Suppose you want to start your business or make it bigger.
What are the questions you should be asking?
Take a minute and write down a few questions that you ask about either starting your own business or making it bigger.
What are the questions you want to have answered?
Go on. I’ll wait.
WRITE YOUR QUESTIONS DOWN:
Okay time is up. No I didn’t give you very long did I?
Most people fall into the trap of asking questions about what to do, or who to talk with, or when to do things… you can see where this is going can’t you?
These are useful questions but nowhere near as useful as… the key question that most people avoid… the question Why.
Focusing on your Why will automatically answer all the other questions because when you know Why, and you really, really want those results - that feeling of freedom of having your own company, that sense of success having expanded it - the how’s and the what’s and who’s and where’s and when’s all fall into place.
Usually, they are on a Strategic Plan.
But a Strategic Plan without a Why has no life in it. It’s dead.
What does it cost you to be seen and heard?
What’s the pain?
WRITE YOUR ANSWER HERE:
What does it cost you to not be seen and heard?
(By your potential clients)
WRITE YOUR ANSWER HERE:
Can you balance those?
Can you pay the price of being seen and heard?
Seen and heard by your potential clients?
What might the benefit to you be?
And now that you know what people remember... which do you choose?
Although I always had enough money to do whatever I wanted, the fear of not having enough money never went away.
So how much money is enough?
Try this experiment
Calculate the amount of money you need every month in order to pay your necessities. Now halve that figure.
You can learn to live on half, by allowing yourself half your income and putting the other half aside in case you panic.
If you were stranded on a desert island with a limited supply of food, you would not continue consuming at your usual rate. You would take care to eat frugally, and your body would learn to adapt.
It takes a few months to learn to live at the new lower level.
And then you can halve it again, just as an experiment to see what really is necessary.
You may well be surprised how little you need.
Life is a competition.
The one who dies owning the most money (and possessions) is the winner.
Naaah. That’s not what I believe at all. Although, for a while, I did get on and ride the Money Train. And I did quite well. I certainly earned a few million. And I spent them. The more I earned, the more I spent. That was the easy part. Too easy. Money is the cheese in the mousetrap.
The Money Go Round
As an entrepreneur, a one-person business owner, it was my responsibility to:
and have enough money left over to go around again and:
And I would not have had it any other way. Working ‘for myself’ or being ‘self-employed’ was as close to heaven as it came during the Entrepreneur Years.
I was travelling to the capital for ‘a very important business meeting’.
You know the kind.
I was waiting at the airport for my flight to be called. I sipped my cup of coffee, studied the ticker board, and wondered why the flight number wasn’t being displayed. So I finished my coffee and went in search of the airline representative.
I couldn’t find them. I was at the wrong airport.
I dashed outside to the taxi rank. Grabbed the nearest taxi and said to the driver, “Do you want to make some money? Get me to the (other) airport in 20 minutes and I will pay double!”
I caught my flight, at the other airport. It had been delayed by an hour.
How do you help teenagers make choices? Without wagging a finger at them?
My preferred way is to involve them in a little drama about a situation they can recognise as relevant. Normally, I elicit good examples from the audience, but in this case - not being in front of the audience - I have to guess at what might work.
I always aim to give teenagers the tools they need. In this example, it's the GROW Model.
The video contains a clear demonstration of Self-Coaching, using the GROW Cards that my coach colleagues and I created.
If you would like the GROW Cards, you can download them from here for free,
It was surprisingly difficult to speak the rehearsed script without looking at the notes.
I wrote this story, partly to help myself get through the traumatic incident from earlier in my life, and partly to help dentists be informed about what could be going on for the patient, and why they might not be able to speak about it at the time.
I offer this story with my deepest thanks and respect for your professional and caring treatment of me on 9th December 2019.
As she walked along the corridor to the classroom she could feel her shoulders rising to meet her ears. Her whole body was tensing up. From her stomach arose a whirlwind of fear. It reached past her heart and grabbed hold of her mind. Her body began to twist into a knot. Her face screwed into a scowl.
“Why does it always have to be this way with this class? They are so…”, she lamented.
