Tag Archives: coaching

The Integrated Life, part one of four.

CNN Control A 8_resize

I think I first noticed it about fifteen years ago.  I was in my home office, on the phone. My daughter, who was maybe all of six years old, walked in the door and stopped dead in her tracks until my call was done. As soon as I was done, she came the rest of the way in and climbed on my lap.

“I was very good, wasn’t I, Daddy?” she said. “You had your work voice on and I waited.”

“My work voice?” I asked.

She went on to explain that I had a work voice, and a voice when I was doing church things and a voice for friends and a voice when I was talking arty things. “They’re all different.” She said.

I hadn’t realized how different they were, and that episode moved me to look at my larger life. Like most of us, I have a lot of roles. My work alone has several aspects to it – technical consulting, marketing strategy, writing, coaching, teaching. It’s the same in the other parts of my life, be it family or creative or spiritual.

We have a tendency to live these parts of our lives as separate things, moving one to the other with each of them being almost separate lives. That’s the way humans are wired, to categorize things. You can see that even with small kids as they separate toys by color, or type, or how they never let the mashed potatoes touch the peas. And we carry that tendency into our grownup lives.

So we live differently, or at best with a bit of overlap in our faith and life and work.

It works well enough, but what if, I wondered, what if we did a better job integrating all the aspects of our lives?

I know it works in marketing.  In my work in marketing I preach the principle of Integrated Marketing. It is one of the basics of marketing. Real Marketing 101 stuff. The idea is that everything you do as a marketer works together, each thing builds one on the other. This intentional working together requires a bit more thought and purposefulness, but the effect of doing it well is that when you do, each thing you do builds on the other things. They magnify the other things you do, making everything more effective.

Teaching a company to think in terms of truly integrating marketing always (let me repeat this), ALWAYS pays big dividends, often without much extra effort or cost, other than changing their thinking and purposefulness.

What if, I wondered, we could do the same in our lives?

Well, we can.

It’s been slow going for me, but I have seen it work in my own life. And I have slowly seen it work in the lives of others.

Let me share with you what I have seen…

  • When we better integrate all our roles in life, we reduce the stress of moving from role to role. Life and work become easier, more joyful, less of a struggle. We simply don’t understand how much work and energy goes into building a life of silos.
  • When we better integrate our lives, there tends to be better balanced. This is because we really aren’t balancing anything. We are simply living a life of principles that don’t require balancing.
  • When we better integrate our lives, we become more effective in everything we do. Because everything builds on everything else, in every aspect of what we do, not just in one role or the other.

For me, the big reasons had to do with building a less stressful life, and being more effective in the things I do. Often, those two things seem to be diametrically opposed. But they aren’t. Not really. We’ve just built artificial walls in our lives.

I have spent much of my work over the past years in the broadcast systems integration business, helping clients build broadcast and network television facilities.  The challenge in that business is helping chose and engineer a dizzying array of equipment and software into a comprehensive whole that works together as one. When we do it well, it’s a wonderful thing.

Each project is a totally custom project that melds the corporate culture, the technical needs and the images clients carry in their heads of what they want to be and how they want to do their work.

The same is true of developing an integrated life, where our truest selves shows itself in the things we do and the life we lead.  It’s where we look for the commonalities of all our roles in life, and build on them, slowly cutting out the things that are less true, that we have come to do because it was part of the role. It’s where we change our lives to let our roles, all of them, better match who we are.

When we do it, our goals, principles, values and behavior fall into line, across all of our roles in life.

Why don’t we live more integrated lives? Why do we live lives where there is some bleed over into the other, but where we keep so much of ourselves hidden away, not living this part of ourselves in a work role and that part of ourselves in a private role, and some other part of ourselves in a faith role?

I will leave you with that question until the next article. But let me assure you, because I have seen it in my own life, and in the lives of many of my clients, when we integrate our lives better, everything works better. We are happier, less stressed, more effective.

Be well. Travel Wisely

Tom

Advertisements

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

What Can I Do for You and other myths.

