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time

Thoughts on Coaching and Teaching

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Thoughts on Coaching and Teaching

Time + Learning = Knowledge

Time + Learning = Knowledge

The more time you spend tinkering with something, reading about it, watching YouTube videos or TED talks, the more knowledge you're going to build. If you're really lucky, you'll also learn and grow through the lessons life gives you as you simply get older. 

At some point, people will come to see you as someone who knows about this thing, and ask you questions. They'll seek out your experience and what you can share with them so they might learn from you. This is valuable information they are willing to pay for, because learning from you saves them time.

That's teaching.

You can teach anyone something new who's not quite as far along on the Knowledge-generating journey as you are - even though they might be older and more experienced in other things. (Of course you can coach them as well by not answering their question, but instead asking them new ones. Personally, if someone asks me a direct question I can answer, I do.)

What about the experts in your field, who have studied your thing all their lives? They might not ask you questions about content, but you can still show them what an inquisitive mind can do, and remind them what it's like from time-to-time to see their field of expertise with new eyes. 

That's coaching. 

Best of all, as you work with the experts, your knowledge will keep growing, too.

Where can you bring teaching and coaching into your workplace or practice? 

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Embracing Ambiguity

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Embracing Ambiguity

Resilience in the face of adversity as well as patience in the face of uncertainty are two essential skills happy expats have in common.

How can you practice them if you're lacking in the latter department?  

I would suggest that your personality type preferences may play a role, and an awareness of them will enable you to specifically practice those skills.  

For instance, people with a preference for Judging (J) in their type code are known to delight in

  • closing projects,
  • finishing tasks, and
  • checking things off their to-do list,
  • before moving on to the next thing.

Particularly when combined with a sequential orientation to time (one thing after another - not multi-tasking) and a preference for methodical approach to managing projects, not knowing what's next may delay getting anything else even started!

I know this was definitely the case for me when we were in the Canary Islands and hubby started the application process to move to Mexico. Mercifully, things moved rather quickly and I wasn't left up in the metaphorical air for too long. 

People with a preference for Perceiving (P) in their type code are known to delight in

  • starting projects,
  • experiencing and brainstorming options, and
  • staying open to the information-gathering process,
  • before making a decision.

Particularly when combined with a synchronic orientation to time (many things can happen at the same time) and a preference for handling issues as they emerge, these lucky ones may not experience too much anxiety over uncertainty at all.

On the contrary, their anxiety may get triggered if things are moving too fast and decisions need to be made on the spot. During ambiguous phases of waiting, they most likely keep busy by exploring all the potentially interesting neighborhoods they could move to in the new country, new hobbies they can try out, new places they can go, or new people they can meet. 

As ever, it is important to honor your type preferences.

If uncertainty makes you anxious, see if you can break down the long list of things you don't know and find little items that you do know that you can act upon. For example, whether you know you're moving at the end of the month or not, start cleaning out your clothes closet and get rid of any items you no longer need. This will have to be done anyway if you move, and even if you don't, you'll feel like you accomplished something (plus you'll have space for a new pair of shoes you'll reward yourself with regardless).  

If you're handling the vagueness well and your superior uncertainty management skills annoy your J-loving spouse, be kind. Involve them in your exploration expeditions, and soothe them if they start to feel frazzled. Remind them that this phase, too, shall pass, and soon enough decisions will have to be made. 

Either way - remember you are a team. Ideally, your skill sets complement one another. If both of you are of the same persuasion, I challenge one of you to try on the other preference for a day. That way, you'll make sure to have all the bases covered. 

Image by Alexander Duret-Lutz, Flickr, Creative Commons License.

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If you like to be on time and your partner likes to take their time

Pic Credit: Salvatore Vuono

Pic Credit: Salvatore Vuono

There is no way I can be generic in this post, so let's just put it out there:

I'm German, and I have a "J" in my Type preferences.  

My husband is Spanish, and he has a "P" in his Type code.  

Disaster waiting to happen, I hear you chuckle? You have no idea.  

A prominent German saying goes, 'don't put off til tomorrow what you can do today'. ("Was Du heute kannst besorgen, das verschiebe nicht auf morgen." - rhymes and everything.) 

Probably the most-used word in the Spanish language? "Mañana." (Tomorrow.) 

What do we know about people with Judging preferences?

They like to finish things, tick them off their to-do list, they generally have a keen sense of time,  tend to be early-starting in their projects, as well as punctual.  

What do we know about people with Perceiving preferences? 