“Wait a minute. What kind of energy are you bringing with you into the classroom?” interrupted her inner coach.
“What do you look like?”
“Well, it’s because…”
“What kind of face is that you have on?”
“What do you expect?”
“What do you expect? If you go into the room, feeling like that, looking like that? What’s the first thing they will see?”
“What’s the first thing they will do?”
“And what do you want them to do? Really? Deep down?”
“I want them to want to learn!”
“What can you do, to make that more possible?”
She stopped, straightened up.
She carried out her self-calming ritual. She took a deep breath. Then two more. Fear settled down. She sent fear back down to her belly and took control of her mind.
“This is going to be a wonderful lesson,” she told herself. Then said it out loud again, for extra measure as she opened the classroom door, “Wonderful lesson…”
At one college the janitor (whose job it is to clean the toilets, repair broken windows, clear graffiti etc) was proudly showing me around the super clean premises.
As he did so, we found groups of students sitting in stairways and huddled in groups in secret places hidden from view. He checked what the students were doing, should they be in class, are they lost, are they avoiding someone? He asked how they were feeling: if they were sick, tired, bored, scared...?
Every student spoke to the janitor with love and respect. It was heart-warming.
I asked how he had done it.
He told me he was a coach (an ACC certified coach!) and he had spent the first months of his new job getting to know the students and all their secret hiding places. He had spent months repairing the many broken windows and scrubbing a lot of graffiti from the walls.
I said, "Well, it sure looks clean now."
He replied, "We have had no graffiti for a year, no broken windows and no mess in the corridors. They would not do that to me."
Later, I commended the headteacher for employing a coach to clean the school.
“As long as he does his job” he said abruptly.
Then he winked at me.
I was a new teacher, at my first job at a Secondary School. I was enthusiastic about Mathematics, and wanted to pass on my enthusiasm to the schoolchildren there.
One day, whilst writing on the blackboard I noticed that one of the taller boys was having a bundle of fun attracting the attention of the class, distracting them from my teaching of the Noble Art of Maths.
Some of the teenage students were rather tall for their age. Several boys were taller than I was. Along with their age and size came an awakening interest in the opposite sex. In this co-educational school the classes were a mix of boys and girls, which gave plenty of opportunities for the boys to show off to the girls; and for the girls to show off to the boys.
Realising - from the sounds of laughter at the back of the room - that I had lost the attention of the class I felt that I needed to refocus on teaching them some social skills.
I paid more attention to what the boy at the back of the room was doing. Somehow - and I still don't know how - he had managed to take off his underpants without removing his trousers AND had put his underpants back on again, over his trousers, like Superman.
I could have flipped out, shouted and perhaps demanded that the boy leave the room, apologise etc. etc. However I was so fascinated by his feat of dexterity that I had to ask, not "Why?" but, "How?".
Standing beside this boy asking how, we shared the attention of the class. Here was an opportunity to discuss useful social skills. In this case the skill of knowing the difference between private and public behaviour, appropriate behaviour for a classroom, and how to get the attention you need without taking your pants off. A skill that could be useful for all the boys and girls in the room.
I asked the boy to stand up and adjust his clothing in front of the class, which probably felt slightly embarrassing for him since the kind of attention he was getting now was not as sexy as before.
Being a young teacher, I still felt the need to play the role of teacher, to assert my authority in the classroom and to "tell him off", so that everyone would know that I am in charge of the classroom. Yet it felt daft looking up at this giant of a boy to say "Don't do it again"... so I grabbed the nearest chair and stood on it in order to be taller, then in an over-dramatised way, said the words "Don't .. do that ... again!"
"No Sir", he said, smiling and accepting the admonishment in good spirits, along with the lesson in social skills. I sent him out of the room to adjust his clothing.
Do you like gardening?
Do you see before you rows of onions where everyone else just sees dirt?
Can you smell the daffodils where these has been snow for months?
Would you like to see how an idea becomes a social media post, a blog, an article, a book... then you are welcome to join the FB Group where I share my ongoing process.
This had been a paper, scissors and glue lesson. Paper had been cut and glued. Hair had been cut and glued. And even a few fingers have been cut and glued. Not many of the paper model houses had been built.