Clock

It’s something I ask a lot in my life. I ask it of my clients and customers. I ask it of people I consult with or coach. I ask it of my parishioners. I often ask it of friends and family.

“What can I do for you?”

It seems like a simple question, and at times it is. If a customer, for instance, needs a particular camera or server. It’s short and sweet conversation.

But when the conversation is about something more complex, the answer is rarely as easy as it might seem. When a client wants to accomplish something, whether it is technical or personal, finding our way to an answer is rarely a quick and easy thing. It takes time because there are often several layers of issues to deal with.

Take a studio. Often a customer will come and say they are building a studio. What’s it going to cost? I can give them a range but the range is huge. It’s useless, until we sit down and talk through options, workflows, what else they have that they want to reuse it, what they are doing with the studio, what kind of skills and backgrounds do the people running it have….. the list goes on and on. Armed with that information, I can generally develop something that makes sense for THEM, and not just some generic number that may or may not be of any use.

The truth is, that if they want to do it right, we’ll have several conversations, because what happens is that after that first set of questions and discussions, we all go back and a hundred things pop into our minds. Often important things, and we need to discuss those things to narrow down an idea of what works for them, not just some generic “It’ll cost…..”.

The same is true of consulting and coaching. I find that often what a client really wants is far different than what they initially tell me they want. It’s only after two or three or more conversations that they and I both really have an understanding of what they need me to do. It takes time. Because it’s not as simple as we think it is when we start.

Why don’t we know what we want?

I’m not sure. but I have some theories.

First, few people ask that question honestly wanting to know, and meaning it. I’ve had tons of companies ask me what I want, and as I began to explain it, I watched them subtly try to manipulate what I want to what they want to sell me, or what they do. It’s about getting the business, not truly serving the customer. And so, when a person asks what I want, I’m not really expecting to get what I want. I’m expecting to get kinda what I want. It’s the same way in other kinds of relationships. We think people are being nice when they ask. We don’t want to bother them though with what we really want. We are afraid of imposing. Or disappointment. Or afraid someone will think it’s too much. But we’re not really expecting that people mean it.

Second, a lot of times, we think we want X, but what we really want is Y.  X is only the first path we see to what we really want.  X could be a new broadcast facility, or a more balanced life. And as we explore, we find that what they are seeking is something different. They want a new broadcast facility, yes, but as we probe, we find it’s more about simplifying how work gets done, or a need for reliability, not just a room full of gear and wires. When we poke around at the person who needs balance, what we find is that they need something else – healthier relationships or reconnecting with part of their life they lost. But their first answer is just that, a first glance. It takes time to sort out what we really want.

And that’s the third thing – time. We live in a hurry up, sound byte, twittery, say it fast and short and sweet world. Only to get what we really want takes time. It takes time to explore, to sort out, to really dig in and do it. And we rarely give it that time up front. Instead we plunge in with our short and sweet answers, and we sort of get what we want, and sort of don’t.

I’ve been building broadcast and AV systems for thirty years. I can now look back at a body of work that includes literally thousands of facilities. And I’ve noticed this – in every case where we took the time in the beginning to study and define what we wanted to do, those clients, years later, were still happy with the results. And in every case, EVERY case, where we just plunged in, there were mixed emotions afterwards. I’ve found the same thing in marketing, in consulting and in coaching, Spend that time in the beginning, and the results end up being good. Long term good. Sustainably good.

Don’t make that investment, go with your first thoughts, and you get flash in the pan results, at best. At worst, you get something you’ve invested in, but doesn’t really give you what you really wanted.

It’s counter intuitive in a world that values instant-ness. Because that time at the start doesn’t feel productive and we are all about productiveness and results in our world, be it work or our personal lives. But life and work has taught me that if we take the time to know, really know, what we want, and why, everything we do ends up better, and we end up happier.

For the long run.

Be well. Travel Wisely,

Tom

Leave a comment

Filed under Clarity, Consulting, ROI, Time Management