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How To Get More Referral Business

(category: Coaching, Word count: 886)
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Word of mouth is one of the most effective ways to grow your coaching business. It's free, or at most costs very little, yet very few coaches use it to anywhere near it's potential!

Consider this: if you got just one referral from each one of your clients, over the next 60 days you'd double your client base! What would that mean to your potential income and how many more people would you be helping in supportive and uplifting ways?

So, how do you maximize word of mouth? Here are 5 Steps you can take now...

1. Really appreciate your clients and let them know consistently you value them

This is the most important, yet overlooked element of creating endless referrals. Many businesses focus more on profits than on people. Focusing on profits alone can be detrimental to success and 'Word of Mouth' success comes from looking beyond just profit into how you can enrich your customer's lives.

Action: At least once a month, take the time to communicate to each of your clients and show them you appreciate them. Send them something of value, something unexpected, a bonus report, a special piece of news you just found. Make it relevant to them and do it regularly.

2. Create an exceptional experience each time they deal with you or your company

If you can make doing business with you an exceptional experience, your clients will want to tell a lot of people. People want amazing experiences!

Here is an example: There is a Life Coach in Brisbane who has a special relationship with a city coffee shop. Once every 8 weeks he invites his clients to a 'brains trust' meeting and the coffee and cake is on the house. Every client that attends gets a card and a voucher from the coffee shop owner to say 'Thank you for joining us today, we would love to see you again soon'. The voucher is a 'buy one get one free' coffee voucher. So they are encouraged to come back again. And because the coffee shop owner is exposing his business to potential new clients the coach pays just cost price on the coffee and cake his clients eat. Normally about 8 clients attend and the cost is around $30. Just a little extra touch can make dealing with your business that much more of an exceptional experience!

Action: What can you do now to add little things that make an exceptional experience? Perhaps you can use the above example or something similar. Remember, start creating exceptional experiences today.

3. Give your customers incentives for giving you referrals

If you're being passive about referrals then you're sitting on a gold-mine. Come up with ways of rewarding your clients for referring business to you. They could receive free gifts, such as a 30 minute back massage voucher for referring a friend or a free Style Cut from an award winning beauty salon. The businesses involved would welcome the opportunity to have new clients come their way and would be happy to give that first style cut or treatment for free if they understand the potential value of a new customer.

Action: Reward your clients for referring people to you. Come up with rewards that will be beneficial to your clients. If you worked with executive clients perhaps a free 30 minute health check at a trusted health centre would be valuable or a voucher to use at an upmarket clothing boutique.

4. Make it easy for clients to give you referrals

If you want to get lots of referrals, you must make it incredibly easy for your clients to tell their friends. Don't expect them to go way out of the way to help you grow your business. Make it as simple as possible.

Action: Develop a 'referral package' that you give to your clients. Ask your clients to be an ambassador for your business as you wish to work with people similar to them. The package would include a letter explaining why referrals are important to you, and a series of referral cards that your client can give out to others. Present it professionally and it will hold more value, more worth.

5. Ask at the right time!

When is the best time to ask for referrals? Any time! If you have followed the steps listed've let clients know they are appreciated, you've made dealing with you an exceptional experience, you give them an incentive to share your message with friends and you make it easy for them to do can ask for referrals at any time.

Action: The key is to do something now. Draft up a letter or e-mail today and just send it off to your clients letting them know how much you value them, who much you have enjoyed working with them in the past and include something that is going to be helpful, useful for them to use, read or understand. Then over the next 4 to 6 weeks develop your 'referral package' and start to use it. Take yourself out of your comfort zone and take action....because if you don't someone will and what will that mean to your business in the years to come.

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Are You Addicted To Your Activities

(category: Coaching, Word count: 775)
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Activities - such as sports, creative projects, reading, work, TV, meditation - can be a wonderful way to relax, express yourself, or connect to yourself. Or they can be an addiction. How can you know the difference?

* Angie would surf the channels whenever she felt stressed or alone.

* Karen would lose herself in a book when things felt overwhelming.

* Keith would retreat and meditate when his wife wanted to talk.

* Patty's work schedule left her little time at home.

* Carl spent more time in the garage fixing things than with his family.

* Patrick's love of running was interfering with his family time.

