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July 28, 2011
| Issue 07.1.2011

In This Issue:

Steve’s Field Note
Advisory Board – Spread the word!
Feature – “Set a Sundial”
Coaching or Consulting?

Steve’s Field Note

Hello, Trailblazer!

Last week I took a vacation… ish.

I told my coaches’ support group that I was bored and going in circles with parts of my business design and I felt like I needed new experiences to get some new ideas. They recommended a vacation. I wasn’t able to take a real vacation, but I did take a partial break and added some recreational things to my schedule.

I’ve been to a water park twice with my younger son and some friends, and it looks like we’ll be going again next week. We’ve seen a couple of movies, including one where my wife came along (she goes with us to the movies maybe once a year).

We bought a new vacuum cleaner and a new mattress for the guest room, but those aren’t really recreational. But it points to the subtle shift I made in prioritizing things for the week. In the past, work projects would always outweigh home projects, so I would put them off and then feel like I wasn’t getting enough done at home. I put the home projects first and now they’re done. I’m ready to shift the balance back for a while. But now I know have to monitor the balance and move it from time to time.

We are going through a big transition at home, too. Our older son is taking summer classes and will be going to school full-time in the fall, so we helped him find an apartment near campus and get moved in. He lived at home, then in a dorm, then at home, and then with friends while he was finding his rhythm with work and school. Now he will be in his own place near school, making classes his priority and a part-time job his second priority, for at least the next year.

We hope he’ll continue full-time in college until he graduates, but he’s able to commit for a year right now. That’s okay with me. I get it. It’s the kind of seasonal commitment I describe in this month’s feature article.

This summer give your personal life some time and attention, plan in some recreation, and…

Enjoy the scenery on the Twisting Road!


P.S. What do you think of the new header?

Advisory Board

That’s you – my subscribers! You’re my best advisors.

Welcome to all of you who have signed up since the last issue went out. I’m glad you’re here and glad you’re now part of my Advisory Board. As you read through this issue, please remember: If you like what you see, please tell your family and friends. If you don’t like something, please tell me!

Feature Article: “Set a Sundial”

Good advice is classic. It holds up well over time, and it finds new admirers along the way. That’s why in recent weeks I’ve heard many variations of the advice to “set a timer.” Organizers recommend it for a sorting or clearing out task. Writers recommend it for daily writing on long projects or for writing shorter projects in separate chunks. Self-employment teachers recommend it for administrative tasks. The method is pretty simple: Use some version of a kitchen timer to keep yourself working at a task for a set amount of time, from five minutes up to an hour.

It’s great for overcoming resistance to odious tasks. Fifteen minutes? Sure, I can stand it for fifteen minutes. It’s great for developing a good habit. I can accomplish my writing goals in thirty minute sessions twice a day? I’m in! It’s great for productivity. I get a short break after forty-five minutes of work, and a long break after an hour and a half? And that makes me more productive? Sweet!

But how does this idea translate to the bigger picture? Kitchen timers are great for breaking up the day and chunking down big projects, but they can’t tell us how long to stick with a project or try out an idea. For that, I recommend a sundial.

Okay, maybe not a sundial. A calendar will work fine. But if you happen to have a sundial that lets you track the earth’s movement around the sun, it would be really, really cool to monitor weeks or months that way.

When your life is a Trailblazing life, you’re going to be experimenting and tinkering, trying out new things from time to time. Because, by definition, if you’re doing the same old stuff, you’re in a rut and not blazing any new trails. Since you’re going to want to try out some new trails, setting a time limit helps in a couple of ways.

First, it reminds you that this change doesn’t have to be permanent. When we consider making changes or just trying something new, we can get stuck worrying about what-ifs. What if I decide I don’t like this after a while? What if it’s too difficult? What if circumstances change? A sundial limit reminds you this is not a lifelong commitment. It’s a temporary commitment. On the motivation side, you’re going to stick it out for a month, or three, or even a year, so you can commit to what the project needs. But on the frustration side you know there is an end and you may not decide to continue the project.

That’s the second way setting a limit helps. The time frame becomes a marker to remind you to evaluate how things are going. Are you getting the results you wanted? How is the execution of the project compared to your expectations? What tweaks do you need to make, or do you need a big overhaul? Is it effective? Is it fun? Is it sustainable?

At the end of the original time frame you might decide to continue on for a few more weeks or months. But you’ll be doing so with more information and more accurate expectations. Plus, you’ll have a checkpoint coming up so you’ll remember to monitor what the project requires and what it accomplishes.

I started Trailblazing TV as a play project with no time frame in mind at all. Still, I felt like I was letting myself down when I didn’t create an episode last week. I started Trailblazing Radio as substitute programming for Tapa Palapa, so I had this unrecognized, unconscious expectation I should produce it weekly until Tapa Palapa was back. What a mess of anxiety I created for myself!

Committing to these two projects in shorter time frames and evaluating the results will definitely work better for me. What project idea do you have where a set time frame will help you try it out and then evaluate the results?

Coaching or Consulting?

In coach training there is an oversimplified distinction between coaching and consulting. If you’re letting the client set the agenda and helping him or her come up with answers, that’s coaching. If you’re telling the client what the problem is and how to fix it, that’s consultation.

I don’t like the distinction, because consultation is not always expert problem-solving, like an outsourced solution. It includes teaching and training and collaborative brainstorming, just like coaching does. And coaches have to have ideas and solutions to offer in addition to the client’s own ideas. The coach’s expertise is part of the reason the client is on the call.

A new part of the distinction I recognized is more meaningful to me. Consultation is a session of help. Help me figure this out, help me make this plan, help me sort out my options, help me come up with alternatives, help me generate ideas. The consultant is a go-to advisor the client can use just once or from time to time during the project.

Coaching is an ongoing relationship of mentorship and support. A coach may serve in the consultant’s role from time to time and give suggestions and ideas, but coaching is not just consistent consultation. In the coaching relationship, the client develops a plan, commits – to himself or herself with the coach as witness – to implementing the plan, tries things out, evaluates how things are going, tweaks the plan, identifies outside obstacles and internal resistance, and keeps moving forward with ongoing guidance.

Coaching loses its effectiveness when there isn’t a consistent schedule. Inconcistent scheduling results in lost momentum and regret on the client’s part, along with a lot of excuse-making. It’s not even as effective as occasional consultation, because it sets expectations of effort and progress that aren’t met without consistent checkpoints and accountability.

Do you have a point in your life or work design where you’re stuck? Or are you trying to figure out a way to make your business idea work better? You could benefit from a consultation.

Do you have a long-time desire to make things better in your life, to enjoy your work and find ways to use your abilities and gifts, or an idea for something really big that you’re not sure how to make happen? Then you could benefit from coaching.

E-mail me at Steve@SteveCoxsey.com or call me at 817-416-8971 to set up a complimentary 20-minute session where we can sort out what you need and help you choose your next steps. Click here to see “What to Expect When You Contact Me”.

About Steve

Steve Coxsey is The Trailblazing Coach (TM), helping people navigate life and work off the beaten path. He helps people develop their strengths and natural talents so they can take ownership of their productivity and creativity. Then they become powerful, able to break free of other people’s boxes and cubicles and start living and working in alignment with who they really are. They are able to design their lives around their values, their purpose, and their natural way of being. They tailor careers that use their unique strengths and talents and support their life design.

Click here for more information than you could possibly ever want to know about Steve.

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