You can’t read the label from inside the jar

This week I got some wonderful feedback;

‘After one phone call with Lucy I had complete clarity on what my next career steps should be’

 And it wasn’t a mega long coaching phone call – it was under an hour!

Thing is it doesn’t matter if you’re a trained coach or not. Basically it’s a million times easier to help someone else unpick what’s keeping them stuck, or unhappy or frustrated and help them figure out what to do about it than it is to do it for yourself on your own.

We’re too close to our own problems and often emotionally attached to them which means it’s practically impossible to be objective. We can be fearful of facing up to an uncomfortable truth on our own; maybe the business idea isn’t very good, maybe you’re in the wrong role, or maybe that person isn’t considering your point of view. The fear is real and that’s why sometimes it can be easier, and feel safer to stay stuck and unhappy.

And many people do stay stuck and unhappy.

Often the root cause of a problem and therefore the solution, is something so obvious we can overlook it. We are riddled with assumptions and bias that can stop us seeing something that is blatantly obvious to other people who are less close or involved in the situation.

It’s difficult for us to ask ourselves challenging questions. Sometimes we simply don’t want to admit that we’re wrong, and we’re fearful of what changing direction might involve.

I head this expression recently, and for me it sums up why asking help from others is so helpful and important ‘You can’t read the label from inside the jar.’ 

You can’t effectively identify or solve your own problems because you’re just too close to them.

When you talk situations through with others, they bring a different perspective. They ask questions that open up new thinking patterns and opportunities. They challenge bias and assumptions. They provide space and legitimacy to focus on you, which in itself can help the questions and answers to flow.

Talking to someone else also holds us accountable and makes us more likely to take action.

I believe that everyone would benefit from having someone to help them read their label. That might be a coach, a mentor, a network or an accountability group. Different things suit different people (and different budgets).

However you read your label remember the same principle; it’s very difficult to work on your own problems on your own. Having someone who will listen, reflect, ask you questions, be candid and kind in challenging your bias and allow you time and space to respond is perhaps the most important gift you can give to yourself.

What’s right for you?

Here’s some options;

Get a coach – Coaching is usually paid for and is a process that aims to improve performance and focuses on specific goals in the short term (rather than on the distant past or future). The role the coach as a facilitator of learning.

Get a mentor – Mentoring is more likely to be not paid for; the mentor often sees the relationship as giving something back as well as being part of their own learning and development. Mentoring tends to have a longer term focus and deal more with wider support regarding career and attitude like, where are you going and what do you want to be doing five years from now?

Join a mastermind group – A mastermind group is designed to help you set powerful goals and navigate through challenges using collective intelligence. Such groups usually consist of between four to eight people with a mix of skills and experience. They may meet regularly (weekly, fortnightly or monthly – whatever makes most sense to the needs of the group). They have a core remit of helping each other achieve their own success. They can be something you set up yourself, however in my experience the more powerful ones are paid for and professionally facilitated.

Join a network – A place where you can benefit from the collective help provided by the membership. This might be your sector professional body, a Facebook group or something more structured like the Lucidity Network.

None of the above options are mutually exclusive. In fact I encourage you to consider them all. Many of my coaching clients also have a mentor, and are in a mastermind group and are part of the Lucidity Network. The warning is that when you embark on any of these, you have to want to change, be open to challenge and be prepared to take action.

If you’re prepared to take action I can help you with all of the options above. If you’d like to chat about coaching, joining a mastermind group, getting a mentor or joining the Lucidity Network, book a 30 minute call here.

Why does coaching work? So you’ve set some goals…..what next?

A guest blog by Jennifer McCanna.

Why does coaching work? This is something I often explore when running coaching skills courses for managers. There are lots of answers: it provides a non-judgmental space for you to come up with your own ideas, solutions and priorities. When you strip back the noise of the emails, the WhatsApp’s and the back-to-back Zooming, it’s amazing how swiftly you can access a way forward.

A great coach will also give you the right level of challenge and support to try the tricky stuff, to make difficult decisions, to stretch and grow. It’s hard to consistently stretch ourselves on our own.

A key part of helping you stretch is holding you accountable for the actions you commit to. You’re much more likely to commit to having that difficult conversation if you know you’re reporting back to your coach about it in a month’s time. That’s another reason why coaching works.

Accountability is crucial to how successful you will be achieving any goal. How often have you set some goals, and how often have they been drowned out by the noise of everyday life and not been achieved? We create accountability in many ways, not just working with a coach or mentor. For example, when we set up a fundraising page for that charity run and send it to our friends, we are creating accountability. We have to do the run now, because our friends have each donated a hard earned tenner to see us do it.