They like to keep their options open, they enjoy the information-intake / data-gathering process a lot more than the decision-making one, they are energized by last-minute pressures, and may not always be punctual.  

Having said that, "P" does not necessarily stand for procrastinating, oh no: "J"s may also be late, because for them it's often a question of, "ooh, Just one more thing..." 

In preparing for an upcoming culture training, I recently asked my dear hubby how he would describe his sense of time-keeping. His answer:

"Well, when you say 'we need to leave at 8 o'clock', that's ambiguous to me. Because I don't know if it means we get ready to leave at 8, or we close the door at 8, or we are in the car at 8, or we leave the parking lot at 8... what does 8 o'clock mean?" 

This is where I'm screaming "HOW IS 8 O'CLOCK AMBIGUOUS???" in my head.  

"'We're leaving at 8' means we're closing the door behind us at 8, darling. Thanks for giving me a chance to clarify."

But ok, I wanted to dig deeper. 

"In business, when you have a meeting at 9.00 am and you show up at 9.05 am, don't you feel rushed? Or bad for making the other people wait?" 

"No, I guess I don't. Why? Because it's never really actually life-threatening if I'm a little late, and also - I don't mind being kept waiting, either. I've spend a lot of time waiting for others, and that's  fine." 

Huh. Interesting. When I'm kept waiting, I think it's quite rude and disrespectful. I still don't go as far as my mother and insist on having the whole week's grocery shopping done before 8.30 am on a Saturday, but still. Delays bug me. 

Obviously, not all Germans have Judging preferences, and not all Spaniards have Perceiving preferences - and in part, I blame the weather. There simply aren't that many good usable hours of sunlight up in the North, so we had to learn to manager our time much more efficiently, bringing in the harvest etc. Whereas in Spain - you can be pretty sure that the sun will shine again tomorrow, giving you time to relax today and finish your chores later.  

What do you think? 

 

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Step 7 - Living in the Present

Picture Credit tuppus Time is an individual construct, and our concepts of time differ by personality type as well as by culture.

Numerous research is showing that the ability to practice critical awareness and living in the present without worrying about the past or future is a key ingredient in wholehearted and well-balanced living.

I often wonder if people with a Sensing preference have an easier time of focusing on the present, type theory states Sensing is a more present-oriented function than Intuiting.

People of different Temperaments have a different orientation to time (Berens, L. 2010):

  • Stabilizer (SJ) - Past
  • Improviser (SP) - Present
  • Catalyst (NF) - Future
  • Theorist (NT) - Infinite Time

Thinking about the function attitudes of each Temperament it makes sense: Introverted Sensing for Stabilizers is concerned with remembering, recalling, and reviewing, whereas extraverted Sensing for the Improvisers is more about engaging with the environment at any given moment. For Catalysts, the identity and unique potential of a person is often future-oriented and tied with personal and professional development paths, whereas the Theorist is often more concerned with ultimate truths and lasting logical systems and frameworks.

In different cultures, we also see varying attitudes and approaches to time. If a nation has existed for a long time, especially when it has celebrated successes in the past, it is more likely to draw on those past successes and value tradition. Examples might be India or Greece.

Younger nations are more likely to be more present or future focused: since they don't have much experience to look back on, they model values and behaviors towards certain ideals. Take the United States and its Declaration of Independence, for example. Going by age, as one cultural analyst puts it, the US is in the throws of teenager-hood.

When it comes to my home country Germany, I think the attitudes are mixed. Germany's 18th Century writers, thinkers, and musicians are well-known across the world, and conservative politician Bismarck in the 19th Century laid the foundation of the welfare state we know and love today. Then the second world war changed everything. Mention Germany in any conversation today, and WWII will be one of the first things that come to mind. As a recent conversation with a dog-walker in our elevator reaffirmed:

  • Woman: what a nice accent, where are you from?
  • Me: Germany, originally, but I studied in Scotland.
  • Woman: Oh, yes, I'm German too. Well, not born and raised, but when I visited Russia a woman looked at me and said "German! Bad! Pft! Pft!" (spitting at my feet).

I still don't know what I'm supposed to say to that, except I'm sorry this happened to her.

Being present in the moment and living in a state of mindfulness, then, may come easier to those who grow up in a society where present-focus is being encouraged, and those who have a cognitive predisposition to more easily stay in the present in the first place.

Still, present mindfulness is not unattainable, but a question of practice. Five minutes of daily meditation where you do nothing but focus on your breath, counting your heartbeats in and out, is a good start. Up the time as you get more comfortable, and celebrate every millisecond your monkey-brain is not off somewhere making a groceries list.

