The Right Way

Right Way

Something I have been more and more present to in my and my client’s coaching journey is the fact we are constantly looking to find THE RIGHT WAY to do something. This is present in a lot of people, specially people of my kind, pretty much intellectual, in their head, overthinking, optimizing, afraid of looking like a fool and of the judgment of others, that they could be laughed at because doing things differently.

As usual there are some benefits to look for the RIGHT WAY:

  • It makes us efficient in learning and applying things quickly: we learn the rules or way to do things and then we go do our job, find solutions the same way, it’s easy, no brainer.
  • It serves our need to be liked, because people like when you do things the same way than themselves.
  • It keeps us safe: if you do things THE RIGHT WAY, you can’t be blamed right? And it gives a framework, avoiding to be in the unknown which doesn’t fill safe.

Now, the flip side of it, as I see it, is two folds:

  • When we are looking for THE RIGHT WAY of doing things,
    • It completely kills any other possibility and it kills creativity. It limits our ability to be flexible, adapt or propose new things. On an individual basis, it prevents us from finding and expressing our own genius, from being really ourselves. On a collective level, this prevents us from thinking outside the box to find new innovative solutions. Often in companies, when you ask people why they do something a certain way, they answer that it’s how it has always been done. This is a different flavor of THE RIGHT WAY which sounds more like “that’s just the way”. We don’t even put into questions how we do things and that limits our potential for improvement.
    • We don’t take risks, which limits our ability to grow and improve.

 

  • When we think we know THE RIGHT WAY:
    • It triggers a lot of limiting judgment because we then tend to observe and analyze things through the filter of THE RIGHT WAY. It makes us listen to agree or disagree. Usually THE RIGHT WAY is OUR WAY and people who don’t act accordingly are doing THE WRONG WAY. And in the end, it makes relationships/partnerships/teamwork more complicated, it creates distrust and it limits our potential to find new, creative solutions (back to point 1).
    • We tend to give advice based on our OWN RIGHT WAY, and that sometimes, not to say often, falls flat.

Here are some examples:

  • When I started my career in the corporate world, I was very good at observing and modelling, I was making sure I knew THE way to do things and then was going to do my job, usually well. I was generally appreciated and I was safe. When I transitioned to a bigger company where I was more on my own, at first, I was wondering: “how am I supposed to do that? Tell me the way and I’ll apply it!”. I clearly lacked adaptability and creativity in that moment. And trying to find THE RIGHT WAY got in my way to find MY OWN WAY (I know, that’s a lot of “way” words). And on a collective level, I have plenty of examples in mind where each person was convinced that their way was THE RIGHT WAY, not being open to co-creating a new way.

  • I learned coaching with the basics/foundations which are pretty common (except for those who are not really coaching) but then there is a bunch of different models, styles, ways to coach. And I found myself constantly trying to find THE RIGHT WAY to coach. As I learned a new approach, I was trying to only do this one, thinking it’s better than the previous one. And it’s clearly getting in my way because when I’m in my head trying to find/do THE RIGHT WAY, I’m not present in the moment and to what’s possible and this might prevent me from using what’s most powerful in that moment. So, I worked on that and practiced being in the moment, not knowing, trusting that whatever would come would be the next step to follow, no matter whether it was from one style or another, from one technique or another, from a certain person or another.

The more I can see there is no one RIGHT WAY, the freer I feel, the more creative I become, the more excited I am about the Vision for my business, the more inspiring my life becomes.

As Calvin Harris sings it: MY WAY!  (I actually don’t think it has the same meaning in the song, but who cares, that song sticks in my head as a way to remind myself to do things MY WAY).

So, are you trying to find THE RIGHT WAY to do things? Are you judging others according to YOUR RIGHT WAY?  What if there was literally no right way? What’s YOUR WAY?

Take care,

It would be absurd to be afraid of things we’ve dreamed of

photo-by-filip-mroz-on-unsplash.jpg
Rolland Garros is approaching its conclusion and it’s pretty exciting if you love tennis. The big 3 (Federer, Nadal, Djokovic) is back in a Grand Slam semi-final all at the same time, joined by one of the best man on clay, Dominic Thiem.

