Life Coaching – I Coach People to Be Unreasonable

A conversation with Martin Brossman about the concept of the life and business coach, the importance of discovering your purpose or calling in life, and the urgency of following your dream.

To get things rolling, briefly, what is coaching?

It’s a tool to gain clarity and results in our business goals or in our personal life and to move forward faster than on our own. Coaching helps us to enjoy both the journey and the arrival.

How does coaching differ from therapy?

Therapy often deals with the past, resolving painful issues from childhood or youth. Coaching does not address these deep emotional traumas, but as client’s experience some of the life changes that coaching can cause, it is sometimes seen that many issues may drop away. Coaching is focused on finding tools and skills for creating a better future, reaching the goals you set. It is not by any means a replacement for therapy. Some clients work with coaching in conjunction with therapy. Some who seek coaching may actually need therapy, and a good coach should recognize this within a couple of sessions.

Likewise, some of the people who seek therapy may actually need coaching. In some cases the ideal sequence is for coaching to come after therapy, because a client has the emotional static out of the way and can really focus, which is vital in coaching. Also, whereas therapy sometimes needs to be open-ended, in coaching the client sets the priorities and the boundaries.

What would you say is the value of coaching, then?

The client says, “This is what I want to accomplish. This is where I would like to go, but I’m held back in some way.” If a client is not sure what goals or dreams s/he wants to pursue, which is a problem for a lot of people, then coaching helps come up with a clear and definite goal, a personal mission statement. Then the client is coached on a range of ways to take action on his or her mission. Without taking action, you see, the dream remains a dream, a fantasy, a wish. When we begin to take action on our dreams, then there is movement. It’s no longer a wish. There may be trial and error as part of that movement, but it’s a well-calculated risk. The coach’s job is to help the client take risks wisely. A champion athlete does not get the gold by taking one big risk but by a series of small ones. That’s what a good coach helps you do. Like the sports coach, a coach in the game of life gets behind the client a hundred percent, supporting him/her in achieving that dream, rooting all the way, bringing objective, constructive feedback geared to improve performance. It’s all geared to make you a winner in your life.

Okay, I’m a cynical guy who says, “Only losers need a coach.” What’s your response to that?

Well, if we stick to the sports coach analogy, the fact is that all winners have a coach, and those coaches are paid very, very well for their services. All the top league teams have coaches. I grant you there may be one or two top performers, like Federer, who may go far without a coach, but who’s to say that he couldn’t improve his with the help of an expert coach? Anyway, the exceptions prove the rule. Winners and would-be winners have coaches.  A life coach serves a similar function for us in the game of life.

Life is complex. We all lose direction from time to time. So this is not about being a “loser” but about getting your focus, amid all the stuff that life is throwing up at you. Before you know it, it’s all over, you’re on your deathbed full of regret. I want that the deathbed scenario is more like, “Well, I knocked a few good ones outta the park.” I deeply believe we are all entitled to that in the end.

It’s a good point. Let me add, that in life, as in love, it is better to have tried and failed than never to have tried at all. . .. I read somewhere that the coaching profession can be seen as an opportunity for regular citizens to take advantage of what has long been available to celebrities in sports, movies and politics. So it’s really not such a new thing.

Yes. Coaching has been around for a long time, under different names. We called them mentors or friends or advisors. Watson, the founder of IBM, made sure to keep advisors around that would “give it to him straight” versus “yes men.” These people served a very similar function to a life coach. Today coaching is a more formalized role. Having a good coach is a way of making sure I don’t settle for mediocrity or become a loser. Rather, I have someone on my side ready to push me to my fullest potential. We all can use that. As with the sports coach, it is worth paying good money for. Good coaching can be priceless.

The comparison to the sports coach really makes your point. What would you say is another value for the client?

The client is taught to draw on his or her environment in a way that supports the goal. By this I mean the client does not rely on the coach forever and ever. A coach does not coach us in dependency. A good coach’s aim is to develop the client to the point where the coach is not needed anymore.

Seems to me that if a person gets dynamic help to raise the bar in their life, they may find a coach such an asset that they want to keep it working with one, albeit for different goals.

Yes, some people will think it unwise to stop a good thing, but it is important to know that from the coach’s standpoint, it’s not about dragging out the relationship. It’s about giving value and getting results. If a client opts to stay on, it’s because of getting results, not coming under the spell of the coach’s personality.

