Wildlife sightseeing as a great metaphor for Life

Image by Wayne Linton from Pixabay

I’m just coming back from a family trip to Costa Rica where we had a lot of fun, seeing numerous wild animals in the jungle, snorkeling and relaxing in an awesome eco lodge with a fantastic view over the jungle and the Pacific Ocean. We also had quite a few unexpected events as often in travel adventures: 2 of my kids got sick on our way there (a stomach virus they had got right before leaving), my wife sprained her ankle in the middle of the jungle and had to be carried back to the station and to end the trip on one leg, we had a flat tire (due to a shock in the off road part of the drive) on our 7h drive back to the airport and we missed our connection in Miami on our flight back home due to the poor management of the airline company to go through the whole custom/security/luggage circuit with my wife in a wheel chair, so we had to fly on another company later during the day…. But overall, we had a great time.

During our 2 days in the jungle in the Corcovado park, where we slept in a very simple base camp with a roof but no walls, just mosquito nets around the beds, hearing the howler monkeys at 4am in the dark night (if you have never heard them, it sounds like a dinosaur, really), we went for various hikes with a guide and looked for wild animals. And I found this quest was a great metaphor for how we go through our lives / career:

  • If you just hike on the path, on your own, looking in front of you or even just at your feet, then you won’t see a lot of things, especially if you walk fast. Of course, an animal might appear in your field of vision, just like synchronicities happen in life, but the chances that you see something interesting are very low. And yet I believe this is what most of us do in life. We are on a path and we move on so fast and so focused on ourselves and on what’s right in front of us that we miss out a lot. It can be enjoyable by the way, but there is so much more.

 

  • If you start to pay more attention, to watch off the path, on the sides and even behind you, from the ground to the sky, listening to the sounds, then you will see more things. If you slow down and even pause, you will more easily detect any movement by contrast to the stillness (that’s the benefit of meditation or just doing nothing at times). This is like developing your awareness in your life. The more you slow down, the more you listen to yourself and to others, the more you explore outside of what you know or think outside the box, the more you will understand yourself and others, the more possibilities you will see, the more you will realize that you can be at cause in your life as opposed to be at the effect of your life and the more likely you’ll be able to create the life you REALLY want.

  • Then you can hire a guide. And that makes all the difference. He knows where to look at, he’s an expert in making the invisible visible. Numerous times, I wondered how he had spotted an animal 50m away hidden in the trees. In a way, it’s like having a coach who helps you see what you can’t see by yourself (ie your blind spots). Like the guide in the jungle, a coach will also partner with you to ask you what you would like to try and see (what do you want in your life), challenge you to continue the hike even if it is hot and tiring (ask my kids) providing that you are clear and committed to your goals, will support you if you get hurt on the way (ask my wife), just like when unpleasant things happen in life. I am using the example of the coach because this is what I do, but any other type of support will help depending on what you are looking for. And this will dramatically increase your chances to achieve your goals.

 

  • Eventually, there is another part in this game, which for me is the hardest one. I call it the Puma metaphor. In the Corcovado park, there are some pumas but they are very rare to see (the last time our guide saw it was more than a year ago). But some people saw one the day before us. So suddenly, the possibility to see one seemed higher and we started to hope. But when we were hiking in the jungle, we some time had to choose a path or another. And we had to accept that we would see what would be on our path and not what was on the other path. We can do our best to look for these animals by paying attention, slowing down, hiring a guide, but in the end, we can’t control everything. We can’t control what animals will be on our path, especially the rare puma. And we have to accept it. Same in life: we can do the work, put in the hours, we can do our best and yet, there is a part that is not in our control. For instance, I can serve and impact someone very powerfully, propose to work with this person in the best way because of all the possibilities I see for him/her, and yet he/she might not become a client for plenty of good reasons out of my control. Or you can have done everything you could to be hired for a position and even be THE one for the job but the timing is not OK for all sorts of reasons (no budget, internal hiring policy, etc…).

       And sometimes, we are so focused on what we really want and don’t have that we disregard what else is present. In this analogy, if you are only focused on seeing the puma, you might ruminate the frustration to not see it, you might fall into victimhood (this is unfair, some people saw one yesterday, etc…), you might focus on other people’s path (if they see the puma, that would be super unfair, wouldn’t it? 😊). In doing so:

  •           you forget to focus on your own path which make it less likely that you are going to achieve your goals
  •           you are not present to all the other amazing animals which are on your path. We didn’t see the puma, but se saw a herd of 30-40 dangerous peccaries (sorts of wild boars) passing 20m away from us which was really impressive, a Michael Jackson bird (which makes backwards moves similar to the moon walk, so funny), a baby tapir suckling his mother (which is also quite dangerous), a crocodile, lots of monkeys jumping from a branch to another, some with their baby on the back, some koatis, some toucans and beautiful ara macaos (red/purple parrots) and more. And that’s enough for us to be super grateful for these hikes. Same in life, we might get so focused on one shiny thing we want that we forget about all that we have, or can have, that is already amazing.

