Seven Steps To a New You
No matter what their professional or personal goals — whether to stop smoking, to become a better boss, to create a company or to learn to juggle — most people start down the path to change only to stumble, to fail, to try again and to fail again, writes consultant and executive coach Howard Guttman. It is easy to say you intend to change your behavior, but rarely is that change sustainable. In his latest book, Coach Yourself to Win: 7 Steps to Breakthrough Performance on the Job and in Your Life, Guttman offers a seven-step process that he says enables most individuals to "permanently replace deeply ingrained behaviors with new ones."
The Seven Steps
The first step in the process, "Determine your self-coachability," can be summarized as "Do you really mean it?" If you’ve tried and failed before, do you know why you failed? Not everyone can coach him- or herself to win, says Guttman, especially if there are unresolved deep psychological issues involved.
In the second step, "Select your intention and commit to it," Guttman asks readers to write down the intention and then go public with it. If you’re afraid to tell others about the intention because of a fear of failure, the intention is probably not strong enough to succeed. A key element of this step is overcoming what Guttman calls "going-in stories" — the core self-limiting beliefs that prevent people from changing their behaviors.
At the beginning of the book, Guttman lists three preconditions for successful self-coaching: accurate data, a guide in the loop and the willingness to go beyond your comfort zone. The second precondition comes into play with step three of the process: Identify and enroll a guide and a circle of support. The guide monitors progress and keeps the individual on track. The right guide has the attributes that will support and encourage success: People don’t need naysayers, but the guide must not be afraid to tell the truth about any self-serving justifications.
Once the "traveling companions" have been enlisted, the fourth step is to solicit feedback, followed by the fifth step, analyzing and responding to that feedback. Guttman offers specific sets of questions designed to solicit the feedback that will identify strengths and weaknesses. The sixth step is to develop a personal development plan with specific objectives to achieve the intention.
In the final step, Guttman urges his readers to evaluate their status in the process. Are the old behaviors starting to come back? After a concerted effort, is the intention just not doable? In some cases, the personal development plan needs adjustment to accommodate new situations.
A Template for Action
The advice in this book is straightforward and grounded. Each chapter ends with action steps, in many cases involving writing down answers to a list of targeted questions. Guttman also makes documents related to the action steps available on a dedicated website. Guttman supports his advice with real-life examples, including the story of "Steve," an executive dealing with leadership issues, whom readers follow throughout the book.
There is no magic bullet. Guttman emphasizes that only an individual who is truly and deeply motivated will be able to change his or her behavior. What Guttman can offer is a template for action — the rest is up to the individual.
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