But I what I want to talk about today is a message that was insightful for me as I read an interview from a young French tennis player, Antoine Hoang, who is completely new to the main professional circuit, having played challenger tournaments only for a year and participated to his first Grand Slam tournament at Rolland Garros, having benefited from an invitation. He won his first 2 matches, the second against Verdasco, one top player on clay, in front of thousands of people which was not usual for him and could have added a lot of pressure. But he didn’t let that interfere with his game. “I am happy that I haven’t been overwhelmed by the event”, he said. I thought that it was what I had been dreaming of for a long time. So, I told myself “don’t start to freak out, it would be absurd to be afraid of things we’ve dreamed of. You are where you wanted to be, so there is no reason to be afraid”.

Although it’s not really absurd to be afraid (it’s a normal physiological reaction ingrained in our primitive brain which helped the human beings to survive through millions  of years), I really love this reframe, this shift in perspective and I believe this can be useful for any athlete undergoing fear in an important competition. It’s OK to be scared or nervous. What you don’t want is to be paralyzed by fear and instead keep trusting yourself and switching that nervousness into positive excitement. Remembering that at some point, you dreamed to be in this situation helps do this and go beyond the fear of this new situation. If you are afraid to not be good enough in a new team (high school, college, next level league), remember you dreamed of it, if you are scared to fail at an important competition (state Meet, Nationals, Junior Olympics etc…), remember than you dreamed to be there. And If you are there, you belong. Trust yourself. It would be “absurd” to be afraid of things you’ve dreamed of.

By the way, this applies to any other area in life: a professional promotion, a next level in business, a new relationship, etc…
Take care,

Meet Apathetic Hercules

Photo by Simone Pellegrini on Unsplash

A survival mechanism is a way of being we have developed over the years, since we were a kid, to “survive” in our society. Just like animals develop survival mechanisms (in the jungle in South America, a certain type of frog is bright colorful (actually beautiful) and can’t really hide and its survival mechanism is its poisonous skin, whereas another type of frog which is not poisonous at all needs to be “invisible” and therefore has the appearance of a leave and is really hard, almost impossible to spot), human beings develop ways of being in the world to protect themselves and do well, depending on their culture, their education, their experience of life, etc… Some will stay invisible like the frog, while others will be very competitive trying to be the best at everything they do, some will not allow anyone to tell them what to do while others will spend most of their time pleasing others, etc…

It’s not a bad thing (although we tend to think it is), it’s just what worked for us. And, at least in coaching (which is Present-Future focused), it doesn’t matter so much why we developed it.  What’s important is to be aware of it, to see if and when it is empowering us, and when it is not empowering us or when it is limiting us, and then intentionally choose.

Today I want to introduce you to Apathetic Hercules, one of my survival mechanisms (yes, it’s fun to give them a name!). Apathetic Hercules is highly determined, competitive and trying to be the best at anything he does, thinks/feels he doesn’t need help, that he’s strong enough to deal with anything, that actually he should be able to deal with anything (otherwise it means he is not perfect). He is usually good at what he does, and he can leave his emotions aside to feel stronger. In this post, I will focus more on the Hercules part than the apathetic part.

Like any survival mechanism, there are some benefits to it, which is why we have developed them. In this case, it helped me be put the work, be persistent and be a successful student and swimmer at the same time, have a successful career so far. It helped me thrive to a certain point.

And like any survival mechanism, there are also some costs to it. For instance:

  • It’s hard to receive unsolicited feedback from someone that I feel is not “legitimate” (someone who is not my manager, my mentor, my coach). What I mean by that is that I won’t tell the person to shut up, but I will be internally triggered and I will justify myself and explain why I do what I do etc… which in the end prevents me from really taking the gold that is in the feed back
  • I can step over the things I learn, as I understand them rather quickly and then unconsciously think I got them figured out. So instead of letting them sink in, applying them, embodying them, mastering them, I will understand them intellectually and switch to something new and never really get the gold of it, missing out so much. It’s a little like wanting to climb the Everest: I will think I am already there instead of taking the time to hike there.
  • I might not dare to say that I don’t know/understand and ask about something, and then stay with my ignorance
  • The flip side of it is also disengagement: if I see I can’t be at my best, do great, I won’t engage. For instance, I won’t attend a running race if I am not prepared to do a good performance.
  • When interacting with others:
    • when you have several “Hercules” in the same room, the interactions can be tensed: they are usually addicted to being right which prevents them from being open to others’ point of view. This limits the ability to co-create something even better than what each of them have in mind.
    • If a Hercules, interact with someone who is not at all Hercules, the other person might feel disconnected, either admiring the person and thinking they will never be “that strong/perfect”, therefore feeling not worth it, either rejecting the Hercules.

