SBA 8(a) Certification

Goose Creek Consulting LLC recently received an 8(a) Certification from the Small Business Administration. GCC is a leadership, career, mental health and life coaching services firm that serves the consumer, commercial, state and federal market sectors. The 8(a) Program provides a broad scope of assistance to firms that are owned and controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals. GCC is now able to provide federal customers with a sole-source contract vehicle for leadership coaching, executive coaching and professional development coaching services. In addition, GCC is now able to obtain and assist partners in obtaining certain competitive advantages in federal contracting. To learn more click here .

How those with ADHD Can Outsmart Holiday Depression

by Peggy Maslanka

Margaret, a woman with ADHD, always tried so very hard to achieve her ideal of the perfect holiday. She cooked, entertained, and bought presents according to this ideal, not only for her own husband and children, but for extended family and friends as well. But over the years, she noticed that instead of feeling happy and proud about the lovely Thanksgiving dinners she served and the magical Christmases she created, she felt depleted and depressed.

The holidays capture the imagination of women who have ADHD, because they speak to her creativity, her deeply held feelings about the significance of these special times, and her enjoyment in the excitement and stimulation that surrounds them. They can imagine themselves creating the most sumptuous Thanksgiving meal, the most beautiful holiday decorations, and the most thoughtful gifts for every loved one. And they eagerly anticipate sharing all this with extended family and old friends.

But often, this very ability to imagine perfection and to demand it of themselves conflicts with the increased challenges that the holidays bring, especially those around organization. Usually, the perfection cannot be achieved, and this can lead to the feelings of inadequacy and hopelessness that constitute depression. Even if it is achieved, the cost is so high, that depression is still the result.

One busy Thanksgiving time, Margaret's husband argued for buying prepared dishes that required only a few minutes of heating the microwave. Margaret balked. That was cheating! But then she began to think about all the recipes she wouldn't have to follow, all the ingredients she wouldn't have to search for in the overwhelming supermarket, all the evenings she wouldn't have to spend preparing a dozen different dishes, and all the stress she wouldn't feel trying to coordinate everything to be served at the same moment.           

But how could Thanksgiving dinner be perfect without all her traditional, homemade dishes and desserts?

A creative, open-minded thinker, Margaret decided to write a description of what actually made Thanksgiving special for her. To her surprise, she couldn't remember enjoying any of the things in her description since she'd taken on the task of cook and hostess. She hadn't enjoyed the anticipation of people arriving – it just made her anxious because she wasn't ready for them yet; she hadn't enjoyed the delicious smells because she was too anxious about getting everything in and out of the oven at the right times; and she hadn't enjoyed the meal itself, or the beautiful feelings of love, appreciation, and togetherness, which were the whole point of the day, because by the time she sat down, she was so overstressed and exhausted.

Maybe all her beliefs about what constituted the perfect Thanksgiving dinner actually made it less perfect.

So she took the plunge, and served the prepared foods. They weren't quite as delicious – but they were fine. And instead of feeling stressed beforehand and depressed afterwards, Margaret felt pleasure in the day, the company, and the meal. And the next day, because she actually had some energy, she wrote a description of what actually made Christmas special for her. The word "perfect" was nowhere to be found.

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Staying Well this Winter

By Astrid Richardson

Fall is almost over and with winter quickly approaching, I thought that it would be a good idea to talk about wellness for the coming season. (I'll continue with the Wheel of Life in the next post.) So, winter is coming...bringing with it cooler weather and holiday celebrations. For some, it's an exciting time and for others, it can be a stressful time. Whether exciting or not, maintaining balance continues to be important. Let's talk about how to maintain your wellness during this transitional time.

If you're like me, winter brings thoughts of and plans for the holidays. There are many opportunities to give thanks and celebrate in this season. With holiday celebrations come holiday food, like cookies, cakes, cocktails, etc. If you're trying to maintain a healthy diet, however, the holidays can be challenging. There are few strategies that can help you stay on track and still enjoy these holiday treats. Fist, have a plan before attending any holiday function. Whether it's Thanksgiving dinner or the office holiday party, try to have a strategy for how you'll navigate the buffet table. You can eat a healthy snack before leaving home so you aren't starving when you arrive. It also helps to use the small plates and go back for seconds, if necessary. Enjoy a cocktail or wine spritzer but try not to overindulge. If you only have one or two holiday events to attend, it may be easier to stick to your strategy than having three or more. The more parties you have, the more important it will be to have and stick to your plan. Concentrate on enjoying the atmosphere, company, and conversation so the food will be less enticing. And don't forget to continue your exercise routine as it will  help to offset extra calories and reduce stress.

