The old adage, “It’s not what you know, but who you know that counts,” speaks to the importance of relationships. They can make or break us in life and work. Unfortunately, that adage makes relationships sound manipulative and political. Authentic relationships are anything but. True fans stand behind us with energy, creativity, resources, and support. They enable us to come into our own and fulfill our destiny. Do you have fans like that? If not, you won’t want to miss this Provision. It describes a process for making your fan club grow.
Bob: Coaches play with many variables in order to assist our clients to be more successful and fulfilled in life and work. In consultation with our clients, we manipulate the challenges they accept, the skills they master, the awareness they hold, the fun they have, the environments they construct, and the relationships they build. Although each variable plays an important role, relationships may be the most important of all. Notwithstanding claims to the contrary, no one is ever a self-made man or woman.
I like the way Jay Perry, a Master Certified Coach, talks about and works with the power of relationships in his book, The Fan Club Game. He identifies six categories of relationships, ranging from strangers to fans. Here is the way he describes each category:
1. Strangers are people who don’t know me or anything about me as an individual. Most of the people in the world are strangers to each other. That’s what happens when the universe is approaching seven billion people. We may know these people exist (e.g. I know there are movie stars in Hollywood and starving children in Africa), but I don’t know any of them personally and they don’t know me.
2. Aware are people who may know me or may know things about me, but they see no connection between their interests and who I am or what I do. There are lots of people like this, including the many people with whom I associate on a casual basis.
3. Interested are people who have grown curious about who I am and what I do. They see a possible connection with their interests and want to know more. They may reach out to get know me better or to take advantage of what I have to offer.
4. Tasters are people who sample what I have to offer. They taste a little in order to see if they want more. They may read something I write, talk with me about coaching, attend a workshop, go for a run, or otherwise connect their interests with my interests. They are dabbling in the realm of possibility.
5. Experienced are people who know me well. They have spent months or even years in my company, as a client, a colleague, a running buddy, a friend, or a family member. They sampled and stayed to savor what I have to offer.
6. Fans are people who have become thrilled about who I am and what I have to offer. In a word, they love me. To quote Jay Perry, they are “divinely inspired to be enthusiastic and devoted to my cause. They want to know what I am up to, want to participate in things with me, and are delighted to help me in any way they can. They want to see me be successful and share in that accomplishment because they feel connected to me; they are stakeholders in my success.”
Doesn’t that sound delightful? Who doesn’t want to have such relationships in their lives! We all do better when we have people who love us, cheer us on, support us, and otherwise share in our success. Which is, of course, the point of the Fan Club Game. The idea is to move people along from strangers to aware to interested to tasters to experienced to fans. The paparazzi notwithstanding, one can never have too many fans.
Many people come to coaching with only a few fans, or even no fans. They are bankrupt of fans and their lives demonstrate the results: they are lonely, weak, detached, disengaged, bored, apathetic, worried, anxious, or otherwise afflicted with sub-optimal conditions. They need more people on their team.
When that happens, it’s time to play The Fan Club Game. Jay suggests the creation of a physical game board with sticky notes containing the names of 20, 25, or 30 people. Each note is put on the board in its appropriate category (strangers, aware, interested, tasters, experienced, or fans) and then observations are made as to what the configuration means and how it can be shifted to increase the number of fans.
The rest of Jay’s book identifies and explores ten strategies for making fans. He starts with game-ability, the inner readiness and capacity to play the game at all. Until we open ourselves to the possibility of having fans, and until we intentionally decide to make fans, we will not have them and we will not do so. Jay’s other strategies involve authenticity, generosity, communication, creativity, consistent actions, concretizing, curiosity, challenge, and love. These are not just strategies but ways of being in the world. The more we adopt and practice them as our standard mode of operation, the more fans we will have and the better life will be.
I saw this with my son’s hospitalization for a collapsed lung. On the very night when some of his fans left town, to move to Chicago, he was admitted to the hospital with only his wife in town to support him. When she left to get some rest, he was alone in the company of awares and interested. But that was not enough. Even though they were aware of him and interested in his condition, they could not ameliorate his sadness and pain. By the next day, however, fans started arriving: first his mother and I, then his sister. As the fans showed up, his countenance lifted. Life was getting better all the time.
That’s what fans will do for us: they make life better. They motivate and call out the best in us. They even speed our healing when times are tough. The best challenges, skills, awareness, fun, and environments in the world are not enough to make up for a shortage of fans.
I saw this in a client who wanted to increase her sales as a real estate agent. She had gone to all the trainings and was doing all the right things: hosting open houses, handling floor duty, contacting For Sale By Owners, attending meetings, leafleting neighborhoods, calling prospects, serving customers, and joining professional associations. Still, things were not working as she would hope. Others were top performers while she was languishing with steady but modest revenues from month to month.
“What do you do for fun?” I asked her. “I have no time for fun,” she responded. “There’s a lot of financial pressure and a lot of work to do. I can’t afford the time.” We had that conversation on more than one occasion. Gradually, my client saw how there might be a connection between having fun and having a fan club. “Perhaps, it’s because I don’t have fun anymore,” she observed on one occasion, “that I’m not attractive as a real estate agent. Maybe people don’t want to be around someone who has no joy. Maybe, if I was feeling more alive, the business would take care of itself.”
