together we can change ourself

together we can change ourself

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I was intrigued by the invitation I received from the Coaching program in the mail. I came to the program feeling frustrated and trapped by my job and my stalled-out career path. It seemed to me that I was trapped by both my own success in my current position, as well as by weak leadership that would not help my career move forward. I had worked with a career counselor who had helped me understand that both my potential and my capability in the market are at a much higher level than I am currently working at. So I understood clearly where I should be, but I could not get a plan in place to consistently execute and that would move me to a higher level. It has been a tremendous experience, and surprising in many ways. Even though I have not yet accomplished the goals I have set out to do, I have changed my paradigms, and they are clearly moving me toward those goals faster than before I started the program. In addition, I have been able to become more focused on the person I want to be along the journey of life. I am no longer the ‘get it done at any cost’ manager I had become the last few years, trying to survive the multitude of layoffs and job moves, the downturn of the IT industry, and massive changes at my workplace. The program has helped me get back to balancing the “P” and the “PC” that I had practiced for many years prior to the downturn. I find myself better able to deal with the issues of the day by ‘standing in the gap’ and just listening, thinking, and acting only if it will be fruitful. I have been able to remove myself from the emotions of situations and act in a more positive way. I have also stopped beating myself up for not being good enough at my job, my family life, and in my church that came from old thinking patterns. That has been a tremendous stress reliever. Overall this has helped me to get back to the more positive person of my past. Having the accountability of the weekly meetings and having the Coaching line is the key to these incredible changes. Even though I have not yet achieved my two main goals from the program, I can see now that, as a result of the program, it is only a matter of time before I attain my main goal of becoming an IT Manager or Director. I can also see that these changes in myself will create more fruitful relationships in all areas of my life in the future, and will help me attain even larger personal and professional goals.

Two years ago, I retired from “big time” consulting at Accenture and spent my time doing the things I had always wanted to do, which most notably included oil painting, the study of philosophy and religion, extensive travel in Japan and Italy, and improving my golf game (well, at least I accomplished three of four). As satisfying as these activities were, I longed for the personal interactions of the workplace, and decided to re-enter it, but in a way that was enjoyable to me and allowed me a reasonable degree of personal flexibility. I settled on the idea of setting up a private consulting practice focused on leadership development for small and medium companies in my geographic area. While I had many job descriptions at Accenture, the common thread throughout them was influencing, leading, and motivating people. My study of philosophy and art also got me interested in looking at the workplace with a less linear, more “right-brained” point-of-view. That was all well and good as a starting concept. However, my problem became getting “off the dime” after two years of retirement. I had learned many of the things I would need to do to establish a new business, but the driving force was not yet there. I had been trained in “The 7 Habits of Effective People” at Accenture back in the early ’90s. And while I could not say that I was an expert, I did appreciate that there might be some fuel there to get my engine started. For the twelve weeks I worked with my Coach, he made each weekly session an important event in my life. Together, we went deep into each of The Habits, and I was accountable for making some real progress on my goals. I realize that my journey has only just begun. I have developed an action plan that addresses several key areas in which I want to improve myself. Most notably, these include increasing my proactivity in initiating social interactions, and developing more assertiveness in my interpersonal relationships. Visualization, listening, and focusing on my strengths (rather than worrying about what I am missing) are important techniques that I am using in both of these areas. Making these improvements are important to the development of my business, and will develop me into who I want to be. The key outcome of the Coaching process so far is that The Habits have actually become habits. I want to thank Dr. Covey for his thought leadership in the area of effective living. I also want to thank my Coach for being my guide during these past several months. I have learned something important from each interaction I have had with my Coach, and feel confident moving forward.

