Tag Archives: The Coach is IN

Urban Ambassadors: The Coach is IN: A Talk in the Park

24 Jul

A posse of nine young men parading through Bryant Park attracts attention.  But then again, that is exactly what they want!

I look up as they noisily passed, stop, and glance back at my sign – and me.  Holding the sign and offering a coaching session intensify their huddle.   Within

The coach is IN and ready!

minutes the pack breaks as one strides towards me, the posse trailing behind.

J. plunks a quarter down in payment for five sessions.   Here’s the scene so far:  9 guys standing, smiling, staring in wait at my table.  This feels like fun!

They scatter to find chairs, forming a semi-circle around me.  I suddenly feel like Robin Williams in Dead Poets Society.   No worries:  no table jumping for me.  My coordination is not on par with my coaching skills. 

As introduction, J. shares his stunt  pulled walking across the Park’s lawn.  His ‘jump’ meant to amuse and entertain the posse (and everyone watching) doesn’t match his deadpan expression.  It’s quickly obvious he’s the group’s entertainer.  I can’t help but assess his communication style.

The conversation becomes a free-for-all as at least seven voices compete to be heard, each telling variations of who they are and where they’ve been.  Order is quickly restored and they resolve their only conflict by taking turns and raising hands to speak.  In reality their issue is a search for conversation and acknowledgement.  Sitting back, I settle in to listen.

The Urban Ambassador (A Better Chance) crew: nine of the nicest guys you’d want to spend the afternoon talking to.

So, who are these guys? 

Introductions are exchanged with strong handshakes and good eye contact.  Unsurprisingly this is part of their ‘training’.  I define a handshake as a transfer of energy – a desire to share energy with another, I’m rewarded with a firmer grip.

Proudly, they tell me they are Urban Ambassadors and rising Juniors.  They are high achieving young men of color in low achieving schools, participating in ‘A Better Chance’, a program which mentors, and supports them to go to college and fulfill their potential.

Their potential and drive shines through.  T. shares his interest in business, in success and tells me he always strives to do better.  An imperfect grade, raises questions while pushing for that next level.  T. joins J. in leading the conversation, allowing his communication style to become clear.

Normally they are in suits and show the pics to prove it.  Today’s casual attire reflects the day’s activity:  bowling at Times Square Bowlmor Lanes.  www.bowlmor.com/timessquare  

Next week, they’re off to Washington, D.C.  for the second time.  A first visit focused on colleges including Howard University.  Business seems a popular career interest, except for M., an artist observing from the back.

SAT preparation occupies many of their days.  Test taking is a skill and we discuss strategies.  A few mention the need for more time to think and fully process questions while the others comment on how more than one answer makes sense.

One question comes up based on an experience this morning.   No-one stopped to help them when they asked for directions.  Why not?   These guys are SO intent

N. paying a bonus in appreciation!

and SO interested in understanding human behavior.  What could I say other than to keep trying and keep smiling.  Not that these guys are the type to give up.

These Urban Ambassadors live up to their ‘title’ in exuding personality and ‘niceness’.   It’s striking how intently they listen to each other and to me.  Listening is one of those skills I usually think of as being on the endangered list.

In this day and age of tongues vs. thumbs communication, I couldn’t help but ask about their preference for connecting.

And that’s a whole other story, so I”ll share it next it time.

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Overcoming skill-building challenges with Friends: The Coach is IN: A Talk in the Park! Vol. 7

16 Jul

What frustrates you about friends and colleagues?

How have you overcome challenges when working and learning with friends?

N. was focused and open about his challenge and issue to be resolved as he sat at my Bryant Park coaching table.

A relationship conflict:  mixing business with friendship, or more specifically having goal focused skill building sessions with a friend.  One slight problem:  his “friend doesn’t appear to be doing the work”.  His friend appears to be “holding himself back.”

Listening, I knew it was time to focus N.’s challenge by using MoMA (Moments of Awareness) https://communicationessentials.wordpress.com/2012/07/09/decisive-actio…the-park-vol-4/ ‎:

Q1:  What are you feeling:  frustration

Q2:  What do you want:  Growth – in the skill they are both working to develop

Q3:  What can you do differently:  Let him go at his own pace

Sounds good, right?  It took us time to ‘get here’.  Strong emotion guided his frustration.   Answers to these questions initially focused on his friend: what his friend needed to do, what his friend wasn’t doing.

N.”wondered why people ‘do that’.  He wanted his friend take action and pursue this skill growth with his discipline.  Confessing he couldn’t change his friend didn’t make it easier to focus.  It never does.

Further discussion found N. sharing this same frustration with others:  his dad and with those he coaches for medical school interviews.  He admitted he becomes frustrated when he is asked the same question 3 times.  He doesn’t want to waste people’s time – even if they don’t mind.

The DiSC is a great tool for insight into action, reactions, conflict, and career focus. This image is from www.suehansonspeaks.com. To take an on-line assessment go to: http://www.personalitystyle.com

 The essential two tools:  I believe are indispensable to provide N. insight into his behavior.   The results can provide direction and strategies to achieve his goal and  eventual answer to Q3 above:  letting his friend go at his own pace.

  1.  The DiSC assessment tool.  http://www.personalitystyle.com  will identify his communication style. This good quick version of the tool provides great information.  (Stay focused on one aspect of your life as you take it.  Questions?  The Coach is IN)
  2. The values assessment tool tunes you to:  ‘the radio station we all listen to’:  WIIFM:  What’s In It For Me.  WIIFM’s are our values and explain our motivation and a key to action AND insight into underlying causes of conflict.  N.’s values are (likely) key to his own motivation -and conflict with his friend’s actions.  A very simple assessment tool:  http://www.career-test.biz/values_assessment.htm .                                            Values also drive our financial decisions, so use them to assess your spending and saving actions!

The hard part of course is putting it together and understanding (for N.) his own behavior and then recognizing his friend likely has a very different style and values.  Recognizing, accepting, and learning from these tools are key, and, I can’t repeat it enough even for myself, challenging.

N.’s next step is to communicate his needs to his friend.  He can only talk about himself  and his needs and should’s.  This is a great opportunity to begin a conversation and learn more about his friend.

I suggested a modified ‘I Statement‘ approach adding some open-ended questions:

  • The reason I want to build this skill is:
  • I want to build it with you because:
  • It’s important to me because:
  • I get frustrated when you (specific action)
  • What is your reason to build this skill?
  • Why do you want to work with me?
  • Why is important to you?
  • What do you think we can do differently for us both to grow better at this skill?

Our 10 minute session stretched to almost 30 minutes as we went through these 2 tools and 2 processes.  A full coaching session (as N. and I discussed) would work through the assessment results and fully formulate communication strategies to use with his friend and interview coaching clients!

A good first start and a good demonstration of how coaching meets my value for meaning (and helping others).   

How do your values match your daily actions?