Anyway, besides reaching set goals through the coaching experience, the client also learns to draw support from the environment in an ongoing way, long after coaching is over. Clients develop a greater awareness of their inner compass and learn to keep themselves motivated and proactive about their dreams. They learn to get the needed support from friends and family; they learn to avoid or minimize the company of those who don’t give them solid support; they learn to become attuned to the places and activities that give them the energy and support for attaining their dreams. As they learn to become single-minded about their dreams whatever is not supporting their dream naturally falls away from their lives,.  [Read more…]

Life Coaching – Putting Yourself Out There

Martin Brossman

Martin Brossman

Have you recently stepped onto a new life path or been drawn to what you feel is your calling? Have you taken on an entrepreneurial venture or made a transition from corporate employment to self-employment?     If you answered yes to any of these, you might be experiencing a condition that is hardly ever discussed and usually completely understood.  It’s something I have discovered in coaching, especially with clients in the process of changing from working for someone else to working for themselves.  This mysterious ‘something’ is an unexpected resistance to putting yourself out there, to really stepping fully into your new role and letting the world know you are completely capable and ready for business.

Observing resistance
How do you know if you are affected by the resistance factor?  It basically exists if the level of motivation you would expect is not present. As a recent client said, “ I had no problem blowing the doors off my sales objective when I worked for someone else, but now that I’m selling my own product, going for what I really want, I have challenges staying as motivated.”. Now this doesn’t mean that he is on the wrong path. What it does mean is that he hadn’t realized how he had hidden out from truly putting himself out there in the past behind the shield of the other company that was not his own.

It seems that nothing brings up long-ignored life issues like going out on your own in business.  Any unresolved issues are forced up to your consciousness to be worked out, resulting in  feelings like, ‘maybe I’m not in the right field, maybe I’m not supposed to be doing this’…Of course it does not occur at the same level for everyone, and the solution is unique for each person.

Remember, this is not a fake-it-til-you-make-it method. It is the art of recreating yourself into your next role, a process I designed that takes you through the following four steps:

1.   Creating a new role
Define your new direction. For example, say to yourself, “ I am taking full responsibility for my life; I am here and of value; who I am can make a difference”. Step into who you are meant to be instead of who you think you are. Remember only a prince or princess can dream of a castle.

2.  Stepping into and living out of the role
This is a chance to develop a fortitude you may not have developed in your former work life.  If other people speak more powerfully or enthusiastically about your business than you are able to do, that’s a sign that you have work to do to get to the level of speaking powerfully about the gifts you have to offer.  There will be both an element of fear and excitement present, as well as some anxiety as you move to the next level.
3. Collecting evidence of progress in the role
Keep an accomplishment journal to record your successes.  Record customer testimonials to apply in your promotional materials and to re-read when you need a boost!

4. Designing the environment to call you forward in the role
Get clarity on what motivates you and have a system to help you remember it. Realize        how unstructured time many affect you, and create a new time structure that will keep you in action, with sufficient down time for effectiveness. Set up support that keeps you on track with who you say you are and what you are up to.

Building your own mentor
A client attempting to start a fashion accessory business was facing negative family members who told her she was foolish to go for what she wanted.  I saw that support wasn’t going to come from her immediate environment, so I worked with her to create an imaginary mentor, created from a combination of super heroes and Oprah, to advise her in difficult times.  Her turning point came when she stood up to her overbearing older sister, telling her, “This is who I am now, and if you want to keep talking to me, you have to accept that.”  After that she started standing up for other things that were important—like herself—and built up her business one satisfied customer at a time.

Generating motivation
Another client who had previously done well with a large real estate group was not doing as well in the new agency he had started with a desire to offer greater customer service. We worked to build a mission for him and his partner and tightened up his work schedule. Since he was going to his office but wasn’t being productive there, I had him show up at his favorite coffee shop first thing in the morning for work. But his best motivation came from envisioning sitting down with his grown kids in the future, giving them advice on exploring their own business by telling them how he worked through his fears. Just one year later I gave a presentation to his team of employees in their new expanded office space.
Leaning into progress
People who have made progress on this describe moving from a state of mentally leaning back and occasionally moving forward to an experience that feels like steadily leaning forward into what they have to sell or offer, while realizing that if they don’t get it out there, either someone else will or the value that they have to offer people will be lost. They move from a state of diffused focus to clear focus, from disharmony to harmony.

