Business

coaching faq

Coaching: Frequently Asked Questions and Short Answers

Coaching: Frequently Asked Questions and Short Answers1280720Manolis Stratakis

What does a coaching session look like?

In essence, a personal coaching session is a systematic discussion between two people: the Coach and the Client. Coaches support their clients to think in an open, innovative and inspiring way. As a result, they will find better solutions to the problems they face. More importantly, they create important awareness.

Every session is a powerful experience. Usually, it is enjoyable although sometimes, it can be a bit tough. Coaching takes courage as a new, intense realization is not always pleasant. In any case, a successful session is not fading away in the next few hours. Most often, it will linger in our mind for days, weeks or even months, maturing and creating new awareness.

What kind of issues are discussed in a coaching session?

The potential topics to discuss in a coaching session are limitless. Any issue related to work, family, relationships or self-improvement is rightful and applicable.

Clients usually bring on the table:

  • a problem they are struggling with and seek the best solution
  • an aspect of their personality they would like to enlighten
  • a change or transformation they need to go over in an effective way
  • any complex situation would like to simplify
  • a business idea they want to implement, or
  • a new project they are planning

Our first concern is that the client becomes aware where they stand now and where they wish to be in the future. The second is finding how. That means, we identify all our options, and choose the best. The third is to start deploying our plan and secure its successful implementation.

What is the approach used in Coaching?

Coaching helps discover new knowledge about ourselves and our environment. It stirs our mind to find better solutions to our problems. Moreover, it equips us with new skills, to continue our journey through life in a more efficient and self-sustained manner.

The coach asks questions, doesn’t provide advice. Coaching creates awareness. Sheds light upon all invisible aspects. Clears a good part of our brain fog and this brings clarity. Provides inspiration and encouragement. Helps us understand the why which hides behind what and how. This increases abruptly our motivation.

coaching faq

Coaching is not therapy. It considers the person to be integral and naturally creative. The point is to find the best we can do, as we are. We focus more in building on our strong points and less in fixing our weaknesses.

Also, in coaching we are not so much interested in the past. We focus on the present and future. We create powerful awareness about who exactly we are and who we can become. Then, we look for ways to achieve this transformation.

How is a coaching session conducted?

It can be conducted over the telephone or via video-conference. It can take place in a park or during a nice walk. And of course, by meeting in person at the office, at home or in a quiet café. The place is not that important, as long as there is not a lot of noise or other distractions. We need to be calm and quiet, so we can help our mind operate to its fullest!

What is the Coach doing exactly?

Coaches act more as experienced conversationalists than experts. Initially, they will ask ample, targeted questions until they get the juice running. Subsequently, they shed light on unseen aspects or propose different viewpoints. They will not hesitate to bring the discussion out and away of the client’s comfort zone.

Good coaches avoid “knowing” what is right or wrong for their clients. They simply help them realize themselves what is right or wrong. The two of them, together, create valuable awareness, as of what works and what isn’t.

Finally, they create clarity and provide interesting food for thought until the next session.

How can I find an appropriate Coach for me?

The right choice of a Coach is very important for the successful course of coaching. To some degree, it is a matter of luck to find an appropriate coach right away. However, if you are not lucky, then you need to search patiently, until you find the one with whom you have the perfect chemistry. When you find him (or her), you will realize it straight away!

___________________________

Try to have a first, simple realization about your life, with the exercise in the article: Improve your Life Quality starting with the Cantril Ladder tool!

 

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Time management

Eisenhower’s Matrix: An essential time management tool

Eisenhower’s Matrix: An essential time management tool25601784Manolis Stratakis

Is the time in our day enough?

Time is one of the most democratic things on the planet. Not intelligence. Neither money. Not even health or beauty. Not happiness. Time! Everybody has 24 hours. If you think about it, time is our most important asset. We start off as babies, having all the time of the world and as we grow up we come to a point when every single minute of our day is occupied with something. Then we complain we don’t have time. Wrong! We still have 24 hours. But our day is now filled with stuff. Now, it’s time for.. time management!

The Matrix as a time management tool

“When you don’t have time, make time”. It may sound counter-intuitive, but perhaps it is a perfect advice. The Eisenhower Matrix is the tool we need to make time.

US General and President Eisenhower once said:

I have two kinds of problems: Urgent and Important.

What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important

Eisenhower Matrix

A common pattern in businesses but also in our personal life is that we often move insanely from one urgent matter to the next, having practically no time to attend to the important issues. Like a never-ending queue of urgent things which, no matter how many we complete, new ones continuously appear. We are at a constant war with a modern Lernaean Hydra. We cut one head and two new heads spring out of nowhere.

