Coach Yourself before Coaching Others

One tip to make a difference today.

Give your brain a question to answer.  The right question.

In these podcast episodes I frequently and deliberately ask you to take a little peek into your brains.  I ask you and offer you the chance to identify what you are telling yourself and if it is serving you.

Meaning, do your thoughts and beliefs help you to feel good, productive, strong, empowered, confident, competent and, at the end of the day, amazing?  Or not.

Because once you bring your thoughts and beliefs to the surface, you have a choice in what actions to take to believe them and continue to think them, or not.

This reflection can be life changing.  Research suggests that 90% of the thoughts we had yesterday are the same thoughts we will have today.  Unless we deliberately change them.  We live life thinking automatically versus reflectively; we live on autopilot more than we realize.  And at some point, we realize that perhaps we’re not where we want to be in terms of our achieving our goals, getting to our desired results, or feeling on track with our career success.

So, let’s play this brain game again.

I want you to pause and think of two negative thoughts you’ve told yourself this week about your performance at work.

Here are some examples I’ve heard from others:

  • I am so disorganized,
  • I not proactive, I’m just so reactive.
  • I’m not spending enough time coaching my employees.

Here are some I’ve told myself:

  • I’m not doing enough marketing.
  • I need to get my sxxx together.

None of these thoughts or beliefs serve us.  So how do we stop?

Did you know we can coach ourselves?  And did you know the best leaders do?

One quick tip for coaching yourself is to ask questions.  Your brain loves a challenge.  If we give it a problem to solve it will start seeking solutions.  Did you know that?  Especially when we tell it to. What an amazing machine.

You know as we coach others, we are taught to ask questions (see Episode 16 Strategic Questions).  This is a place to start.  Just one quick technique to coach ourselves.

Open ended questions are valuable in coaching, they engage those we are coaching.  They require more thought and reflection.  They can create self awareness and self examination.

Asking ourselves questions can move us from self flagellation to action.  If we consider the examples above, here are some questions we could ask:

  • Why am I so disorganized?
  • Why am I always in reactive mode?
  • Why can’t I find the time to coach?
  • Why am I not spending time marketing?
  • Why don’t I have my shit together.

In coaching, we ask questions to engage and move toward problem solving.  How will these questions help us solve our perceived problems?

Or will they?

And what did you notice about my questions?  They’re all open ended.  They all begin with why.  Why questions are about discovery.

And why questions are SO tricky!  Like when we are coaching others (#hint) and ourselves.  They sadly aren’t very useful.  Why?  Because why questions immediately trigger our defensive mechanisms.  They have Implications:  Why didn’t you? Why haven’t you?  Why aren’t you?  Don’t you think you should have?  Could have?


So, for example.  Why am I so disorganized?  Then I find and list the reasons.  I don’t have enough time.  I’ve always been disorganized, that’s just me.  I have too much on my plate.  My work life balance is out of whack.

This list of answers reinforces our original negative thoughts about ourselves and doesn’t help us to engage in moving forward.  In fact, they may make us feel even less effective and able to create the change we want in ourselves.

What if we change the first question we ask ourselves, avoiding the why question.

Here are some options:

  • What is one thing I could do each day to help me feel more organized?
  • How can I carve out 10 minutes a day for planning?
  • What one small action would help me organize my schedule?

These questions engage our brain in solving a problem, rather than ruminating on the reasons for the problem.  They are much more focused on forward action.  And our brain loves a challenge.  Even if we don’t have the answer immediately, our brain will continue to ponder the question, seeking an answer and discovering a solution.  Because our brains don’t quit problem solving.  They love the opportunity.

The important shift here is in in the question we ask ourselves (and others).  If we ask a question in the negative, our brains will identify negatives (many times the reasons we’re being as productive or constructive as we want to be).  If we ask our brains something constructive and positive (i.e., forward moving), our brain will answer that question.

And that will make all the difference in coaching ourselves for positive growth and change.

And this is what creates a shift in our identify and in the way we talk to ourselves.

This is how we change.

And once you create this habit for yourself, you will be a much more effective coach for others around you.  Because rather than focusing on the problem, you focus on solutions.

This is the best news I can share with you today.

Back to the negative thought you had about yourself…what question can you ask yourself today that will make you feel stronger and more empowered tomorrow?

I would love to know.