As the teacher got the children to sit in a circle at the end of the lesson, I expected that she was about to share her thoughts on how those little buildings should have been made.
In a voice that was wholly calm and filled with curiosity, she asked each of the students in turn questions like, “What do you think of the work you have done today?“, “How satisfied are you with what you have done?”, “What do you think of your behaviour in your group?”, “How well did you get on with the task today?”
She then asked questions like, “What would you do differently?”, “What could you have done instead?“, “What would have been the best thing to do?“, “What would’ve made you really happy about your work?“
The answers the pupils gave could have come from mature adults. They expressed how sad they were at having trashed the room, failed at the task, messed with each other and generally wasted the lesson. They expressed a renewed desire to be better, to do better and follow the teacher’s instructions in a focused way in the next lesson. All that came from the pupils, not the teacher.
So here was the learning! It was not about paper, scissors and glue, nor about model houses. It was about doing what made you feel fulfilled. It was about collaborating, making good use of one’s time and having a good time.
This is the second in a series of blogs that examines the ways in which I, as a coach-educator, handle the external and internal struggles of taking on challenging educational assignments.
In the previous blog, I described the situation where the management team of a particular IT company wants to strengthen their position of being a 'good' company by supporting the reintegration of unemployed people into the IT-workforce. All well and good. To this end, they have entered into an agreement with the local employment office, aligning with some of the government's attempts to reduce the number of unemployed people. They have also acquired the services of a local recruitment company to ensure maximum results. It's supposed to be a win-win for all concerned.
But, it's not working out. There have been challenges. Resistance, from the trainers, is increasing.
As a coach-educator, who has strong opinions about using coaching in education, I have been brought in to 'solve the problem'. After some deliberation, I have accepted an assignment to design and run a 3-day 'social skills' course - for the unemployed people who are seeking jobs after three years of unemployment.
In this blog, I will take us through my reasoning behind the design of the course, and arrive at an outline which I leave to you to populate with your favourite activities.
Naturally, the blog is a story, and you can read it here.
This is the first of a series of blogs where Martin Richards (a Certified Coach) has been interviewing Lisa M Evans, Ed.D. (an Experienced Educator) about situations from her experience, working as a teacher and administrator, and focusing on which coaching skills that would have benefited her in those situations.
WHY ARE WE WRITING THIS?
We could all say, about our working lives, “If only we had known then what we know now, it would have been so much easier”.
What we aim to do is to discover exactly which coaching skills would have been most useful, and why.
Read the full story here.
Some people ask about the difference between coaching and counselling.
I'm not sure I could describe in a list what one does that the other does not. But I did have the opportunity of being in a school counsellor's room and coaching one of his students.
The story below comes from "The Coach in the Classroom", by Martin Richards..
When the boy came into the counsellor, Jason's room, Riccardo immediately saw he was an ordinary boy, except for the fact that his eyes darted everywhere. He moved his head much like a bird, and seemed to be looking for something, or looking out for something, Riccardo wasn’t sure which.
The boy radiated a lot of energy and it seemed as though the room became both brighter and hotter as he walked in. The boy looked Riccardo up and down, querying why he was there, but not actually asking the question.
Jason introduced them and portrayed Riccardo as a coach, a life coach. With this opening, Riccardo aimed to connect with the boy.
Riccardo faced the boy and said, "I work with people who are in the process of making a decision, who want it to be the best decision for their lives. I don’t give advice; I simply listen and ask questions, and then listen again."
The boy looked around the room in silence.
Riccardo continued, "Is it okay with you that I’m here today? Jason asked me to come in and give some support. We both want the best for you, but it will be you who decides what the ‘best’ is, and who can help you, or not. Is it okay that I am a coach here for you today?"
The boy shrugged and mumbled, "It’s okay I suppose."
During his attempt to connect with him, Riccardo tried to maintain eye contact, but the boy looked away most of the time and scanned the room instead.
"But is he paying attention?" asked the voice in Riccardo’s head. "Yes, he is listening; he is using his eyes, not his ears."
