By: Erin Tamberella and Rick Wright
Some of you may be familiar with coaching and some of you may not. So, in this month’s issue of Plateau to Pinnacle Newsletter©, we thought we’d take you through a sample coaching session to tackle a common challenge for anyone who’s been in the business for any length of time–breaking through plateaus.
First, we’ll give you some background on the dynamics of a coaching relationship. Next, we’ll give you several questions to think about before you even begin to formulate your plan. Then we’ll give you a few tips for that extra edge against your production plateau.
The Coaching Relationship
The coaching relationship is unique because it’s a true partnership where you and the coach are equals. It isn’t therapy. The coach isn’t trying to fix you or delve into your past, except within the context of moving forward from this moment on. The coach is concerned with moving toward the successful accomplishment of your goals.
It’s different from consulting. The coach doesn’t lord over you spelling out what to do and what not to do. The coach acts as a facilitator for your ideas and asks empowering questions to help you understand yourself better and your motives for change. A coach helps you to see and achieve your full potential. Your plan of action is tailored specifically to you, your habits and your style. It’s a plan that you and your coach work out together. Because it’s yours and you own it, it tends to be much more effective.
10 Questions You Must Ask Yourself
Following are some of the questions that we typically ask in a one-on-one coaching session on breaking through plateaus. Obviously, your answers would lead to more questions that could further pinpoint your ideas, emotions and motives but these questions will give you a firm foundation for moving forward to your goal.
In prior attempts to break through plateaus, you’ve probably asked yourself questions 6-10 before. Questions 1-5 may be new to you but they are crucial to the process of meaningful change. It’s important that you search your mind and heart and be brutally honest with yourself as you’re answering them.
1. Why do you want to break through this plateau? The answer to this question isn’t as obvious as it may first appear. It’s important to understand your true motivation which tends to be deeper than just money. Take it a step past the obvious reasons. Think on an emotional level about how it would make you feel to breakthrough a longstanding plateau. Often it’s these feelings, whether fulfillment, self-worth, recognition or something else that are the deeper motivation. These are usually more powerful motivators than money alone. Keep your underlying motivation front and center at all times on your quest.
2. What would be different in your life if you were able to break through your plateau? Use all your senses here. What would look different, feel different, and taste different? Would your relationships change? What exactly would change? What would stay the same? You want to have a multi-dimensional picture in your mind that you can tap into when the going gets tough–a reminder of why you’re working and what you’re working towards.
3. What would be the rewards of breaking through your plateau? Here, you want to think not only of your answers to the above questions but every last detail down to how you’re going to celebrate and what you’re going to eat at your victory celebration. Have even the smallest details crystal clear in your mind.
4. What will you have to give up to reach your goal? For how long? It has been said that success is measured by what you have to give up to get it. As enthusiastic, positive-minded sales professionals, we tend to focus much more on the rewards and less on acknowledging the price we must pay to get there. Be honest with yourself and then make a decision on whether the price is fair and what you’re willing to pay.
5. Now the key question. After reviewing all your answers to the above questions, on a scale of 1-10, how motivated are you to doing what it takes to break through your plateau? Be honest with yourself and know that breaking through a plateau is no small matter. Your motivation level should be at a minimum of 7 to move forward. If it is, it’s time to go for it. Read on. It it’s not, don’t beat yourself up. You’re just not ready–yet. Use the following questions and suggestions to lay a stronger foundation in your current business and revisit the plateau questions next quarter.
6. What’s your actual logistical plan for getting from here to there? The plan should be so detailed that someone not in the business could follow your steps easily. Of course, it should be written down.
7. When will you accomplish your goal? Work backwards to figure out exactly what needs to be done when and then assign an exact date that you will actually break through your plateau for the first time. Put this date everywhere you can think of. It should always be in front of you.
8. When will you start? What is the very first thing that needs to be done to get started? Is there anything that needs to be done prior to that?
9. In the next week, when will you get that very first thing done or your groundwork task if something needs to be done prior to the very first task? Each week you’ll ask yourself, what’s the very next task that needs to be done this week? By doing this, you’re breaking what may seem like an overwhelming goal into small workable baby steps that you are able to accomplish on a week-by-week basis until the job is done. Just stay focused on the task assigned for that week instead of allowing yourself to be overwhelmed by the big picture.
10. Who are you going to be accountable to for the completion of your weekly tasks? How are you going to let them know you’ve accomplished your task for the week–meeting, e-mail, etc.?
The Extra Edge for Success
1. Accountability is a key factor in determining your success. There are three different levels of accountability. The higher your accountability level, the greater your chances of success.
Level One is personal accountability which equates to self-discipline. This is the level that gets the whole process started. Self-discipline can help keep you motivated but to break through a longstanding plateau, you’ll need more accountability than just yourself.
Level Two Accountability is friendly accountability. This is when you ask a coworker or friend to help keep you accountable. You must take the time to fully explain your goals and what’s entailed in achieving them to your accountability partner. The person you choose should be one who takes your goals seriously and who wants to see you succeed. For this level of accountability to be successful, you must set up a formal time that you meet consistently to discuss your progress. A mere, “how’s it going with your goals thing” when you see each other in the hall isn’t going to be extremely helpful.
Level Three Accountability is professional accountability. Hiring a coach is by far the most effective form of accountability. Often friends are too close to you to notice a poor habit or attitude. Many times coworkers empathize with your struggles and therefore cannot be as honest as they need to be for your success. A coach can give you a fresh perspective on your job and your struggles. It is rare to find an advisor who invested in accountability that didn’t receive more back than his/her original investment.
2. Keep track of what you’re doing–not what you think you’re doing. It’s important to keep good daily, weekly and monthly records of your goals and activity. Set aside a time each day that you tally up the score and compare what you wanted to get done against what was actually done. Not only will this help you keep track of what you’re actually doing but it will help with your Level One Accountability. Transfer and tally this up at the end of each week and month. If you’re not clear on how your activity is stacking up against your goals, you have no idea where you’re excelling and where you’re falling short. It may not be where and when you think. You can’t make adjustments if you don’t know where they’re needed. You can’t win the game if you don’t know the score.
3. Visualization is a very effective tool you can use to support and help yourself along the way. Time and time again, studies have shown that visualization works. It has been shown to lower golf scores, reduce crime, heal ill patients and it can help your production. Whether you believe in visualization or not, it can’t hurt. Once or twice a day, spend 10 minutes visualizing your production goal. Visualize the actual number, the date it’s going to happen. Visualize everyaspect of breaking through your plateau. Feel the actual feeling you’ll have when you see that number on your production run. The key to visualization is not simply to see your goals fulfilled but feel them fulfilled with all five of your senses.
Visualize telling the people close to you that you did it! Visualize your answers to questions 1-5. Visualize yourself actually carrying out your plan and talking with your accountability partner. Visualize it so often and in such detail that it becomes a reality in your mind. It must be a reality there first.
“Think you can or think you can’t. Either way, you’re right.”