How To Find Your Motivation

“I’m having a hard time staying motivated!” “I lack the energy.” “Ughhh.” Sound familiar? It’s quite the common refrain of folks who seek out coaching. When we hate our job, or feel lost or out of control, it’s motivation (or the lack thereof) that’s often to blame. And many of us understand that motivation is an inside job. No one can motivate us but us. They can inspire us, teach us, maybe even threaten us, but we are motivated by the things that matter to us — not by the external forces. So how do you tap into it when it appears nowhere in sight? It’s all about reframing. If you’re not motivated to complete a project, it’s usually because you don’t care about that project. So reframe it, and tie it to something you do care about. If you’re a relationally-motivated person who’s stuck doing a job that’s not relational at all, find a different connection.  Remind yourself: This is not a data entry project that I’m doing to get a paycheck. No way; that’s simply not motivating. Rather: This is a project I’m in charge of because my boss trusted me with it. My boss and my team care about me, and if I can do this well I will make their lives easier. Now that dull project is about the relationships you have at work, and if relationships are what drive you, well, you’ve just built yourself a lot more motivation. It doesn’t have to be relationships. Take some time to reflect on what really motivates you, the parts of your job and/or life that make you smile and feel joy. Name those and some of the underlying reasons why they have this impact...

Cultivating a Culture of Collaboration Part 2: “I Don’t Know” is NOT a Death Sentence!

Last week we talked about cultivating an environment of openness and questioning within your team. Embedded in that idea is developing an environment of safety: a place where people can come and say ‘I don’t know.’ A place where they can come and think out loud with you. What we’re doing is helping your team recognize their own leadership and ability to answer their own questions, but in the process come to see you, the leader, as a resource and partner — not an ogre or dictator. Remember: it can be very difficult, vulnerable, and embarrassing for a team member to acknowledge they don’t know an answer and need to ask for help. It can be doubly so when you are in a position of authority and believe you are supposed to know. Typically, we are conditioned to see the lack of knowing as a sign of weakness. That’s why we have expressions such as “fake it ‘til you make it” — but it doesn’t have to be that way. When I was a front line salesperson, (which is an odd way to phrase it because we are all salespeople, especially leaders — who are constantly selling their vision and culture) people would ask questions that I didn’t know the answer to — and you know what? Some of the most powerful and long term relationships with clients were built on my lack of knowledge. My inability to answer made me look human and made them feel smart — smart enough to ask a question that I hadn’t heard before. Then, together, we figured it out — strengthening our relationship in the process. The funny thing is, when I got stumped, a sale would almost...

Cultivating a Culture of Collaboration Part 1: When NOT to Give Advice

Look, we don’t have to look far to see prime examples of the failure to collaborate. Let’s face it: if you are a leader of power and control, and your team is nothing more to you than a set of tools you use to carry out your goals regardless of their perspectives or inputs, then collaboration isn’t even in your vocabulary, much less your team. If people are tools, this is not your article. When your culture lacks collaboration, it is often because team members’ ideas are shot down, disrespected, or never even solicited in the first place. When that is the case, people tend to approach their leaders looking for answers to questions they are more than capable of answering, because they are either afraid to make the decision themselves or they’ve been taught their opinion doesn’t matter anyway. (OK, perhaps I oversimplify a little, but not by much — and you get the point.) When your team comes to you with questions, those are nothing less than opportunities to engage, inspire, build a culture of collaboration and cultivate their growth — not necessarily opportunities to answer. Some people put a great deal of emphasis on the importance of being able to answer a question, to be the wise sage, which can come from a good place: we want to offer good counsel to our team when they come to us with questions. After all, isn’t that why we get the big bucks? But here’s the problem: just because we say it, that doesn’t make it right — but our position might imply otherwise. Worse, it squashes any insight or creativity your team has to offer. If you just blurt out...

The Monster In The Dark

Do you remember as a child, waking in the middle of the night, scared and convinced there was a monster at the end of your bed?  Wow, it gives me shivers just writing that memory. We cry out in the night, mom rushes in, and the instant she turns on the light the monster disappears — and we see it was nothing more than our robe hanging on the bedpost.  As children, we begin realizing those shadows in the dark evaporate in the light and our fear fades away into obscurity. The problem is, once we’re adults, we discover that sometimes the monster that wakes us in the night is not so easily vanquished. It may not be 8’ tall and hairy with 9” claws and 5” fangs and a roar that shakes the earth — no, that kind of monster would almost be easier to handle.  Our monsters are deeper, more emotional, in our head, and they don’t evaporate in the light; it doesn’t just scare us because of the dark. It scares us because it can keep us in the dark, believing untruths, buying into an illogical fear that has become bigger than life. And it’s up to us to face it head-on. I’m facing a monster myself these days, and it’s two-pronged. First, I’m looking at another year gone by, and facing the reality that I haven’t accomplished all I’ve wanted to by the time I thought I would. So few of us have, I realize, which makes this a familiar, if deeply uncomfortable, monster to face. Second, I’m looking at my work and the careful...

Can You Hear What’s In Your Heart This Christmas?

Merry Christmas!May your days be joyful, playful and bright, and no matter what this season throws at you: lead with your heart and all it holds.Speaking of the heart, have you ever noticed that embedded in the word “Heart” are a bunch of other words?heher ear hear heatart That might seem like just a simple play on words — and ok, I admit it, it was kinda fun noticing and looking for all that is embedded in our heart. And I know, there are more; tea, tar, and even one of the most horrible words and emotions there is; dare I write it?  h-a-t-e.  Oh how I cringe just writing the letters, but when it comes to how we show up and lead, even that word is a powerful reminder of the choices our heart faces every day when we have the courage to lead through it.When we lead through our heart, we’re listening, and listening is the courage to truly heart, not just want we want to hear but what is actually being said regardless of how clumsily it may be conveyed. Genuine listening uses most of our heart because true hearing is to heart both sides, mine and yours, that’s why it contains heart and heart, masculine and feminine. Yes, hearing is an act requiring the mechanics of the heart but in the end, true listening is an heart, an abstract emotional expression that moves beyond words and requires feeling.  And when the heart of hearing is practiced through the heart of the heart, there’s room for it all.   We use the expression “the heart of a relationship”  because at the heart of relationship is the courage to...

What Role Do You Want Me To Play?

What role do you want me to play? When I began coaching, I had to resist the urge to coach every conversation. So my wife and I made a pact: if it wasn’t abundantly clear (and I’m male, so most times it wasn’t) I would ask, “Which role would you like me to play: Husband, Friend or Coach?” You know us husband types — we want to fix and protect. If she brings a problem to me, obviously she wants me to jump into action and fix it, right? This is easy to interpret with some comments, like, “Honey, the ice maker is stuck again.”  But if it’s about her tough day, or a problem with her boss, she may not want me to fix it — she may just want a friend.   A friend is someone who commiserates. They’re the person with whom you grab a glass of wine and vent, just to get it off your chest. There’s nothing to fix; you just want someone who will join you in your misery and agree that you boss is a jerk. “I can’t believe he did that to you! Ugh!” Whether you’re right or wrong is irrelevant; your friend just listens, and you feel better because you’ve been seen and heard. Fixing the problem had nothing to do with it. Even though most spouses consider each other their best friend, this can be a difficult role for a spouse to play, especially if their partner seems to be hurting. Coaching, on the other hand, isn’t about me doing anything, or commiserating. It’s about asking powerful questions, working together, and discussing the options in order to solve the problem. It’s not about what the coach...