Change is a process, not an event.

By | Change, Coaching, Personal Transition, Work/Life Balance | No Comments

Happy New Year — the time of year when most of us are wholeheartedly engaged in our new year resolutions, determined that this year will be different. In reality, many of us are recommitting to the same resolutions we embraced this time last year!

In Susan David’s (speaker and author, “Emotional Agility”) recent blog post, she reflects that, too often, we commit to sweeping changes rather than making small subtle changes that, over time, have greater chances of steering us in the direction of our goals. She refers to this as the “tiny tweaks principle.” Below are four tactics Susan outlined in her post that can add up to big change. This year, consider what tiny tweaks you can infuse in your day-to-day activities that can support your 2019 goals.

  • The No-Brainer:  Switch up your environment so that when you’re hungry, tired, stressed, or rushed, the choice most aligned with your values is also the easiest. If you’re trying to shave off a few pounds, then set yourself up for success by stocking your shelves with fresh fruit rather than cookies. Now your only choice for a midnight snack is one you won’t regret in the morning.
  • The Piggyback:  Add a new behavior onto an existing habit. To continue with the weight loss example, this might mean turning your routine walk with your dog into a routine jog, or doing some jumping jacks when you tune into the nightly news.
  • The Precommitment:  Anticipate obstacles and prepare for them with “if-then” strategies. If my boss makes a doughnut run, then I’ll treat myself to the juicy pear I’ve already got stored in the break room fridge. If I’m tempted to sleep through my morning spin class, then I’ll remind myself how much better I’ll feel for having gone.
  • The Obstacle Course:  Offset a positive vision with thoughts of potential challenges. In one study, researchers advised half of the participants in a weight loss program to envision themselves with new svelte figures and the other half to imagine situations where they’d be tempted to cheat on their diet. A year on, the second group had shed more weight. Optimism is important, but it’s most effective when paired with realism.

Note: Not familiar with Susan David PhD? Check out her TED talk here:

Coaching for Social Change ~ the ICF-MD Story

By | Coaching | No Comments

I recently had the honor of presenting at Converge 17 — this year’s Global International Coach Federation (ICF) Conference. Here is the ICF-Maryland Chapter story of how we’re using coaching to influence social change. What’s your story?

In my city, there have been over 225 homicides this year, making its homicide rate one of the highest in the country:  the oldest victim 97; the youngest, just 1.

In 2015, this city made world-wide news with an eruption of civil unrest after the death of Freddie Gray while in police custody.

There have been countless articles and alarming reports of the surge of opioid-related deaths.   Deaths due to heroin, prescription opioids, and non-pharmaceutical fentanyl.

According to a recent report, 22.9% of the population lives below the poverty line – 7.4% higher than the national average.

I speak about Baltimore City – the heart of the ICF-Maryland Chapter.

The question then arises – what can we do?   How can we respond as coaches?

Although I’ve served the Maryland Chapter both as Board and Committee member since its inception in 2010, today I’m speaking to you as the Chair of Maryland’s first Outreach Committee.

It was in this environment in 2016 that ICF-MD knew it was time to do more.   About this time last year, we broadened our Chapter’s influence to include formal Outreach efforts.

With the goal of starting small but with a passionate commitment to impact our community in an immediate and big way, we spent months researching opportunities where coaching could influence positive social change at a grassroots level.

I’m pleased to share with you a video that captures the amazing work we’re doing in support of our partner organization called Turnaround Tuesday:

Global ICF Presentation_TAT Video

In many ways, the video speaks for itself.  I’d like to share just a few key points that, I believe, make this work special.

1)   Turnaround Tuesday was established by its sponsor organization – BUILD (Baltimoreans United in Leadership Development) as a result of the increasing need for social change.

When identifying how to make the city a better place to live, BUILD leaders took to the streets – literally talking to people on street corners and knocking on doors – asking citizens within the communities what THEY believed was needed to reduce crime & drug use as well as to increase their ability to not just survive but thrive.

