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9 Things Coaches Can Learn from the New Star Wars Trailer

If you were on social media this past week, you probably saw a slew of posts about the new Star Wars trailer. (ICYMI…There is a new Star Wars movie coming out at Christmas this year.)

And now Luke, Leia, and Han Solo are coming back to a theater near me! I can’t wait.

That last sentence summarizes what I saw last week on Facebook, Twitter, and even LinkedIn. Star Wars: The Force Awakens…coming this Christmas.

I posted about it…after my social media feeds were JAMMED with items about the trailer. It’s only eight months away!

Star Wars Facebook

This is what my social media feed looked like after the new Star Wars trailer came out.

But then a second wave of posts started to hit the feeds. 18 Things We Noticed in the New Star Wars Trailer 29 Questions I’ve Got After Watching the New Star Wars Trailer 47 Ideas We Had after Watching the New Star Wars Trailer

It got me thinking…I wonder if I could make a list of things coaches can learn from the new Star Wars trailer. Well, good news. There are at least NINE things coaches can learn from the two minutes of cinematic goodness that made Matthew McConaughey alternate between laughter & tears.

1. Anticipation is powerful. The new movie is still more than six months away. But people are talking about it now. What do your clients anticipate? What could you coach them to look forward to?

2. People want to talk about things that are important to them. This is the first rule of coaching: You can’t coach what the client won’t say. If it’s important to your client, they will readily jump into the conversation. These are the things coaches should be talking with their client’s about, right?

3. Some patterns of human behavior are universal, even when they take us back a long time ago, to a galaxy far far away. The struggle between good and evil. Commitment and discipline to pursuing a dream. Man’s desire to drive fast…in the latest technology. This certainly applies to coaching. People want to make good decisions. We want to live lives of purpose and meaning. We want our work to matter and our families to be healthy. These are all coachable topics!

4. Most people enjoy re-visiting happy experiences from their past. Humans are always willing to remember things that hold a special place in our memories. Star Wars fits that description for a lot of us! What previous successes can you help your clients re-visit?

5. An incomplete story leads to questions. The trailer is a hint of the full story. You get a sense of what it will be like, but what’s actually going to happen? Only J.J. Abrams (the director) knows. Coaching relationships are built on questions, and a key guideline for coaching is to ask questions around the things that help your clients move forward into their future stories. How can you tie your questions to the story your clients are living?

6. It’s easy to fit limited information into patterns that might or might not be accurate. BUT it’s hard to find the accurate patterns. Some of the most fun internet articles following the trailer release were speculation about what MIGHT be included in the final film. Direct communication and creating awareness in coaching means that a coach helps a client not just guess about what might happen, but prepare to make the most of the opportunity they’ve got in front of them. What could you do with your next client ot help them see the truth accurately?

7. Familiarity with a twist of newness is a terrific story telling device. Part of the reason the buzz about the movie is so loud is that we know a lot about the galaxy far, far away…even if this all happened a long time ago. We care what happens next. We know basically what it wil be like, but the details are still out of view. This is especially appropriate for coaching…as most clients live consistent pattern, but chase new details every time. Masterful coaching is built on helping clients learn about the familiar world around them simultaneously with understanding the new details. What’s consistent in your client’s world? How can you make the most of that understanding?

8. Yes, the newness of the story matters, but what really grabs peoples attention is the relationship to the people involved. Who’s your favorite Star Wars character? Luke? Leia? Vader? C3PO? (I’ve always like Han Solo.) Don’t you want to know what they’re going to do next? Same process in coaching. How can your coaching help advance the relationships that are most important to the person you’re coaching?

9. Potentially, there are coaching lessons in just about everything. Even the new Star Wars trailer. Which is only EIGHT MONTHS AWAY! Did I mention that?

So what did you learn from the new Star Wars trailer? And how would you apply it to your coaching relationship(s)? I’d love to see your thoughts in the comments below!

Do Your Conversations Lead to Action?

My first career was a television news reporter. Yup, I used to be the guy standing outside of the courthouse or alongside the massive 27 car pileup, trying to paint a picture with words about what happened there and why it mattered to the viewer.

Conversation to ActionSometimes it was easy–because I covered some pretty big events–like elections. But other times it was challenging, because fires in abandoned buildings or a giant cow sculpture made completely out of butter (both actual stories I covered) just don’t have much meaning in the big picture.

When I became a coach, my conversations changed. Instead of describing something that had already happened, coaches have conversations with people about things that had not happened yet, but they WANT to happen.

Do you see the difference? My two careers have proved to me that conversation and action are linked. In fact one doesn’t typically happen without the other. But the order in which those happen really matters.

When we have a conversation, there’s a connection with another person. Sometimes that connection leads to a specific and predictable action. The difference is whether that action has already happened, or if it’s something you’ll instigate.

Jesus was the master of conversations that led to action. Think about the woman at the well, Peter’s confession of Jesus, or even his words to the disciple he loved from the cross. A little back and forth, and then an invitation to action.

Our prayer lives are both kinds of conversation. Sometimes we take something that has happed to God (action that leads to conversation). Other times we look for what to do next…and that’s conversation that leads to action.

