It would have been easy to say “no” and I so wanted to utter those conversation stopping words. Cut off the dialogue and go back to the business at hand. “Focus Bill, don’t get side-tracked with non-revenue or non-client serving activities”, was what I muttered.
A little background: In addition to the obvious EcSell Institute responsibilities, I am a speaker for an organization called Vistage—a community of CEO’s and high level executives. The topic of how to coach and drive performance of teams is of obvious interest to their members which makes for great dialogue when I present. And, as a result of this engagement with Vistage I was asked by one of the Omaha Chairs, Cathy Fitzhenry, if I would consider becoming a member, which is what led to this writing. The invitation was flattering considering the talented people I’ve met who are associated with “Fitz”. But, in spite of the ego boost, adding another item to my plate did not sound attractive.
Everyone needs a coach if they want to maximize their talents and grow exponentially. We need to be challenged, we need others to make us think about our impact, we have to get outside of our own worlds or we limit our teams from achieving great things. It would be hypocritical to preach those words and then not live them when the opportunity arose. The “no” I so badly wanted to say had to become a “yes”.
After just one meeting it is already obvious that Fitz and my new team will be the change element I need (in EcSell terms they are my catalytic factor). At work my focus is two-fold: helping our team maximize their talents, and helping our clients grow theirs’. I look for my Vistage team to focus on helping ME grow personally, just as I commit to assisting my new teammates with the same.
During my first 1:1 coaching session Fitz asked me a simple question—“What is your ‘why’?” I was so ready for this question! A couple years back our team at EcSell watched the Simon Sinek “Why” video together and it had a profound impact on our business. “No problem, Fitz, our “why” is ‘nothing impacts performance more than coaching’, that statement guides and directs all we do at EcSell.” “Great, Bill, but I don’t want your company’s ‘why’, I want to learn your personal ‘why’. What guides and directs all YOU do? What do YOU always lead with? What is at the core of who YOU are?” Hmmm—now the question was not so easy.
The coaching session could, and perhaps should have ended at that moment, for I couldn’t get the question out of my brain. What the heck was my “why”? The meeting eventually ended and she filled in the action plan with a single item—write about your “why”.
While not totally self-aware (is anyone?), there are a few things I do know about myself. At my heart I am a coach. I have what Dr. Peter Jensen refers to as a strong “developmental bias”. Whether on an athletic field or in a board room, I view people through a lens of what they could be. This is not to say they aren’t accepted at face value, but if you are on my team—prepare to be developed.
Was “coaching” the answer to this profound question? Nope. Though passionate about that word and its associated behaviors, it does not encompass all that motivates me to act. Then my mind moved beyond people to things like the outdoors and other living items. My eye caught a decorative tree that I’ve been nurturing for about five years when it hit me. GROWTH!
That was it. I love to see things grow. I need to see things grow!
- Seeing a child learn how to take their first steps
- Their first bike ride with no training wheels
- A Labrador retriever who learns how to become a therapy dog
- A plant that I refuse to let die and blossoms into something beautiful
- Watching a sales person develop into a great sales person
- An athlete who outworks all others
- A spider who has a web outside my window who is much larger than he was a couple of weeks ago
- A depressed young man who figures out how to live a fulfilling life
- The wisdom that comes from reading a powerful book
- The progress of a well-coached football team
- A client who implements and witnesses first-hand the power of how coaching impacts results
- Helping or witnessing anyone grow into something they wish to become
Growth is not about being the best, it is positively evolving at something, at everything. Growth happens as part of a journey where there is no destination. If growth is not occurring, change your job, change careers, change you hobbies, change how your brain functions.
At the age of 54, there are continued affirmations that there is still so much room to grow. And, knowing (and having to write about) my “why” has been an amazing growth discovery, an empowering growth journey.
Now it’s your turn. What is your “why”?
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