I talk a lot about transformation.
It’s not because I’m romanticizing a topic, or making my content more appealing to my readers.
It’s because I turned my life around 180 degrees. Flipped it completely. From lifestyle to work to family time to my health – everything changed. And I’ve learned a lot from that change, and I’m still learning a lot from that change.
One major catalyst in that change story is Strategic Coach®, an exceptional business coaching program for entrepreneurs.
When I enrolled in their program, I had to make the commitment to show up to four single-day sessions – one every 90 days, conducted in Toronto, Canada, where I met my coach and mentor, Dan Sullivan.
The day-long session has about 40-50 participating entrepreneurs in attendance, and there’s a set curriculum and an agenda for each session. Dan usually poses all of us with specific questions, and we’re given a few minutes to think about our answers.
We then had 15-minute breakout sessions where we would all discuss and extract answers, stories, experiences, and wisdom from one another.
I can’t begin to explain how much I learn from just this one part of the coaching sessions. That room is filled with successful entrepreneurs across different industries. So exchanging these answers gave me a whole different perspective.
Being a Life Insurance professional for over 20 years, I tend to color everything with a Life Insurance industry perspective. But to see and learn how easily transferable someone else’s ideas were to my business and life was an eye-opener.
The Strategic Coach Tools and Concepts That Transformed My Life:
1. The ‘Life Extender’ Principle
Dan Sullivan published this eBook called ‘My Plan for Living to 156’. He got us thinking about how different our approach to life and time would be if we could live to be 130 or even 150 years old. Our parents are living significantly longer than their parents, and with the rate at which our health and medical sciences are advancing, it’s only likely that we’ll far outlive that 90 or 100 mark that we feel limited to.
Dan’s Life Extender principle really got me thinking about time, quality of life and how I spend my days, months and years differently.
In the Life Insurance business, I’m always talking to clients about policies that last until they’re 80 or 100 or even 120. The conversations, however, are around retirement planning, not really about life expectancy. You plan for a comfortable retirement, and then…
What’s next? Suddenly if you’re expecting that you might live 130 years, then retiring at 70 leaves you with a huge blank space between 70 and 130.
The tool that accompanies this Life Extender principle is this pocket-sized fold-out called Pocket Coach.
The Pocket Coach has all my big life goals as well as my annual, quarterly and monthly goals in it. It’s a snapshot of where I am now and where I’m headed. When you’re suddenly thinking of life as much beyond just the retirement mark, your goals and timelines alter significantly. They did for me at least.
2. Focus, Buffer, and Free Days
This time-management principle, called the Entrepreneurial Time Management System, is life-changing. It’s turned all my time at work, at the gym, with my family, to meaningful, quality time.
Before the start of the year, I mark my Focus, Buffer and Free days on the calendar. I now take 196 Free Days every year, including weekends. This is all pure family and personal time – holidays, travel, personal goals, whatever I choose to do with it.
I work a four-day workweek and am currently creating the framework to move to a three-day workweek.
My Free days are marked and filled in on my calendar just like my Focus days are. So one of my goals a few quarters ago was to teach my four-year-old to ride a bike without training wheels. That father-son appointment was blocked out on my calendar. Friday mornings were reserved.
So our weekends went from becoming an unplanned blur to quality family time.
More on this concept and how I follow it in this article.
3. Life in Quarters
You know how when you set a goal for five years from now, it always seems like something in the distance? You cut yourself quite a bit of slack because you’ve got five years, you’ll get around to it. Eventually.
And before you know it, four years are gone, and you’ve barely made any progress.
That whole concept of long-term goals and aspirations is debunked with the Strategic Coach® approach. Here we’re coached to approach every goal, every vision in ‘quarters’ or 90-day blocks. How much are you going to accomplish in the next 90 days?
Especially when you’ve signed up for the year and you’re on the course, and you have to jump onto a plane to see your business coach and mentor every 90 days – you really need to hit those quarterly goals.
You can probably afford an unproductive day, but not much more than that because otherwise, it came with the accountability of saying ‘I didn’t achieve my goals this quarter.’
A book that I have come across that also works on the same concept of living your life in Quarters is “The 12 Week Year” by Brian P. Moran & Michael Lennington. They offer some great tips on how to break your year down to 12-week blocks and tackle just those 12 weeks at a time.
4. Living in my Unique Ability®
Finding and thriving in my Unique Ability® has probably been the most rewarding, liberating aspect of Strategic Coach® for me. I’ve explained this in detail here.
It’s about ‘getting closer to the heart of what drives you,’ as the coaches put it. When you get to it, that set of abilities and activities that really bring the best out in you, that’s when everything begins to flow, and the barriers start to melt away.
I’ve found that I’m usually able to spend several months of the year in my Unique Ability®, and those months I’m in super-productive mode.
There are other times, for instance, when the team’s workload is unexpectedly high, or we’ve let a team member go, that I have to take on aspects of the job that are not particularly my strengths. I’ll get it done, of course, but it doesn’t ‘flow’ as easily as when I’m in my zone.
My Unique Ability® lies in talking shop with prospects, meeting with existing clients and with my introducers, and driving the business from that position.
So discovering that, and putting most of my time and energy there, and delegating the rest to a team who each work within their strengths and unique abilities have been a huge game-changer for me and the business as a whole.
5. The Quarterly Travel Productivity Surge – A Happy Side Effect
I don’t think I’m alone when I say this: I probably knock out my most productive workdays in the week leading up to a business trip or a holiday.
There’s something about the finality of being away from my team and the office for a few days that really pushes me into high gear.
That productivity surge, plus the drive to ensure I’m hitting all my targets before my next coaching session means that the last few days for me before I head off to Strategic Coach® are basically power-days for me.
I like to call this a happy side effect. Because I’ve noticed this pattern through, I’ve committed to traveling the last few days of every quarter either on a business trip or a personal one.
6. Identifying my Ideal Client
This was a big takeaway for me from Strategic Coach®. Identifying and working exclusively with my right-fit clients has allowed me to move from working with 80 clients a year to six clients a year.
It’s what made the shift possible from a 60-hour workweek to a 30-hour workweek, while still hitting all my financial goals.
Here’s more on my right-fit client and the set-in-stone criteria that I use to arrive at these clients. No matter what industry you’re in, chances are you can learn a thing or two from this concept.
All in all, Strategic Coach® has helped me work and play at a whole new level.
It’s empowering to have control over your time, who you work with and on what terms, and programs like Strategic Coach® put the reins back in your hands.