Holiday stress can be extremely difficult to manage. There are so many things to do and a seemingly short amount of time to do them. If you're not an early planner, holiday shopping alone can feel overwhelming. If that's the case, take a deep breath and remember what the season means to you. To most people, the season is about showing gratitude and love for our family and friends. How you show your love is completely up to you. If finances are tight this year, as they are for many, try doing something different this year. Your budget may not be able to handle lots of gifts for loved ones so making simple and easy DIY gifts may be exactly what fits your needs. A handwritten note can touch someone's heart in ways that a gift card may not. Be creative.

Finally, don't forget to take time out for taking care of yourself. It's so easy to focus on everyone else's needs this season but you're important too. Take a hot bath or brisk walk, read a chapter of a good book, or visit with a friend. You'll find that the downtime will recharge your batteries and you'll be ready and able to tackle the holiday season.

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Learning from Our Losses on a Day of Remembrance

By Jayson Blair

Thirteen years ago today I was standing near the edge of the Brooklyn Bridge, looking across the East River as the World Trade Center burned. Today marks the 13th anniversary of the September attacks on New York and Washington. This has always been a difficult anniversary for me, and so many others who were touched by the attacks. My mind wants to shut out the horrors of that day, to minimize the attacks by telling myself how much worse they would have been if they had happened later in the workday when more than 40,000 people could have been in the buildings. And when I cannot shut it out, I feel sorrow and guilt that we, as journalists, did not pay more attention to the clarion call that came on February 26, 1993, when Ramzi Yousef, the cousin of the author of the 9/11 attacks, detonated a 1,336-bomb under the North Tower.

We knew of the possibility that some other terrorist would come back for those buildings. To be sure, the 1993 attack led to changes and a strong response by government and aggressive investigations by media. But was it enough? Could we have done more to have helped the 3,000 people who perished? Could we have done more to have helped prevent the suffering of so many others?

The point of rehashing the past is not merely an ephemeral exploration of guilt and sorrow. Part of the reason we study our history is to learn lessons. This year, those lessons of 9/11 that enter my mind each year were juxtaposed to a photograph that one of my colleagues, Katie Stout, took on the campus of George Mason University. Yesterday, September 10th was International Suicide Prevention Day. The picture captured 1,100 backpacks lying on the ground, each representing one of the more than 1,100 college students lost to suicide each year. If they had included markers for all the people who commit suicide in a year – more than 40,000, the equivalent – it would have covered the entire George Mason University campus. It would have almost filled the trade center on a busy day. The picture was haunting.

As anyone who is touched by suicide knows, the news that a loved one has taken their own life comes out of the blue like those planes on 9/11, shocking the system and leaving us confused. But as the dust settles, there are also lessons there to be learned. Some of them relate to warning signs that we can pick up. Others relate to rationalizations we make and minimization we apply. But one of the lessons has to do with survivor’s guilt. As any warrior who has lost someone in a battle will tell you, it is very easy to fall into survivor’s guilt and get lost in your own pain, sorrow and anger.

Brian Malmon was a bright and charming student at Columbia University in New York. Students who wrote about him in the Columbia Daily Spector, the daily student newspaper on campus, said Brian “wowed audiences with his performances, enlightened readers with his journalism and inspired friends with his wit.” But Brian had returned home to Potomac, Maryland in 1999. He took his life with a gun on March 24, 2000. What many of Brian’s friends may not have known was that he had developed the symptoms of schizoaffective disorder, a combination of the persistent psychosis of schizophrenia with the powerful mood swings of bipolar disorder. In 2000, according to federal statistics, there were 29,266 Brian Malmons.

Estimates suggest that each suicide immediately affects six other people (175,607). Based on the suicide rates from 1997 to 2010, it is estimated that there was more than 6 million survivors of suicide – loved ones who have had to live with the aftermath – in the United States.

One of those survivors is Brian’s sister, Alison. Alison founded Active Minds, a national organization that, as they say, “uses students as the driving force to change the perception about mental health on college campuses.” Alison created a group on her campus at the University of Pennsylvania after her brother died and that group has grown into a network of 399 chapters across the country. Alison has learned many lessons from the loss of her brother and has helped others carry forward those lessons. It was Alison’s chapter at George Mason that laid out the backpacks.

On this day of remembrance for 9/11, let’s not forget about yesterday.

Remember the 3,000 who died on September 11 and the 40,000, the same number of people it would have taken to fill those buildings who will die from suicide this year.

And let's not forget the lessons we can learn from our losses -- the ones that Alison did when Brian died; the ones that led to that powerful remembrance and image yesterday that might remind someone to ask for help, to lend a hand or do something else that makes a world of difference.

Three Ways to Help Your Child Function More Effectively This School Year

You know beyond a shadow of a doubt that your child is smart and talented. Standardized tests may even support your opinion. Yet, you don't see your child's gifts reflected in his or her school performance. Teachers complain about disorganization, inattentiveness, lack of follow-through, messiness, inability to sit still, lack of effort, inappropriate behavior, or taking too long to complete tasks. You hope so desperately that this year will be different, that maybe your child will finally get the perfect teacher.