Whether or not an activity is an addiction depends upon your INTENT.

* When the intent of an activity is to avoid the pain of aloneness and loneliness, it is an addiction.

* When the intent of an activity is to avoid the pain of rejection or the fear of domination, it is an addiction.

* When the intent of an activity is to put off doing something you don't really want to do but need to do, it is an addiction.

Whenever an activity is used as a way to avoid something - painful feelings, difficult or boring tasks - it becomes an addiction. It's really no different than using substances such alcohol, drugs, or food to avoid painful feelings or challenging tasks. The problem with using addictions to avoid painful feelings is that the feelings don't actually go away. They are just numbed for the moment but are silently eroding one's sense of self. We can get away with it only for so long before it shows up in some way - illness, divorce, depression, and so on. And avoiding tasks means that the tasks pile up, eventually causing the very stress we want to avoid. Our society is filled with ways to avoid. Yet it is avoidance that leads to the very feelings we are striving to avoid!

When the intent of an activity is to take loving care of yourself by providing yourself with fun, creativity and expression, relaxation, personal growth, spiritual growth, physical health and well-being, then it is a loving action rather than an addiction. It all depends on your INTENT.

Next time you want to participate in your favorite activity, you might want to notice your intent. Do you want to relax and watch TV or are you avoiding some difficult feeling or task? Do you find yourself scheduling more work than you can really handle to avoid dealing with aloneness, loneliness, or conflict with a mate, or are you really loving your work and feeling fulfilled by it? Are you exercising to support your health or to avoid feelings?

Once you become aware of using an activity to avoid, here's what you can do about it:

1. Welcome the feeling you are trying so hard to avoid. Pay attention to the feeling - fear, loneliness, aloneness, agitation, boredom, anxiety.

2. Make a decision to learn what YOU might be doing to cause this feeling rather than continuing to avoid it.

3. Explore what you might be doing to cause this feeling. How are you not taking care of yourself that is causing your painful feeling? Are you procrastinating, judging yourself, or not standing up for yourself in conflict? How are you avoiding responsibility for your own well-being? Are you allowing yourself to be a victim, waiting for someone else to make you feel better?

4. Once you understand what you are doing to cause your distress, then you need to ask "What would be the loving action for myself?" You are asking this question of your highest self, or of your spiritual guidance if you are connected with a source of guidance. If you open to learning about what is loving, ideas will pop into your mind.

5. Now you need to take the loving action on your own behalf - complete a task, stand up for yourself and speak your truth with someone, and so on.

6. Re-evaluate how you are feeling. Are you feeling more peaceful and more powerful? You will feel more peaceful if you have taken the loving action. If you are not feeling better, don't just turn back to your addictions. Look for another loving action until you find what really makes you feel safe on a deep level, not just the temporary pacification of an addiction.

You will find your addictions fading away as you learn to take loving care of yourself.

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Why Advice Giving Is Not Advisable

(category: Coaching, Word count: 713)
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Often in our interactions with family and friends, problems being encountered would inevitably be brought up. Inevitably too, in trying to be helpful, we often react by giving advice on how to solve the problem.

However, this is generally not recommended, for the following reasons:

We assume we know what the problem is and forget to be a listener, to find out enough details about the problem and the other person's point of view.

We forget to extend empathy to the woes of the other person.

We get 'credit' for being the one to give the advice since the advice is likely to be something that the adviser has done or others have done that was successful. So if the listener does not succeed or had done it before but it was not successful, the implication is that it is not because the advice was not good, but the listener has not applied it well. This tends to make the advisee feel stupid and incompetent.

When we give advice, we're talking 'down' to the other person as we become the 'expert'. We're so eager to talk and show our knowledge and 'wisdom' that we do not interact at an 'equal' level with the other person. We take on the position of 'expert' and might tend to forget that the other person also has knowledge to share with us.

We are giving the message that we think the person cannot work out the solution himself. This is disempowering for the other person.

We belittle the efforts that have been taken by the person. We become the evaluator of what the person has done rather than helping him/her to self-evaluate.

Example of Advice Giving:

A: Jolyn and I are having problems. We have been having more quarrels lately.

