Too Expensive, Too Costly

(Image Courtesy of Pixabay.com)

“They said I was too expensive.”

It happens.

In the world of consulting, coaching, helping, serving, and assisting others you are going to be rejected.

People reach out, they need help.

You carefully craft a plan, program, event, or system.

You send that thing you created into the world.

You may or may not hear from them right away.

Sometimes they say No.

Sometimes they blame the price.

“It was too expensive. It was too costly.”

The first temptation is to lower your cost. “Did I charge too much?”

But your time, your talents, your efforts are valuable.

There is some truth to what they said.

It was going to cost them.

The cost of being accountable.

The cost of stretching beyond their normal pattern or rut.

The cost of doing the hard work, over and over again until they get results.

The cost of making sacrifices to change their current situation.

Maybe they were not ready because the cost was too high.

Rejection can be hard.

Don’t give up.

Keep consulting, coaching, helping, serving, and assisting others.

Keep creating plans, programs, events, and systems.

Your tribe, your group, and your people know that the change they desire will be expensive and it will be costly. They also recognize the true cost is their sacrifice and hard work, and they are willing to pay that price.

A Hope-Filled Plan

We make plans all the time.

One of best parts of coaching is helping leaders, organizations, and people make and carry out plans.

Over the years, I have noticed two distinct types of plans.

Plan type one is the safe bet. Rooted in “reality” this plan type is achievable with a little stretch, but when you dig this plan is the result of future fears, doubts, and concerns.

“You gotta be careful, we are not sure what things will be like next year. What if the business takes a downturn? What if this doesn’t work?”

I nicknamed Plan type one, the Hopeless Plan.

The Hopeless Plan starts with a laundry list of what can go wrong and assumes that all prior time not completely focused on this direction has been a complete waste of time, and there may not be enough time to try anything new or risky.

“I am too old, and should have started this a long time ago if I really wanted to do this…”

The Hopeless Plan acts like a constricting funnel of all good, cool, and creative ideas, and severely limits what seems possible.

But we have to give The Hopeless Plan a little credit since it does result in small achievements or progress.

But there is another plan type.

Plan type two acknowledges the present reality, but does not allow the same limitation.

I nicknamed plan type two: A Hope-Filled Plan.

A Hope-Filled Plan acts like an amplifier taking the history, the experience, and current resources,  combining them into a vision of the future that seems larger, possible, and exciting.

A Hope-Filled Plan is risky, interesting, and requires you to keep moving.

A Hope-Filled Plan allows you to dream and see beyond the present circumstances.

Recent examples of A Hope-Filled Plan include:

  • A mid 40’s attorney who dreamed of being a foreign service officer taking the leap to give up a successful practice for uncertainty and overseas travel.
  • A late 30’s language professor who suddenly realized they wanted to become a doctor and is starting med-school.
  • A person in their 50’s packing up and moving to a new city, without a job or a home.
  • A person too old to get back into the military traversing the process and waivers to restart a career they miss and enjoyed in their youth.
  • A 70-year-old builder of organizations taking the lead to build another one (ironically in the same area that was intended to be a retirement destination).

Plans are good.

Plans help you achieve your goals.

But choose your plan type carefully.

A Hope-Filled Plan may be what you really need and deserve.

The Outsider Perspective

Sometimes we gravitate towards people who are similar to us, or have had similar experience.

They have “walked in our shoes” and we assume they understand us, our issues, and our struggles.

This gravitational pull becomes stronger during training or workshops when you ask people to break into small groups. The same industries, positions, and titles want to talk to others with similar positions in similar industries with similar titles.

To disrupt this tendency during a recent day-long workshop on Coaching, we encouraged each person to find someone radically different from their industry, position, or title. These pairs would practice coaching each other through a current struggle or challenge.

After a few awkward moments, the partners found each other and began to coach each other through the framework we provided. We emphasized that the right coaching framework allows you to help others despite not being a subject-matter expert in their field. (The beauty and the risk of interactive training is you get to see first-hand whether or not your ideas and concepts really work. Sometimes you brace yourself for potential failure.)

We were about to see this coaching concept tested with one particular pair that were so radically different (law enforcement and water treatment) that we paid close attention to their progress.

During the debrief, we heard from those being coached, and the practicing coaches.

We waited to hear from our radically different pair.

“You know, I was a little hesitant at first. I thought, how could they know anything about what I do? But it was the Outsider Perspective that made me look at this in a way I never considered.”

The Outsider Perspective isn’t immersed in our world, so they ask hard questions (they don’t know what they are not supposed to ask).

The Outsider Perspective isn’t bound by our perceived limitations, so they offer insight into potential solutions.

The Outsider Perspective is looking at your issue, problem or challenge with a fresh point of view.

The Outsider Perspective can challenge your assumptions and your bias.

The Outsider Perspective may be exactly what we need.

 

Making Cabinets

building-cabinets

“It was easier when I was making cabinets.”

“Why, what was different?”

“At the end of the day, I could see and feel my progress. Now I just deal with people and it is hard to know if I accomplished anything.”

As I reflect on my own work. I can relate.

A lot of what we do is less measurable, less tangible.

It is certainly easier when you make something. It wasn’t there before. You built it. It now exists. You can see it.

Ideas, thoughts, managing, leading are harder to quantify.

But we are still making.

Building ideas.

Crafting thoughts.

Developing people.

Creating and expanding organizations.

