Still thinking about change? Here’s how to ask better questions.

“What do I love? What makes me come alive? What is beauty to me, and when do I take the time to fill up with it?” ― Glennon Doyle, Get Untamed: The Journal

Questions are the coaches’ power tools. They hit the nail on the head. They drill down to the core of what’s happening.

Well, good and powerful questions do.

I was at a retreat day recently where after deep heart-based breathing exercises we were asked 4 questions. 1 by 1. And given time to reflect on them, 1 by 1. For nearly 4 hours. Just 4 questions.

The questions were powerful. And the clarity I gained on certain aspects of my life was bright and refreshing. As a result of that clarity, I have taken action and am feeling totally focused yet relaxed at the same time.

Well then Patrick, I hear you ask, what are good questions and how do I know I’m doing it right? In coaching training, we use the GROW model.

G stands for Goal. The goal of the conversation will lead you to ask certain questions that are aimed toward that goal. ‘What would the benefits be if you achieved …?’

R stands for Reality. ‘What is happening for you now?’, ‘What steps have you taken so far?’, ‘What is really working for you?’

O stands for Options. We can often not see the wood from the trees. Ask questions that create a space for people to really discover they do have options. ‘How have you tacked this situation before?’, ‘What would you tell a friend to do?’, ‘If you knew you could not fail, what would be your first step?’

W stands for Way forward. Asking questions that invoke action and motivation to act. ‘What would happen if you did nothing as a result of this conversation?’, ‘How will you know that you are on track?’, ‘When are you taking the first step?’, ‘What is the first step?’

Think of a situation in your life that you would like to see a change. Now use the GROW model to ask yourself some questions. And take some action based on your answers.

And let me know how you get on.

patrick@theintentionalacademy.ie or WhatsApp 083-3008963

The mermaid, the unicorn, and the silent marathoner.

When was the last time you saw a mermaid sheltering in the bay of a windswept harbour? Or a unicorn darting across a lush field of swinging daisies? Or a marathon runner who didn’t tell everyone he met he just finished a marathon, and it was epic and hard?

‘These things don’t exist Patrick’, I hear you say.

Possibly.

‘What do you mean possibly’, I hear you squeal, ‘’They DO NOT EXIST’.

And yet I have seen all three of them. For real.

The mermaid was a woman in costume at a parade in a seaside town when a strong wind blew a heavy shower of rain across the town. To protect the costume, she had to run for shelter.

The unicorn was a horse dressed up for a re-enactment of a medieval battle by a live role-playing group. After the scenes were finished, the horse was let to run in one of the fenced-off fields of the farm where the event took place.

And Yes, I do know a couple of marathoners who never share pictures or blogs about their races. All they are dressed up in is Lycra. And then normal clothes as they get in their cars and quietly drive home for dinner.

So, if I tell you that ‘just being’ is enough to live a fulfilling life, will you at least be curious enough to try and understand what it looks like when it is all dressed up for purpose?

Allow me to ask you if this sounds familiar:

I need to study hard so I can …

I should really sell more so we will be able to …

I have to put in all these hours if I want to …

Yep, I said those too. Doing in order to Be.

What if we learned how to reverse that sentence? Being leading to Doing.

‘Just Being’ is the basis, the foundation. The home from where everything emanates. The warm, cosy, feel-good, safe, comfortable place from where all adventure starts. From being comes doing.

How does that sound? A bit like the mermaid, or the unicorn, or the silent marathoner?

Having gone through the reversal I have great news for all of you curious people. It is possible and it has been put to the test.

All I had to do is discover my strengths, values, likes, and beliefs. Become aware of them. Find out which ones I really liked and use them to design a life for me that was based on ‘Just Being’ me.

No absolute goals, or targets. Yet clear intentions, based on my individual likes and strengths, and values. For every aspect of my life.

Being every day by taking actions in the direction of your crystal-clear intentions. Focused on how you can contribute to this world by simply being you.

Whether you are in a community organisation, corporate, business, public service, or household. You being you doing what is truly you.