Chances are that even the best teacher will expect your child to conform to an environment and structure that may not suit him or her very well. Some kids shine most brightly outside of the system's box. But since you can't change the perimeters of that box, you will have to help your child learn to shine within it.  The following techniques will enable you to provide a hefty portion of that help.

First, impose structure at home. Ironically, problems that include disorganization, messiness, and difficulty getting things done on time are exacerbated by environments that mirror these tendencies. Therefore, it is vitally important that you serve well-balanced meals at the same time everyday; that you establish inviolable routines for chores, homework, and getting ready for school; that household items, especially those that your child needs, are always in the same place; that your child has clean clothes at his or her disposal that can be put out the night before; and that you manage your time and your child's effectively so that you are never the cause of your child's tardiness.

Second, strongly reinforce positive behavior and ignore negative behavior. Kids who have problems with executive function don't get much in the way of praise. On the contrary, they are always the target of disapproval, which further exacerbates their symptoms. Catch your child doing something right every day, and make a big deal of it, and let bad behavior pass unnoticed. This can build new confidence and bring them out of the fog of inattentiveness that leads to all his or her other problems. Teach them as well that they don't have to be perfect to be loved and valued.

Third, spend a half hour every night playing a family game. This can be a board or a word game, or any game that requires both focus and interaction. Make it an enjoyable time, but also take note of what your child does well and poorly and how he or she responds to setbacks, losing, and winning. This will give you a window into your child's social behavior in school, and enable you to devise a plan, perhaps with an ADHD coach, that fosters improvement in that area.

The most important thing you can do, however, is remember that you do not want to change or lose faith in you child's basic self. The school-structure box is a fact of life, but doesn't define your child or your parenting. But by implementing the techniques outlined above, you can help your child make this year's school experience happily different, with or without the perfect teacher.

Outsmarting Your ADHD At College

Like ADHD itself, college life tempts with irresistible distractions and inviting risks, so trying to cope with ADHD symptoms in such an environment might be more difficult than you expect. When a distraction, such as a party, presents itself, and you have a paper to write and a quiz to prepare for, your mom won't be there to keep you on track. But you can employ a few simple techniques that will serve you well and still allow you to partake in much of the fun and excitement that college has to offer.

One deceptively simple technique is self honesty. This requires admitting to yourself that you are unlikely to forgo an evening social activity to study; it is admitting that you intend to perform well and know you can, but will have great difficulty making yourself sit down to do your work, even without distractions; it is admitting that you have trouble getting up in the morning, and are at risk for missing those early morning classes. It is true that you are beginning college with a clean slate, and that anything is possible for you. But recognizing your weaknesses is the best way to keep them from defeating your strengths.

Once you have honestly confronted the challenges to your success, devise a game plan to outwit them. For example, if you know you won't be able to resist those evening dorm parties, plan to visit the library after your classes during the day and get your work done then. Make the evening party a reward for work performed, and don't allow yourself to attend any social gathering if you did not do your work during the day.

Even at the library, or wherever you choose to work, you might find it hard to buckle down. You see a friend, you log into Facebook, or you decide you'll have more energy for schoolwork if you go to the gym first. Begin with the most difficult task, and promise yourself that you only have to do the first problem, or write the first paragraph, or read the first chapter. Only continue if you feel engaged. Otherwise, your promise to yourself won't mean anything next time. Chances are though, that you will feel engaged and energized to continue. If not, at least you made a little headway.

If you can't for the life of you get out of bed in the morning, try to avoid registering for early morning classes. If that is not possible, get a loud alarm clock that you place far enough away from your bed that you must get up to shut it off. Set it so that you have enough time to get ready and eat a little something before class. Promise that you will reward yourself with a nap later in the day, and keep the promise.

Lastly, be fully present in whatever moment you have chosen for yourself. If you are at a party, don't spend it stressing about schoolwork. If you are writing a paper and hear laughter coming from down the hall, take a few deep breaths, count to ten, and remind yourself that you have chosen this time to focus on your paper.  Mindfully choose your activities, and always honor your choices.

Ever Wondered What to Expect from a Career Coach?

The ultimate outcomes of any life changing process vary significantly by person, given our different needs, skills, limitations and experience. But there are some basic things that you can expect from a career coach whether in or outside of our practice.

Career coaching is a partnership that is designed to help people assess their options and is a place where they can also make important decisions about the direction of their career.  A career coach starts by asking a series of questions designed to address skills, abilities, job experiences and goals. These questions are also used to determine qualifications for potential positions, and to understand the personality of the client. After recording the answers and thinking about them, it is a career coach’s job to talk to the client about his or her strengths and weaknesses, and discusses the desired goals.

Sometimes a career coaching client comes in knowing exactly what field they want to enter. Other times clients have no idea what they want to do. In other situations, clients want to continue what they are doing, but want to do better, move into leadership roles or improve their work-life balance. Career coaching is designed to be flexible and is able to adjust for all of these scenarios.

