In the movie Far and Away, Tom Cruise playing the part of a young Irishman named Joseph Donnelly, travels to the United States with Shannon Christie played by Nichole Kidman. Their intent is to get a new start and find land in their new country. In one scene Joseph has bragged about how quickly he has finished cleaning his laundry while Shannon clearly does not know how to clean her clothes. Joseph proceeds to show her how by taking a garment, placing it on a washboard, and plunging it into the soapy water and scrubbing it on the washboard. As he demonstrates the technique he tells Shannon, “You plunge and scrub, plunge and scrub, and if it still is not clean then…you plunge and scrub and plunge and scrub.” Later in the movie Shannon demonstrates the technique to her mother who is not used to doing her own laundry.
As a professional life coach I have recently had the opportunity to work with some young adults who, like Shannon Christie in the movie Far and Away either do not know the virtues of personal hygiene or are too lazy to apply the principles. It is particularly troubling as some of these young adults were certainly taught the rudimentary methods of bathing, brushing their teeth, and washing their clothes by their parents but the sitcom Friends left a greater impression. It is true that we live in a time when narcissism rules but if you expect to get a job and keep it or have a meaningful relationship with someone, then perhaps you need to get back to the basics.
As a teacher I have been known to begin my classes with a quiz of five well chosen questions, so which of the answers below as related to clothing is the correct answer?
- Throw the garment against the wall and if and when it falls to the floor it is okay to wear.
- Clothes, including underwear, can be worn at least ten times before washing them.
- As long as I take a shower, clothes off the floor are a reasonable choice.
- I can skip the shower as long as I use body spray and deodorant.
- I shower or bathe once a day and wear clean clothes that have not been worn more than twice between washings.
GROSS! I hope you know the right answer because if I have to tell you then you have a problem. It is indeed odd that this issue must be addressed but with such dysfunction in families and society, it is needed. If you have interviewed high school AND college graduates for employment lately then you might agree. I went to traffic court a couple of years ago, and I was amazed at what people wore to court. In fact the judge told one woman to come back to court the next week because she was scantily dressed in something that was entirely too small. He refused to hear her case until she was dressed more modestly.
I interviewed one young man on several occasions and it was likely that he had bathed but body odor was evident on his clothes. Another young man almost gassed me with his bad breath. It would seem that these are common sense issues but not anymore. If you follow the following guidelines then if you don’t get the job or keep it, your loss will not be due to a lack of personal hygiene.
- Shower or bathe daily…with soap. Maybe you are trying to be like the Europeans or a water conservationist but the question is, “Do you want the job and/or relationship or not?” When washing yourself give attention to underarms, feet, and private parts. (I didn’t think I would ever need to write that so plainly, but times have changed.)
- Use deodorant, body spray, and cologne conservatively. Not too much and not as a substitute for a shower or bath. I guarantee that others can smell body odor through Channel #9 and you don’t need to add your own personal spice to Old Spice.
- Guys, trim your nails and clean the gunk out from under them. A female interviewer will notice.
- Do something with that hair. Don’t go to an interview or to work with bed hair or unwashed flakey hair. Also, be careful about giving yourself a quick trim. One young man I knew decided to give himself a haircut and looked like he was on chemotherapy.
- Guys, depending on the job or potential job, shave or groom your beard and mustache. Also, nose hair is not the in thing for most job interviewers and supers.
- Brush your teeth and use mouthwash. If you eat garlic, or ramps for my Appalachian readers, some parsley oil such as Breath-Assure will neutralize the odiferous herbs. A couple Tic-Tacs can also help but you probably don’t want the rhythmical rattle of a Tic-Tac package in your pocket. I like to just take a few with me every day just for good measure.
- God gave humans two eyebrows but nature sometimes gives some people just one. You might want to make sure you have two but be careful not to eliminate one or both.
- Wear underwear! Many years ago when I joined the U.S. Navy and had a “group physical” I was amazed at the number of guys that did not wear underwear. It’s not clean and the practice does nothing to keep your clothes clean if you know what I mean.
- Perhaps you like your tattoo but it may not win points with an interview as a new business executive or manager in training. Cover it up. Better yet…don’t get one! I know that mine is an ultra conservative position on this one but do you want the job or not?