Having A Life While Making A Living. Yes, you read that right. You can make a living while doing this. And you’ll be relatively stress-free. And have the knowledge you are being true to yourself. And go on a holiday. And spend tie with those that matter most.

Releasing your inner mermaid, unicorn, or marathoner.

To find out more contact me at patrick@theintentionalacademy.ie or WhatsApp 083-3008963

The extrovert who likes to be alone.

Every time. Every single time.

At some stage during an event with networking or space for people to connect, most people taking part are talking in groups. And I find myself standing on my own overlooking the room.

And finding joy in that aloneness.

Knowing I have probably started half those conversations or facilitated the space energetically or given support to the organiser.

Connecting people with themselves and with others is something I really love doing. And then step back. And let them discover and explore the potential strength of those connections.

And then I make a cup of tea or grab a glass of water. And silently sit back and let the connections happen.

I always knew I was an extrovert. I also have developed interpersonal skills that allow me to see, hear and feel which people will click. Moving these people past their fears of rejection and getting them to reach out to each other is easier for extroverts so that is the role I give myself at the event.

I recently discovered I really value aloneness. This is vastly different from loneliness. Aloneness is being very comfortable just being with yourself. Being in your own company as such. I could spend days without talking to anyone except for surface-level conversations.

At events the combination of these traits means I take time to observe all around me. With the intention of detecting any possible opportunity to foster connections for people within themselves or with others.

All the above is a result of doing some strengths-based work. I hold the science-backed belief that knowing your strengths and using them as the guidelines for everything you do leads to achieving in a resilient, adaptable, imaginative, sustainable, and effective way.

My top strengths are Perspective, Social Intelligence, Energy, Creativity, and Love of Learning.

Can you see how these strengths help me in the scenario above, connecting people?

What about your strengths? Want to discover what they are? And how to achieve naturally using these unique strengths?

Email patrick@theintentionalacademy.ie or WhatsApp 00353 83 3008963

A cup of tea and a tuna sweetcorn sandwich.

I don’t have a driver’s license. Never had one.

I could list all the reasons, excuses, and justifications I use when challenged about this.

I could also share some of the hundreds of stories I have listened to while traveling on public transport here in Ireland. Stories of hope, despair, loneliness, pride, joy, depression, and love.

Today, I’ll share this one story. I travel from Dublin to Limerick and back on Irish Rail on a weekly basis. Upon arriving at Colbert Station in Limerick I go on a short 5-minute walk to the hotel I stay in for 2 nights every week.

On that short walking route, I regularly come across people sitting on cardboard begging for change. I must admit that this occurrence is so frequent (not just in Limerick by the way) that I often simply walk past them.

Every so often though my eye, soul, or intuition catches a glimpse of something different that makes me stop in my tracks. That one, rainy afternoon, the city was relatively empty. It seemed all the city folk were taking cover indoors.

This one young person sat on a soaked piece of cardboard that carried a logo of a well-known fizzy drinks company. There was an immediate spark of recognition in me. My gut told me I have met this person before.

I stopped. Asked if he was OK. ‘Do you have some change for a cup of tea?’. Like so many now I had no cash on me, only cards. I offered to go to a nearby shop and get him a cup and some food if he wanted to. I still felt I knew him but couldn’t place him.

I returned with a cup of tea and a sandwich and sat on my hunkers beside him. He started speaking as if he had to explain and justify his situation. What followed was a story of deep trauma, followed by a stop-start recovery, addiction issues, finding and losing jobs, and accommodation.

I let him speak uninterrupted. He stopped regularly to drink from the cup of hot tea and take a bite from the tuna and sweetcorn sandwich. When he was finished, I asked him if he wanted dessert. He declined. I didn’t insist. I asked was there anything else I could do for him. Once again, he declined. Then he thanked me about 10 times. Not just for the food and drink. But for listening. ‘You’re the first person who let me talk and didn’t tell me what to do.’

I still feel I met him before. I still don’t know where from. Nor do I know who he is. And I haven’t seen him since.

There are 2 reasons I share this story.

