God in the work I do

Feedback from KF  “I enjoyed reading your ten tips and am very happy to see the commitment to ensuring that your spirituality is not separate . Very inspirational.”

This comment resonated deeply with me. When I’m speaking in general terms I replace the word God with Higher Power or the Universe to be inclusive and acknowledge that readers have different points of reference and beliefs.  When I speak of myself and my belief, then I use the word God, because that’s what I believe.
A few years ago, I would not have used the word God. It has taken a whole lot of bravery and some self talk to write the word, and in doing so make the declaration. It is not that I am by any means religious. I know a handful of prayers, even fewer biblical quotes and I don’t regularly attend church services. Yet I truly believe in God.
There was a time I thought that to talk about God while talking business was taboo, a bit bush and plain unscientific. As an accountant, I worked with numbers – numbers have no mystery, they are not fickle, the answer is always certain without any doubt. They are tangible evidence of decisions made and actions taken, and I could control the bottom line.  I would discourage any God talk, reject all chain letters and quickly exit the room when vocal religious or bible quoting persons entered the room.
As I developed my life’s vision and my orientation shifted to people, I saw a change in my belief system.

How can I enhance the lives of others if I do not believe in something bigger, more powerful than I?

How can I help people achieve their dreams if I don’t trust that there is an endless supply for all of us?

How can I assist others to trust their innate intelligence and creativity if I don’t have faith in love?

In working with people I have learnt a deep appreciation for the good and intangible being that provides the energy and wisdom for me to do the work that I do – and that for me is God.
And so with this new belief, I’ve learnt to listen to clients with my heart, to feel in my body what they feel, to follow their spirits as they soar and as they dip and to be honest and kind when giving feedback. This is not magic, this comes from me knowing and acknowledging  that I am not in control, that there is more to life than what I can see and feel, that there is a power that loves me, fuels me and gives me all that I need.

How do you see God/ Higher Power/ Universe in the work that you do? #Godworks

P.S. I still reject chain letters, avoid bible quoters and don’t enter into God talks that don’t celebrate the humanity of and in others

Maxine Attong is the author of two business books – Change or Die – The Business Process Improvement Manual and Lead your Team to Win. She is a speaker, coach, Organisational Development consultant and of course an accountant.


Vision – Help or Hurt

Last week I led a group through a Visioning exercise. At the end, I asked “What’s the use of a personal vision?” The group answered that personal vision can provide motivation and hope while serving as an internal guiding light. A personal vision can be used to make decisions, prioritize the use of time, inform the actions taken and determine what leads  will be followed.  As the group wound down its contributions one voice piped up, “A personal vision can hurt.”

I was intrigued because I have never associated hurt with personal vision. I said, “Tell me more,” and other voices joined in the conversation.

Having a personal vision can

  • Make you lose your family and friends
  • Be frustrating when you don’t know how to get to it
  • Make it difficult to exist in the present time
  • Make you lose hope when you can’t see it coming through.
  • Cause you to lose patience with your current life
  • Make you wish that you never thought about it.
  • Be too big

I was grateful that the group shared these insights – I now  had a new way to look at the resistance some persons have around personal vision and why some may refuse to develop one.  I was left with empathy for persons who have not yet defined their personal vision – maybe  they cannot yet see beyond the hurt or do not know how to mitigate the hurt or maybe they are afraid that when the personal vision coin is tossed  the hurt faces them and the help lies in the dust.

I left that session with renewed commitment to support my clients to trade the hurt in for help.

And what about you, does your personal vision help or hurt? Tell me more

Maxine Attong is the author of two business books – Change or Die – The Business Process Improvement Manual and Lead your Team to Win. She is a Keynote Speaker,  Executive Coach, Organisational Development consultant and of course an Accountant.

Feeling Good – Blog 82

Today I spent the day coaching clients in the South of the island – about an hour’s drive from my home.  As always that was a wonderful experience, an opportunity to serve and hold the space for people to explore the issues that are front of mind for them.

I drove home slowly in blinding rain, grateful that I suffered no skids and made it safely home.

Tomorrow I return to the office and prepare for the facilitation of strategic planning sessions in Barbados.  I am looking forward to ending the week leading the management team through a process that will determine the strategies they want to implement over the next two years.

I had a satisfying day and I am looking forward to ending the week in a different island doing the same thing – being of service.

As I wind down for the evening I can only think of how appropriately Nina Simone’s classic “Feeling Good” fits me today.

How was your day? How are you feeling?

Birds flying high, you know how I feel.
Sun in the sky, you know how I feel.
Breeze driftin’ on by, you know how I feel.

It’s a new dawn,
It’s a new day,
It’s a new life
For me

It’s a new dawn,
It’s a new day,
It’s a new life
And I’m feeling good, yeah.

Fish in the sea, you know how I feel.
River running free, you know how I feel.
Blossom on the tree, you know how I feel.

It’s a new dawn,
It’s a new day,
It’s a new life
For me
And I’m feeling good.