- Wear clean clothes. If they have been worn once already, do the smell-test. The problem is that individuals cannot always sense their own odors…but everybody else can. You may use some discretion as related to clothing in some cases. If you are going to work around the house, then that pair of jeans that you have worn twice might be okay. However, err on the clean side. Remember to dress appropriately to the job or occasion. It is usually better to over dress slightly than to under dress.
- Wear clean socks. Some people wear socks once and put them back in the drawer to wear again. Not cool.
- Because bacteria particularly like to colonize shoes, it’s a good idea to spray them occasionally with a product for the purpose that kills the organisms and neutralizes foot odor. It also might be a good idea to clean and polish your shoes if appropriate.
The list could go on but these are the very basics. Add more in the comments section.
Perhaps you are saying, “Why do I have to do all those things to get a job?” While you may not agree, your perspective employer is looking for an employee who will project the image THEY want. While hiring you is about you, it’s also about them. They are looking to see (and smell) if you are a good fit. Will you project their desired image and will customers and coworkers want to be around you? The BIG question is, DO YOU WANT THE JOB OR NOT?
Life is limiting enough without limiting one’s choices because of poor hygiene.
Is there a young adult that you know who might benefit by reading this article? Do you have some “tasteful” suggestions to add for males and females regarding hygiene? Do you have an interesting or funny story about hygiene as related to interviewing or hiring? Please post “tasteful” comments that will add to the discussion.
Dr. Tom Cocklereece is CEO of RENOVA Coaching and Consulting, LLC
He is a pastor, author, professional coach, leadership specialist, and is
a member Coach/Teacher/Speaker for the John Maxwell Team
A friend of mine is a successful businessman and entrepreneur who also serves as a board member of a non-profit community organization. On the board, Rob (not his real name) often offers insightful comments and good advice that matches his good business sense. Yet when asked to serve as a board officer, Rob quotes the notorious General William Tecumseh Sherman when asked if he would seek presidential office,
“If nominated I will not run; if elected I will not serve.”
To Serve or Not To Serve
Many would-be leaders have the same attitude as Sherman.
- It is extreme irony that Rob will not serve at a higher level as a leader since he is already leading in a number of roles.
- Rob will not seek a higher level of leadership because he is fearful of failure.
- He has not found the leader within…he has not discovered the quintessential leader that he could be.
Can you relate to Rob? I know I can. Even the best of leaders falter at times…me included. On a weekend vacation I was recently doing a detailed reading of John Maxwell’s leadership book Everyone Communicates, Few Connect in which he lists “Four Unpardonable Sins of a Communicator”: being unprepared, uncommitted, uninteresting, or uncomfortable.
Maxwell’s words hit me head on as I recounted my lack of leadership in one of my roles.
The greatest mistake of leadership is not a failure to succeed but a failure to lead.
In fact, the greatest failures of leadership are not a lack of experience, a lack of training, a lack of education, or lack of resources but usually a failure of one to engage.
Avoiding Leadership Failure
Four ways to avoid a failure to lead are:
- Engage as a leader.
- Engage at the right time.
- Engage with enough energy to see the project through.
- Engage other leaders around you to help and eventually take over the project.
1. ENGAGE AS A LEADER
The only way to lead is to lead! It sounds ridiculous, but it is true. Many people who are in THE prime place to lead never engage. Perhaps you understand the issues better than anyone else, you have the authority to lead, and people are looking at you and anticipating action, but you are waiting.
Perhaps you are waiting for someone else to step up to the plate. Maybe you are hoping the problem will just go away.
Other excuses may include:
- I don’t have the experience.
- I don’t have the time.
- I don’t have the education.
- I don’t think others respect me.
- I don’t want to keep someone else from their opportunity to lead.
- I’m not leadership material.
Based on the listed excuses, you will never be ready to lead. Moses used virtually every one of these excuses in Exodus 3 and 4 when talking with the Creator and God did not let him off the hook but kept handing the job to him. Moses had to engage. It was during the process and time of leadership that Moses became Moses instead of a nameless adopted son of a pharaoh in Egypt.
