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Archive for the ‘life coach’ Category

Note: I listened to the book in audiobook format. More on this shortly.

Delivering_HappinessDelivering Happiness is an intriguing title. I thought so the first time I saw it, but because it was about how Tony Hsieh and crew built Zappos, I continued to put it aside in my audio book library. I don’t find news about shoes appealing. In hindsight, my assumption about the subject matter was incorrect and I should have listened/read this book far sooner.

Why? 

First, Tony doesn’t cover what they did right, he also covers some of the things they did wrong. This isn’t just true of Zappos, but also of LinkExchange, the first company Tony built. I despise books that just cover what folks did right. Often times the best lessons come from analyzing the mistakes that were made. Delivering Happiness has this. There were some things Tony did at Zappos that were to avoid issues that had developed at LinkExchange. There were also actions taken by Tony and crew at Zappos later on in the company’s existence from mistakes they had made early on. One of the biggest is the focus on culture. Any interview I’ve heard with Tony Hsieh talks about company culture. LinkExchange’s culture was allowed to deteriorate to the point where the founders didn’t want to show up to work any longer. That mistake wasn’t repeated at Zappos.

Second, the book covers quite a bit about Tony, his mindset, and what his priorities were. I said were because over the course of the book you see how some of those priorities changed drastically. From wanting to be the best worm farmer around (as a kid – to make a ton of money) to valuing relationships and seeing the limits of money, you see growth. Tony’s also not shy of admitting why priorities changed and how he was wrong.

Third, Tony Hsieh included important lessons honed in practice about customer support and about brand. One important lesson is that both come out of company culture. The better you get your company culture, the better you’re going to see both customer support and brand. In the past you could fake brand with enough marketing dollars. Customer support was easier to fake, too, because it was harder to get the word out about poor customer service. Nowadays, with social media being what it is, one viral story sinks you. So if you try to fake customer service or brand, if they don’t come out of your culture, you fail.

Finally, a lot of the lessons don’t just apply to a company. Tony hits this in the epilogue. As an individual we can make a lot of the same choices he recommends for a company. Many of these choices are for the better.

What about the premise of the title?

I think it’s a bold statement to say one “delivers happiness.” There’s an interview on the audiobook that I listened to where Tony gets asked what happiness is to him. When you start listening to his explanation, I don’t think it agrees with what he puts forth in the book. I know for some receiving some set of goods, like shoes or a handbag, may result in a momentary feeling of happiness. However, it’s not long term. Therefore, I think the title fails, though it is catchy.

Do I recommend the book?

Yes, I do, because it’s another “make you think” type of work. I’d be surprised if anyone agreed with everything Tony wrote about. I certainly didn’t. However, Tony gave the reasons for why he did particular things, why Zappos made particular decisions, etc. In looking at those scenarios, it’s an opportunity to analyze and grow. From that perspective, I think anyone can get value out of this book.

So what about the audiobook?

There’s more content, including an interview with Dr. Warren Bennis that’s well worth the listen. I don’t believe it’s in the print book and even if it were, certainly something would be lost in translation.

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Cross Country CoachesI like watching people succeed at their goals. I love being a part of that success. This is true in ministry, in my IT career, and in my personal life. As a children’s and youth pastor, I’m in a position to help young people learn more about themselves, what they want, and what they need to do to accomplish those things. However, I’m also there to serve as counsel and be a teacher of what’s appropriate and what’s not. Those latter responsibilities are very important and make up the bulk of my duties in that position. As a result, I do more directing and leading than “cheerleading.” Likewise in my IT career I’ve been a mentor, meaning I’ve helped folks learn what they needed to learn and basically point them in the right direction. Both of those positions are about directing folks.

A life coach doesn’t do these things. Instead, a life coach:

  • Helps a person identify those areas of life they want to improve.
  • Helps a person determine which areas are most important.
  • Helps a person identify goals that will improve those areas.
  • Helps a person determine next steps to move towards those goals.
  • Encourages the person as they move towards those goals.
  • Helps keep a person accountable by asking them about their progress.

This is a very different approach than being a teacher or a mentor. And this is very different from our traditional image of a coach. A life coach understands that the impetus for change must come from the person. A life coach also understands that a person is most likely to make changes and pursue goals which correspond with the areas that a particular person feels is most important. Also, a life coach guides a person to determine the path to proceed along, but the person being coached does the majority of the “heavy lifting.” This is because folks will tend to work on the steps they’ve developed. They have ownership. Also, we typically know what we have to do, we’re just uncertain about it. Either we don’t trust ourselves in the fact that we can come up with the solution or we don’t trust ourselves to implement the solution. This is where a life coach steps in. He or she helps one work out those concerns and feel more confident about the action and the ability to accomplish it.

I’m starting out small, working with a couple of guys at work. They’re young and they’re smart and they have big dreams. My friendship with them is such that if something isn’t working or seems odd, they don’t feel any hesitation to tell me. After all, they know that being a life coach is one of my dreams, and as my friends they want to help me just as much as I want to help them. I’m really looking forward to the growing and accomplishing and succeeding all three of us will be doing over the coming months.

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