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Are you up for the challenge?

Or do you need a bit more TLC?


Did you know that this week is International Coaching Week? It's when all us coaches get misty-eyed about what an amazing profession we are part of. And it's true - I wrote this article during last year's international coaching week, all about how much I love coaching!

And this year, I've been thinking about a concept we refer to a lot in coaching. It's the idea of giving our clients appropriate amounts of challenge and support. This approach is also a leadership methodology as written about in Kim Scott's Radical Candor (sic) and referred to as the "loving boot" by John Blakey. It's the idea of giving your direct reports equal amounts of challenge and support to enable them to perform at their best.

However, the focus of my thinking this week has been about whether we give OURSELVES appropriate amounts of challenge and support if we want to perform at our best. And here is what I think.

Do we give OURSELVES enough support?

Thinking about challenge and support, there are three "zones" which are not optimal if you're looking to perform at your best. These are:

  1. High Challenge, Low Support: This can lead to stress, poor physical health and potentially burn-out.
  2. Low Challenge, High Support: You'll have good health and wellbeing but probably won't be moving the needle much - this is fine as long as you're there intentionally...
  3. Low Challenge, Low Support: You'll feel like you're stagnating and ill probably have low energy.

So, how can we achieve the high performance balance of high challenge and high support?

High Challenge, High Support

I think that a lot of us know how to challenge ourselves. We set goals, keep ourselves accountable, people please, bend over backwards, go the extra mile...

BUT, quite often we neglect to give ourselves the requisite support.

How challenged are you feeling right now on a scale of 1 to 10? Now, whatever number you chose, ideally you will balance that with an equal support score.

Is there a discrepancy? I won't be surprised if your support score is lower than your challenge score. It's very common but it's not good. It needs to be the same.

If your challenge score is 5 out of 10, then a support score of 5 out of 10 is fine. However, if your challenge score is 8 out of 10, then your support needs to be a lot better.

Increasing your self-support

There are a few key areas that you need to take care of in order to give yourself the support you need. I score myself in the following areas based up Michael Hyatt's Free to Focus weekly review AND the 5 ways to wellbeing:

  • Sleep: Are you getting enough and is it good quality? What can you do to improve your score?
  • Nutrition: Are you eating well in a way that fuels your body and mind? What can you do to improve your score?
  • Movement: Are you getting physical exercise, both cardio and strength? What can you do to improve your score?
  • Connection: Are you connecting with other people regularly and in meaningful ways? What can you do to improve your score?
  • Relaxation: What do you do to relax and are you doing enough of it? What can you do to improve your score?
  • Learn: What are you doing to develop yourself at the moment? What can you do to improve your score?
  • Give: How are you giving back to other people? What can you do to improve your score?
  • Be present: Are you living in the present moment or worrying about the past / future? What can you do to improve your score?

Once you've identified actions to increase your score in each area, look at your overall support score. If you implement these actions, will your overall support score now be the same as your challenge score?

If the answer is yes, then well done! Get on with implementing those actions.

If the answer is no, then back to the drawing board. You either need to increase your support score OR decrease your challenge score until such time as you can support yourself better.

I hope that's helpful. As ever, get in touch and let me know what you found useful and how you're getting on.

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