What a turbulent start to the new year it’s been! I hope you and your loved ones are doing/being okay in all this. I’ve arguably had much less time to think lately, but whenever I became still, my thoughts included those less fortunate than me, and I made sure to express gratitude as much as possible.
I’m a strong believer in balance. It’s been a theme throughout my life and it matters dearly to me. Over the years I’ve learned that balance shows up in complex ways and if we get but a snapshot of the whole picture, we’re likely to misjudge what’s going on. I’m saying this as I found myself working the majority of weekends and evenings in the process of finalizing the ACIC. Now that most definitely felt unbalanced if I look at the past two month in isolation. I welcome the trend in recent years to stop glorifying everyone’s “busyness” and long hours. Part of me felt ashamed that I was taking so little time off.
Taking a step back (whether that’s through meditation, supervision, coaching, therapy or other forms of reflection) really helps to look at the whole picture and put things into perspective. I generally get the best out of me when I immerse myself in something, so it made perfect sense that I’d be approaching course creation in the same way. And I’m looking forward to extreme relaxation later this month, once the course has launched.
After spending December in Mexico and Christmas in shorts in Acapulco, Nelly and I managed to arrive back to our UK home just in time for the next national lockdown to be announced. As an introvert blessed with lots of work on, I hadn’t planned on leaving the house much anyway, so we’re okay right now. I hope you are too!
But now, as per usual, here are a few Nuggets of what’s been going on for me this month, bits and pieces that I’ve come across or thoughts that have been on my mind, as well as a few fruits of that energy. If any of it resonates, make it swing! I’d love to hear from you 🙂
What supersizes productivity
“The whole team went from dysfunctional to working like a well-oiled machine. Shortly after having shots fired from an AK47 WAY too close to our heads, everything was organised for us to leave the country. The experience had provided us with crystal clear focus and rock-solid motivation. And all of a sudden whatever had been in the way of us working together constructively disappeared and it was full steam ahead.”
Now to be fair, I’m paraphrasing here. But it’s the essence of the story, as originally told by my colleague Anup, which revealed the question: What’s your AK47 when your life is not in danger? How do we get crystal clear with laser-sharp focus and unquestionable motivation when your life isn’t in danger or the situation far more complex than a gun in your face? Danger, especially fear of death, is crazy efficient to get the best (or the worst) out of us. If it doesn’t completely paralyze us (freeze), it’ll energize us to the max to fight, flee or do whatever is necessary to survive. It’s rare to be able to produce the same kind of energy with a “towards-goal” than to get away-from something like pain or danger. Even on a much smaller scale, a “deadline”, it’s amazing how much more productive we can be with a clearly defined AK47 (which occasionally shoots bullets of shame, missed promotions or holes in your integrity). Trust me, coming out of a month filled with16 hour days, clearly defined goals for each day and a team to report back to, I can tell you that you can be 30% more productive than you think if you feel you absolutely have to.
And then there’s love! What a powerful drive! And arguably much more complicated to sustain, especially after the honeymoon period is over or if the object of our desire is just that: an object. I mean, sure, if something is shiny enough, it can get us real focused. There’s a lot of evidence that positive goals (towards) are way more efficient than negative goals (away from). But it does seem to depend on our values. The more material we are, the more we are driven by the shiny object. And at the same time it’s also easy to mistake a towards goal (create more safety through e.g. more wealth) with an away-from goal (away from a childhood where money was always scarce).
It’s one of those things, where in theory we want to be driven towards something positive, but in reality, those who move away from pain and danger seem to be much more motivated. Nothing beats having a gun in your face to work to ass off. On the other hand (and arguably without the gun experience in the bag), I’ve worked hardest in my life drive by love. I wonder what your take is on this. And whether you’ve got a “positive AK” that you could share with us?
Ripping off the band-aid
“I can do it fast, or I can do it slow.” That’s what the dentist said to a young traveller in Thailand. Their tooth had become incredibly painful and needed an intervention. The price was steep and my friend thought that 5min of work seemed to be overpaid here, so the man offered to do it more slowly, with a knowing smile on his face as to what the decision is likely going to be.
Recently this anecdote came to my mind again while coaching a client who’s facing something painful. It’s more complex than ripping off a band-aid or pulling a tooth, but they’ve done the work and in the end it does come down to a single conversation. Now, I’m a fan of doing things quickly, no doubt. But you will have seen me many times wading into the ocean bit by bit almost torturing myself until the point (usually just above my belly button) I finally decided it was going to be less painful to jump than to continue this madness. And that happens a lot: we wait to take decisive action until we’re above the pain threshold, rather than doing the “smart” thing. “Ripping off the band-aid” (or the wax strip, if that’s something you can relate to) quickly, rather than slowly, seems like a good idea.
What emerged during this conversation is that there is a point when the skin underneath the band-aid will have healed (and, importantly, there’s no hair involved!), so that we can rip the band-aid off painlessly, fast or slow. It won’t matter. That said, if we don’t check the wound regularly, it might get infected. But if we want to check on the wound and we move carelessly, days or weeks of healing may be destroyed with a single pull and it starts bleeding again.
Moral of the story is that it’s more complex than doing it fast or doing it slow. I’d recommend thinking things through and considering what’s underneath the plaster, if that’s an option. Sometimes we gotta take a leap of faith. And that can be painful or incredibly rewarding. Sometimes we don’t know. And I think that’s what makes life so exciting.