Read the full story here for free
Buy the book on Amazon
This is the first of a series of blogs that examines the strategies an independent coach-educator can use to handle the external and internal struggles that arise when taking on a challenging education assignment in a less-than-optimal setting.
Of course, I have written this as a story. It's not published yet.
Through the window, you can see into my office. It has been my bedroom for the night. The arrangement of furniture is simple, a writing desk built into a bookshelf, with two hinged doors like wings, one on either side to allow this space be closed like a safe. The rest of the office shows signs of my overnight stay. On the bright red carpet, there are empty teacups and open books. Sheaves of papers are strewn in fallen piles among notebooks some stacked; some open, with pencils as bookmarks, like the scene of a bloodless battle with no clear victor. There came a sound.
As I dozed among my journals strewn
There pinged an e-mail across the room.
The ringing cut through my morning gloom
and woke this hero, an hour too soon.
My fingers rattled across the keys
The login typed with practised ease.
The challenge I read between the lines
described my task to be, this time.
Read the full story here.
Not every teacher is ready and willing to be coached - even if their headteacher thinks so.
Taking on the assignment to coach such a teacher brings me into the space between a Rock and a Hard Place. The question arises, "Why am I doing this? For whom am I coaching?".
"Am I coaching to prove to the people in the Education System (teachers, headteachers, administrators...) that coaching is effective? Am I coaching to prove to myself that I am a good coach? Do I simply wish to prove to this teacher that coaching is good stuff? Am I coaching to support this teacher in his professional development?"
The answer is, "Yes, all of that."
And that affects how the coaching is carried out as you can read in this story of Riccardo Midwinter's adventures as the coach in the classroom. He's not perfect, faultless or entirely neutral in what he does. He is on a mission to bring coaching to the education world. Oops, he has an agenda, and coaches should not have an agenda.
The following text is from "The Coach in the Classroom", written by Martin Richards.
Riccardo chose to first get in touch with Max, one of the teachers on the list.
He found Max, a middle-aged man, in one of the staff rooms and approached him.
"Hi, I'm Riccardo, the coach on assignment here. Your name is on my list."
Max rose from his chair, looking like a benevolent bear disturbed from a slumber. His fine, straight, short hair was the colour of varnished wood and was combed in an impractical, artistic style across his eyes. He had droopy blue eyes, and a thick moustache which hung above his defensive smile. Max’s attire was businesslike and flattering to his rounded chest and belly.
Max began, "I'm sorry, I don't have time for coaching," and he waved his stubby-fingered hands as if to dismiss Riccardo.
Riccardo was taken aback, and silent. He did not move.
Max continued, "In fact, I was volunteered for coaching by the headteacher and I don’t really see the point. I have been teaching for seventeen years and I'm already a good teacher."
Read the full story here for free.
Buy the book on Amazon.
Planning and goal-setting is an area that teachers recognise well. However, we are talking about coaching, not teaching and the situation is a bit different.
The biggest difference is ... whose plan? Whose goals?
The skill of planning and goal-setting is about developing and maintaining an effective coaching plan with the student. Sounds familiar so far.
The coach does these things together with the student
When to use planning and goal-setting?
There are opportunities for planning and goal-setting when planning the coaching sessions and at the start of each coaching session too.
"What do you want to acheive or experience in these coaching sessions? / this coaching session?"
Similarly, there are opportunities for planning and goal-setting when planning the term's lessons and at the start of each lesson too.
"What do you want to learn or do during these lessons? / this lesson?". Previuously, this has been expressed from the teacher's internal point of view, "What do I want them to learn and do during the lessons?".
Whose goals? Whose planning?
I have noticed that goals that are externally defined often result in low levels of motivation; and even may cause resentment and resistance in the client. This occurs even when the goals are well described and well understood. It happens most often when the goals are not well accepted, or not connected sufficiently to the client's personal life.
I have also noticed that goals that are internally defined by the client result in higher levels of motivation and a different kind of resistance.
As coaching becomes more frequently used in schools and colleges we shall see more work done in balancing these two sets of goals. The personal, student goals and the community, educational goals. There need be no conflict between these sets of goals. There will be a need to build bridges between them.
