This blog reflects ideas I've stumbled upon in my executive coaching practice helping clients deal with opportunities and problems.

Important, Urgent and Expensive

I’ve written about Steven Covey’s Activity Matrix several times: It is valuable to discern and focus on Quadrant 2, Important but not Urgent, while too much time in Quadrant 3, Urgent but not Important and Quadrant 1, Important and Urgent will keep you from investing completely in your future.

The other day a client pointed out a nice addition to the idea. She used the phrase Important, Urgent and Expensive. The meaning was that if you don’t spend time in Quadrant 2 [planning, relationship building, preparation, values clarification etc.] you’ll end up having to handle more in Quadrant 1 and it will be expensive. A simple example is your health. If you don’t take care of your health regularly as an Important but Not Urgent activity eventually fixing yourself will continue to be Important but also Urgent and, if you leave it too long, Expensive.

Think of all the times a lack of Important Planning resulted in future needs that were Important, Urgent and more Expensive than they had to be.

Straight and Narrow

It’s a biblical admonition. Essentially find the small gate and the narrow path that leads to what you want.

That seems like something we can use in many aspects of our lives. Don’t need to be religious. Just thoughtful.

I often say to my clients “let’s find out how to do more of the right stuff and less of the wrong stuff”. So in coaching it’s a two part program. First, strategy; what’s the right stuff? Secondly, discipline; just do the right stuff.

Often it’s harder to avoid what’s wrong than it is to focus on what’s right. In marketing, for example, it seems people love the notion of trying a new unproven scheme rather than renewing focus on what’s been determined to be right.

Posted by Jerome Shore

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20 June 2015 ~ Comment

Executive Function in Time Management

I recently spoke to a client about Executive Function for individual performance. There is an increasing need for executive function because of all the distractions people now face at work via social media and email. Executive function can be described as the controlling and initiating ways we set the stage to do our work.

One way I work with clients around executive function is the day part school schedule. First period is getting your assistant, if you have one, focused for the day. Second period is focus on personal work alone. Third period is lunch reserved for relationship building. Fourth period is clearing accumulated emails and vmails. Fifth period is focusing your assistant for the afternoon. Sixth period is working with others in meetings [e.g. delegating, checking in, organizing]. Obviously this won’t work everyday but if it is done on days when it is possible it is great.

Checklists, calendars, milestone check-ins and preset routines are aspects of executive function that could be used in delegation.

The right way to deal with performance issues

My coaching clients often have to deal with a performance issue for one of their employees. Here’s a good paradigm for that.

When a performance issue appears you want to discover if

a] the employee is aware of the problem, agrees it is a problem and knows what good performance looks like, b] if they get it that a problem exists do they have the right motivation to do something about it and c] if they are motivated do they have the know-how or skills to fix the problem.

When you know the all of the above you can then attack the problem correctly. Most often you’ll have to work on skills or motivation or some other attitude. But there will be times when the employee just needs to know you’re serious about them getting right it. And there may even be time when something in their working conditions will have to change.

What sense does it make to complain

While reading this wonderful book I came across this quote which attracted my attention.

“People make a great mistake when they never complain. Whatever they gain by patience they lose in honesty. Conversations begin to ring false. Suspicions are aroused. Resentments multiply. Relationships are poisoned.”

It’s a great summary of the reasons to be assertive. When people don’t complain it means they are not assertive. And that means they’re either endlessly passive or graduate to aggressive when they boil over from not getting what they want. It’s a lot more than complaining, of course. There are many reasons to speak up.

So what are your opportunities to speak up assertively. Complaining is one alternative. Not asking for a raise is another common way people are passive at work. Being clear about personal needs is sometimes avoided and usually unnecessarily so. Getting angry is a way people are aggressive after being passive too long while not being assertive.

Think about the ways you could benefit from being more assertive and get on with it.

Posted by Jerome Shore

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18 March 2015 ~ Comment

What are the goals of your goals?

Plotinus, the philosopher, is thought to have said that “if a man seeks the good life for any reason outside itself, it is not the good life he seeks”. I interpret this to mean that eventually our goals have to devolve to be about ourselves. It’s nice to say I want to earn one million dollars this year but better to know how you’ll use the cash to better your life – or the life of someone else.

Sales people in hard markets, like real estate and insurance, where lots of cold calls are needed must be motivated to do the hard work of all the cold contact. They are the kind of people who need to know their real rewards. It often isn’t worth earning more money if you’re not going to enjoy it. So they might actually go to the trouble of keeping a diary of what they want i.e. what they’d buy with money they earn. Keeping a diary with good descriptions of ‘the goals of your goals’ can be very motivating. Sample entry: I want a BMW X6 with the big engine, the complete winter package, the new audio package and I want it in yellow. It’s not unknown for salespeople to buy things they can’t afford to motivate them so they can make the payments.

Posted by Jerome Shore

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11 March 2015 ~ Comment

Petition Yourself With Prayer

I’m reading a wonderful novel where the main character is a Bishop in the Church of England. It’s got me thinking about prayer which is something I’ve never thought about before, except to avoid it.

I’ve discovered that one the many types of prayer is to petition God for something you want. For example, “God, please end war.” or “God, grant me the courage to face up to my fear of public speaking.”

The first of those two examples is something totally out of the petitioner’s control. The second of the two examples is something the petitioner can participate in by learning about where courage comes from and techniques to face difficulties. I’ve often thought that people who say a petition prayer like the second example before they go to sleep might engage their subconscious to work on the subject while they sleep.

I have a client right now who has a big need to ‘let go’ of the effect another person’s personality has on them. My client’s prayer could be “please help me find the shield to ignore x’s behavior, to just let it pass like a ship in the night.” Developing that prayer and repeating it when needed could be a powerful reminder to my client of what she must do. It will certainly augment the coaching discussion we had.

Can you think of a petition prayer you might be able to use effectively for yourself? I’ll be interested to hear any of your good ideas.

Posted by Jerome Shore

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15 January 2015 ~ Comment

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