Reference: Linda Berens, Understanding Yourself and Others, An Introduction to the 4 Temperaments 4.0, Radiance House, CA, 2010

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Are you Spending Wisely?

When you read the headline, what images did it evoke? Of all the things you can spend, which comes to mind?

Danielle and iThe most typical things to spend are time and money. Of course, you can also be spent yourself.

I've been working through the Fire Starter sessions by Danielle LaPorte. She's asking some very good questions, and is a very generous soul allowing everyone to share her wisdom. So that's what I'm going to do.

Time and money are energy. Energy flows. In order for energy to flow smoothly, it helps to have clear intentions.

The next time someone's asking for a favor,

the next time you're going shopping with your friends,

the next time you're putting someone else's needs above your own, ask yourself:

  • Will this make me feel fantastic and improve my well-being?
  • Will this help me get the results I want?
  • Will this free me up for more good things and pleasure?

Keeping these thoughts in mind helped me walk past the chips and dips aisle on the weekend, for example.

Go on, we can both practice this together.

Danielle shares her Fire Starte worksheets here for free, but the book is a work of art and written splendidly. I recommend you buy it for full effect and taking notes in the margins.

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Time saving strategies, part 1

stopwatchIn an effort to understand why we're already in mid February of this year that feels like it only just started yesterday, I've been looking over my trusty notebook and thought I might share some things. This getting productive-malarky is quite a change process! Read on...

For the last few weeks, I've been really good with the getting up early and getting things done. I used to sleep in until about 10 a.m., take some time to check online gossip sites, check email, surf the net, check email again, maybe forward a few of those PowerPoint jokes to my friends... and then it was time for lunch. I'd have lunch watching a couple of recorded shows, lounging on the sofa, taking it easy. In the afternoon I'd read for at least 30 minutes in one of the books I had going, and generally came to feel so overwhelmed by all the information out there that I got tired and had to lay down for a nap. When the weather was good I might have even gone for a walk to get my exercise.

In other words, I put off doing productive business owner things until pure inspiration would strike. That doesn't mean I didn't know what I should have been doing, oh no. Of course I had a pretty good idea of how to better spend my time, and that made me feel even more guilty, and then I'd be even more tired, and "tomorrow" became the cop-out mantra. I thought if successful marketing experts tell me to be creative during those hours that I feel inspired, they have a point! Didn't I go into business for myself to set my own itinerary? So what if I sit down and write at 1 am?

And I did, sit down to write at 1 a.m., many nights. With the time difference between Texas, and Germany and Spain, I'd even get some people in the mornings before they were at work and we were able to have some nice chats. However, seeing as my home market, Central USA, works during more traditional hours, this wasn't very effective. So I made a few changes.

First of all, I made it a habit of jotting down what I spend my time on. Journaling definitely played a great part in my last year's weight-loss process, so I already know it was going to work for raising my awareness at the very least. I use a physical journal that has one page per day, one line for each 30 minutes from 7 in the morning until 9 at night.

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If you prefer online planners, go right ahead. Your calendar function will offer alerts to remind you of important events and deadlines, and Excel spreadsheets also work fine. You may also prefer planning ahead and determining which hours you'll use for which tasks before you do them - whatever works best for you.

The point of this exercise for me was to find out where all my time went, and to get an idea of how long stuff takes. For example, I know that I spend about 90 minutes on one blog post.  And yes, I write down "ironing", too, because hey - that's another 90 minutes every Monday afternoon. Now that I know how long some things take, I can better plan for them and I'll have a better idea of what's a reasonable amount of output to expect (i.e. on Mondays I'm very lenient with myself - email, comments, and catch up on RSS feeds only, because Monday = housework day. Ugh.)

I invite you to try keeping track of your time this week, and then come back next week for some actual tips and tricks that I've successfully implemented. Until then, why not ponder about this: How do you help and hinder yourself to make great use of your time? Please share by leaving a comment below. Til next time, have a good one!

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Burn-out

Last week we talked about stress and how too much of it can lead to a forced time-out. There are many stages leading from stress over frustration to an official burn out syndrome, and every person experiences them differently. These stages are not necessarily sequential, nor are they always experienced with the same intensity. Let's have a look at what those stages roughly translate to, and where you might be at right now.

Imagine you're in a new job, just started a new position, of course you want to leave a great first impression with your employer, your colleagues, and not least of all yourself. You might even feel like you've got something to prove to your parents, your partner, or your former employers, so it's natural that you put in many hours in the first few weeks or months to find your footing. I've once been told that it's the actions of the first 100 days in any new position (or relationship, or city, or country) that count and set the pace for the long-term future. If you prove yourself during those first 100 days, you're good to go.