One is that I feel privileged that coaching has taught me listening skills. There was no need for me to talk or offer advice. Just being there, listening, and taking some small action was enough right at that moment.

Which people in your life can you think of right now that could benefit from you being present, listening, and taking some small actions.

Two is the realisation that the reason I think I recognised that person is that this could have so easily have been me sitting there, on a wet afternoon, on a piece of cardboard, begging for change.

I had traumas in my life I couldn’t cope with at the time. I had flirtations with addiction, escapism, and depression. I also had a few people that cared enough to listen and encourage me. And enough resilience to overcome with the help of those others.

This is yet another reason why I became a professional coach. I understand the powers of listening, reframing, and encouraging actions. Regardless of where you are in life or what you do.

It is the WHY behind everything I do. Helping people, regardless of their position, to R.A.I.S.E. their profile. That is to become Resilient, Adaptable, Imaginative, Sustainable, and Effective.

Let’s connect. I am good at listening and would love to hear your story.

patrick@theintentionalacademy.ie

WhatsApp 00 353 83 3008963

How it all started (Part three).

May 13th, 2007.

A date etched in my memory. The last few months had really passed by in a blur.

Only it wasn’t a blur. I distinctly remember the dissertation, the book reviews, the countless pro bono client sessions, the PCG groups, the new modules of learning, and the weekends studying together.

It wasn’t a blur, but it felt as if it was. I would later in life figure out this is what’s called FLOW.

Flow is an optimal psychological state that people experience when engaged in an activity that is appropriately challenging to one’s skill level, often resulting in immersion and concentrated focus on a task. This can result in deep learning and high levels of personal and work satisfaction. (Mihály Csíkszentmihályi).

Flow can be experienced in any task in any field of activity, from music to writing to painting to sports. It forms one of the key ingredients of where I get my clients to guide themselves towards. In Flow, you perform and achieve effortlessly.

So, the blur passed, and on May 13th, 2007, I got my official Diploma in Personal & Business Coaching from the Irish Lifecoach Institute (www.ili.ie). I continued pro bono coaching for a few months and then set up my practice under the name Forward 2 Success. The business story is for another day.

In the 15 years since I have added certifications as a Trainer and a Master NLP Practitioner. I have niched in 1-to-1 Life Coaching & Career coaching. I have become a public speaker. I have a weekly radio show on Limerick City Community Radio (www.lccr.ie) for over 5 years. I have run 124 Marathons. I have met 1000’s of interesting people.

I’ve had high points, low points, successes, learnings, elation, sadness, and every other emotion imaginable.

I have learned to just be me. And I have learned that to just be you is good enough for everyone. How to be you is for another Blog Post coming soon.

Now, after 15 years, the decision has been made to share a message.

You can ‘Have A Life While Making A Living’. You can do so as you ‘R.A.I.S.E.’ yourself UP.

(R.A.I.S.E. = Resilient, Adaptable, Imaginative, Sustainable, Effective).

In September, to celebrate 15 years as a coach, I will be launching 4 products and 2 services that are an amalgamation of what I have learned from my clients. The stuff that worked for them, consistently and in Flow.

I’m looking forward to meeting with 1000’s of people each year on a mission to create a space in this world where people can be truly themselves while contributing and sharing. And making a living doing so.

I also look forward to your company on the journey and here on this Blog!

You can read Part 1 of this trilogy here: https://theintentionalacademy.ie/2022/06/23/how-it-all-started-part-1/

You can read Part 2 of this trilogy here: https://theintentionalacademy.ie/2022/06/29/how-it-all-started-part-deux-of-3/

For more info: WhatsApp 083-3008963 or email patrick@theintentionalacademy.ie

How It All Started – Part Deux! (of 3)

I was ready to become a Coach. Just finish the course, get the accredited Diploma, and off you go setting up your own practice. Simple.

Two months later.

I will never be good enough to do this. I will probably not even get the Diploma. Why am I doing this?

Also.

I am critical of everything I have done with my life. I question my beliefs and my thinking patterns. I am restless and unsure about the future.

