Coaching commonly addresses attitudes, behaviours, and knowledge, as well as skills, and it can also focus on physical and spiritual development too.
Coaching is a form of training or teaching, normally involving one-to-one support, aimed at helping a person improve, often in a very practical sense. In this respect it could be said that coaching differs from the training and teaching of groups focused on knowledge transfer and theoretical application.
Do you have a coach?
If not, you could be limiting your career success. That’s because coaches help you identify and focus on what’s important, which accelerates your success.
When we coach, we create a safe environment in which people can see themselves more clearly. We can help identify gaps between where you are and where you need or want to be. We ask for more intentional thought, action and behavioural changes than you would have asked of yourself.
As your coach, we can help you:
- Get clear about your goals
- Identify blind spots
- Be accountable
- Focus your development efforts
- Gain a competitive advantage
- Acquire leadership skills
- Increase engagement
- Feel happier.
We can help you identify and align your values, create a focus, cut through clutter and increase your professional fulfillment.
THE UPPER LIMIT PROBLEM
Each of us has an inner thermostat setting that determines how much love, success and creativity we allow ourselves to enjoy. That thermostat setting usually gets programmed in early childhood. And, once programmed, our Upper-Limit thermostat setting holds us back from enjoying all the love, financial abundance and creativity that’s rightfully ours.
So, how does the Upper-Limit Problem work, and how can we eliminate its negative effects on us? The foundation under the Upper-Limit Problem is a set of four hidden barriers. They all have something in common: Although they seem real, they are based on fear and false beliefs about ourselves. The fact that we unconsciously accept them as real is the barrier holding us back. We take them as real until we shine awareness on them. Then the barriers dissolve, and we are free.
Hidden Barrier No. 1: Feeling Fundamentally Flawed.
The belief that one is fundamentally flawed in some way is an immense barrier to optimal experience. And it brings with it a related fear: If you did make a commitment to fully using your unique gifts, you might fail. This belief tells you to play it safe and stay small. That way, if you fail, at least you fail small.
Take Dr. Richard Jordan, for example. He had created a successful small business that attracted the attention of a larger firm. The firm offered him $3 million for his business, plus a generous two-year employment contract. After weeks of negotiation, they were on the verge of signing the deal. Then one morning, Jordan woke up with some last-minute concerns, the main one being that the new employment contract offered him two fewer weeks of vacation than he was used to taking. He got into an angry confrontation with the negotiator over this detail, which resulted in a letter from the company stating that “due to the force of your remarks,” they were no longer interested in acquiring the business.
In a letter to me, Jordan said, “In that phone call I waved goodbye to $3 million in cash, salary, and incentives.” Fortunately, he was able to learn from the experience. His letter continued: “Over the next few years I would awaken many nights with a knot in my stomach. Then I finally found the diamond in the dust. After much work and introspection, I discovered that what I was really saying to that man was, ‘Wait a minute! Three million dollars! That’s way more than I’m worth. I cannot allow this!’”
Hidden Barrier No. 2: Disloyalty and Abandonment.
This barrier is the feeling that I cannot expand to my full success because it would cause me to end up all alone, be disloyal to my roots and leave behind people from my past.
Here are two questions that can help you discover if you have this barrier: Did I break my family’s spoken or unspoken rules to get where I am? Even though I am successful, did I fail to meet the expectations my parents had of me? If you answered yes to either of those questions, you’re likely to feel guilty as you become more successful. The guilt you feel makes you put on the brakes, holding you back from ultimate success and keeping you from enjoying the success you already have.
Hidden Barrier No. 3: Believing That More Success Makes You a Bigger Burden.
This barrier is the feeling that I cannot achieve my highest potential because I’d be an even bigger burden than I am now. This barrier held one of the biggest challenges for me. When I was born, I was greeted with two mixed messages: You’re a burden, and you’re a celebration. I was a burden to my mother, but a cause for celebration to my grandparents. My father had died a few weeks after my conception, leaving my mother with $300, my older brother to raise, and me in the womb. Starting out my life as a combination of burden and celebration caused me to repeat this combination often in adult life. I would have a positive breakthrough, then immediately start feeling I was a burden on the world. But the guilt I felt for being a burden was for crimes I hadn’t committed. If we remove the guilt of the crimes our parents and siblings convicted us of before we walked into kindergarten, we are liberated from the Upper-Limit Problem.