But what if you can't find a way to dial it down after that time? What if bosses and co-workers alike got used to having you there at all hours picking up the slack with a smile on your face? You can't start complaining or asking for a more detailed job description now, honey, after you've been doing such great work all these past weeks! Well, yes and no. Let's have a look at the burn out clock (modified from material I received during my first coaching):

The stages 1 through 12 are not meant to represent a certain time interval, although the first three months as described above might coincide with the three motivation and fun stages of "euphoria" as depicted above. So, how do you know that the fun part has stopped? Only you can answer that. Do you find yourself thinking about work all the time? Do you take your laptop home to get stuff done after dinner or on the weekends? Has your partner started complaining? Are you having trouble getting a good night's rest because you're worrying about work projects? Do you think that's normal? Do your colleagues have the same going on in their lives? In my humble opinion, just because it's happening to many other people you know doesn't make it right, and you always have a choice to change at any time you so decide.

If you feel overtired and overworked, a friendly chat with your neighborhood coach might be in order to see how they might help you prioritize, organize your time better, and strike a balance between all that is important to you. If you're actually starting to develop physical symptoms, suffer from ulcers, migrane headaches or heart palpitations, it's high time to see the physician of your confidence. Stress and burn-out might be sniggered at in your circle of colleagues as lah-di-dah complaints for the lazy and faint-of-heart, but they're certainly to be taken seriously. Prolonged periods of stress will wear your body and your mind out to the point where you will fall ill. With stress-related and burnt out patients, that illness is the bodies' desperate attempt to force them into relaxation. Why let it get so far, when a strategically timed hot bath, gossip session with the boys 'n girls, and trip to the movies/beach/spa of your choice can take the edge off and recharge your batteries quite effectively? Besides, you don't need me to tell you that your hand-held telecommunications device has an OFF-button, do you?

Writing this gave me ideas about more related subjects, like learning to say "no", psychosomatic illnesses, general balance exercises, and relaxation techniques. Which would you most like to read about? Let me know! For more information about stress and burn out, you can also refer to the American Institute of Stress and pages like Revolution Health.

Til next time!

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Stress

What are your thoughts on it? Have you experienced stress before? How do you define it? Is there a difference between stressful situations and actual physically manifested distress? How fast does your pulse come down after you've been feeling stressed? Where's the line to anxiety? These and many other questions are running through my mind as I look at the calendar and wonder where the past eight months have gone.

Time's not always a factor for stress though, at least it doesn't have to be. You know why Confucius said, "when in a hurry, take a detour"? Because you don't function well when you're in a hurry. Your mind is racing and you're not paying attention to the moment you're in, because you're preoccupied with how late you are or where you should already be by now. Before you know it, you've rear-ended the car in front, or watered your TV instead of your plants. I wish sometimes that there were more hours in one day so I could get everything done that's needing attention, and there'd be some spare to read a novel without feeling like there's something else I should be doing, something more productive. Alas, time's the same for everyone, last I checked nobody was able to freeze the moments or make them go faster at will. How come some people experience time as if there's plenty, and others as if there's never enough?

I guess in part it has to do with the "should"-ing I mentioned earlier, with expectations we have of ourselves, and expectations others have of us that we want to fulfil. "Early bird catches the worm" and other phrases like it almost make me feel bad for sleeping in even on the weekend, you know? The point for a well-balanced life, though, is to make time for relaxation, before too much stress takes its toll, and your body and mind experience a burn-out. This is when you'll be forced to take a break because you won't be able to do anything at all. Check back next week for more information on burn-out and its stages to see where you're at.

Everything's important, there's always going to be something to do, people to call, letters to write, work to finish. Next time you know your mind is racing and you feel your blood pressure rise, take a deep breath and a moment to reflect on what the actual stressful element is. Maybe once you've identified it you can practice getting things done without rushing. Make the conscious decision not to feel rushed or stressed. Paying attention to the moment, to traffic, to whatever it is you're in the middle of doing. You know if you rush and you're not doing it right, you have to do it all over again anyway, and that'll take even more time. Besides, it really is ok to smell the roses once in a while.

For more information on stress, its symptoms, how to reduce it, how it relates to diseases like cancer, and much much more, check out the American Institute of Stress and pages like Revolution Health.

Til next time! Thanks to Joy Prescott for the image.

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