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How much thought do you give to the way you think ?  Have you always thought the same way, or has your thinking changed as you have changed ?

I coach a large number of leaders; a lot of them are what I call ‘new’ leaders : people who are new to a leadership position, new to a business, new to a country, or new to a department within an existing organisation.

They often come to coaching with some fear. They’re not 100% confident in their skills, they know they need to cement vital relationships quickly, they need to achieve some ‘quick wins’ and vitally, they may not yet have learnt the difference between the skill sets of managing and leading.

Which brings me back to thinking about the way we think …

You see leaders and managers need different thinking styles. Now, neither role is ‘better’, and both roles can be successfully coached, but managers tend to need meaning-based coaching which results in optimal performance (because the role is about the ‘doing’) and leaders perform at their peak when they experience transformational coaching. Because a lot of leadership is about Being.

And when leaders are being genuine, creative, collaborative, fair, and congruent, there is every possibility that people will follow them.

What distinguishes a leader from a manager is the ability to envision a new future and empower those around them to turn it into reality. I worked for a boss like that over 15 years ago. She empowered an entire team of women to believe in themselves and their ability, and rewarded us handsomely when we lived up to her expectations. She did her job so well that we ran her company for her. She set the vision, communicated it to us. And we did the rest. She empowered us so well that she was my last boss. Brava !


Leadership is the ability to do big picture thinking. It’s necessary to be able to delve into the detail when you are managing a project, but when you need to conceive a project, the skill you need is vision and creativity. Leaders break new ground because they have developed the ability to think globally; to go places no one has been before. They do not follow established procedures but look for new ways of doing things. Visionaries ‘envision’ a different way. That’s an important word for leaders – difference. It’s about looking for the gaps, not the similarities that will give them a competitive advantage.

Great leaders have developed the skill of reflection. They do not necessarily plunge straight into action but will think about the challenge, trying on different angles, different solutions until they know which way they want to proceed.


And they’re ok to be wrong. They listen to their inner voice and trust it because they trust themselves. If they are wrong, they use the feedback to correct the course. – without taking it personally. They do not need permission or buy-in from anyone to know what is right for them. Leaders understand that there is only one way of winning, and that is to control their own mind and the way they think and act. They know that they certainly cannot control anyone or anything else.

So what does all of this have to do with coaching ? Simple. A great coach can help you develop flexibility of thought. He or she can help you change the way you think.

I recently coached a senior executive who believed she had to prove her worth by constantly being busy, running (yes running !) around the office, and generally growing impatient with those that weren’t ‘up to her speed’. Empowering ? Absolutely not. She was initially given feedback that she was ‘tough’ which she took as a compliment, but in effect she was scared. So scared that she did more and more and made her staff feel like what they did counted less and less. Through coaching she realized that her job was no longer ‘to do the technical work’, but to BE a leader. The result is a calm, more productive team who feel like their leader is on their side and no longer in competition with them, but is there to support them.

And in turn, she has the breathing space to reflect, relook, envision, strategise and empower. And as a result, revenue is up 30% this quarter. Not bad in these times, and all because she decided to change her mind.

Let me know when YOU are ready – janine.daniels@lead.com.co

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We’ve just got back from a magical holiday in Bali. And on Saturday as I lay in the sun watching the kites flying high in Bali’s big blue sky, I started thinking …

But first, let me tell you about the kites. The Balinese are known for their kite-making and flying, and even hold a kite flying festival. These kites are magnificent – think elaborate ships, colourful butterflies and exotic birds up to 30 square metres in size. And they fly really high – to the point where they are potentially dangerous to air traffic.

Anyhow, as I was watching these kites, it struck me that they are a perfect metaphor for Bali – highly spiritual, yet fun and playful too. For those of you who have never been to Bali (and forgive me if you know it well), it is an extraordinary place. The Balinese practice Hinduism and you literally cannot walk down the road without seeing a shrine, or stepping over an offering or smelling incense. There are even offerings placed on the beach. Restaurant and villa staff stop what they are doing at specific times of the day to make offerings. Yet – as you walk down the tiny higgledy-piggledy roads, stepping over offerings and pointing out temples and shrines, people spill out of bars and restaurants onto the pavements, the music pumps and the place literally rocks. It’s both a spiritual and a party place – and for those of you who know me well, you know that’s just my kinda place to be.

So Bali and the metaphor of a kite, are for me, a beautiful example of ‘both-and’ thinking and it is a thinking pattern that can open up your world.

How so ?

Well, rather than limit thinking to ‘either this or that’, thinking along a continuum opens up the possibility of ‘both this and that’. By polarising the world into good: bad / right: wrong, all the choices in the middle disappear – and so do all the options.  This way of thinking often results in people believing their own stuff and closing their minds to learning new ways of being, new theories or listening to another way.

It closes down the opportunity for learning and development. It shuts off your growth. Continuing my example of Bali – tourists could be attracted by either the spirituality, or the fun. By employing continuum thinking, the island manages to attract visitors from both groups, thereby exponentially increasing tourism, revenue, job opportunities and the potential for economic growth.

