Much of my coaching work focuses on overcoming inertia. Many clients have found themselves in a rut of some sort and sought me out to help them climb out and begin to move forward again. Ruts are self-manufactured – prisons constructed by and for the inmates. One of their most insidious aspects is that they who have built them are powerless to tear them down. The habits that went into the construction of the walls and doors – the locks and bars – prevent the prisoners from dissolving them into the fictions that they always were.
Lately I have worked with a couple of CEOs who were suffering from this self-incarceration. Both were intelligent people who were dedicated to building a strong business in an area that they understood and had mastered through years of experience. Both had made a good start. The businesses had survived the initial years and the start-up phase. Lately margins had begun to shrink, growth slowed and the energy of the organization seemed to be slipping away.
I put together a program for each client that had five areas in common. These were contextualized within a boarder program that focused on both their personal and professional lives. As we worked through the areas, we began to involve more and more of the senior team – then more and more of the employees. The result in both cases was that inertia gave way to a new energy. Here are the common areas we worked on.
1. Focus on Your Customers First: Almost all business CEO’s think of themselves first before their customers. They design product and service offers from their own perspective and believe that they are the primary beneficiary of their well-intended actions. Although this is not necessary a negative thing, if you find yourself in a business rut, you need to focus on your customers first. Think about who your customers are and what concerns them – walk in their shoes. What are they trying to accomplish by utilizing your services and products?
2. Stop Thinking About Your Customers And Start Thinking About Your Clients: Understand the difference between a customer and a client. A customer is someone who buys your goods or services. A client is someone who you should be concerned about. Their well-being and happiness is often a result of your service and product. Simply put, if you have customers, your only goal is to persuade them to buy something from your business. If you think about them as clients, you will approach your business from another angle. How would you show them that you are truly concerned about their happiness? What new products, services or even programs would you create for them?
3. Reconnect With Your Vision: Reconnect with your original vision for the business. Make sure that it still inspires you and that it is still pointing you in the direction you want to take your business. If any of your business circumstances have changed, then your rewrite it until it inspires you.
4. Determining Your Strengths and Your Weaknesses: Conduct a leadership assessment in order to determine your leadership style as well as your strengths and weaknesses. If your weaknesses are causing you and your business to remain in a rut, your Coach will suggest strategies to improve your performance.
5. Get Back in Balance: A Coach can teach you how to reestablish the balance between your business and social home life. Most busy executives in the corporate world today are unable to keep track of all their appointments and are too busy trying to make everybody happy that they fail to make themselves happy. There are always tasks that are not truly important from a business point of view – but are critical to your own happiness and energy levels. You should pay attention to these. The rut you are in is has probably been dug by ignoring them.
Getting out of a rut is one of the most difficult things anyone can attempt alone. However, it is one of the easiest things to accomplish with the help of a coach. Of course, the first step is getting out of the rut of going it alone and engaging a coach. But that is a small rut compared to the one you are really in.
© Dr. Earl R. Smith II