         Finale note: this doesn’t suggest you have to give up or be resigned to not see the Puma (ie achieve your goals). You can see the bigger picture and if what you REALLY want in life is to see a     puma, then you can come back the next year for a week instead of 2 days, you can visit other places with more chances to see one and do this year after year. This is called determination, perseverance, commitment and you can apply this to anything you want to create.

So, what is (are) the puma(s) in your life? Are you committed to see it (them) while accepting that it might not unfold exactly as you plan for? Are you focusing on your path rather than others pass and are you seeing all the other animals on your journey?

Take care,

A more beautiful question

Photo by Emily Morter on UnsplashPhoto by Emily Morter on Unsplash

 A more beautiful question is a great book written by Warren Berger. In this book Berger presents the world from the perspective of asking questions, explaining the benefits of it, illustrating how any great innovation started with great questions.

He explains that in our so fast changing world, leaders will be those coming with better questions than with better answers (which tend to quickly be obsolete).

He invites companies to replace Mission Statements by Mission Questions, to encourage questions at all levels and he believes Questions-storming are more effective than brainstorming because:

  • It’s easier to come up with questions
  • It generates less pressure about what others are going to think
  • It’s easier to narrow down to a few great intriguing motivating questions, giving a sense of direction, than to a few answers (difficulty to converge and agree on answers)

 

What’s getting in the way to ask questions?

I have noticed for myself that the following can get in my way to ask questions:

  • Fear of being too intrusive
  • Fear of embarrassing the other person
  • Fear of being seen as not knowing, as a fool
  • Lack of curiosity, interest

We are not trained in asking questions. We are educated in learning and knowing answers. In the workplace, we might get away with questions at the beginning when we are new, but quickly we are expected to know and / or we are feeling we should know.

And to be completely transparent, this is a hard part in coaching, which is question-based, where the coach is the expert in not knowing and where the client also has to get comfortable with not knowing. I am constantly being present to that and working on it, as a coach and when I am being coached.

What are the benefits of asking questions?

As I see it, the benefits are four folds:

Asking questions as a way to not make assumptions:

  • Everyday, we make tens of assumptions on everything: on what others think, their intention, on how things are going to go etc…
  • Understanding that we actually don’t know most of these is the 1st Then asking questions is the simplest way to not make any wrong assumption and really know what is going on.

 

Asking questions out of curiosity as a way to build rapport and trust

  • Have you ever been at the contact of a person who seems genuinely interested in you, asking questions and listening to your answers without the intention to prove you right or wrong or to tell her story? That feels good doesn’t it? Of course, the important word here is genuine, sincere. People can tell if you are really interested or not. And this can actually be learned and practiced.

 

Asking questions as a way to open new possibilities and spark creativity

  • Asking questions takes us out of our usual, narrow way of thinking. It helps us see what we usually don’t see and it widens the range of possibilities.
  • Berger talks about the Vujade Principle which is to see things as a beginner, as if you had never experienced it before (the opposite of the Dejavu principle). It is hard because our ego tends to not want to be a beginner. It’s hard enough to prove ourselves in this world so it doesn’t feel good to be a beginner again. But when we take the time to do it, we definitely see new things that we didn’t see before.
  • As Berger explains it, the brain is like a forest with trees (the cells) and branches (the dendrites). When they connect to another dendrite from another tree, it creates new ideas. The right brain (creative one) has longer dendrites than the left brain (the rational, logical one) which enables more faraway connections and therefore more creativity. A great illustration of what it means concretely is the connective inquiry: connect ideas from faraway and unrelated domains. Instead of asking “what if we combine A and B”, ask “what if we combine A and Z” or even better “what if we combine A and 26”. Then you create new concepts, new products, new services, new experiences.

Note: if you want to develop your creativity, slowing down, relaxing, meditating, taking a walk in nature, will ease it. It’s all about creating some space in the noise of our heads to let new ideas/perspectives pop up.

Asking questions to move on:

Just living into a question might be enough, you sometimes don’t even need to know the answer. It will guide your actions and move you forward until you either reach what you wanted to achieve with that question (then you realize you couldn’t have come with the path you actually followed should you have tried to plan for it), or your question (and even more so the answer) becomes obsolete.

