Mindset for Self-Coaching— 4 Critical Elements for Getting Started.

4 tips on how to see ourselves from other people’s point of view.

Daily Quote:

“We never see ourselves as others see us…”  Eric Hoffer 

” O would some power the gift to give us the ability to see ourselves as others see us. ” Robert Burns, Scot Poet (1759 – 1796)   

Self-Reflection: How do we see ourselves? Effective self-coaching involves seeing ourselves as mixture of our ability to think clearly, see ourselves as others see us and being open to learning and change. Many times in life our mental set about ourselves and how we impact other people can be taken for granted or mis-perceived. Many times in our busy day to day activities we are operating in a vacuum or on automatic pilot and in order to move forward and continue growing we must work on developing open and flexible ways to gather more information. Our ability to develop this open perspective toward ourselves is the foundation for all self-coaching. This open approach to personal change allows us to use self-coaching tools, such as feedback to not only adjust our thinking but to enhance our effectiveness to change habits and behavior.

For example, the art and science of public speaking or presenting are learned, as well as the skills to handle different situations and audiences. When this is recognized you can use deliberative practice tools by yourself or in conjunction with a good coach or teacher to figure out the steps to do something better by using your time and space to practice and learn more constructive ways to reach our full potential as a fully functioning person. With time and good support, every person can discover their own ways to become a more effective and efficient communicator.

1. Reflection

Self-coaching also involves an ongoing process of reflection. We need to view our lives as an ongoing exercise in experiential learning, and we need to obtain the necessary critical distance to be able to observe and reflect upon our experiences, while also fully inhabiting those experiences in the moment. The precise steps we take in this process will look different for each of us, and they will vary over time, but it’s critical to regularly engage ourselves in conversation and to develop the habitual practices that support this reflection.

2. Self-Awareness

An important product of this reflection is increased self-awareness, by which I mean both a heightened in-the-moment perception of how we respond to various situations and a deeper understanding over time of who we are as individuals. Our immediate perception of our physical and emotional responses to situations is often blunted–it’s only in retrospect that we fully understand what we were feeling. Honing this in-the-moment awareness of our responses allows us to expand the range of options available to us and to make choices that will best support our goals in any given situation.

Over time this heightened perception contributes to a deeper understanding of ourselves. We learn more about our tendencies and preferences, and patterns in our behavior (with certain people, in certain settings, at certain moments) begin to reveal themselves. We can then capitalize on these patterns, exploiting those that work to our advantage and challenging (or avoiding) those that work to our disadvantage.

3. Committment to Personal Change

At some level self-coaching is all about change. Changing how we spend our time so we’re more fulfilled, and changing our behavior so we’re more effective. Doing more of what’s working in our lives, and doing less of–or stopping entirely–what’s not helping us reach our desire results.  We may even want to change the direction of our lives in a more comprehensive way, and all large changes result from a series of small smart steps using the Plus1 performance technique.

4.  Clarity of Personal Values and Vision 

Our self-coaching efforts occur within a context defined by our personal values and our vision for ourselves. If self-coaching is a sequence of steps to help us effect positive change in our lives, then our values and our vision are the source of meaning and purpose in our lives, the underlying rationale for the changes we seek to make.

It’s important at the very beginning of self-coaching to identify the critical values that drive our action and to establish a vision of the future. Where you want to be after your self-coaching experience? Values and vision are the underpinning for self-coaching success because they ground us in what is important in our lives and where we we want to go. These values and vision will be rechecked through your self-coaching actives and will be refined by the end of your experience. Although we will be working on many of the elements that roll-up into a vision or provide clarity on your priority values in life through smart-step activities and structured exercises I think having an overall direction and “big picture” for self-coaching  is critical for your success.

Self-Coaching Challenge: Over the next week reflect on these 4 elements for Self-Coaching. Use the scale 1 -not ready to 10 absolutely ready. After your evaluation commit to either finding a coach to get get you started or if you are ready for self-coaching do something to get started, like reading articles or a book on self-coaching.  

Daily Quote and Reflection: My thoughts about Eric Hoffer’s Approach to Problem Solving and Finding Opportunities

Daily Quote and Reflection: “In human affairs every solution serves only to sharpen the problem, to show us more clearly what we are up against. There are no final solutions.” Eric Hoffer, An American Moral and Social philosopher and Longshore man.  


Hoffer spent most of his life living on the edge of poverty and powerlessness in California, working as a longshoremen and writing his observations of American life from and moral and social sense of a blue-collar worker living in San Francisco. His first book, “The True Believer”, was an immediate classic and stamped him as a most original thinker of his generation. . “The True Believer” is Hoffer’s observations on mass movements and fanaticism. Nazism, Communism, socialism, and early religious movements were topics that this classic book examined and critiqued with scrupulous research and poignant observations. Owing to a life lived mostly in poverty; Hoffer’s comments on the dysfunction of ideology and the human condition are particularly astute. Hoffer’s life was full of obstacles: blindness, loss of his parents at an early age, growing up in a new country without access to education, a lifetime of manual labor and subsistence wages. And yet, this self-educated man has left an indelible mark on all that have read his writings and consider his brilliant thoughts on a wide range of cultural, philosophical and political topics.

I discovered Hoffer, when as a Sophomore at Michigan State University, when assigned in a Sociology class to read  “The True Believer”, I did not realize the lasting effect it would have on my life. Hoffer observed that the struggle to survive, at its most basic level, offered the best promise of a lifetime of meaning and fulfillment. The man who must work, must harvest, must create is most satisfied. Man with too much time on his hands spend most of their time in regret and criticism.

Hoffer’s most prescient observations: “It still holds true that man is most uniquely human when he turns obstacles into opportunities” and that  the actions and mind of juveniles’   is similar to the mentality of “true believers”. Both groups seem eager to throw away their identities in favor of a cause–any cause that caught their imagination and fancy for attention and immediate gratification.  For the last 45 years, I have read and re-read “The True Believer” many times .  Each time I pick up this amazing work I learn something new, fresh perspectives and concepts that I can apply today.

Self-Coaching Challenge: In what ways are you stuck or still acting like an immature adolescent? What changes are you willing to make to become more independent and responsible in your personal and professional life? How do you turn obstacles and setbacks in your life into opportunities?

Self-Coaching: Power of thinking, discovery, and choice for improving the Quality of your Life

“The quality of life that you have is determined to large extent by the effort you put into giving your life value, purpose and a reason.” Eric Hoffer

Self-coaching is a “structure and a process” for high performance levels.

When ever we begin to think about things we trigger a specific (structure) or mindset for our thinking. The mindset maybe based on a certain concept, feeling or experience stored in different areas of the brain. Once one of these areas is activated then we take action (process). Our appropriateness and effectiveness depends on how congruent our thinking is with the action. Thinking with one part of the brain which is not congruent with the right action leads to inconsistency and low performance. Self-coaching and monitoring through reflection provides you with a frame of reference or structure and necessary processes for taking right action at the right time. Together the “structure with process” work together to encourage consistent, patterned decisions and aligned behavior leading high level performance.  Self-Coaching is a proven and satisfying way to change bad habits and make more effective person to person connections based on self-awareness and cognitive decisions that allow you to discover and choose more productive ways to live your life.

Benefits of Self-Coaching:

– Recognize your strengths and areas needing improvement or change.

– Be more aware of interferences and barriers leading to unhappiness, lack of success, and interpersonal conflict.

– Identify ways to be more aware of bad decisions and habits that can be changed one step at a time.

– Coach, motivate, and true happiness and meaning comes through choices and ownership of our actions.

– Understand that discovering life as it comes at you is more beneficial than trying to control people and demanding certainty which causes disappointment, frustration and many other problems in life.

– Realize it’s never life circumstances and other people’s view of life that causes issues and problems –it’s your attitude, perception and interpretation of life events that leads to stress and other psychological and physical issues.

Daily Quote and Reflection: Power of Persistence and Practice


” They who lack talent expect things to happen without effort. They ascribe failure to a lack of inspiration or ability, or to misfortune, rather than to insufficient practice and application. At the core of every true talent there is an awareness of the difficulties inherent in any achievement, and the confidence that by persistence and patience something worthwhile will be realized. Thus talent is a species of vigor.” Eric Hoffer, author, philosopher and longshoremen.

Reflection: Hoffer who was self-educate wrote many great books about social and political life. He is one of my favorite philosophers. His insights into mass movements and social change are still relevant today. He dicscovered through his own persistence and self-coaching why things happened in both a meaningful and/or purposeless life.

Among Hoffer’s insights about mass movements was that they are an outlet for people whose individual significance is meager in the eyes of the world and — more important — in their own eyes. He pointed out that the leaders of the Nazi movement were men whose artistic and intellectual aspirations were wholly frustrated. This could be said today about militias and radically haters of President Obama.  Hoffer said in the True Believer  : “The less justified a man is in claiming excellence for his own self, the more ready he is to claim all excellence for his nation, his religion, his race or his holy cause.”

People who are fulfilled in their own lives and careers are not the ones attracted to mass movements: “A man is likely to mind his own business when it is worth minding,” Hoffer said. “When it is not, he takes his mind off his own meaningless affairs by minding other people’s business.”

What is amazing to me is that many of these frustrated zealots and “true believers,” who filled the ranks of ideological movements that created the totalitarian tyrannies of the 20th century are still alive and flourishing in the 21st century.

Reflections on American Political Divide and Mass Movements –What would Eric Hoffer Tell Us ?

“A society that refuses to strive for superfluities is likely to end up lacking in necessities.”  Eric Hoffer

” All mass movements generate in their adherents a readiness to die and a proclivity for united action; all of them… breed fanaticism, enthusiasm, fervent hope, hatred and intolerance; all of them are capable of releasing a powerful flow of activity in certain departments of life; all of them demand blind faith and single hearted allegiance. All movements, however different in doctrine and aspiration, draw their early adherents from the same types of humanity; they all appeal to the same types of  single-mind thinking.”

 As an idea, the above statement is a powerful wake-up call for all those who believe so strongly in a cause that they want everybody else to believe in it. The danger and negative effects of  single-mindedness or dogmatic thinking and intolerance of other people’s point of view , is the core message of  Hoffer’s True Believer’s.

what kind of people become fanatics?

The answer is personal, psychological and emotional. Before they believed, Hoffer writes, they felt small, confused, destined for nothing. With belief, they feel strong, certain. Their fanaticism transforms them; losers become winners. “Faith in a holy cause is to a considerable extent a substitute for the lost faith in himself.”  Generally speaking these are lost people search for some kind of relieve or anchor in their life.

The goal of the mass movement doesn’t matter? Not according to Hoffer. He says: the more unrealistic and unattainable, the better. It’s not even important that the doctrine be understood. In fact, Hoffer says, the harder it is to believe, the better. Forget your mind, trust your heart, the true believer  says, and his followers do just that.These people are fundamentally dogmatic and absolutely certain about what is wrong with America. Their dualistic mind-set is dangerous because it provides simple answers for complex questions. “We would all be better off with Government out of our business and personal life..”  You and I know that change is the one immutable law of life, that there are always at least two opinions, that we’ll probably die not knowing the ultimate answers. Not so for members of mass movements. They know it all. (“A mass movement…must act as if it had already read the book of the future to the last word. Its doctrine is proclaimed as a key to that book.”)

Right now, we are seeing the spread of anti-Moslem groups in Europe. (That is textbook Hoffer: “A movement can exist without a God but no movement can exist without a devil.”) Here at home, we have quite a few people  who also have a genius for identifying “devils” and turning them into “the Other. For example, all the comments made about Obama during the Health Care and Stimulus debates.

