F’s tool can help you identify the source of your roadblock.

Learn more from Sharon on Coaching Concepts >>

3 Myths About Emotional Intelligence

Several years ago the Harvard Business Review declared emotional intelligence a “ground-breaking, paradigm-shattering idea.” Yet after years of study by researchers and business consultants, there are still many myths and misconceptions about what emotional intelligence is and what role it plays in the workplace. How’s your EQ? Explore these common myths and facts to find out.

What Is Emotional Intelligence?

Myth: Emotional Intelligence just means being empathetic and understanding others’ emotions.

Fact: Emotional Intelligence actually starts with self-awareness. Leaders with a strong EQ will understand how to identify and regulate their own emotions, and they will also be adept at responding to others’ emotions – whether that means bringing other people up or calming them down.

Is EQ More Important Than IQ?

Myth: Emotional Intelligence is the most important indicator of professional success.

Fact:  Although EQ is a skill that’s valuable in all fields, it’s not the most important factor in long-term success. Functional/technical knowledge will always be a foundational requirement for any job or industry. Where emotional intelligence comes in is knowing how to use technical skills in different environments, how to adapt to change, and how to motivate team members.

Is Emotional Intelligence Born Or Learned?

Myth: Emotional Intelligence is innate. You either have it or you don’t.

Fact: While some people naturally have a stronger aptitude for social and emotional learning, emotional intelligence is learnable and actually develops naturally over one’s lifetime. The earlier that you begin learning to read nonverbal signals and understand conscious and unconscious motivations and biases, the more quickly you will develop and accelerate your EQ and be able to harness it as a facilitation tool.

Interested in sharpening your EQ and developing your capacity as a transformational leader? The Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute is returning to Georgetown ITL June 8-9. Register here.

The Power of Pause

This post shared from Facilitation faculty member Rae Ringel’s blog at  See the full version of the post here!

We’re in it now. Five day work weeks. Projects in full swing. We are buckled down, getting things done, going full speed.

There’s is no better moment to stop, build a pause practice, and fly ever faster ahead.

Now I’m not the kind of person that sets out time to meditate. I zoom, weave and groove my way through life – like you. But I am a big believer in small, digestible pauses. In moments of transition: office to meeting, car to home, shower to bed. Taking a moment. Three deep breaths.

In a Harvard Business Review blog, Mindfulness for People Who Are Too Busy to Meditate, Maria Gonzalez offers two ways to pause. When doing a micro-meditation, simply stop, notice how you are breathing, and endeavor to bring your breath into your belly. This takes less than a minute and can be done routinely throughout the day. In mindfulness in action, instead of adding a new routine, just experience your day a little differently by paying attention in a purposeful way. In your next meeting, try to only listen for seconds at a time. Only listening is surprisingly harder than it sounds.

Consider extending this mindfulness to the digital realm where we spend most of our waking day. Read an incoming email twice before composing a response. Or notice how you are holding that phone in your hand. What is the quality of your grip? Loosen it ever so slightly. Too much force exacerbates tension.

So what’s it all for? With a pause practice in place, you’ll find that three things will happen.

  • Your ability to concentrate will increase. More time in the zone and less time zoned out.
  • You’ll see your situation with greater clarity. With clarity, your judgment will improve.
  • And you’ll also develop composure. Self-possession reduces stress and enhances creative decision making.

One of my coaching clients is a partner in an advisory services firm. He spends many hectic hours in the office. For most of these hours, he’s sitting at his desk. Take a deep breath if this sounds familiar. Here’s what he recently shared about his pause practice:

“I have chosen walking as my pause practice because you can walk anywhere and anytime.  About mid-day I try to walk around my office building, or around the block if home to get some fresh air and to literally break away. I try to reflect on all the things I have to be thankful for, which there are many!  The result is a little extra energy and a little less stress to navigate the many challenges of the day.”

Our computers work better when we reboot them. Why wouldn’t we?

Like my client, I believe you’ll too find that the implications are profound. One of my core beliefs is that every change starts with you. This change ripples out. Build yourself. Build your community. Build the world.

What’s your pause practice? Share it here. Who knows? Maybe it will change the world too.

Learn more from Rae Ringel on >>

Rituals Encourage High Performance

This post shared from Leadership Coaching  faculty member Megan Staczek’s blog at  See the full version of the post here!

What is the glue that makes some teams outperform others? In addition to known factors such as technical competence, team purpose and objectives, and effective communication, successful teams have rituals. A ritual, in its most basic form, is an honored practice that is part of a community’s culture. From singing the national anthem at the start of a major sporting event, to the recitation of a pledge by students at the start of a school day, these rituals are signals of a cultural commitment that joins people together.

A major focus in my work is helping teams achieve higher levels of performance. I’ve had the chance to support both a Fortune 100 executive team and a high school women’s lacrosse team do just that. The business team had previously operated as independent units but was now banded together under a new executive with a vision. This required the leaders to operate cohesively despite their history of working in silos. The lacrosse team comprised athletes going through the highly competitive college recruiting process, which can lead to individuals making easy mistakes or feeling compelled to outshine the other players. Both reactions weaken team performance.

The similarities between the teams were striking. Both were made up of individuals who had deep knowledge and skill and a commitment to elevating their personal performance. Both teams were also known for poor communication and inconsistent collaboration. Our focus started with deepening relationships, clarifying purpose and vision, and improving team communication and coordination. With this foundation in place, these teams were ready to create meaningful and impactful rituals – the stuff that helps elevate and sustain teamwork over the long run.

The lacrosse players collectively formulated a powerful ritual that would be replayed before every game. The ritual was self-led (sometimes including the coach and most times not) and involved warming up in ways that encouraged boldness, connectivity, and freedom. Performed in a circle and with music, they playfully urged teammates to improvise in ways that were freeform and innovative while verbally emboldening each member’s performance. A part of their vision was to play freely with the sense of boldness and deep coordination of a championship team as this would raise their game and recruiting opportunities. To an observer, the ritual might have appeared disorderly and trivial, but for the players it was quite the opposite. This ritual signified high teaming and commitment, and gave each individual the emotional and mental readiness to compete. Over time, this ritual became part of the team’s culture, bringing a sense of togetherness, joy, and shared commitment.

Similarly for the business team, its ritual was focused on their work and the level of leadership required for their future. They co-created a monthly gathering to spend time as business and industry leaders talking openly about their insights, concerns and challenges in ways that were free of managerial evaluation and generative in sourcing ideas, collaboration and inspiration. The monthly agenda was formed through dialogue that identified provocative issues, ideas and unresolved problems facing the business. It didn’t matter if the topics “felt good.” It mattered that they were coming together to talk openly and thoughtfully about the future. As the team engaged on these topics, it fostered new thinking, shared leadership and satisfaction.

Both teams’ rituals involved connecting in a casual environment free of hierarchy. The rituals encouraged freedom of expression – in thought and action. These rituals were small reminders of the commitment that they were making to one another, to their work, and the possibility that existed specifically because they were not operating alone.

As leaders, part of our work is to establish the conditions for success through the ritualistic ways we have our teams engage. Consider: what is the ritual that will best serve your team?

Learn more from Megan Staczek on >>