 

Examples of interesting questions

To conclude, here are some example of interesting questions you can ask yourselves or others (the key is to take the time to really sit with them):

  • To explore what you really want in life, business or at work:
    • What do you (I) want? What else? What else? What else? What else? What else? (We really don’t spend enough time wondering what we want)
    • Wouldn’t it be cool if? (no censorship because we usually tend to want what we think we can get)
    • Why is this important for you (me)?
    • What would that do for you (me)?
    • What does success look like?
    • What does success feel like?
    • Why not?
  • To challenge the initial assumptions
    • Is it true? Are you (am I) 100% sure?
    • What if you (I) were wrong?
    • Instead of asking “why is this?”, start with “is this?” Doing this tends to take your judgment or bias out of the equation.
  • To brainstorm:
    • What if there was no constraint?
    • What if everything was possible?
  • To understand yourself and others
    • What does it mean for you (me)?
    • What would that look like?
    • How do you (I) feel about it?
    • What’s coming for you (me)?
  • When you are stuck
    • If your (my) best friend would come and ask you (me) about this situation, what would you (I) tell him?
    • What if you (I) simply did nothing?
    • Why is it bothering you (me)? Why are you (am I) actually having this question?
  • Vulnerable questions to deepen your exploration:
    • What do you (I) know is true but don’t want to admit?
    • What are you (am I) afraid of?
    • What don’t you (I) want others to know?

 

As a conclusion, if we can switch from “needing to know all the answers” to asking ourselves “what would be a (more) beautiful question?”, I truly believe that the relationships, the workplace, the businesses and the whole world will be in a better place.

Take care,

Why Mindset is key when going into a soccer game (and in any sport)

Photo by Jannes Glas on Unsplash

Photo by Jannes Glas on Unsplash

Over the past 2 weeks was the round of sixteen of the Champions League (European main soccer competition), where the best out of 2 legs advance to quarter finals (when there is a tie after the 2 legs, the one who has scored more goals away (at the other’s venue) wins).  Here is what I noticed when it comes to the mental approach or the Mindset:

  • On one hand Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) doesn’t seem to get it when it comes to mental approach. Since Quatar invested massively in this club in 2011, they tried to build a top level club, bringing 5 stars players like Zlatan Ibrahimovic, David Beckham and more recently, Neymar Jr and Kylian Mbappe. And yet, it doesn’t seem to make any progress in this champions league, never able to go past thee quarter final and eliminated in the round of sixteen in the last 2 editions. 2 main events are symbolic of this lack of mental toughness:
    • In the so called “Remontada” in 2017, PSG had won 4-0 against Barcelona in the first leg, and was leading 3-1 after 88min in the 2nd leg despite a feverish way to play. There was no way they could be eliminated since Barcelona needed to win 6-1 to qualify with the “goals away count more” rule. And yet, Barcelona scored three times in the last 7 minutes to get the qualification out of PSG. PSG had gone into the game with fear, backing off instead of playing their game. When fear leads your way to play and you focus more on what you don’t want to happen, it’s actually more likely that it will happen. All had failed, from the coach to the captain and the seasoned players.
    • This year, PSG had won 2-0 against Manchester United in the first leg in England, which was a great result considering they were missing 2 of their strikers (Neymar and Cavani). PSG had shown some character in the first round of the competition, being present, focused and competitive in risky situations, which seemed to indicate they had improved on their mental approach. When Manchester came to Paris for the 2nd leg with 10 main players missing due to injuries or suspensions (so with a C team so to speak), PSG had all the cards in their hand to qualify for the quarter final. And once again, they didn’t put the right intention, the physical impact and the required focus that is mandatory at this level. And at 93min, in the overtime, Manchester obtained a penalty and ended winning 3-1, eliminating PSG. When you can’t rub it in, you are putting yourself at risk.

  • On the other hand, Ronaldo proved why he was the best player in this competition. Transferred from Real Madrid to Juventus Turin last summer, Ronaldo was criticized for his lack of impact in the beginning of the competition. It got even worse when Juventus was beaten 2-0 by Atletico Madrid in the first leg. But Ronaldo is Ronaldo, like Lebron James in the past years. He was super confident that they were going to win and qualify in the 2nd leg at home. He shared that with other players a week before the 2nd leg and in the media a few days before the game. And he amazingly scored three times in the 2nd leg and qualified Juventus almost on his own. The whole team had a great game of course but he was decisive. Not only does he seem to be pressure proof (I’ll talk more about this in a next post), he seems to find ever more motivation and determination when the stakes are higher.

 

There is a key difference between how PSG and Ronaldo approached their games. On one hand, there was a lack of clear intention, lack of focus, lack of the needed fire to get things done, lack of commitment. This might have been due to some fear because of what had happened in the past. And this might have been due to over confidence, as PSG has often been accused of in the past years, which is the belief that you will win without needing to give it all (with some sort of arrogance). On the other hand, there was (ultra) confidence that it is possible AND that you will give it all to make it happen. It’s followed by commitment, intention and focus.

Of course, it’s not all about this, of course not everyone has Ronaldo’s talent, but the more you can put yourself into a confident AND committed, intentional, focused mindset before a game, the better your play will be, the more likely things are to turn to your advantage. And this is true to any sport.

Take care,

What is this thing called Coaching?

shutterstock_288163295 PB Coaching

When I am asked what I do, I answer differently depending on my mood, my energy in the moment. I might say that I help people get out of their own way, or to create a life/business/career by design as opposed to by default. I sometimes say that I support people in achieving more external achievement (Success) AND more internal fulfillment. And sometime I just say I’m a personal and professional coach. And usually people go either” OK, got it” without really getting it or “what kind of coaching?”. The truth is coaching is used for so many different things that it is confusing for a lot of people. I therefore wanted to talk a little bit about what is and is not and will do in different posts.

