Center for Coaching Certification

Procrastination – A Barrier to Success

procrastination - a barrier to successWhat is procrastination?  It means to put off, delay, or defer doing something.

How is procrastination a barrier to success?  To simplify, putting off tasks is putting off the opportunities created by completing the tasks.

What are the reasons people procrastinate?  In December of 2007, Todd Rogers and Max H. Bazerman submitted a report ( at Harvard Business School on reason for procrastination.  When people know they “should” do something, if it is in the future they are more likely to say they will do it.  If it is more short-term they are more likely to procrastinate.  The logic is that while we prefer being the ideal we act on what is easier or more comfortable.  Consider this: the benefits to procrastinating are immediately gratifying and the cost of procrastinating is hidden or deferred.

A Washington Post blog talks about fear as a reason for procrastination.  The blog goes on and cites other studies and includes a reference to the information above.  Focus on the fear for a moment – is it fear of failure or fear of success?  It may even be a fear of doing something tedious or boring.

What techniques help move past procrastination?  Applying the insights from the above research nicely parallels what is taught in a coaching certification program.  Ask:

  • What is the ideal outcome?
  • What are the barriers?
  • How will you move past the barriers?
  • What resources will you use?
  • What actions steps will you take?
  • When will you take the action steps?
  • How do you prefer to manage your accountability?
  • Describe your life when you complete these action steps.

These questions focus first on the reward – the ideal outcome.  Next the questions define reasons for procrastination, the consequences.  Then the questions develop a plan for moving forward.  Then a question supports follow-through by planning accountability.  In coach training we ask for a complete description of what will be seen, heard, and felt when the actions are completed.

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The Challenge: Acknowledging Progress and Success

celebrate success blogHow many people do you know that forget to acknowledge their own progress and success?  It is ironic then when people do achieve something so many either forget or are hesitant to acknowledge themselves.  At the same time, acknowledging yourself for your progress and for your successes motivates you to keep going!

Coaching certification focused on the 11 Core Competencies of a coach includes “Managing Progress and Accountability” as a competency.  This competency of managing accountability does include acknowledging progress and success.  That means that coaches do take time to commend clients and support their self-recognition.

Questions to ask:

  • How do you prefer to celebrate progress and success?
  • How do you want me to support you so you do celebrate?
  • How do you feel about your progress?
  • How are you acknowledging yourself?
  • What is the value of acknowledging your progress?
  • How will you benefit by recognizing progress and success?
  • How will others benefit when you recognize progress and success?
  • How will you maintain your focus and engagement?
  • How will you stay motivated?

Acknowledging progress and success opens up thinking and possibilities plus motivates in the same way that positivity does.  Plus, acknowledging yourself for steps, milestones, and achievements builds confidence.  Coaching is intended to create meaningful change; acknowledging for the positivity and confidence is part of the reason coaching works.

What are your tips for acknowledging progress and/or success?

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The Challenge: Accountability

When setting goals and planning action steps it often helps to have an accountability partner.challenge accountability blog  Having an accountability partner means you committed to someone else.  It may involve a scheduled time and/or place, a reporting in, and reminders.  Sometimes knowing that you have a commitment with someone else pushes you forward so that you follow-through.

From the International Coach Federation list of 11 Core Competencies for a coach:

Managing Progress and Accountability – Ability to hold attention on what is important for the client, and to leave responsibility with the client to take action

This means that coaching certification will include both information on accountability and an opportunity to practice asking questions for accountability.  Examples include:

  • How do you prefer to manage accountability?
  • How do you want me to serve as your accountability partner?
  • What has been happening for you since we last spoke?
  • How are you doing with your action steps?
  • What has gone well?
  • What do you want to do differently?
  • What held you back?
  • What helped?
  • How will you move forward now?
  • What happens if you don’t follow through?
  • What happens if you do?
  • How will you stay on track?
  • What motivates you to follow-through?

Coaches are accountability partners.  Coaches help clients define goals and plan action steps, and then coaches check-in with their clients for follow-through.

What are your ideas for managing accountability?