What I finally figured out
For years I’ve been using Zoom, and since last March I’ve been seeing all of my clients online, most via video chat. Anybody who works with relationships will probably agree that being able to look someone directly in the eye is such an important element when we meet someone or sit with them through significant moments. This is one of the things I miss most about face2face work. And so for some time I’ve been thinking about and experimenting with ways to create eye contact with people on Zoom.
First I though there must be Zoom laptops where the camera sits behind the screen rather than just above it. But to no avail. The I started buying (and returning) a few camera modules small enough to sit in front of the screen. But couldn’t find a small and good-enough lens at an affordable price without a fisheye or taking out half of the person’s face. It also looked pretty gnarly, and essentially I’d still either look at the camera or the person’s eye.
Then recently I spent a weekend in a film studio and for one of the bits I had a chance to play around with a teleprompter, something I never used before but always quite curious about. Turns out they’re pretty fun and if you write how you talk, or you just want check out some bullet points without taking your eyes of the camera, they’re just amazing! I also learned that they’re not actually screen, but merely a piece of glass that reflects whatever sits underneath! In this case it was an iPad. My brain started firing and a solution presented itself. Now if you, like me, are keen to make eye contact, here’s what I’m using:
Teleprompter – £56
A 2016 Samsung tablet (I reckon any tablet will work as long as you can get the monitor app to run)
TwomonUSB app – in order to use the tablet as a 2nd monitor – £10
UltraMon software – in order to mirror the 2nd monitor – £30
Now the only thing I need to figure out is how I can charge the tablet at the same time that I connect it as a 2nd monitor as not to run out of battery during a full day of coaching/meetings. I’ve tried an OTG USB hub, which was supposed to be the solution based on a number of videos, but it didn’t work. If you have an idea, I’d love to hear from you!
Also, I’d recommend two separate LED lights aimed at you from the front left and right instead of my massive ring light. I’ve also ordered a piece of glass to replace the cheap plastic that came with the teleprompter to get a clearer and brighter image.
If you ever try this or got some suggestions for improvement, do share!
What I’m listening to
Do you know the feeling when an album, mix or playlist emerges that characterized a whole period of your life, but somehow you had forgotten about it? That’s what happened last month when this absolute GEM of relaxed musical excellence re-entered my sphere of awareness: Satta by Boozoo Bajou!
If you love what you hear, please support the artist:
And now put on some headphones and watch the rain fall for a little while.
After a bit of a hiatus due to workload we’re back, talking about coaching. We’ve got a few more episodes on the shelf and will schedule them over the next couple of weeks. If you can’t wait you can catch those by watching the unedited replay of our Facebook live recording sessions.
A series of exciting free content for coaches was also made available by the host and producer of the ACIC, The School of Positive Transformation:
In this excerpt, Professor Peter Hawkins (Chairman at Renewal Associates, Global Thought Leader in Coaching, Supervision and Systemic and Team Coaching as well as Emeritus Professor of Leadership at Henley Business School) introduces systemic coaching as part of his module on the structure and process of coaching.
In this excerpt, Professor David Clutterbuck (one of coaching and mentoring’s earliest pioneers, co-founder of and special ambassador to the European Mentoring and Coaching Council EMCC, and author of more than 70 books) talks about what goals are, the different kind of goals there are, why goals are important for coaches and how we can work with goals in life or business coaching in a way that’s conducive to the coaching process and without limiting our clients.
In this excerpt, Dr. Chérie Carter-Scott (Master Certified Coach, best-selling author, repeat guest on the Oprah Winfrey Show and known as “The Mother of Coaching” due to her pioneering work in the 1970s) talks about the coaching mindset and presents 12 ways to approach yourself, your clients and the world like a true coach.
In this excerpt, Master Trainer and CEO at Field, Devon White, is teaching you about clean language, desired states, the importance of being present and how to use communication skills to transform your coaching clients.
In this excerpt, Carolyn Freyer-Jones (Co-Founder and Lead Trainer at the CFJ Coaching Success School and long-standing trainer for Steve Chandler’s Coaching Prosperity School) shares how to create a successful coaching business through conversations – one conversation at a time.
- 9th Feb: Building Bridges Between Coaching and Psychotherapy – Society for Existential Analysis
- 18th Feb: Pub Psychology – The Psychology of COVID-42: What we’ve learned from Covid-19 and how to build resilience against future pandemics (with Dr. Joel Vos – Tickets only 5£ via MeetUp & Eventbrite)
- 24th Feb: An Introduction to Existential Coaching – Guest Lecture for the MSc Coaching Psychology at Birkbeck University of London
- 27th-28th Feb: Accredited Certificate in Positive Psychology for Coaches – Animas Centre for Coaching
- 2nd March: Coaching Lab 12 with Dr Nash Popovic – Be a fly on the wall for this Personal Consultancy/Integrative Coach-Therapy session (Tickets from 20£ via MeetUp & Eventbrite)
- A heads up that my Coaching Supervision Groups are going to open its doors at the beginning of March. If you are looking to join a group to hone your skills or build your business (or both), you can apply at http://bit.ly/SupervisionWithYannick.
- And an extra special THANK YOU to those who nominated me to speak at the next WBECS Summit. I was told I that I was by far the most nominated speaker this year (and mind you, they’ve had Simon Sinek and Rich Litvin on!) and I’m happy to announce that I’ll be speaking both at their free Summit on the 9th June as well as their paid Summit on 27th January 2022!.
Aaaaaaaand that’s it! If you’re reading this, I appreciate that you’re still with me and I hope you enjoyed reading my Nuggets. If you can’t get enough, I very sporadically upload past editions to my website’s blog. And again, if any of it resonates, make it swing! I’d love to hear from you 🙂
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