How to A’s your journey to create an Impact through self-coaching

Have you ever wondered why some people are able to create a positive impact irrespective of the field they are in? Are you wondering why some people, despite their problems, can achieve their goals while others can’t?

We all know that Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr, Mother Teresa created great impact on humanity. What is it about these people who have made the difference? They all showcased certain common behaviours. They thought that they have something in abundance to give back and that generosity will help them in their cause/ what they stand for in the long run. They were grateful for what they had in life and wanted to uplift others who were less fortunate. They were highly self- motivated and thought that by contributing their bit (higher purpose), they will be able to make a difference to the society. They were not afraid of challenging the status quo. They took feedback and consulted others so that they can continuously improve. They took people along. Their objective was not to prove that they were right but together they could create something that outlasts them. Failures did not de-motivate them. It helped them to think and come up with more creative ways to solve the problem. They knew that each step was a journey towards the higher purpose, and they thought that they can leave this world a better place than what they had received.

“Do not judge me by my success.

Judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again”

Nelson Mandela

Apart from showcasing the above behaviours, these people were high on personal agility as they could: 

  • Respond to situations in a timely, creative, and Innovative way
  • Adapt to changes
  • Explored different approaches to help navigate VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous) world.
  • Coached themselves effectively especially during the periods of transition, be it in their professional or personal front.

Anyone can create an impact by getting coached or through self-coaching /self – directed learning. As Ed Batista mentioned in the ‘Art of Self coaching’, coaches spend 1% of their working hours talking to a coach and 99% of their time are spent in managing the interactions making choices and responding to situations on their own. While those actions may be influenced by the coaching conversations, at most a coach is a distant echo in the back of the coachee’s minds and coachees are coaching themselves through their experiences. A HBR report found that 91% of the coaching engagements lasts less than 18 months. Hence self-coaching is very important for the practices to be sustained even after the formal coaching engagement is over.

Self- coaching is a process of guiding one’s own growth and development through experiential learning. It’s perceiving ourselves more accurately in any given moment by reflecting on our experiences and acting to understand ourselves more fully. While values and purpose comprise the big picture which act as the sources of meaning for our lives, self-coaching is a step-by-step process to help us effect positive changes in our lives so that we can make a great impact.

According to Lieser, 2012, Self-coaching requires very high self-regulation, self-motivation, and self- learning competencies. Self- coaching helps to guide one’s thoughts to gain new insights, to evaluate more options to solve problems and produce better outcomes. Self-coaching leads to an inner exploration leading to understanding of one’s own mind and heart. Self-coaching helps in increasing self-awareness, self-confidence, self-leadership, self-compassion which in turn leads to more of self- acceptance. Sports personal, sales people all use the art of self -coaching.

5 ‘A’ Framework

The 5 “A” Framework to create an impact through self-coaching are:

  • Attitude
  • Awareness 
  • Acceptance 
  • Aim 
  • Adaptability

Attitude: Self-coaching starts with having a fundamental attitude by being open to learning. Learning about self and others, identifying gaps and fixing them. This means that the self, needs to adopt a mindset which supports growth. Mindset is how we see the world around us, whereas attitude is how we interact with the world according to how we see things. Mindset affects attitude.

“Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference”

Winston Churchill

As Carol Dweck mentioned people having growth mindset tend to embrace challenges, think they can develop, persists in the face of obstacles, put in effort to achieve mastery, learn from criticism and are open to get influenced from others. Effective self-coaching requires one to be candid about their faults and short comings, actively solicit feedback and be open to their influence. Some of the techniques to develop the right mindset and attitude are active inner dialogue, positive thinking, responding to powerful questions, reflecting the experiences with a 3rd person’s view, reframing, learning from past mistakes, challenging one’s assumptions and limiting beliefs.

AwarenessSelf-awareness means perception of the self on how we respond to a situation through physiological and emotional responses and developing an understanding of who we are and how we operate as individuals based on those responses. Our physiological and emotional responses are deeply intertwined. An emotion often generates a set of physiological responses that we may perceive before we are even aware that we are having an emotional experience and what we feel physically often provides important clues to what we are feeling emotionally.

“Look outside and you will see yourself.

Look inside and you will find yourself”

Drew Gerald 

Self-concept is all about our perceptions on ourselves. Perceptions about self comes from personal experiences, future expectations, belief about abilities of the self which helps to take on challenges, achieve goals and lead a more impactful life. Some of the techniques to develop awareness is to practice meditation, undertake psychometric tests, maintain an emotional journal which captures thoughts, feeling and emotions displayed throughout the day to identify common patterns to take actions and seeking feedback from trusted sources.