Identifying resistance as external or internal
When you are coaching a student you will notice, probably through a change in their tone of voice, or body language, that there is some resistance to what is coming up for them.
I have found that this issue is one of whose goals are being worked with.
When the goal is not wholly accepted by the student there is resistance, or resentment.
Resistance is to internal goals. The body language often displays Fear.
Resentment is to external goals. The body language often displays Disgust.
How can you pick up on the difference between resistance and resentment?
For me this is a question of calibration. Noticing the changes in a particular student's tone of voice and body language when I know in advance that the goal is external will help me notice when it happens later.
Misuse of coaching as a persuasion tool
There is a risk that coaching will be tried as a means of persuasion. Although some visible success may be achieved in a coaching session it is common that the client's values system will bring them back to the previous behaviour.
It is only when the client truly wishes to make a change, that is in line with their values, that they can overcome the fear that has been holding them back from making desired changes.
Coaching requires maturity, readiness for responsibility, and willingess to change yourself
Balancing External and Internal goals
External goals are those that are set by the student's Community (ie their family, society and school) and Internal goals are those that come from the student's own perception of their Life Mission.
A method that a coach can use to illuminate the student's situation regarding their external and internal goals and finding a balance between them, that also enables the coach to remain neutral, is as follows.
On a scale 1-10 ...
There are teachers who give up teaching, and yet continue teaching.
Can they be re-inspired?
Here, I tell the story of a coaching conversation with an exhausted teacher.
It did not go well. Or maybe it went as well as it could? You tell me.
This story first appeared in "The Coach in the Classroom", available on Amazon
Alan came into the room without knocking. He was in his late fifties, his balding head was bowed, his back was stooped. He looked like a lost and wandering spirit. His narrow black eyes were two spheres of night-black marble. The straggling remains of his unkempt black
hair was shoulder-length. He wore a pale grey jumper and old blue jeans. He carried a worn briefcase under one arm and he dragged the soles of his shoes across the floor as he walked across to Riccardo.
Alan presented himself in a flat voice, "Hello"
"Hi, I'm Riccardo, your coach," replied Riccardo slightly too gleefully, getting up to shake Alan's hand.
"Yes, so what do we do?"
Read the full story here for free.
Buy the book on Amazon
An exhausted teacher, an ineffective assistant and a student who's looking for a fight.
A recipe for disaster?
Or an opportunity for learning?
The story below comes from "The Coach in the Classroom", by Martin Richards.
Riccardo relaxed into the smooth rhythm of the lesson and was about to start the third page of notes when a loud disturbance of voices at the back of the room caught his attention.
Turning to the source of the disturbance, Riccardo saw the assistant and his young student were having what might be described as a wrestling match. The student was apparently trying to hit the assistant, and the assistant was defending himself by holding onto the student’s wrists.
The students nearest the disturbance turned to watch. Riccardo looked for Jayne. Where was she? She was attending to another student elsewhere in the room and had her back to the disturbance. Riccardo was certain, if he could hear the disturbance, then she too could hear what was going on behind her.
After a minute, Jayne spun round and walked determinedly over to this wrestling pair. Riccardo’s eyes and ears widened, excited to hear what she was about to say and to see what she was going to do in order to resolve this tense and escalating situation.
"A teachable moment," said the voice. "A coachable moment," replied Riccardo.
Read the full story here for free.
Buy the book on Amazon
It's not often that you get to see two teachers teaching the same class.
It's not a scientific experiment, it's how the school is dealing with a particular situation. But it does give some scope for observing the effect that two teachers have on the same class.
The following story comes from "The Coach in the Classroom", by Martin Richards.
During this observation phase, Riccardo noticed something that was happening with this class. The students were at times unruly, challenging, and occasionally rude; and at other times collaborative, playful, and supportive of each other.
The observation tool revealed that the different behaviours were connected to which teacher was at the front of the room. It was tempting to come to the conclusion that one teacher was good and the other was bad, but he knew that would be counter-productive.
For Anna, the following occurred: every time a student interrupted, Anna started over reading from the beginning of the sentence once more, sounding a little bit peeved. The students played the game of "winding up the teacher," and Anna would be successfully wound up.
