Monthly Archives: September 2011

Carrots & Sticks: Motivating Yourself & Others

Since our economic downturn began in in early 2009,  I have been giving many workshops on the challenges of staying motivated and engaged when everything is changing around you.  Bringing out the best in others (and in ourselves) has always been a favorite topic of mine but it has taken on more urgency in these tough times. 

Motivation Isn’t That Complicated!

When people say “You can’t motivate someone else” I disagree.  I think it’s actually quite easy.  One just needs to understand a bit about human nature and what innately drives most of us.  Pick up Daniel Pink’s book “Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us” 2009.  I think you will be pleasantly surprised that you do know what motivates us and it’s not just a crunchy carrot. 

For years, business has used the “carrots and sticks” style of motivating others.  Reward behavior you want and punish behavior you don’t want.  These extrinsic motivators can work well for routine, non-creative work that just needs to be churned out.  But our 21st century world now is far more complex and challenging.  And we desperately need the best and the brightest ideas and solutions.  Luckily, that’s what most of us also want.  We yearn to be doing interesting, creative work that makes a difference. 

So here’s the challenge.  Look at your work schedule for this coming week.  What responsibilities, projects and tasks are coming up for you?  Now, think about what excites you, what gets your energy going, what do you think is well-worth your time.  You are very likely most motivated when doing those activities because they satisfy our deeply human needs of autonomy, mastery and purpose.  These intrinsic motivators are:

  1. To direct our own lives (autonomy)
  2. To learn & create new things (mastery)
  3. To do better by ourselves & our world (purpose)

Now ask yourself, “How could I bring more of what really motivates me into my work week?”  Start by making small shifts.  Keep up the momentum by acknowledging your progress each night.  When you hop into bed ask yourself “Was I better today than yesterday?”  Try it.  It works!


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Coaching Takes Off Internationally!

What a whirlwind!  I just returned from the wonderful annual international coaching conference (ICF) held this year in Las Vegas, NV.  This is my sixth conference – Quebec, Saint Louis, Oakland, San Jose & Montreal – and each have been a great experience well worth the money and time.

Here in Nevada, we had approximately 1,000 coaches from 42 countries attending bringing a wealth of experience and expertise to this four day conference.  My head was spinning from first attending our own state-wide NV coaching conference to hearing from the incredibly inspirational key-note speakers (Michael Gelb & Steve Farber) to soaking in the rich content offered by renowned coaching professionals in the many breakout sessions. The evening wine & hors d’oeuvres events in the exhibit hall finished off each day beautifully.

Coaching is Growing World-Wide

But the very best for me is always meeting coaches from all over the United States and the world.  During the opening session, it is truly a thrill to see the world map up on the big screens and then as each country is called the country’s coaches stand to thunderous applause. This year there were more coaches from Africa, the Middle East and the Eastern European bloc than I remember in past years.  The UK, Canada, China, Australia and South America have hundreds of coaches attending as well.

The International Coach Federation (ICF) is the industry recognized professional association for coaching. Currently, there are 8,000 credential ICF coaches and 125 chapters in 109 countries.   It is relatively young for a professional association – just 16 years old – but then again our profession is young as well with its formal beginnings in the early 1990’s.  At the conference, I saw a significant trend toward corporate internal coaching, business development and leadership coach specialties.

Individual Conversations with Coaches

And what a delight to have great conversations with Anne-Marie Sevenster, South Africa; Vedat Erol, Turkey; Alexander Vreede, Netherlands; Gilles Gambade,Greece and Angela Kontgen & Victoria Stikeman from Toronto, Canada.  I also had a chance to work in small groups with coaches from Mexico, Brazil, Sweden and Romania –   even got an invitation to meet with the coaches in Greece!  There is such a positive energy, an incredibility strong entrepreneur spirit and a willingness to think BIG – all in the service of others world-wide.

Ideas, resources and business cards were flying back and forth.  Some of my training materials are going to South Africa and others are going north to Canada.  What fun to share our expertise, our experiences and our support for each other and for the emerging profession of professional coaching.  These individual conversations are truly what I treasure after each conference. I feel connected and honored to have several more friends and colleagues around the world . . . and I think I just might followup on that invitation to visit the coaches from Greece!

