Thursday, February 17, 2011

February Profiles in Passion: A Natural Fit

Her life purpose is to inspire others to reach towards their purpose in life. As someone who initially chose a career that didn’t mesh with her life desires and goals, Kim Hartmayer can relate to the frustrations of people living their life without fulfillment. Her enthusiasm and unique perception are what drove her to living her passion, but unfortunately at the time of her first career choice, there wasn’t a job description for what she had to offer.

“I knew I would be a speaker and an agent of change for others from the time I was a small child. I’d always seen myself that way,” Kim recalls. “I was miserable in my sales job; I knew there was something more for me.” Raised in a family who encouraged personal empowerment, Kim was told from the beginning to do what you want to do and how you want to do it. “There was no enabling in my growing up.”

When Kim started her career as a sales representative in the pharmaceutical industry, her family and friends told her that she had a natural charisma about her that made her perfect for sales. “It takes just one person seeing you as exceptional to push you on the road towards the perfect career,” she explained. Unfortunately, the appeal her friends and family saw in her was not for the sales force, but for something more on a personal level.

Kim was first introduced to the world of professional coaching when her husband was assigned an executive coach. “He would come home with enlightened perspectives, things I’d been telling him for years,” remembers Kim. “When he started to see me in the same light, I knew it was time to move forward and pursue my calling. I took off after that.”

The trick for an ultimate life change for Kim was to have a plan and chart a course to stay clear about her goals when life got in the way. “When the kids got sick (and) flights were canceled, it was my course, methodical and organized, with all kinds of ups and downs along the way that makes this such a wild and wonderful ride.” Kim hired her own personal coach and reached out to everyone in her network for connections in the coaching industry then Kim took a leap of faith.

“I knew my first step was education and certification,” she said. “I’m a firm believer that when you’re dealing with people’s lives, you need to be adequately trained.” After completing a year of training and certification, Kim went on her way to Spain to launch a 10 month leadership training program where she is to be the only U.S. coaching representative.

Though training is an important part of her journey, without her support team, Kim would be unable to follow through. “My mother is my biggest fan, and I have a supportive husband; having a good network around me is important,” says Kim. “What I’ve learned, though, is that when the chips are down, I’m still the one driving the boat.”

Kim explains that even with her hugely supportive team, she needs the help of a coach because “sometimes [coaches] are the only people who get it.  It’s nothing about the support team. They have their own stuff to deal with,” she explained. “They don’t have the time or energy to be totally devoted to me like my coach.”

“With coaching, sometimes the only person that ever sees a client is their coach,” she clarified. Everyone needs at least one person to see them for how magnificent they truly are. If someone sees you based on what you love, are inspired by, and what your dreams are and he or she holds onto that for you, it is a powerful thing.”

Coaching is not just touching the individual. It is changing the world. “As people globally begin living a passion driven life, I see a greater peace and harmony around the world and in our lives. A passion-driven life is a peaceful life. It’s the antidote to some of the struggles we’re seeing. I’ve seen radical transformation in people due to coaching.”

Kim practices coactive coaching where she helps her clients clarify their biggest dream, passion and heartfelt existence. She then grasps that concept and holds on to it, holding them accountable. “It’s just a dream if we don’t take action,” said Kim. “The fear of failing always gets in the way, but the cold hard truth is that no one is paying that close attention as you think they are. If you fall, fail, embarrass yourself, it’s not that big of a deal.” She tells her clients that they have a true chance to be happy by following their heart’s desire. She then holds them accountable for answering the challenges along the way.

Kim explains that coaching is an individual and personal connection. If you’re seeking a coach, she encourages setting up sample sessions first, visiting with a few coaches and waiting to commit to one coach until you’ve found the right one. A great coach will help you reach your passion. “A real sign of living your passion is that there’s a natural fit without struggle. It’s not that you won’t have to work for what you want, but rather tap your internal capabilities.”

For more information about Kim and her services, visit

Conflict and Communication Rarely Coexist

One of my favorite sayings is that conflict and communication rarely coexist. Humans generally want the same thing. Conflict arises between people because one person believes that what they want, and another person wants, is somehow mutually exclusive. If you get more pie, I get less. But what if you could both make the pie bigger? Then you could both have more. If you have an on-going relationship with someone, what you want and they want is probably, instead, mutually inclusive.