Of course, Hercules types are frequent amongst leaders. That part helped them get where they are. I come from the corporate/project management world and I know a bunch of them. We all know some archetype of Hercules (the bossy manager who thinks he knows it all, who has a top down approach to everything, who is not open to any feedback or new ideas, etc…) but often, it is more subtle, like in my case. If you want to see if you have some “Hercules” survival mechanism, check the following:

  • Do you catch yourself thinking, when someone is giving you some advice: “who are you to give me some advice? I know what I’m doing, I got it all figured out”
  • When someone is telling you that something is good to do (listening deeply others, delegating, taking a look at yourself, etc…), do you tend to start by “yes I’m doing this” and justify that you are already doing it, while maybe admitting that you could do more of it ?
  • Do you have a tendency to step over things quickly (“OK, I got it, what’s next”)?
  • Do you have a hard time to ask for help?
  • Do you have a hard time to admit you don’t know or to ask for something?
  • Do you tend to think that others have a problem but not you? For instance, do you see what I am pointing to in this post and think, “not me”. Maybe you are right. What I can say is that it’s taken me some work to see it, so my invitation is to take the time to take a deep look 😊

Actually, I believe most of us have at least a little bit of it. And it’s OK. Once again, there is nothing wrong with it. There are some great benefits to it. The issue is that when it is automatic and you don’t distinguish it, it gets in your way without you realizing it. The whole point of doing this coaching work and taking a look at oneself is to be aware and choose rather than it be automatic. And the tricky part is that it is hard/impossible to see by oneself. It’s taken me some work with seasoned coaches to start seeing this for me, to admit it and to share it.

The costs of having our survival mechanism take the wheel automatically can be very important. Some business deals haven’t been closed because the “Hercules” part thought he had it all figured out and didn’t listen to some good advice or didn’t want to compromise. Some people have been fired because they didn’t want to take a look at themselves. And some relationships may fall apart. I can see where I have overlooked some strategies in my business because of my Hercules part. I am not better than anyone else. Now I am just more aware and therefore more at cause rather than at the effect of this survival mechanism.

So, do you have some Hercules in you? To what extent? What are the benefits? How is this getting in your way?

On a side note, we usually say in coaching that our ideal client is us, so my “Hercules” clients are tricky to enroll since their first reaction will be: “I don’t need help, I am doing very well by myself” (which is true by the way), or “I understand this coaching I read about it, that’s all I need”. See the point? If this resonate with you and would like to explore, let’s schedule a phone/skype call.

Take care,

2 tips to deal with stress from a Rollerskater World Champion

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Taïg Khris is a rollerskater,  X games winner and triple world champion and an entrepreneur. I listened to an interview last week where he shared how he used to deal with pressure and stress during his roller competitions (and also when speaking in front of thousands of people). Here are 2 things he said:

  • When his mind kept getting out of focus, with a lot of negative thoughts and doubts (what if I miss my figure?, what if I fall?, will I succeed?, will I get injured? etc..), he then repeated to himself only what he had to do (which figures, etc…) and positive words (It’s going to be OK, I will perform etc…), without stopping, constantly. This prevented his negative thoughts to come in by keeping his mind busy with the task at hand (the process) and the positive things. He is using the same technique when speaking in front of 1000 of people (repeating what he has to say and incorporating positive words). This is a great illustration of what I often speak about: focusing on the process (rather than the outcome), focusing on the positive and on what you want to see happening rather than what you fear can happen, and using power words to reinforce this message. And it works. You can do this whatever your sport is.
  • When the fear was very intense like when he jumped from the 2nd floor of Eiffel Tour and landed on a roller ramp (40m high) in front of 5000 people, his legs were shaking (Note: even the best champions get scared, so you can get scared), he played down by asking himself what was the worst that could happen. He thought he might break his arms or legs (he didn’t really think he could die) and that would be it (not a big deal for him since he broke his arms, legs, ribs, shoulders several times for some of them…). And it helped him relax and go for it. Now, I’m not suggesting to do anything risky by telling yourself you might just get a broken arm or leg, but that everyone can find a way to play down what’s at stake. And usually, in many sports with no big risk like jumping from the Eiffel Tower, the main fear is to fail, make a mistake, lose, etc… And it’s simple (not always easy) to realize that in a bigger picture (the whole season, the whole college years, the whole career, and eventually the whole life), it’s not such a big deal.

So, how can you apply this in your next game, race, school exam or public speaking?

Take care,

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,