This was no longer just a course or a career path, this was my first real foray into personal development. And there were so many layers from past experiences clouding me, that I could not hear or find the answers to the 100’s of questions I asked myself.

I was afraid, anxious, worried, and felt down. All the while still working in a full-time job as a retail manager of a store that was open 364 days a year.

I handed in my notice to fully concentrate on becoming a Coach. I promised them to stay until after Christmas.

A new anxiety rose its loud, obnoxious head. I will have no income from January. The course was finishing end of May. What will I do?

The Irish Lifecoach Institute (ILI) is a top-of-the-range training provider. They knew this was not just happening to me. Lots of students in our course and the years previous had gone through this. They also know, as every properly trained coach does, that we all have the answers to any of our questions, fears, and anxieties within us. With that in mind, they provide platforms within the course to create a space for exploring this.

We were introduced to PCGs (Peer Coaching Groups), where as students we met in groups outside the course, as well as in the course facilitated by a tutor. Then we started coaching each other to get used to the techniques and also to assist the development of one another.

We journaled. We read books from a list on the curriculum that allowed us to learn and explore at the same time. We grew together. I felt privileged to be part of the ILI.

Some of the anxieties and fears dissipated. Some remained. Yet I felt I was discovering a new lifestyle. One that would not lead me to burnout and severe stress attacks like my previous jobs had.

Filled with renewed hope and energy, I relaunched myself into the course, trying to make the best of it one day at a time.

(To Be Continued)

How it all started – Part 1!

Standing behind the counter of the retail unit I managed, I had just served another happy customer.

I particularly liked interacting with the customers and the staff and was pretty good at sales too. I loved the products, and the location was central to the city I lived in.

What I didn’t like was the obsessive focus on all kinds of KPIs and the lack of people management from HQ. Every time we beat a target, the next target would be higher. And the odd time we didn’t reach the target, the Spanish Inquisition would start to find the reason. Well, I say the reason, I meant the culprit(s). Blame had to be apportioned.

Suddenly, I got blurred vision. Black dots in front of my eyes. I also got stabbed in the chest. Repeatedly. At least, that’s what it felt like. I felt dizzy.

I excused myself to the staff member on duty and walked out. I don’t know why, but I did and started walking. I ended up walking the short 7 minutes it takes to get to my GP’s office. The room was cleared and I was taken in immediately.

30 minutes later I was diagnosed with a severe stress attack and was ordered to stay at home for a week. To ensure I complied I was asked for the phone number of HQ. They were informed of the GP’s decision.

The day after I got the call from the head of training of the company. He was checking in with me. I told him what happened and opened up about the likes and dislikes I had in my job as a Store Manager.

He listened and asked several excellent questions that made me feel understood and listened to. As I had worked in Corporate Management before, I asked where he learned those skills. He said he got them from having studied Coaching. I had no idea what he meant. This was early 2006 and I had only heard of coaching in a sports context. He said he would send me a book if that was OK with me.

At the end of my enforced week off, I had finished it. ‘The Seven Habits OF Highly Effective People’ by Stephen Covey.

Some things in it made sense to me, some of them I dismissed mockingly, and some I felt curious about. So I Googled Coaching. I did some research and started asking questions of my ex-colleagues in the corporate world. I was directed to the Irish Lifecoach Institute.

I applied to do their full Diploma course in Personal & Business Coaching. I got interviewed and accepted. 1 Full Academic Year. It promised to be busy with weekend classes, book assignments, dissertations, journaling, peer-to-peer coaching, Peer Coaching Groups, pro bono clients, assessments, etc…

The course started in October 2006 on a wet Saturday in the beautiful 4* Castletroy Park Hotel just outside Limerick City. By 5 pm that day. I knew. This was so for me. I felt it everywhere. I cried when I got home. I was ready to become a Coach.

(To be Continued)

To find out more about my coaching programs email patrick@theintentionalacademy.ie or WhatsApp 083-3008963

1 short sentence and then…

I just sat there. I could not move. My mind had just been blanked out. I had just read 1 sentence that had struck me so deep it perplexed me into non-movement and non-thought.

