On Saturday and Sunday, I’ll be one of an estimated five gazillion women - and fourteen men - who’ll be at the National Women’s Show (www.nationalwomenshow.com) at the Ottawa Congress Centre. I’m one of the lucky ones. I’ll have a chair when I need it.
Six of us, flying the banner of the Ottawa Coaches, are hosting a booth located just where the Business & Career section merges with Minding Your Body. It’s a perfect spot, because we’re all about looking after yourself - in work and in life.
Our mission is to talk to people about coaching – who we coach, how we coach, what to expect and what you can achieve working with a coach. Each of us has a different specialty. There’s a retirement coach, a parenting coach, a work/life balance coach, a leadership coach, a communication coach (me) and a get-off-the-sofa-and-live-your-life-now coach.
As we put the booth together today, I was impressed by how quickly six very diverse strangers had worked so quickly and smoothly on this project. We had, not surprisingly, taken a coach approach to the task.
Regardless of the type of people we work with, or the type of goals our clients have, at the heart of our work are some fundamental steps that look something like this:
Clarify your intention
You have to know what you want or you can’t do a thing about it. For the Women’s Show, our intention is to raise community awareness of coaching and its benefits. We want an attractive and professional presence with opportunities for interaction. And we want to create an environment where people feel comfortable asking for a sample session, with the appropriate coach, after the show is over. Getting dozens of clients to sign up on the spot is not the intention. This is about waking up a potential market.
Examine the situation
At the Women’s Show, we’ll bump into a lot of people who might benefit from and can afford coaching yet know little about it. But evidence suggests they won’t be beating a path to our booth to learn about it. The show will be noisy and crowded and people will be in a hurry to get their free food samples, catch the decorating demos, or have their eyebrows (or whatever) shaped. There’s no way we can do coaching at the booth. But we can get them to come and talk with us if we give them a reason.
Because someone already had a huge box of them from another event, we’re giving out fortune cookies. Did you know your fortune improves when you work with a coach? A big Wheel Of Life chart has escaped from some other purpose to spark in-booth discussions – and we’ve created smaller versions people can fill out while they wait in the inevitable line-ups. Banners, easels, tables all manifested as if by magic as we assessed what we had and compared it with what we needed. Assuming I remember to pick up the balloons in the morning, it’s a fine looking booth. (Only my lovely readers will know that we didn’t hire a booth designer to make an impression.) The beauty of this step is that, whatever the goal, if you look carefully, you’re likely to discover you already have the resources to do it.
Moving from planning to action is the place where both fun and fear lie. Taking action is pretty much the only way we’re ever going to get results or have anything to celebrate. Yet fear – often fear of what others will think of us – can stop us from taking steps that will get us where we want to be. “To become involved is to reduce your fear,” Susan Jeffers writes in “Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway.” So I’m involved.
Getting results follows doing something as night follows day. It may not be the result you intended, or even the result you want. That’s when you revisit the earlier steps, using the knowledge you gained on this round. One of my favourite business quotes comes from Thomas Watson, founder of IBM, “If you want to increase your success rate, double your failure rate.”
Eventually, you’ll get a result you want, which may not be the one you intended. At minimum, you’ll learn something useful. Either way, it’s something to celebrate. Just what the six of us will be celebrating after our trade show outing is hard to say. Stay tuned.