I want to discuss a line of questioning this week that has helped me immensely in my own business and has changed things for so many of my clients. It was something introduced to me by my own coach, and I could not be happier that it’s in my set of coaching tools. And that is, whenever you’re stuck, what can you do to make things easier?
I’ve noticed my clients fit into two categories: overthinkers, who overcomplicate things when they’re stuck, and overactioners, people who overdo to compensate for being stuck. And whichever one you are, in this episode, I’m going to show you how to get unstuck in the simplest way possible.
Join me on the podcast to discover how you can make anything you’re struggling with easier. I truly believe that the easiest solution is often the best one, so I’m sharing where I see coaches making their work so much harder than it needs to be for themselves and their clients, and how to question yourself in a way that actually moves you and them forward.
Harper: Hi, this is Harper Dotzlaf, and you are listening to Mastering Coaching Skills, episode 20.
To really compete in the coaching industry, you have to be great at coaching. That’s why every week, I will be answering your questions, sharing my stories, and offering tips and advice so you can be the best at what you do. Let’s get to work.
Lindsay: Oh my goodness, hello. Hi. How are you today, coaches? Okay, I might be biased, but that was pretty cute, right? So, a little backstory of why that just happened. So, this morning, I came downstairs and I was getting my daughter breakfast and she started asking me a bunch of questions about my podcast.
And it’s so funny. Actually, backstory, for those of you who don’t know me that well – if you’ve ever worked with me, you probably know this about me, if you’ve been in my mastermind or if you worked with me ever at all. But one of my brain’s favorite go-to thoughts has always been, “I’m so far behind.”
It’s just a thought that loves to pop up at the most inconvenient times. And it really is a thought that has served me quite a bit in my life and it’s been one of the things that I have always had to work on ignoring. At first, I really would work through it, and now I’m just like, “Oh hey, my favorite thought. Part of the process. Just get in, let’s go.”
And this morning, my daughter was asking me questions about my podcast and I told her I was going to record it today and she said, “What are you going to say?” And so, I said, “First I say, hi, this is Lindsay Dotzlaf, blah, blah, episode 20.” And she said, little jerk, “Only 20? I thought you would be on at least 30 by now.” She said, “20 isn’t very many.” And for a second, I believed her. My brain was like, “See, behind, as usual.”
Now, of course, it took me like two seconds to see what was happening in my brain. And then it really had actually created this beautiful conversation about how 30 isn’t actually better than 20 and how being at 30 wouldn’t be better and how 20 is a lot to do a podcast, 20 weeks in a row. And I explained to her how I record it every week and they just come out on Tuesdays. And it was just really funny, and it was a whole conversation.
And when I picked her up from school today, she asked me if I’d recorded it and I said no. and I said I’m going to as soon as we get home. I have it all written and it’s ready to go. I just need to hit record. And she said, “I wish I could say that thing that you said someday.” So, here we are. She said it. She did it. And that was pretty fun.
So, I hope you enjoyed it. If you don’t like kids, totally fine, just ignore it. I’ll be back doing my regular thing next week. That will not be regular. She will not be a regular guest on the podcast. But it was just really cute because she is probably the one person in my house who’s very intrigued what a podcast is and why I have one and why I record it and how I record it. and she’s just really interested, so she just has lots of questions. And she had a lot of fun recording that.
The other thing I want to tell you, before I move on to today’s topic, is that, you guys, a lot of you sent me so much love on last week’s episode. And I probably received more feedback on that episode last week than I have maybe in all of my episodes combined, which is just really interesting because it just reminds me that, right now, if you’re listening to this in real time and it is March 2021, we are just all in it together right now.
At the end of the day, we are all just having a human experience, doing the best we can with a circumstance that most of us have never experienced before. So, this last year has been different for almost every person on the planet. No matter what your circumstances or your beliefs or who you are, what you do, no matter what, over the last year, we’ve kind of had this collective experience.
And this is your reminder, again, to one, stop latering, as I said last week. If you don’t know what that means, go back and listen to episode 19. And two, right now, just be gentle and loving with yourself. Whatever that means for you, whatever that needs to look like, it’s just really a good, good time for that, time to check in. Really, all the time is a good time for that, but particularly right now.
So, let’s move on. One thing I want to say also really quickly is, if you stay until the very end of the podcast, Harper, my daughter, the eight-year-old didn’t just record the intro for you. She also recorded something else special and it will be at the end, if you want it.
So, I asked her if she had anything she wanted to tell you, the listeners, and she did. She thought about it for a second and she just said – after we had the conversation about how 20 is a lot and I’m not behind and all of that, she said, “Tell them they are right on track too.” And it was really sweet.