In my own practice, I find that most organizations' #1 problem is communication. People don’t disagree with each other. They simply fail to talk through issues and eventually start to emotionally withdraw. Left unaddressed, people retreat to their own silo’s and it becomes us against them. Now the tragedy of this whole deal is that they really wanted the same thing all along, they just failed to practice healthy communication.

Think about what a difference it would make in your relationships if you started from the premise that you and the other person really did want the best for each other. Thinking that way would encourage you to indeed create a shared pool of meaning. You could then work together to create a better future together or go your own way. Either way you both win.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Be Reasonable: 3 tips to Ensure You are Being Reasonable

Are people generally fair and reasonable?  

If you go with your gut on this one, you will more than likely say yes. I would whole heartily agree with you. People naturally have a sense of fairness. If we agree on this point then why do so many of us respond to our employees as though they will not be reasonable?  I want to acknowledge right up front that there are indeed exceptions to this rule, but if one out of ten people are not reasonable why do we treat all ten as though they were not? It kind of sounds like throwing the baby out with the bathwater.  In my experience one of the surest ways to get in a fight is to start throwing punches. Think about it a minute. If you approach people in a way that says I don't trust you, that you don’t think they will be fair and reasonable with you, they naturally respond in like kind-they won't trust you either. And who could blame them. You started it! Now on the other hand, if your starting position was that they were bright, intelligent, fair, and reasonable people, how do you think most of them would respond?  Absolutely, in like kind.  And maybe even the unreasonable people would respond favorably. Again in my experience, most people who are difficult to get along with are that way because they are hurting inside themselves. If anything's going to reach them, it will probably be a little unmerited respect. To reframe this another way, people who don't respect themselves have real difficulty respecting others. At the end of the day isn't that what most of us really want is to be respected by both ourselves and others.

Okay back to reasonableness.  At this point you would like to totally buy-in to the discussion about reasonableness but you're still not sure you can trust people at that level. Let me give you some practical tips on how to make the reasonable nature of people work for you instead of against you.

Tip #1. Ask the person you're dealing with what they think would be reasonable?  
Many of the business owners and leaders I work with think this is a high risk question. It's not. People consistently ask more of themselves and are willing to do more than you would ever dare to ask of them yourself if they are the one’s doing the asking.  It's back to that self-respect thing. If it is a controversial pushing and shoving match, each party is going to try to take all they can get.  In that approach you both end up with a whole lot less than you could have had if you openly worked together.

Tip #2. Bring others into the conversation. 
Something as simple as let's get Bob's, or the rest of the team’s, opinion usually ups the ante on your willingness to be flexible and helps minimize personal factors that may play into the conversation.  It's one thing if a single individual in your organization feels like you're not being reasonable, it's a much bigger deal if everyone feels like you're being unreasonable. This is one of those things that is much better out in the open that it is hidden in the back room. As a leader you need to know if your people think you are fair and reasonable. You might be asking yourself can I really trust the crowd about what is fair and reasonable. We do it every day in our legal system. Twelve people literally decide issues of life and death in the form of a jury.  In my experience, if your people, by and large, think you are unreasonable and you probably are.

Tip #3. Don’t be quick to act.  
Quality relationships take time and effort. If someone feels like you're genuinely being unreasonable with them or vise-a-versa, I would encourage you to give the situation some time and space. It's easy to make a rash decision in the heat of the moment. When it comes to relationships things are rarely ever black and white. Take the pressure off all the parties and sleep on it for a night or two. I can't tell you how many times that space and room has allowed me and others to work things out for each other's benefit.  And don’t be surprised if you are implementing these tips and you are truly being reasonable, your employee or subordinate returns to you and says that they do indeed think you are being fair and reasonable. 

I have to wonder if the most important issue around reasonableness for an organizational leader is whether or not we are willing to be reasonable with our people.  The world we see is simply a reflection or mirror of the world that exists inside of us. What does it say about us if we don't think our employees are reasonable?  At the end of the day, the only leader who needs to be afraid of shared reasonableness is the leader who is not themselves willing to be reasonable.