B:Hmm... I'm always thought both of you were not suitable for each other. (B is getting credit for his prediction. B is not asking questions to find out more about A's problems)

A:Well, we were getting along pretty well. But I've been very busy with work recently and haven't had time to go out with her. She feels I'm spending too much time on work.

B:It shows she does not understand you (B is assuming he knows what the problem is). Maybe you should break up with her (advice giving, implying A cannot work out a solution). It could be a blessing in disguise.

A:I'd be miserable. Don't know what I'd do without her.

B:You'll get over it (B is not extending empathy to A). I did too when I broke up with Doris 2 years ago. (B is giving himself credit)

A:I sent her roses to make up but it doesn't seem to work.

B:I don't think that will work with her (evaluating what A has done). Since she wants time with you, just put aside your work and make time for her.

A:I have deadlines to meet.

B:Well, you have to decide what you want (this is not likely to be helpful to A's dilemma and might make him feel stupid and incompetent instead.)

Using Questions in conversations is generally more helpful as it helps the other person think through the issues that they have. Example is this conversation below:

A: Jolyn and I are having problems. We have been having more quarrels lately.

B:I'm sorry to hear that (extending empathy). Would you like to tell me more about it? (being a listener, to find out details of problem)

A:I've been really busy with my work and haven't had time to go out with her. She feels I'm spending too much time on work.

B:Has it always been this way with your work?

A:No, it's these recent two months because of a big project. Deadlines to meet and other work pressures....

B:Must be tough on you.... (extending empathy to A and indirectly giving credit to A for holding up)

A:Yah... but I do need to make time for Jolyn... I have been working too hard. I should ease up a bit (self evaluation). I think I'll send her some flowers afterward and then call her for a dinner date tomorrow. (coming up with his own solutions)

B:All the best ...


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Transformational Counseling

(category: Coaching, Word count: 2757)
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Transformational Counseling is a process of assisting others to transform their lives. Transformational Counseling is a process of assisting others in their reinventing themselves, of creating a life that they love and living it powerfully. Transformational Counseling is a process of creating a space for others to get present to or become aware of their self limiting belief, to create or invent a possibility for themselves and their life that could not have existed before and to learn how to be in their possibilities as opposed to being that which has always stopped them in the past.

The development of transformational counseling has been the result of my work in counseling, psychotherapy, coaching, hypnosis, neuro linguistic programming, the work of Louise Hay and especially Landmark Education. To understand and be able to utilize the technology of Transformational Counseling with others, of being able to make a true difference in another person's life, requires that one understand or get certain concepts or distinctions about what it is to be a human being and reality itself. While the distinctions of Transformational Counseling are initially presented separately, it is in their practice or communication with another that a true synergy is reached and it's potential or power actualized for the client. For the counselor as well as the client the synergistic learnings that take place within Transformational Counseling is nonlinear in nature.

The clients that I work with are all experiencing a loss of power, freedom and full self-expression in one or many of the various domains of their life. The clients that I see are all being stopped in living a life that they love and living it powerfully. If they continue being as they have been being nothing will change, life will be as it has always been. They will remain stuck and unable to reach their true potential in life. The clients that I coach or counsel know that something needs to be different in their life but are unsure of what that something is all about, of what is not working, of what is missing, of what needs to happen. It is in assisting a client to discover or become present to that which has been causing their depression, sadness, anger, frustration, etc. and to learn how to create a new way of being that the work of Transformational Counseling is all about.

One of the fundamental distinctions of Transformational Counseling is that our thoughts are very important, if not the most important component of what it is to be a human being. We tend to believe that the external world, or what we commonly believe to be reality, is that which is truly important. As a result of such a belief, we are constantly engaged in trying to change something in the external world, constantly believing that this type of activity will bring us true happiness and contentment in our life. Within Transformational Counseling, it is our thoughts or thinking that is of immense importance to us and our process of living. It is our thoughts and thinking patterns that literally shape or determine our feelings, behavior, experiences and our reality. More specifically, it is our thoughts that we have about ourselves that tends to create or shape our experiences, that forms the background of our life and our sense of reality. It is from the thoughts that we initially create about ourselves that we subsequently develop into a belief about who we think we are, our self-image, of how we define our very being and it is from this belief that we live our life. A belief is merely a thought that we think is true or real, that expresses some sense of ontology.