The coach is the primary motivator and encourager, providing clients with mentoring, motivation and accountability and fills two needs for an individual.  One is the experience and knowledge they have in finding new careers. The second is to personally motivate an individual and keep him/her on track.
The client should set one or more goals, ranging from goals climbing the corporate ladder to attaining a position with more authority to a goal of pursuing higher education. These goals are intended to ultimately place the client in a career which he or she genuinely enjoys, and they often include a variety of assessment tests to determine personality and aptitudes. Once the goals are set, client and coach talk about a time line for achieving them, and the partnership moves to the next stage. The career coach’s job is to offer encouragement and advice by providing tips on the best way to apply for specific positions and hold mock interviews to relax and prepare the client.

Through expertise in career development and labor markets, the coach get the most out of people’s qualifications, experience, strengths and weakness into a broad perspective taking into consideration their desired salary, personal hobbies and interests, location, job market and educational possibilities.

Among a lot of other things, a career coach can administer and interpret assessments and inventories to assess work values, interests, skills and competencies and help identify alternative career options for people in transition that capitalize on individual knowledge, skill and ability profiles. Coaches and clients also collaborate to help develop specific career paths with experience, knowledge, abilities, and skills defined. Coaches can also help clients overcome issues such as lack of self-confidence, and their fears of success/failure and work with the client to create career development plans to help employees grow and learn.

A career coach’s job is, ultimately, to be a knowledgeable, unbiased and objective partner to the client who wants to change or is experiencing job stress, job loss or transition for other reasons.

The Many Faces of Robin Williams

By Jayson Blair

Standing in the front of the coffee table last night, I picked up my phone to check the news and saw the headline. Robin Williams was dead at the age 63. I clicked on the link with a mindset that some horrible accident must have happened. Perhaps he died of a tragic illness that took his life early, like cancer. I was right about the tragic illness, it appeared. I had just picked the wrong horrible disease.

Early reports suggest that Williams, the actor and comedian known for his standup and movies like “Good Will Hunting,” “Patch Adams” and “Mrs. Doubtfire” died of asphyxiation, most likely caused, according to the Marion County, California sheriff’s office, by suicide. That Williams suffered from drug addiction I knew from his standup. What I did not know was that he suffered from the same disease that ailed me, bipolar disorder.

In a 2006 episode of “Fresh Air,” the NPR radio show, Williams told host Terry Gross, “Do I perform sometimes in a manic style? Yes. Am I manic all the time? No. Do I get sad? Oh yeah. Does it hit me hard? Oh yeah.”

According to news accounts overnight, Williams’ spokeswoman, Mara Buxbaum, said that he had “been battling severe depression as of late.”

I sent a text to several friends who could relate, either because of their mental illness or their addictions. To one message with a friend who also has bipolar disorder, I wrote back, “Shame. For us at least. Hard to say whether it was for him.”

My comment may have seemed callous, but my friend knew what I meant. He wrote back, simply, “I agree.” The truth is that while it may be hard to understand why another person takes their own life, if you’ve been on the brink of that choice, you understand, as Kay Redfield Jamison, a professor of psychiatry who also has bipolar disorder, put it in the title of her book on suicide that ‘night falls fast.’

There is no question, as one commenter put it, that suicide is an insidious choice due to the lies that depression tells us. When those thoughts persistently and pervasively bombard you day in and day out or when they come out of nowhere like a drone attacking in the night’s sky, they can tear you down to the shreds of yourself, wither your resolve and leave you gasping for breath. The only way you see to stop the suffering is to end your life. People say that’s when suicide happens - when people listen to those voices, but I find that to be a metaphor that leads to gross over-simplification – you have little choice about whether you can listen to those voices. It’s your actions that hang in the balance.

By all accounts, Williams made every effort to seek help. By his own account, he spent 17 years clean and sober between 1986 and 2003. He described an addiction to cocaine and was a frequent partner, he said, alongside John Belushi, who died in 1982. Williams said on the show “Inside the Actor’s Studio” that the death of his friend and the birth of his son. “Was it a wake up-call?” Williams asked. “Oh yeah, on a huge level. The grand jury helped too.”

Bipolar disorder, I find, is such a benign phrase for such a terrible disease. It certainly has much less stigma attached to it than its preceding name, manic depression. But manic depression more aptly captures a disease that slams you from what can be a painful high to a crushing low, sending you up again often into a vice where both mania and depression, not mutually exclusive conditions, can squeeze you at the same time in a powerful vice. Too often, in an effort to show people how well those with bipolar disorder can function in life, we minimize how damning the disease can be for the sufferer.

Williams said that he relapsed via alcohol in 2003 while working in a small town in Alaska. In 2006, he checked himself into a substance abuse rehabilitation in Oregon. Williams’ addiction garnered much attention, but his struggle with the underlying conditions, as is true for so many people who get sober, did not. Williams’ co-stars on the set of “The Crazy Ones” said that he appeared so healthy this spring. It is a testament to how deceptive these diseases of the mind can be to the outside observer.

