grow your business

The Courage to Look

The courage to look at your negative and postivie traitsAdam was struggling:  his boss was telling him he was too defensive, not open to hearing people he worked with, going it too alone.  As part of our coaching work, we decided to ask for feedback from everyone with whom he worked – the people who reported to him, his colleagues, his supervisor and, yes, even some of his clients.  Of course, he was nervous.  What would they say?  Did he really want to know what they thought of him?  And when the results came in, not all the news was good.

While there was much that Adam was doing well, many people noted how defensive he was and how hard it was to feel part of a team working with him.  Adam took a big gulp and then showed what he was made of!  As his coach, I found myself filled with admiration.  He wrote a thank-you note to each person who had provided feedback and in the note he told people that he would be working hard to be less defensive and to be more open.  He noted other areas he wanted to work on and invited everyone to continue to give him feedback about how he was doing.  His tone was open and welcoming.  How courageous, I thought. 

It’s easy to look in the mirror yourself and decide how you’re doing, but to ask others and risk hearing about ways you’re falling short – now that’s more of a challenge.  And yet, what could be more powerful?  And what has greater potential to grow your business?  Inspired by Adam, I now ask several questions of all my clients. 

  1. How is our relationship working for you?
  2. What am I doing well?
  3. What would you like to have more of?  Less of?
  4. What could I be doing better?

I don’t wait until the end of an engagement to ask, either.  I ask periodically and let people know that I really want to hear the truth.  And notice that none of these questions can be answered with a simple “yes” or “no”.  They have to really give me some information.  That’s one way people get the message that you really want to know, rather than just hearing a feel-good “Great!  Everything’s fine!”

It takes courage to look at yourself honestly; it’s even harder to ask others and risk hearing that you’re not perfect.  There’s probably not much that’s harder in business or in life.  But the payoff is enormous.  With the courage to look and the information you gather, you’re on your way to more satisfied clients and employees.  You can’t lose!




This blog is about the many things that are important to me. I hope they will resonate with you as well. My dream is for it to be a conversation, with comments and additions by all of you who read what I – and my guests – write. I hope you will feel free to share your wisdom. I’m looking forward to the conversation.

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