So, let’s start today with the basics:

What Coaching is Not:

It’s often clearer to explain what something is by defining what it is not. So here are 2 services with which coaching is often mistaken:

  • Consulting: a consultant is someone who comes with a certain expertise, with solutions to propose, who might even do the work for you and deliver the end result. A consultant might come with a strategy to grow your business, some recommendations to improve your relationships or your management. They will usually come with answers, tips, advice and tell you what to do. A lot of coaches are also blending coaching with consulting which is totally fine but which explains why it might be confusing to some people. 
  • Psychotherapy: Coaching might involve some deep personal introspection which we are not used to and which may make it a little scary to some but it is not a therapy. A simplified but rather clear way to separate therapy from coaching is the following:
    • Therapy is focused on the past and painful issues, aiming at coming to term with these.
    • Coaching is focused on the present and the future, the past might come into play but it is a fact, not a problem.

People can work with both a coach and a psychotherapist at the same time. I found that one the reason that hold people back from even just trying to work with a coach is the belief that if you see a coach, it means something is wrong with you and you have to fix it. People are then worried about what other might think about them. If you or some people you know are in that case, I am inviting you to shift the perspective to something that is inspiring and moving you toward the life you REALLY want to create.

What is Coaching?

The International Coach Federation defines it as follows:

“Coaching is a partnership with clients in a thought provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.”

There are different coaching models, different coaching styles and there is no ONE way to go with a coaching session (I’ll talk about this more in another post). But there are some mains common skills and core competencies that are taught in proper coaching trainings, like coaching presence (being really present and connected with the person), powerful questioning (asking questions that will move the person forward and stay stuck or help shift their perspective), active deep listening (what is said, how it is said, what is not said), direct communication (to create shifts, to challenge, to support), creating awareness (helping to see in our blind spots), designing actions (how to put into practice the insights to move forward). These skills and competencies might seem obvious and easy but believe me, mastering them is not.

In a world where we are used to give advice, look for the right way to do things, it can feel weird the first time you are being coached. But it also feels great. Because you feel heard (and sometimes that’s all you need), not judged (who can you talk to without fear of being judged or concerned by what the person is going to think), unconditionally supported. And it is powerful because it is about finding what YOU need, what is YOUR perspective and YOUR best way to move on (sometimes you don’t even need a solution, the problem might just disappear) and YOUR greatness and genius is trusted and enhanced in the process.

Sometimes, shifts happen during a session, with a big haha moment, when the light goes off suddenly, like the fish which now sees the water he is in and couldn’t see before since he had been completely immersed in it since he was born. Sometime, there is just a “hum” which indicates that something is happening. Sometime, a seed is planted that will grow later and have ripple effects. An insight might come in between sessions. Or at the end of the session, it might feel like chaos, which is great and just means the work is being done. Often, people will even change or create new results without realizing it until someone points it out to them. And all this add up, week after week, month after month, to create a new reality and a new experience of life.

To conclude, I like to say that coaching is:

  • Some skills and competencies to learn and nurture
  • An art, developed by each coach in a different and personal way
  • A science (science of the mind, neurosciences, behavioral sciences, etc.)

In the end, it’s not magical but it sometimes looks like magic. I know it as a coach and as a client (I have my own coach).

Take care,

Only 10%

Photo by HENCE THE BOOM on Unsplash

Photo by HENCE THE BOOM on Unsplash

This week, I want to illustrate that sometimes, although we might we feel like there is a world between us and what we want to achieve, the gap is not that big.

US tennis player Danielle Collins was the revelation of the women Australian Open Grand Slam tournament, reaching the semi-final for the first time in her career. In quarter final, she managed to beat Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, 2-6, 7-5, 6-1 after losing the 1st set 6-2. In this 1st set, Pavlyuchenkova broke her 3 first serves and Collins was down 5-1. But she didn’t give up nor panic:

Honestly, I lost that set pretty quickly,” Collins said. “But what was going through my mind was that I think I had at least two break points that I didn’t convert. Even though the set was 6-2, it took an hour. I felt like it was very close, regardless of the score. I told myself, ‘Hey, if I can just give a little bit more, 10 percent or 15 percent, I have an opportunity.’ Yeah, I stayed positive through that and kind of weathered the storm.”

I really love the way she didn’t let the score of the 1st set (6-2) mean anything (it could sound like she was hugely dominated) but instead relied on her sensations and analysis.

Lots of us see things as all or nothing, black or white. When it’s not white, it means it’s black, when it’s not all, it’s nothing. No surprise that the gap often feels very big, close to 100% and therefore impossible or at least really difficult to bridge. But if we can see that the gap may be much smaller and ask ourselves what tiny change can I make, where can I give 10% more (energy, focus, calm, determination, precision, …whatever it is that we need), then it’s easier to make the necessary changes, we have more confidence in being able to do it and in the end we can make what feels impossible possible.

