Coaching: Turning Potential Energy into Kinetic Energy

Best VersionMany people ask me what I do as a leadership and life coach since the occupation of coaching has typically only been associated with sports, voice, and acting professions.  At its core, coaching is about setting a vision for some area of your life such as career, business, finances, and marriage and then determining what actionable steps you will take to achieve defined goals that will move you toward that vision.  A coach is your partner, who helps you navigate through that process with assessments, constructive dialogue, input, and feedback, as well as holding you accountable to your commitments.

A coach will help you uncover your core values, your strengths/weaknesses, and challenge you in how to use those strengths to get want you want.   Coaches will help you develop the best version of yourself.  They can help you cast vision, build teams, set goals, solve problems, and lead others.  People “get stuck” or just need a “brush up” for a variety of reasons, and a coach can help convert your potential energy (resting) into kinetic energy (moving), so you can thrive and move forward.

Since coaching is about forward progress, I believe everyone can benefit from coaching.  Just a sampling of issues that people seek coaching for include:

  • Learn how to communicate more effectively to have more constructive conversations and less conflict
  • Build stronger team and peer relationships to increase work productivity and effectiveness
  • Lead with greater influence to bring out the best in yourself and others
  • Gain greater self-control and see how people respond more positively
  • Find the career path/job that provides greater satisfaction and fulfillment
  • Strengthen your marriage or dating relationship for increased longevity
  • Parent more effectively to build stronger relationships and create greater harmony
  • Develop a financial plan that achieves your long-term goals
  • Learn to prioritize and work towards the things that really matter

If you find yourself questioning or wondering whether you could benefit from coaching in these or other areas of your life, let’s talk.  I invite you to a free 30-minute consultation, where we can discuss what you would like to achieve and whether coaching would be of value.  If interested or even if you want to learn more about coaching, you can reach me at 281.793.3741 or sandra.s.dillon@hotmail.com.


144-2 - CopyAbout the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach, consultant, and mentor with an extensive background in business development, leadership, and ministry which provides her with the experience, relational skills, and proven processes to move individuals, couples, and leaders to higher levels of personal awareness, effectiveness, and goal achievement.  She coaches in a variety of areas including life purpose and plans, business, career, finances, leadership, communication, and premarital/marriage.  

Have You Taken A Conversation Pause Today?

Extroverts have a tendency to interrupt people with their own ideas, opinions, and suggestions, before others have had the chance to finish speaking their thoughts. Extroverts honor the conversation and build stronger relationships, when they give others the space to fully express their message. When people feel they have been fully heard, they are more inclined to respectfully listen in return. Challenge yourself today to be more conscientious of how often you want to or do interrupt others, before they have finished expressing themselves.  As an extrovert, I find it is harder than I thought!



Conversation pause


144-2 - CopyAbout the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach, consultant, and mentor with an extensive background in business development, leadership, and ministry which provides her with the experience, relational skills, and proven processes to move individuals, couples, and leaders to higher levels of personal awareness, effectiveness, and goal achievement.  She coaches in a variety of areas including life purpose and plans, business, finances, and premarital/marriage.  

 

Don’t Let Limiting Beliefs Stand In Your Way!

The operating principle underlying the coaching relationship is the client has the ability to influence a desired outcome. Sometimes the first step may be to self-identify the limiting belief that stands in the way of action.Limiting Beliefs


144-2 - CopyAbout the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach, consultant, and mentor with an extensive background in business development, leadership, and ministry which provides her with the experience, relational skills, and proven processes to move individuals, couples, and leaders to higher levels of personal awareness, effectiveness, and goal achievement.  She coaches in a variety of areas including life purpose and plans, business, finances, and premarital/marriage.  

Where Does Leadership Start?

Leadership LeadAlthough everyone has their own perspective on what leadership entails and the key characteristics embodied by leaders, few would disagree that leadership involves the ability to influence people.  Many people struggle with how to increase their leadership capacity within their families, work, and communities.  I propose that the first step in expanding your leadership capacity is learning to lead yourself better.  What are your emotional intelligence, attitudes, and behaviors reflecting into the world? How are you preparing and working on yourself to be a better leader, so you have greater influence with your skills, competencies, creativity, and knowledge?  Although self-reflection might be the start in developing self-awareness, an objective self-evaluation may prove difficult.  You may receive more useful feedback, when you ask trusted friends and colleagues.  Although family can be a source of leadership feedback, the closer the emotional connection, typically the more biased the feedback.   The following general questions are examples that should solicit concrete feedback for self-reflection.

  • Would you provide an example where you believed I could have had more influence?  What could I have done more or less of that would have affected a better outcome?
  • What changes should I consider in my general behaviors to achieve greater influence?  Would you provide an example where this change might have led to a different outcome?
  • When you observe me leading at my best, what am I doing or not doing?