Now, lets apply that to you – imagine you would like to double, maybe triple your opportunities. Imagine being highly successful and having ample down time, or giving a completely focussed presentation whilst being relaxed. Imagine a world of leaders who are respected and loved. Managers who are technical specialists and who trust enough to delegate. Small business owners who play safe yet believe in themselves enough to take calculated risks. Wouldn’t you love to be a student studying, playing sport, partying and travelling. Why not ? Why not have more ? Why not be more ?

Of course, continuum thinking is not appropriate thinking for life or death decision making, or in situations when a quick response is necessary, but if you are passionate about becoming more, this may be something you’d like to work on.

How do you know if you need to stretch yourself a bit in this area ? Well, have you ever caught yourself thinking “but that’s not the way it is done”, or “the rules say” or “you can’t have it all”. If so, maybe you’d like to consider that there is always another option. Life is not black and white, there are beautiful colours waiting to be explored. Give yourself permission to look for them and experience the most life has to offer.

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The last 5 months of my life have been hell. Sheer, unadulterated, out of control, control-freak, anal-person hell. They’ve also been the reason I haven’t posted a blog for so long.

So, this is what happened … 2010 was a year of reaping rewards. My coaching practice had grown to a large enough size to be challenging time-wise, my husband James’ work was going along swimmingly, and our sons were in a phenomenal school. Like us they had awesome friends, they were active; busy with sport and social activities  …. And then the universe remembered us saying at some stage in the past, that ‘… we’d like an adventure …’

So in September 2010 we got back from a breathtakingly beautiful and peaceful barging holiday in France only for my husband to receive an invitation to look at a potential job offer in Singapore. He resigned in October. We sold our house in November. We moved to Singapore in the first week of January. The boys have been at school for 3 weeks. No blog ???  Hell no bloody time to take a breath !!!

Ok, so the objective of this blog has never been to tell my life story, but is, from a coach’s perspective, to reflect on lessons I witness and observe. So what have I learnt through this process ?

  • I’ve learnt personally, and observed objectively, that no matter how sorted you think you are, there are times you are going to need help. Ask for it.
  • People have opened their arms and homes to us, welcomed us in and helped us become part of a social structure – we’ve learnt to embrace that and be so grateful for it. I wonder how often that could have happened at ‘home’ but we never saw it because we had an established network and support group. Our eyes have become open to hands of friendship.
  • If we hadn’t all learnt this one already – here’s a repeat (and one that I’m currently battling with).  Trying to control it all makes you ill !!
  • You will get what you set your mind to if it’s really meaningful and important to you. (We’re not talking half-baked flights of fancy here). If it’s really important, you will respond to those opportunities that make your dreams your new reality.
  • Finally, and for me this is the over-riding observation because it relates to our thinking patterns.  Your experience is shaped by your filters – see the good in people, the situation or the experience – and that’s how it will be for you. Look for the negative, how it’s (bad) different, how it’s not the same. And you’ll end up yearning.

So am I yearning ?


Am I missing my parents and treasured friends?  OMG.  More than words can say. But we speak regularly and I know it’s only a matter of time before we hold each other again.

But are we having an adventure?  You betcha, and it’s only just begun ….

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As a coach I am privileged to understand the power of thinking patterns and how they influence the way we process information.

The one most people are familiar with is the optimist/pessimist pattern. Used with reference to the half full / half empty glass, the content within the glass is exactly the same, but a person’s perception will differ depending on which thinking pattern they prefer. The same is true for whether we foreground those things we do well, and what is right with us, or whether we prefer to foreground what we do wrong, or what is not right in our world. We don’t change and neither does the world around us, but the way we look at it changes. It’s literally that simple.

 And what’s amazing is that we can change these thinking patterns. Once you become aware of some of your thinking patterns, you have the choice about what to do with them. I’ve mentioned three of these patterns so far – in Meta-Coaching we track 61 of them in our coaching conversations.

Here’s another one for you to try on … Where is your locus of control? Is it internal – are you the authority about what’s right for you? Or is it external – do you ask everyone around you what you should be doing, thinking, believing ?? Consider for a moment how someone else would actually know what’s right for you. Have they lived your life? Learnt your lessons? Do they know your story ? Of course not. They know what’s right for them, but how does that empower you ?

I’ve recently completed an incredible research project linking thinking patterns to specific disease. And it’s amazing how strong the correlations are. More about the findings some other time ….

All I ask you to do today is think about the way you think. Can you see the shades of gray, or are things black and white – right or wrong? Can you make choices from opportunity, or do you make them from necessity. Are you able to be, and thus do – or do you need to do so that you can be ?

Think about your lenses, and maybe try on some new ones. And watch in amazement as your world changes. Mail me if you want to know more. I’ll share this info with pleasure – and of course will write more in due course about how your thinking affects your health.

To the life you can create !!

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