But I asked her if she just wanted to tell you herself, so she altered it a bit and made it her own and I let her say whatever she wanted, and it’s at the end of the episode just for you, just a little surprise. For now, let’s dive into the topic that I want to talk about today.
And just to be very clear, I think that this will be obvious, but this is not something I created. This is a question that my coach asks me from time to time. I’ve heard her ask other people. I’ve heard other coaches ask this. and I’m just going to put my own spin on it and teach it to you like I use it.
And as always, I want you to think about how is this helpful for your own self-coaching, and how can you use it with your clients? And it’s just one simple question, which is, how can this just be easy? So simple.
But what I have found, in the thousands of hours of coaching that I have done, is there seems to be two types of people, two types of clients that I work with. Clients that love to overthink things – this one is me – and clients that love to overdo or overaction things.
And so, if you’re an overthinker, like me, here is how I use this question for myself. When I notice I’m overthinking about something, I ask myself, “How can this just be easy? How can I make this simple?” But I may also change it up a bit. So, here are some other options.
What if the solution is simple? I use that when I notice I’m just spinning, thinking, overthinking, diving too deep into something; what if the solution is just simple? Or, what is the easiest and most available answer right now? Or, this one’s a little different; what is the quickest way to action? And that one is specifically for the overthinker, because the overdoer, overactioner doesn’t need the quickest way to action. They’re already doing all of the actions.
But when you are an overthinker and you love to just stay in your head, usually you’re just thinking and not doing. So, for me, when I notice I’m doing that, I might just ask myself, what is the quickest way to action? Or what is the easiest way to action?
If you are the opposite and you’re the person who does all of the actions, you overaction or overdo, you might change it to, “How am I overcomplicating this, the process?” or, what is the easiest solution to this problem? Like, if you notice that you have created like a 20-step solution, maybe just step back and say, “Wait a minute, what is the easiest solution? Because 20 steps, that might be too many.” Or – and this is another version of what I just said, does it need to be this complicated or have this many steps?
What is the most simple process? Using some form of this question is so useful. And here are a few reasons why. One reason, it can help you – obviously your clients – get unstuck. So, any time you’re just feeling stuck, you’re not moving, or you’re just spinning. If you’re an overthinking, you’re not moving at all. If you’re an overdoer, then you’re just doing all of the actions but not actually moving forward.
So, sometimes we just get so caught up in the process that even when it feels hard or sometimes even impossible, we don’t notice a way out and we just keep doing or thinking the same over and over and over. And if that’s you, this question is so – it will blow your mind. I know it’s so simple. Just try it.
One example, or one little story that I have about this is that actually when I was trying to record the first couple of episodes of this podcast, when I first started the podcast and for some reason I had it stuck in my head that I was supposed to either wing the whole thing, because if all of the information is in my head and if I know what I’m talking about and that valuable information is there, I should just be able to blab it out. Or, maybe I jot down a few notes or bullet points, but really I should just be able to hit record, quickly record a podcast, and call it a day. It should be easy.
I was spinning out, just, you have no idea. I was stuck. I was stuck in that. I tried to record it so many times. I never looked outside of that and thought, “This isn’t working. Maybe I should try something different.” And no joke, I really wanted to throw my fancy new microphone in the trash can and just decide, “No, not happening.”
So, when I finally saw that this was what I was doing, I took a day off and then I just decided to try again. But right before I did, this question popped into my head. You know, I don’t know how I’m going to thank my subconscious mind for it. It just offered me, like, “Wait a minute, what if this could just be easy?”
And although I thought that I was doing it the easy way, I thought that’s how I was supposed to do it and it was supposed to be easy. But I was not making it easy. I was making it so complicated.
But when I asked myself that question, it was like a giant flickering neon sign went off in my head that said, “Lindsay, just write out the whole thing, recording will be so easy if you just have words to read.” So, I did. And it was. It was so much easier.
Now, of course, this doesn’t mean I don’t spend a good amount of time writing my podcast each week. But it is so much easier than what I was trying to do. I thought that there was a right way to do it and I just had to do it that way. And I was just making it so complicated.
But what happened, the second I asked myself that question, my brain just opened up to thinking about all of the different options instead of just the one that I had arbitrarily decided was the right one.
Another reason this question will be useful, our brains love to overcomplicate always. So, I strongly recommend asking yourself this question any time you’re creating content, formatting a program, making your coaching structure how can this just be easy? What is the most simple solution?
Now, that doesn’t mean doing D-minus work. That is not what I’m saying. Sometimes, the simple solution is actually the best one. And it even gives a better client experience. One huge example that comes to mind when I think about this – and okay, just brace yourself because some of you right now when I say this, your heads might feel like they’re going to explode because some of you probably do this and you’re going to be like, “Lindsay, what are you talking about? You just ruined my whole day.”
