The Coach's Corner

Archive for the ‘Sharpening Your Personal Leadership Skills’ Category

It’s Easy When Things Are Going Well

September 28th, 2020 // Tom Doescher // 0 Comments

Tom Doescher - Doescher Advisors

Over the years, I’ve learned that it’s easy to talk about and live out your values during the good times, but the real acid test comes during recessions and crises.

Back in the early ’80s, I was a young partner at Plante Moran. The firm had an opportunity and made a very unique confidential investment. In the partner meeting to vote on the investment, it was stated that 10 percent of the profits would be shared with the staff. Well, it turned out to be a fantastic investment that matured and paid out in 1983, which was a deep recession year that significantly impacted the partners’ earnings. I was very curious about whether the plan to share with the staff members would be honored. (Keep in mind that the staff had no idea about this confidential windfall.) To my delight, we (since I was a partner) did share our good fortune with the entire Plante Moran team. I was re-recruited to the firm. Our walk matched our talk.

Why am I telling you this decades-old story? The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged businesses, which have had to make some really tough decisions. Barbara and I are very proud to be associated with our clients, whose actions matched the words on the plaques on their company walls. I can’t share all the heartwarming stories I’ve heard, but I’ll highlight a few.

  • A professional service firm’s competitors almost immediately laid off employees and reduced salaries. Although it was gut-wrenching, the CEO of my client’s firm decided not to make any reductions. Recently I asked, “Now that we’re past the worst of it, how do you feel about your decision?” He responded, “It was the right thing to do!”
  • Another client, whose manufacturing plant could have remained open due to some “essential service” customers, closed his facility because the CEO was very concerned about his workers contracting the virus. But that wasn’t all he did for his team. He continued to pay all salary and hourly workers during the stay-at-home executive order. Really!
  • Finally, the owners of an essential service client decided to provide his $12-13 per-hour workers with a $1,000 bonus. It gets better. The CEO and two other top executives personally handed the bonus checks to their 500 hourly employees working all over Michigan and thanked them for their service to the company, especially during these difficult times.

Every company I’ve ever known says it really values its employees. These three owners proved it, just like Plante Moran did back in 1983.

My question for you would be: Can you substantiate with real evidence that your employees are important to you?

If you have any cool stories about something that occurred during the pandemic, I would love to hear them.

Forgiveness

July 27th, 2020 // Tom Doescher // 1 Comment

Tom Doescher - Doescher Advisors

I’m stepping way out of my area of expertise, but one of the more common issues I observe is lack of forgiveness. I’ve found a really simple, practical summary of forgiveness and how to deal with it from a Mayo Clinic article entitled “Forgiveness: Letting go of grudges and bitterness.” The following are excerpts from the article, without any editorial comments:

Who hasn’t been hurt by the actions or words of another? Perhaps a parent constantly criticized you growing up, a colleague sabotaged a project or your partner had an affair. 

These wounds can leave you with lasting feelings of anger and bitterness — even vengeance.

But if you don’t practice forgiveness, you might be the one who pays most dearly. By embracing forgiveness, you can also embrace peace, hope, gratitude and joy. Consider how forgiveness can lead you down the path of physical, emotional and spiritual well-being.

What are the benefits of forgiving someone?

Letting go of grudges and bitterness can make way for improved health and peace of mind. Forgiveness can lead to:

  • Healthier relationships
  • Improved mental health
  • Less anxiety, stress and hostility
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Fewer symptoms of depression
  • A stronger immune system
  • Improved heart health
  • Improved self-esteem

Why is it so easy to hold a grudge?

Being hurt by someone, particularly someone you love and trust, can cause anger, sadness and confusion. If you dwell on hurtful events or situations, grudges filled with resentment, vengeance and hostility can take root. If you allow negative feelings to crowd out positive feelings, you might find yourself swallowed up by your own bitterness or sense of injustice.

What are the effects of holding a grudge?

If you’re unforgiving, you might:

  • Bring anger and bitterness into every relationship and new experience
  • Become so wrapped up in the wrong that you can’t enjoy the present
  • Become depressed or anxious
  • Feel that your life lacks meaning or purpose, or that you’re at odds with your spiritual beliefs
  • Lose valuable and enriching connectedness with others

How do I reach a state of forgiveness?

