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March 2019

UNLOCKING MOTIVATION PART 6: BARRIERS POSED BY PEOPLE, MONEY & TIME

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The coach has another crucial role, then: he or she has enabled the client to get clarity on where the destination leads, but now the coach has to help the client understand what needs to be done to get there. That is, how does the client demolish the barriers that are preventing access to the ‘promised land’” – Mapping Motivation for Coaching

 

Up to this stage, we have predominantly looked at the primary role of the coach, in which the coach attempts to help their client realise where their destination is. Now, we intend to examine the complimentary function of helping them demolish the barriers that are preventing success. Last week we started looking at ways to form new habits with kaizen, and therefore take the first initial steps towards progress (the first step on a journey of a thousand miles), but now we will look at how to overcome larger obstacles. It’s worth recapping what we learned last week, however:

 

RECAP: Kaizen is the process of continual microcosmic improvements that leads to perfection. It is about taking the smallest possible step towards your goal, rather than large creative leaps that might be risky or daunting. Kaizen circumnavigates the amygdala fear-response and allows us to make a start by breaking things down into tiny steps. Kaizen strategies last long term. Remember the story of the steppers in Manhattan!

 

The barriers to progress we face are most commonly divided into one of three primary categories: time, money, or people. These categories actually correspond with the three motivational clusters of Relationship, Achievement and Growth. So, if you recall the nine motivators are: the Defender, the need for security, the Friend, the need for belonging, the Star, the need for recognition, the Director, the need for control, the Builder, the need for material gain, the Expert, the need for knowledge and skills, the Creator, the need to either bring new things into the world or improve existing things, the Spirit, the need for autonomy and independence, and the Searcher, the desire to make a difference to others, or, in fact, to the world.

 

Each of these motivators falls into one of the three ‘clusters’: Defender, Friend and Star fall into the ‘Relationship’ cluster, as they deal with personal relationships and the past. Director, Builder and Expert fall into the ‘Achievement’ cluster, as they are concerned with success in the workplace and present-tasks. Finally, Creator, Spirit and Searcher fall into the ‘Growth’ cluster as they are focused on personal development. They are ‘future’ focused.

 

People corresponds with the Relationship cluster. Consider if you find meeting and working together with the right people to be a big barrier, how your Relationship motivators stand. Money corresponds with the Achievement cluster. If you find money to be a barrier, look at whether your Achievement motivators are low on your profile. If time is your key barrier, it might be that you struggle to look ahead, which is where Growth cluster motivators excel.

 

So, the primary obstacles we face eerily correspond to our motivational profiles. This is possibly because in actuality, none of these factors are the real obstacles to our progress. In fact, most of what is preventing us from overcoming barriers is internal: our outlook and frame of mind.

 

You will have heard it endless reiterated that to achieve your dreams you ‘just need to believe’ or ‘be confident in yourself’ or ‘make it happen’. Confidence and self-belief have been turned into a branding commodity; a logo that you put on tea-mugs and designer-pillows: KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON. We see these slogans every day and they have been repeated so often, and without nuance, that they have lost all meaning. At this stage, I am sure that even the wide-eyed and optimistic among you have a niggle of scepticism regarding the power of ‘belief’.

 

So, let us examine what we really mean when we talk about self-confidence or self-belief. What we really mean is a state of mind. In Japanese warrior culture, there is a heightened state of awareness called zanshin. It literally means ‘no-mind’. In this state, warriors empty themselves of all their petty thoughts, doubts and considerations so they become entirely ‘present’, able to perceive every incoming blow from every angle. They are relaxed enough that their muscles can respond frictionlessly to dangers, but alert enough that they do not miss any opportunity. In this state, it is said the great Miyamoto Musashi, perhaps the greatest samurai ever to have lived, defeated hundreds of warriors at once in combat. Musashi believed he was the best. He never doubted the speed or power of his sword-stroke, or his victory. That is belief.

 

State of mind is everything. Belief is not an airy-fairy concept. Nor is confidence. It is a story you tell yourself and a mind-set that you inhabit. Henry Ford once said: ‘If you think you can do a thing, or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right.’ This is a profound commentary on self-fulfilling prophecies. We make these prophecies for ourselves every day: ‘I’m not good enough for this’, ‘I’m stressed out of my mind’, ‘I can’t think straight’. Inevitably, these predictions become true as we obsess over them. The brain moves towards where it is directed by our thoughts.

 

Think of this another way. By controlling how we respond to the world, we control the outcome. We cannot control the world, it is outside of our sphere of influence. We cannot stop people being rude to us, or bills coming in, or changes in government legislation that are unfavourable (at least, most of us can’t!). However, we can change how we respond and adapt to these events. Do we respond in a state of zanshin, or in self-defeating mode?

