An Exercise in Curiosity

question marksIn the training program leading to my certification as a Coactive Coach, we completed numerous practical activities to build and hone our coaching skills. The other day I was reminded of one, that in the moment, seemed incredibly difficult. We were to spend thirty minutes looking under our kitchen sink. Yep. 30. Long. Interminable. Moments. And it wasn’t to be just a stream of observation and criticism, it was an exercise in curiosity. You see, we were specifically instructed to notice everything we could but without judgment. We were asked to get intentionally curious about what was under the cabinet, but not to say if it was good or bad. Thoughts of the disorder or stained cabinet flooring were steadily replaced with “I wonder why the pipes are bent that way”. Or, “what’s the story of the persona that installed this”.

In all the years that have followed, I return again and again to this exercise, both as a practical activity and a metaphor. It leads to the potent understanding of curiosity and how it suspends judgment. My role as a coach is to get curious and ask powerful questions that deepen each client’s understanding of themselves. The benefits are transformational.

  • Curiosity leads to an openness to what is present rather than the closure of judgment
  •  It inspires a willingness to learn rather than assume what is happening
  • Most of all, it suspends judgment, which stifles creativity and growth and puts us at odds with potential learning

Developing the skill of curiosity is a beautiful way to stretch and grow, often with surprising results. As you do, you may find the scope of your questions expanding and deepening into what moves and motivates you. So, try this: open your cabinet, find a spot in nature that captures your attention, notice a meaningful object on your shelf, or anything else that can gain your focus for 30 minutes. If you notice judgment creeping in, simply acknowledge it and return to asking questions.

When you are finished take time to reflect on the experience. What did you learn about the experience? How might you apply this learning to other parts of your life? Drop us a note to let us know!

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Why do today what you can do tomorrow?

a bulletin board with notes that say do itI am likely one of the world’s foremost experts in procrastination. Ok, maybe that is an exaggeration, but my office is never cleaner than when I am putting off a major task. Believe me, I would much rather vacuum, dust, straighten, and do all the other parts of organizing than put my effort behind something I need to finish that I just don’t want to do.

The distance and lack of in-person engagement that is now a part of my work has somehow amplified this, too. Dealing with procrastination is a key piece of self-management. Poor time management, falling behind in tasks or projects, and working without a plan all contribute to procrastination. 

I regularly coach my clients through these hurdles. Fortunately, with a little bit of positive self-talk and the strategies that follow, each of us can successfully combat procrastination:

  1. Give it five minutes. Get your stuff together, decide your goal and set the timer for five minutes. You only have to work on the task for these few minutes, five earnest minutes in which you really make the effort to get started. If after that time, you still aren’t making progress, turn your attention to something else. Chances are that once you get going, five minutes will become fifty and you will be on your way to completing your bigger goal.
  2. Do the big task first. Put it on the calendar first thing in the morning or at a time when your energy is best and most focused. Get it out of the way so that you can get on to doing other things you enjoy more.
  3. Figure out why you don’t want to do it. Does the task at hand align with your skills and interests? Do you have the resources to complete it? If not, what will it take to get what you need? There might be times when you have the chance to delegate, ask for help, or find others who can help you kick-start your efforts. Knowing why you don’t want to do it is part of identifying what you need to overcome your procrastination. If you are a student, academic resource centers, tutors, and others can provide essential resources to help you get started.
  4. Break it into smaller chunks. Procrastination and the sense of overwhelm are best buddies and they want to keep you in a static place. What one or two sub-goals can you accomplish that will move you towards the big goal? Breaking the big task into smaller ones makes the final work seem less daunting.
  5. Celebrate, celebrate, celebrate!! Research shows that when we acknowledge our forward progress, we build patterns that support long-term success. I ask my clients to reflect on and journal about the small things. Whether the five minute investment, the paragraph written, or the business proposal completed; all of them are small steps toward building self confidence in a way that supports long term success.

Perhaps the best piece of advice, and the one that I try to remember most, is just do it. Do today what you can do today!


Learn more about us and our coaching services: academic coachingcareer coachinglife coaching, transitions coaching.

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Our Story


Thrive Coaching Group LogoCan we tell you how excited we are to be writing this post? We’ve each had days where we weren’t sure where we were headed. Heck, we still have those days! But we are here today, in part because of each other’s ability to listen, coach, challenge, and hold each other accountable.

Our work together didn’t begin with Thrive. In fact, we’ve known each other for over 15 years. In 2016, we found ourselves in the same organization working directly with each other. It was during this time that we really got to know not just what each other did, but how we approached our work. We found that at the core, we worked with individuals to help them find their unique stories and navigate their life’s path.

In 2018, Kate left that organization and launched her own private coaching practice as an independent educational consultant. j launched her coaching practice in 2005. It wasn’t until 2019, when she had the chance to purchase a yoga studio, that her experience and passions came together in a unique space. At the same time, day in and day out, we each found ourselves working largely alone.

We are not going to lie, working alone was really hard and isolated. So in late 2019, we had independently migrated to the local coworking space in town. There, we fell into conversations about each other’s work, challenges, and hopes for our practices. And frankly, they were pretty darn similar. So we started to talk about the what ifs. What if we could have each other’s materials on hand to give to our own clients. What if we could have a referral benefit when clients go from one to the other. And then it dawned on us. What if we combined our practices?

And so it began, slowly. For more than six months, we’ve been asking ourselves and each other what’s important to each of us? Where do we want our work to be five or ten years from now? How do we get there? What we came up with is Thrive Coaching Group. Together, we draw on our individual and combined expertise to provide academic coaching, career coaching, life coaching, and transitions coaching. We do this work with individuals and organizations.

Kate brings a background of working with students and adults as they explore their career and educational interests. She’s worked in study abroad, academic success, career exploration, job applications, college and graduate school applications, and writing personal statements for competitive scholarships. j brings a background of organizational development, education, administration and leadership, and life coaching. Both have worked in, and with, organizations leading and supporting their growth as they proactively embrace their strengths to navigate internal and external challenges.

We approach our clients in a holistic fashion. We believe in the richness of the whole person. We value their strengths and identity and believe they have within them all they need to be successful. We believe that everyone has a place they belong, where they are motivated to take on challenging and meaningful experiences with others. As a result, they thrive, as do the organizations, businesses, and communities in which they learn, live and work.

We would be honored to partner with you in whatever way we can help you thrive.

Learn more about us and our coaching services: academic coaching, career coaching, life coaching.

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