February 16, 2023 by Steve Baker
In Coaching to Flourish Season 3 Episode 7 our host CTEDU Assessor and Master Coach Raj Anderson and Coach Training EDU Founder and Master Coach John Andrew Williams discuss the meaning of self-love and how it applies to coaching and leadership, and explores the topic of saying "no" and why that is a challenge for some.
[Raj Anderson] Welcome everyone to the Coaching to Flourish podcast. I'm your host, Raj Anderson, executive life coach and coach assessor. So we want you to tune in to us every week. We have hot topics, we have great questions that we answer, so please send us your questions and we have guest speakers, and today we have John Andrew Williams, Founder of Coach Training EDU as our guest speaker. How are you, John?
[John Andrew Williams] I'm doing well. It's sunny out. I'm with you on this call today. This happens to be my 19th wedding anniversary
[Raj Anderson] Congratulations.
[John Andrew Williams] We got to do a family Valentine's Day. Happy Valentine's Day everyone, by the way.
Uh, and uh, yeah, it's a really sweet day, really enjoying this and, yeah, we got to do our, our date, uh, this past weekend, which is really super sweet and, uh, a real treat for us given the, the nature of the ages of our little ones. So here we are.
[Raj Anderson] John, what have you learned in 19 years of marriage?
[John Andrew Williams] Well, it's interesting you mentioned this because we, we talk about it, uh, a bit and we, we got married, uh, young and, we found coaching young and we developed, uh, being married and learning coaching and all those things simultaneously. So I don't know if our, like, the way that we have designed our relationship is, uh, I, I don't know how usual or normal that is, but I mean, I feel like we have a lot of, a lot of jargon like, you know, coaching jargon.
We, you know, we use a lot of coaching terms on a ra like hourly, daily basis. Uh, we work really well together. Uh, we communicate really well. . Um, I mean there are obviously times where there's friction, but it's, it's usually for a good reason and there's learning to be had from it. And I feel like that's the biggest thing.
I feel like there's an understanding around if there is friction, like what can we learn from it? And there's a trust that we both have each other's best interests. And, uh, there's, this is remarkable what you can do with that kind of, uh, bond, you know, that kind of agreement with someone. Uh, and I mean, it's, it's a lot of responsible for the development of Coach Training EDU, and even development of, of my thinking, uh, in the coaching world and what's possible in this world.
Uh, yeah, maybe one day we'll put a relationship book together. We never know, but not, not for now we have enough on the plate.
[Raj Anderson] I'm curious, John, how would you say that coaching has impacted your relationship?
[John Andrew Williams] Listening, being able to empathetically listen and to listen without being, to listen and understand that in the moment of listening, it's, it's not that there's a specific reaction that needs to be required except really understanding where the other person's coming.
Uh, and then really trusting that if you do that, if you go that empathetic listening, if you really are listening on the other side, uh, you know, you can avoid feeling like automatically defensive or feeling like, okay, like I need to like, you know, react in some way. Uh, there just seems to be a deeper pool of, of deep listening available.
Um, and, yeah, I mean, especially when you're sleep deprived and you know, you got all the things that are there, uh, it it, it's almost like a relief, um, to know that listening is so valuable. I feel like it is the, I feel like, I feel like I, I feel like as the world gets noisier, listening becomes the master skill.
Uh, and basically as coaches, we're professional listeners and, uh, like one, one thing that we've been playing lately and talking about for, for instance, this right example, uh, there's something that I've been playing with a lot is, is being curious about is, what are the internal questions that we're asking ourselves?
Like, for example, a lot of people when they wake up, or a lot of people when they're having a challenge, they'll ask themselves, their internal dialogue will be something like, well, what's wrong? Why is this not working? Uh, what do I need to be doing different? How can I fix this? Right? Like that's, that, those are the questions they're asking.
Those are the internal question sets. Those lead to very specific kinds of feelings, emotions, uh, those lead to an activation of the fight or flight or, uh, flight or fights systems. You know, like the stress systems, like those are stressful things to ask yourselves, but instead you can ask questions like, what am I doing well?
What is, uh, you know, what, what is the universe or like, what is God's plan for me today? Uh, what is my, like what, what is, what is it for me to contribute? How can I, how can I be my best self today? Like you, those questions, right? You can almost feel like, do you feel an internal difference when I'm just asking those questions?
[Raj Anderson] Yeah.
[John Andrew Williams] Like, so, so one thing we're, for example, we've been talking about this, you know, for a little bit now, but. Yeah, we'll check in like, Hey, how are, how are your internal questions? That's the level of communication.
[Raj Anderson] I love it.
[John Andrew Williams] I'm like, oh, we have a, we have, you know, We have something coming up. We wanna take the girls on, you know, to someplace.
