What happens when you can no longer coach yourself?

Where do you turn?

One of the biggest negative effects of absence is that none of us have time. We have very little time for ourselves, let alone for others. We are so focused on our own goals that we don’t have the bandwidth to seek help—or to pay it forward on the other side of success. 

Yet none of us can count on being our own best coach all the time. We need camaraderie and support; we need to know that others are cheering us on.  

So why can’t we find that?

Here’s the problem:

Leaders feel disconnected. They are constantly racing the clock, bearing the weight of entire organizations on their shoulders and working 70+ hour weeks. Their families feel abandoned and alienated. Their teams feel stifled and mistrusted, because these leaders are working in the business as much as they are working on the business. Leaders lose a sense of time, a sense of others, a sense of themselves and their own bodies, because they have been so thoroughly caught up in constant crises at work. Though these leaders may be “effective,” they are also effectively absent.

There is only one solution to this rut: we have to reach outside of ourselves. In a radically competitive world, this can feel especially difficult; why would I want to give a competitor my positive attention when my business is struggling so much?

It’s simple: because you want to succeed.

Coach through accountability

Every leader needs their own crew of mutual supporters. We all need the safety, vulnerability, and accountability of peers to grow. (If you are cosmetics manufacturer Paul Caskey, listening to our peers can mean a threefold growth in profits.) Trust, authenticity, and commitment ground such friendships. They’re forged through a sense of mutual safety. Spouses are perhaps our most important friends, but they can’t be our only friends. We need coaching from others running the same race that we are.

If you don’t have 5 people in mind who you can go to and get a shot of momentum-boosting coaching right now, you need to find those people. And you need to find them doing the same things you’re doing right now. This doesn’t mean making friends with direct competitors; keeping accountability with someone who has a different goal from you is probably the better bet. It reduces the friction of competition between you. From your own lanes, you want to see the other person succeed and help them however you can. 

“At the end of the day,” says author Leigh Stringer, “we are much more likely to take action if someone is taking note and tracking our goals, but also coaching us and cheering us on along the way.” Some of those lonely hours at the office may be better served having lunch with a friend, getting excited over one another’s ambitions.

Accountability coach or mentor?

The give-and-take of an accountability partner is vital coaching for all of us, and a significant form of networking to boot. But sometimes we want someone to focus only on our needs: to look back down the path and tell us whether we’re taking the right or wrong steps. For this, we need a mentor.

Mentors have gone ahead of us. They failed and succeeded more times than we can imagine for ourselves, and they can turn their personal science of success into insight for our own journeys. 

But great mentors are also scarce. They’re power-houses in their own right, and so their time is valuable. They can offer intense, targeted attention, but they can’t listen to every pitch you have before you bring it before your board. Mentors offer invaluable advice, but leave you in charge of your own learning—including whether their own experiences and biases may negatively affect your personal journey.

Executive coaching: the best of both worlds?

So if some say accountability partners are more valuable than mentors, and others say the opposite, what course should we pursue?

Executive Coaches answer this question. Though their time is not free, they aren’t beholden to the fickleness of their own freedom. When coaches are on the clock, they’re there for you, discovering your story, strategizing your future, and bringing insights from the best mentors to bear on your unique situation.

That’s the goal, anyway. Some leaders question whether coaches are worth the investment, precisely because their previous coaching relationships have spun out and burned down before. And, truth be told, it’s not uncommon for many coaches to fit you and your business into a system without learning the first thing about you. If you’re looking for accountability and mentorship, this one-size-fits-all approach certainly will not give you what you need. It will not solve the problem of absence.

Working with a Navigator

I’m convinced that our work should not be absent and disconnected, the way our culture often encourages it to be. I started Leadership Reality so that leaders craving presence could have ready access to accountability and mentorship, without the demoralizing struggle of trying to find it in a world that just doesn’t have the time. We want to bring you back to life, to bring you from absence to presence, so that you can be a more effective leader in your home and work. 

This is why we designed our Navigator Coaching System to battle back against our cultural comfort with absent leadership. Navigator does this by putting you back in touch with yourself and fast-tracking you towards the person you want to be. We look at your past, try to understand why you do what you do, and how those buried “whys” may hold you back. We make you look at what it is you really value, what you really want out of life, and confront you with the gap between where you’re at and where you want to be. 

But we don’t stop at diagnosis: we model a way forward. You don’t need to fake it ‘til you make it; you can make it ‘til you make it: you can make slight changes with big pay-offs, building small habits that have world-changing effects. By connecting new behaviors to your values, coupled with a knowledge of why you formed your old habits in the first place, we will keep you accountable to a new suite of behaviors that will totally transform your life and make you more fully human.

If this sounds like the coaching you need, we hope you’ll get in touch with us today. In the meantime, remember: don’t close yourself out. Write down some names; make some phone calls; make some friends; meet a mentor. You can’t do your work alone, and you can’t absent yourself from the relationships that will propel you forward. And if you need a Navigator along the way, know that Leadership Reality is always here to help.

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