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Freshening Up the Look of Your Website

Freshening up the look of your website every couple of years is really important.  And it’s much easier now that many of us are using Word Press or a similar platform.  My wonderful webmaster/media expert, Judith Harlan, Web Words That Work, has been encouraging me for years to switch to a platform that would allow me to make my own changes easily and quickly.  I was very hesitant since technology is a steep, time intensive learning curve for me.  But finally with no more excuses left and both feet dragging I agreed to the switch.

And what a pleasant surprise!  It’s as easy (relatively) as Judith promised it would be.  And since I had been using the Word Press platform for my blog these last six months I was familiar with the general layout.  It still takes time.  Each page needs to be updated – new content, new pictures.  But it gives me a chance to review and refresh what I offer in both the coaching and training areas.

New Look Brings Out the Best in You

By reworking your website you can communicate the best of what you have to offer.  Your website is an electronic career portfolio telling others what you do, how you do it and the value that you bring others.  Make it colorful.  Make it welcoming.  And make sure that your voice comes through on every page. That is what engages others and encourages them to contact you.  So taking this time to freshen up my website has been well-worth it.  And switching to a platform that allows me full control is pretty neat.  Now back to my updates . . .


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Community Tragedies & Resiliency

Northern Nevada has been struck with two terrible community tragedies in just the last 10 days. First, we had a random shooting in a local IHop coffee shop killing four people including three National Guard members in uniform. Many others were injured – all who just stopped by for a quick breakfast on a Tuesday morning after the Labor Day holiday. Now tonight we are hearing of multiple deaths out at the Reno Air Races from an aircraft which careened out-of-control into the public viewing stands.

The impact of these events is huge. Not only for the friends and families of the people killed and injured but for the community as a whole. Nevada has had a very difficult time with our high unemployment, high foreclosure rate and an endless stream of bad news for an economic recovery. But that’s when we rediscover resiliency . . .

Tahoe Gal BoatResiliency is Hope

One of my favorite workshops topics is about resiliency – what it is and how to keep it. Resiliency is all about hope. Resilient people intuitively believe in these three things.

First, that the situation is temporary – resilient people see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Second, they have some control over their own response to the situation. Resilient people tell themselves, and others, that we will make it through this difficult time.

Third, that they are not personally responsible for the situation occurring. They didn’t cause it. They are not to blame for it. It’s bigger than them.

How We Learn Resilience

I often ask people in my workshops this question “How did you learn to be resilient?” Often, they say they learned by just watching someone else. It was usually someone older in their family or in their community as they were growing up. Children watch and learn from those older than them – an important reminder as we are raising and mentoring younger people.

The same is true in our professional lives. And as I watch the community leaders on TV tonight, I’m looking for them to demonstrate the qualities of resiliency – that yes, this too will past and that we will handle it well. That is leadership at its best.

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Hot Air Balloons & The Bigger View

As I was driving into work early last Friday, I was caught again by surprise. Out in the distance I could see dozens of hot air balloons popping up over the hills. The annual Hot Air Balloon Races were back in Reno! And what a treat they are. I always feel a wonderful rush of good feeling – maybe it’s optimism and hope – as the balloons lift off and gently soar up and over downtown Reno and the Truckee River. I know they start my day off beautifully but I was curious . . . “What do the balloons inspire in others?”

A Different & Richer Perspective

So that was the question I posed to my “Coffee, Careers & Conversation” coaching group that morning. And I loved the answers which all related to the idea of getting up and above the normal things we see every day. When you’re able to get up high – as coaches we call this the 30,000 ft. perspective – the world looks quite different. All of a sudden, there is so much more out there.

We see things from a whole different perspective. And it’s not only what is below the balloon basket but also the richness of a full 360° view of the Sierra Nevada mountains, Lake Tahoe and the California border just beyond. We can’t help but start to think of the opportunities – the possibilities – that are out there.

And that’s what the group members were inspired to do by simply watching these hot air balloons early that Friday morning. We stand in our own way too often. But how better it is to see the bigger view and then to challenge yourself to explore, stretch and grow into new opportunities. As Dr. Seuss would say “Oh, the Places You’ll Go”!

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