A few weeks ago, I wrote an article called, “The Box,” that spoke about how each of us is conditioned to conform. I spoke of the conditioning in the classroom: a
“Sit still. Regurgitate facts. Get good grades or else.”
“Or else, you won’t get into a good college.”
“Or else you won’t get a good job.”
“Or else . . . “
A few weeks ago, I found myself confined to another box . . . not one from the school system, yet one very familiar to me . . .and with walls that were pressing in on me.
Although many of you think of me as a headhunter because of my long time career in executive search, I have spent many evenings the past 6 months in coach training and many days coaching people to be more successful in their lives and in their careers.
In addition, I have been working on launching a new membership website for job hunters that has required that I learn new skills, hire people to do things for me and stretch myself in ways that have caused me to face challenges.
After a quick start with the new technology, I got to point where I needed to hire people to edit a lot of the videos I’ve created over the past few years to make them more usable for my subscribers.
I asked a few friends for referrals but they were too expensive by a lot. Soon, I found people offshore willing to work for $2 per hour but I couldn’t get myself to take action.
I kept remembering my mother’s voice, “They’re going to cheat you.” And
Consciously, I knew they might cheat me out of $6 in total but that was enough to leave me frozen in place.
No amount of logic was getting me to take action.
I wanted to move forward but I was completely immobilized with fear.
So as often happens, I started to construct some good excuses for the launch delay.
“I need to work on some marketing first before the launch,” was the most common one.
And then came a Tuesday night class just a few weeks ago.
Our class is done by phone and we students coach one another each week as part of the training.
I was sitting on the couch in my office as my coach for the night began.
“Of all the actions where you are a bit stuck or not getting the results you want, which one is the one you think is most important for us to improve on now?”
My heart raced.
“The membership site. I need to hire people and I need to learn how to enter the content into the site. It’s a completely different way of doing things than I have had to use on any other site I’ve created.”
“This is a great opportunity for us to use a technique called “replay the moment.” It’s kind of like instant replay in sports. We’re going to slow down the action to see what is happening for you.”
“And it’s important that you maintain ‘judgment free awareness.’ ” To translate that for non-coaches, “Don’t beat yourself up. Just notice what is going on for you.”
“So, in the last week, can you recall a moment from the last week or two when you faced this challenge?”
I told her about how I was trying to hire a freelancer and couldn’t bring myself to place the order. And, even if I had placed the order, I couldn’t figure out where to load the content on the new site so that it would be structured and ordered properly for members.
“Do you notice any physical sensations? Which is most intense for you?”
I could feel my chest become tight as pressure built up.
“Now all I want you to do is feel the pressure for 30 seconds.”
And it was during that 30 second period that I remembered something.
I was 8 years old and playing catcher in the little league.
The winning runner was on 3rd. One out. I talked to the pitcher whose nickname was “Bug.”
The plan was to pitch the batter up and in.
Bug went into the windup and threw a ball belt high and in the middle of the plate. The batter turned and bunted.
I saw the runner coming from 3rd base as the ball rolled approximately two feet.
And I stood there not moving.
The winning run scored. Game over.
I heard the manager yell at me. I saw the disappointment and scorn on my teammates’ faces.
My box was built and now it was playing out yet again.
Releasing that memory was energizing.
Since, I’ve placed orders for video edits and started to load podcasts and articles. Today, there more than 100pieces of content on the site, another 75 video edits have been ordered and I believe I can launch in early May 2016.
Coaching can make a difference.
Bad coaching like that my manager didn’t give me to remind me of what to do, and good coaching to awaken a memory and learn to manage it by noticing it and acting anyway.
What’s holding you back and who can you ask to help you with it?
© The Big Game Hunter, Inc. Asheville, NC 2016
Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter has been an executive recruiter and coach, helping people play their professional and personal games BIG for what seems like 100 years.
I will be launching JobSearchCoachingHQ.com in May, 2016. Sign up in the box in the right column to be notified when it is ready to go live.