Certified Hudson Institute Coaching Community

The Coaching Seminar schedule has been released for 2016. Please Click Here to learn more.

Letter from Pam
A little help from our friends matters
when it comes to reaching our goals!
Imagine you are a committed runner and you are working to up your distance in preparation for a 50 mile run. You head out for your daily run with a bigger goal of 20 miles in mind and as you reach the starting point you notice your backpack feeling a little heavy, your energy a little low and you begin to wonder if you are up for 20 miles – maybe tomorrow! Turns out, left to our own perceptions, most of us overestimate the slant of a hill or how challenging a running course might be. The runner facing into a 20 mile run may imagine the course to be more daunting that it is and turn back before even starting. If that same runner takes a friend along he will correct his perception –in social theory terms he is ‘outsourcing his self regulation’ and increasing his range of possibilities. A little help from our friends turns out to make a very big difference. He will feel the camaraderie of his friend, they might engage in stories and laughter that eases the course and when going gets tougher they can support and encourage one another.
According to the research of Todd Kashdan, PhD, professor of psychology at George Mason University, the motivational influence of others transcends traditional categories and significantly enhances the quality of our goals and the progress we make toward them. This emerging body of research on Social Theory has real relevance to us as coaches given how challenging it is for any of us to make changes and adjustments in our well-ingrained habits.
Social theory emphasizes how difficult it is for even the most determined to make changes in isolation. The support of other people matters even more than we might think. In fact, many long distance runners will often have someone join them half way through 50 miles to ‘spot them’ and keep them on course. Turns out even the mere thought of supportive others in our lives can influence goal setting, initiation and commitment. And no surprise, explicit partners, mentors, friends and colleagues can make an even bigger difference.
In coaching when our coachee is facing a challenging situation, her ability to invest external resources – ‘outsourcing self regulation’ – will have a positive impact on getting to her goal. The mere thought of other people will influence her outcomes and the more important the relationships, the greater the positive influence on her.
It is important for us to explore with our clients who the facilitators of their own ‘self regulation’ are – that handful of folks – both family and colleagues whose very association helps the client reach higher, build stronger commitment and get to the finish line when there is a big challenge ahead.
In this VUCA world where change is the currency of today, and at a time when leadership coaching engagements are becoming more complex — we may be well served to spend plenty of time exploring where our client’s sense of support will come from, emphasizing the wisdom of explicitly identifying who these supports are both inside the organization in the client’s social circles from spouse or partner to distant mentors.
At Hudson we emphasize the need for a great coach to always ‘start at home’ and that applies here as well — it may be a worthy exercise to ask yourself this same question: who are your facilitators, those key people in your life who help you reach higher, stay committed and reach the goals that are most important to you? And are there ways you could ‘outsource’ your self-regulation even more by explicitly seeking their support along the way?
Outsourcing self regulation can take many forms in coaching and serves as a reminder to all of us coaches that we need to actively think systemically to identify sources of support for our clients. Consider these approaches:
1. Explore first and second tier supports. Together, identify those key people in your client’s life able to help them reach higher and stay committed. Sometimes the simple act of identifying this small handful of family, friends or colleagues helps the client explicitly ask for the support that might prove helpful in a time of change.
2. Mapping Your Support. Literally build a support map with the client to surface and highlight those who can add additional support for the key goals. Often our clients aren’t able to quickly identify where their support could come from.
3. Strategically Use Stakeholders. Stakeholders can provide a helpful perspective for the client and the coach, and they can also provide support for the leader in the form of noticing changes and letting the leader know. Coaches can work to strengthen the role of stakeholder to be a supporter of change, meeting with them mid-way through the coaching, encouraging them to play a key role in supporting the leader’s stated goals.
4. Keep a metaphor or visual on your desk. A quick and inviting reminder that captures the essence of a change proves enormously helpful for any of us. Keep it simple, find a picture of someone engaged in the very behavior you are living in to, or a single word or metaphor that is shorthand for the shift you are making.

Tarfoot Consulting, Santa Barbara, CaliforniaCreative Strategy & Website Design by Tarfoot, Santa Barbara, California.