What are you doing to lean into your goals? To create a sense of urgency?

When you put yourself out there, you will see the adventure as exhilaration.

So deeply engaged that you’re energized, you’ll feel confident that you’re absolutely in the right place.

A Few Words on Following Your Dreams by Martin Brossman

MoonAs a personal coach, I continually examine the subject of following your dreams. Often, when we talk about following our dreams, we assume that the path to our dreams is evident. However, for most of us, our dreaming muscle has atrophied. A more appropriate question is, what is required to awaken our ability to dream? What allows us to explore the possibilities in our lives without our critical inner voices suppressing this exploration?

Following our dreams is an ongoing and dynamic process, one we can restart at any age. A few of us know exactly what we want, but many of us don’t. Honestly admitting we don’t know is a powerful beginning. I remember being terrified at 33 that someone was going to find out I did not have a clue what I wanted to do. Although I had collected a long list of what I did NOT want to do, I did not realize that making peace with “not having a clue” was, in fact, part of the process. I was an artist who did not realize he had a blank canvas right in front of him, and all he needed to do was start painting.

Next I want to discuss several assumptions that stop us from developing our dreams:

If I am sure I am on the “right path,” I will be ready to take action. I will know the outcome ahead of time.

From my experience, it works like this: when you take the first steps in exploring your dreams, the path reveals a little of itself. You take more steps and more of the path appears.
I did a lot of high-quality personal suffering trying to figure out what the “Right Path” was for me. I knew if I could be sure of the right path, I would be motivated and take action. I was never able to get enough assurance to start. I gave up looking for just the “right path,” and I started taking action by exploring different things.

Working with my own personal coach, I started noticing what attracted me. At the time, I was servicing computers for a large corporation, and I felt completely in the wrong place. I noticed that I was more interested in my customers’ dreams than in their computers. I started talking to the co-op students working with me, and asking them what their dreams were. One of them wanted to own a radio station “one day.” I asked how he planned to get from this job to owning a radio station and he had no idea. So I convinced him to meet with me for lunch once a week, and we began exploring what was possible. The entire time I had conversations in my head like, “Who are you to try this?” and “This will never lead to a ‘real’ job,” and “Get real! You have a well-paying job in a ‘good field.’ ”

My coach kept me going, encouraging me to do my job and to continue to meet the co-op for lunch. As a result, he realized that he did not really want a radio station; instead, he wanted to be an expert in a field he enjoyed. He now has his own internet security company.

If I hope and wish hard enough, or have the right attitude, my dreams will come true.

Sometimes we wish, desire, and hope instead of pursuing our dream. I once attended a Feng Shui workshop. An attendee went into a long explanation of how she had done all the “right” Feng Shui things in her garage, but dark oily stuff still kept dripping from the car. The presenter paused for a moment and responded, “Have you considered a mechanic?” Replace wishing and hoping with anticipating, discovering, and creating. Dreams come true for those of us who are receptive and who actively pursue possibilities.

I am unrealistic, wrong, or selfish to want to follow my own dreams.

It is not unrealistic, not wrong, and not selfish to follow your dreams. If you really want to honor your family and yourself, pursue a life you love, filled with many actualized dreams.

I will have to give up everything that is important to me in my current life to follow my dreams.

The all or nothing, black and white mentality that to pursue your dreams you will have to give everything up is a very narrow and noncreative perspective. Although sometimes we do seem to lose everything, that can be a great catalyst to get us into action. In 1994, I belonged to a business support group. At one weekly meeting, I announced that in the previous 6 months I had lost my wife, my cat, my house, my car, and resigned from my job, and I was starting to feel a lot better. Someone with a big smile replied, “Martin has been busy busy!” You can pursue your dreams, and keep what’s important to you.

If I don’t know what I want by now, then I will never know.

It’s never too late to determine what you want out of life. It is only too late to pursue your dream if you think so. In strengthening your ability to dream and create new possibilities, consider some of the following questions:

What environment has best supported you in creating and dreaming?
What context keeps you in action on your dreams?
What would it take to create more of that environment now?
Are you around people who support you in exploring new possibilities in your life?
Do you provide an environment for your friends to pursue their dreams?
Be an advocate of others’ dreams. Remember, friends don’t let friends lead ordinary lives!