I coach many clients who feel awash at sea and tired of “going it alone.” They feel lonely at the top – the expression isn’t just a cliché! Many of these clients are leaders who feel they don’t have professionals at their level to bounce ideas off. The people they are closest to them rarely have the answers or training to drill down and find solutions to their challenges.
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For example, many of my clients feel they don’t have enough time. When I work with them, we begin by looking at their daily time management habits. We look at how they can prioritize better, and what else they can delegate. We look at streamlining systems and procedures for more efficiency.
We examine how strategic planning might help them. It could be that they’ve been putting out fires for so long that they’re used to the drama of hectic activity. Some people are addicted to the adrenaline of stress! There could be procrastination issues, with malaise or even fear at the root We also look at their work habits such as multi-tasking, which takes way more time in the end due to inattention, accidents, and having to repeat things.
We even look at lifestyle habits such as diet and exercise. One of my clients was a business owner who ate a ton of candy. Every month I went to see her, she mentioned that she mostly ate candy and drank sodas. She even admitted she ate M&Ms for breakfast! When I asked her if she thought there might be consequences to these eating habits, she sounded unconcerned and even defiant, stating: “I can do whatever I want and nobody can tell me what to eat.”
I didn’t argue with her about her eating habits, but a year later she got a pretty serious diagnosis of diabetes. She began to realize her eating habits directly affect her wellbeing and ultimately her professional performance. Originally she wanted to focus only on professional growth, but a “whole person” coaching style helped her understand how her diet and lifestyle choices affect the ability to reach her goals.
A key sign you need a change is the feeling of anxiety or overwhelm when you first wake up in the morning. Do you dread the day and going to work? Maybe you need better self-care or more vacation time. Research shows that the healthiest and happiest people are those who take ALL their vacation time.
I was coaching a client this week who said he used to love coming to work, and now he groans at the thought of it. I asked, “How many hours a week do you work?” He said, “I get up at 4:00 am and I work until 7:00 pm or so—Monday through Saturday!” I asked when he had a vacation last—and he just laughed. I said, “What if you get a heart attack from the stress? How much time will you lose then? You may be spending your time in Heaven!”