“He seemed to have this aura about him,” the actress, Marilu Henner, told USA Today. “But you don’t really know what lies beneath. It makes me so sad that it came to this.”

But like Williams, we all have many faces. His, at times, masked another solider in a silent army, fighting a secret war that their friends, family and admirers might not always see. Instead of focusing the very real sadness of his suicide, I want to raise a glass to Robin Williams – of something non-alcoholic, as a recovering addict myself – and hold a parade in his honor, for fighting this terrible disease for so long. He may not have made it through the battle, but his effort can be an inspiration for the rest of us to fight.

Utilizing Organizational Consulting Techniques for Individuals

 By Lisa Krull

Lisa Krull
The other day, a fellow coach asked how my prior consulting experience influenced my perspective and ability as a coach. Hmmm, I thought. Has it? As coaches, we love powerful questions and this was a good one.

In general, I’m used to answering the more common question of how I made the transition from consulting to coaching. I get that question frequently from individuals contemplating a career change, and it has become an easy answer.

After earning my coaching certification, I kept my job as a full-time consultant and started small in my spare time—doing pro bono work, coaching other new coaches and being coached in return (a bartering type of arrangement), and finding an unpaid part-time internship to add experience to my resume. When the timing was right from a personal and professional standpoint, I took a leap of faith and haven’t looked back.

Sure, there’s coaching value that can be gleaned from this response (e.g. being proactive, building your resume, identifying the right timing, practicing your craft, etc.). But the question of how consulting has influenced my perspective and ability as a coach required much more thought. After several days of pondering, I found that it’s also a more fruitful response.

Overall, consulting taught me nearly everything I know professionally. I supported at least five different government agencies and multiple departments within those agencies. I also worked as an internal consultant, providing human resource support to senior leaders. Consulting afforded me the opportunity to gain countless skills—some of the most important being customer service excellence, networking, entrepreneurship, teamwork, patience, assertiveness, project/time management, and presentation skills.

As it turns out, these skills have quite a bit to do with my ability to coach individuals. Here are some examples:

Customer service excellence – As a consultant, I would lose my customer if I wasn’t meeting (and striving to surpass) his expectations. If I’m not sure what will make my client happy, I need to ask questions and become very clear about the end goals before I complete a project that misuses money and resources. Budgets get cut, organizations re-align, missions get changed – and it’s the consultant’s job to go with the flow and deal with unexpected challenges. Similarly, as a coach, I ask powerful questions and help clients identify solutions tailored to their unique needs. I’m not focused on my agenda—I’m focused on my client’s agenda. I continually ask clients what I can do to better support them, how I can be a more effective coach, and whether they’re seeing benefits from our coaching partnership.

Networking (and being proactive!) – Consultants build their network of colleagues, managers, and clients within and across organizations to land new project work and extend/maintain current work. And they actively keep in touch with those individuals. Networking is probably the most important skill (aside from customer service) that every consultant needs to demonstrate to be successful. Likewise, career coaches help their clients learn to network so that clients find the right jobs more quickly and efficiently. Let’s face it—the days of and are long gone. Research demonstrates that about 70%-80% of available jobs aren’t even advertised! How are 100% of individuals going to get hired when they are sitting behind a computer emailing job applications out for only 20%-30% of the job openings? The successful jobseekers learn to network to gain meaningful employment.

Teamwork – In consulting, teamwork is essential to uncovering solutions to difficult problems, meeting tight deadlines, and getting the job done. It requires that all members hold each other accountable and respect each other as individuals so that space is created for idea generation. In coaching, teamwork is an important part of establishing a trusted coach-client relationship. A coach helps empower the client to create solutions to problems and challenges him to think in new and different ways. If you didn’t think a team of two could be effective, just look at peanut butter and jelly, bread and butter, or a hamburger and fries!

Entrepreneurship – In consulting, you use entrepreneurial skills to help your clients find novel solutions, develop business models, identify their brand, create work plans, and acquire project resources. As a coach, I use entrepreneurial skills to help clients think outside the box, create goals and action plans, and practice marketing/selling themselves to hiring managers or other leaders.
Through 11 years of consulting, I’ve seen organizations grow and shrink. I’ve experienced budget surpluses and budget cuts. I’ve spent time traveling and sitting in a cubicle. Recounting these experiences, I know that I will use my consulting skills for the rest of my life. Consulting has made me a better and more effective coach, and for that I am grateful.

Win Free Career Testing

Tell us what you would change about your life if you could change your career, and win a chance at free career testing.

Career testing is a great way to figure out your passion and your purpose. At Goose Creek Coaching we are committed to doing just that. We utilize several assessments to help clients determine what they want to do with their lives. While tests do not give us all the answers, they do offer clues to help client's figure out their interests, skills and work-life preferences. The winner will be provided with a full MBTI Career Report, which includes the results of the Strong Interests Inventory combined with the Myers Briggs Type Indicator report.

