Coach’s Challenge for 7/27/09

Good day, team,

This week’s challenge is about a dilemma I’ve wrestled with for the past couple of years. I think it’s one that many people can relate to: wanting to do something and not being able to find the way to do it, to continue to stay motivated or to push yourself into a completely unknown area to get what you want.

I’ve been trying to put these coach’s challenges into a book for the past two years. I’ve written one each week since 2004, so somewhere in the neighborhood of 200+ challenges about a variety of subjects.  But every time I try to get them published, many things get in my way, I lose momentum and yet another month goes by without any progress.

Maybe because I’m a coach I’ve been analyzing why I can’t seem to accomplish this project. Lots of other people publish books about all kinds of things and don’t seem to have a difficult time doing it. So where do I get stuck?

Recently, I realized that, underneath it all, I have a pretty negative attitude about self-help books and, in some ways, about the coaching profession. I walk into a book store and see all the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” type books, and they make me want to run out of the store as quickly as possible. I look at the e-mails I get from various coaching associations, federations and institutions I belong to, and the message is so often the same: “Live your best life,” “I have the secret to unlock your dreams,” or the one I saw last week “How to remember what you learned in kindergarten.” The last one made me laugh. A client once said to me, “I really don’t understand why I pay you money to remind me about what I learned in kindergarten.” Of course, if he remembered what he learned in kindergarten, I would not have to remind him, but that’s another story.

So what do you do when you love to write and, for whatever reason, this is the mode in which you express yourself, but you just can’t get it together to take a book project to completion? How do you get past the bad attitude and the cynical voice in your head that says, “Who really cares about all this stuff?” “Why would anybody be interested in reading it?”

Fortunately, I have lots of great clients and friends who encourage me to put these challenges in a book if for no other reason other than they would like them indexed by subject so they can go back and read the ones that might help them with a particular challenge they are facing. And, when I think about it, this is the whole reason I want to compile them in a book in the first place.

My good friend and sometimes coaching associate Kate Dwyer sent me this great comment by Eleanor Blumenberg, of Santa Monica, California, in reaction to a piece in the current N.Y. Times book review.

“I continue to be amazed at the number of advice books listed each week in the book review as best sellers. I have led a long, productive life based on only two pieces of advice, both of which I learned as a preschooler some 80 years ago.  First, I try to play nicely with everybody; second, if I am crabby, I take a nap.  What more does anyone need to know?”

At the end of the day, I happen to agree with Ms. Blumenberg. It doesn’t mean that I think the coaching profession is just a bunch of hooey; I’ve seen too many people derive great benefits from it. But there is a practical side of me that often feels we all talk too much, and if we could remember some basic principles with which to guide ourselves, our lives might be simpler.

So what’s the challenge this week? Frankly, I’m not too sure. Maybe it’s about aiming to accomplish one specific project, and, no matter how much self doubt you experience, continuing to strive for that goal. Perhaps it’s about challenging yourself to find the basic values that guide you day by day and to remind yourself of them more often. You choose this week, and let me know how it goes.

Have a good week,

Kathleen

Kathleen Doyle-White
Pathfinders Coaching
(503) 296-9249

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