I’ve seen how setting goals and being held accountable to them really helps people make progress.

That’s why I’ve created a goal setting webinar especially for Lucidity Network members. These might be work goals or goals relating to a next career move. It’s a 90 minute webinar that incorporates both space for reflection and some accountability both to fellow participants and to me as a leadership coach.

Thinking about what matters to ambitious managers, I know you want to learn, grow, stretch and make the most of your talents. That’s why we’ll be spending 90 minutes really getting under the skin of what the next 6 months looks like, using some creative exercises and then turning those into really practical actions.

Crucially this goal setting webinar includes a follow up a month later so we can all be accountable to each other and I’ll be setting myself some goals too around helping you to achieve yours. Through this group approach we can all move our work and our careers, forward.

This year has been, let’s be honest, totally weird. But it’s not over yet. If you want to focus on making the most of 2020, and if you want to start 2021 really knowing where you’re going, join us!

To get access to this goal setting webinar as well as training materials, group coaching, a business book club, networking events and connected to an excellent group of people who will help you be accountable to reach your work life goals, join the Lucidity Network today. 

Jennifer McCanna is a leadership coach working with leaders & managers to develop the strategies, confidence and resilience to create a fulfilling and balanced work life, through 1-1 coaching and group programmes.

Follow Jen in her supportive corner of Instagram for coaching tools, models and powerful questions to help build your confidence, skills and influence.

Do you ever feel stuck?

Everyone gets stuck. It’s part of life. We all have problems to solve, a tendency to procrastinate, a fear of failure and slumps in motivation. At one time or another, in your career it is inevitable that you will feel like you’re stuck in a rut. There are a few simple steps to pulling yourself out of a rut, but the process is hard work for most of us.

Being able to recognise when you are stuck, unpick why you feel that way and then take action to move forward is an important part of your personal and career development. Good managers are also able spot the symptoms of ‘stuck’ team members and help individuals ‘unstick’ themselves.

The symptoms

The first step in moving on from a rut is to recognise you are in one. Have you ever felt that you lack motivation for your role, or felt frustrated that you are not achieving enough, or bored by doing the same tasks? Sometimes being stuck might be more than just experiencing these feelings; perhaps you had a disappointing appraisal, were turned down for promotion or didn’t get the job you wanted. Take a step back and acknowledge how you feel. Consider how long you have felt these lacklustre feelings – if it’s more than once and consistent over weeks, months or even years, you are experiencing symptoms of stuck.

Why are you stuck?

If you suspect you are in a rut, the next step is working out why. And a way to do this is to ask yourself ‘why?’ five times. Sometimes described as ‘toddler syndrome’, repeatedly asking ‘why?’ helps you get to the root cause of why you are stuck. Find a coach, mentor or trusted friend to help you work through your ‘whys’. If you find yourself answering ‘I don’t know’, try to break that pattern. Ask yourself: ‘If I did know – what would I say?’

How to overcome being stuck

There are several proven ways to push through being stuck and get moving again.

First, connect with your purpose. What is important to you? What activities make you happy? Why do you do the job you do?

Then take a step back to reflect. How is what you are currently doing helping you achieve your purpose? Are you in the right role, working environment or organisation that is congruent with what’s important to you?

Then focus on where you want to be in five years. I know it’s a contrived question, but it’s only when you know where you want to be that can you plan your route to get there. Your current rut might be a means to an end and knowing that can be helpful. Make a plan: what do you need to do to get to where you want to go?

Stop thinking about what you have to do and just do it. Force yourself to take the first step on your plan.

What stops you?

The above tips might sound simple, but simple doesn’t necessarily mean easy. From my experience, the main reason that we get stuck is fear of failure. Being in a rut might feel miserable but it feels safe. Changing your situation can feel frightening because the majority of human beings feel apprehensive about change. Focus on where you want to go and why. Surround yourself with positive people to support and encourage you, and use that momentum to help you push through the inertia that fear creates.

Ruts can be good

Sometimes if you’ve had the same job for a long time, you might feel pressure to move on, change or do something different. Don’t let employers, colleagues, friends or family project on to you their perception of being stuck in a rut. If you are happy and satisfied where you are, stay put.

Finally, remember that being stuck is normal and it is part of the process of growth. Often, that stuck feeling intensifies right before a breakthrough. Acknowledge that being stuck could be a positive signal and work with it.

This blog was first published at People Management. 

If you are stuck and would like some help to get unstuck, drop us a line. Lucidity coaching might be just what you need to get moving in the right direction.