Which comes first for you, conversation or action? Whichever one does can reveal a LOT about who you are and what you’re called to do.

Maybe a better question is Which one do you think is more helpful for someone who wants to live effectively? I would suggest you that finding equal doses of both is how you really maximize your effectiveness.

There will be times when something happens and you just have to talk about.

But there will be other times where deciding what to do and talking about what will happen in the future is more helpful. Living sacramentally takes two different strategies.

Here are some key observations about the two kinds of conversation:

Conversations Then Action:
– Oriented toward the future and focused on decision-making, relational health, and who will be affected by the decision.
– Designed to help a person determine their course of action and timetable.
– Facilitates noticeable and specific change.
– The larger the action the more effective the conversation!
– Open ended questions that open up possibilities for the person are the key.
– Most common in the Apostolic and Prophetic profiles.

Action Then Conversation:
– Grounded in the present and focused on understanding and emotion.
– Designed to help a person understand the details of a situation and what those details mean.
– The other person probably won’t change what they do next based on the conversation.
– If effective, the other person walks away with a deeper understanding of what is already happened.
– Closed ended questions that confirms what the person is thinking are helpful.
– Most common in the Shepherd and Teacher profiles.

Coaching conversations leverage both kinds of conversations…often a coach will start by helping another person understand what’s going on around them. Then that conversation continues with helping the other personmake a decision about what to do about their current situation. It’s a conversation that starts with action AND leads to action.

Which comes first for you, conversation or action? I’d love to hear your comments in the section below.

13 Things You Can Learn from Recording Your Coaching Sessions

One of the practices we insist on in CoachNet’s coach training is that coaches get into the habit of recording their coaching sessions so that they can objectively evaluate what they’re doing well–and where they can improve.

photo credit: danielle moir photo via photopin cc

photo credit: danielle moir photo via photopin cc

Listening to a recording of your own voice can be painful. No one–I mean, NO ONE–thinks their voice sounds like it does on a recording. (The reality is that our voices sound differently in our heads than they do on a recording, because we hear ourselves mostly through our own heads and not through our ears.)

But over the last 15 years, most of the real growth I’ve had as a coach has come from listening to my actual coaching sessions after the fact.

Here are 13 things I’ve learned from listening to recordings of my coaching sessions:

  • I don’t connect with people as smoothly as I’d like. The most glaring change I have made in my coaching is to really listen to how my clients are doing in the first few minutes of each session. I have a tendency to gloss over what they’re actually saying and to miss key information about where they really are. My agenda for the session often takes over!
  • My questions don’t always include context. General, open-ended questions are the lifeblood of coaching, but without some real context, they are not as powerful as I want them to be. Real breakthrough only comes with context.
  • The best question is personal. If I can ask the same question to multiple clients, I should re-think what I’m going to say.
  • Silence is my friend, and it never lasts as long as I feel like it is. Three to five seconds of silence NEVER feels out of place in a coaching conversation…even when I’m DYING for a client to fill it. That quiet time is a gift I’m giving to the person being coached, and I snatch the gift away when I jump in too soon.
  • The client’s tone and pace in conversation speaks volumes. When they pause or think for a moment, or stumble over a few words, there’s a reason. A large portion of the breakthroughs my clients have come when I ask about a change in tone, or an extra few seconds of silence. The client will tell you when they are having a new insight, you just have to listen.
  • Coaching facilitates new learning better than any other approach. Every good coach helps their clients get stuff done. Excellent coaches draw new self knowledge or insight out of their clients. That kind of wisdom only comes from follow up questions or observation.
  • Consulting is easy, and often, not helpful. My own advice or input flows much too easily. Coaches draw out…of the CLIENT. Learn to resist the urge to push something into the conversation. And when you’re drawing out, BE QUIET. Let the client talk through what they’re thinking and feeling.
  • The relationship is everything. When a client trusts their coach, you have permission to ask the hard question. The hard question is what separates you from every other relationship the client has.
  • My own language doesn’t matter. When I get too caught up in what I’m saying or how I’m saying it, understanding and clarity are lost. I’ve made a new commitment to using the client’s language because of my recordings. This also allows you to tailor your conversation to each individual client.
  • Letting a little time pass between the session and listening to the recording helps me be more objective. If I can remember for sure what I said in a coaching session, I’m probably not going to get as much from the recording. I need to be surprised by what I hear, and then I can evaluate whether it was helpful.
  • When I’m coaching well, I don’t say much. The client has complete control of the agenda for the conversation, and I’m there to partner with them so that they can get where they want to go. A good rule of thumb is 80% of the time the client is speaking, and I only yak 20% or less.
  • Humor is only helpful when it draws coach and client closer. A joke helps to diffuse tension, and makes the relationship authentic. BUT without a real sense of when and how much, it’s easy to distract the client from what they’re there to work on.
  • You don’t need to record every session. I find that it’s a good habit to evaluate each client once or twice over the life of a relationship. I like to review one session early in a relationship and one near the end of each agreement. That helps me get a sense of how willing I am to serve each client on their terms and not mine.

So, do you listen to your coaching sessions? What have you learned? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

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