Dragonfly out in the sun, you know what I mean,
don’t you know?
Butterflies all havin’ fun, you know what I mean:
Sleep in peace when day is done,
That’s what I mean
And this old world is a new world
And a bold world
For me.

Stars, when you shine.. you know how I feel.
Scent of the pine, you know how I feel.
Oh freedom is mine
And I know how I feel.

It’s a new dawn,
It’s a new day,
It’s a new life
For me
And I’m feeling good,

Me in Teams. Blog 54

When you are accustomed to being in charge, like me, it isn’t easy to work in teams. When I work the spotlight is usually on me.  I love its warmth and as a true performer, I show up knowing that when I am done there will be applause all around.  It’s part of the reasons why I work.  I love when my clients have an “Ah Ha” moment during a coaching session and I am excited when they move forward.  I love when I facilitate a group and the members leave the room committed to an agreement.  And of course I am thrilled when a client is excited with the results and wants to work with me more.

These feelings are about my ego; they are my pat on the back that I have done a good job.  It’s a heady feeling that propels me to work and assist clients get to where they want to be.

Over the last week I worked as part of a five member team with a client in Budapest and I marvelled at how different it is to work in teams.  This was a team of competent professionals in the respective fields of Organisational Development, Coaching and Facilitation who successfully work with clients in our own paradigms.

The notion of true teamwork without a declared leader, flipped the notion of individual stardom on its head.  As I reflect on how we worked together I can see what worked and did not work for us to work in harmony as a team.

The individual decisions of the team members are not important.  While is important that we each contribute to the decision making process; once the decision is made we each have to suck it up and go with the team.

There can be no stars in the team, everyone shares the spotlight to present a balanced experience for the client.  When any member hogs attention, the team appears imbalanced and uncoordinated.

The team has to stick to the game plan.  When a member changes tactics midstream, other team members bristle and the tension is seen in their facial expressions and body language.  Without knowing why, the client senses the shift in energy and interprets this as a lack of competence of the group and negatively reacts. Not a good scene.

Group members also have to suck it up.  Things may not go the way that we like but even as the maverick goes off on a tangent we have to stick with him and gently bring the engagement back on track.  In front of the client is not the place to shout him down or reprimand him, we have to let him go his own way and when he is finished artfully steer the work back to where it should be.  This calls for the team to be flexible since we may have to change the game plan to recover from this situation.

Team members who work as individuals within the team represent particular challenges that are not easy for me to deal with.  I  expect that as adults when we share an expressed purpose that we all move toward it.  The experience of the maverick is new for me and I have not yet come to any decisions about how to deal with a person like that. I am still grappling with the question of “What to do when a team player does not want to play on the team (when there is no designated leader)?  My book – Lead Your Team To Win – addresses the questions about mavericks but in this Budapest team I was not the leader so the options that I will usually make as a leader were not open to me.  While I mull about this situation and break it down to its parts I know that it confirms for me the beliefs that I share about leadership and teamwork in “Lead Your Team To Win”.

A team is not the place for mavericks, its not a space to be renegade and the spotlight has to be shared.

There is no I in team, but there is a me in a team. I is a subjective work which means that the focus is on the I. Me is an objective word, which is in relation to the subject matter and does not stand alone. There is no I in teams because I cannot be the focal point of a team.  There is a me is teams because me serves the purpose of the team.

If you cannot be of service, or if you cannot be an object for the greater good then its perfectly okay for you to work on your own.  A team may not be the environment for you.

How do you work in teams? What do you do about the mavericks on your team?

How to choose a coach

How to choose a coach? Which coach is right for you and your needs?  How do you select the right coach?  

There are Life coaches, business coaches, executive coaches and spiritual coaches and it’s very confusing.    If you are thinking about getting a coach follow these five steps  – gleaned from observations made during my coaching training and actual practice.   If you have any other questions then drop me a line.

  1. Have an objective – What do I want from my coach?  What am I hoping for?  You do not need to be 100% sure of what you want; but you do need a framework to work with.  This will be important when selecting a coach.
  2. Interview a few coaches.  Making a selection implies that there is a population to choose from. Unless your job has mandated that you see x person for coaching (and they are paying for it) then find more than one coach and interview each.  Why?  You are making an investment in your future so you need to get the most “bang for your buck”.  Having an objective will help you choose the coach that best suits your needs. While a coach can work with almost anyone, most coaches have target groups.  Explaining your objective in the interview will assist both you and the coach to know if it’s a good fit.
  3. Feel right about your coach.  This is not only monetary transaction.  The coach is going to get into your business!  When interviewing the coach, pay attention to your feelings and reflect on how you felt after the meeting.  Are you comfortable with this person? Do you think that (S)he is  trustworthy?  Trust your gut on this one – if “your blood does not take” the person, then walk away regardless of what certificates (s)he has on the wall.  
  4. Pay attention to what the coach says in the interview. If you suspect that your coach has a gender bias and you are of the other gender then walk away.  If your coach speaks disparagingly about life style choices and you fall into one of those categories then the relationship will not work.  Listen to what the coach is saying and believe what you have heard.
  5. Accept that not all coaches can work with you – You are unique, with a unique personality and needs.  Why assume that just anyone can cater to your needs?  It’s your life, your money and your decision.  