But one example of this that comes to mind, a lot of coaches come to me with the craziest most complicated structure for their coaching. Whether it’s one on one coaching or a program or however you coach, I’ve coached so many coaches – tell me if this sounds familiar.
They take notes for their clients, they send the notes to their clients on every call, they record their calls, send recordings, email them every week, create 100 worksheets that they have access to, email them reminders of homework and what to work on between calls, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. Maybe like Voxer, all the support, you can reach me any time, any day, like, all of the things.
I promise you, about 95% of you that are doing that are making it way too complicated, for yourself and for your client. I’ll probably do a whole episode about this sometime soon. But I just want you to think about this.
Sometimes there are great reasons to do some of those things. And if you have resources that you want your clients to have, even that, if you find yourself sending your clients stuff all the time, ask yourself, how could this be easy? Are there different options besides email your client? Can you create a place where your client can go to get all of the things and you don’t have to do the work for them?
Usually, most of this is just a bunch of busywork that isn’t actually making your client experience better. So, if this is you, just ask yourself, “How could this just be easy, and still be an overdeliver for my client?” Because overdeliver does not mean give your client more things.
The most important tool you have are a couple of amazing coaching tools. It comes back to that conversation that I had with Stacey where we talked about that and said one coaching tool, that is the thing. Everything else after that is just extra. So, if this is you and you maybe want to throw something at me right now, just test it out. How could this just be easy?
The next way this question is very helpful, it can easily help you out of overwhelm. So, whether you’re overwhelmed because your to-do list is a mile long or your to-think list – that’s what I call it when I’m overthinking all the things. It’s like I don’t have a to-do list, I just have a to-think list. Just put that on my list, I’ll think about it later. “How can this just be easy?” is a great question.
Or, one of my favorite variations of that question is, especially when you are n overwhelm or you have a client who’s in overwhelm, what is just the next best step? Maybe not even the best step. Maybe you can’t even get your brain there. Maybe it’s just, what’s just one step? What’s the next step? What’s the next thing? What’s the next easiest thing?
You pick the variation of it. But a lot of times, when you’re experiencing overwhelm, it’s because your thoughts have become so jumbled and it feels like quicksand is just pulling you down.
And sometimes, when you’re really in it, easy may be too far of a jump. But if you can just access, “What’s just the next step?” that will be so helpful. One thing at a time. One small step towards the goal, getting through the one thing first, and then asking it again, “Okay, what’s the next step?” And so on. But not asking it until you’ve completed just that first thing.
Last, here’s what I want to end with. When it comes to your actual coaching – because you know that’s what I’m all about – how could that just be easy? How are you overcomplicating it right now? I will tell you one way. That it could just be easy. Learn to ask simple questions just like this one.
In your sessions, get super-curious and just ask the most basic questions. You can use this question when your client is experiencing something like anything that I just described, how can this just be easy? If it was easy, what would you do? If it was easy, what would be the next move?
Now, of course, this one question isn’t always appropriate, but it’s your job as the coach to know when it is. And you know your clients and yourself best, so make this question your own. Use whatever version of it that resonates with you or that will be helpful for your client in that moment. Maybe have five versions of it, five options. Use them.
And speaking of questions, I made you something as a thank you for being a listener and coming back here every week. I’ve actually taken a couple of pages out of a workbook that I created for my mastermind. I took a couple pages out, turned it into a PDF and I have it for you.
It’s all about questions. It even includes a list of questions you can use in your coaching sessions. So, you have two choices. You can head to my website. Right now, if you scroll down to the bottom of the first page, there’s an option to join my list and you’ll see, it will say something about grabbing this freebie. So, you can do it there.
You can also come find me on Instagram. I love Instagram. And if you want to see my daughter’s face who did the intro – I don’t put a lot of my kids on social media, but they make occasional appearances. But my dog, she’s on there all the time. She has no choice.
But my Instagram is just @lindsaydotzlaf, very simple. Come find me. I have a link in my bio, and it will take you straight there. you can get the freebie. You can have a list for yourself of questions to use in your coaching sessions. It’s very simple. I hope you love it.
Now, thank you for being here today. I will see you next week. And as promised, here is a message from Harper just for you.
Harper: Good luck. Good job. You are doing great.
Lindsay: Goodbye, my love.
Thanks for listening to this episode of Mastering Coaching Skills. If you want to learn more about my work, come visit me at lindsaydotzlafcoaching.com. That’s Lindsay with an A, D-O-T-Z-L-A-F.com. See you next week.