“Maybe it would be easier to ask yourself a simple question at the end of the day: What Cabinets Did I Make Today?”

“What do you mean?”

“Think about your work now in terms of cabinets because that is where you started. Take your interactions with customers, sales gained, estimates written, and turn then into cabinets.”

“You are a little weird.”

“Yeah I know, but keep tracking. This will tie your current work to the familiar and fulfilling work that you keep longing to do again.”

“I can try. So when I complete four estimates in a day, that may be a cabinet? Instead of not feeling like I am making progress, I can look at that pile of paper, and see a cabinet?”

“Yes, making cabinets out of your current work.”

Maybe that is how we can all calibrate our time, our effort. Think about our work in terms that are familiar and comfortable. A lot of our lives can feel like spinning our wheels instead of Making Cabinets.

What Cabinets are you making?

What [insert your cool creative thing here] have you built today?

Go. Make a difference. Make Cabinets.

 

The Two Teams

The Two Teams

When working with teams about their collective behavioral styles, I have noticed that in the long run there are only Two Teams. As I check in with various teams’ progress at certain intervals the Two Teams have two distinct results.

Team One is doing well. Team Two is actually worse than before.

Unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be a middle ground.

Team One is communicating differently, achieving results, and having less conflict.

Team Two is communicating differently, not achieving results, and having more conflict.

What separates these Two Teams?

Why does Team One prosper and Team Two decline?

The answer was simple. After a series of meetings, calls, and follow-up visits a pattern developed. I took notes of each group but the difference became clear.

Team One Pattern

After the initial session, each member of Team One reflected on their own primary style. They made a list of what worked for them as a member of Team One. They made a second list of what didn’t work or needed modification in order for them to be a better member of Team One. Over the next few months each Team One member worked on what didn’t work and tried to leverage what did work.

Team Two Pattern

After the initial session, each member of Team Two reflected on their primary style. They made a list of what worked for them as a member of Team Two. They made a second list of what didn’t work or needed modification in order for others to be a better member of Team Two. Over the next few months each Team Two member worked on trying to get others to change their behaviors and style and did not focus on how they could change.

Will you focus on how you can improve to make the team better?

OR

Will you make a list of how much better things will be when other people change?

The choice is simple when you realize there are only Two Teams.

Among Giants

Among Giants

I have a project. An exciting, new project. A project that I have been talking about for months. A project that partners me with another person (someone who is extremely intelligent, organized, and a deep thinker). We met on the project a few times, took notes, and had a game plan with various assignments.

This project has been on my plate for a few months. I started some research, then stopped. I opened the file to start writing, then stopped. I took the folder out of my briefcase, only to put it back in. For whatever reason, I could not “Ship It” or make progress.

Something was triggering this procrastination. I tried to pin down the reason, but could not find the words.

I took a risk and called this partner. We decided to meet.

“I have to confess. Despite the excitement around this project and our discussions, I have not made any progress on my part.”

“Well, to be honest, I have had the same struggle.”

Another risk. The real risk.

“Ok, here is the thing. I am a little intimidated working with you on this project because you know this material and have studied it in more depth, and are so smart, and so…”

“What? You are intimidated by me?”

The reason for the mutual procrastination was revealed. We both viewed the other person as more competent, intelligent, and suited for this project. I am sure some it stems from the “Less Than Default Switch” and this setting skews our perspective of others.

Our conversation continued.

“It is almost as if I am among giants, when I compare myself to others.”

“Exactly, but I am still surprised you feel that way. I understand why I feel that way, but not you.”

Among giants. Our perceptions of others, their abilities, their accomplishments, their status can warp our own self-perception. This distortion can create the fear and insecurity that holds us back from trying, shipping, or stretching ourselves.

They are not actually giants. They are fellow travelers on this journey. But this problem seems older that just me and this project. Older than you and your project, idea, or journey as well.

“Why, man, he doth bestride the narrow world
Like a Colossus, and we petty men
Walk under his huge legs and peep about” Cassius

(Julius Caesar, Act 1, Scene 2)

 

Take Credit For Yourself As Well

Coaching is an interesting process. Your role as a coach is to help provide the structure, clarify the issues, and ask a lot of questions. Occasionally, you also provide the accountability to hold people to deadlines or tasks. A coach must also resist the temptation of being the expert, especially if your “expertness” comes with pre-formed solutions.

Sometimes the coaching process feels like a meandering path. Other times, coaching resembles a highway with clear mile markers and ways to measure fast progress. Either way, as time passes there is movement. There are accomplishments. There are achievements.

When those accomplishment or achievements occur, those being coached are grateful. Some express their appreciation.

“Thanks Coach.”

“I owe it to you.”

“You are the reason this happened.”

After a coaching session, I heard similar expressions. I needed to reply.

“Take credit for yourself as well. I am not the reason this is happening. You are doing the work, I am just here to help you find the path.”

This appreciation if left unaddressed can become the second temptation of coaching: Taking all the credit.

Coaching should diminish as both accomplishments and confidence rises. Those being coached begin to ask their own questions, set their own goals, and hold themselves accountable. Coaching may continue through the progress, but at a lessor degree and may eventually cease.

Properly balanced coaching can move people forward with their life, career, business, and/or personal goals. No matter which side of the coaching relationship you are in, keep these two things in mind:

If you are coaching others, remember to resist both temptations (expert and credit).

If you are being coached, remember to take credit for yourself as well.