Only through the action of leading will the leader in you emerge.
2. ENGAGE AT THE RIGHT TIME
In baseball, the difference between swinging the bat too early, too late, and on time can be either a foul ball or a home run. It’s that way with leadership too.
As a leader you must engage at the right time.
Crisis situations require instant leadership. Other situations may allow decision and strategy time, but a large part of successful leadership is timing. Great leaders have an intuitive understanding of timing which creates the highest possible involvement of others who are empowered to assist…also called buy-in.
By engaging at the right time, they increase the number of others working on the same problem. If you are waiting for the problem to resolve itself or go away…it will probably only get worse.
3. ENGAGE WITH ENOUGH ENERGY TO SEE THE PROJECT THROUGH
Introverted leaders (S & C on the DISC profile) are often tempted to disengage too early before the full success is achieved. The reason for this is that their reserve for directing energy toward others is less.
On the other hand, extroverted leaders (D & I on the DISC profile) have a tendency to either delegate the leadership role too early or declare victory prematurely. Great leaders see the big picture of the project so they pace their energy or know how to replenish it along the way in order to complete the task. I believe the greatest leaders lead out of energy overflow instead of reserves.
The overflow principle is a Psalm 23 concept by which one does not manufacture her own energy but is continuously using overflow from God’s inexhaustible energy resources. Overflow may be defined as finding one’s fulfillment, satisfaction, worth, and esteem in Christ which results in greater energy overflow.
Show me an exhausted leader and I will show you a leader who is leading out of his own exhaustible reserves that will eventually run dry.
The greatest leaders learn to tap in to the Psalm 23 overflow to the point of directing and investing energy overflow into others on purpose to add value to them. Read Psalm 23 again while considering the Overflow Principle:
1 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. 3 He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake. 4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. 5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil;My cup runs over. 6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the LORD Forever.
Psalms 23:1-6 (NKJV) (emphasis mine)
Note verses 3 and 5 where the Lord “restores my soul” and “my cup runs over.” These illustrate the Overflow Principle of Leadership.
4. ENGAGE OTHER LEADERS AROUND YOU TO ASSIST
Engage other leaders around you to help and eventually take over the project. A great leader intuitively scans for people in the organization who possess the abilities and willingness to assist and eventually take over a project. “Willingness” is often the only quality that separates a new leader from everyone else.
Mentoring and coaching are often the only disciplines that separate average leaders from great leaders. Great leaders mentor and coach emerging leaders. In fact this may be a distinguishing difference between managers and leaders. The difference between leaders and managers is coaching & mentoring emerging leaders.
Leaders add value to new leaders while managers often feel threatened.
Don’t miss your opportunity to be the leader you were meant to be. Find the leader within! Here is a quote from Kate Chopin’s book The Awakening:
“She was becoming herself and daily casting aside that fictitious self which we assume like a garment with which to appear before the world.”
It is time for you to cast aside that fictitious apparition of yourself as one who fears to lead and allow the leader within you to emerge. Do it now!
- What are your attitudes toward other leaders? If you distrust other leaders then you will not want to become a leader until you learn to trust.
- What excuses are keeping you from engaging as a leader? There are few legitimate “reasons.”
- How are you using the “Overflow Principle of Leadership” or not?
- List the leadership qualities you and others see in you that have potential.
(This article by Dr. Tom Cocklereece was originally published on Linked2Leadership May 17, 2011.)
Dr. Tom Cocklereece is CEO of RENOVA Coaching and Consulting, LLC
Author “Simple Discipleship,” contributing writer L2L Blogazine
He is a pastor, an author, professional coach, and leadership specialist
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Web | Blog | Book | Coaching Site
One way you can get out of your way is to name your gremlin. A gremlin in this sense is a self-defeating behavior that reappears in life, work, and relationships that prevents you from achieving a new level of success. Like in the movie by the same name, gremlins usually are latent and easy to live with until they are activated by external or internal factors, either past, present, or perceived future. Naming them can help you to be aware of your self-defeating behavior so you may make intentional decisions that are edifying and rewarding to all involved. The introductory article to this series is at http://renovacoaching.com/2010/10/05/get-out-of-your-way/ .
