How little things can get big results

I recently fielded a call from an international client; my wife and I do marriage coaching for the couple together.* They are on a retainer that’s paid annually. It’s a rather large chunk of money out of their pocket at one shot. This month, when the invoice for the next year arrived, the husband and wife had a discussion about it. What’s the value of paying a big chunk of money to talk with old friends? Of course we keep the discussions focused on them; my wife and I are not burdening them with concerns about the problems in our lives. Like any good coaching conversation we stay focused on what they need to do to maximize their growth and impact in the culture where they serve. It’s much more about them than it is about us. It’s slightly unusual in the sense that they are a little more likely to ask us what’s going on in our lives, but even then we try to keep our sharing abbreviated so we can make sure to focus on them.

So my friend called me. He wanted to acknowledge that it was a lot of money, but then began to highlight a variety of reasons why they were continuing a professional relationship with us, their old friends. 1) The fee holds them accountable to show up. 2) They could have a similar conversation with other old friends, but would they? It would be easy to schedule a call with some other friends, but it would also be easy for one of them to postpone (I almost never postpone a scheduled call. It would have to be an emergency. I show up and do my job!) Once a conversation gets postponed for a month, it’s easy to go three and then six months without talking. 3) We’ve known them a long time and I’ve been to visit them, so I’m one of a very few people who has been alongside them for a week in their cultural context, meeting many of the people who are key players in their life. 4) We worked together a few months back on an issue that was causing a variety of problems in their family life.   A certain level of detail is necessary here. The couple is a missionary couple, but they aren’t exclusively attending one congregation for worship every Sunday; they work with leaders from several churches so they move around. Essentially the issue had to do with when they decided which church they would attend: would they decide on Sunday morning where they were going, or earlier, like Friday evening? Deciding at the last minute was causing some friction in their own family. They came up with a solution and decided they’d work at making this weekly decision two days ahead.

Helping people do little things so that their family life runs smoother has broader implications. In this case, after recapping all the reasons they were going to continue working with me for another year, my friend said, “Remember Joe*?” (*name changed)

“Sure, he was the young guy who … ” I recalled what I knew of Joe.

“Yeah, well, Joe has a lot of leadership potential, but we realized he hasn’t been going to church anywhere. Once we disciplined ourselves to make plans on Friday instead of Sunday morning, I began to call Joe and invite him to come with us. He finally responded with ‘Yes!’ and I got to take him with me for the first time in almost a year!”

So a little thing that seemed like it was an internal, family issue, ended up being a major piece of encouraging a young leader … helping them do their job, putting together a piece that helps them fulfill their stated mission.

Stories like that gets me excited about doing what I do.

*The information in this post is shared with permission from the client. Normally my client conversations are confidential; I don’t share anything, even success stories, without permission.

 

 

 

New Release: Positive Cultural Impact

You’re leading a team: could be you and one child, or you and a sales team, or you and a massive corporation or nonprofit institution. In any case, you have a culture you want to build, values to instill. But how?

For the last few months I’ve been blogging less as I was working to refine a concept into a concise e-book which details my formula for making a positive cultural impact in the form of a cycle which I very creatively decided to call the Cultural Impact Cycle.

Graphic4

Last Friday I published this e-book, reasonably priced at $2.99 USD. Here’s the link: How to Make a Positive Cultural Impact.

In a recent discussion with a random stranger, I told the stranger I am a life coach.

“What do you teach people?” he asked.

“Coaches don’t teach… but I’m also a writer,” I said, and proceeded to give him the elevator version of the cycle and the book.

“So, it’s the simple things,” he said.

Yes… it’s simple. The concepts here aren’t complicated. It’s implementation that may be difficult… perhaps even challenging enough you’ll want to work on them with a coach.

There’s more to come. Soon I’ll have a video course available for purchase that includes a workbook and an online forum. In the meantime, you can check out the book itself, it’s a short read at 8,300 words.

Enjoy!

–Adam G. Fleming

When your last one wasn’t good

“That last one I did wasn’t very good” is an easy thing to think. We can dwell on it, especially when critics rub our faces in it.

The antidote is to start working on the next one.

It’s not to go back and try to redo.

It’s not to listen to the critics.

The only way to really get away from the past dragging us down is forward motion.

If your last poem or blog or piece of furniture or customer service call or seminar or class wasn’t the best, do another one.

Horse riders have known for a long time that if you’ve fallen off, the best thing you can do is to get back on right away. It’s conventional wisdom, right?

What if doing it again isn’t possible (you’ve fallen off a horse and broken three bones, or you messed up again and got fired)? Are you doomed to sit and wish you could have another shot for the rest of your life? No! Now’s the time to try something different and new!

By the way, if you try something different and new, you can expect your first one to not be good… but then you can cycle back to the top of this blog and repeat the process.

PS- I love to share the photo(shopped image) above because my son is learning to use Photoshop, and I’m encouraging him to keep trying and playing with it! He’s particular and detail oriented. I’m sure someday he’s going to be a heck of an editor.

NaNoWriMo writers: When does your real day begin?

Happy First of November.

For those of you who want to start writing a novel today, we’ve got a great writer’s group which meets on November 19 via teleconference. But the first thing you need to do is figure out when you’re going to do this important thing you’ve decided to do. Maybe you’re writing a novel this month, and maybe you aren’t, but this ought to be helpful no matter what your top priority is.

Ask yourself: what’s your top priority right now? Working on a novel? Spending time with kids? Getting more sleep? Landing a new client?

Day begins at dawn. Or does it really?

Based on the premise that we ought to put the top priorities on our schedule for the first thing to do in the day may mean that we need to think outside the box about when our day begins. If my top priority is getting more sleep, then my day might begin at 9 PM. If my top priority is spending time with the kids, it’s 4 PM when they get home from school (and my week begins at 4 PM on Friday). If it’s finishing that novel, it begins at 7 AM with a two hour writing session before I do any other work, and my month begins with the weekend where I schedule a writer’s retreat.

Think outside about what time your day begins. Set that time for your most important activity of all, then, and only then, after you’ve done that, you can do whatever you can with the rest of your day. Everything else revolves around what’s most important to you. You may notice that this is when you have a surge of energy — when beginning that thing which is most important. Or, you may decide to begin your day at 8 AM with the thing you least like to do but is important for your success.

In the Jewish tradition Sabbath begins at sundown on Friday; in fact, every day begins at nightfall, not at dawn. There’s no reason you can’t set the beginning of your day for some other time than when you wake up (unless you’re practicing this aspect of Judaism, of course, then you have to follow your convictions). The point is that you really can begin to think of a different time than dawn as the beginning of your day.

Change your thinking about what time of day your day really begins, and you’ll have a new tool for time management. Do the most important stuff first, and everything else can fall into place. Then, set a goal and tell somebody about it!