Nearly half of your daily activities are habitual, for better or for worse. You don’t think about them, you just do them. You have simple, decades-old habits, like brushing your teeth, that you don’t have to think about. You also have more modern habits like waking up and instinctively grabbing your cell phone to check your e-mail and texts.

We have great respect for elite level athletes. They start with the right mindset and they develop the habits necessary to achieve their goals. They also have a game plan when they step onto the court, ice, field, or track—specific strategies to put their mindset and habits into action.

The same holds true when it comes to coaching and inspiring your team. How do you put a positive coaching mindset and positive coaching habits into action to yield winning results and relationships? You need a coaching game plan.

Power of Choice

The key to finishing big is to start small. Big achievements like running a marathon, introducing a new product, or exceeding a steep sales goal all start with one small step. Consistent “baby steps” lead to BIG places. The same holds true when you are embracing new habits to inspire your team.

The whirlwind of daily demands tends to push us toward poor habits, such as being reactive versus proactive. These daily pressures can make us feel like one of the rats in behaviorist B. F. Skinner’s famous lab experiments. We are confronted with what feels like an urgent situation (stimulus) and we jump at it (response). The immediate focus on daily transactions also makes it more challenging to keep a positive coaching mindset and use the positive coaching habits, robbing us of opportunities to transform others through coaching.

The great thing about being human (aside from our ability to use a TV remote) is that we can exercise choice. Unlike Skinner’s rats, our human behavior equation is: Stimulus >>> Choice >>> Response.

The challenge is that sometimes we move so fast that we speed right past our choice. We simply react to the multitude of stimuli – demanding customers, boss’s deadlines, screaming kids, requests to volunteer, web page pop-up ads, social media updates, e-mail notifications, GPS voices telling you to “veer right,” text tones, and on and on. So how do you take charge of your choices and habits?


Start by reflecting on specific triggers that may prevent you from sticking to the positive coaching habits. For example, when you feel stressed, do you tend to tell your team what to do instead of asking for their input? Are there times when your team is doing well and things are going smoothly, maybe too smoothly for you to feel comfortable, so you find something trivial the team could improve instead of appreciating its performance?

Another trigger could be that when meetings run long, you start to feel rushed, so you do not wrap up with the 3 W’s (What, Who, and When) to ensure that the team is aligned on expectations.

Write down your triggers, then write a specific action you will take to neutralize or avoid your triggers so you can consistently apply the five coaching habits.

Inspiring leaders and coaches never lose sight of the C—choice. The choice is yours. Success can occasionally be accidental, but true excellence is never accidental. Choose to lead, coach, and excel intentionally.


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