To win free career testing and a session with one of our career coaches, contact us using the form on this page and tell us how you think you could benefit from career testing and what you would change in your life if you could move into a new career. One winner will be selected by September 1 and we will follow their career change -- using a pseudonym to hide their true identity -- here on our blog.

It costs nothing to enter this contest and all you have to do is submit your answers using the form on this page. Our staff will review the answers and will select a winner sooner afterwards. Please submit your answer by September 1!
Career coaching should never just be about getting a job. It should be about finding your passion and your purpose. At Goose Creek Coaching, our career coaching is focused on helping people do just that. As someone involved in career coaching, life coaching and mental health coaching at the practice, I have three assessments at my disposable for those who are trying to find a road map for a rewarding work life.
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Career coaching should never just be about getting a job. It should be about finding your passion and your purpose. At Goose Creek Coaching, our career coaching is focused on helping people do just that. As someone involved in career coaching, life coaching and mental health coaching at the practice, I have three assessments at my disposable for those who are trying to find a road map for a rewarding work life.
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Career coaching should never just be about getting a job. It should be about finding your passion and your purpose. At Goose Creek Coaching, our career coaching is focused on helping people do just that. As someone involved in career coaching, life coaching and mental health coaching at the practice, I have three assessments at my disposable for those who are trying to find a road map for a rewarding work life.
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Tip to Nailing Job Interviews

Laid off? Looking to climb the corporate ladder? Unsure about whether you have found your passion at work? Returning to work after having a child or recovering from a disability? 

One of the most difficult parts of returning to work, beginning to work or making a career transition is learning how to handle interviews. Most people do not realize that there are several different interview approaches and styles that employers can use to help determine the best candidates. Often these approaches are based on internal corporate culture that a career coach can help you identify and orient you toward.

There are four main types of selection interview approaches. Employers often use a combination of all of the above. 

  • Traditional interviews tend to be the most widely used technique. In these interviews, employers ask questions that pertain to a job and your qualifications. The interviewer often asks about what you would do in certain hypothetical situations similar to those that might arise on the job. An employer often asks similar questions of all candidates in these situations in order to compare them and distinguish them from each other.

  • Behavioral interviews are based on the idea that past performance and actions to predict how a candidate will perform in similar situations in the future. You might be asked questions that are designed to illicit information about previously demonstrated capabilities, personal qualities and weaknesses. In traditional interviews, questions are often open-ended and hypothetical. In behavioral interviews, questions tend to be focused on your performance in an actual situation. For example, in a traditional interview, an interviewer might ask, “How would you handle a disagreement with a peer on your team?” In a behavioral interview, the questioner might ask, “Tell me about a time when you worked on a project where team members disagreed.”

  • Case interviews, often typical in management consulting and analytical positions, focus on hypothetical situations that can be ambiguous. The purpose is to test your analytical and problem solving skills in assessing the situations and developing a solution.
  • Technical interviews, common in science and technology positions, focus on solving actual problems that potential employees could experience on the job.

Preparing for traditional interviews often focuses on your work history while behavioral interview preparation often involves learning how to use the STAR framework – Situation/Task, Actions and Results – to provide answers that give interviewers a solid idea of how you will perform in a situation. Case interview preparation often involves familiarizing yourself with the employer and having a strong grapse of standard techniques, probabilities and statistics. Case interview preparation often involves making sure you understand the situations, that you can think logically about the problem, that you can structure your response and have an innovative and concise conversation. Technical interviews often involve studying the core knowledge base of the field.

Not knowing the type of interview you are likely walking into is likely to harm your ability to succeed. Learning about each type leaves you prepared for virtually anything that can be thrown at you.

In addition to the selection interview approaches, prospective employees need to be able to develop skills that allow them to send the right message through a variety of different styles of interviewing, including face-to-face interviews; panel interviews; videoconferencing and Internet interviewing and mock interviews (in our company, prospective coaches are often asked to coach a client in front of a panel of employees). Preparing for these types – including the surprises – can be difficult without the help of a seasoned professional.

Our career coaches specialize in being able to sort out the different types of interviewing skills need for specific positions and how to best convey your skill set in each medium.

Utilizing Career Testing in Career Coaching

Career coaching should never just be about getting a job. It should be about finding your passion and your purpose. At Goose Creek Coaching, our career coaching is focused on helping people do just that. As someone involved in career coaching, life coaching and mental health coaching at the practice, I have three assessments at my disposable for those who are trying to find a road map for a rewarding work life.