Forgiveness is a commitment to a personalized process of change. To move from suffering to forgiveness, you might:

  • Recognize the value of forgiveness and how it can improve your life
  • Identify what needs healing and who needs to be forgiven and for what
  • Consider joining a support group or seeing a counselor
  • Acknowledge your emotions about the harm done to you and how they affect your behavior, and work to release them
  • Choose to forgive the person who’s offended you
  • Move away from your role as victim and release the control and power the offending person and situation have had in your life

Does forgiveness guarantee reconciliation?

If the hurtful event involved someone whose relationship you otherwise value, forgiveness can lead to reconciliation. This isn’t always the case, however.

Reconciliation might be impossible if the offender has died or is unwilling to communicate with you. In other cases, reconciliation might not be appropriate. Still, forgiveness is possible — even if reconciliation isn’t.

What if the person I’m forgiving doesn’t change?

Getting another person to change his or her actions, behavior or words isn’t the point of forgiveness. Think of forgiveness more about how it can change your life — by bringing you peace, happiness, and emotional and spiritual healing. Forgiveness can take away the power the other person continues to wield in your life.

What if I’m the one who needs forgiveness?

The first step is to honestly assess and acknowledge the wrongs you’ve done and how they have affected others. Avoid judging yourself too harshly.

If you’re truly sorry for something you’ve said or done, consider admitting it to those you’ve harmed. Speak of your sincere sorrow or regret, and ask for forgiveness — without making excuses.

Remember, however, you can’t force someone to forgive you. Others need to move to forgiveness in their own time. Whatever happens, commit to treating others with compassion, empathy and respect.

Do You Know Your Calling?

June 22nd, 2020 // Tom Doescher //

Tom Doescher - Doescher Advisors

Many of you know that my most common response to the greeting “How are you doing?” is “Living the dream!” There are several reasons I feel that way, but one would be that I’m living out my “calling.” Some people might think that’s a religious term, but to me it’s the best way to describe operating in the space you were designed for. Sadly, it has taken me decades to really understand this concept.

When I completed Marcus Buckingham’s StandOut assessment, it labeled me as a “Performance Coach” and offered the following words to describe what that means:

“People who come to you for advice will not only get forthright, practical guidance, they will also get a system to track their progress. You love to keep score. And while this logical, disciplined approach creates security and certainty with others, you temper it with a heartfelt belief in them and what they can achieve. Your goal is to create self-reliance in others. You don’t want them to have to keep coming to you. And then you stand proudly on the sidelines and watch them deliver.”

If you’re a regular reader, you know I prefer the word “advisor” over “coach.” I explained my reasons for that preference in my July 2016 post. That being said, I’ll accept being a “performance coach.”

So I guess my “what” or “why” is advising/coaching, and my “where” is business — and in recent years, I’ve realized how much I love this role. As a former athlete, I assume I enjoy the competitiveness of business and, as Buckingham would say, “I love to keep score.”

Back to “Living the dream.” Advising my clients isn’t work; it’s who I am. One of my favorite authors, Matthew Kelly, would say that when I’m advising, I’m the “best version of myself.”

In addition to working with my clients, I mentor both a young man who lives at a children’s home and a felon who’s spent most of his life in prison. A few weeks ago I was talking to a longtime friend who asked about the mentoring. During our conversation, he said, “Well, that makes total sense.” To which I said, “What?” He replied, “You’re coaching.”

Now you know a little more about me — but how about you? Do you know your unique calling?

Discover what it is, engage, and join me in “Living the dream!”

The Four Seasons of Adult Life

March 10th, 2020 // Tom Doescher //

Tom Doescher - Doescher Advisors

I recently heard a pastor/counselor speak about the Four Seasons of Adult Life. As I listened, I thought many of you might enjoy his perspectives.

Novice (17–28 Years)

Novice actually means new or beginner. You’re transitioning from adolescence to adulthood. During this period, the rational portion of your brain is developing. You make a lot of choices (friends, higher education, vocation/job) that will impact the rest of your life.

Challenges:

  1. Will I grow up? Will I put away my childish things and ways? Think of a childish habit you had. Do you still have it?
  2. Who do you spend time with? It’s said that you’re the sum total of the five people with whom you spend the most time. Who is the best person in your life today? Tip: Try to never be the smartest person in the room. (Editorial comment: Be a lifelong learner.)
  3. What is/will your life be about? What path will you take? Will you focus on something bigger than yourself?
  4. What will your priorities be?