What are the internal questions we're gonna ask ourselves? What's our intention for the trip? How are we gonna like, you know, if it, if you know, so, so one thing that leads to, is it doesn't mean that everything is all happy and smiley all the time. Being like, yay, you know, happy, happy, joy, joy. That there's, there's that.
But there's also, when things aren't that, what we've noticed is that the recovery time is actually quite quick. So it's not like there's no sadness or doom and gloom or moodiness, you know, that's there. It's just the recovery time tends to be faster. And the more communication, I feel like the faster the recovery time.
But again, I mean, we have a sample size of one family. Like I'm not, you know, we don't have a lot of insight. You know, we don't have this degree of insight into all families or, you know, all relationships. So, I mean, our sample sizes, but it's something I'm curious about. You know, and think, yeah. That's just an example of how we, how the level of communication that's happening.
[Raj Anderson] Wow. Thanks John. So I'm, I'm hearing. Uh, listening to understand versus listening to respond. And then you have your own systems for asking those internal questions, which again is listening to self and then checking in with each other and being curious about each other's internal questions.
[John Andrew Williams] Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.
[Raj Anderson] Wow. And, and John always sets this up perfectly for me, everyone, and we don't talk about it beforehand.
[John Andrew Williams] I do like to be surprised. I like the spontaneity of it. I really do. I mean, maybe it's, you know, I don't know. Maybe it's a, it's a flaw, but I, I choose to feel like it's a feature.
[Raj Anderson] It always works out fantastically.
So it is Valentine's Day, and I know even in our team meeting we talked about love languages, and I posted something on LinkedIn today around self-love and leadership and, and some of these things that you are talking about, asking those internal questions. So John, what does self-love mean to you?
[John Andrew Williams] I think it's a deep acceptance of, uh, it's a, I think it's a deep acceptance of even the hard things. I think at, at my best, I know I'm doing well. When I ask, when I'm even thankful for the hard challenges or the things I'm not like particularly, you know, things I wish I could change. You know, not, not stewing in, oh, I like, I should have done this differently 10, 20 years ago.
Or thinking, oh, like remember that time Wayne, if I just done this? Not that like, I feel like for me it's a lot of staying out of that. Oh, I like that, that could have gone better this way or that, but really looking at being conscious of, the kinds, when you talk about internal questions, like being conscious of the kinds of internal questions, I'm asking myself.
From what, what I, I mean from, from this whole idea, I mean, I think these internal questions are extremely habitual, and they largely go under the radar screen, and I do think it is like the foundation of how, you know, the perspective from which we see ourselves. I know a lot of people point to the surface things like, oh, are you exercising? Are you sleeping?
Are you eating, drinking water? Are you doing, you know, those kind of things? And I think those are, to me, like symptoms of that deeper, you know, kindness, that internal dialogue to ourselves. I'm not sure what the, you know, it's so complex, you know. Humanity is so complex. I'm not sure. What is the driver of the show?
Do the questions, you know, drive, you know, to what degree do the questions drive the show? Or if you go and drink water, get exercise, get good sleep, eat, you know, eat nutritious food, do those things lead to better questions? You know, like, which, which comes first? I don't know. But I think that's, to me, those internal questions seem to be central to almost everything.
[Raj Anderson] Okay, so internal questions is a state of appreciation. I was hearing self-forgiveness, perhaps self-trust. What components of self-love can coaches use with their clients in sessions?
[John Andrew Williams] Yeah, I've been impressed, Raj, on what, what you've said about this too. I mean, especially with your working with, with executive, you know, your, your expertise, working with executive clients.
Um, so I'm kind of curious actually. What are, what, what, what are your questions that, I mean this, I feel like this is something that you, you emphasize a lot in your work.
[Raj Anderson] Yeah, so the main component of the work that I do with executive leaders and, um, when I do group coaching as well, we look at “leadership starts with self”.
And when we are looking at “leadership starts with self”, we're looking at those facets of emotional intelligence, which start with self-awareness, self-regulation, moving on to social awareness, and then relationship management. But spend a lot of time around this self-awareness piece. And what does it mean to understand yourself?
What does it mean to like yourself? Uh, and then moving on to that self-love. What does self-love look like? Um, and often I've had kind of kickback from people around, well, it seems selfish, especially women leaders that I work with. It seems really selfish to focus on self-love or almost narcissistic in a sense.
So when we start to drill down and look at self-love, um, it's, it's always around that self-trust bit. You know, for me, I ask myself the question around how much do I trust myself? Do I have my own back? Because when I do and I'm aligned to my values, I know that I've done the best that I can in a day and I can put my head on the pillow and, and sleep at night.
So, we always use a values tool. We start to have a look at, you know, what are your values? How does it align to who you are as a person? And then connecting it further with, um, giving yourself permission to be you.
[John Andrew Williams] Mm-hmm.