It is likely that you have known someone who has the gremlin named “Blamer,” that is, they seem to always blame somebody or something for their failure. They rarely accept responsibility for anything and even when they do, their statement usually includes some measure of blaming. If Blamer is your gremlin, you need to know two things: 1) you are sabotaging your success and relationships, and 2) your future opportunities will gradually diminish. If this is what you want out of life then keep Blamer as your pet and feed him well with criticism of others at every opportunity. On the other hand, if you desire to improve your relationships and increase future opportunities, always be aware of your latent blaming potential and critical spirit. Then,…stop,…accept responsibility,…and do your best with no excuses (another gremlin). You will enjoy improved relationships and more opportunities. However, you may need to get to the heart of the matter.
Blaming is often disguised as unhealthy guilt that has never been resolved. Remember that when you point to others there are three fingers pointing back to you—four if your thumb is double-jointed. Ask yourself several questions:
- Has there been a cataclysmic event in my life that provides me with an unending well of anger and resentment?
- Have others ever told you that you are always critical or blaming?
- Do you see accepting responsibility and admitting your failings a weakness?
- Do you repeatedly share blame stories with family and friends? You may find that it’s like a fish story in which the fault blamed on others get bigger with each telling.
I like what Rick Warren teaches in his well know book The Purpose-Driven Life: “Don’t get bitter but choose to get better.” Forgiveness of others and self is the remedy.
Links to the Gremlin series:
Dr. Tom Cocklereece
Hire me as your coach. I useGoToMeetingfor online distance sessions. Coaching sessions and our relationship is confidential but your success will be visible to all. Contact me for a complementary session at firstname.lastname@example.org .
After a long day I turned on an old movie on television only to hear a commercial break a few minutes later. The break went right to a ridiculous discussion between a “life coach” and her client. Of course the vignette was meant to be comical and entertaining; however there may be some who form their opinion of the coaching profession from such presentations.
According to the International Coach Federation, professional and life coaches earned $1.5 billion in 2009 and the figure will likely go up steadily. Of course we are not talking sports here but we are talking about organizational, team, and personal development. Indeed, some do not think highly of the coaching profession and I don’t blame them if their experience is limited to an entertainment segment intended to make fun of coaches and those who hire them. Many people are skeptical of hiring a coach because they are not sure what they do.
WHAT COACHING IS…AND IS NOT
For some, their idea of coaching is of a personal mentor like Mr. Miyagi in Karate Kid giving instructions, “Wax on…wax off.” For others, their idea is of a personal counselor who tells them just what they want to hear. Coaching, counseling, and mentoring certainly share some characteristics but there are distinctions.
- Coaching forms a co-active partnership that seeks to empower and equip the coachee to achieve greater competence and growth in areas they desire. The coachee is essentially healthy and able to work with the coach to partner and develop a plan for growth. In coaching, the coachee is able to co-actively establish goals for the process.
- Counseling usually involves some area of disorder, pathology, or dysfunction that essentially disables the counselee in one or more areas of life. The counselor tends to set the agenda and plan for counseling.
- Mentoring begins with a clear and set agenda for the mentee or protégé. The mentor tends to serve as a supervisor of the training by sort of looking over the shoulder of the protégé. (Simple Discipleship, 97-8), http://drthomreece.wordpress.com/2008/09/14/start-a-christian-coaching-ministry/
A competent coach brings great experience and knowledge of human relationships to bear within the collaborative relationship of the coachee. By great experience and knowledge of human relationships I do not mean the local beautician who transitioned to life coaching. Hearing many years of gossip does not train one to be a competent coach any more than watching many football games qualifies one to coach a NFL team.