Inside the conversation of Transformational Counseling it is also important to understand that we are truly responsible for the thoughts that we have, including and especially those that we have about ourselves. We literally invent or create all of our thoughts including those that we have about ourselves and with them our feelings and behaviors. To truly get our responsibility in how we create our experiences or reality is to also get how we create or invent all of our thoughts about ourselves and with it our reality. Reality itself has no meaning outside of what we give it. We are, as human beings, meaning making machines, beings that wrap meaning around everything in our life, including and most importantly about ourselves. Being responsible for our thoughts, getting it that we create them, is completely different from the experience of guilt or blame. It is not that we are to blame for our experiences but merely that we do create what we think about ourselves, who we think we are, how we feel about ourselves and how the world appears to us. There is a distinction between responsibility and blame or guilt.

What we tend to think about ourselves has at its core what can be referred to as our self-limiting belief. The self-limiting belief is a thought that we have about who we think we are, that defines our identity at its core, a belief that was developed between the ages of three to six approximately. During this time frame in our journey through life something happened, an event took place and it is from that event that we developed or created a thought or belief about ourselves. The original event is not so much of importance as the fact that we created a belief about ourselves, a belief that has actually limited us in life. The self-limiting belief is a sense of inadequacy, an idea or thought that something is wrong with us, that something is broken. Once this self-limiting belief is created or invented we tend to live our lives as if it were true. Our self-limiting belief is a fundamental, core belief that we have about ourselves, about who we think we are, that creates our feelings about ourselves, affects our behavior and determines our experiences.

Our self-limiting belief affects our behavior in that we are constantly trying to fix it. For example, if ones self-limiting belief is that the individual is "not enough", that person will constantly try to be "enough", constantly be doing things to compensate for what or who they think they are. While an individual is constantly attempting to fix it, the self-limiting belief is also in the process of fulfilling upon itself, of becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy, of causing the person to be "not enough." Given the fact that ones self-limiting belief is hidden from them, from their view, we are not aware of its existence or its affect on our life, of its influence or impact on our life. Even though it is not true, not real, we believe it to be so and as a result the self limiting belief is that which keeps us stuck, keeps us living in the past, prevents us from living a life that we love and living it powerfully. Our self-limiting belief is in a very real sense our personal affirmation, an affirmation that is embedded in our "self talk", an affirmation that determines how we tend to feel about ourselves, an affirmation that guides and determines our behavior in life, that defines our very way of being and how we appear to the world.

The first goal of Transformational Counseling is to assist an individual in becoming present to his or her self-limiting belief, of bringing it into ones awareness. It is this distinction or awareness of ones self-limiting belief that is crucial to his or her transformation. Without such awareness ones future will be as it has been, will be what can be referred to as the "probable almost certain future". Without such awareness, ones future will merely be the past and even with a constant attempt on the individual's part to fix the self-limiting belief, his or her life will merely be to continue with its fulfillment and actualization in their experiences and life. Awareness of ones self limiting belief can be gotten by the person experiencing its genesis or the originating event and with it the belief that the person invented or created about themselves at that time. An individual can also become present to the self-limiting belief by monitoring his or her spoken word. The self-limiting belief exists in our language, in the words we say or speak. Mirror work will also facilitate this type of awareness as ones self-limiting belief exists inside the feelings that one will become present as the individual observes his or her image. Regression can also be utilized to assist one in getting the genesis of his or her self-limiting belief.

Once one becomes present to his or her self-limiting belief, the opportunity then exists, possibly for the first time in the person's life, to invent a possibility for his or her life, to begin to reinvent his or her life anew. An individual's possibility is how that person will be in the present, free of the constraints or barriers of the past, a creation from nothing. Within Transformational Counseling, an individual's possibility is a new or different way of thinking about himself or herself, of who they are, of who they will be. Like the individual's self-limiting belief, a person's possibility is a personal affirmation or declaration. Like a person's self limiting belief, an individual's possibility also exists in language, and once generated by the individual, will begin to create or invent his or her experiences and sense of reality through the power of his or her thoughts and word. Unlike a person's self limiting belief, an individual's possibility will allow him or her to create a life that they truly love and be able to live it powerfully.