 

Similar to the events and buffets of the world beyond our control, we have the barriers to stop us doing great things: ‘I can’t find the people to help me’, ‘I don’t have the money’, ‘I don’t have the time’. However, when we approach these problems with the right mind-set, we can see that none of these are insurmountable. There are numerous online and face-to-face platforms for meeting the right entrepreneurs and professionals. Collaboration has also never been more accessible with online calls, seminars, shared-docs, and tools such as Slack.

 

EXERCISE: Create a list of ways you can find the best people to help you achieve your goal. What networks will have the right people. How can you use what you have learned about Motivational Maps to make sure you find people with the right motivational alignment / balance that will compliment yours?

 

It is highly possible in today’s world to loan money to start a business, or even to find investors. It is not easy, no one would ever say that, but there are ample solutions. New solutions are emerging all the time as well. Kickstarter and crowd-funding campaigns are changing the game of start-ups. Kickstarter has raised something like $4.17 billion dollars for businesses worldwide. Money is out there for you. You just have to be creative about how you get it, and offer value to people.

 

EXERCISE: Create a list of ways that you could raise capital. Weigh the pros and cons of each method.

 

The same is true of Time. One of the key strategies for maximising our time is using the Pareto principle. The Pareto principle taps into the uneven nature of the universe. For example, most of us assume that everything we do is equally valuable. If we have 100 emails, we read them all with equal attention. In reality of course, only 20% of those emails probably contain anything worthwhile! Pareto posits that 20% of what we do produces 80% of the results. 20% of people in a large company are producing 80% of the sales. 20% of homes cause 80% of the fires. 20% of people own 80% of the money of the world (in fact, it is actually a far more unbalanced statistic than that). However, this principle is not to be railed against. On the contrary, it can be used to our advantage. Once we become aware that 20% of what we do is producing 80% of the value, we can do more of what is in that 20% to double, quadruple, quintuple our value-output.

 

For example, if each day you were trying to sell a product online, but never got much traction, but you also made one phone call that instantly led to a sale, wouldn’t it be sensible to increase the number of calls you made? Or, vice-a-versa. If you sold hundreds online, but only ever made one or two sales via the phone. Why keep making phone calls? Harness the most productive aspects of what you do, and do more of them and less of what isn’t working!

 

EXERCISE: Make a list of all the things you do in your day and week. Now, identify what roughly 20% of those things (it might even be 30% in some cases) are valuable and creating the most value for you. Now, as yourself how you can do more of those things.

 

Hopefully you can see that all barriers can be overcome with the right thinking and tools. That is the role of the coach, and has been my role in writing this summary-article for you. Next week, we will be giving you a break to catch up with everything we’ve written. After that, we’ll be returning with part 7, out first look into Mapping Motivation for Engagement, co-written with Steve Jones.

 

FINAL RECAP:

 

Coaching can be defined as: ‘the process whereby one individual helps another: to unlock their natural ability; to perform, learn and achieve; to increase awareness of the factors which determine performance; to increase their sense of self-responsibility and ownership of their performance; to self-coach; to identify and remove internal barriers to achievement’ (MacLennan). It is also about motivating individuals on a one-to-one basis.

 

Kaizen is the process of continual microcosmic improvements that leads to perfection. It is about taking the smallest possible step towards your goal, rather than large creative leaps that might be risky or daunting. Kaizen circumnavigates the amygdala fear-response and allows us to make a start by breaking things down into tiny steps. Kaizen strategies last long term. Remember the story of the steppers in Manhattan!

 

The key barriers of people, time and money correspond with the Relationship-Achievement-Growth clusters of Motivational Maps. The real obstacles, however, are our approach and mind-set. We must cultivate self-belief and motivation to overcome barriers with creative solutions!

 

If you want to read more about Motivational Maps and unlocking the secrets of coaching, then you can find Mapping Motivation for Coaching at the Routledge website.


UNLOCKING MOTIVATION PART 5: THE JOURNEY OF A 1000 MILES

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By now, if you have been following this blog series, we should have some idea of the Self. I asked you previously to assess your physical health, mental strength, emotional well-being and spiritual health in order to give you a picture of where you are at now and how you can improve to give your best performance. Combining this with the Maps is very powerful, as you now not only know where you may need to improve, but what kind of actions motivate you – killing two birds with one stone. For example, if you wanted to improve your physical health and you were a Builder motivator (at the number one slot), then it would probably benefit you to do a competitive sport, rather than simply going to the gym. Competing would boost your motivation levels, whilst also improving your fitness, leading to a massive overall increase in your well-being!

 

However, I am skipping ahead slightly. Let’s quickly re-cap on the purpose of coaching (which includes self-coaching):

 

Recap: Coaching can be defined as: ‘the process whereby one individual helps another: to unlock their natural ability; to perform, learn and achieve; to increase awareness of the factors which determine performance; to increase their sense of self-responsibility and ownership of their performance; to self-coach; to identify and remove internal barriers to achievement’ (MacLennan). It is also about motivating individuals on a one-to-one basis.

