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Steve's Life And Business Coaching Notes - April 2010
Spring brings new life.
I hope you are well.
Here are two articles to help you run happier, more peaceful, and more successful lives and businesses.
All the best,
1) Advanced Tips on Managing The "Inner Voice". (And thus enjoying more success, peace, happiness, and love.)
2) Successful Business Development And Mind Management. (They are most definately related.)
3) Practice Building On A Budget - A special offer for coaches looking for affordable mentoring, and not wanting to wait any longer.
1) Advanced Tips on Managing The "Inner Voice".
This may sound like an opening line from an old psychological thriller, but I think it is time we talked about the voice inside your head.
Which voice? The one that at this very moment is voting whether this is an interesting topic for you. The one that has an opinion on everything that has ever happened to you. The one that from time to time can be a very useful thinking partner but at any moment, often the least convenient, can turn into an incessant nag, virtual-parent, bully or worry wart. The one that can wake you up in the middle of the night, and simply not shut up, wanting to fret about the future or overanalyze past events. The one that if its non-stop commentary, analysis and anxiety came from anyone outside your head, like a partner or employee, you would surely fire them in a blink of an eye. The one that if you don’t get a better handle on, will never allow you to truly enjoy significant freedom, peace or happiness.
We all have our own version of this running inner dialogue. It is part of being human.
In dealing with this voice inside your head (for the sake of this article let’s just call it the “Voice”) the first thing you need to do is distinguish between the Voice and the part of you that is observing it. There is a difference and it is an important one. Assume for a moment, the real you is the listener, the quiet observer or inner “Witness”, the part of you that is reading these words right now. You never want to forget the real you is this calm witnessing presence that is always there, and you definitely want to increase your familiarity and identification with it.
Secondly, knowing that the Voice needs to be managed, you will really benefit by developing a few basic filters. (Think of simply establishing some ground rules that limit the Voice, along the same lines as you might have “parental controls” for what you would allow your kids to watch on TV.)
As a starter, I suggest you filter all commentary from the Voice for topic, timing and tone - the 3 T’s. By topic I mean you should be clear on what you empower the Voice to comment on. Some topics, like what you have learned from a particular experience or encounter, may be very productive. Other topics like; how you compare to others (brains, looks, money, experience, age, etc.), how you need the world to change for you to be happy, what you like or don’t like, etc., can be absolute wastes of time that do nothing but make you ineffective, depressed or anxious.
As to timing, you definitely do not want to entertain commentary in the middle of the night, or in the middle of some interaction with people you care about, or at a time when you are supposed to be relaxing or enjoying life. (There are times when you really want to be at peace or fully present.)
As to tone, you definitely don’t want to allow your Voice to talk to you in an abusive way. (Often we tolerate attitude from the Voice that would result in a street fight or divorce from anyone else.)
So let’s say you start to pay more attention to the Voice, and attempt to filter some of the inappropriate or unproductive content. What do you notice? Usually, the first thing you run into is the fact that the Voice does not take direction well. As it knows the inner workings of your mind better than you do, it can often find a way around your best defences. The other thing you may notice is that it is persistent. So what to do?
There are several simple strategies that can help you here. First, try to catch the Voice as early as possible, ideally in its first few sentences. The sooner you notice it and respond, the easier it all goes. If you allow the Voice to gather much momentum you are usually in for a longer struggle. (This is most evident in the middle of the night when you might find yourself just starting to think about something and the next thing you know you have been awake for hours dissecting every aspect of the event.)
Secondly, just as nature abhors a vacuum, our normal mind abhors blank space. So in the early stages of your attempts to better manage the Voice, use this fact to your advantage. Rather than trying to just turn off the Voice (it does not have an obvious kill switch), distract it. Focus the awareness of the Witness (your attention) on something else. Perhaps a pleasing thought of gratitude. Perhaps the feeling of your breath filling your lungs or flowing in and out of your nose. The Voice suffers from acute ADD so use this simple fact against it.
Thirdly, should the Voice dredge up some emotionally charged thoughts, (it is often at its hypersensitive worst when it has latched onto old hurts), don’t indulge it. (The Voice can wallow away for hours in old emotional mind fields.) Don’t run from it. (That just stuffs the old stuff down again and further weakens you.) Rather, simply notice the thought ASAP, allow it to be there without resistance, and then simply let it go as you might release a helium balloon to float away into space. Do not focus on the thought and do not contract from it in fear. With an open and courageous heart, and the emotional resilience of a mature adult that has lived through many a crisis, simply let it go. (It helps to breathe these thoughts and feelings out like yesterday’s air and move your eyes to look upward.)