Hidden Barrier No. 4: The Crime of Outshining.
The unconscious mantra of the outshining barrier goes like this: I must not achieve my full success, because if I did I would outshine someone and make him or her look or feel bad. This barrier is very common among gifted
and talented children. They get a lot of their parents’ attention, but they also get a strong subliminal message: Don’t shine too much, or you’ll make others feel bad or look bad. One unconscious solution that gifted children devise is to turn down the volume on their genius so others don’t feel threatened by it. The other solution is to continue to shine brightly but turn down the volume on their enjoyment of it.
In the Zone
Your Zone of Genius is the set of activities you are uniquely suited to do. They draw upon your special gifts and strengths. Liberating and expressing your natural genius is your ultimate path to greater success and life satisfaction.
The journey to the Zone of Genius requires “benign vigilance,” or paying keen but relaxed attention to what you are doing in every moment — especially when you’re exhibiting Upper-Limit behavior. When you’re engaged in these behaviors, or “Upper-Limiting,” you’re crimping the flow of positive energy. Fortunately, there are not that many ways we Upper-Limit ourselves. Pay attention to which ones are familiar to you.
The most common one is worry.
Worrying is usually a sign that we’re Upper-Limiting. It is useful only if it concerns a topic we can actually do something about, and if it leads to our taking immediate and positive action. All other worry is just Upper-Limit noise, designed by our unconscious to keep us safely out of our Zone of Genius. There’s a good way to know if a worry-thought is something you should heed. Just ask yourself: Is it a real possibility? Is there any action I can take right now to make a positive difference?
When you find yourself worrying, there is something positive trying to break through. Your worry-thoughts, particularly if you find yourself recycling the same ones over and over, are a flag waving at you from your Zone of Genius. Something is trying to get your attention. Look beyond the worry-thoughts and you will often find a new direction that’s being laid out for you.
Another way we Upper-Limit ourselves is through blame and criticism. When we blame someone or something, we’re often doing it because we’ve hit our Upper Limit and are trying to retard the flow of positive energy. Self-blame is part of the same Upper-Limit pattern as blaming someone else.
I once coached a billionaire who often bugged his wife because she bought the most expensive brand of toilet paper. In a situation like that, it’s pretty clear that tissue’s not the real issue.
I asked him to get out a calculator and figure the actual costs of the toilet paper if his wife went on a binge and bought a hundred rolls a day for the next 50 years. He punched in numbers and came up with the cost of her lifelong extravaganza: $1.5 million. I asked him how much his net worth varied from day to day due to ordinary stock-market fluctuations. He said that it would sometimes vary by as much as $100 million from hour to hour. I pointed out that even if his wife bought 1,000 rolls a day, it still wouldn’t amount to a single day’s fluctuation. “Given that,” I said, “what’s the real reason you’re criticizing your wife?”
Chronic criticism and chronic blame are the behaviors we really need to eliminate. My assignment to you: Become a keen observer of critical statements that come out of your mouth or fly through your mind. Begin to sort them into two piles: Pile One contains all the criticisms about real things you plan to do something about (“Hey, you’re standing on my toe! Get off!”); Pile Two contains all the others. I predict you’ll discover that Pile Two towers over the paltry stack in Pile One.
Deflection is another common Upper-Limit behavior: We crimp the flow of positive energy by avoiding it altogether. Think of how many times you have heard conversations like this:
Joe: You did a great job on that presentation.
Jack: Nah, I ran out of time and had to leave out some of the best stuff.
Deflection keeps the positive energy from landing, being received and being acknowledged. The art of getting beyond our Upper-Limit Problem has a lot to do with developing an ability and willingness to feel and appreciate natural good feelings. By natural I mean good feelings that aren’t induced by alcohol, sugar and other short-term fixes. Letting yourself savor natural good feelings is a direct way to transcend your Upper-Limit Problem. By expanding your ability to feel positive feelings, you expand your tolerance for things going well in your life.
Arguments also bring you down when you’ve hit your Upper Limit. If you learn to see arguments as Upper-Limit symptoms, you can move beyond them. Arguments often are caused by two people racing to occupy the victim position in the relationship. Once the race for the victim position is under way, each person must find some way to out-victim the other, rather than find room for compromise.
Finally, when things are going well, some of us have a pattern that is pure Upper-Limit Problem: We get sick. To find out whether some of your illnesses are due to the Upper-Limit Problem, take a moment to think back over times when you’ve fallen ill. Ask yourself if it occurred during or just after a big win in business or a period of good times in a relationship.
Years ago, when I was a university professor, I shared an office for a while with a brilliant colleague named Dr. Smith. Once a year, each of us made a presentation of our work to the other faculty members. In these presentations, we described our current activities and talked about where we were going with our work over the next year. On the morning of Dr. Smith’s presentation, he showed up with laryngitis. I expressed my sympathies and remarked that I couldn’t recall his ever missing a lecture due to illness. He confided that he and his wife had spent a wonderful weekend celebrating a decision he’d finally made to break out of his university job and work in the private sector. An opportunity had opened up in a neighboring state, and over the weekend he had decided to take the job.
Not all illnesses are Upper-Limit symptoms, of course, but if you are keenly interested in moving to the Zone of Genius, you will want to examine everything that brings you pain and suffering as a potential Upper-Limit symptom. So many of us ignore the effect of our minds and emotions on our physical health, but the payoff for paying attention is well worth it. You may find that you can be a lot healthier than you ever imagined.
A Magical Exploration
The goal in life is not to attain some imaginary ideal; it is to find and fully use our own gifts. The only relevant question is whether you will let it be possible for you. If you are willing to explore and celebrate the very best in yourself by learning to transcend your Upper Limits, you’re on the way to experiencing real magic in your life.
What’s Your Genius?
Here are some key questions to ask yourself to discover your unique Zone of Genius:
What activity do I most love to do? (I love it so much I can do it for long stretches of time without getting tired or bored.)
What work do I do that doesn’t seem like work? (I can do it all day long without ever feeling tired or bored.)
In my work, what produces the highest ratio of abundance and satisfaction to amount of time spent? (Even if I do only 10 seconds or a few minutes of it, an idea or a deeper connection may spring forth that leads to huge value.)
What is my unique ability? (I have a special skill. This unique ability, fully realized and put to work, can provide enormous benefits to me and any organization I serve.)
Be a Limits Tester
Want to break free of your Upper Limits more often? Start with these tips from Gay Hendricks, PhD:
Make a commitment to keeping an attitude of wonder and play while learning about your Upper-Limit behaviors. Say this sentence in your mind as often as you like (and strive to embody the attitude it represents): I commit to discovering my Upper-Limit behaviors, and to having a good time while I’m learning about them. You can learn a lot more with a spirit of wonder and enjoyment than you can with an attitude of criticism
Make a list of your Upper-Limit behaviors. Here are some of the most common ones: Worrying; blame and criticism; getting sick; squabbling; hiding significant feelings; not keeping agreements; not speaking significant truths to the relevant people (If you are mad at John, he’s the relevant person to talk to. It doesn’t help to tell Fred that you’re mad at John.); deflecting (Ignoring compliments is a good example.)
When you notice yourself doing one of the things on your Upper-Limit list, such as worrying or failing to communicate some truth, shift your attention to the real issue: expanding your capacity for abundance, love and success.
Consciously let yourself make more room in your awareness for abundance, love and success. Use the resources of your whole being, not just your mind. For example, feel more love in your chest and heart area. Savor the body feeling, as well as the mental satisfaction, of success and abundance.
Embrace a new story that tells about your adventures in your Zone of Genius. Find a new mythology, or make up one of your own, that shows you enjoying your life in the full radiance of your expressed potential.
Gay Hendricks, PhD, is the author of more than a dozen psychology and personal-growth titles, including Conscious Living: How to Create a Life of Your Own Design (Harper, 2001) and Conscious Loving: www.hendricks.com
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