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The Challenge: Shift from Over-committing to Choosing

over committing to choosing blogRecently several different clients have faced a similar challenge: over-committing.  How does this happen?  When people are asked to do something, sometimes they have a hard time saying no.  Perhaps they are unsure of how to say no.  Sometimes what they are asked to do seems like a great opportunity.  In work situations the person asking may be the deciding factor behind the response.

This scenario comes up during coach training also when a student coach has a client facing this challenge.  How does the coach learn to help the client create their shift from over-committing to choosing with intention?  Coaching certification develops the 11 Core Competencies of a coach and these include presences, listening, and powerful questions.  So the coach is present and dancing in the moment with the client.  The coach listens to what is said and what isn’t said.  The coach asks powerful questions such as:

  • What questions do you want to ask yourself before deciding?
  • What is your criteria for deciding whether to commit?
  • Where will you keep your list of criteria?
  • What are your reasons for your criteria?
  • What values are in play?
  • What commitments do you want to have?
  • How will you say no when you choose that answer?

Through powerful questioning a client will develop their personal process for choosing, decide how to ensure they apply the process, and plan how they will give their answer.

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The Challenge: Shift from Limiting to Creating Possibilities

self limit to create poss blogWhen you ask people what their biggest barrier to success is, how often will they respond with, “me”?  What is it that has us limiting ourselves?  And, more significantly, how can we change that?  Changing it for ourselves and helping change it for others is one of the reasons many enroll in coaching certification.

Because coaching focuses on the future and is intended to create meaningful change, the coaching process serves to create possibilities.  A trained coach works with clients to move past limiting themselves so that they do expand their options.

How do coaches create this shift?  Coaches listen to their clients deeply, develop rapport, and ask powerful questions.  Through this process clients discover their own answers and build their confidence for moving forward.  Next the coach partners with the client to develop strategies and define action steps.

Because coaches are in the moment and truly present with their clients, the questions they ask are formulated based on the conversation.  Examples of questions coaches ask to shift someone from limiting themselves to creating possibilities include:

  • How are you holding yourself back?
  • How are you limiting yourself?
  • How do you want to empower yourself?
  • How do you want to give yourself space for change?
  • What change do you want to create?
  • What are your resources for change?
  • What are your opportunities?
  • What are your options?
  • What additional possibilities do you want?
  • If it is possible, how is it possible?
  • How will you create possibilities?
  • How will you open doors?

A challenge for you: journal your answers to these questions!

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The Challenge: Shift from Aggressive to Assertive

aggressive communicator blogAn aggressive communicator easily expresses their opinion.  It is natural for aggressive communicators to advocate for their own ideas.

An aggressive communicator easily expresses their opinion.  It is natural for aggressive communicators to advocate for their own ideas.  Aggressive communicators are fast thinkers and quick to respond – sometimes too quick.  30% of people are primarily aggressive in their communication style.

Aggressive communicators often think out loud so during coach training practicing and further developing listening skills is essential.  Coaching certification teaches coaches to model clear, direct, and respectful communication.  In addition to modeling effective communication, coaches partner with their clients to enhance the client’s communication skills in other interactions.  This is done by asking powerful coaching questions such as:

  • How are your comments perceived by others?
  • How do you want to be perceived?
  • How does your impact on others influence your long-term possibilities?
  • What difference does your approach make?
  • How can you effectively say what you want?
  • What is a respectful approach?
  • How do you invite others to engage in the conversation?
  • How do you benefit when others engage too?
  • What is important for others when talking with you?
  • How can you create a win/win?
  • What are the benefits to you of effective communication?

Ideally these questions create awareness for aggressive clients around the impact they have on others and what that means for their own long term opportunities.  30% of people are primarily aggressive in their communication style.

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The Challenge: Shift from Passive to Assertive

The Challenge: Shift from Passive to AssertiveA passive communicator is someone who waits for others to speak first.  Often a passive communicator will refrain from saying anything and then, perhaps later, express a thought.  Passive communicators are hesitant to stand up for themselves and struggle with setting healthy boundaries or saying no.  70% of people are primarily passive communicators.

