Tag Archives: coaching

Lost in Translation?

29 Jun


I was at a coaching workshop two weeks ago taught by two Harvard professors up in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The goal was for participants to learn how to facilitate sessions using the material themselves, so the teachers would alternate between treating us as regular audience members experiencing the material for the first time and then as facilitators, learning how to use the material with other people.

As you’ve probably gathered, it can be confusing to try two different approaches to the material, so to simplify things, they asked us to pretend we were somewhere else (San Diego) when we were going through the program simply as learners, and then would ask us to, “Come back to Cambridge,” when they wanted to address us as teachers-in-training.

Our first day, we toggled between “San Diego” and “Cambridge” regularly. I found it to be a clever way to shift gears easily and know which role I was playing (student or teacher) during the program.

At the end of that first day, we were broken up into small groups to prepare our own presentations. While we were doing this, the instructor called out, “Think about what you experienced when you were in San Diego – that will help you with this!”

A woman from my group leaned over and said – in full seriousness, “Can you explain this whole San Diego thing to me? This seems like a smart group of people – how are they tricking themselves into believing that THIS is San Diego?”

I have no idea.

Where have I been?

26 Apr

Image Source: 2014 Pithypants

Short answer: Right here.

In this history of this blog – which I think is going on five years – I’ve never before gone so long without posting something. It’s almost been a month. I’m only mildly offended that no one reported me missing.

In case it happens again, let me explain why I’ve been MIA. It’s not that I haven’t had anything to write about. On the contrary, I have a list of topics (updates on my 40 x 40 list, a visit from my sister and nephews, bad fashion choices worn by women in my neighborhood, etc.) that nags me every time I sit in front of my laptop, practically begging for expression.

Alas, the challenge here has been TIME. Yup. I don’t think I’ve posted about it, but I started back to school earlier this year. I’m attending Georgetown’s Leadership Coaching program, and – when combined with my job – it’s a full load. The time that once went to blogging is now spent reading books, writing papers and – gasp! – coaching real clients as part of the pro bono practicum.

I know, it’s kind of crazy to think that people are trusting someone with an adolescent sense of humor to help them navigate the challenges of leadership. But there you have it. (Seriously though, I think humor is a much-needed aspect of coaching executives, because it helps remind them that authenticity is a key part of leading. It’s much more persuasive than being “boss-like.”)

Speaking of being boss-like or faking being boss-like… I’m off to NYC this week to present at the Social Learning Bootcamp. It’s being held at Microsoft’s new technology center in Times Square, so I’m excited to check it out. However, I’ll be toting my presentation on a MacBook Air, so I’m hoping they actually let me past security. I think I can guess how they feel about bringing enemy gear across the threshold.

Oh – and don’t worry that I’m going to pull a Jack Torrance over here. My motto is NOT, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy…” I’ve found time to squeeze in some of the good stuff over the last few months. To wit, I’ve:

  • Crossed the 30 mile mark on my quest to swim 50 miles before my birthday
  • Searched for the doors at the Mansion on O Street and finally visited the Phillips Collection
  • Been issued a library card for the Library of Congress
  • Hosted my West Coast bestie (aka Magston) for a visit
  • Helped Alan celebrate Aidan’s birthday with a Nationals Game
  • Read 20 books since January

So you were right not to worry. Silence isn’t a bad thing. It’s just a busy thing.


Thank you for over-sharing.

12 May

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My yoga instructor this morning was a guy who takes it all a bit too seriously. In addition to wearing nut-huggers, sporting a thick ’70s porno ‘stache and playing a flute during class, he walks around projecting “deep thoughts” in a stage voice during the class.

(If this is ringing a bell: yes, I’ve written about him before.)

Today’s theme was “asking for help.” It was a great message: part of living in – or belonging to – a community is allowing people to help you. It’s good for you, and people enjoy being allowed to help. Nice lesson and I should probably try to follow it more often.

But where it went a bit sideways was in the examples he chose to share with us. During our 90 minute class, I learned:

  • He has a voice coach for opera
  • He has a language coach for foreign languages
  • He has a life/career coach
  • He once had $52,000 in credit card debt
  • He was able to pay it off using a debt relief service

Each revelation made me lose focus on my yoga pose and instead head down a mental HabiTrail of marginally related thoughts.

Of COURSE he has a voice coach! No wonder he always projects his voice like Tobias Funkë. I wonder if he’s capable of a regular conversation without a stage voice? 

I wonder what foreign languages he studies? Italian seems like a no-brainer because of the opera, but I’m also going to vote for Spanish. Because he looks like someone who would like to use authentic pronunciation when ordering at Taco Bell.

A career/life coach? Whoa – that one had her work cut out for her, because I’m not actually seeing opera singer + yoga instructor + floutist as an obvious career path. Also: I didn’t realize one could AFFORD a life coach in pursuing that career path.

Ah ha! Let me guess how you racked up $52k in credit card debt. I’m going out on a limb here, but – was it all the coaches? 

Or maybe it was the flute.

Or the shorts. 

Actually – there’s really just no telling.