Learning from Our Mirrors


On Mondays I care for my infant grandson while my daughter is at work. It took me some time and some head wrapping to decide that yes, I could arrange my business and my work in a way that makes sense for all. I had some ideas about the benefits that would be afforded me by adopting a slower pace and entering a place where the entire goal is love and nurturing. What I didn’t see coming were the ways in which this time would actually help my business.

I don’t plan any phone calls for Monday except one group call of professional coaches that meets each week. The purpose of the call is mostly listening and occasional contribution, so it works regardless of if Khai Con is awake or asleep. Today I happened to find myself lying on the floor with the baby as my colleagues shared strategies, ideas, and questions.

Khai Con was on lying on his nifty little baby mat, complete with all kinds of squishy and spinning toys hanging over his head. He loves to lie there, reach, and look. He especially loves to stare overhead. Today I lay down next to him to see what he stares at so intently, and I saw there is a mirror directly above him. He is looking at himself!

I watched him and realized that as he gazes into that mirror, he is learning about himself. He is becoming familiar with who he is. He is beginning to make the connections, ever so slightly, between how he moves and what happens in that mirror. And as I was watching him, I realized how often I glance in a mirror but look away quickly and how infrequently I spend time gazing directly into my reflection to see how I show up.

This experience got me thinking about how much time and energy we spend trying to learn about ourselves by looking at others instead of learning by looking at ourselves. We evaluate others reactions to emotions—to fears and joys—instead of studying our own. It really highlighted for me how little attention we pay to clearly seeing what triggers us, how we operate under stress, and how it impacts those around us.

As a coach, I am aware that there is a belief that self-discovery and growth is “women’s work.” And before the fall of 2016, I’d have agreed. But I’m seeing a shift. The last six clients who’ve come to me are men seeking to learn more about how they show up under stress and how it impacts their team and ultimately the achievement of their business goals. I’m so honored that these men decided to trust me to walk with them through this journey. I love how open they are to the idea that the quickest way to move the dial toward better business success is to take a look at what you can control, shift, and how you intentionally show up and lead.

So how do I help them hold up that mirror for themselves? It is far less touchy feeling than you might think and much more structured. My process comes from working with hundreds of clients who all were seeking the same thing: more easeful interactions, more successful communication, and more joy in doing their business. Together we work through a sequence of intentional and meaningful activities, all customized specifically to their business goals and objectives.

We start with a session that is focused on determining the top three goals for your business and for yourself in the coming year. I really push here because it always amazes me how many people don’t have specific goals they want to achieve. To me that’s like taking a rowboat down to the ocean, loading your team in it, and then saying, “Okay, let’s paddle. Let’s paddle hard. And when all our energy is spent, we’ll just see where we are!”  Really?

Next we conduct one or more simple and fun assessments, which in most cases empowers others in the group with an opportunity to provide feedback. This is a 360˚ style evaluation. This tool, a DiSC instrument, combines the feedback from a sampling that can include peers, direct reports, managers, clients, or others, into a report rich with valuable information that speaks to leadership tendencies, strengths, blindspots, and areas of growth.

When we overlay the rich learning from this report with the goals the client identified early on and then align them with where they want to take their business, our coaching process is not only clear but right on target to help us move quickly and effectively.

Based on the breadth and depth of goals, we can also add in communication training, team development work, and milestone assessments to determine how they are moving toward achieving business goals.  These milestone assessments give you real-time information so you can determine if you want to make shifts, add energy somewhere, or let go of something that is no longer relevant.

And if you are worried that this type of coaching work makes you appear weak to your staff, consider the following: As I was doing some confidential interviews with a new client’s operation team members recently, one of the staff said, “I’m so grateful that he is so open to looking at where he can improve so we can all improve. Not every boss is this confident and open. I have so much respect for him.”  Wow!

Are there places you’d like your business to grow and improve? Increased revenue? More clients? Increased efficiency and communication? Hiring the right talent? Increase margin and decrease expenses? The answers may be in the mirror. Contact me and let's take a look!