Provision #161: STOP

Laser Provision

Tim Gallwey says that everyone should STOP: Step back, Think, Organize your thoughts, Proceed. Short STOPs every day. Long STOPs at critical junctures. This has been such a time for me.

LifeTrek Provision

I ran into one of my coaching tip subscribers on Thursday night. “I can hardly wait,” she told me, “to get back from my Memorial Day travels to find out what you decide in the •Name that Newsletter’ contest.” I had no idea the contest was so gripping! In any event, the waiting is over. LifeTrek Provisions it is.

Here’s the skinny on the contest: I received 51 ideas from 35 subscribers. Sorted first by frequency and then by name: Life Wisdom, Life Line, LifeTrek Wisdom, Leader Line, Leader Wisdom, Life Lines, LifeTrek, Life Cereal, LifeTrek News, Running Wisdom, Wise Lines, Custom Coach, Effective Leadership, Energy Zone, e-sage, For the Journey, Goal Getter, Insight, Journey Quest, Journeys, Leading Creatively, Let’s Get Goaling!, Life in Stride, Life Journeys, Life Channel, Life Gifts News, Life Improvement, Life Sentences, Life Support, Life Training, LifeTrek Line, LifeTrek Booster, LifeTrek Compass, LifeTrek Guide, LifeTrek Strategies, LifeTrek TripTik, Life Walk, Life Zone, Living Well, Living Wisdom, Making a Difference, Prodding, Self Actualization, Skill for Living, Spirit Quest, Synergies, Trekking, Use Your Mind, Wisdom in Stride, Wisdom + Life, Wisdom Words, and Words of Wisdom.

Now some will say that I picked LifeTrek Provisions, which isn’t even on the list, so I didn’t have to give away the free month of complementary coaching. Au contraire! My own coach held me accountable to that promise, by suggesting that if the contest prompted a new idea I should hold a drawing among all entrants to offer the free month of complementary coaching. So be it. I had my son pick a number and the winner comes to us from shawneelink.net. Congratulations.

What led me to LifeTrek Provisions were the following astute observations:

  1. LifeTrek is a “brand name” that should not be lost or changed. If anything it should be more prominent, so that more people hear about and come into the LifeTrek community.
  2. Although names involving “Life” and “Wisdom” received the most number of votes, I was struck by the comment that “Wisdom” sounds rather high and mighty • as though I had everything all figured out. Given that is neither true nor desirable, I decided to move in a different direction.
  3. Avoid cutesy, gimmicky, jargon, buzzword names. This is not a cult, but a process that contributes to success and fulfillment in life and work. The name should be accessible to all our clients: executives, managers, administrators, ministers, educators, and athletes (to name a few).
  4. My LifeTrek Provisions have not, at least on the surface, been especially targeted to leaders. Including “Leader” or “Leadership” in the name might require or prompt a change in focus.
  5. Don’t make the publication any longer or more comprehensive. People like the narrative, one-point-a-week style. I don’t need to add to the problem of e-mail overload and overwhelm.
  6. The name should easily complete the sentence: “Subscribe to….” That sentence and hyperlink will start appearing throughout our Web site and first-time visitors will receive a pop-up applet that invites them to subscribe. The name should also make for a good e-mail subject line.

Your observations have prompted me to take what Tim Gallwey calls a long STOP in his book The Inner Game of Work (Random House • New York, 2000). STOP stands for Step back, Think,Organize your thoughts, Proceed. Gallwey recommends short STOPs every day: immediately after waking up, when you arrive at your desk, before speaking, upon hearing a complaint, when you’re under pressure, when you’re asked a question, at the end of the workday, when you need a rest. Short STOPs, he writes, “can make all the difference between a satisfying day of conscious choices and what otherwise could feel like a fatiguing day of needless interruptions.”

Long STOPs make for great coaching projects. What am I really trying to accomplish here? What is driving the proposed change? Do the benefits outweigh the costs? Are the people involved capable and ready to make the change? Have alternative changes been considered? Is the proposed change in sync with direction? Who or what will be affected by this change? What communications are necessary? What is the best time, place, and means for those communications? What can or should be learned before attempting this change?

My long STOP has made it very clear that I want to go from hundreds to thousands of subscribers. I see LifeTrek Provisions as a valuable tool in the pursuit of success and fulfillment, and I want it to reach as large an audience as possible. I want to make it easier, rather than harder, to read • for busy people who have a very short STOP at the start of their week. I may want to develop a special “leader’s edition,” where the leadership application will be explicit, clear, and unmistakable. I want LifeTrek Provisions to prompt more prospective-client inquiries, from those who’d like to apply these Provisions to their life and work through a one-on-one or group coaching relationship.

So why Provisions? Because adequate provisions make the trek safe, fun, easy, and successful. The dictionary defines “trek” as “a long difficult journey, especially on foot and often over rough or mountainous terrain.” To go on such a journey without adequate provisions, including rations, gear, maps, and compass, risks getting hurt, confused, lost, and stranded. In a worst-case scenario, it risks death itself. One can ruin a perfectly wonderful trip without adequate provisions. That’s as true in life as it is on foot. The word provision literally means “a forward vision.” That’s what LifeTrek Provisions seeks to provide: the proactive vision before the journey of life that makes us all more successful and fulfilled. It is the STOP before the journey that enables us to go with confidence.

I also like two other connotations. A “pro” vision can be seen as a “positive” and as a “professional” vision. That too is what LifeTrek Provisions seeks to provide: well-researched, well-thought-out answers to the questions of life.

All of the above and more has been prompted by the STOP to “Name that Newsletter.” Thank you for your input. It has been more valuable than you will ever know, especially my partner Megan’s creative participation. In addition to the name change, I’ve decided to add a Laser Provision at the start of every issue. In one minute or less, busy people will be able to get the point and stock up on what they need for the week. If it grabs them, they can read on for more. I’ve also decided that if I develop a special leader’s edition, it will be called LifeTrek Leader Provisions. But I haven’t made a definite decision about doing so.

Next week we start a new six-part series on the signs of healthy self-care. We’ll move out of the “Hs” and into the “Gs”! If you can think of people who might enjoy the series, please send me their e-mail addresses and I’ll put them on the list. You might also think of forwarding the first Provisionin each series to your entire address book with the following intro: “I’ve been receiving this weekly e-newsletter for a while, and find it to be a great source of information and inspiration. It’s well written and has some great ideas. Take a look and, if you’re interested, send coachbob@lifetrekcoaching.com an e-mail.

May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC