Solution Focus World Conference: Lessons in Leadership

I’m back from the recent SOL world conference, this year happening in Oxford.

200 solution focus practitioners from 26 countries, coaches, CEOs, managers, trainers, consultants, teachers, health and education professionals, you name it. The program was packed with panels, workshops, open spaces and of course, lots of laughter and fun, like always when a Solution Focus bunch is coming together. I truly enjoyed every minute!

The Guardian published today an article on the CEO’s panel, where chief executives shared valuable lessons in solution focussed leadership.

Do you look the part?

A subject which regularly comes up in coaching sessions is appearance. It may seem trivial at first, and clients often hesitate to even mention it, let alone acknowledge its importance. And yet, appearance might well be the missing link between you and your solution.

Consider this: a colleague once told me how she coached a lady who suffered considerably from lack of confidence in her professional abilities. Invited to think about what would help her to feel more confident and professional, she spontaneously replied: « One of those little business suitcases that people wheel around in airports all the time! » And that was all she needed. She ended the coaching session, thanked my colleague and rushed out to get herself one of those suitcases!

Imagine that you have achieved whatever it is you want right now. What would you look like?

(Disclaimer: if your current goal consists in tearing down a wall in your house or digging a tunnel in your garden, you want to ask yourself « What would I look like after having achieved my goal and taken a shower? »).

No, but seriously: take a moment. Be clear about your goal. Imagine you’re there already. You did it, you successfully achieved your goal. And now:

- how would you feel differently?

- what would you do differently?

how would you look differently?

Please go into details: What kind of shoes, clothes, briefcase, hairstyle, nail polish/beard or underwear would you be wearing? Go through your appearance-to-be from head to toe.

Then pick one item which really inspires you and do it (get the shoes, put on lipstick, shave your beard off, buy pink underwear, whatever). Find out how it helps.

And then, you guessed it, onto the next :) . Enjoy!


Most people don’t realize that their New Year’s resolutions have a lot to do with the Zeigarnik effect.

The Zeigarnik effect states that as soon as a task is completed, we tend to forget all about it.

Which is exactly what we are after with our new year’s resolutions:

- Lose ten pounds (and then I won’t ever have to worry about my weight again).

- Organize and declutter my home (and then it’ll stay this way and I’ll never have to think about it again)

- Stop smoking/drinking/eating chocolate  (and I won’t think of chocolate/fags/booze again. Ever. Just like that.)

- Find a new job (and then live happily ever after).

And so on and so forth…

But of course, things don’t work that way.

What we sooo like to think about is the doing-part (losing the weight, stopping the  chocolate, decluttering the desk, getting the job).

But this is just the beginning.

What we sooo do not like to think about is, what to do to perpetuate the results.

Because yes, there are things to be done to keep the weight down and to get along with the new boss.

Forget about  the « then-I-can-forget-about » part!

Enter baby steps.

You might be able to pull off a big, dramatic action (diet, decluttering, job hunt, whatever). You might. But you will not be able to keep going for long at this pace. Result: you’ll yo-yo.

Good ole boring baby-steps on the other hand can easily become a part of your every day routines. The smaller the step, the quicker it happens. If you really want to forget all about it, once it is « done » – babysteps. Anything bigger than that and it won’t happen, no matter how ardent your intentions.

And when you wake up one day, surprised how far you have come and how on earth did you do this: then, only then, you can « forget about it ».

Have fun!

Baby Steps or How to Make Your New Year’s Resolutions Happen this Time – part 3

Last week we looked at what baby steps actually are.

Now, Babysteps are something I have been aware of for quite a while, of course, and I always encourage my clients vividly when they decide to tackle something by taking baby steps.

But I was very reluctant to take my own medicine, so to speak*. When we don’t do something, it is usually because we do not want to do it or we do not know how to do it. The How never being a problem with baby steps – or it means that your step is too big – it had to be the not willing part. It took me quite a long time to figure out why I didn’t want to do them, these baby steps:

Some time ago, one of my teachers talked about an energy depleting situation. I was surprised, because I had experienced this specific situation before and at the time felt full of energy – much more energy than I am usually experiencing. When I asked him about that, he answered with a question: « When do you feel richer: when you spend money, or when you save money? »


And as history has a tendency to repeat itself, so have our inner patterns: I was reluctant to adopt baby steps because they didn’t feel like progress! They felt too easy, too trivial, too, let’s face it, boring. Realizing this, I had to decide what I was after: the feeling « before » or the feeling « after ». I could project myself into some exciting goals and steps, not useful, because I wasn’t doing them. Or I could adopt the trivial-feeling baby steps and make them work.

Now, these baby steps, no matter how useful, might never feel exciting. But I promise you, the results they yield do feel exciting!

Next time we are going to end this little series looking at why it is that baby steps have such in impact on New Years Resolutions and habits in general.

*Did someone just say « Do as I say, not as I do? » Quiet, please! :)

Baby Steps or How to Make Your New Year’s Resolutions Happen this Time – part 2

Last time we ended with the question: « What are baby steps? »

Well, think about some New Year’s resolution, or any other time when you wanted to introduce a change in your life. When it comes to New Year’s resolutions, it was most likely a change in habits.

Find a time when have you successfully implemented some change –  professional, personal, whatever. If you take a closer look, you will most likely find baby step(s) on the way to this change.

There you are. The proof that it works.

Now, what about the  changes that you want to happen now?