 

So, how can we use coaching techniques to build a plan to improve our lives (or indeed, to improve the lives of those who work with/for us). I’d like to introduce to one powerful technique called “kaizen”. Kaizen is a Japanese word that literally means “improvement”, however, as with many words derived from Japanese kanji, it has many deeper meanings and associations, one of which is specific to business practice. The business philosophy of Kaizen is: “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”. It is a process whereby one makes continuous small improvements which over time become exponential. In the West, we tend to think of “innovation”. We want to make big bold creative leaps, where we imagine something entirely alien and new, and then bring it into being, thus radicalising the market and world around us. However, these are tremendously risky and one tends to fall victim to the ‘mad scientist’ psychological trap of always chasing an event horizon that never manifests, or manifests in undesirable ways.

 

Kaizen is a subtle alternative that the Japanese automotive and electronics industries have used to gain world market domination in a relatively short space of time.

 

So far as coaching goes this is important because one aim of the coach is to get the client to adopt new habits or rituals that are more helpful to them than the ones that led to their issue.” – Mapping Motivation for Coaching

 

In order to change our lives, we have to change our habits. This much, we know. We know that to lose weight, we need to exercise more and to diet. We know that to break addictions, we have to form new patterns. However, doing it is always significantly harder than we think. There are many reasons for this, one of which is that most of us believe that we have to go on ‘crash courses’ in order to transform ourselves. We fast or only drink special shakes, we eat radically different food, we start running every day. This is a tremendous amount of effort and automatically sparks the ‘fear response’ in us that says: I don’t want to do that. The second reason is linked to the first: our brains are hard-wired to repetition. Even the most creative and spontaneous of us have patterns; we eat similar foods each day, walk similar paths, drink tea or coffee at the same times, have similar conversations, have similar practices for getting ‘in the zone’. Repetition is security. The more that the brain can put on auto-pilot, the less it has to worry about infinitesimal details or things going wrong. That’s why, in order to get really fit, the best way is actually to continuously vary your exercise regime, so the body doesn’t have time to adjust or fall into a pattern. The military use this to great effect.

 

So, we know we need to create new habits and change, but we can’t. The exercise regime is too stringent, the diet is too controlled, etcetera. How do we break through these mental blocks and doubts? The answer is kaizen. The ‘small steps’ of kaizen allow us to circumnavigate the fear response. Let’s do an exercise.

 

Exercise: Consider a key area in your life where you are not satisfied, or that you want to improve. Now ask yourself the question: What is the smallest possible step I could take towards my destination?

 

In order to help you with this exercise, let me give you a brilliant example. There was a study done on two office blocks in Manhattan. Specifically, companies that worked on the tenth floors, really high up. Both organisations had problems with employee fitness levels due to the location of the offices. In order to help employees, each company was offered a fitness plan. Company A employees were given unlimited gym membership and access. They could go any time, use any machines, swimming pool, all of it. Company B employees were asked to, once per day in their lunch break, walk up and down a flight of stairs. Each day, they had to add one step to the number they climbed. After a year, the fitness levels of the employees were measured. To the surprise-not-surprise of the researchers, Company B employees, termed affectionately ‘the steppers’, were fitter in every single metric. Most Company A employees had barely used the gym. It was too much, an overwhelming amount of options, and required them to travel and find a place in their busy lives to schedule it in. The change for Company B employees was so manageable, they stuck to it.

 

Consider now how this might apply to your life, or indeed the life of someone you know. How can you make one simple, minuscule change that will, over time, have a tremendous impact? Many successful people cite tiny routines, that they keep to every day, that have laid the foundation for their achievements. Remember, the habit must be small, manageable, and easy to incorporate into your existing daily life. Telling yourself you will run four miles every day will probably not work. You might manage it one or two days, or even a week, but after a while you’ll burn out. However, doing five (or even three or one) push ups before you go to work, and adding one push up each week, that is stick-able to!

 

Circling back to the beginning of this article, let’s look now at how you can use your Motivational Map, or your sense of what your top motivators are, to maximise this kaizen activity. If you wanted to improve your mental well-being, and you were a Creator, then perhaps journaling dreams or experiences or writing creative fiction, for just five minutes a day, would be a good exercise. You don’t need to write The Odyssey. Sketching out ideas, without the burden of engaging in a full blown project, will be liberating. On the other hand, if Defender was your top motivator, and you wanted to improve your mental well-being, then you would probably have a different strategy; planning your daily and weekly activities ahead of time, and doing this every day for a few minutes, would probably be a better solution.

 

I hope this article has given you some more ideas about you can use kaizen and coaching to drastically improve areas of your life. Thanks once again for stopping by!

 

If you want to read more about Motivational Maps and unlocking the secrets of coaching, then you can find Mapping Motivation for Coaching at the Routledge website.