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Self Coaching?

© Diana Lindstrom 2005 All Rights Reserved

I wrote a Letter to the Editor of PM Network magazine – one of the three publications from PMI (Project Management Institute). Here it is:

John Sullivan’s article, Coaching Yourself, in the April 2005 issue of PM Network, misses one very important point. If self-coaching worked well for people, everyone would be doing it. Professional athletes don’t do it, singers don’t do it, actors don’t do it.

The value of coaching lies in the fact that someone outside of yourself will be more objective than you are. Setting goals is your job. You and your coach will work together to define exactly how to reach those goals. Your coach is there to assist you in staying focused on what you want – even if that changes. And she/he will help you discover your real strengths – things you may not see about yourself.

Take a professional athlete like Tiger Woods. Tiger sets his goals. He and his coach define how to reach each goal. His coach observes his performance and gives him pointers for improvement. Could Tiger watch videos of his performances and pinpoint problem areas? Sure he could. But would he know how to make the necessary improvements?

In Mr. Sullivan’s article, he points out that one possible issue to finding a good coach is that she/he needs to have the “right combination of training, values and personal style.” I completely agree with this statement. And I wonder how many project managers know where to look for a project management coach that meets these requirements.

In Fast Company, May 2005, an article, Making Change, by Alan Deutschman quotes Dr. Edward Miller, dean of the medical school and CEO of the hospital at Johns Hopkins University. “If you look at people after coronary-artery bypass grafting two years later, 90% of them have not changed their lifestyle,” Miller said. “And that’s been studied over and over and over again.”

Mutual of Omaha and Dr. Dean Ornish, professor of medicine at the University of California at San Francisco and founder of the Preventive Medicine Research Institute, conducted a study of 333 patients with severely clogged arteries. They attended group support sessions twice a week, which included psychological support, as well as meditation instruction, yoga, and aerobic exercise classes. They had a program to quit smoking and to use Ornish’s extreme vegetarian diet (10% of calories from fat). With all of this support, 77% of the patients had stuck with their changes for three years.

90% of people can’t change without help. 77% can. Where do you want to be?

There are project management coaches out there, and there is a wide range in pricing, knowledge and personal styles.

Diana Lindstrom, PMP

What do you think about this issue?

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