The lesson is that not every client is for every coach and not every coach can serve every client.  During my training I have seen coaching sessions fizzle because the coach and client did not fit.  I have seen the coach from the fizzled session bring insight to another client.  Most of the coaches you meet will be competent, but that is not enough.  You want a coach that fits you, one that you feel comfortable with, one that you can be true with and be sure that there are no repercussions.  A coach provides a wonderful partner on life’s journey; choose carefully, for this will determine the quality of your journey.

How I got coaching clients

I am looking at my coaching log – list of coaching clients – and marveling at the clients who have come my way. Each has contributed to my growing practice and competence as a coach.

My clients have all come my way via word of mouth. From my mouth they heard I was a coach or a friend or colleague put them on to me.

I facilitated a one day session for a group and a month later, someone calls. She was not part of the group, but her friend was and her friend recommended me. Astonishing, since I did not coach the friend.

Another was sent my way by her lecturer, who is a colleague of mine; she thought that the student would benefit from having a coach. Another worked at the same company as I did, but not as part of my team. Another called me from North America – she saw my Linked in profile and liked it.

When I started coaching, I pondered “How do I get clients?”

I wanted to send letters out to businesses because a lot of new employees, promoted employees, disgruntled employees and other employees could possibly benefit from being coached.

I wanted to write some articles in the business newspapers that speak about the benefits of coaching and encourage the public to try coaching. I wanted to take out a small advertisement with my contact information with an Uncle Sam finger pointed at the potential clients – I want you to be my client.

In the end I have done no such thing. I chose to believe in the power of the spoken word and my purpose – “to enhance the lives of others and leave a positive mark”, hence eink. I think that if I do coaching in service, then I will attract people who need and want to be served. And that’s exactly what has happened.

I have met and continue to meet fantastic, brilliant, confused, ambitious, evolving, scared, intelligent, creative people, each with a goal in mind and each with the will to get to where they want.

They were drawn to create a relationship with me either because of something that I said or was said about me by someone that they trust. They must have felt a cadence; something must have resonated with them to choose me from all the other service providers. I don’t know what the words are I am just grateful that they have been said.

To be is not to plan

I was asked “What does it mean to be?” “How is being different from having a goal?” I am still figuring it out and uncertain if I can covey what I mean.

Whenever I wanted to achieve something I set a goal, “I am going to be a coach, I am going to be a facilitator, I am going to write a book,” then I got on the net, found a program, did some research and enrolled in a program. With the book, I changed my schedule so that every evening, at the same time after my day-job I sat and wrote.

Thought, followed by action, followed by execution. Willful mind followed by willful action, no distractions, keep the focus. Say what the goal will bring to your life – that’s how to get things done.

This year I am reading for the Certified Professional Facilitator (CPF) designation, Associate Certified Coach (ICF certification) and I am going to develop training programs based on the book Change or Die. Sounds like a goal. Not really

Unlike previous years, I am not compelled or driven to do these things. They are not imperative to my success. I do them, not to make a difference to my career options or my income generation. I do them in the spirit that a gift has been granted to me and I need to build on these gifts, multiply them and send them back out into the world.

I feel at ease in doing the things that I want to, and I accept that I may not achieve them. I accept that life may have other plans for me and I am embracing flexibility and uncertainty, knowing and trusting that whatever happens, in any given moment, I am exactly where I am supposed to be.

It feels right to be a coach and help people to get to where they want to be. It feels right to facilitate group decisions; it feels right to honor the requests that were made by readers of the book. I am doing these things in full unison with the world and the people around me. These things will resonate with whom and where they need to, and have little to do with me.

I now accept and understand the words attributed to Mother (now Saint) Theresa.

May today there be peace within.
May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.
May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.
May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you.
May you be confident knowing you are a child of God.
Let this presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love.
It is there for each and every one of us.

I am a Coach

I am a Coach.  For real!  I have two clients, and will soon have a third.  It is a very special relationship building experience.  In the coaching session, my clients take off their masks and let me into private thoughts, doubts and fears.  I have the privilege of walking with them as they struggle, search for and find clarity, and I gratefully honor this with my confidentiality. 

I specialize in two areas: transition and aging.  I can coach anyone on any issue, but  I chose to specialize and narrow my offerings.

 A transition is a change. When one moves from a state of knowing to one of newness there is hesitance, a shake in the  self confidence and some adjustments to be made. 

Aging is a special type if transition that brings physical, mental, emotional and spiritual changes.  Think about when you were in your 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, and so on.  Each stage requires a mindset change, brings unnamed issues that we deal with or run from.

These topics are also close and dear to my heart.  I have had several career changes.  The spaces between the knowing and unknowing were rudderless and at times overwhelming. Believe it or not, I am aging and I can map the differences in my thought processes, physicality and spirituality.  It is an revealing journey.  

My clients will benefit from my authentic desire to see the reconciliation of transitions and their ultimate success.  “ Be not afraid, I go before you always” Catholic Hymn