Some people only provide congratulatory remarks and refrain from feedback that could result in “shooting the messenger.”  Other people will be caught off guard when you ask such questions and may need time to process and think of specific examples.  In this case, schedule a second meeting to receive that feedback.  I find if you appear sincere in wanting the feedback for self-improvement, people are likely to provide an honest evaluation.


144-2 - CopyAbout the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach, consultant, and mentor with an extensive background in business development, leadership, and ministry which provides her with the experience, relational skills, and proven processes to move individuals, couples, and leaders to higher levels of personal awareness, effectiveness, and goal achievement.  She coaches in a variety of areas including life purpose and plans, business, finances, and premarital/marriage.  Email: sandra.s.dillon@hotmail.com

In Pursuit of Spiritual Gifts!

Parcel wrapped in mottled brown paper with coarse rope and buff tagWe are all born with innate talents such as athletic ability or intelligence; however, God has also placed within each of us His spiritual gifts that we are able to leverage for Kingdom purposes.  Examples of spiritual gifts include administration, artistic (music and art), evangelism, encouragement, leadership, hospitality, and serving to name only a few.   When we choose to move strongly into our gifting, these talents grow, multiply, and become towering strengths, especially when used for God’s ministry.

Have you identified your top three spiritual gifts?  My top three gifts are writing, leadership, and administration.  Although I was not a Christian as a young adult and did not take the Spiritual Gifts Inventory until I was in my late 40’s, these gifts were available to me to some extent.  Since I have chosen to use them for Kingdom purpose, I have seen them grow and have specific impact.  I believe if you are not living out your top three spiritual gifts on a daily basis, you are not only cheating God but also yourself.  You were made for a purpose, and your spiritual gifts are your tools to move deeply into that fulfilling life calling.

If you have never heard of or taken a Spiritual Gifts Inventory, reach out so that I can email you a survey and definitions of the gifts.  I want everyone to have this resource.


144-2 - CopyAbout the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach, consultant, and mentor with an extensive background in business development, leadership, and ministry which provides her with the experience, relational skills, and proven processes to move individuals, couples, and leaders to higher levels of personal awareness, effectiveness, and goal achievement.  She coaches in a variety of areas including life purpose and plans, business, finances, and premarital/marriage.  Email: sandra.s.dillon@hotmail.com

Leadership Competency Balance

Everyone is a leader, because a leader influences people, situations, and outcomes.  The question we need to ask ourselves is whether we are leading well.   American culture tends to define a great leader as one who has vision and demonstrates boldness and decisiveness.

Boldness and decisiveness

Although these competencies can be leveraged for significant impact, if they are not tempered with equal amounts of wisdom and understanding, their effectiveness may be diminished.  Effective leaders understand and apply their competencies in a balance way that supports moving people toward the goal.  Where might you be out of balance?  Are you paralyzed in making a decision that moves you forward, because you want to please everyone?  Does your boldness alienate others?  Does your decisiveness without sensitivity leave others in your dust?


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach, consultant, and mentor with an extensive background in business development, leadership, and ministry which provides her with the experience, relational skills, and proven processes to move individuals, couples, and leaders to higher levels of personal awareness, effectiveness, and goal achievement.  She coaches in a variety of areas including life purpose and plans, business, finances, and premarital/marriage.  

Are You Listening? What Did You Hear?

Attentively ListeningEffective listening is one of the most demanding components of any communication exchange, because it involves a mental process that requires self-discipline and demands tremendous amounts of focused energy.  As a life coach, my profession requires that I demonstrate a high proficiency in effective listening, and I must admit, I have to continually work at maintaining this skill.  Without continued practice, it is easy to slip into old and more comfortable listening habits.  The good news?  Effective listening is not an innate skill but one that everyone can learn and master.

What is effective listening?  Burley-Allen (1995) defines specific elements of effective listening which include (1) taking in information while remaining empathetic and nonjudgmental, (2) acknowledging the speaker in a way that invites the conversation to continue, and (3) providing encouraging feedback that carries the other person’s idea one step further.   Effective listening is harder than you might think to practice, because it involves not just tuning into the other person but tuning into oneself.  Have you had the chance to listen carefully to what you said and how you said it?  Have you ever recorded one of your serious or passionate conversations?  If you have, were you surprised in how you came across in the conversation?  Try it!  Next time you plan to have an important discussion, consider using effective listening techniques, record your conversation, and review the recording.  The feedback may surprise you, while providing you with valuable information in self-awareness and self-reflection.

Reference

Burley-Allen, M. (1995). Listening: The Forgotten Skill (2nd ed.). New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons.