With each of these assessments, it is important to view the client in a broad context. I liken it to a narrowing funnel where I am able to examine a client’s interests through an assessment and filter in and out certain options. Examining a client’s preferred ways of operating in the world helps us further narrow the list. Reviewing a client’s resume, work history, life experience, confidence and skillset helps we funnel it even further. Then, examining the client’s financial, emotional, geographic and family needs helps us, hopefully, narrow the list to a promising handful of occupations that we begin exploring.

The process of helping people begin to search for a position moves more smoothly in many cases when we utilize assessments. Once the process is done, we are often ready to work together to apply for jobs, develop resumes, write winning cover letters and prepare for interviews. Knowing the client helps the coach do a better job; knowing yourself helps the client more easily get a job.

The three primary tests we utilize are the Strong Interest Inventory, the Myers Briggs Type Indicator and the Fundamental Interpersonal Relations Orientation. Clients can take any combination of the tests that they decide, with input from their coach, to take. There are several versions of each test, some focusing on college students, high school students, those going through career transition and other scenarios.

The Strong Interest Inventory helps us zero in on the top 10 occupations that have the potential to be most satisfying in a client’s life, general occupational themes that give us an idea of broad interest areas and personal styles in the work place. The Strong provides highly personalized results based on answers to hundreds of questions that compare the results to more than 250 occupations. The test also compares a client’s answers to answers of those who are satisfied or dissatisfied in certain fields. An option with the Strong is to also take a Skills Confidence Inventory that assess an individual’s self-assurance about their ability to succeed in certain fields.

The Myers Briggs Type Indicator, known as the MBTI, is an assessment that has been taken by millions of people to help them develop a framework or positive change, to build better relationships and to realistically achieve their goals. The assessment results are based on Carl Jung’s theory of psychological type and provide practical information about a client’s preferred way of operating overall and in four specific areas. The areas of focus are based on whether an individual gets their strength from a natural outward focus or an inward focus; whether they prefer to take in information and process it through a step-by-step fashion or in an intuitive big picture fashion; whether they make decisions based on logic or personal considerations and whether they deal best with the world in a planned or spontaneous fashion.

The third test, the Fundamental Interpersonal Relations Orientation, or FIRO, helps us understand a client’s interpersonal needs and how those needs impact their behavior and communication style. Its primary focus is on how a client behaves toward other people and how a client wants people to behave toward them. The test assesses the client’s expressed – what they tend to do – and wanted – how much they want others to do -- need to be a part of a group, to control a situation and for affection.  The FIRO can help a client make change in their behaviors, give them specific insights into the needs of others and help us come up with developmental recommendations for clients.

Utilizing these assessments, along with individualized coaching, to help filter potential career fields helps increase the likelihood of success for our clients. It’s an approach that we designed to help make sure that when our clients come back, it’s only for tweaking of their resumes, preparing for an interview or getting ready for a change – not because they are still unsure of what their passion and their purpose is.

Mindfulness Coaching for ADHD

Our neighbor, Adam, who may have undiagnosed ADHD, is a wine enthusiast. His practical enjoyment of this hobby would greatly increase, I believe, if he obtained ADHD coaching that included mindfulness training.

Relaxed - No Anxiety Like many people with ADHD, Adam, a pseudonym for my real neighbor, is very intelligent, and when his mind alights on a topic that interests him, he will exhaustively explore it. His ability to hyper focus on things that fascinate him is common for people with ADHD, and potentially a great asset, but only if it isn't sabotaged by ADHD's less positive attributes. In at least in one instance, that sabotaging happened to Adam in his attempt to share his knowledge and enjoyment of wine.

A few other neighbors and I planned with Adam a French gourmet dinner, for which he was to choose the perfect wine. He researched thoroughly, made the ideal choice, and found one small wine store in the area that carried it. The store was located about 45 minutes away, so picking it up required a significant time investment from Adam.

When Adam arrived at the wine store, about four people were ahead of him in line. The clerk was taking quite a bit of time with the customer he was currently helping. Adam started to feel horribly restless, like a caffeinated, caged racehorse. He checked his phone, but he didn't have any messages. He looked around, but didn't see anything interesting. After about five minutes, the clerk was still helping the first customer, and Adam couldn't stand it anymore. He left without the wine.

Mindfulness coaching for ADHD would have enabled Adam to respond differently to the situation. First, it would have provided him techniques for waiting his turn in line without becoming hopelessly bored and restless. Although people with ADHD often have difficulty setting short and long-term goals for the future, they are always careening towards it. Usually, the present is something to be endured until they can race ahead to something more compelling or exciting. Mindfulness coaching trains those with ADHD to be present in the present, to become aware of the anxiety that makes the present feel intolerable, and find a place in their own bodies and minds to focus on rather than depending on external stimuli.

Second, mindfulness coaching would have helped Adam with the impulsiveness that caused him to leave the store. Instead of reacting to an urge born of anger, boredom, anxiety, or some other emotion of which Adam was unaware he was experiencing, mindfulness would have taught him to first observe his emotional experience non-judgmentally, and then to decide how he wished to respond to it. Thus, Adam wouldn't have been managed by his impulses, but rather his impulses would have been managed by him.