Accepting and participating in the Focus Coaching Program has been a turning point in my life. Prior to this personal Coaching experience, I felt that I led myself and managed myself to my goals fairly well. I was taught as a child to set goals for time periods of my life; I began in middle school to choose new goals in several areas of my life on New Year’s Day and at semester breaks. Typically, throughout my life, my goals were set unrealistically high for the time period they were set for. In working hard to achieve those really high goals in some areas, I would steal the time and attention that should have been used toward other goals. The outcome rarely included victories. I hardly remember a time of not feeling frustrated and inadequate. I read “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” fifteen years ago when I was in college, but ironically was not in the frame of mind to really read and digest its contents to implement them at that time. My Coaching experience produced several significant paradigm shifts for me. The first shift was choosing to put my health concerns first so that I can function to bring anything else to pass effectively in my life. The second shift was realizing that I typically set goals too high for the time period I set them for. There was no chance or room for balance in my life the way I used to set goals. A crucial shift has been, as a self-employed person, to realize that my “purposes” in my daily work are much bigger and more important than my occasional dislike for doing them. My Coach has taught me to replace my procrastination with a mental and visual recall of my higher “purposes” for those career tasks that I dodge. I am not a master at it yet, but being given this tool has put me on the mastering path. Another shift was from the selfish “Win” to “Win/Win and/or “Win/Win or No Deal.” The hardest shift to digest was realizing how selfish it was to listen with only the intent to reply. Too many past conversations were held with only the intent to reply. Although I cannot go back and change them, my regrets strengthen my resolve to make the effort to listen attentively and even empathically. I love realizing that there is a difference between leadership and management, that I am a great leader and that I have learned how to be a better manager through fourth-generation time management. I feel like I have woken up and re-realized my potential; I have been placed on the right tracks with the right tools and with glasses on, and I have been Coached through the sea of doubt.

The Personal Coaching program was very effective for me. In many ways, it culminated my years of studying/utilizing FranklinCovey materials into a focused effort to apply the concepts at a much higher and sustained level. I was impressed that I had to “prove” that I was ready for Coaching before I was accepted into the Coaching program. I think that this was very intuitive on your part. If the timing hadn’t been right for me, the program would not have been nearly as effective. The specific takeaways that were the most valuable for me were:
Concreting the proactive mindset. What a powerful sense of freedom when you truly get your hands around the concept that you have the choice to choose your response to any stimulus. I had previously thought that I understood this concept, but now realize what it really means to put this in to practice at a higher level.
Raising awareness about blind spots via the Winslow survey and the 360? profile.
Increasing confidence in myself by choosing to live with integrity.
Deciding to commit to spending one-on-one time with one of my (3) children each week. It is incredible the increased interaction/nurturance/trust that I have gained with my children since undertaking this commitment. I am certain that this will pave the way for more openness as my children begin to face the challenges of transitioning into being adults. And what a wonderful legacy that this will leave my children, for them to always remember the special one-on-one time that they enjoyed with their father while growing up.
Empathy is only empathy if it is viewed that way by the recipient.
Seeking first to understand is a habit that requires constant effort.
My Coach never solved a problem for me, but rather taught me to solve my own problems by being supportive and by holding me accountable. Knowing that I can solve my own problems is a major boost for my self-confidence. Overall, the Personal Coaching program has been a great success for me. I have more confidence than ever that I have the tools to solve the problems that I will face, to grow to my potential, and to live the life that I choose to live.

I had recently experienced quite a change in both my personal and professional life with the addition of a set of twins, a demanding yet unchallenging job, and major responsibilities at home with my oldest daughter and husband. I felt very unsure about my future and seemed to just be existing from day to day. I just did not have the energy or motivation to move myself out of the valley that I found myself in. Once I started the sessions, going through the first three habits, I began to realize and really think about what I truly valued and what I wanted to contribute to the world. My coach really helped me to focus in on the important things first, which for me was my lack of energy. As my Coach and I worked through Habits 4, 5 and 6, I found that many of the lessons were applicable immediately in both my home and work environments. Some of my work frustration had been related to my feeling helpless to improve many of the work problems that existed between my group and some of the departments we interact with daily. I now understand that a win “only” for my group is not the most productive way to handle business and nurture future work relationships. I have also seen a transformation in my working relationship with my peers and my boss. Work has started to become fun for me again, and I am enjoying the challenges that my job provides each day. Perhaps the most rewarding experiences have occurred in my personal life, with my spouse and my oldest daughter. I am continuing to work on not making so many “assumptions” about things and I now practice more the habit of “seeking to understand” first, before I let off the steam. The “discussions/disagreements” we have now are much healthier than they have been in the past. I know that this experience has made me a better mother and wife.