Common Pitfalls:

  1. Going down the wrong path.
  2. A tendency to be prideful.
  3. A focus on “doing” versus “being.”

Apprentice (29–39 Years)

This is (or should be) a transition stage.

Challenges:

  1. Your priorities will be tested. (What are your tensions?) During this phase is when many people get married.
  2. Face your family wounds. (Often, your issues from your family of origin will manifest themselves during this phase. Be ready and consider seeking professional help.)
  3. Relational complexity increases (parents, spouse, children, co-workers, neighbors). You may experience relationship disappointments. Will you “lean in” or “run”?
  4. There’s frequently a tendency to compare yourself with others (job, bank account, home, vehicle, spouse, kids).

Journeyman (40–54 Years)

In this stage, life is accelerating and can be exhausting.

Challenges:

  1. You begin the transition from young to old. Your energy level is decreasing, while at the same time your demands are increasing. You need to re-position yourself for maximum effectiveness. Tip: Consider a reverse bucket list. In other words, what should you eliminate from your life so you can focus on your highest priorities?
  2. How will you respond? Will you become a “victim,” or will you accept the responsibility to change? Is there an area of your life where you failed? What role did you play?
  3. Will you become isolated or connected?

    (Editorial comments: 1) I refer to this as the “Perfect Storm” phase of life. We have high demands at work, at home, at church, in the community. You have to learn to say “no,” or you’ll become overwhelmed. 2) 
    In my experience and observation, this stage goes into the 60s for many executives.)

Mentor (55+ Years)

During this phase, you’ll cash in on your previous choices. You may retire from your longtime career/vocation. You could become an experienced, trusted advisor. (Editorial comments: 1) As you know, I’m not a big fan of retirement. 2) While you’re in an influential position, it’s an ideal time to begin mentoring others. 3) I would also encourage mentoring until you can’t.)

Challenges:

  1. Will you be a consumer or an investor? (Editorial comment: Said another way, will you be a taker or a giver?)
  2. Will you pass on wisdom, skills, and your experience? (Mentor, or initiate/engage; ask questions versus lecture; be available and give of your time; tell stories; encourage others.)
  3. When will you step aside? (Editorial comment: When will you transition to your “Next Season”?)

Concluding reflections: 1) What’s the best thing in your life today? 2) What’s your biggest challenge and how will you address it?

A Life Without Anxiety

January 13th, 2020 // Tom Doescher //

Living a life free of anxiety is the promise of Dr. Gregory Popcak, author of Unworried. According to Dr. Popcak, anxiety tends to be a fear response triggered by something that either happened a long time ago, has not yet happened, or may not actually be happening at all. For instance, have you ever been afraid you said something embarrassing (or wish you hadn’t said it) while out to dinner with your friends (or client/customer), so you kept replaying the scene in your head and experienced a low-grade sense of dread? Or, say you emailed or texted a friend (or client/customer) and didn’t get a response — have you felt anxious that something must be wrong? (Editor’s note: I confess this is me. I’m a world-class worrier. Ask my partner.)

Tom Doescher - Doescher Advisors

Dr. Popcak begins by differentiating between fear and anxiety/worry. He would say fear is the natural, biological, and appropriate response to an imminent threat. When the fear systems in our brain work properly, they serve a protective function, warning us of danger and then easing off once the threat has passed. In contrast to fear, anxiety is when the brain’s natural fear circuits get hijacked by something that isn’t an immediate danger or could even be good for us.

Think about your life — where you work, live, and play. Now think about your parents or grandparents. I bet your life is filled with way more activity and travel. You may live in an urban setting that’s more stressful, or your kids have endless sports and other activities (I grew up surrounded by farms, where in the summer, the neighborhood kids met every day to play unsupervised baseball; I think you get the point). And you wonder why you’re feeling stressed!

I won’t attempt to summarize the book, but if anything I’ve said resonates in your mind, I would highly recommend investing some time in Unworried. Like many authors of the books I’ve read in the past few years, Dr. Popcak describes the need to reprogram our brain, and he strongly believes we can. In explaining what to do, he uses the metaphor of creating surge-protection as well as a treatment called cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), and limiting or eliminating the use of medications. This book provides well-grounded hope for the worrier.

As someone with anxiety, I plan to incorporate Dr. Popcak’s advice into my life.

The Advisor’s Corner

Tom DoescherYou’ll find stories from the trenches, business lessons, and pertinent questions to help you find inspiration, professional growth, and leadership savvy.

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