If you are racing (running, swimming, cycling) and are used to mentally or physically giving up at a certain point, can you go just 10% further instead of trying to hold the whole race right away?

If you are a golfer, can you manage your emotions 10% better instead of trying to manage them 100% and be even more frustrated if you don’t do it?

Lots of team sport games are very indecisive and focusing on giving 10% more rather than thinking you don’t seem to be able to and won’t find the solution can make the difference.

So, where can you give only 10% more to make a difference?

Take care,

 

 

 

How overthinking might get in your way

Photo by Cristina Pop on Unsplash

I am an over thinker. What I mean by that is I tend to analyze, to want to understand and optimize everything, to need everything to be clear before engaging.
There is nothing wrong with that. It comes from a survival mechanism (a way to operate in the world that we developed over the years since we were born) which enables me to:

  • Feel safe: if I can think of everything that needs to be done, everything that can go wrong, understand how things work, to be in control, then I know where I am going. Then I can’t fail, or at least I minimize the risk of failures. And I feel safe.
  • Optimize: since I was a kid, I always wanted to have it all. When I was asked do you want A or B, I would say both and I was said it’s impossible, I would find ways to demonstrate that it was possible, it was just a matter of motivation and optimization.
  • Seek perfection, which is great for a perfectionist.

There are some benefits to overthink:

  • I am usually good, sometime great, at what I do
  • I am pretty reliable to do what I have to do
  • I am professional
  • I am rarely taken aback
  • I am in control, stay safe and it feels good

Now here is the flip side:

  • The most obvious one is that it costs a lot of time trying to optimize and plan for everything. I remember, in my previous career as a project manager, spending hours to review and tweak my slides for the steering committees of boards of Directors. All this for details that no one would even notice. Now I’m not saying I should have gone unprepared, it was of course a good thing to anticipate what could go wrong and to clear my message but not that much.
  • It creates blind spots. When doing my first videos on Facebook, I was so much overthinking about how I should do it, what people would think and so concerned about bothering people (that’s one of my internal roadblocks) that I didn’t realize that I was actually posting on my Facebook Page, my wall. It’s like being scared to bother people with what you are doing in your own home which sounds ridiculous. But I didn’t see that, lost in my overthinking.
  • It holds me back from taking actions and doing things. Since I need everything to be clear before I move on so, I will prepare and prepare and prepare but this just postpones the time for me to take a leap. And it’s an easy way to avoid doing what’s uncomfortable.
  • It creates frustration when things don’t unfold as planned, and they most often don’t. If you spend so much time thinking and preparing something, the frustration is even bigger when it doesn’t happen the way you want
  • It kill possibilities: as soon as I start to think, fear will show up, and my brain will find all the reasons why doing that thing is impossible or irrelevant, or not worth it, and why I should stay comfortable where I am.
  • I miss opportunities: By the time I have gone through my process, analysis, optimization, decision making and I am ready, the opportunity is gone. Really.

What do I do with this?  

  • I notice when I tend to overthink and I ask myself “what do I want to do now?”, to be at choice rather than it being an automatism.
  • I practice raising my hand without knowing. This analogy comes from when my coach invited me to raise my hand, in a group coaching program I am in, even before I start to think about whether my question is good enough, whether I want to coach or be coached, etc… Very challenging. The few times I did it though, it was great. I didn’t have the opportunity to stress, I just dived in. This happened recently as I was on a call with Michael Neil, a very notorious coach, in a group program. I just raised my hand and was coached by him in front of a hundred of people, on video. It didn’t feel stressful or awesome, it just was. Only the next day did I start to overthink again (“oh, I must have looked stupid etc…”). So, I try to practice just doing without knowing all I would normally need to know, but I must admit it is still hard.
  • I have a post-it in front of me where it is written: Seeking Perfection is easier than Taking Action. A great reminder to check if what I am trying to do by thinking is actually a way for me to avoid doing what’s uncomfortable and if so, then just do what’s uncomfortable.

So, where/when are you overthinking? What are the benefits? And what are the costs? Can you be at choice?

Take care,

 

Djokovic, from burn-out and surgery to playing in the zone

Novak_Djokovic_Queen's_Club_2018

If you want to know what it means to be in the zone, watch Novak Djokovic’s semifinal and final at the recent Australian Open. During this Grand Slam, he progressively increased his level to sharply beat French player Lucas Pouille in semifinal but more surprisingly to give no chance to Nadal in final, who had yet played an amazing tennis until the semifinals and was expected to challenge Djokovic.

After winning the semifinal, Djokovic shared that he was in the zone: “Every professional athlete hopes to reach it”. He describes it as “one of those moments when, almost effortlessly, you execute automatically anything you intend to do. You don’t even need to think anymore. You are guided by a force that is beyond you. You feel divine, like you are in another dimension.  This is an extraordinary feeling we all hope to experience.”