The third component of Transformational Counseling has to do with the individual learning what Landmark Education refers to as the process of enrollment. Given that a person will either live life as his or her possibility or their self-limiting belief, there will be a tendency for a person to go back to or stay in his or her self-limiting belief. This is what is very familiar to us, that is, being our self-limiting belief in our daily life. Learning the process of enrollment will assist the individual in being able to get out of his or her self-limiting belief and back into their possibility. When we have a breakdown, we have gone back into being our self-limiting belief and as we do so will truly experience a loss of power, freedom and full expression that is from the past. It is in our breakdowns that we are being inauthentic, that the self-limiting belief becomes hidden again. The process of enrollment allows the person to become authentic about how he or she has been being inauthentic, to again become present to his or her self-limiting belief, and in the process to continue generating his or her possibility or invent a new one for themselves and their life.

The implementation or practice of Transformational Counseling with a client takes place inside a conversation about integrity. Integrity is simply planning your work and working your plan. Clients are encouraged to develop a written plan, a plan for their daily life. A written plan allows the client to take on creating or reinventing themselves and their life in a new way that supports their wellness. Implementing ones plan also allows them to confront that which has always stopped them in the past. As clients begin the process of fulfilling on their plan, of working it, of living the life that they desire, they will have a tendency to get stopped, to have a breakdown and as they do so will develop an inauthenticity, living life as they once did, from the backdrop of the self-limiting belief. It is in working with a client and his or her plan through the enrollment process that he or she has the opportunity to learn how to get out of their self-limiting belief and back into their possibility and truly transform their life. For the client the process of enrollment is the practice of continuing to experience a true sense of power, freedom and full self-expression. It is through staying in and working with ones integrity that a person will have the opportunity to stay committed to living a life that they love and living it powerfully.

The conversations that take place with a client are conducted within the language used through my personal training and development with Landmark Education. These conversations are done so by design. While it is important for a client to begin to act and behave differently, it is crucial that they begin to think differently too. The language used in Landmark Education is unfamiliar and tends to create a space, at least initially, of confusion. This confusion acts as a pattern disruption for the client, causing him or her to start to seriously question what is being said, the meaning of the conversation. It is through this confusion and questioning by the client that they will have the opportunity to become present to their very thought process, to that which has been the true cause in the matter for them, to that which has been creating their experiences and their sense of reality, especially as it applies to how they have been thinking about themselves, the basis of how they have been being and way of life.

As the client begins to live a life of transformation it is also important that the counselor or coach be very present to the client's tendency to acknowledge or thank them for their assistance. As a counselor or coach I let the client know that I can not fix or help them, that they must do this work if they are to live a life that they love and live it powerfully. In my work with clients I make a stand for the client to assume total and complete responsibility with true empowerment as the goal. To step over the client acknowledging the coach or counselor is essentially the same as encouraging a client to use a blame pattern. As with blaming, thanking another for this type of work does not allow the client to truly get it that he or she is the cause in the matter and in both instances the client will not experience his or her true sense of power, freedom and full self expression. The client is truly responsible for transforming their life and it is vital to the process that they get this completely.

Transformational Counseling is an extremely powerful technique for assisting others in making a true difference in their life. For a client it is a gradual awakening to that which has truly been the cause in the matter, to that which has created and shaped their thoughts, feelings, behavior, experiences and sense of reality. To assist a client in being able to stand in their possibility, of being the possibility of "acceptance, freedom and creativity", as opposed to their self-limiting belief, of being "not enough", will allow that individual to live a life that they love and live it powerfully. When used in conjunction with other techniques, such as mirror work, positive affirmations, therapeutic relaxation music, self-hypnosis and NLP patterns, a space is created for a client to transform his or her life forever.

In addition to learning the fundamental distinctions and process of Transformational Counseling, it is also important for the counselor or coach to have an experiential understanding of this technology. To truly make a stand for a client and be able to make a difference for another will necessitate that the counselor have gotten his or her self-limiting belief, have invented new possibilities for himself or herself and also to have learned the process of enrollment. Being able to assist another in the process of transformation can only be achieved when the counselor or coach is in his or her own personal transformation. For me this journey started when I enrolled in the Landmark Forum. It was through experiencing the Forum and the curriculum that followed that the process of transformation began for me as a counselor and more importantly as a human being. Within the conversation of transformation we are merely human beings assisting other human beings to transform their lives, to live a life that they love and to live it powerfully.

