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Bring Your Vision to Life


August 24th, 2016

Hello, Trailblazer!

If you are one of the long-time subscribers to The Trailblazer, you have probably noticed the focus of this newsletter shifting over the years. Originally it was written for portfolio careerists, the creatively self-employed, and owners of lifestyle-friendly businesses, as well as people hoping to move into one of these categories. It has always included the personal and professional growth lens of coaching as well as applicable information from Positive Psychology, neuroscience, and related fields.

From Custom-Designed Work to a Life Well Lived
Over time, the focus of these articles has increasingly been on Positive Psychology, neuroscience, and related fields, and less on self-employment. My client base has evolved, too. Now I serve people in a variety of leadership roles, not just the self-employed. I continue learning and writing about ways to support people in achieving success along with enjoyment and purpose through their endeavors, whether work-related or personal.

In addition, the name The Trailblazer is evocative as an image of a self-directed and even self-made person creating new paths instead of following the herd. But it also connotes isolation, a leader so far off the beaten path that it’s difficult for other people to relate and give support.

“Other People Matter”
Meanwhile, connection and social support show up again and again in research on overall well-being. Teamwork and collaboration are often keys to meaningful success. And giving back through mentoring and guiding others repeatedly makes the list of best ideas on boosting meaning and enjoyment. The late Positive Psychology luminary Dr. Chris Peterson, well loved and deeply missed, famously summed up the theme of Positive Psychology as “Other People Matter.”

As I explore these topics and write articles related to them, it is becoming very clear that the name of this newsletter is out of sync with my expanded audience and expanded focus. I definitely believe there continues to be a need for information for people whose vision for their work is creative and unique and who will have to forge their own path in order to create a business where they can do that work. But it’s not my calling right now to write articles on those topics.

Aligning the Mission and the Name
This month’s issue of The Trailblazer is the last issue, at least for a while. I may revive this newsletter in the future or change it into an occasional communication about training, events, and other opportunities related to creative and meaningful self-employment. But I will not be publishing it monthly in the foreseeable future.

Instead, I will continue to write a newsletter on the topics I have written about for several months, but I will publish it under a new name: Thriving Edge News. Everyone subscribed to The Trailblazer will begin receiving Thriving Edge News next month. You are already familiar with the content, and the format will be nearly the same as what you have been seeing in The Trailblazer.

My change of focus follows a fairly involved process of reflecting on actions I’ve taken in business design and then adjusting my plan to bring in what I’ve learned. That’s the topic of this month’s article.

It’s Feedback, Not Failure

Coaching is nearly always about helping a client navigate change. Whether it is self-chosen change (such as tackling a huge project, completing a degree, or growing a business) or imposed change (such as a company reorganization or life after the end of a relationship), most of what clients are handling involves change.

Approaching Change with Intention
That means we like to have helpful models for change and how it affects people. One such very useful model comes from the book Changing for Good by Prochaska, Norcross, Di Clemente, and Di Clemente. The book spells out the Transtheoretical Model of Change. In coaching circles familiar with the work, we refer to it as the “Prochaska Model” or simply the stages of change.

The model has six stages total, but we find three to be especially helpful. They are:

1) Contemplation (Thinking about it)

2) Preparation (Planning for it)

3) Action (Taking Action on it)

A powerful lesson from this model is the understanding that people often jump right from thinking about doing something to taking action on it without much thought. When someone hasn’t been through a thoughtful Contemplation process or developed a workable plan, they’re likely to run into unpredicted struggles and obstacles. Because they haven’t thought it through fully or planned it well, they are inclined to read the struggle as proof they can’t, or shouldn’t, do the thing they were attempting.

Important Work at Each Stage
When I give an overview of the stages of change, I let my clients know there is important work to accomplish at each stage. The Contemplation stage is where we wrestle with a vague, sometimes abstract idea and try to make it more concrete. As we do so, we are weighing costs and benefits and trying to decide if it’s worth the effort and resources to take on the challenge. It resolves once we decide it’s worth the effort and are going to commit, or realize it’s not worth it and are ready to let go.

The Preparation stage is where we make the idea as concrete as possible. We take the goal and break it into sections or components and then plot those on a timeline. We break each piece down into smaller and smaller bites until we have action steps we can put on the calendar with time allotted for each one.

