April 29, 2013

Step One: What do you want?

"The indispensable first step to getting
the things you want out of life is this: 
decide what you want."

Ben Stein

I do CEO coaching.  I love it.  

I wish I had a coach when I was dealing with all of the stress and challenges of the businesses I started over the years. 

Being a CEO is a tough job not just because of all the responsibility involved but because you are so alone at the top of your pyramid. There's really no one you can talk with.  Your wife/girlfriend can lend a sympathetic ear, but they are probably not qualified to give you advice based on a lifetime of experience going through what you are dealing with. You certainly can't discuss your fear, uncertainty, and doubt with the people in your company.  They need you to be the strong, confident leader who always has a plan. 

That's where I come in.  Been there, done that.  Made lots of mistakes, and that's where the real learning happens.  We don't learn as much from our successes as from our mistakes.  So that's a big part of my job is to help my Protégés plan to avoid the big, ugly mistakes.

But the biggest part of my job is to help with seeing the future clearly. Goal setting is probably the most important thing a CEO can do, not just goals for the business, but also personal goals.  Unfortunately, almost nobody does it.  In fact, it has been said that less than 1 in 30 people write their goals down.  Of course, if a goal is not written down, then it has no power at all.  

Occasionally, a CEO will hear about my coaching services and express an interest in starting up with me.  I don't advertise at all.  So anyone who comes to me is a referral, and that's the way I like to keep it.  I'm not going for Global Domination, I don't do speaking engagements, book signings, or panel appearances.  I prefer to work with a small number of highly motivated people, one-on-one.  When I find that they are not sufficiently motivated, I let them know what they need to do to earn my continued attention, and if they don't, well, I stop working with them.  This isn't a game with me.  Life is too short to waste time.  

After doing this sort of work for more than 10 years, I have learned a few things about CEO coaching and how to select the best prospects from the many who apply.  The first and best indicator of how a person will do in the future is how they respond to the challenge of goal setting.  Most people just don't do it, and that eliminates 97% of the pretenders. The ones who do take up the challenge show that they are serious, and depending on their goals, then maybe I can help them.

The book I recommend for learning how to set goals is Stephen Covey's First Things First. (click the link to check it out on Amazon.com) I like it because it is well written and complete, addressing the various roles we have as individuals as well as business leaders.  

The first recommendation I now make to aspiring CEO coaching candidates is that they read this book, then write their goals and get committed to them.  Do this, and you will automatically be well on your way to achieving the life you have imagined.  Then we can talk!