Are You Using a Water Gun to Put Out a Raging Fire?
A funny thing happened the other day. A former coaching client sent me an email introducing me to a friend of his who he thought could benefit from coaching.
Here is the message he sent:
Sean (name changed for confidentiality) is considering membership in my business mastermind. I shared how when you least expect it you find a jewel that changes your trajectory. Finding you and Frame of Mind Coaching was my jewel, but you already knew that. Anyhow, I told Sean that I would make the intro, so here it is.
I was blown away by the introduction and promptly reached out to Sean to set up a call. He replied quickly. We set a date and a time. He sent me a calendar invite and a brief review of the challenges he was having in his business: 1) Moving from a product-focused business to a service-focused business, and 2) Finding a way to generate new leads consistently. Given that the name of my company is Frame of Mind Coaching™ and not Business Strategy Coaching, I found the description of his challenges to be an interesting start to our conversation.
About an hour before our call, he reached out to say that he needed to change the time of our appointment because he’s going through a nasty divorce and his lawyer needed to speak with him. He’s going through a nasty divorce? Hmmm…. I wonder why he didn’t share THAT piece of information earlier?
A week later we finally spoke.
Here are the highlights of our conversation:
He was running an incredibly successful multi-million-dollar company with his partner. His partner retired and left the company in his hands. He followed some bad advice from his CFO and failed to create an adequate transition plan. Shortly thereafter, the company imploded and profits plummeted. At the same time, he discovered that his wife was diagnosed with breast cancer AND she had had an affair. Now he’s going through a terrible divorce and his daughters ‘are a wreck’. While he is relieved that his former business partner agreed to come back for a bit, he is still overwhelmed and feels like he’s drowning.
It sounds like his house is burning down.
I asked the following question: “There are a lot of moving parts here. What is your priority?”
His response: “Marketing.”
He proceeded to explain, “If I could just fix our marketing to stabilize our revenues, then I can start to breathe again.”
I said, “You don’t have a marketing problem here – you have a leadership problem. In more than one instance you have made poor decisions, accepted poor advice and closed your eyes to serious problems that were brewing right around you. The question is, why? If you don’t stop to examine that, then you will continue to spin, rush to action and make more poor decisions.”
It was like a light bulb went off for him. He said, “You’re right, I don’t need help figuring out how to sell, I know how to do that. I need help managing myself.”
Yes – that is what most leaders need. They need help learning how to manage themselves so that they can be effective leaders, parents and partners. More specifically, they need to learn how to manage their thinking in order to achieve the results they are looking for.
Unfortunately, because leaders are typically very action oriented, they often resist the idea of slowing down in order to speed up. They jump into action before doing the work of self –management and examining their beliefs to understand how they are contributing to their struggle.
So many of us remain paralyzed in a raging fire for much longer than we need to. Sometimes we stay in an unhealthy relationship too long, sometimes we engage in self-destructive behavior, sometimes we engage in behavior that hurts others and sometimes we close our eyes to clear signs that require our attention. We do this because our thinking often traps us unconsciously.
As a coach, I teach leaders this very crucial skill – to become aware of their blind spots and to recognize how their thinking leads to the outcomes they are getting. When leaders want different outcomes, I teach them how to apply a variety of thinking strategies to ease the way.
In Sean’s situation, the first step was just to help him stop for a minute and understand that the solution to his problem would not be found in a marketing plan but in taking some time to look inwardly to understand why he allowed himself to be in the fire he was in.
Perhaps you are in a fire of sorts and while you have been taking all kinds of action to get yourself to a better place, your wheels are spinning and you are still stuck. If this sounds like you, I encourage you to reach out and set up some time to talk with me. One conversation can give you the clarity you need to extinguish the fire.
Here’s my email address – firstname.lastname@example.org
I look forward to hearing from you.