Luckily I am fortunate enough to work for a company that provides classes for staff development on all levels. One of the many classes available to all staff was entitled “Navigating Conflict,” which was presented by a FranklinCovey instructor. In this class I was introduced to “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.” I was hooked; it was a beginning, but I needed more direction. So I jumped at the chance to enroll in the FranklinCovey Personal Coaching program. In the beginning of this program I was extremely dissatisfied with myself. My interactions with others, whether family, friends or coworkers, were difficult to say the least. My main concern was how I treated myself, and how easy it was for me to jump to conclusions before getting the facts about anything. Coincidently, my mother was having serious problems of her own. She’d been diagnosed with breast cancer and was going through some difficult treatments. I felt the responsibility to be strong. I flew down from Providence, R.I. to Tampa, F.l., every other month for nine months. My brother and sister did not do the same, and I resented them for it. As my mother was recovering, my father unexpectedly became very ill. He found out on a Friday that he had acute leukemia, and passed away 11 days later. I was overwhelmed with grief, anger, and frustration, and I was exhausted. I couldn’t imagine feeling any less hopeless. I knew I needed some serious guidance. As a godsend, I found this course. It has changed my life. Learning to understand myself better, I am now able to say, “It’s good to be me!” I can honestly say that I have never felt so good about what I can achieve and about myself. I am now convinced that there is nothing that I can’t do if I put my mind to it. No one or nothing can control my life because I am in control. I read and visualize my mission statement and my new set of paradigms at the start of each day. I’ve sat down and listened to my brother and sister talk about out dad, and I’ve let go of the need to judge them. In doing so, my anger towards them has disappeared. We have become closer as a family, and I am no longer the go-between for petty sibling rivalries. In addition to improved family relationships, my work life has become much more satisfying. I no longer feel trapped by other people’s judgments and perceptions of me, or of my work. It just doesn’t faze me anymore. It is incredible to finally feel free. My listening skills have improved, and I seek first to understand, and next, to be understood. Anger no longer frightens me. I don’t have to avoid it or get into it. Anger comes and anger goes. Situations no longer direct me, I direct them. I am unafraid to speak my mind, because I have learned how to be more tactful. My diet and exercise programs are now successful. I feel and look so much healthier. I’ve lost 30 pounds and gained a lifetime of new and positive habits. Grateful for a new beginning, I am proactively sharing this program with my friends. I keep “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” with me at all times for reference. It’s much like an AA sponsor! Always there to pick me up and set me back on the right track. My Coach has been such a great help to me. I cannot thank him enough for all his words of encouragement. I hate to see this program end.

The Personal Coaching program has had a life-changing effect on how I relate to and process my life. As a result of all the many things I have learned, I now have new skills to help keep me focused on what matters most to me. During the past many years, I have spent a lot of time worrying about money and job-related issues. After being empowered with my purpose (governing values), I am pleased to say that I don’t worry about these things any more. In fact, not only am I not worrying about them through the skills and tools I have learned from this process I am about to double and triple my income! And even more importantly, I am achieving the highest and most important things that matter the most to me.

My Coaching experience has really opened my eyes to the potential of living in line with my life mission, governing values, roles, and goals. I have found that I am much less stressed, more focused, more productive, and much more joyful and fulfilled. One of the biggest benefits has come in the area of my daily attitude and demeanor. My family is reaping the benefits of the Coaching process in my life. I no longer harp on the little things and lose my temper like I did just a few months ago. My wife affirmed to me this morning that she has enjoyed a noticeable difference in me in the past two months. The reason I entered the Coaching process was because my life was in disarray. I had a ton of stuff constantly swirling around in my life without real focus, or plans to accomplish tasks or projects. Today I have focus, an understanding of what matters most in my life, as well as the roles I play each day, and a plan to accomplish what needs to be done in a way that is fulfilling and free of the needless stress and frustration I used to experience.

Written by Bhushan Kulkarni

March 2, 2007 at 9:30 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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