So that’s what she did. Against her better judgment, at least at first, she set aside time for dancing and volunteering • two of her loves. It was a leap of faith to take that time, but soon she was enjoying herself so much that she started adding to rather than subtracting from the time spent dancing and volunteering. And guess what happened? Instead of taking away from her productivity, her newfound interests led to a fan club that helped her win the top producer award for her agency.
That’s what fans will do for us: they make life richer. They surround and connect us with the best life has to offer. They make us more successful than we could ever be on our own.
I also saw this in a client who wanted to move up the ladder at work. He had had a variety of positions without much success. As people got to know him, they turned off rather than on to what he had to offer. Instead of becoming fans, they became disbelievers in his abilities, values, and intentions. Turning this around required my client to develop a new focus. Instead of pushing to accomplish his goals, he started to pay more attention to the goals of others.
This shift produced dramatic results. Once he started to relate to others as a servant, rather than as a superior, the flow of the game, as well as his career, started moving in the right direction. His fan club was working for him, instead of against him, to get that promotion.
Relationships are the key to making life successful, fulfilling, and enjoyable. Once you become aware of this dynamic, and once you set your mind to the task, it is often easy to build your fan club into a robust network of challenge, support, creativity, and joy.
Kate: Relationship building is one of my great interests in life, and so this topic brings lots of good energy to me. I think it begins with a true curiosity about the other person, their stories, their values, their goals, and their thoughts and feelings. When we bring this kind of curiosity and caring to our interactions with them, we cannot help but build groundwork for understanding and a quality of wholeness to the relationship.
It is then that wholeness and depth of interaction which provide inroads to the well-being and soul of that person. Our sincere approach to learning about someone can build a bond that leads to trust and satisfaction in the relationship. It is also in our asking questions that others can learn further about themselves.
I have always found great power and wisdom in the phrase, “Seek first to understand and then to be understood.” When we approach others in this way, we open doors and pathways of communication. We also send the signal that we are not about pushing our agenda or out to impress, but that we are interested in something deeper with greater engagement.
In coaching, the coach cannot be fully effective when acting as the “expert” because in fact we are not. The client is the expert unto themselves, and we simply ask questions and facilitate the awareness. We then create the fan club moments not so much by spewing great wisdom and suggesting what the client might do to be successful, but rather by building safe and supportive relationships where learning and growing can unfold. We are then modeling the art of creating bonds of understanding and mutual interest. It is in these moments when people come on board to the relationship, the message, and the possibilities which flow from this engagement.
I have seen many clients find great success in creating strong bonds and relationships by letting go of an “agenda” in their approach to others. When they substituted a curiosity for the potential of the relationship and the possibilities of that engagement, it led to more satisfying results. If we help others to feel heard and show true interest in their happiness and success, they want to help us find those qualities in life, too.
One client built relationships with potential customers and promoters by offering free cruises on his boat for an afternoon to discuss and learn about particular business topics. These experiences provided informal get-togethers, where people could relax and enjoy each other and the experience, as well as to get to know each other and share some ideas. He also founded a local professional organization to provide an avenue for networking and education. In these efforts, he let go of a hard-sell approach and lesser forms of networking in order to create greater value for those with whom he wanted to build relationship. It is a great example of giving his time and talent without making requirements of others, and creating some mutually satisfying moments to promote relationship.
Coaching Inquiries: Who is in your fan club? Is it large enough to sustain and support you in reaching your goals? How could you expand that network out of the people you currently know? Who could you bring into the network who you do not know?
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LifeTrek Readers’ Forum (selected feedback from the past week)
Editor’s Note: The LifeTrek Readers’ Forum contains selections from the comments and materials sent in each week by the readers of LifeTrek Provisions. They do not necessarily reflect the perspective of LifeTrek Coaching International. To submit your comment, use our Feedback Formor Email Bob..
My comment last week about Weight Watchers’ scientists may have been a paraphrase. Weight Watchers never use the term “diet”. Weight Watchers is not meant to be a diet, but a life long way of eating that is healthy, with many focuses other than just food, including “Tools for Success”, group support, and promotion of activity that is adaptable to anyone’s present level of fitness. My Weight Watcher leader is a great coach and shares many of the same great skills with the LifeTrek team.
I always love your Wellness Pathways and was particularly interested in “Get Your Rest” but, when I scroll down to read I notice the title is “Stick with the Program.” I’m wondering if you meant to include a different wellness pathway. (Ed. Note: I just forgot to change the title! Here are the links to “Get Your Rest” as well as to four other Wellness Pathways on sleep and rest. Enjoy! #296: Get Your Rest, <title=”http: www.lifetrekcoaching.com=”” wellness=”” ht050320.htm”=””>#259: The Work-Rest Balance, #208: Take Regular Breaks, #144: Sleep Seven Hours, and #116: Get To Sleep Early)
May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.
Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC
President, LifeTrek Coaching International, www.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformation, www.SchoolTransformation.com
Immediate Past President, International Association of Coaching, www.CertifiedCoach.org
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a Time, Online Retailers
Address: 121 Will Scarlet Lane, Williamsburg, VA 23185-5043
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