When I launched my company, it was beyond question that it would need a website. I asked a designer whose work I admire to design it for me, asked people whose opinions I value to send me their thoughts on it, and hey presto, look at it now!
And best of all, I really like it, and here is why.
Reason 1: It’s a Rembrandt
Some years ago as I flew back from Amsterdam to Heathrow I overhead a conversation taking place behind me. A lady with a north American accent was telling her fellow traveller how the highlight of her stay in Amsterdam had been a visit to the Rembrandt Museum. The museum is located in the stunningly beautiful house where Rembrandt lived and worked between 1639 and 1658.
She commented on how many self-portraits Rembrandt had produced throughout his lifetime – indeed there are known to be over 100. The man must have been terribly vain to continuously paint himself, concluded the lady.
If you look up the Rembrandt House you will see it has large windows and a big door, which Rembrandt liked to stand in, as many merchants customarily did to indicate they were open for business. Rembrandt cleverly displayed his latest self-portrait to show how well he painted to passers-by.
My website is me leaning in the open virtual doorway, inviting people to look at my shop window and come in and talk about what we can do for each other.
Reason 2: I made it with a little help from my friends
OK, OK, I asked for and received a lot of help! Creating something yourself doesn’t necessarily mean doing everything yourself. When it comes to graphic design and web development I know my limitations, and called in the professionals. I also showed brand designs to as many people as possible and asked them what they would expect my company site to do. This gave me fresh ideas and helped me to make up my mind whenever I had more than one option to choose from.
Best of all, asking others to help with the site gave me the confidence to test my own ideas and see them translated into a beautiful design and versatile functionality. I would never have achieved that on my own.
Reason 3: It’s the worker who never calls in a sickie
My company website is home and taking messages from callers when I’m out on business. It is awake 24 hours a day, never needs a day off and will equally never suffer from ‘Heineken’s sickness’ on a Monday morning. My shop window is always lit thanks to my company website and my door always open.
Sing me the praises of your own company website. What does it do for you that you appreciate most of all?
You’ve heard about coaching, and how it is the latest thing for personal and professional development. Perhaps someone is raving about it. Perhaps you’ve seen the adverts promising success and wealth in shouty tones. Appealing, so you decide to have a go. Simple, right?
Hold on: let me give you six scenarios that show how coaching is not for everyone. Which one describes you?
Scenario 1: You have a supportive manager
And even better, one who is ready, willing and able to coach you on the job. As coaching takes hold in more workplaces, managers have opportunities to increase their managerial repertoire to include a coaching style in the way they lead their teams. Are you one of the lucky ones to have such a manager? Make the most of it!
Scenario 2: You just want to let off steam.
Although this does happen in coaching sessions occasionally – it’s only human – your coach will soon steer the conversation into a different, more reflective direction to help you work through whatever set you off. If you are more interested in going through the issue in minute detail, and reliving an incident without intending to turn the experience into something you can learn from, you are really looking for a rant facilitator, not a coach. A night in the pub with some friends is probably what you need.
Scenario 3: You’re not ready to explore the question or issue.
In fact, you’re not convinced there is an issue to start with! You’ve been told to go to coaching, or you’ve been persuaded to. Maybe you feel an obligation to see a coach and you don’t want to look ungrateful. Perhaps you don’t see the issue as an issue and you’re not willing to spend time en mental energy on it. Whatever the reason; if you are not ready to engage with whatever someone else has told you you need to address through coaching, coaching is very unlikely to work, and will certainly be off to a very rocky start.
Scenario 4: You’d rather someone sorted you out.
You know there’s an issue which needs working on, and you’re looking to someone else to provide you with the solution. That doesn’t sit easily with coaching, which looks to support the individual to find the solution for themselves. Few coaches will sit down with you and map out a plan for you – be weary of those that do. You’re probably dealing with an adviser of sorts, and you’ll want to ask them some questions about what qualifies them to advise you.
Scenario 5: There isn’t really anything to talk about…
Which doesn’t mean you have no challenges to deal with, it just means that you have the natural support and resilience in your (professional and personal) life to deal with things successfully. People go through life without ever having coaching, while others work with a coach for a number of weeks or months and happily move on afterwards.
Scenario 6: You’re after a quick fix.
Coaching does have the potential to open a can of worms, and sometimes it takes two, three sessions for the real issue or question to emerge. Much happens in between sessions too – clients take away ‘homework’ and experiments to try out, while the coaching process itself can take months to complete. It needs time, effort and a degree of patience in almost all cases, which is important to bear in mind.
So, having read all this, has your perception of coaching shifted, and I so, how?