It happened sometime last year.

The sentence?

‘You are Life realising itself’.

I just had to sit with that. It resonated. What made it so valid for me? What made this one simple sentence ruffle my feathers that much? I was stunned into deep reflection.

Questions. All kinds of questions popped into my being!

Eventually, I came around to isolating one. It just appeared to me as I sat in silence.

What if life is just something to play at? Not to be taken seriously, just to be played at. And that this play is all there needs to be.

What if life is not reaching towards some goal, instead life itself is the goal. And so, life is without real purpose other than to play at it. And it is meant to be without purpose. It is not evolving towards some ultimate destination or raison d’être; in this very moment, here and now, life is always ultimate.  

And only the person who masters the playful nature of this lack of purpose can make valid plans for the future knowing these plans are entirely fluid and adaptable.

As I sat there contemplating all this, I saw a sign appear. No, not a spiritual one this time. The sign appeared from memory. The one I saw a few years ago on a trip to LA in the Universal Studio theme park.

‘We don’t stop playing because we get old. We get old because we stop playing.’

I decided to try and start playing at most things. Instead of goals, I created clear intentions of how I wanted to play at life, work, business, relationships, family, and exercise. Everything.

And I discovered that you could ‘Have A Life While Making A Living’ this way. That you can remove a lot of worries, stresses, and anxieties by simply not taking life so seriously but instead having fun doing what you intend to.

Looks like life, work, business, and relationships; like music and dance and sport; are best done in a flowing movement of fun and passion. Who knew?

Do you feel like playing more often? Do you want more fun and intention in your life? Do you want to ‘Have A Life While Making A Living’?

#JustAsk on WhatsApp 083-3008963 or email patrick@theintentionalacademy.ie and we’ll set up a chat to get you playing!

“Not all those who wander are lost.” – J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring.

Patrick xxx

Business revamp for The Intentional Academy.

R.A.I.S.E. your profile!

On the 13th of May 2022, it will be exactly 15 years since I graduated from a FETAC Level 6 Diploma course in Personal & Business Coaching with the industry-leading Irish LifeCoach Institute.

Diploma Personal & Business Coaching

To celebrate this 15th Anniversary of being a Professional Coach running my own practice and business, I decided on a complete revamp instead of drinking bubbly champagne and blowing up differently coloured balloons. (I might do that at a later date and when I do the invite will be posted on this Blog!)

I had been looking for a signature program to add to my 1-to-1 coaching, webinars, corporate workshops, event hosting, and MC’ing.

A couple of years ago the Having A Life While Making A Living concept was born yet it wasn’t until recently that this was made real in a HALWMAL program. This program of 8 Coaching Sessions around 4 pillars and 8 areas is for professionals, managers, C-Suite, business owners, solopreneurs, entrepreneurs, practitioners, and anybody else willing to step away from the everyday rat race. It will guide you to a Life where work, life, finance, relationships and more will all fit in together as part of 1 complete package.

More about this Program in one of my next Blogs.

I was still missing a piece. I had my program, my coaching, workshops, seminars, hosting etc… What was binding it all together???

Enter Denise Fay, from Achieve Marketing. I have been a member of Denise’s Achievers Club, a marketing mastermind group, since day 1. So recently, we found ourselves having some time on Zoom to chat when I said I wanted to tease out an idea to bind all these under 1 banner. 20 minutes of brainstorming led to R.A.I.S.E. Everything I do is about the other person, group or unit to R.A.I.S.E. themselves.

Resilient

Adaptable

Imaginative

Sustainable

Efficient

I love working with people who get me. Thanks, Denise!

So that’s it for today.

Time to share my passion, excitement, drive, and desire with anyone willing to listen.

This weekly blog will be filled with stories, events, people, and fun!

Let’s all R.A.I.S.E. each other to Have A Life While Making A Living!!

For more info email patrick@theintentionalacademy.ie or WhatsApp 083-3008963!!