Harry Henshaw, Ed. D., LMHC

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That Little Bit Extra

(category: Coaching, Word count: 442)
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The "little bit extra" is a very powerful concept to put into practice today in every aspect of your life. The difference between being ordinary and being extraordinary is that little bit EXTRA. The little bit extra is what separates average performers from CHAMPIONS!

In a sales process, the little bit extra is that one extra follow-up call, that extra sincere thank-you or the extra little bit of energy that you put into the presentation of your business. This will separate you from your competition. You can either go through the motions of your business or you can give that little bit extra in order to cement yourself in the mind of your potential customer. We all can relate to purchasing a product/service from someone who just gave you a little bit extra attention than their competitor did and THAT is the reason we bought from THEM!

When I personally coach someone, one of my key strategies is to move them to become champions in their field. One of the easiest ways is to show them the value of what a little extra eye contact with their prospects or customers brings. You need to look your prospect or customer directly in their eyes when you are presenting your business! This drives into them your confidence and conviction about what you and your product/service have to offer them. When I coach people, I tell them that the eye contact strategy alone will take them two steps ahead of their competition.

Remember, people will feed off your confidence from the look in your eyes. As you progress in your journey towards fulfilling your WHY, you need to constantly give that little extra! The true sign of a champion-to-be is just when it seems impossible for him/her to give that extra push; they dig deep down and give that little bit extra to fulfill their WHY! When I speak to groups, I train them to have the mindset of always giving a little bit more than their competitor. Over the long run, it will pay off big! A small improvement over a long period of time will produce outstanding results.

Now that you know the benefit of giving that little bit of extra effort, you need to ask yourself a question..."What can I do today and every day with a little more effort to move me to the champion level in my field?" You need to realize someone will be the champion in your chosen endeavor. Let me ask you a question, "Why not you?"

See you at the top!

Find your WHY and Fly!

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Her Cries For Help Are Real

(category: Coaching, Word count: 689)
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Throughout my dealings with women from all over the world, I have met so many that are in a prison of pain and frustration. Through my website, they search desperately for a way out of this prison. They want so desperately to be heard.

Her Cries for help are genuine.She is not inventing her worries, nor is she so bored with her life that she is imagining things and creating her own miseries.

Her Cries for help are misinterpreted as nonsensical emotions. They are even viewed as insecurities. Some even become very defensive towards, "Her Cries for Help", and take it as a personal attack of mistrust.

Her Cries for Help, are not without reason. How can anyone actually believe that a person would deliberately cause so much upheaval in a love relationship over and over again? Who has the issues there? I have to wonder sometimes, exactly who is being deliberate?

These women are in constant conflict with uncontrollable emotions. They not only have to try to disconnect from their own person within, but they have to try to interpret them to an outsider and can only hope that person can hear, "Her Cries for Help", through her words.

These women are in need of an understanding that it is not them. This ugly reaction is a serious attempt to reach out to you for help. When something occurs time and time again, do you not start to wonder if maybe there is something more to her reaction than just what's on the surface? Surely a person that claims to love, cherish, and endure all negative and positive would know that the love of their life is in some kind of turmoil that she cannot escape. So then why do you assume everything from PMS, to mistrust? Is it not so obvious that she is not willingly hurting your relationship? Is it not obvious that she is in a hold of some kind that is controlling her? Can you not see how much, seeing you in confusion is tearing her apart piece by piece? Do you not think that she knows her reactions are causing a wall separating your ability to reach out to her?

Pretend for one moment that you are gagged and hand tied and someone else is speaking and acting for you. You can see them and you can hear what they are saying, but cannot do anything about it. You can see your loved one suffering from the intruders acts. Your guts are wrenching because you are in fact unable to stop it. This is maybe a little bit of what she feels like when her emotions entrap and imprison her and cause her to react in ways that boggle your mind.

