I’ve been fortunate to have excellent mentors at different times during my career. I’ve seen an interesting trend in the last few years – the rise of the personal coach. This is a type of mentor. A personal coach can help you in many ways, all of which are generally related to improving performance and success — identifying objectives, holding you accountable for taking action, providing unbiased feedback, and at times just helping you get out of your own way by identifying how you’re limiting your success.
Recently I was talking with the head of product for a global company and he mentioned he had been meeting with a coach. I was curious about this because I noticed a change in him and I asked how the coach helped. His response made me more curious and I wanted to talk with his coach myself, which I do in this interview. My guest is Evan Roth, a certified executive coach that works with both individual executives as well as their teams. Evan has 30+ years’ real-world corporate experience in leadership and organizational development, accounting and finance, business strategy, mergers and acquisitions, and international operations. He happens to be based in Denver, Colorado, near my home, but thanks to Skype, he works with clients across the globe.
In our discussion, you will learn about:
- limiting beliefs,
- assumptions and interpretations,
- my personal example of being in quicksand, and
- how to have more energy.
Practices and Ideas for Product Managers and Innovators
Summary of some questions discussed:
- Tell us about your work as an executive coach. I use an equation… performance = potential – interference. My job is to help people identify their interference so that they will have higher performance. We often have difficulty accurately seeing ourselves. A coach can help us better see ourselves.
- How can a coach help? It’s a matter of asking the right questions about what is going on. Our thoughts lead to our feelings, which lead to our behaviors. Coaches can help trace an unwanted behavior back through the feelings to get to the core thought that needs to be changed.
- What are ways that product managers limit themselves? We all do it, we just don’t know how much we limit ourselves. Per the formula I shared, performance = potential – interference, we are all sub-optimized. Identifying the interference is the key. For example, when you hear, “oh, I could never do that,” “I tried that and it didn’t work,” or “that’s not possible,” you are hearing limiting statements, which relate to a limiting belief. Such beliefs limit you in some way. Everyone has a belief system. Imagine a spectrum that goes from judgment to curiosity. When we live on the judgment end of the spectrum, we tend to live with a lot of boundaries and limitations, seeing choices as black or white. Sliding over to the curiosity end introduces shades of gray and allows asking what-if questions. When a limiting belief is identified, a good coaching question, called the magic question, is to ask, “if you didn’t believe this, what would happen or what would be different.” This question helps our brains reshape limitations.
- What are other issues besides limiting beliefs? Two that are closely related are assumptions and interpretations. Our experiences can lead to assumptions. When you interpret these assumptions, such as having a failed product launch and what that means about your capabilities, you can create other limits. Another one I call a gremlin. It’s something tied to self-regard that takes on a life of its own. For example, a gremlin is when someone feels they are not valuable.
- Can we change our energy? We have up to 70,000 thoughts a day. Each one falls into one of two buckets – the thought either serves me or it doesn’t serve me. I can’t control which bucket it falls into, but I can control if a thought stays in a bucket or if I move it. If a thought doesn’t serve me, such as, “I’m never going to make it,” I can move it and get an energetic shift. A statement I tell myself each day is, “I have all the energy for anything I need in life at this moment.”
“Do or do not, there is no try.” –Yoda, Star Wars
Listen Now to the Interview
Thank you for being an Everyday Innovator and learning with me from the successes and failures of product innovators, managers, and developers. If you enjoyed the discussion, help out a fellow product manager by sharing it using the social media buttons you see below.