The dinner proceeded without the perfect wine, and the evening was still enjoyable.  Adam was already talking about the great wine he would bring next time. I couldn't help hoping that he would get a little mindfulness coaching before then.

Why Coaching is the Best Option for ADHD

Stressed WomanRecently, I attended a party where one guest, I'll call her Susan, exhibited some ADHD behavior. It was raining as Susan was leaving the party, and this inspired the hostess to share with her a story about how her basement flooded the year before. She included details of the dirty, expensive process of getting rid of the water, tearing out the wet, moldy drywall, and putting in new walls. When the hostess finished, Susan responded inappropriately with "That's totally awesome! That's so great! You guys are the best!" When Susan left, another guest said to the hostess, "I don't think she heard a word of your story," and the hostess rolled her eyes and nodded in agreement.

I think Susan meant to listen to the hostess, but had unwittingly zoned out. I think she wanted to care and show enthusiasm about the story, so she provided what she believed was a response reflecting that. But actually, her response conveyed just the opposite; it conveyed that she found the hostess and her story so boring and unimportant that hadn't even bothered to listen.

The sad part is, Susan probably did this regularly, to everyone, imperiling her relationships, without any awareness that it was a problem.

I am a mental health counselor who chooses to employ coaching to help my clients who are struggling with ADHD. I believe that both therapy and coaching are great treatment options for most disorders, but for ADHD, I prefer coaching.

One reason for my preference is that recovery is not the goal for people like Susan, strategizing is, and coaching is all about strategizing. Therapy works well for helping clients recover from depression, substance use problems, crippling anxiety, etc., but for those with ADHD, developing strategies for minimizing ADHD's disadvantages and maximizing its advantages is the best approach. As a coach, I wouldn't try and help Susan recover from her inattentiveness, I would help her recognize that her problems with focus extend beyond the work arena, and help her employ techniques for addressing them.

Another reason why I prefer coaching for clients with ADHD is that unlike anxiety, depression and other disorders, ADHD doesn't make people feel unlike themselves. They don't suddenly notice a change in their emotion, thought, behavior, or physicality. So, unlike other types of sufferers, people with ADHD are usually unaware of the myriad ways that their symptoms are impacting their lives, because it has always been that way. Susan had no idea that she was insulting people by not listening – she didn't even realize she wasn't listening. An ADHD coach would help her develop awareness of how her inattentiveness was affecting her relationships, and look for the impact of disorganization, impulsiveness, poor money management, and tardiness as well.  

Susan has so many strengths; she is lively, fun, enthusiastic, creative, and she can hyper-focus in ways that allow her to master some very difficult things, such as playing the banjo and creating graphic art. With a little coaching, she, and others with ADHD, could leverage their strengths, develop techniques for overcoming their weaknesses, and ultimately, play the game of life much more successfully.

To learn more about ADHD Coaching, contact us .

Losing Weight Isn't An Overnight Process

Astrid Richardson is a life and wellness coach trained by the International Coaching Federation. Her experience includes working as a dietary consultant from Jenny Craig where she worked with clients who had various levels of weight loss issues. Astrid's beliefs are that coaching can give clients a safe and loving space to explore, seek clarity, find awareness, and grow. To learn more about Astrid's coaching practice visit our website.

By Astrid Richardson

Wellness - Diet

How many times have you attempted to lose weight? Has it been once, twice, three times or more? Each time, you start with a great deal of enthusiasm and feel that, this time, you’ll achieve your goal.  Often, you meet the challenge and lose the weight, only to later gain it back. The loss and gain can be disappointing and leave you wondering, “How did I let this happen again?” You might even feel defeated.

Let’s go back to the beginning of the last weight loss achievement and see how you accomplished your goal. Did you have a plan? Probably. You, most likely, looked at the many things in life that could get in your way and found solutions that would help you stay on track. That might’ve been using a calendar to schedule your exercise, having a meal plan and making sure that you planned ahead so you wouldn’t be caught unprepared. You may have even had a friend to keep you accountable and with whom, you could celebrate your wins along the way. These are all great ways to achieve weight loss. If you’ve achieved your weight loss goals, I sincerely congratulate you. That’s wonderful! So, now what? Will you continue to use the structures that supported you or will you go back to old habits that don’t align with your newly achieved goal?

Whether you’ve lost weight and want to keep it off or you’re starting anew, ask yourself, “What is my motivation?” Is it to feel better, look better, or both? Whatever it is, make sure that it is strong and you can remember it. A strong motivation, having a plan, and support structures are powerful tools for achieving and sustaining your goal. When life happens and setbacks occur, these tools will help get you back on track and restore balance. Don’t forget to be good to yourself and give yourself the love and compassion you need, especially during a setback. And remember - “Failure is only the opportunity to begin again, only this time more wisely.” - Henry Ford

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