Her love for you was in fact the trigger. Her love for you helped to lower her defenses and allowed this monster of negative emotions to creep in. Now she battles with it and fears what she cannot control. Her mind works over-time building defense walls to keep out this intruder that is so strong-willed and controlling. Her Cries for Help continue; for that is her only way of escaping this torment that in fact both of you are tangled up in. She searches for ways to rid herself of this horrible trap that she has somehow fallen into. She will never stop trying as long as she knows you will be there and that you know in your heart that it is not her deliberately sabotaging your love relationship. Your love and understanding is her strength. It is the ultimate weapon to fight and win this battle of imprisonment.


"Bitterness imprisons life; love releases it"

- Harry Emerson Fosdick


"I believe that we are here for each other, not against each other. Everything comes from an understanding that you are a gift in my life - whoever you are, whatever our differences."

- John Denver

Dorothy Lafrinere





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Learning To See Challenges As Opportunities

(category: Coaching, Word count: 689)
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Are you a person who loves challenges, or hates them? I must admit I've spent most of my life as a person who hates them. I always thought of challenges as frustrating, maddening obstacles keeping me from where I want to be. I even used to take them personally, feeling like the universe must hate me and like to see me struggle.

As I grow older and (hopefully) wiser - I find my competitive nature rising up to meet these challenges, and I'm learning to see them differently. Most of us know that great rewards require great sacrifice and effort. You know the old saying that nothing worthwhile comes easy? In a sense that's true. If everything we wanted was handed to us, we probably wouldn't have alot of appreciation for it. On the other hand, when we work hard for something and then see it manifest before our eyes, we get such a powerful sense of pride and accomplishment. We can point to it and say, "I did that. It was tough, but I did it anyway."

Challenges are truly opportunities. Opportunities to grow and learn, to strengthen ourselves, to test ourselves and our faith. They reveal how badly we want to create the dreams in our hearts, and how hard we're willing to work for them. This is such a blessing. It may not seem that way at first, but with a tiny shift in attitude, we can see that we have been handed an incredible opportunity.

The next time life hands you a challenge, stop and consider for a moment what it means. Is the universe saying "no", or "I want you to try harder?" Don't look at challenges as an end, look at them as a door leading to your heart's desires. That door might be locked, but you have the key. Maybe you forgot where you put the key, or you forgot that you even had it to begin with. It might take some effort and patience to find it again - or you might even have to create a new one, but believe that you will, even if you're not sure how yet.

I'm learning that it's not important to have all the answers right now. When challenges rise up before us, we may not know how to get around them, or through them. It might seem hopeless at first. Challenges can seem so overwhelming when we don't have a solution. However, life itself is very much like this too. Sometimes life is akin to bumping around in a dark room, trying to find the light switch. It is possible to get through the room without finding the light switch immediately, we just need to step slowly and carefully. Moment to moment, we find our way.

Rather than giving up when obstacles appear in your path, look at them as welcome challenges. The biggest challenge is choosing your own attitude. Will you get flustered and angry, or will you get excited and determined? Will you lay down and cry, or will you roll up your sleeves and get to work? Some of us take on a victim mentality when obstacles arise, and I can see why this happens. It does feel like the universe is picking on us, doesn't it? I think we've all been there!

Why not change your mindset and think of obstacles as a personal challenge? Rather than feeling like the universe is picking on you, challenge yourself to figure out a solution. Say to yourself, "Okay, such and such has happened, now what am I going to do about it"? Put your problem-solving skills to work.

Once we begin to change our attitude about obstacles and challenges, they can actually become fun. Our competitive human nature rises up and gets ready to win, no matter what. We develop a steely determination to not be beaten.

In fact, I like to pretend there is a great critic in the sky who laughs mockingly at me and says, "You can't do that." I simply grin wickedly, roll up my sleeves and say, "Watch me!"

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Live The Dream Today

(category: Coaching, Word count: 547)
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Have you an idea about how you could improve your life but do not have the confidence to make that dream into a reality? Have you a plan that you hope to implement when you are a little older, possibly when you are retired? In this article, I write about a dream I had when growing up as a teenager, a dream I made into a reality when I was in my early twenties.

My name is Steve Hill and I was born in the second largest city in England, called Birmingham. The pace of life in Birmingham is quite hectic and the crime rate is fairly high. In saying this I am very proud to be a Brummie, the knickname for people who are born in Birmingham, and am very fond of the city.

