Think back to any major change in your life, and you can probably attribute that change to the following formula:

Learning + Action = Change

For example, you may have learned a subject or skill in college, applied your knowledge (action), and landed a job in your field of expertise (change). If you engage in a fitness program, you learn different exercises, perform those exercises on a consistent basis, and witness the positive changes in your body and health and fitness level. If you’ve ever had relationship counseling, you probably learned specific techniques for communicating and for solving problems; using those techniques (action), you should have experienced positive changes in your relationships.

Much of what we learn and what ultimately results in change has to do with our interaction with the outside world. We explore the external environment to learn more about the world around us and how to more effectively navigate and interact with that external reality. Unfortunately, few of us invest nearly as much time and effort exploring ourselves internally to learn more about who we really are. As a result, most of us have multiple blind spots — strengths, weaknesses, personality traits, talents, biases, and so on, that we know very little to nothing about.

Action Plus Learning Equals Change

These blind spots make us susceptible to thinking and behaving in ways that may not be the most effective in our personal or professional lives. In fact, they often prevent us from leading prosperous, fulfilling, and successful lives. We feel frustrated and have no idea that the cause of that frustration is something that can be addressed within us.

One of the key benefits to working with an executive coach is that your coach can lead you through the process of learning and taking action to effect positive changes in your life. By engaging in this process with coach knowledgeable and experienced in the process of change, you can start to eliminate your blind spots and apply what you learn about yourself to develop more effective ways of thinking and behaving. The result is positive change that leads to greater success and happiness in all aspects of your life — personal and professional.

In this post, I lead you through the change process step-by-step, so you have a general idea of what to expect when you work with an executive coach such as myself.

Learning

Most of us assume we know ourselves pretty well, but for most of us, self-awareness is like the tip of an iceberg; we see only the one tenth which is visible above the surface, and we are blind to the nine tenths hidden below the surface. Unfortunately, the majority of the population lives their entire lives never looking below the surface to discover who they really are. As a result, they never achieve their full potential. Even many of those who desire to find out more about themselves do not know how to go about it.

Part of the value of executive coaching, which I also refer to as performance coaching, comes from knowing how to deepen each client’s self-awareness — typically through the use of assessments and thoughtful exercises. Some executive and performance coaches know that people who have a deeper understanding of themselves are better equipped to lead and influence others.

As a performance coach and group/team facilitator, I frequently use the following three assessments:

  • Emotional Quotient-Inventory (EQ-i) 2.0 assesses a variety of emotional and social skill sets that impact effectiveness in the workplace. Results highlight strengths and identify areas for growth and development. My clients accurately identify some of these strengths and weaknesses on their own but are often surprised by others.
  • 360-Degree Feedback gathers input from people who interact with you, such as employees, family members, friends, partners, vendors, and so on, so that you yourself become cognizant of how others view you. Others can often view us more objectively than we can view ourselves.
  • Johari Window is a technique developed to help people understand their relationship with themselves and others. The window is divided into the four panes/quadrants listed below. The objective is to move qualities or traits from other quadrants to the Arena.
    • Arena: Known to self and others
    • Facade: Known to self but not others
    • Blind spot: Known to others but not self
    • Unknown: Unknown to self and others

Johari Window Graphic

Action

Sometimes, learning alone can produce change, but usually action is required. Following the discovery or learning stage, I collaborate with each client to create an action/development plan based on the results of the assessments and aimed at reaching the client’s stated objectives and ultimate goal. (The client’s ultimate goal is established at the onset of the coaching engagement and may be modified after seeing the results from the assessments.)

Based on the assessments and the client’s revised objectives and ultimate goal, we formulate a written call to action with steps to take at specific milestones. Typically, I give the client homework, and the client reports back to me during the following session. Accountability is important and, as the client’s coach, I have the privilege of encouraging and cheering them on to the finish line — the client’s stated goal.

In a team facilitation engagement (for example, a retreat or seminar), we may not meet again. In these scenarios, we write down the call to action and communicate it to all team members. I or someone within the organization is responsible for ensuring that the team members are participating in achieving the stated objectives and ultimate goal.

Change

Of course, change only happens when we are willing to accept it, but when you decide to engage with an executive or performance coach or a therapist, you are making an implicit commitment to change. As a result, you can look forward to shedding old, ineffective thinking and behaviors as you grow into the new and different you. In particular, you can anticipate the strengthening of your relational skills. As you grow, you will become a better leader and a better person overall. This is the type of positive change that will be noticeably reflected in your interactions with others.

This is true for all of us. As we learn about ourselves and have an intentional plan to work towards improving, we begin to change and evolve into better versions of ourselves. Holistically, we engage in a process of self-improvement in all facets of our being.

In other words… Learning + Action = Change!

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About the Author: Jan Moorad is a former Major League Baseball team partner and a Newport Beach, Calif.-based executive coach who helps C-Suite executives and their spouses pursue and achieve personal and professional fulfillment.