There are several general coaching methodologies that are employed by a wide range of life, executive, and professional coaches: personal therapeutic coaching, personal performance coaching, organizational therapeutic coaching, organizational performance coaching, and renewal coaching whether personal or organizational. By the term “therapeutic” I do not suggest the medical definition but rather the meaning from the psychotherapy discipline that suggest “self awareness of behavior leading to improved personal growth and interpersonal relationships.” (http://www.reference.com/browse/psychotherapy?o=100074) Indeed, I am not suggesting that a professional coach is a psychotherapist but in order to demonstrate a reasonable level of competence, the coach must have an understanding of basic human behavior and relationships. (These examples are listed in Renewal Coaching by Reeves and Allison, 2009, pp. 14-17)
- Personal therapeutic coaching may tend to “tell the coachee what she wants to hear.” The focus of the coach is to help the coachee achieve their goals. Generally speaking, the coach resists challenging the goals established by the coachee. Don’t misunderstand, many coaches in this realm are able to help their clients achieve personal objectives and manage their time and relationships better.
- Personal performance coaching includes sales coaching to name one area where results of the coaching relationship are quantifiable through tracking past and future sales performance of the coachee.
- Organizational therapeutic coaching suffers from the same anomaly as its “personal” cousin—the coach tends to tell the organizational executive what they want to hear. Coaches in this realm provide short term benefit to organizations in conflict but they fail to address underlying organizational behavior problems that tend to repeat conflict. This example may be seen when big businesses go “off track” and executives lead their company to act irresponsibly. Most certainly CEOs and executives have advisors and coaches, but they may tend to be “yes men.”
- Organizational performance coaching is focused on quantifiable results and seeks to change the behavior of the organization in order to sustain improved results.
The problem with each of the listed examples is that each may provide short-term improvement and do not address the underlying foundation of behavior whether personal or organizational—values. This is where Renewal Coaching, also known as values-based coaching comes in. Don’t confuse renewal coaching or values-based coaching with evidence-based coaching. Each of numbers one through four listed above may include the evidence-based methodology that is unsustainable because foundational values remain unchanged.
RENOVA COACHING IS RENEWAL COACHING
I make it no secret that I am a Christian pastor possessing twenty years of experience dealing with human behavior and helping people change…not easy! The word “RENOVA” is a derivative of a French term “rénover” meaning “renovate” or “renewal” and is descriptive of my coaching methodology. Sustained change moves from the activator out to others in concentric circles as seen in the ripples after a small drop of water impacts the surface of a pond. Likewise, the relationship of the coach and coachee results in change activity reflected in concentric relationships for the greater good. I learned that for change to be sustainable values on which behavior is founded must change. You do what you value and you don’t do what you don’t value. The same is true of organizations whether profit or non-profit, secular or religious, private or government.
Renewal coaching seeks to form a co-active and collaborative relationship with the coachee to develop an “eyes wide open” plan for sustainable change and improvement. By “eyes wide open” I mean that the coaching relationship begins with mutual agreement on several points:
- The coach is expected to challenge values and behaviors of the coachee without the threat of retaliation of any kind.
- The co-active and collaboration activity within the relationship is expected to challenge and motivate the coachee to achieve the goals of the relationship.
- The coachee will strive to change self-defeating behaviors or circumventing the mutually agreed upon activities and goals of the coaching relationship.
- The relationship is founded on a mutual goal of improving personal and organizational performance and behavior for the greater good and not just for the coachee.
The above concepts are derived from my own work in Simple Discipleship and Reeves and Allison’s book Renewal Coaching.
When you hire a competent renewal coach, you are not hiring a yes man or an advisor who is going to tell you nice things to make you feel good. In contrast, a great coach will challenge your status quo and it takes a mutual partnership to overcome inertia. Please, don’t shoot the messenger. Many business executives, professionals, and politicians wish they had not.
Renewal Coaching: Sustainable CHANGE for Individuals and Organizations by Douglas B. Reeves and Elle Allison, Josey-Bass Publisers, 2009.
Simple Discipleship: How to Make Disciples in the 21st Century by Tom Cocklereece, Church Smart Resources, 2009.
Co-Active Coaching:New Skills for Coaching People Toward Success in Work and Life by Laura Whitworth, Karen Kimsey-House, Henry Kimsey-House, and Phillip Sandahl, Davies-Black Publishing, Mountain View, CA, 2007.
