Brokering "Ah-ha" moments


One of the best parts of coaching is helping clients discover new ways of thinking.  There are moments during a session when a brilliant flash of understanding breaks in on their mind, and they suddenly see things from a completely different vantage point. People use different terms to describe this phenomenon such as “revelation,” “epiphany,” or even “prophetic.”

No matter what term you use, it’s become one of my favorite aspects of coaching. Especially when my client is the one producing the “ah-ha” moment on their own and I’m just the facilitator.

After I reflected on my many coaching engagements, I noticed five different patterns of ways these tend to occur.

  1. When my client is stuck in a certain situation and I’m able to suggest a new perspective that they hadn’t considered before. That opens up new ways of thinking which rapidly spawns fresh insights on how to get unstuck. Mind blown!

  2. After listening to all the component parts of a situation, sometimes I can connect the dots in a different way than my client had been associating them. Same facts + new relationships between the facts = new outcomes.

  3. At times I’m an editor. As a neutral party I can help them selectively delete what isn’t critical as they sort through an issue. By the time we’re done only the essential factors remain, and the path forward becomes crystal clear.

  4. Retelling the narrative of their past.  Past events don’t have intrinsic power - it’s your narrative of those events (the story and meaning that you ascribe to them) that holds the power.   I have a gift to help people consider alternative explanations, and at times it’s truly transformational.

  5. My favorite of all these has to be when I get to call out someone’s destiny.  Clients know when that moment connects because it reverberates in their soul. They get that sense of “This is what I was born for - my purpose in life.” In the midst of that clarity, peripheral issues quickly take a back seat and it becomes obvious what needs to take priority as they move forward.

In reality, these moments don’t just happen in isolation. They usually sneak up unannounced in the midst of a coaching engagement. But when they come, they literally have the power to change a life.

Just another reason I decided to become a coach.

How about you?  Was there a time when an “Ah-ha” moment changed the way you think?  Tell us about it below.

Three Ways to get More Focus and Discipline

I am NOT naturally gifted in either focus or discipline (just ask my wife).  So why did I decide to blog about them? First of all, I have huge appreciation for people who are strong in them. And second, there are important life lessons you can learn when you have to operate in your areas of weakness.

In this blog I talk about ways to stop beating yourself up for what you’re not, and find other strategies to help supplement your weaknesses. These principles work for any area where you may lack natural talent. I hope they help you as you watch the short video below.

Five Mental Hacks to Help You Delegate Better


I've recently coached several clients through some barriers they have when it comes to delegating.  It's interesting how the same issues come up over and over again across different settings and with different people.  So I thought I'd share some of the insights that I've picked up along the way.

One particularly significant shift happened along the lines of issue #5 in this week's video blog.  Despite logic, encouragement, and setting multiple deadlines my client just could not let go of a certain role he was filling.  So instead, we devised a new role and new title for him that would bring him into the next phase of his life.  He agreed he didn't have the energy to do both, so as he embraced his new role he willingly let go of the old one, and only then was he happy to delegate it to someone else.

I hope the insights in this video give you a new way of looking at things, especially where you might be stuck holding on to things that you should hand off to someone else.

How about you?  Do you struggle with any of the five issues in the video? How about one that's not on the list?  Please share any insights you've gotten so the rest of us can benefit from your experiences.

Blessings on you.

How to get your ideas unstuck

Does this scenario sound familiar?  "I have a great idea, and a vague picture of how to make it happen, but it’s not crystal clear to me.  I’m fuzzy on the details.  So I’m going to think about it some more until I can get more clarity."  Then one, three, or even five years later you’re still thinking about the same idea and haven’t done anything about it.

That’s me.  And that happens far more often that I’d like to admit.  Here’s why...

To stay inspired, download the "Action Begets Clarity" poster here

Success In Every Season


Lately, I find myself looking forward to the end of Summer and the beginning of Fall.  Manhattan is an odd culture - the place pretty much shuts down over the summer.  Or at least it slows way down.  Lots of people leave for months at a time to escape the crowded city craziness that you learn to both love and hate.

So summer is not what you would call a “productive” season business-wise.  People aren’t setting aggressive goals, they are harder to reach due to travel, and they don’t make many spending decisions.  

When I was in IT sales, Summer was always the lowest revenue quarter.  We would often get frustrated because the leaders setting revenue projections didn’t take into account seasonal variations, so it looked like we underperformed during the summer.  Every.  Single.  Year. 

Thankfully, over time the CEO finally saw the pattern and learned to adjust expectations accordingly.  And that right there illustrates an important key to satisfaction -  know what season you’re in, and make realistic goals that consider the unique variations.

Notice I didn’t say LOWER you expectations.  Instead, I suggest a SHIFT.  If you know that your business cycle slows down in summer, then take advantage of that time to shore up critical systems, marketing materials, and customer service processes.   If you go to a lot of industry conferences in the Spring, then combine your travel with visits to key customers.