144-2 - CopyAbout the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach, consultant, and mentor with an extensive background in business development, leadership, and ministry which provides her with the experience, relational skills, and proven processes to move individuals, couples, and leaders to higher levels of personal awareness, effectiveness, and goal achievement.  She coaches in a variety of areas including life purpose and plans, business, finances, and premarital/marriage.  Email: sandra.s.dillon@hotmail.com

 

Life Purpose: A Tale of Three Trees

Have you ever bawled like a baby when reading a children’s fable?  I have!  Several years ago, as I was browsing the small bookstore at The Homestead Heritage in Waco, Texas, I picked up The Tale of Three Trees: A Traditional Folktale.  I guarantee you this is no ordinary children’s story.   The tale tells of the dreams of three trees in the forest, who all long to grow into something that the world would value.  One wanted to be the most beautiful, the other the strongest, and the third the tallest.   After many years the woodcutters came to harvest these trees on the mountain.

Christ with CrossWhat these three trees wished themselves to be instead became how they were used to serve.   The purpose of each tree brought me to tears.  Can you guess how the tallest tree was used?  The third tree wanted to be the tallest tree in the land, and by some accounts this tree got what it wished for as it stood tall at Calvary with Jesus nailed to it.   This tree had one idea of its future, but God had another purpose and plan.  Despite the ugliness it endured as it co-labored with Jesus, the third tree had the opportunity to help bring Salvation to the world.  Now that’s worth first living and then dying for!

For those of you who identify with the Christian faith, I would ask you to think about  whether you are pursuing your own dream or seeking to know God’s dream for your life?  Sometimes God’s dream for your life will take you through ugliness, harshness, and cruelty such as what Jesus experienced on the cross?  Much of the time you will never be aware of the impact you are making and must maintain faith that God is using each faithful word and action for Kingdom impact.  On those rare occasions when I do get feedback, I find those are the fuel that keep me seeking the Lord’s will for my life.  My prayer for you is that God will clearly speak truth and purpose into your life!


144-2 - CopyAbout the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach, consultant, and mentor with an extensive background in business development, leadership, and ministry which provides her with the experience, relational skills, and proven processes to move individuals, couples, and leaders to higher levels of personal awareness, effectiveness, and goal achievement.  She coaches in a variety of areas including life purpose and plans, business, finances, and premarital/marriage.  

Adversity: The Role of Perception and Self-confidence

Empowering questions to ask in the midst ofBuilding off the old saying that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, I would venture to say that adversity is a perception held by the believer.  Why do some people thrive by working through adversity to reach new levels of self-confidence; whereas, others stand still or walk away when faced with a challenge?  Adversity is not binary but measured on a continuum of difficulty.  Everyone has a different appetite for taking on adverse situations.  Why do some businessmen file for bankruptcy one day and turn around the next to launch another capital venture, while others are emotionally devastated and flounder in their profession?  Why do some ex-spouses never emotionally leave their marriage after a divorce; whereas, others actively heal, move forward, and find healthier relationships?  The difference between those who face challenges and those who cower usually depends on (1) the perceived severity of the adverse condition, and (2) the self-confidence to influence the outcome.

Perception and self-confidence are two factors that heavily influence one another.  The more self-confidence you have that you can reduce, modify, or eliminate a source of adversity, the more likely you are to not perceive it as adverse.   The less you view a condition to be adverse, the more self-confidence you have that you can persevere and facilitate a positive outcome.  Which came first?  Self-confidence or the perception of adversity?  Because we cannot avoid the adversity that comes into our lives, we can choose to embrace it as the iron that can sharpen our self-confidence.  I have never met a person with high self-confidence, who has not faced hardship and worked through it only to look back over his/her shoulder to say, “I did that!”  Not that everyone has to face adversity alone, but there is a difference between working through adversity with family, friends, and your faith walking alongside you versus having them do the hard work for you.

How can one be better prepared to deal with adversity and reach a more peaceful destination? Consider one or all of the following attitude or behavior changes.

  1. Accept that adversity is inevitable in life
    • Pain is inevitable; suffering is optional
    • Allow a short amount of time to feel sad, if necessary, then divert attention to positive tasks
  1. Build internal resources
    • Before adversity strikes, cultivate emotional strength, courage, and discipline
    • Invest in self-help books and workshops
    • Talk and build relationships with counselors, coaches, and trusted friends
  2. Surround yourself with positive people
    • Be selective in people who are supportive and encouraging
    • Pick people who will accept your flaws while challenging you to do better
  3. Look for the positive
    • Focus on the positive aspects of a situation, action to achieve improvement, and a new vision for the future
    • Look for inspirational stories from others
  4. Reframe mistakes as learning opportunities
    • Find the learning in the situation
    • Share your story with trusted friend and ask him/her to pick out the lesson
  5. Write down your thoughts
    • Writing down emotions helps bring peace
    • Personal reflection provides the ability to measure progress
    • Lists of past adverse experiences and how you overcame them reminds you of your resiliency
  6. Start a gratitude journal
    • Spend 10-15 minutes a day thinking and writing down for what you are grateful

With your mind better prepared to address adversity, you are now ready to take action.  Consider the following next steps.

