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Coaching Notes – Chapter Two

Coaching Notes – Chapter Two

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I suspect that many of us do not spend enough time looking in the mirror. I am not advocating narcissism – only suggesting that self-awareness begins with a reflection.
I suspect that many of us do not spend enough time looking in the mirror. I am not advocating narcissism – only suggesting that self-awareness begins with a reflection.

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Published by: Dr. Earl R. Smith II on Jan 22, 2011
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Coaching Notes ± Chapter Two
Dr. Earl R. Smith II
 Managing Partner,The Federal Circle DrSmith@Dr-Smith.com Dr-Smith.com I suspect that many of us do not spend enough time looking in the mirror. I am not advocatingnarcissism ± only suggesting that self-awareness begins with a reflection.On either side of the portal to the temple at Delphi were two prescriptions. The one ± nothing toomuch ± warned against excesses. The other ± know thyself ± was a precursor of Socrates¶observation that µa life un-reflected on, was not worth living¶. It¶s this second one that I have been thinking about lately.Some of my coaching engagements bring this later observation into high relief. Some clientsseem to have unrealistic visions of reality that clash with the world as it actually is. For instance,I regularly get requests for introductions to sources of funding. Many of the entrepreneursmaking such requests have no understanding of the process of getting funded. Many appear to believe that they don¶t need to bother with such esoteric knowledge. As a result, they have noability at all to see the process from the perspective of the investors they want to approach. Asone very successful investor once told me, ³they take me to be a bank ± an unsophisticated onethat only needs to know that they need the money.´So how does this relate to self-knowledge? Well, it has to do with how you see yourself withinthe context of the wider world. The difficulty comes when entrepreneurs see themselves radicallydifferently than the people they are interacting with. Here are some of the ways this behavior manifests itself.
A Mile Wide and an Inch Deep
: This one tends to surface with people who consider themselvesentrepreneurs but aren¶t really. I was introduced to one who seemed to be a proverbial whirlwindof activity. She was all over the place and involved in a number of start-ups. So peripatetic wasshe that simply talking to her gave me a headache. As the referral came from a person who Iknew and valued as a friend and business associate, I decided to µgive it a try¶ and see if I couldfigure out some way to be of help. That decision set in motion a series of experiences that alltended to look and feel the same.I started with the most likely target ± a company that was operating in a space that The FederalCircle had some connections in and experience with. I asked her to provide me with a package of information about the company, its team, market and clients ± normal diligence. What I receivedwas an email with two short paragraphs of generic babble. This person was wanting me tointroduce her to sources of finding when all she had was a primitive website and a couple of amateurish paragraphs. It got amusing (he said with tongue in cheek) as I asked for informationon other the companies that she was involved in. The pattern was repeated almost exactly ± 
 
including the lengths of the paragraphs and some of the working ± for each one. I was supposedto risk my reputation and contacts based on this?
The Verbal as Substitute for the Written
: A variation of the above comes when theentrepreneur avoids the production of a business plan and tries to substitute an extended elevator speech. Another µentrepreneur¶ approached me with a request for coaching assistance. He had anµidea¶ but professed not to be a µdetail guy¶. So he wanted my help to build a team that wouldlaunch the company. Our first session did not go well. Sure, the initial elevator speech was polished but, when I asked for more detail he got aggressive then abusive.³How do you expect me to help you if you aren¶t able to clearly describe what you are involvedin?´ The response was roughly ³that¶s your problem, not mine.´ Self-knowledge is theunderpinning of a sophisticated understanding of the world and what is possible within it. Theresponsibility for clarity rests at the feet of the proposer ± not the audience. This basicformulation was beyond this person. A bit of diligence showed me that this was not the firstµcompany¶ that this person had launched. He had founded two that had failed ± both of whichwere backed by angel investors. I ended up talking to three of his prior teammates who alldescribed him as a troubled person.
Wanting is Not the Same as Having
: A third way that this lack of self-knowledge manifestsitself in through people who have a strong want but no patience with having. I know one particular person who is very good at the first phases of a start-up and very destructive thereafter.I call him the µfirst date¶ specialist. Never more at home than when pitching some new idea, hequickly loses interest as soon as the possibilities begin to turn into probabilities. When I confronthim on this behavior, he generally replies ³this is the way I am´. But his statement is purely self- justifying and does not extend to a realization of how others view him because of such behavior.He is a pariah and people avoid him.
Know Thyself 
: None of these behaviors are unavoidable. None have to be limiting the lifeexperience of these people. There is a way forward and out of the dilemma. Let¶s go back to themirror. A good coach ± one with lots of life experience and who has met and slaughtered suchdaemons ± is precisely that mirror. My most successful coaching engagements have resulted insubstantial personal growth by my clients ± and a deepening self-knowledge. Often we celebratesuch victories and I get great satisfaction from watching a client avoid destructive behavior andfollow their better instincts. It¶s easier than you might think ± start with a good mirror and payclose attention.© Dr. Earl R. Smith II~~~~~~~~~~Related Articles:
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Coaching Notes ± Chapter One 
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G
overnment Contracting Tips ± Chapter Three 

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