Things get a lot easier when you learn to work with the rhythms and season of life.  Those variations are a gift.  But if you fight against them expecting consistent performance all the time, you’ll be constantly frustrated.  And I don’t want you to be frustrated.

So what about you?  Is there a certain period each year that you’ve come to dread?  Write it down. What’s unique about that season?  What is it trying to tell you?  Now ask yourself - how have your expectations been fighting against the natural rhythm?  And finally, how can you adjust your expectations and activities to leverage that season to your advantage?

Bonus tip: this works in all areas of life - not just business.

I wish you well.

True Humility

When your talent makes you stand out
   and they notice you
   and it’s awkward
   because you don’t conform to their average-ness
   and it triggers their insecurity
   and they cut you down

Do you hide your brilliance
   or at least tone it down a notch or two
   so that you appear above average (which is OK)
   but not exceptional
   because that would be prideful
   or arrogant?

Have you been so conditioned by Average
   that you automatically bully yourself
   without even thinking about it
   and tell yourself the comfortable lie
   that you’re just being Humble
   by suppressing the exceptional you?

Because if you really shine
   others may get jealous
   you’ll have critics
   your convenient friends might leave
   or you might publicly trip
   or have to face your own insecurities

Do you see how this is still all about you?
   It’s self-centered
   negative, yes, but still self-centered
   so let’s call it what it is
   an imposter
   False Humility

True Humility takes guts
   to embrace the exceptional you
   and let it shine
   and face criticism
   and ignore your internal bully
   and pick yourself

But then you’re on the hook
   to actually do something
   excuses taken away
   hard work required
   maybe that’s why it was easier to hide
   but that was before

Now you can get to work
   doing what matters
   making a difference
   being an example
   pushing yourself to higher levels
   and being truly humble


The #1 Thing To Boost Your Career Profile

Watch this short clip first...

That’s such a watchable movie scene because: a) it’s Sandra Bullock!  And b) It pokes fun at the safe answers that contestants can give at beauty pageants.  They’re all trying to sound profound, but they just parrot each other and lose all meaning in the process.  

Unfortunately, the majority of professionals do something similar when it comes to their career positioning.

In this week's vlog I'll show you why this backfires and what you can do about it.  
(Shout out to Jim Longo for the idea)

Three Keys to Staying in Your Talent Zone


I've used a wide range of assessment tools for my clients over the years - some with mixed results. But I like Gallup CliftonStrengths so much, that I just wrapped up my certification training to become a Strengths Champion Certified Coach.  

If you haven’t heard of the Gallup CliftonStrengths assessment (formerly Clifton StrengthsFinder), it ranks 34 different talent areas from highest to lowest specifically tailored to you. 

The assessment is based on decades of research that shows investing in your talents brings a much higher return in productivity than the same effort spent trying to improve your weaknesses.  


So far I’ve coached over 60 hours with my clients using this tool, and have gotten consistently good feedback.  Here are the top three reactions I get from my clients when they see the results for the first time:

  1. “I didn’t know this was a strength - I thought was a weakness!”  These people really need to be affirmed and appreciated for their contribution, but they've probably taken a lot of criticism over the years.  This is especially true if they have one of the strong influencing or leadership talents.  The takeaway?  Have the courage to develop those talents you've been suppressing.
  2. “Why is this talent ranked so high on my list? It’s really not a big deal."  Then, after we explore the talent in depth, they'll start to see that it plays out over and over in their lives.  But it’s such an integral part of who they are, they just couldn’t identify it beforehand.   The key here is to realize that your talents are unique and powerful.  Then you'll be able to develop them further.

    And finally...
  3. Guilt relief over their weaknesses!  Years of striving to improve an area of weakness that yields little progress does a number on their self-esteem.  They find freedom when they realize they don’t need to be someone who they’re not designed to be.  That’s not an excuse to slack off.  But the better approach is to partner or manage around a weakness rather than investing in it in hopes that you'll be great someday.

WeAlign is a coaching company that has a powerful process to walk their clients through CliftonStrengths.  I like it so much that I joined the company :-)   We cover all 34 talents, not just the top 5, and I’ve seen great results using this method with my clients.  Check us out at

Thanks for reading.  If you found this helpful, please like and share it.  
And feel free to contact me if you have any questions about CliftonStrengths or WeAlign.

Are your exceptional talents hiding in plain sight?

sideview mirror.jpg

As I was driving down the Palisades Parkway checking my side and rearview mirrors, I started think about blindspots.

We typically think about personality blindspots in a negative sense, and rightly so.  Jesus says in Matthew 7:3, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the log in your own eye?"  It's easier to see faults in others than it is to see them in ourselves.

But what about our talents?  My clients have shown me firsthand that many of them are unaware of their exceptional talents.  Or, if they are aware, they greatly undervalue them.  And I tend to do the same thing.
Unfortunately, that can lead to bigger problems than you might think. 

Watch the video below to hear the full story.