During coach training the participants learn that when coaching it is their job to empower the client.  Additionally, coaches ask questions and listen.  That means if a client is a passive communicator often the coach is respectfully silent while they are thinking.  Additionally, many coaches partner with their clients both for them to open up during coaching sessions and also for them to be assertive in interactions they have at work.

Coaches partner with their clients to create shifts in thinking and doing by asking questions.  For the shift from passive to assertive here are example questions to ask:

  • What is a comfortable way to engage in the conversation?
  • How do you want to ensure you express your thoughts?
  • What are the benefits of sharing your thoughts?
  • How do you help others by sharing what you think?
  • How does your opinion support success?
  • What can you comfortably say?
  • How can you start saying what you think?
  • What words do you want to use?

How does this benefit the coaching client?  By creating awareness of the value they bring when they express their ideas.  An additional benefit is that this is supporting them to demonstrate their worth and be confident.

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The Challenge: Shift from a Focus on Don’t Want to Do Want

don't v do want blogImagine going to a travel agent and asking them to book a vacation.  When the travel agent asks where to and the answer is a litany of places to exclude from the possibilities, then how can the agent book the trip?

Think about someone you know who wants to lose weight.  One consideration is that losing a set number of pounds is focusing on the negative or the problem with a definition of what is not wanted.  Alternatively, if they say how much they do want to weight or what size they want to be, then they are focused on a goal.

The same applies with setting goals in a coaching relationship.  Imagine completing your coaching certification and then coaching your first client.  Then imagine that client telling you about what they don’t want.  How do you help a client achieve something if they themselves are unsure of what they want to achieve?  It is the coach’s job to ask questions so the client defines the goals they do want to achieve.  For example, ask:

  • Design it the way you want it to be. What is it?
  • If that is what you are moving away from, what are you moving toward?
  • Where do you want to go?
  • What do you want in the future?
  • How do you want it to be different?
  • What do you want to create?
  • How will you move forward?

Practice thinking about your ideal outcome.  Ask others to describe what they want it to be specifically.

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The Challenge: Shift from Externally Motivated to Internally Motivated

internal v external motivation blogWhen someone is externally motivated it means their actions serve what someone else wants or they are avoiding a consequence.  External motivation gets a short term result.  When someone is internally motivated it means they are doing something because of their own values or interests.  Internal motivation serves a long term result.

During coach training an example is given of a client that is doing something because someone else will like the outcome.  For example, dieting and exercising so that someone else will find them more attractive.  An example in the workplace is doing tasks to avoid getting yelled at or even fired.  In both these examples the commitment for follow through is limited.

To create awareness and support a long term result, coaches are taught to ask questions that explore a client’s internal motivation.  For example:

  • What does it mean to you personally?
  • How will you feel about it?
  • What are your internal thoughts?
  • How is it significant for you?
  • How does it fit with your objectives?
  • How does it align with your values?
  • What is important for you?

From the examples given above, the client who is exercising and dieting will begin to explore feeling confident, having energy, and fitting into their clothes comfortably.  The client doing tasks will explore their learning, augmenting their resume, demonstrating their skills, and enhancing how they are perceived.  In both cases the commitment for follow through is enhanced.

What motivates you?

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The Challenge: Shift from Reactive to Proactive

The Challenge: Shift from Reactive to ProactiveSometimes, when coaching, a client is reacting to circumstances instead of planning intentionally.  As a coach, part of the process expertise learned in coaching certification is shifting the client focus to being proactive.

The reasons for being proactive seem obvious: if someone is reactive they are giving up control and if they are proactive at a minimum they can influence outcomes.  Being proactive means making choices.  Proactive people think ahead and plan their actions.  Proactivity is forward focused and that is the intention of coaching.

The way a coach creates a shift to being proactive is through the questions.  Here are a few to start with:

  • What is possible for you to do?
  • What is within your control?
  • How can you influence that?
  • What steps can you take?
  • How do you want to advance?
  • What level of input do you have?
  • What level of influence do you want to create?
  • How can you increase your possibilities?
  • What options do you have?

Being reactive means waiting for someone else or waiting for something else.  Being proactive means initiating action.  While there are circumstances with multiple limitations, a proactive approach means focusing on what is possible, creating strategies, and being specific with action steps.  Sounds like coaching!

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