After 18 months of struggle both physically (with an elbow injury ended with surgery) and mentally (first with something that looked like a burn out after winning the 4 Grand Slams in a row and then to rebuild his confidence), Djokovic has become again a winning machine, taking the last 3 Grand Slams. To come back to such a high level, Djokovic has shown, just like Federer and Nadal before him, humility and patience, has worked hard on his technical skills and physical preparation but also on his mental preparation as he shared after winning the tournament. To the question “what would you have answered if you had been told a year ago that you would win the next 3 Grand Slams?”, Djokovic replied:

“That it was not impossible but highly unlikely. I don’t want to look arrogant but I have always believed in myself. This is probably the most important secret of my success. I believe a lot in visualization. I use it a lot. I have used it more than ever in the last 12 months after my surgery, because I was not playing well, I didn’t feel good on the court, I was questioning everything, I was doubting my ability to play at my best level again because I didn’t know how much my surgery would impact my game. This has been an instructive turn for me. I wouldn’t change anything if I could go back.”

We can see that his impressive mental toughness comes from a strong self-confidence, even with lots of doubts along the way, and practicing mental training techniques like visualization. Also named mental imagery, this technique enables the athlete to use the same neural pathways and is great to use when recovering from an injury, when you can’t yet train normally or right after coming back, when you need to work on your moves. It’s also very useful to (re)build your confidence. And it helps to get in the zone, as other mental and emotional skills.

If you want to get a chance to reach the zone, improve your mental and emotional skills. And if you want to know how to improve your mental and emotional skills, you know who to contact.

Take care,

Creativity, Fear and I are going on a Road Trip

Photo by Sammie Vasquez on Unsplash

Photo by Sammie Vasquez on Unsplash

Last year, as I brought fear to the conversation with my coach, she read me an extract from a book called Big Magic from Elizabeth Gilbert. And I found it so beautifully written, and actually so helpful to remember each time I feel fear is showing up, that I wanted to share the best parts with you. So, here we go, the chapter is called “the Road Trip”:

“Here’s How I’ve learned to deal with my fear: I made a decision a long time ago that if I want creativity in my life – and I do – then I will have to make space for fear too. Plenty of space. …. Since it appeared that they would always be together. In fact, it seems to me that my fear and my creativity are basically conjoined twins – as evidenced by the fact that creativity cannot take a single step forward without fear marching right alongside it. …. This is why we have to be careful of how we handle our fear – because I’ve noticed that when people try to kill of their fear, they often end up inadvertently murdering their creativity in the process.

 So, I don’t try to kill off my fear. …. It seems to me that the less I fight my fear, the less it fights back. If I can relax, fear relaxes too. In fact I cordially invite fear to come along with me everywhere I go. I even have a welcoming speech prepared for fear, which I deliver right before embarking upon any new project or big adventure.

It goes something like this:

 “Dearest Fear: Creativity and I are about to go on a road trip together. I understand you’ll be joining us, because you always do. I acknowledge that you believe you have an important job to do in my life, and that you take your job seriously. Apparently, your job is to induce complete panic whenever I’m about to do anything interesting – and, may I say, you are superb at your job. So by all means, keep doing your job, if you feel you must. But I will also be doing my job on this road trip which is to work hard and stay focused. And Creativity will be doing its job, which is to remain stimulating and inspiring. There is plenty of room in this vehicle for all of us, so make yourself at home, but understand this:  Creativity and I are the only ones who will be making any decision along the way. I recognize and respect that you are part of the family, and so I will never exclude you from our activities, but still – your suggestions will never be followed. You’re allowed to have a seat, and you’re allowed to have a voice, but you are not allowed to have a vote. You’re not allowed to touch the road maps; you’re not allowed to suggest detours. … But above all else, my dear all familiar friend, you are absolutely forbidden to drive.”

 Then we head off together – me and creativity and fear – side by side by side forever, advancing once more into the terrifying but marvelous terrain of unknown outcome.”

Isn’t it beautiful? How often do you start thinking of something you’d like to create in your life, business or career and as soon as you start to envision it, fear shows up and convinces you that maybe you’d better stay where you are because it’s safe and comfortable?

When that happens, I invite you to remember this extract and to not allow fear to drive on your road trip to wherever you want to head off.

Take care,

 

3 parallels between the Aerospace Industry and Sport

Rocket

I’d like to start this Sport Mental Game Coaching year by sharing 3 parallels I made between my experience in the aerospace industry and sport.

  1. Be prepared and ready and focus on what you can control to boost your confidence

As a swimmer, I used to lack confidence in competition. And as I started my career as engineer and quickly project manager in the space industry and for the French and European Space agencies, I had that same lack of confidence at first. I built it with experience of course. But I noticed one thing. The more prepared and the readier I was, the more confident I was. When I had to present and defend a certain position, if I had reviewed all my technical points, prepared my argument, prepared for the questions that might be asked, I was feeling confident. If I was not completely clear, if I had doubts, if I had failed to analyze something, I was not confident. And the more I focused on what I could control (my analyses, my actions, my presentations, etc…) rather than worry on things I couldn’t control (what if something new shows up, what if someone doesn’t understand what I explain, etc…), the more confident I was.