Let’s dive deep in time management

If we analyze the four areas of the Eisenhower matrix, it will immediately become clear how it will help us in our time management:

Quadrant 1: (Urgent and Important): Do First!

This is the most critical area, it contains tasks that are both urgent and important. These are “do first” tasks because they are critical for our life or career. Typical Q1 activities include important problems, deadlines and crises.

Quadrant 2: (Important, but Not Urgent): Schedule!

Here we place the tasks that are important, but not urgent. This is where we need to invest most of our time. These are usually our personal and professional long-term goals and activities relevant to the significant areas of our life like education, career, family, recreation or personal growth. Put these tasks in suspension until you find enough time to work on them carefully. Beware, these tasks may not be urgent, but if left neglected, sooner or later they become urgent.

Quadrant 3 (Not Important, but Urgent): Delegate!

If a task deserves to be in this quadrant, then you don’t deserve to perform it. It is most likely a distraction and you better pass it to someone else or postpone it. Many tasks appear to be urgent when actually they are not. Most messages and telephone calls fall into this category. If you answer every call or text you receive immediately, then you will not be able to do anything that requires undistracted attention. The same is true with business meetings. You don’t have to participate in every meeting you are invited, you can choose if you need to be present or not. A common source of Q3 activities is other people. Saying “no” politely or encouraging them to solve the problem themselves usually does the trick.

Quadrant 4: (Not Important, Not Urgent): Eliminate or Keep to a minimum!

These tasks that are neither important nor urgent are simply time wasters and they should be eliminated, or cut down to a minimum. If you drastically reduce the amount of time spent in quadrant 4 tasks, you will free up lots of precious time for your quadrant 1 or 2 tasks. Mindlessly watching television, playing games or surfing the web are only some of the typical ways for wasting time. This does not mean of course that watching a good movie or resting is a waste of time. We need to be very careful when distinguishing what is and what isn’t important for us.

Procrastination and time management

Sometimes, procrastination kicks in when we are not very clear about what is important or urgent. It causes confusion and leaves us standing still while trying to decide what to bring on the foreground next.

When you first try this tool, you may have some difficulty labeling your tasks. It may be frustrating and you may feel you are wasting your time. You are not wasting time, you are investing some of your precious time learning a great skill that will empower you with precious focus and self-awareness. It will save you way more time for the rest of your life.

_______

Increase your awareness by reading our article: Awareness Sharpening Games

 

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flow

How often do you experience Flow?

How often do you experience Flow?23512126Manolis Stratakis

The state of Flow

We have all been involved in activities where we have intense concentration and total commitment. During these activities we feel that we are very competent. We have complete control of the situation. Our skills operate to the fullest. The sense of time, as well as any negative emotions disappear. We are overwhelmed by a wonderful sense of transcendence. Whenever we have experience this situation, we are in a state of flow.

The phenomenon of flow, was first referenced by the psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi in 1990. He describes it as follows:

“the mental state of flow is being completely absorbed in an activity, for the activity itself and only. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement and thought inevitably follows the preceding, as if playing Jazz. Your whole being is involved, and you’re using your skills to the utmost”.

Our Growth, Stagnation and Flow zones

Stagnation zone

We all have to deal with various daily activities. Some of them are simple and easy. We have repeated them over many times, so they have become automatic. They do not pose any difficulty for us, so they often result in a loss of interest. Dealing with them may be comfortable, but we will soon find them boring. When we stay for long in our comfort zone, it will sooner or later transform into a stagnation zone.

Growth zone

There are some other tasks which are new to us, therefore unknown, or they may be familiar but tough. These tasks take us out of our comfort zone. Usually, they can cause discomfort, anxiety or fear. However, these are the ones that help us develop and grow. That’s where our growth zone is.

Flow zone

Finally, there are those tasks whose difficulty is almost matching our level of skill. When we are in this kind of activities, we are in heaven. We engage completely. Time disappears. We feel we are in absolute control. We can continue those activities for hours, without feeling hungry or thirsty.

Flow, therefore, is the mental state we experience, when we perform an activity, in which we are completely absorbed with a sense of active concentration and complete immersion, while enjoying the whole process.

Note that, it is not simply the balance between task difficulty and skill level which causes flow, but the balance in higher levels of difficulty and skill. In lower levels even when balance exists, we may be in a state of apathy or lack of interest.