As you can imagine, the #1 answer they received was jobs.  People needed living-wage jobs and the means to get to them.  Without jobs, people expressed despair and hopelessness.  Without jobs — drug use, drug sales, crime, and unrest would inevitably persist.

2)  BUILD leaders also asked people what THEY were willing to contribute to create change. Individuals were rallied to support constructive change efforts, including approaching the area’s largest employers to help put Baltimore’s citizens to work.

Both BUILD and our partner organization, Turnaround Tuesday, which was born as a result of the “on-the-street” conversations, are dedicated to making Baltimore a better place for its citizens.

I believe the secret to their success lies in their commitment to identify and develop leaders in every neighborhood.  They meet people where they are and seek change – not FOR people – but WITH people.  They build power by building community.

Of course, WE recognize these approaches to change are rooted in coaching:  meeting people face-to-face, where they are, without judgment, to build relationships first.

Our work with TAT has evolved over the year.  Our amazing team of volunteer coaches and incredibly supportive Board, several of whom are here today, have allowed us to:

  • Support individuals with resume writing and interview preparation.
  • We also help individuals change the narrative they hold of themselves — instead of being a victim to an often difficult past, we help them dream, identify viable opportunities, tap their passions and strengths to find meaningful work
  • We support opportunities through group coaching for individuals to come together and find comfort, courage, and support.

As I reflect on our accomplishments, I think our biggest success can be found in a recent conversation I had the opportunity to witness earlier this month.

A non-profit organization from DC participated in one of the TAT debrief sessions.  The President of the DC organization asked one of the TAT Directors how the volunteer coaches were found and utilized.

The Director shared that, when ICF-MD first approached TAT last year, someone on their staff asked, “What would it look like to have a bunch of (mostly) white women come to provide coaching to (mostly) African American participants?”

He responded, “We won’t have to worry about it – they won’t be here next month.”  He then looked up from his notes and said, “I was wrong.”   “They returned, and returned, and returned, and returned.”   “I know these individuals now and can tell you they are here for the right reasons.  It’s not about the white people coming to save the blacks.  ICF-MD is woven into the fabric of our organization.  We could not do what we do without their support.”

We believe in the power of coaching and, yes, have individual success stories to demonstrate its efficacy.  More than that — much more than that — we believe in the power coaching has to create trust, bring individuals together, develop communities of support, break down barriers, reignite dreams, and (perhaps most of all) create hope.

We also believe that, with time, when watching the nightly news, the stories of Baltimore will change.  They will include not only the richness the community has to offer – including Fort McHenry, the birthplace of the Star Spangled Banner, the beautiful Inner Harbor, our beloved sports teams, the tapestry of our diversity, but most of all – you’ll hear stories of positive social transformation through community & humanity.

More than a Conversation

By | Coaching, Presence, Relationships | No Comments

I am a coach…

I don’t just listen to what you say.

I feel into the space between your words.

I look into your eyes.

I notice your energy.

I see your shape.

I lean into your emotions.

I sense your intention.

I hear what you don’t say.

I interpret your silence.

I feel you, the real you.

The one underneath the social expectations.

I call you forth to speak your truth.

I am a coach… it’s more than just a conversation.

~ Jane Warrilow ~

These are the words shared at the end of our last 2016 International Coach Federation (ICF) Chapter Board call – how appropriate as we, individually and as a team, reflect on the work we do.  As I consider not only the coaching profession but the world at large, the ability to be truly present for and with others is needed more than ever.   And, no, it’s not easy.  In the midst of our busyness, technological distractions, and competing demands, showing up fully – in body, mind and spirit – takes effort.

What would it look like if each of us, in our own special role – as parent, friend, colleague, citizen, leader, and, dare I say, politician – took time to slow down? To show up for others?  Without judgment?  Without an agenda?  Without the need to control?  No doubt the world would be a more compassionate, supportive, productive, and healthier place.

The invitation:   Consider your own relationships – at work and at home.  In what relationship(s) would being more present, open, and a better listener make a difference?   When’s the next time you might call on your “inner coach” to cultivate more than just a conversation.