This is the same in sport: if you are prepared (you know you trained well physically, technically, strategically and mentally, you rested well, you ate well), if you feel ready to just do what you have learned, if you don’t let room for doubts, AND don’t focus on what you cannot control (the other opponent, the weather, the referee, what people will think, even just the outcome), then you will be more confident.

  1. Differentiate yourself from your sport and performance

When you work on Rocket launches, you can feel like the whole launch’s success is in your hands…Even if you work on small part of the program, even if you are not the only one to check and validate. It feels like one error can lead to a failure. And it can be overwhelming. It feels like your whole life depends on what’s going to happen. So, I learned to differentiate myself as a person from my job and work. I learned to remind myself that I was just a guy doing his best, doing his part of the job, and that no matter what would happen, I would still be a good person, with another part of my life still there, with family and friends to care for and to be cared from.

When we are passionate and competitive, our sport can take all our mental space. And as soon as we lose, we feel like our whole person is a loser, failed, disappointed others. And it can be devastating, specifically at a young age. So, my invitation for you is to remind yourself as often as possible that, no matter what happens, your sport performance doesn’t define you. You are more than that and if you feel not good enough, that you are less than others, just know that this is not true. There are parts of you, strength, qualities that others don’t have, that may not be seen in your sport and performance and that make you an awesome person overall. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t want to improve and develop certain qualities and be ambitious, just that you should see the whole picture.

  1. Have Fun

I remember difficult times when we had to work late and hard to clear a launch. It can be draining on the long run. Bringing some fun helped recharge, stay motivated and focused and move on. Even in the tough times, you want to allow some moments of fun, to take the pressure of.

This is the same in sport. If you forget to have fun, you won’t last. If you forget to have fun, you won’t even play at your full potential. If you forget to have fun, what’s the point in training so hard?

Take care,

VISION, STRATEGY and MINDSET to Support Goal Setting

photo by richard felix on unsplash

I wish you and Happy and Healthy New Year, with lots of personal fulfillment and professional achievements. I wish you to be intentional in what you want to create in your life, business, career, relationship….

 I want to start the year by sharing a few things around Goal Setting (sorry this is a rather long one).

First, I don’t like to do as everyone and part of me didn’t want to talk about goals because that’s what everyone is talking about at the moment, and yet, as I thought about it, I couldn’t find a reason good enough to not talk about it, because goal setting is really important if you want to create a life by design where you are intentional about what you want and how to get it, as opposed to a life by default where you just go where life takes you.

Note 1: there is nothing wrong with the latter, but I find it so much more exciting and inspiring to create the life I (and my family) want.

Note 2: we might think we are in control and intentional in our lives but what I discovered when engaging in my coaching journey is that there is much, much, much (yes 3 times) more that we can choose and create than we think.

There is no right way to set goals and follow through and I’ll just share some pieces of information and experience to hopefully help you find your own way to set a direction for this new year. My perspective is that Goals are just a tool as part of the Strategy to get from where we are in the Present, to our Vision. And to get to our Vision, we also need to work on our Mindset. So here we go with Vision, Strategy and Mindset.

VISION

To create your vision, you may ask yourself 2 very simple questions:

  • What would you like?  5, 10, 20 years from now? No censorship. We are pretty good at envisioning what we think we can get but not what we really want.
  • What would having that do for you? This is a key question to i) know why you are doing this ii) uncover some hidden desire/needs that you can actually start working on right now, without waiting to have achieved you primary goal/vision.

STRATEGY

  • Break down: your vision and long term goals into yearly goals, then into quarterly goals, and then in weekly/daily actions and habits. And don’t be attached to achieving the plan exactly how it is (see further in this post). The idea is to see that you can actually bridge the gap between now and your vision, and to start/continue to move into that direction.
  • Set 90 days goals: I like this time frame. Yearly goals are too far away and are less manageable. With 90 days goals, I can tweak my strategy/direction 4 times a year and take actions that are more focused.
  • Look at every area of your life: business, finance, health, relationships, spiritual, fun. How satisfied are you in each of these? Which ones do you want to focus on in the next 90 days. You can use the Wheel of Life.
  • Outcome Goals vs Process Goals
    • An outcome goal is a goal focused on a result: I will get X clients, I will make X amount of money, I will change job, I will run a marathon (in a certain time) etc… These goals are inspiring, motivating but are also adding pressure since we might feel we have to achieve them and if we don’t, it means we failed and we beat ourselves up. And these goals are usually not 100% in our control.
    • A process goal is a goal focused on a recurring action such as: I will meet X new people per week, I will interview X persons per month about a certain job type, I will run X times a week. These goals are usually in our full control and are part of the strategy to achieve our outcome goals and Vision.