Flow: the optimal experience

The Optimal experienceas Csikszentmihalyi named this mental state – usually occurs when a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits, in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile.

“Optimal experience, when flow is realized, is thus something we make happen”.

Flow’s eight mental states

The flow model recognizes eight emotional mental states:

  1. Apathy – there is no interest, we are apathetic
  2. Boredom – we are bored and maybe run-down
  3. Relaxation – we have a feeling of calmness, but also lack of excitement
  4. Worry – if our focus is on worry, our problems grow and become harder
  5. Control – we have a feeling of dominance. Our activity is hard, but we are in command of the situation
  6. Anxiety – if we are anxious, we may freeze or shut down
  7. Arousal – in this state we approach our surroundings more attentively
  8. Flow – we focus completely on the task or activity, leading to the most successful results

Generally, people who masterwork life, art, sports or a hobby, all have flow experiences. From the outside, it may seem like they are doing the task with great ease. However, if you look at it from within, they have completely devoted themselves to what they are doing in order to achieve this level of mastery.

The Order of Mind

The best state of our inner experience happens when there is order in our minds. For this to happen, we must have realistic goals and our skill level has to match the challenge. The pursuit of a goal brings order to a person’s consciousness, as they have to concentrate on the task at hand and forget about everything else. The times when we struggle to overcome various challenges are the happiest of our life. Thus, the persons investing in consciously chosen goals can only grow into higher beings.

Characteristics of Flow

We all had flow experiences, therefore it is not difficult to recognize some of their characteristics:

  1. We have clear, specific, demanding but feasible goals
  2. Our concentration is in the present moment and in the actual activity, with no room in mind for any other information
  3. The activity is intrinsically rewarding
  4. There is a sense of tranquility
  5. Usually time passes much faster than expected
  6. We have immediate feedback on the progress
  7. We feel a balance between the task difficulty and our skill level. There is a feeling of assertiveness and self-confidence
  8. There is a sense of control over the activity, with no worries about failure
  9. We lose awareness of our physical needs

Theoretically, athletes and artists are more likely to experience flow. However, flow can be hiding in simple everyday activities, like housekeeping or reading a good book.

Electronic games are probably the most characteristic example, as they lead to flow by design. This is the main reason they cause strong addiction to teenagers and adults.

The following skills can help us achieve a state of flow:

  • curiosity
  • interest in life
  • persistence
  • low ego

_______

Read also the article: Step out of your comfort zone to pursue personal growth and development

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How high is your Emotional Intelligence?

How high is your Emotional Intelligence?15871116Manolis Stratakis

Emotional Intelligence

EQ and IQ

According to the work of Daniel Goleman, Emotional Intelligence (EQ) contributes an 80% to success in life. On the other hand, IQ provides the rest 20%. Although none of them is considered fixed and permanent, Emotional Intelligence has the greater margins for growth. In other words, EQ can be trained. Let’s check the levels of our own EQ and see how we can improve it!

Exercise: Check your EQ

Below, you will find a list of qualities, people with high emotional intelligence demonstrate. Check which of those you possess and give them a mark from 1-10.

  1. [ ] ​Self-control and self-discipline
  2. [ ] Impulse control
  3. [ ] Openness, adaptation and embracing change
  4. [ ] Ability to perform under conditions of pressure
  5. [ ] Good understanding of own emotions
  6. [ ] Good understanding of the emotions of others
  7. [ ] Awareness of strengths and weaknesses
  8. [ ] Optimism
  9. [ ] Self-confidence
  10. [ ] Good communication skills
  11. [ ] Acceptance of criticism by other people
  12. [ ] Disagreeing without causing tension
  13. [ ] Offering constructive criticism
  14. [ ] Initiative taking
  15. [ ] Cultivating trust in relationships
  16. [ ] Self-motivation in order to reach goals
  17. [ ] Ability to lead and influence
  18. [ ] Resist prejudice
  19. [ ] Decisiveness
  20. [ ] Persuasion
  21. [ ] Patience
  22. [ ] Persistence
  23. [ ] Curiosity
  24. [ ] Ability to inspire others
  25. [ ] Cooperating without competing
  26. [ ] Teamworking
  27. [ ] Maintaining control in crisis situations
  28. [ ] Control impatience
  29. [ ] Ability to focus
  30. [ ] Acceptance of defeat and failure
  31. [ ] Listening before talking
  32. [ ] Acceptance of our weaknesses
  33. [ ] Personal and work ethics
  34. [ ] Ability to neutralize toxic people
  35. [ ] Giving without expecting
  36. [ ] Knowing when and feeling comfortable saying no
  37. [ ] Ability to slow down, disconnect and relax
  38. [ ] Quick recovery after a mistake or failure
  39. [ ] Robust emotional vocabulary
  40. [ ] Resist perfectionism

I have vs I want

Now, identify which skills you already have and which you want. Check those that you score high and those you score low. Then, write them down in two separate columns, as shown of the following table:

I have enough

I want to improve

1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
9.
10.