There will be widespread disbelief when Congress and the White House have another debate that may cause the next Depression. When this happens and the mass media and extremist right-wing talkers like Rush will go on about the failure of Obama and Socialism;,great thinkers  like Hoffer will not be quoted  —because they call-out the real instigators of the causes for our divided nation– inequality between rich and poor.

The major point in  Hoffer’s books and essays is to see beyond irrational individual behavior to patterns of thought and behavior of  fanatical  “group think” .

Hoffer says on the first page of the “True Believer the following insight:  “Though there are obvious differences between the fanatical Christian, the fanatical Mohammedan, the fanatical nationalists, the fanatical Communist and the fanatical Tea Party members , it is still true that the fanaticism which motivates them may be viewed and treated as one… However different the holy causes people die for, they perhaps die basically for the same thing.

Daily Quote and Reflection from Eric Hoffer– STOP the extreme “True Believer” Approach to Problem Solving

Quote :“[The fanatic] fears compromise and cannot be persuaded to qualify the certitude and righteousness of his holy cause…We can be absolutely certain only about things we do not understand….By kindling and fanning violent passions in the hearts of their followers, mass movements prevent the settling of an inner balance…( and solving problems).

Reflection:  Remember Churchill’s speech asking his fellow citizens and Americans to fight on to defeat the Third Reich after Pearl Harbor ” We haven’t gone this far because we are made of sugar candy.” I believe it is time for the majority in America to stand-up and be heard and demand from Republican’s and the White House to stop making up unnecessary fights. like increasing the debt limit and start solving the real problems of America–more common sense  and common ground solutions rather than being fanatic about dogma and principle.

Daily Quotation and Reflection–Do you want to be free from freedom?

Daily Quote: Unless a man has the talents to make something of himself, freedom is an irksome burden… We join a mass movement to escape from individual responsibility, or, in the words of an ardent young Nazi, “to be free from freedom.” It was not sheer hypocrisy when the rank-and-file Nazis declared themselves not guilty of all the enormities they had committed. They considered themselves cheated and maligned when made to shoulder responsibility for obeying orders. Had they not joined the Nazi movement in order to be free from responsibility? — Eric HofferThe True Believer (1951)

Reflection:  Many people need structure and directions because they believe it makes for an easier life. Stay the course create meaning by being engaged in life.–Keep a journal, find a favorite poet, write some poetry, learn to relax and enjoy your life.

Daily Quote and Reflection: Man is Unfinished–Challenge is to Finish in a Proper Way

Quote:  “Nature attains perfection, but man never does. There is a perfect ant, a perfect bee, but man is perpetually unfinished. He is both an unfinished animal and an unfinished man. It is this incurable unfinishedness which sets man apart from other living things. For, in the attempt to finish himself, man becomes a creator. Moreover, the incurable unfinishedness keeps man perpetually immature, perpetually capable of learning and growing.” from the book Reflections on the Human Condition–Eric Hoffer


Improving People Skills:Look at the truth

To most of us nothing is so invisible as an unpleasant truth. Though it is held before our eyes, pushed under our noses, rammed down our throats- we know it not.” Eric Hoffer

Awareness lies at the heart of all self-understanding and performance improvement. To improve my current level of performance I must know more about my self and make changes in my thinking and behavior. I must become aware of my present level of functioning before I can make changes. I need to understand how things are now and how I’d like them to be. Continue reading “Improving People Skills:Look at the truth”

Decision-Making and Risk Taking for Obama’s “Yes We Can” Leadership

According to Dr. Warren Bennis, leadership is all about making more effective decisions. Decision making takes rational assessment of the situation, gathering as much information as possible, identifying and agreeing on the problem to be solved, weighting the pros and cons of alternatives, calculating the possible outcomes (unintended and intended consequences), measuring the risks and then deciding. Leadership decisions often strike out in new directions that can define our nation’s reputation and identity, perceived power, and progress toward our dreams for a better country individually and in a collective sense. Continue reading “Decision-Making and Risk Taking for Obama’s “Yes We Can” Leadership”