I personally like to mix inspiring motivating outcome goals and practical process               goals.

  • Simplification/prioritization: if you have too many goals, simplify and prioritize, at least for the short term. Yes, it can be hard, it means you have to say No to some things…
  • Structure: writing the goals down is great, but what will have us achieve them is to take action. To do so, I like to set a clear structure, which took different forms throughout the years: it may be a short-term plan in an excel file, with goals in horizontal and weeks in vertical, putting the intended results and then the needed actions backwards, then reviewing this every week to check how it went and plan for the next one. IT may be by setting a regular weekly structure (every week looks the same, in my case, with time to write, time to coach, time to connect, time to learn/train etc…). Or it might be using some apps (I’m sure there are tens of them out there). Eventually, I found morning and end of the day routines help staying intentional, focused and on track, with a positive experience.
  • Follow-up, track and evaluate: I feel resistance to do that because, to be honest, it has me face reality sometime (am I putting in the work, the time, the energy, am I getting results, etc.?) but this is key.
  • Support: we are humans and we are wired to not change (this brings uncertainty and our brain doesn’t like that), we have fears, doubts, ups and downs and we sometime don’t even clearly know what we want. If you want to be efficient, move on faster and further, get some support: be part of a support group, hire a coach, use accountability partners (although the impact is limited to … accountability 😊).

  

MINDSET

 Possibility: our brain is very good at killing any possibility as soon as it is born. Where there is possibility, there is fear, uncertainty. So, your job is to keep the possibility alive. I had to practice being present to the possibility for myself and for my clients. When you work on your vision, don’t censor anything, write down what you really want (another way to frame it can be: “wouldn’t it be cool if …”) and then, when your brain starts to find all the reasons why it’s impossible, when you can’t find the path to get there right now, don’t kill the possibility, just leave it there and start taking tiny steps in that direction. Live in possibility.

 The 5 stages of behavioral changes:

Jim Prochaska and his colleagues at the University of Rhode Island defined 5 stages in change: precontemplation (not ready, not aware, con’s are higher than the pro’s), contemplation (on the Fence, pro’s and con’s compensate themselves), preparation (Getting ready, pro’s start to outweigh the con’s), Action (doing it) and Maintenance (maintaining it). Research shows that 80% of us are in precontemplation or contemplation phase, no surprise it is so hard to change and achieve our goals.

2 main factors influence our ability to change (and therefore achieve our goals): Motivation (how bad do you want it?) and Confidence (how much do you believe in your ability to achieve it?)

Here is a graph from Margaret Moore which shows that to be more likely to change (achieve your goal), you need to be above 6 in motivation and confidence.

confidence motivation graph

So, when setting a goal, check-in with yourself: How motivated are you? and how confident you can achieve it are you? If you are not confident enough, ask yourself what do you need to feel more confident? You might also want to start with things where your confidence is higher, because achieving some goals will increase your confidence in being able to achieve other goals. And if you are not motivated enough, read the next paragraph.

3 sorts of motivations:

  • External: someone asking/telling you to do something. Obviously, this sort of motivation only is very limited.
  • Guilt (I should do this): this one might work but won’t lead to sustainable engagement.
  • Intrinsic (you really want to) à this is what you want to tap into. To do so, finding a clear WHY and asking yourself what will achieving your goal do for you will help.

Attached / Resigned cycle vs Commitment

When we set a goal, we are usually attached to achieving it no matter what, which might add some pressure or feel stressed when setting these goals. We might think that if we don’t achieve them, we are losers, we beat ourselves up and it will decrease our confidence. We move on to achieve them and then, when we don’t see the result we expect, when we have setbacks, when the deadline approaches, we fall right away into resignation. We don’t believe we can achieve them any more.

What I found very helpful was to come from a place somewhere else than on the attachment/resignation line, a place of Commitment. What are you committed to, no matter what and as long as the possibility exists? If you stay committed to something beyond your goals, 5, 10, 20 years from now (serving people, developing yourself, living an extraordinary life, etc…) and committed to do your work day after day, no matter if you reach your goal or not, you’ll be in a far better place. You’ll have created new things, you’ll have new experience, you’ll have grown. At the end of the day, no matter if you failed or not, you’ll have given it all. To me, Commitment is such a powerful thing.

Being vs Doing

We often think about what we need TO DO to achieve our goals, which is of course necessary, but rarely do we think about who we need to BE or BECOME: how do we show up in the world, what are our internal limiting beliefs, what are our fears, how our being is aligned with our doing? I found working on who I be in the world has been crucial for me so far. As I shared in my last 2018 post, I have achieved things in the past year but the most important, which outweigh the frustration to not have achieved more, is that I can feel some internal shifts which are the foundation for an even better year.

That’s it and that was long enough, so I will leave you with some questions: what do you want to create this year and further down the road? What would excite you most? What strategy are you going to set up, what mindset will you have? What support will you get?

Take care,

Evan