For Belle, the following occurred: whenever a student interrupted, she smiled and continued reading in a calm voice, not allowing the interruption to disturb the flow of her story. Students responded by playing the game of "helping each other keep up with the reading."
Read the full story here, for free
Buy the book on Amazon.
As a teacher, a parent, an adult, you already know that your attitude towards a task strongly influences the outcome.
As Henry Ford (yes that one) said "If you think you can, or think you can't, you're right"
So how would you pass on that nugget of hard-earned, useful information to a roomful of teenagers?
The task concerned here is "Giving a Presentation". You may recall the kind of thing from your school days, or you may even be trying to get your students to stand up and give a presentation as part of their lessons. You know how it feels. You know the kind of things that go on inside your head, "If you think you can, or think you can't, you're right."
Public speaking is probably the most feared activity in a person's working life. Most of us avoid it. And yet, if we could overcome the fear of it, much would become possible.
The story below comes from "The Coach in the Classroom", written by Martin Richards.
Looking into the students’ faces, Riccardo declared, "The best way for me to share with you what I know about giving presentations - is to give a presentation."
Riccardo laughed, and added lightly, "and it would be even better for you to give the presentations."
As he said the word 'you', Riccardo eyed each of the informal leaders briefly.
So what I’m looking for is somebody to volunteer to give a presentation for a couple of minutes so that we can give some feedback.
In fact, I’m looking for three people. Who are the three most confident people in the room?"
Read the story here for free.
Buy the book on Amazon
Would you ever take on the task of giving a talk, an inspiring talk, to teenagers at a local college?
Since my 50th birthday, I have given over a hundred such talks on behalf of the Swedish volunteer organisation Transfer,
At the start, I gave a traditional "This is the working life of an Entrepreneur" lecture and followed up by answering students' polite questions about what such a person does on a day to day basis. Can you guess their most frequent question?
As I learned how to engage with teenagers - whose minds and bodies are not yet fully developed into their adult form - I also learned to trust that the students' questions were more important than my life and work experience. Yes, you read that right, more important. And yet, my assignment was to share my life and work experience. So how do those two add up?
If you have ever spoon-fed porridge to a baby, you will know that the first thing you have to do is to get the baby to open its mouth. Not using force, but by gentle persuasion. And adding a little jam to the porridge always helps.
The following text is an excerpt from my book "The Coach in the Classroom" which tells of Teacher / Coach Riccardo's adventures in feeding life and work experience to teenagers.
Opening the door, Melissa continued her education of Riccardo. "At this high school there is an entrepreneur program supported by 'Young Enterprise', a non-profit organization which provides advice and support to new companies during their start-up phase. 'Young Enterprise' has for many years paid for motivational speakers at this high school to deliver their message to students about the services they offer."
She rounded on Riccardo, "I see that you are going to give a talk on 'Starting and Running a Company'. We have asked the teachers to gather the first year students in the Assembly Room. There are about a hundred of them. They are aged between 16 and 18, and have been at here for less than a week. This assembly is part of their orientation to the school."
True enough, there were about a hundred teenagers in the Assembly Room.
"Welcome," Melissa concluded her speech to Riccardo, and walked on stage and stood behind the podium, picked up a microphone and tapped it. The room hushed.
Standing onstage at the podium in the front of the Assembly Room, Melissa greeted the students and said, by way of introduction, "We are going to hear from Mr. Midwinter about his company. We look forward to an interesting and inspiring talk." Melissa passed the microphone to Riccardo and walked offstage. The students applauded politely. They had little idea about what was going to happen.
Neither did Riccardo. His heart was pounding in his head.
"Read the room, listen to them, contact and engage," intoned Riccardo's inner voice.
Riccardo held the microphone to his chest and began his introduction, "My name is Riccardo and I run my own company. I have almost always run my own company. I started when I was young."
Read the full story here for free.
Buy the book on Amazon
I enjoy speaking with people about coaching and teaching. Do you have an hour to invest in a learning conversation?
Click on the button to see when I am available, and book a call. Let's talk.
I am a teacher, a business-owner, a public speaker, a coach and an author.