[Raj Anderson] And not shifting and changing that based on what the world says or you know, what a leader should look like.
What I loved when I worked with women in groups and uh, sometimes I use the quote from Wizard of Oz, Glinda the Good Witch, and she says, you always had the power my dear. Cuz we are not asking people, when I'm running the programs, to change who they are. It might be an upgrade. You've, you've got to learn to know who you are, understand who you are, and love who you are, and then think about where you wanna take that next.
[John Andrew Williams] Mm-hmm.
Yeah. It's so cool. It's so cool.
[Raj Anderson] So why do you think it's important to talk about self-love in leadership?
[John Andrew Williams] I think anytime something's trying to do something new, uh, something that they had never done before, perhaps something that no human has ever done before, you know, in this sense, uh, there's going to be mistakes. There's going to be things that, um, you don't know. Uh yet, and, uh, these blind spots or these unknowns, they do have a cost.
And it's, uh, it can be somewhat painful not to get to that, not, not to get the understanding that was needed to be in place. Uh, and so there's this, it feels a little bit like a race, like a, a race for understanding, a race for learning, a race for right action, a race for communication. Uh, but anytime there's a race, there's gonna be costs involved where okay, do this, not that.
And that decision making process has to happen sometimes really quickly. So when, uh, in, in that, in that space, you have to take risk and, and you're gonna, there's gonna be mistakes and there's, it's just the cost of doing business.
I remember once, I think I told the story, I know probably a dozen times I'm gonna, I'm be the, I know I'm gonna be one of those people who tells my grandchildren at some point in time, the same story 20 times.
I'm gonna tell it again. So a college buddy, uh, or a high school buddy in college, visiting him in Connecticut. I leave one of my favorite blazers at this place. And, uh, we're back at his apartment. I realize this and I'm bummed out. He looks at me and says, that's just the cost of doing business. And, uh, that concept was new to me at that time.
And, uh, he explained it to me. I said, all right, I get it. I get it. You know, I understand it. But I think any of that, any of that, as a leader, self-love, you have to accept that mistakes are going to happen. It's just the cost of doing business. Even something happened last night, there was a miscommunication between somewhere in our family.
It wasn't, wasn't a big thing, but um, you know, and it was, and you just realize, you know, there's a communication between parents and like your coordination. Like who was gonna watch the little guys and you know. It was no one's fault directly, it just was the cost of doing business. If you're gonna operate between eight different people, three different families, like there's, there can be, you know, and it's, no, it's just, so don't feel bad about it. Yeah. I mean, maybe with optimal communication you could have been avoided, but there's no way to predict that.
So, life! There are gonna be costs of doing business, cost of doing life, accept it, and I feel like that's where the self-love comes in, cuz you can beat yourself up relentlessly or you cannot. You know - learn and move on.
[Raj Anderson] Learning. Moving on. Asking internal questions. Self-love.
[John Andrew Williams] That's self-love. Yeah. From a leadership standpoint, you know, and it's not that you don't care or you're in it. Cause cuz the problem is like sometimes if you get into it, if you get too in it, then it becomes a, uh, you know, if, if you, if you get attached, you know, to the regret or you know, the internal beating up.
You know, it comes out, it comes out sideways. It, it doesn't, doesn't resolve. But if you go, okay, cool. What can I learn from this and move on? Then it becomes something where you can just do it. Move on.
[Raj Anderson] Yeah.
[John Andrew Williams] Uh, yeah. I mean, it has to happen or else you, you can't emotionally do it. You just can't be in it. Uh, and that's what I see when I talk to a lot of, like, when, when I was doing executive coaching, this idea of, um, self, self-love is a, a lot of it around grace around past decisions, but then using the learning to inform future action.
[Raj Anderson] And from my experience, what I've found is the more appreciation I can have for myself, the more I can learn from things, the more I'm able to forgive the happier and content I am. I show up very differently for others. I am less judgey, and I have more empathy. What I've learned is that when I have empathy for myself and acknowledge myself, it's much easier for me to be like that for other people as well.
[John Andrew Williams] Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. Yeah, I agree.
[Raj Anderson] So, If we're thinking about kind of people's internal dialogue or asking internal questions, we have a, a question here from a coach that's asking, My client seems incapable of saying no. How can I help them give themselves permission to say no?
[John Andrew Williams] I feel like my coaching style is so abrupt, in like giving them the assignment to say no to everything for a week. And I would probably pitch that idea to them. Say, so let's do it. Let's say no to everything for a week and see what happens. And then usually in real time, the client will have some sort of low grade anxiety.
You know, like, we'll call it low grade feelings of, ah, there's no way I could ever do that, or my world will fall apart. This is not . There's no way. Uh, but then you go back to the idea of, if a coach is, is attached to the idea that I need to get my client to say no, the coach is falling into two different traps.