The Action stage is where we implement what we have planned. It requires focused effort and sustained motivation. By resolving uncertainty about “why to” in the Contemplation stage we know the benefit and are committed to pay the cost. By resolving uncertainty about “how to” in the Preparation stage we know what we need to do, step by step in order, to realize the vision. The certainty of commitment and the certainty of a workable plan keep us moving forward.

Resilience – Ready for the Unexpected
And it usually doesn’t go smoothly. An unforeseen challenge can happen even when you have a solid plan. For many, that challenge will knock them back to the Preparation stage, scrambling to rethink the plan and see what other holes are in it.

For others, an unforeseen challenge can send them back to the Contemplation stage, wondering if it’s going to be harder than they expected and if it’s still worth it. They have to revisit the costs and the benefits in light of the new information.

Once I help clients see the value of taking the stages in order, they are willing to commit the necessary work to each stage. When an unexpected challenges shows them that even good planning can’t prepare them for everything, they are less likely to give up when facing frustration and more likely to return to an earlier stage, work their way back through it, and improve their approach.

The Experimental Approach
It’s even more powerful when we plan to cycle back through Contemplation and Preparation intentionally from time to time while in the Action stage. Then setbacks are expected, even though we may not know the particular form they will take. I have my clients do this by incorporating a feedback loop.

While taking action, every so often they plan to review how things are progressing compared to what they expected. They intentionally reconsider what they are learning about the goal or desired change.

If something will take more time or resources or be a bigger hassle, they revisit the costs and benefits in the Contemplation stage to make sure it’s still worth it before continuing on. If part of the plan doesn’t work they way they expected, if they have to find a different resource or include responsibilities and priorities they hadn’t considered before, they return to Preparation intentionally and adjust their plan.

This produces the not-quite-elegant acronym PIRLI: Plan, Implement, Review, Learn, and Improve. When you include PIRLI in your own projects, you will not only be prepared for struggles and setbacks, but you will actually seek them out to learn and improve as you go.

Apply it: Pick one goal you are working on and apply PIRLI with intention. Reflect, observe, and record what you notice as you try it out. Evaluate it and see if it works for you.

In the Playlab
I often tell my clients that neither of us knows how things will turn out so it’s best to approach their project as an experiment. I sometimes use the term “Playlab” to refer to trying things out in a flexible, enjoyable way while while still paying attention to what can be learned.

The Playlab approach tells me it’s time to improve my communication with you by changing my newsletter to fit the audience you are today. I plan to keep applying PIRLI to every aspect of my business so I can serve you better and better.

May you continue to reflect and improve every day on your trail!

Take Care,

Stephen Coxsey, MA, PCC
Professional Certified Coach (ICF)
Self Development and Leadership Development

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About Steve Coxsey

Steve collaborates with his clients to design and implement a customized plan for success, fulfillment, and well-being for themselves and the people they lead. They thrive on a personally meaningful path and promote a culture of thriving wherever they are in charge.

Steve is a supportive ally to his clients. They are people in charge who have to juggle competing responsibilities in a variety of roles. They have a compelling vision of what they would like to create or accomplish as leaders in their businesses, work lives, or personal lives and are committed to turning their vision into reality. To make that happen, they develop the agilities of leadership to be able to empower and direct themselves, design and guide meaningful work, and inspire others.

Would you like that to be you?

Are you ready for a creative, dynamic, collaborative partnership focused on turning your vision into results?

Get started with a no-risk 30-40 minute consultation. It’s complimentary, so all it will cost you is a little bit of time. You can schedule the complimentary call using this online tool. You can also call 817-416-8971 or e-mail Steve@SteveCoxsey.com to set up the call.

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

Let’s Connect:

Resource for Sending Your Own Newsletter
If you would like to send your own newsletter to your audience, I recommend AWeber. It’s a user-friendly, plug and play format offering great support — from ideas on beginning your list to advanced techniques for building your connection with a well-established list. And it’s very affordable. If you sign up, I’ll get a commission.

The Trailblazer is a publication of Trailblazing Media, a division of Thriving Edge, Inc.

Copyright (C) 2016 Thriving Edge, Inc., and Stephen Coxsey

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