My client was furious, “That’s the second time you’ve forgotten to call on me, today, Rich.”
I looked back at him and said, “That’s interesting. How did you do that?”
It’s called a pattern interrupt. I didn’t buy into his story. I didn’t apologize. I didn’t posture (“I was about to call on you…”) or collapse (“Oh my gosh. I’m ever so sorry…”)
We live in a created world and I wanted to investigate how he was creating this experience. My question came from a deep curiosity how this person – a successful coach, at a mastermind event I was running – was able to go unnoticed in a small group setting—twice.
He cried as he shared the story of how he’d learned to be invisible as a child, in order to be safe. In later life, being unnoticed had become a superpower in his professional career, as a therapist and coach. But there was a price he was paying for this and my questioning allowed him to see this for the first time.
How you do anything is how you do everything
I can’t know if that is always true but I do know that it’s a powerful frame to hold as a coach.
A potential client was due to call me at 1pm. She called at 1:20pm. She met all my criteria for a dream client. So the easiest thing in the world would have been to not even mention her lateness.
But I’ve trained myself to ask challenging questions. Especially when they make me feel uncomfortable.
I said, “I’m curious why you’re so late to this call. Where else in your life do you say you’re committed to something but secretly you’re not?”
A minute of silence can feel REALLY uncomfortable. But I’ve trained myself to be ok with discomfort. I said nothing. She said nothing. It felt like forever…
Finally, she spoke. She started to cry. “I’ve never told anyone this before,” she said. “but I’ve been told my whole life how beautiful I am. And I’ve got away with things that most people never do. I’ve shown up late – and I have rarely played full out – for my entire life. You are one of the first people to ever challenge me on it.”
She was describing a cognitive bias called The Halo Effect. It’s the tendency for positive impressions of a person, company or brand in one area to positively influence opinions or feelings in other areas.
What’s interesting is that our first conversation was over the phone. I had no idea what she looked like. I was simply deeply curious about the world she was creating. And we went on to have an incredibly powerful coaching session.
I don’t care about your strategic plan
I was coaching a group of high level leaders who were part of a historic British organisation. I was drawing out each of their stories. One of the leaders was in tears, sharing a very personal moment from her life, when an executive interrupted her.
“When are we going to start action planning?“ they asked me. “I’m tired of hearing everyone’s story. You’re supposed to be helping us with our strategic plan.”
“To be honest, I don’t care about your strategic planning,” I responded to the exec. “If we don’t draw out each of your stories and find out how your personal mission overlaps with that of this company, we could create the most beautiful Gantt chart on the planet but whatever action you take, it will be the wrong action.
You are all powerful leaders. But first we need to find out if you are even in alignment with each other and the company. After that, if we don’t get to action planning today, I trust you’ll all know exactly what needs to be done.”
Once again, there was silence. I bit my tongue…
Then, one at a time, the leaders spoke up to express how deeply moved they were to hear one another’s stories. By the time the meeting was over, they were all in clear alignment with one another.
Even one minute late counts
He’d helped generate hundreds of millions of dollars in the world of business and private equity but he showed up one minute late at our first meeting and two minutes late on our second.
I asked him, “Where else in your life do you show up 1% less committed than you could?”
He laughed out loud, immediately! And then he explained that his peers and colleagues are always in awe of the results he creates – but on the inside he feels like a fraud. For his whole career, he’s been a talented, driven, top performer but never before had anyone questioned whether he was capable of more…
Extraordinary top performers are tired of being surrounded by people who admire their every move. They love it when someone is willing to challenge them to play even bigger.
A great coach can see things no one else can see and will say the things that no one else will say.
Imposter Syndrome is the goal
In a world where most people hope to one day no longer feel a sense of Imposter Syndrome, I have spent the last 6 years building 4PC – a community of leaders where if you don’t have Imposter Syndrome, you’re not playing big enough!
This weekend, we got together for a week-long 4PC Intensive. One of our members is currently in the Grammy nomination process. Another just had a meeting to discuss coaching one of the top football teams in the US. Two are about to have books published. And one is about to take 6 weeks off to travel across the US in an Airstream trailer.
Our four newest members include the former lead strategist on a research project into cold fusion, at the Department of Nanostructural Engineering, University of Colorado. Another has a company that has supported more than 16,000 clients to find 6-figure jobs they love. He’s a former headhunter with a Fortune 500 firm and he served 4 years in the US Army Infantry, as a Light Infantry Rifle Platoon Leader and Company Executive Officer. Another was a PhD fellow at Harvard University. She is an executive at a top European bank and has been a leader in the corporate world for almost three decades. And the fourth got a million dollar investment for one of his first companies, at 25 years old. He has a track record helping leaders grow their business – including one of the world’s most famous singers.
In 4PC, I have built a community where every member has done – or is doing – things that intimidate me…
But that also inspires me.
Which is just the way I like it.
If you want to keep growing – you need to be surrounded by people who intimidate you and people who inspire you.
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