 

Lock the target

Finally, let’s lock the target. Make a special note of those which seem particularly appealing to you. That is, the ones you would like to see in your new version. You need to be clear about why you want them. Also, what will be the benefit of having them. If you know any people possessing these qualities, why not take them as role models?

Let this new realization linger in your mind for the days to come. As long as you keep it in your radar, you will surely find the ways to upgrade yourself.

___________

Also, see the article: Gratitude Jar: Empower your gratitude muscles!

 

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SMART goal setting

SMART goals: do you set Goals or exercise your Wishful Thinking?

SMART goals: do you set Goals or exercise your Wishful Thinking?25601784Manolis Stratakis

Set your goals SMART

Sometimes we believe we have placed goals in our life, while if they are not SMART, we are only doing some wishful thinking.

The SMART goal setting methodology can help ensure that our goals are actually… goals! It states that every goal, should have all the following characteristics:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound

Therefore, setting a SMART goal involves thorough thinking of each of the above five factors. This is done by identifying the key questions and finding the right answers. We need to be clear about what we want to achieve, by when and how we will know if we have succeeded.

SMART goal setting

Ask powerful questions

In order to pass successfully through the SMART filter, we will have to answer questions like the following:

Specific

  • What is the objective that needs to be accomplished?
  • Who are involved and who is responsible?
  • What intermediate steps need to be made?
  • Are there any prerequisites?

Measurable

  • How much?
  • How many?
  • What % improvement do we expect?
  • In what quantitative ways shall we know that we have succeeded?

Achievable

  • Is it attainable?
  • Is it realistic?
  • Are we aiming too high or too low?
  • In what qualitative ways shall we know that we have succeeded?

Relevant

  • In what ways is the goal significant or meaningful?
  • Is it worthwhile?
  • How important is it?
  • Is it backed up by enough resources?
  • Are we motivated enough to pursue this goal?
  • Is the timing favorable?

Time-bound

  • Have we set a deadline?
  • Can we set any intermediate checkpoints to help us monitor our progress?

Why not set your goals SMARTER?

Our place in life changes daily, the same is true with our needs and wishes. Consequently, every so often it is good to evaluate and review our goals.

Therefore, our goals will be even more attainable if they become SMARTER:

  • Evaluated
  • Reviewed

Ask a few more powerful questions

Evaluated

  • What will need to be evaluated?
  • How shall we evaluate our progress?

Reviewed

  • What phases are suitable to perform a review?
  • How do we review our goal if we are over or under?

In conclusion, if you think you have set some goals without having applied the SMART filter, think again. Most probably they are not goals. They are simply wishes!

__________________

See also our article: Eisenhower’s Matrix: An essential time management tool

 

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learning stages

The four stages of Learning. Learn how.. you learn!

The four stages of Learning. Learn how.. you learn!34082381Manolis Stratakis

The Four Stages of Learning

The Knowledge Ladder

Unconscious Ignorance

Our learning process goes through four stages. In the initial stage, the Unconscious Ignorance, something is completely unknown to us. We are not even aware of its existence. For example, you do not know that there exists a particular type of insect deep in the Amazon Forest. Then a friend mentions about this insect and tells you its name. It’s called examplinsect.

Conscious Ignorance

You just entered the next learning stage which is that of Conscious Ignorance. You know this insect exists, you know its name, but still you have no idea about it. Here you have some awareness. You know that you don’t know anything about it.

Knowledge Ladder

Conscious Knowledge

A few weeks later, you happen to watch a documentary about wildlife and you learn a lot of things about the examplinsect, its colors, what it eats, where it lives, how it mates, etc. You have just moved into the third stage, that of Conscious Knowledge, in which you will remain for a while.

Unconscious Knowledge

If you find all this stuff interesting you may seek more information resources about the examplinsect in the web, in books, etc. This will reinforce your knowledge and let you move to the final stage, that of Unconscious Knowledge. In that stage you no longer put any effort to refresh your memory. All – or most – information is retrieved easily when required.

