Allow me to boast for a moment. Over the past year, I’ve lost 30 pounds. Nope – it’s not a type-o. I’m 30 pounds down since April 2015. It’s a very personal achievement that has left me feeling healthier and stronger and ready to take on new challenges. The weight loss is the result of two major shifts: 1) I now exercise 2-3 times per week; and 2) I’ve changed the way I eat. I didn’t accomplish this on my own; instead, I did it with the partnership of and power of a wonderful coach.
Remember back… do you recall a terrific little league coach or teacher or mentor or advisor whose guidance and care helped you to achieve a seemingly insurmountable obstacle? For me, that person happened into my life in early 2015 and her name is Peggy Ruiz. Peggy is my Personal Trainer at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City and I could not have done this without her.
If you’re interested in the particulars, we can talk offline. However, for our purposes today and as it pertains to networking, I want to share with you Peggy’s approach to working with her clients and why her brand of coaching and professionalism is what we should each seek out – be it to address a business problem, to advance our careers, to win at a game or, indeed, to attain better health and wellness.
- Set stretch goals… Celebrate small wins along the way. To be clear, I didn’t know I had 30 pounds to lose; my original intent was to lose 10 pounds. Peggy pushed back on the artificial limitations I set for myself. Given my height, weight and physical ability, Peggy thought I should aim higher. She encouraged me to work toward my original goal of 10… we celebrated when I achieved it… then, we got to work on the next 10… and we celebrated again. Believe me… when I (well, when “we”) hit the final 10, we danced a jig then changed our status to maintenance mode. This works in networking, too… even if it seems you don’t have the time or the contacts or the value, commit to connecting with others on a regular basis. Set a goal for the number of networking interactions you hope to have in a year. Then, chunk it down to small, manageable goals… day, a week, a month at a time. Reach out to others. Be proud of your efforts.
- Track your inputs and your progress. Peggy encouraged me to track everything I ate – she said I would begin to see a direct correlation between my calorie count and my weight; between my physical progress and my proportional intake of proteins, carbs and fats. She was right. I was able to really “see” what I was consuming in relation to my weight loss. We’ve all heard, “measure what matters;” it worked for me. Same holds true in networking – keep track of who you meet and what connections or projects or revenue come your way as a result.
- Be consistent. Peggy reminded me that my goals were for the long haul and that I needed to change my pattern for living. By gradually changing my eating habits and exercise schedule to something I could manage consistently on a daily basis, what once felt daunting simply became rote. Similarly, in networking, though the prospect of daily and/or weekly interactions may seem overly time consuming, by holding yourself accountable to a consistent networking schedule, it will become a standard activity for which you will carve out regular, dedicated time each week.
- It’s OK to indulge every now and then. While Peggy helps me to stay on track, ultimately, it’s my responsibility to schedule myself for regular exercise… it’s my responsibility to eat healthfully and to monitor my progress. All that said, if a friend invites me over for tea and cookies, you had better believe I’m going to enjoy every morsel of those cookies! There is no reason to deprive yourself of a small indulgence now and then so long as you get back on plan ASAP. We may get comfortable interacting with the same group of people day in and day out… we may take time off from active networking. Once you’ve taken a break, get back to it! Don’t let too much time pass by before continuing to establish meaningful connections.
- Tomorrow is a new day. Every now and then, despite my best efforts, instead of my weight going down, it goes up. From time to time, instead of keeping to my prescribed calorie count, I go a little overboard. Peggy never lets me punish myself for these small transgressions. As she says, “tomorrow is a brand new day!” That’s not to say I don’t hold myself accountable… instead, I simply put the past in the past and try again, marching forward toward the goal. When building your network, I’m confident you will enjoy connecting with others about 99% of the time. Then, there will be that one interaction out of 100 that just doesn’t go your way. The connection wasn’t real… the project didn’t move forward… you didn’t win the bid. It happens. Tomorrow is a new day full of new opportunities, new possibilities and new connections.
Bottom line: Peggy provided me with the appropriate level of care, concern, motivation, friendship, tough love, trust and, of course, expertise needed to help me achieve success beyond my wildest dreams. That’s what a great coach does. That’s power.
Have a challenge you are seeking to tackle? Find yourself a coach to serve as champion, lead cheerleader, source of inspiration and friend on your side. Do you already have such a backer? Please take a moment to share your experience with the CLC Community at CoffeeLunchCoffee.com.