Ultimately, your final and best defence of the machinations of the out of control thinking mind (I make this distinction to point out that the well-balanced mind is actually a phenomenal tool.) is to just observe it. The moment you remember that you are not your thoughts, you are the part of consciousness observing the thoughts along with a full host of other sensations and perceptions, the jig is up. The mind can go round and round and do whatever it wants, and yet there you remain, in peace, simply observing the whole performance, as you might a summer rain cloud that just briefly darkens the light of the sun.
With practice, and attention, everything gets easier.
This is a big topic. Suffice to say that if you put some serious effort into taking your Voice management to the next level, it will pay huge dividends in your life, career and relationships. It is hard to find an area of self-development that will ultimately translate into more joy, peace and freedom.
So if you are interested, if your Voice has not already been distracting you from this topic, here are some resources:
The Untethered Soul, by Michael Singer – This is the best book I have ever read on the topic.
"Hint – the cage is not locked."
2) Successful Business Development And Mind Management.
Central to the success of any business initiative is the ability of the protagonist to effectively manage their thoughts and emotions. If you are easily distracted by doubts and fears, you will find it extraordinarily difficult to succeed in business. (In extremes, you might not ever get your business off the ground.)
Even if you are strongly called to develop your own business and find the courage to begin, it is no easy task to maintain a critical level of commitment and belief over an extended time frame and against very predictable obstacles: obstacles that can scare the bravest and most committed entrepreneur. Therefore your success in any business initiative is heavily dependent upon your ability to manage your mind.
Specifically, you need to be able to quickly recover from set-backs, wrong turns, disappointing results, and nagging negative thoughts, doubts and fears – so you learn, adjust and remain effective and productive over the extended time frame required to achieve sustainable success. To succeed, you need to develop a certain tolerance to elevated levels of stress, and you need to take your mind or inner voice management seriously. To that end, here are two quick tips.
In addition to what I have shared in the previous article about Voice management, I would encourage every entrepreneur to set up a daily routine to proactively manage their stress. (Elevated levels of stress can cripple your ability to think creatively and strategically. It can lower your people skills and reduce your productivity. And high levels of stress can make a coward out of almost everyone.) Ideally explore an everyday combination of physical and reflective practices – of a minimum of 10 minutes each: more being better - that will serve to burn off excess stress, recharge your metaphorical batteries, renew your spirit, keep your eyes on the prize and generally give you the “can do” perspective you need to keep learning, adjusting and moving forward.
Secondly, I would encourage you to be very conscious about designing your very own Success Support Team. I encourage you to carefully choose a core group of people who you can turn to when your spirits flag, or you get stuck, or you need a little experienced perspective and encouragement.
Nothing can change our inner state quicker than plugging into the emotional fields of others. This realy can work to your advantage or detriment. If those closest to you are sceptics or highly critical, their negative emotions can rub off on you, and dampen your desire to persevere.
In contrast if your support team believes in you and your ability to adjust, recover, learn, grow and ultimately succeed, that positive energy can keep you going even in your darkest entrepreneurial days.
And if you have just one person in your life that can actually inspire you, when you most need it, there is nothing that can stand in your way.
“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant.
3) Practice Building On A Budget - A Special Offer.
As regular readers know, for the past 5 years I have reserved time in my practice to run THE 6-FIGURE PRACTICE MENTORING PROGRAM twice a year. It is designed to help coaches access proven marketing information and support in an affordable basis, so they can build very successful practices.
These programs have proven very popular and successful with coaches who know that there are no shortcuts or quick fixes on the road to sustainable, high levels of success.
As the popularity of this program grows, one of the challenges I face is that no sooner do I start the January program, than I have a waiting list for the August one. And I really hate to have to tell coaches that they have to wait 8 months until the next program, and on the other hand most of my clients are from the real world, and I cannot devote all my time to working with coaches.
So, here is a solution. For anyone who wants to join the next Mentor Program, and doesn't want to wait, I am happy to offer "as needed" 1 to 1 calls to get you moving before the program begins. AND these calls will be offered to you at a reduced rate. (The insider rate that program participants enjoy.)
If you are serious about building a successful coaching practice, and believe time is money, (I.E. you don't want to wait until August) please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about how this will work.
"It is only month 3 and I have gone from 4 to 13 clients."
"This is truly a transformational experience...thank you."
"Never been busier."
"I have experienced more success than I thought possible."
Visit Steve at www.acoach4u.com
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