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Two Leadership Strategies:
Don't Lose Your Mind & Be a Coach

Article by Teresa Proudlove

Are you feeling overwhelmed, a lack of confidence or under a ton of pressure? Are you trying too hard to make something work and focusing too much on trying to fulfill other people’s needs and expectations? You may have “lost your mind!”

My small still voice often speaks to me in cryptic one-liners. I’ll never forget the first time I heard the quiet whisper, “You’ve lost your mind.” And no, I had not lost my mind through hearing strange voices! Rather, this cryptic one-liner was reminding me I was trying too hard to fulfill other people’s expectations and solve their problems.

This cryptic statement harkened back to an article I had read by Management Consultant, Barry Oshry.
This article referred to Middle Managers who begin their careers as healthy humans but in time become confused, weak, powerless and self-doubting as they slide into the ‘Middle Space’ becoming torn between demands from the people Above and Below… hence “losing their mind.”

Don't Lose Your Mind

At that time I had taken on a new contract to facilitate a six week “Leadership” series for a local college. In my anxiety to do a good job I was trying too hard to emulate the program designer’s “superior knowledge” and trying hopelessly to solve the high-stress, workplace problems of the managers who were my participants. Of course, I knew I had the necessary skills and experience to facilitate this series yet, I had “lost my mind.”

Focusing on other’s needs and expectations removed me from my own knowledge and power. My stress elevated and my self-confidence plummeted. Thankfully, that gentle nudge of “you’ve lost your mind” helped me see how I was eroding myself through comparing myself and worrying about what other people thought, wanted or needed. This is our cue to stop, step back inside and reconnect with our own truth – our own God.

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In doing this we step back into our own authenticity and own power. Here we can reformulate our own view, thoughts and perspectives on what is happening and what we need. We can let go of the guilt and self-doubt we feel in trying to meet other’s expectations or in trying to solve their problems. We can relax and trust in our Higher Power always there for us.

Certainly, as leaders, managers, family members and humans we have a responsibility to listen and empathize with those in our close circle but it is not our job to solve their problems or fulfill their expectations… which is all a part of the coaching process. Rather than striving to give other people answers, everyone concerned is better served if we instead help others to reflect on their own solutions or options. This is what it means to be a coach.

Be a Coach

We can let people know we care about their situation and that we are willing to work with them to empower them to solve their own problem. We can listen, empathize and ask pertinent questions all of which encapsulates the art of coaching. After carefully listening to and empathizing with another’s problem you might consider asking some of the following questions if they seem appropriate:

“Have you ever had a similar situation in your life and found something that worked? What options do you have in this circumstance? That’s one possibility, any others? What outcome do you want? What really matters here? Would it help to break this into smaller steps? What do you need to change or to move this forward? What is standing in the way? What other people or resources could help you? What steps can you take from here? What will you do and by when? Would you like me to hold you accountable for your commitments?”

Be careful not to turn coaching into a probing session! Always be respectful and gentle with others and of course, yourself. Remember if you are feeling overwhelmed, lacking confidence or you are trying too hard you may have “lost your mind.” Let go of comparing and trying to meet others expectations and needs. Trust yourself and be a coach!

Teresa Proudlove is a well-published writer who worked as a successful columnist for twelve years. Teresa has also been inspiring, supporting, and guiding over 3000 people upon their career and life paths for fourteen years - with compassion and heart. www.yourlifework