The Competence Ladder

Unconscious Incompetence

The same goes with competence and skill. There was a time when you were very young, when you first saw a bicycle. Before that moment you were in the stage of Unconscious Ignorance or Unconscious Incompetence (you didn’t know there were bicycles and even more you didn’t know how to ride one).

Conscious Incompetence

At the very moment you saw your first bicycle, you entered the stage of Conscious Incompetence. You learned that there is this magical toy called a bicycle and some people actually know how to play with it. But you were not one of those people.

Conscious Competence

Months went by, your birthday comes and your father walks in carrying a big box. Guess what? A little bicycle! Wait, you need to be careful! Remember you are still in Stage 2. You unbox the bicycle and you find that you can sit on it with no prior knowledge. Well done, you are getting there! Then you try to push the pedals but that’s a bit confusing, isn’t it? You press with both feet and nothing happens. Progressively you figure it out. Practice makes perfect! In a few days you are unstoppable. You can move around the furniture of the house with remarkable agility. Congratulations, you have entered into the third stage of learning, that of Conscious Competence.

While in this stage, you know you can ride a bicycle but still you need to think before you perform certain actions like turning, braking or balancing. And then when you go out in the street or in the park, there are new challenges to face like uphill and downhills, pedestrians, mud puddles, other bicycles, cats and dogs, or even cars and lorries.

Unconscious Competence

But if you keep riding your bicycle and get out of your comfort zone often, it is a matter of time to master it. At that point you don’t have to think before braking or turning. It just happens automatically and effortlessly. Balancing on the bike has become your second nature. You are now into the last step of the competence ladder, you are equipped with the superpowers of Unconscious Knowledge and Unconscious Competence.

Summary of learning stages

Stage 1: We are Unconsciously Unskilled – we don’t know that we don’t have this skill, or that we need to learn it. We don’t know that we don’t know.

Stage 2: We are Consciously Unskilled – we know that we don’t have this skill. We know that we don’t know.

Stage 3: We are Consciously Skilled – we know that we have this skill. We know that we know.

Stage 4: We are Unconsciously Skilled – we don’t know that we have this skill (it seems too easy). We don’t know that we know.

__________

See also: Increase your awareness by reading our article: Awareness Sharpening Games

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ikigai

Ikigai: Find the real reason you exist in life!

Ikigai: Find the real reason you exist in life!25601784Manolis Stratakis

The reason for being

Ikigai is a Japanese concept, meaning the reason for being. It’s a great tool to provide us with the desired clarity in order to understand what we want to do in life, what exactly is our right place in the society. It takes a while, but it surely works!

How do I find my own ikigai? Start by making four lists with what:

  1. you love to do
  2. you are good at
  3. can bring you money
  4. people need

ikigai

Let’s dive in

Now, let’s check the intersections:

Passion

1+2 is what you love doing and you are good at it. That’s your passion.

Profession

2+3 is what you are good at and it can bring money. This can be your profession.

Vocation

3+4 is what can bring money and people need it. This can be a vocation.

Mission

4+1 is what people need and you love to do it. That’s your mission.

Let’s now look at it in a bit more depth

1+2+3: You are good at it, you love it, it brings money but the world doesn’t really need it. You receive a lot of satisfaction but you also get a feeling of uselessness.

2+3+4: You are good at it, it brings money, people need it, but you don’t really love it. You are comfortable doing it, but you get a feeling of emptiness.

3+4+1: It brings money, people need it, you love it, but your skills are not yet developed at an adequate level, so you are not good at it. You feel excitement and complacency but you also feel some uncertainty.

4+1+2: The world needs what you are doing, you are good at it and you love it, but it doesn’t bring enough money. You feel delight and fullness but there is no wealth.

1+2+3+4: Ikigai. Here is your sweet spot. Even if you have only one thing common in all your 4 lists, then that’s your ikigai, your reason for being. That’s your ideal place in life!

Self-reflection questions

If you have not found your ikigai yet, do not worry! There is still hope. You just need to do a little more work:

  1. Locate where you stand right now
  2. What is missing?
  3. Which direction do you need to move?
  4. What do you need to do in order to get there?
  5. What obstacles stand in your way?
  6. How can you overcome them?

By answering the questions above, you will probably get enough clarity in order to be able to move towards the center of the diagram soon and identify your ideal place in life. If you fail the first time, don’t quit. Just try it for a few more times until you succeed!

________________

See also our article on: Learn about how.. you learn!

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