Creative Coaching
An Executive Coach Explores Her Strengths and Unconscious Commitments

My Top Five CliftonStrengths badge on this executive coach training.

Being able to add CliftonStrengths to my toolbag as an Executive Coach was a genuine privilege.

The words on my name badge describe how I naturally present  to the world according to my CliftonStrengths All 34 report. Exploring it with 24 other wonderful people on the Gallup Global Strengths course at the Shard in London was a less than comfortable experience.

The Grace to Receive Positive Feedback

Let’s face it, we’re not generally keen to tell others about our strengths or hear about them. We’re far more inclined to associate feedback strictly with criticism, constructive or not, and if everything is okay, we don’t hear or say anything.

However, receiving some indication that what you’re doing is on the right track, is very good or even that our work is outstanding is not normal on either side of the Atlantic in the places where I work. This Harvard Business Review article asserts that it’s more about how you process it and what kind of learning and thinking opportunity it could be.

It’s not even about positivity or negativity. It really is about what you do with it. As Hamlet says “There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so.”

(There is a much larger philosophical debate here that I won’t enter into – here’s a link to one if you fancy it though!)

My point is generally around the perception of the feedback and the meaning we ascribe to it. I believe we have much more agency in how we receive it than we think we do.

How can we receive feedback more consciously and as the HBR article above outlines, use it to grow?

For the record, while a lot of people think Americans are good at blowing their own trumpets, my experience informs me that those are the exceptions, rather than the rule. The Americans are no better and I think I’ve found far worse than on the UK/European side at receiving positive feedback.

Unique Strengths I Bring as an Executive Coach

Getting back to my experience at the Shard with Gallup, I learned plenty about myself that I either hoped was true or in the instance of my top strength, Strategic, pleasantly shocked me.

Dare I say it? I felt special. This combination of aspects of me that meant my sometimes far out thinking was viewed favourably and in connection with others’ blend of strengths makes a stronger ensemble. This is something on the surface that I think we all know to be true and yet drilling down and looking more closely at the how and why creates a firmer foundation for developmental work.

With a secure grounding in what we find useful/good/positive/desirable about ourselves, we are in a better position to look at limiting beliefs we might be holding onto without thinking about it.

What are you unconsciously committed to?

This is where the Immunity to Change approach can start.

Pioneered at Harvard by Robert Kegan and Lisa Lahey, ITC looks at the limiting beliefs that keep us in stasis. It’s an honest and sometimes painful reckoning with ourselves that is addressed through micro- experiments that test out those big assumptions that get in our way.

It acknowledges that the process of change and growth takes incremental action. And it’s hard. Incredibly hard in some cases. It’s not magic, it’s graft.

And there’s shame involved too. Just thought I’d warn you! Which is why this marvellous set of podcasts with Brene Brown and Lisa Lahey is so valuable in having a better understanding of (what seems like a cliche phrase) “is holding us back.”

Sounds like hard work? It is. Hard to do, hard to maintain and hard to do by yourself. Find someone to walk with you on the journey. Maybe an Executive Coach for instance?

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