  1. Set realistic goals, breaking them down into smaller goals.
  2. Celebrate achievements of the smaller milestones that build to the final goal.
  3. Create a visual representation of goals and place these in various locations in your personal environment.
  4. Get a mentor or coach to provide guidance and support.
  5. Refuse to quit. You can admit frustration but look for other options to achieve a goal.

The bigger picture thought is that adversity is just an opportunity. God has a purpose for your life.  He gives us free will to develop and execute plans, and at times, we take paths that God prefers we do not.  God will never leave or forsake us, but sometimes God closes doors and opens others as a means of guiding us back in the right direction.  Do not succumb to inaction.  When you come to a fork in the road, take it!


144-2 - CopyAbout the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach, consultant, and mentor with an extensive background in business development, leadership, and ministry which provides her with the experience, relational skills, and proven processes to move individuals, couples, and leaders to higher levels of personal awareness, effectiveness, and goal achievement.  She coaches in a variety of areas including life purpose and plans, business, finances, and premarital/marriage.  

 

What Should Savvy Companies Look for When Interviewing a Candidate?

job interviewingBack in the late 1980’s, while I was working at Mobil Chemical as a technical service manager, I was selected as an employee participant to train and practice a cutting-edge initiative called competency-based interviewing.  Mobil’s intention was to always hire the best and brightest employees to join its workforce.  However, despite its best attempts, Mobil’s batting average was far less than its target.  With the help of a consulting firm, Mobil embarked on a study of its top performers to determine what characteristics these employees all had in common.  The result?  The consultant agency found that across all job functions, those employees that Mobil rated as its highest performers had an abundance of the following competencies:

  • Analytical thinking – analyzing a situation/problem, seeing trends and outcomes, and developing solutions
  • Conceptual thinking – identifying and developing concepts and ideas
  • Concern for accuracy – performing the job right the first time
  • Concern for effectiveness – taking action that balances results and efficiency
  • Effective Communication – communicating messages both orally and in writing so the intended message is clearly and easily understood
  • Enthusiasm for work – working and contributing with enthusiasm
  • Flexibility – adjusting priorities or a course of action without concern
  • Initiative – acting without being asked
  • Perceptual thinking – being aware of how people are responding to communication and behaviors and adjusting to allicit a more positive response
  • Teamwork – working effectively with other people to achieve a goal
  • Technical Knowledge – working knowledge of subject matter

Identification of these common competencies then led Mobil to develop competency-based interviewing, which was a radically different interview process and approach used up until that point. The competency-based interviewer was trained how to ask specific questions to help an interviewee unfold stories, so the interviewer could identify as many competencies practiced by the candidate in his/her past.  In the case of personal competencies, past performance was an assumed indicator of future performance.

When 20 summer interns were asked to be willing interviewees to help a group of trainees certify in this new interviewing process, the results were surprising.  These college students were only told that they were interviewing for factitious jobs and had nothing to gain or lose by participating.  Each intern was separately interviewed by 3-4 interviewers.  The interviewers then ranked each intern for competencies and compared notes.  The results?  Most interviewers found the same number of competencies for each interviewee.  What was unexpected?  The interviewers identified a handful of candidates that Mobil would have clearly offered a job based on the criteria of the past such as sociability, confident manner, physical appeal, participation on team sports, and academic performance, and yet, these same candidates had no competencies.

What does this mean for those companies who want to hire the best employees?  Every candidate should be screened for the basic knowledge that cannot be taught on the job.  Certain jobs need specific technical skills such as a design engineer or lawyer.  However, for many jobs, companies would likely be more satisfied in their employee selection, if they emphasized competencies in the hiring process.  Most technical knowledge can be taught on the job, as opposed to personal competencies, which can only be influenced and may take more time than an employer can afford to invest.  Rare is the candidate that has all the above competencies, so an interviewer should have a clear understanding of which competencies are most important for the job.

Competencies are found in both young and older adults, because they typically manifest from core values or personal characteristics of the individual.  Therefore, it is not uncommon to find personal competencies across all or several dimensions of a person’s life. Since my competency-based interview training, I have always focused on hiring for competencies over a pedigree, and I have been pleased that my batting average has been higher than most.


HE21118Davis_07-medAbout the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach, consultant, and mentor with an extensive background in business development, leadership, and ministry which provides her with the experience, relational skills, and proven processes to move individuals, couples, and leaders to higher levels of personal awareness, effectiveness, and goal achievement.  She coaches in a variety of areas including life purpose and plans, business, finances, and premarital/marriage.