Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Lessons Learned after Two Decades of Social Distancing

This week’s guest blogger, Chris Osborn, tells the lessons learned after two decades of social distancing.

Here’s what he had to say…

Our company is an intimate, passion-driven business that was built at a social distance. We measure that distance across the globe rather than in feet. The company, and now our community of over 10,000 graduates and clients, was built in an environment that has quickly been forced on many. Rapid change causes stress, anxiety, and in some cases, personal or corporate petrification. This does not have to be the case. Businesses and practices can be built at a distance.

Here are some simple observations and accompanying practices, aka lessons learned, that can benefit you as you meld social distancing into your daily life.

lessons learned

Relationships Can Flourish and New Stories Are Created

Times like these create the strongest of bonds. People with shared significant events have shared experiences and thus shared stories. From both a personal and professional perspective, now is the time to invest in these relationships. New tools of outreach and touch were made available relative to large events like war and pandemic in the past, but the fundamental connection through discussion and exploration is where bonds and opportunities are to be found. Coaching and the co-creative approach affords the opportunity to write new stories into our lives when faced with the suddenly apparent unknown. Exploration of new paths can be achieved while tackling limiting beliefs, the result is a great first new step down a new path. All this can be done through a shared experience that yields a strong relationship with the characters tied to that new story.

Distance is Not the Barrier

In twenty years, our faculty have met in person only once yet their connectivity and relationships far surpass those I have seen in other organizations in which I have worked where people interface every day. Why? Because as coaches, they do two things exceptionally well. They listen deeply and value one another’s time.  

Listen deeply and ask open-ended questions. This approach, a fundamental one to coaching’s co-creative process, can bridge any physical distance and afford both parties a great understanding of not only what is being discussed but also the context in which it is being explored. 

Value one another’s time. Be Prompt. Be present. Make an effort to eliminate distraction and multitasking when with your client, colleague or co-worker. Take some time on the front end of any agenda to check in and see where you both are in terms of both well-being and process relative to your topic. Acknowledge progress and success before tackling what is next.  

Find Ways to Provide Value at a Distance

Favors and thoughtfulness can be accomplished from a distance. Pay it forward in relationship building by offering help to others seeking to grow during this time. As a coach, you can be a critical resource for family, friends, coworkers and even potential clients (remember there is value in a sample session of coaching). A thank you note or a thoughtful e-mail or text with real meaning can add value as well as create the perception by those you contact that you are ready, willing and able to provide value. Acknowledging the value provided by others in simple ways (a testimonial, offering a reference or a simple public thank you) is a great way to set the example and ask for the same in return. These are basic business-building habits that are also fantastic feel-good behaviors.

Structure Matters

Finally, the distance environment can take away the familiar structure we have known. Those businesses and coaches who operate successfully and thrive in a distance model do apply a discipline of structure.  They plan their days and weeks to tasks and times like they would under a traditional circumstance. They calendar meetings and communication. They map schedule to projects and write plans for both their business and finding balance in their lives. A structured time that feeds your body, your mind and your soul is as important as ever. Two decades of this model at CTA have also taught us that planning time for some fun is critical too. Find some time for that and allow yourself fun as one of life’s great fuels.

Now more than ever the skills taught to coaches are needed to address the unknown, forge new paths and build bonds…even at a social distance.

Tell us what you’ve learned from this or can add to the conversation by commenting on this blog or by connecting with your colleagues on our Facebook page.

Here is some information about the author:

CHRIS OSBORN is the Chief Executive Officer of Coach Training Alliance. Chris is a serial entrepreneur, executive, and executive coach.  He has been widely recognized for his ability to lead change through organizational growth and strategic planning. Chris currently serves as both a board member and in executive capacities of numerous organizations in the corporate and not-for-profit worlds. His experience varies widely from distance education and healthcare to e-commerce and financial services. He periodically authors material for the Coaching Compass and is the visionary and co-author behind the Human Capital Accelerator™. In addition to his work at CTA, Chris is licensed both as an Opposite Strengths® Executive Coach as well as a New Money Story Coach. He can be reached through Coach Training Alliance.