First is being attached to, uh, your client taking a specific action. And that means that a lot of the questions then are going to start having the energy of trying to lead someone to a certain action step. And I've listened to a lot of coaching like that. I used to do a lot of coaching like that when I was a beginning coach. Uh, it's not good.
Uh, and that leads to the second thing, is that in that, in that instance, a coach is solution hunting. They're not inside hunting. And so if I were coaching this person and I would say, hey, so for this next week, like, say no, you know, your assignment is to say no to every single thing.
Uh, I'm not attached to my client doing that. It's not like I'm saying do this for real. What I'm really after is I am, I am looking for some sort of real time reaction on that coaching call so that my client can gain an insight into why do they do that? Yeah. What's there? What's behind you saying yes to everything. And in this space, let's explore it. So my technique would be to ratchet up the context so that we can have a, you know, it gives better opportunity for insight to occur. That's how I'd approach it on a tactical level and a coaching session and why.
[Raj Anderson] Yeah. Cuz there's lots of curiosity around that, isn't there? I'm curious about when they say no, what would they be? No. What do they say yes to? And, and also the motivation. Is it intrinsic or is it extrinsic? Um, does this connect. Are they a helper? I don't know. I'm just so curious about work with so many helpers being one myself. Um, you know, what is driving that? Where is it coming from?
[John Andrew Williams] What tends to happen is a lot of these, we'll call 'em mal adjustments or maybe that’s too psychology. I mean, that, that would be the word, the psychology. I mean, I've been reading a lot of, uh, studies lately. Um, a lot of papers. The, well, maybe, maybe a more coachy word would be, uh, incongruencies.
Like there's an incongruency between my value set, my action set, and follow through sets, right? So if there's inconsistencies between those, uh, it usually comes down to a feeling of worth. Like, how do I find worth for myself? Or like, am I worthy?
[Raj Anderson] Yeah.
[John Andrew Williams] Or to what degree am I worthy? And that idea, oh, talk about Internal space.
Ooh. To be comfortable here. To be comfortable here, but not from a standpoint of, I'm not, I'm not gonna diagnose it. I'm not gonna judge it. I'm not going to tell you what you need to do or the action steps or say, Hey, this is how, I mean this is, and, and I, this is where I think that therapy is really valuable, cuz therapy can go here and the therapist has a lot of training to, you know, recognize patterns.
You know, no. Okay. Yeah. This is, you know, these are the different degrees of health and you know that that's what therapists can do. That's useful, that's useful to, in, in coaching what the, it's useful to do in conjunction with coaching, cuz a coaching perspective in that space is very much, okay, client, we're here. We're exploring it. We're curious about it.
Now I'm going to empower you. What do you want to do even with the space of, am I worthy? How can we embrace even this question, this internal question that can change your life? And in coaches, we get to see that in real time. We get to be on the front row seat of that every day, every, every coaching session, we're in the front row seat of that operating under the surface.
Whether we know it or not, it's operating. And uh, that's why I love this profession. Love, love, love this kind of listening and this deep connection with other people. It's astounding. It really truly is.
[Raj Anderson] Thank you, John. I know we're almost at time and it seems like we've looped back round from, am I worthy to that kind of self-love piece here.
How would you like to close this out today?
[John Andrew Williams] Happy Valentine's Day, everyone. You know? Happy. Happy Valentine's Day. I mean, I think there's elements of just allowing yourself to be human and loving the humanity of it. Even the bad days, the grumpiness, like, you know, if I didn't, if I don't get on a mountain bike or get out there and get grumpy, you know, so even loving that aspect too.
Yeah. Raj, it's just fun to be here with you in this space.
[Raj Anderson] Thanks, John.
[John Andrew Williams] These questions I love, you know, you're queuing this up this way and, uh, I know we, we mentioned, you know, giving people a preview of what's to come in the coming weeks. So we'll start, maybe we'll start doing that and getting other people on here, not just me.
[Raj Anderson] Yeah.
[John Andrew Williams] And, uh, keeping these going. But it's so lovely to hear your voice, uh, your energy. Uh, you're very, you're very, uh, color complimentary, like your, your nails, your, your, even your nails match your shirt.
[Raj Anderson] I try self-love. You see.
[John Andrew Williams] It just, it's so congruent. Like you just are like, I am a, the congruence is, you know, going like from the tips of your fingers to the threads you're choosing. It's, it's amazing.
[Raj Anderson] Thank you. I appreciate it. Yeah. Yeah. Work in progress. We've gotta take care of ourselves and you know, for me it's being intentional. I said this in New Year, it's being intentional this year and, and caring for self even more, so right on theme. But I appreciate you, John. Thank you everyone for listening.
Uh, we'll start giving you a taste of next week of what's to come and other guest speakers. So please send us your questions. Look forward to hearing from you. Bye.
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