Dr. Tom Cocklereece
Hire me as your coach. I useGoToMeetingfor online distance sessions. Coaching sessions and our relationship is confidential but your success will be visible to all. Contact me for reasonable rates at email@example.com
Tim was a CEO of a large and growing medical clinic in a major metropolitan city. His clinic had recently expanded by opening more offices, added more doctors and personnel, replaced the software used throughout their offices, and begun a process of converting to electronic medical records (EMR). Tim had come to his present position from a series of positions with much smaller clinics. He had felt for some time that his present position had outpaced his personal growth and ability. The board of directors had adopted the present expansion and upgrade strategy at a time when the economy and projections were favorable, but then things changed. The economy turned south and much of the strategy was placed on hold or at least delayed. Jim heard comments that confirmed his concern that the board might lay the blame on his desk. He took a deep breath as he prepared to enter the board meeting. If he was terminated, where would he go, and how would it affect his career? If he were not terminated, what could he do?
The character named Tim in this article is fictitious and is meant as an illustration but he is typical of many of the readers of this blog. Gone are the days when one’s education provides all that a leader needs for a whole career. In fact, those days never really existed but it was our perception. It is true however that life and work once moved much more slowly allowing leaders to adjust gradually or maintain their level of performance. The job market was not nearly as competitive as it is today. If Tim survived the board meeting what do you think he should do? I would suggest three things he should have done the moment he felt that his position was stretching his abilities— optimize, organize, and onboard.
OPTIMIZE: EXCEPTIONAL LEADERS DEVELOP A PLAN
Optimize means “to make something function at its best (Encarta). Tim may be able to kick his performance up by up to 10% by improving his efficiency but probably not much more without some help. It is easy to suggest that one optimize but you don’t know what you don’t know. That’s why we need a coach…in this case an executive coach. A good coach would set Tim on a renewal plan that takes advantage of his current abilities and develops a process of continued development. Renewal coaching will motivate Tim to dig deeper and achieve higher and raise his performance level by at least 30%. When coaching is done correctly an individual may be tempted to believe that they could have achieved the new level without a coach. A good coach does not seek the credit or attention and makes the coachee feel that they “had it in them all the time.” Consider that the national champions of last year could not have achieved their success without their coach even though everything the coach engaged and empowered in the team was there all the time. A coach is the catalyst that optimizes all the ingredients that go into success.
ORGANIZE: EXCEPTIONAL LEADERSHIP DEMANDS LIFE BALANCE
Indeed, an executive coach is going to encourage Tim to organize…his life, resources, and habits. This also means to prioritize every area of life. It is essential to recognize that to achieve optimal efficiency, it is also necessary to organize and maintain balance in various life dimensions. Again, a coach can help Tim achieve balance in life, family, and career. These life domains would not disappear in a perfect world but balance would be easier to maintain. Life balance requires a disciplined application of four things—clarity, movement, alignment, and focus (Simple Life,Rainer and Rainer, 2009), and a coach can help you define and refine your process to organize.
ONBOARD: EXCEPTIONAL LEADERS GET AHEAD
Getting even with supers, peers, and reports on a professional and performance level is not enough. Exceptional leadership requires that you get ahead. Many modern executives are familiar with the concept of onboarding. While human resources executives refer to onboarding as an orientation process, professional coaches describe it as a process of accelerated development. A coach would work with Tim to develop an onboarding process that would get him up to speed with all of the current objectives included within the business plan of his organization. Certainly, Tim is able to acquire the information needed regarding EMR, but his coach would hold him accountable to his onboarding plan. Included in a great onboarding plan are intentional relational connections within the organization up, down, and laterally to strengthen and broaden Tim’s relational capital. Thus, he is onboarding both personal knowledge and collaborative knowledge within his organization. Developing the 360 degree relationships within the organization will greatly strengthen Tim’s position with the board, doctors, peers, and reports.
The benefits of optimizing, organizing, and onboarding should not be underestimated. If you have reached a plateau in your organization or you are beginning in a new position, consider hiring a coach before the board meeting next quarter. You may be amazed at the results.
Looking to your success,
Dr. Tom Cocklereece
Hire me as your coach. I use GoToMeeting for online distance sessions. Coaching sessions and our relationship is confidential but your success will be visible to all. Contact me for reasonable rates at firstname.lastname@example.org