If it is something you have been wanting to change and have failed (repeatedly) in the past, here’s a clue: your steps towards this goal are too big. Now I can just hear some of you scream « No way! It is not the step that is too big! Rather I should be able to… » If that is you, here’s my definition of a baby step:

A baby step is a step so small that you do it. Period.

Or, in the words of noted Life Coach Martha Beck: « When you get to the point that you’d have to attach lead weights to your eye balls to keep them from rolling, the step is so damn easy – of course you can do this, then you have a (baby) step. »

So, when it comes to your New Year’s resolutions, what would be your eye-rolling, f-word easy, the-one-you-feel-way-too-small baby step be? Write it down, preferably somewhere where you will read it on december 31, 2012!

Next time we will have a look why it is that we sooo do not want to go for these kind of baby steps. (But of course, that is not you. You started them already, right?)

How to Make Your New Year’s Resolutions Happen This Time

Happy New Year to all of you! I hope you all had a beautiful start into 2012! And thank you so much for having been with me during the last year on this blogging adventure which I am more and more enjoying!

Now, what are we going to start with? Of course you’d expect with a blog like this one to read something about New Year’s resolutions, maybe some advice what to do exactly, some lists or The 100 Best Blogs on whatever. Thing is, we are all unique, and even two persons’ identical resolutions (« Get fit in 2012″) will unfailingly call for unique approaches.

This, BTW, is the excitement of coaching: to de discover the – yet hidden – unique solutions for every person. At the beginning of each session I have as little an idea of what will be the solution as have my clients!

So what am I going to tell you? After all, I can only tell you what worked for me:

- What has made the biggest difference in 2011

- what is a learning process which I expect to continue all through 2012 and well beyond,

- what I personally do not find the most enticing or sexiest of ideas but -

- what has brought me further than all other efforts and investments combined:


PS: When writing this post, it quickly became clear that there is more to say than a couple of lines. Let’s start the new year with a series, then! To be continued in a couple of days with the nature of baby steps.

Until then time to think: what does the term « baby step » mean to you?

December 24: So this is Christmas…

… and this advent calendar comes to an end. Thank you so much for coming over, for your comments and encouragements by mail, phone or in person.

It has been fun to connect, to share thoughts, ideas, musings and a little bit of my life with you. For the next ten days this life will go a very relaxed pace, taking time to slow down, eat, curl up with the family on the sofa, sing songs, read, take long walks and long naps!

I will be back in January with some  - hopefully – useful stuff to start the new year! Hope to meet you here again. Meanwhile -

Merry, merry Christmas to all of you!

23 december: True nourishment

Whenever you are sincerely pleased, you are nourished.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

December 22: Wrapped up

Strolling through blogland, all people seem to do at the moment is gift wrapping, telling you how, when, with what and for whom.I read the posts and feel like at the dentists… whilst I proud myself to get my presents way ahead of time (and blog about it), getting them wrapped is a different story  (and they want me to blog about it???).

This is how it used to be: on december 23th at 9 pm I got out all presents, wrapping items, scissors, tape, and all the flotsam and jetsam of christmas gift wrapping*.

The children (then all younger than ten) were sound asleep. I myself (then younger than … well, just younger) didn’t mind to stay up till 2 pm to finish all the wrapping which always, always takes so much longer than I think it will (than I think it « should »!)

As the quiet-evening-as-the-children-are-asleep scenario is somehow not happening any more, I tell myself every year to wrap the gifts early. Like right when I buy them, little by little, no sweat, it’s so much easier, just do it, do you hear me?!

And now, this year, for the first time in twenty! years, I made it. Full 36 hours earlier! Hey, that still counts!

I had to shift my wrapping session to the  morning – after all, what’s the difference – wrap your gifts while the children are asleep….

I wrapped my gifts, I blogged about it, now I can start my day ;) )!

* I fondly remember one year, when the whole house was asleep – children in bed, cats on the sofa – no one awake but me. Me and a mouse, who put out her nose to check what was going on here from under the sofa at the exact spot where the cat was sleeping! Had I had a camera at that moment, the mouse would by now be the Queen of YouTube!

Oh, and not to worry – she survived fine. We caught her the next morning (not without some difficulty, she was very alert) and put her back outside in the fields.

December 21: Christmas Maths You Want to Avoid


This is the formula for an certain psychological condition a lot of people seem to be afflicted with, now that Christmas is only three days away.

Found it?

Xmas multiplied with Less and Less Time left equals exponentially rising Perfectionism.

The less time there is left, the more people become obsessed with « doing it right for Christmas ».

As in: finishing off all the current affairs at work before the Christmas holidays.

As in: having to get the It-present for every single member of their extended family between now and the 24th.

As in: scrub, clean and make your house sparkle to the very last tea towel, and then transform every single room in a showroom for Christmas decorations. Preferably at the end of the day after having tried to finish off all the current affairs at work plus running around chasing presents between 6pm and 7.30 pm.

As in: planning to cook  elaborate, 5 course meals… well, you get it.

As Christmas approaches, I can see perfectionism growing in peoples’ mind faster than the mushrooms in my garden. It makes them look like the Spirit of Christmas Past, out of sheer exhaustion.

Of course things never work out « perfectly ».

Please: whatever you can let go in the next days, just let it go. First and foremost your perfectionism.

Believe me, the company/your boss/the Spirit of Christmas/your family and most importantly yourself – you all will survive!