Point Lookout: a free weekly publication of Chaco Canyon Consulting
Volume 1, Issue 39;   September 26, 2001: Coaching and Haircuts

Coaching and Haircuts

by

Lifelong learners use a variety of approaches, usually relying heavily on reading. Reading works well for some ideas and techniques, especially for those with limited emotional content. For adding other skills and perceptions, consider a personal coach.

If you're reading this, you're probably someone who loves to learn. That's why you're probably pretty good at whatever you do, and why you want to get better at it. Reading is part of your educational program, and — obviously — I hope it remains so.

Getting a haircutYou probably also feel some frustration. You read. You learn ten ways to do this and seven steps to do that. And you make some progress. You've achieved some goals you've set, and some goals remain out there, even though you've been trying for ten months. Or ten years.

Reading can get you through some things, and not others. When you want to make a change, and reading hasn't helped, consider a personal coach.

Coaching styles and arrangements vary. In a typical program, you meet with your coach two to four times each month for from one-half to one hour, either in person or by phone. You can set up any arrangement that works for you. You're in charge.

If you're considering a coach, here are a few things to watch out for.

Recognize that you'll do most of the work
Being coached is different from getting a haircut. For a haircut, the haircutter does the work, not you. In coaching, depending on the style, the coach offers guidance, questions, wisdom, suggestions, support, encouragement, or even homework. But you do the work, not the coach.
Pay a reasonable fee
Being coached is different
from getting a haircut.
For a haircut, the haircutter
does the work, not you.
In coaching, you do
the work, not the coach.
Suppose you find someone to coach you for an unreasonably low fee. While this might work for some people, most will have difficulty doing the hard work needed. Most of us need the motivation of having made a serious financial commitment.
Know what you want to accomplish
You'll have a much better experience if you have a clear idea of where you want to go. Then you and your coach will decide to work on some achievable goals, and with guidance from your coach, you'll achieve them.
Choose a coach who doesn't know your organization
You'll get more insights (aha!s) when you explain your work situation to someone who's ignorant of your organization. You're forced to explain things from the very beginning, and that's often where the obstacles appear.
Choose a coach who isn't coaching anyone you know
A coach who has as a client someone in your life has a conflict of interest. Some coaches believe that these conflicts are manageable. I disagree. Steer clear.

In the end, "chemistry" helps determine the outcome of a coaching relationship. Sometimes you can tell when you first talk to someone that he or she is not your coach. Sometimes it takes a few sessions to know. Notice your feelings and trust them, just like you would after a haircut. Go to top Top  Next issue: Don't Worry, Anticipate!  Next Issue

Rick BrennerThe article you've been reading is an archived issue of Point Lookout, my weekly newsletter. I've been publishing it since January, 2001, free to all subscribers, over the Web, and via RSS. You can help keep it free by donating either as an individual or as an organization. You'll receive in return my sincere thanks — and the comfort of knowing that you've helped to propagate insights and perspectives that can help make our workplaces a little more human-friendly. More

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Many of us let others set our learning agendas — peers, employers, or the mass media. But you can gain much both personally and professionally by setting your own learning agenda.
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When groups try to reach decisions, and the issue in question has a name that suggests a unitary concept, such as "policy," they sometimes collectively assume that they're required to find a one-size-fits-all solution. This assumption leads to poor decisions when one-size-fits-all isn't actually required.
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The theory of symbolic self-completion holds that to define themselves, humans sometimes assert indicators of achievement that either they do not have, or that do not mean what they seem to mean. This behavior has consequences for managing project-oriented organizations.

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Part III of our catalog of obstacles encountered in retrospectives, when we try to uncover why we succeeded — or failed. Available here and by RSS on March 1.
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The question of why some people are so influential has a partner question: why are others largely ignored, or opposed, even when their contributions are valuable? Available here and by RSS on March 8.

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TechnTechnical Debt Management for Enterprise Leadersical debt is more than mere IT jargon. It's a metaphor that refers to the accumulation of technical artifacts that really ought to be retired, replaced, rewritten, re-implemented, or, if absent, created. We can find technical debt in almost any system, including those that seem to be working well. So what's the problem? The problem is the "interest charges." Systems carrying technical debt are more difficult to maintain, more difficult to extend or enhance, and more difficult to use, than they would be if we "retired" the debt. This engaging and eye-opening program points the way to a path that leads your organization out of technical debt, to make it more adaptable, more transformable, and more agile. Read more about this program. Here's an upcoming date for this program:

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On 14The Race to the Pole: Ten Lessons for Project Managers December 1911, four men led by Roald Amundsen reached the South Pole. Thirty-five days later, Robert F. Scott and four others followed. Amundsen had won the race to the pole. Amundsen's party returned to base on 26 January 1912. Scott's party perished. As historical drama, why this happened is interesting enough, but to organizational leaders, business analysts, project sponsors, and project managers, the story is fascinating. Lessons abound. Read more about this program. Here's an upcoming date for this program:

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