Acceptance: Self-acceptance is the ability to accept all positive and negative attributes of ourselves, to feel compassion for ourselves, and to love ourselves. Self-acceptance is unconditional and allows us to embrace every aspect of thy and not just positive things. To be self-accepting is to feel satisfied with who we are, despite flaws and regardless of past choices.

“Acceptance is the road to all change”

Bryant McGill

True self-acceptance is embracing who we are, without any qualifications, conditions, or exceptions (Seltzer,2008). In fact, our level of self-acceptance determines our level of happiness which will allow us to accept, receive and enjoy. Some of the techniques to improve acceptance are to understand our strengths, knowing that it’s only human to make mistakes, not comparing with others, practicing mindfulness and surrounding with people who encourage us to perform at our best.

Aim/ Goals: Aim helps to provide both direction and motivation for the work that follows. Aim should be components of a larger purpose. To set an aim, it’s important to understand the current circumstance, problems, situations, events, future aspirations more clearly. In order to understand whether the aim is realistic, recognize the current realities, beliefs and consequences of having this aim in terms of emotions, thoughts and actions. Feelings create actions and actions create results. Once there’s clarity on the goal, current realities, beliefs and emotions, certain options emerge.

“Aim High,

The future you see, is the person you will be”

Jim Cathcart 

To get one step further, creating mental models as suggested by Charles Sanders Peirce in 1896, helps to represent our own deeply held internal images/map of the world, the relationships between various parts, a person’s intuitive perception about their own acts and their consequences. Goals should be challenging enough, to focus on the possibility of success and utilizing our effort. However, if it becomes a threat, our focus will shift to a possibility of a failure mindset which will undermine our performances. Some of the techniques to achieve goals are to clarify goals using models such as GROW, ABCDE, SMART, prioritizing work using Covey’s time management matrix, categorizing all activities into Urgent V/s important and building mental models.

Adaptability: At some level, self-coaching is all about change viz changing, how we spend our time, behaviours to be more effective. Successful individuals and leaders not only embrace change, but they thriveon change. It helps to do more of what’s working in our lives and doing less of or stopping entirely, what’s not working.

“Adaptability is not imitation.

It means the power of resistance and assimilation”

Mahatma Gandhi 

The changes that occur through self-coaching process are not large interventions but often, small steps whichdone daily will result in the accomplishment of goals. These interventions take the form of momentary, tactical acts that we might call for self-regulation. Intervening repeatedly over time, allows to strategically change patterns, identify and adopt new, more effective behaviours and ultimately internalize these patterns so that future interventions require less effort or conscious intent. Some of the techniques to enhance our abilities to adapt to changes are by having positive on-going conversations, self-diagnostic tests for immunity to change,understanding self, having clear goals and seeking feedback.

Self-Reflection: Thinking critically, logically, and strategically helps to navigate through any challenges. In order to improve the strategic thinking skills, one should ask strategic questions related to the challenge, opportunity, or ambiguity they are facing in their current situation. Responding to these strategic questions skillfully by observing and reflecting helps to continuously improve. Reflect on what really matters? Whether the steps taken last week were good enough and can be followed this week or whether a course correction willbe required. Incorporate all the lessons learnt from the previous weeks to the next week.

“We do not learn from experience,

We learn from reflecting on experience”

John Dewey

In order for the self-coaching to be successful, one needs to be high on accountability, possess lot of resilience and should be able to overcome limiting beliefs. What gets measured, gets valued and hence regularly assess the progress to pull up and observe the view from a higher perspective. Having accountability partners, openly calling out the goals will help. Understanding intrinsic and extrinsic rewards that motivates the self, fills one’s life with energy and enthusiasm to achieve their goals. Reflecting on one’s motivation helps to prioritize the goals and actions to achieve the goals, to perform at their highest levels. Some of the techniques for self-reflection are self- assessment, journaling, inner dialogue, constructive/positive thinking and responding to powerful questions.

So, how could we measure the impact we have created? Some factors to consider rating on a scale would be what is your happiness quotient?, How many people were positively influenced by us?, How many people are vouching/trusting our expertise? Are we learning in the process ?

My recommendation to create a positive impact would be to follow HELISTOP viz Help people and communities by Empathizing, actively Listening, Inspiring someone into taking actions, Sharing your knowledge and skills with others, creating Trust & positivity, Observing and Practicing random acts of kindness.

Every individual has a potential to create a positive impact and can apply 5″A” Framework to maximize their potential impact. As someone rightly said,

“Trust your own judgement,

Listen to your intuitions,

You are your own best life coach.

Disclaimer – The author is in no way suggesting that, the coaches are not required or discounting the value a coach brings into the conversation.

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