My parents would take us on holiday each year to the South West coast of England to a county called Devon. We would stay in a place called Brixham which basically seemed to be the opposite of what Birmingham was. It was very quite, was very relaxed, had only a small amount of minor crime and the people were a whole lot more friendly. I enjoyed some superb holidays in Brixham up until the age of about sixteen and would often dream that one day, I would actually live there.

This of course was only a dream and I believed that I would probably make it happen when I had retired. At the age of twenty-three I was offered a voluntary redundancy package at the insurance company where I had been working since I had left school. This was a great opportunity for me to get paid to leave a company that I had been thinking about leaving for many years. I took the package on offer and then started to think about my next move, for example, where I wanted to work, where I wanted to live etc.

At this point in my life I had been dating a young lady for around two years. I had told her about my dream of one day moving to Brixham and she also seemed to share my passion for the area.

I then decided that I wanted to make the move now while I had the chance. Why should I wait until I am retired? Life is too short I thought to myself, I might not even live until retirement age.

My girlfriend was very up and excited about my idea of moving to Brixham and the move went ahead. I have to say that I loved living in Devon and there were not many aspects from my past life that I actually missed, apart from my friends and family.

After living in Brixham for a few years my father became very ill. I travelled up and down the motorway to visit him in hospital and eventually decided that it was now time to move back to Birmingham. This was because I wanted to spend as much time with him and my mother as I possibly could.

I will without doubt return to Devon and do not regret for one minute making the move when I did. Life is about living and about making your dreams into reality.

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How To Deal With Difficult People

(category: Coaching, Word count: 652)
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In business, like the rest of life we will often encounter people who are just that little more difficult to get along with. Some use the term 'personality conflict' to describe the situation, yet this suggests that there is some sort of unbreakable barrier and that the problem is somewhat unfixable, since it is highly unlikely somebody is going to change their entire personality for the sake of better work relations! A far more rational solution is to change specific behaviours, rather than personality traits.

Situations with difficult employees tend to occur over time; after all it is not very common to hire someone and find them impossible to deal with after the first week. Usually it is small irritating personal habits that progress over time into larger annoying behaviours after being left unattended. In any relationship, both people influence the other's behaviour. In almost every conflict situation, both parties bear some responsibility for the way things end up.

Focusing on blame will produce no results and only irritate you further. The most proactive thing you can do in these situations is focus on what YOU can do to make things better. It doesn't matter who is at fault, if your primary concern is to rectify the situation. Try to consider your contribution in this unpleasant situation; perhaps you have just written them off as a lost cause, their own worst enemy? Now try to consider ways in which you can change this; maybe by getting more involved with them personally, making an effort to become friends.

A good idea is to approach the situation in a non- accusatory tone, preferably when you are both calm and in a private situation. Address the problems you are experiencing, once you have finished let them have their say and be sure to listen intently so they know you are truly concerned and interested. When possible find things to agree on, and offer something in return.

If you are clearly frustrated it will show. It is important that you deal with things firmly, but nicely and without dramatics. To remain the bigger person you should retain quiet dignity, even if the other person becomes rude or nasty. No-one is suggesting you smile and turn the other cheek in the face of abuse, but if you counter-attack or react in kind, you will almost always make the situation worse.

Avoid gossip of any kind as you will start to involve other members of staff. As well as being disruptive to the organization, it will make it more difficult to fix the situation. Gossip only focuses on the worst part of a person and paints them in a very negative light. Along with being unfair, it affects your thinking and actually shortens your patience, especially when you get covert support from others.

Like every situation, prevention is better than cure, by using a combination of politeness and limit setting these situations can be completely avoided. However, sometimes the conflict becomes so polarized that you will have to go to outside sources to seek help. If the person in question is a fellow staff member, one possibility is to approach your team leader and explain the situation. Do your best not to convince your boss how 'bad' the other person is, it will just make you look like the problem.

At the end of the day there is generally a solution to every problem. If the situation persists and you and the person in question continue not to see eye to eye, then perhaps mediation or some other form of intervention may be necessary. In any case you must remember that there are two sides to every story, maybe you aren't being as reasonable as you originally thought? Be open to others suggestions and opinions, and be aware of your rights and responsibilities in a conflict situation, as well as theirs.

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