About Dean Long

Fear of what’s behind the curtain

My daughter recently reminded me that, almost exactly 10 years ago to this date, I moved her down to New Orleans for her freshman year at Loyola University. Being of the independent mindset that she was then, and continues to be, she was the sole individual from her high school graduation class to venture off to New Orleans for college. I once asked, “But, sweetie, what about KU or K-State? New Orleans is so far away? It violates my unwritten guideline of you remaining in a 1-day drive radius from home!” “Oh, dad”, she replied. “Everyone else is going to either of those two schools! I don’t want to go to ‘Blue Valley Graduate School!'”

So, in late August of 2004, we packed up the Honda family mini-van, and headed down to the Gulf. I remember her words when I drove her to campus on St. Charles Avenue for her final day of orientation: “Dad, I’m a little scared” she said, her voice tailing off. My reply: “Sweetie, there are hundreds and hundreds of other incoming freshman from all over the country who are speaking those very same words to their dad or mom right now. You’ll be fine. You’ll meet new friends, have new experiences. You’ll grow.” And, you know what? I’m proud to say that those words came true. Not only did she stay at, and graduate from Loyola University. But, she made New Orleans her home, and eventually met her husband-to-be there, too!

I’ve heard and read that we’re all born geniuses. But, over time, the world, people, experiences and events “box us in”. We impose limitations on ourselves. We stop taking chances. We miss out on experiences. “I can’t do that”…..”I shouldn’t do that”…..”What if ____” (just fill in the blank…..you probably won’t find it hard).

Remember what your life was like as a child? Do you remember what it felt like to explore? To create? To let yourself go, with little or any inhibitions? As an adult, we often feel the need to rationalize everything….to think it through…..to think “what if….”. You see where I’m headed? “Fear-ville”….yes?

I believe it’s more enriching to think, “What’s the biggest downside risk here? And, if that happens, can I live with it?” But, we should also ask ourselves, “What can I realize here? What joy, or fulfillment might I experience? How can my sense of worth, and my confidence, be given a boost?”

I’ve recently taken up oil painting as a hobby. Call it a latent interest (and, let’s hope, talent!) that I’ve suppressed for many, many years. I’ve spent several hundred dollars in a good quality easel, paints, brushes and other supplies. I’m receiving complimentary lessons from a dear, kind friend who has spent her entire career in teaching and learning about art. Will I ever be a great painter? Have I wasted my money and time? I don’t know, but it’s sure been fun so far!

Facing the Fear: Leaping into Business Ownership

If you have difficulty getting motivated to head to the office most days, if you find yourself watching the clock and waiting for the end of your work day, then you probably need a change in your professional life. That change may be a different employer in your current industry and occupation, your current occupation in a different industry, or to start your own business.

If you feel the urge to be your own boss and realize the freedom that business ownership holds, but are hesitant to take the leap, what is holding you back? Most likely, fear is part of the equation: fear of change, fear of failure, fear of giving up a good salary and benefits, fear of others thinking that you’re crazy.

When I think of an entrepreneur, these traits come to mind:

* Eternal optimism and belief in ones self
* A definitive, branded personality
* The ability to effectively, persuasively communicate thoughts and ideas
* An extrovert
* Willing to take on financial risk for long-term gains
* Fierce dedication and persistence
* Accepting of, and learning from failure

I frequently remind my entrepreneurial coaching clients that developing and growing a business is a marathon. You’re constantly pushing a rock up a long hill to its pinnacle. I’m reminded of a relative quote from famed diet guru Jenny Craig: “It’s not what you do once in awhile, it’s what you do day in and day out that makes a difference.”

If you’re not doing what you’re passionate about and inspired to do every day, then perhaps it’s time to carefully consider your entrepreneurial aspirations and leave your fears behind.

What is Coaching?

I’m asked this question frequently. Or, if I’m not asked directly, and am engaged in a face-to-face conversation, I sense the question.

Let’s start with the definition posted by the International Coach Federation (ICF), the global community of the coaching profession for which I’m an active member:

“ICF defines coaching as partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential…Professional coaching focuses on setting goals, creating outcomes and managing personal change.”

Coaching is often misunderstood as being a form of consulting. It’s not. Unlike consulting, as a coach, my role is not to give advice. I don’t tell someone what to do. Instead, I ask open-ended, thought-provoking questions, and make succinct observations, in order to help my clients gain new insight, or develop a new mindset. Doing so alters their thought-process, their decisions, and their actions for their betterment. When my clients share an “Ah Ha” moment, I know that they’ve benefited from my coaching.

Tangible, desired outcomes of coaching might include:
• Gain a greater understanding of yourself…and of your interests, talents and passions…
• Reduce the “noise” in your head; find greater clarity, and a sense of direction…
• Enhance your confidence and self-esteem….
• Utilize your time more effectively…
• Improve your relationships with your colleagues, your supervisor, or your clients…
• Develop a new business strategy to grow and prosper…
• Improve your communication, managerial, or leadership skills…
• Discover and pursue a more rewarding career…

What might your desired outcomes be?

Dean’s 14 Business-Building Tips

If you’re an entrepreneur, thinking of becoming one….or, have been in business for awhile, and could use a dose of perspective, here are some suggestions for you: [Read more…]

The Art of Client Retention

Knowing that I’m a business coach, whenever I tell people that I’m educated as an engineer, and that I spent 14 years in the consulting engineering profession, their reaction is often one of surprise.  Yet, the common “thread” of my experience in that field, followed by financial services, and now coaching, is that I’ve always enjoyed the collaborative process of developing a relationship with, and partnering with clients to help them achieve an end objective, or to fulfill a dream. [Read more…]

Getting Into Focus

Finding meaning and purpose to increase your attention span

In 1953, engineer Colin Cherry conducted an experiment to determine how well people could filter out multiple auditory stimuli.  He had his subjects simultaneously listen to two conversations – one in each ear through a set of headphones.  They were each told to repeat, as accurately as possible, the conversation in one ear, and to ignore the second conversation.  From Cherry’s experiment evolved the phrase, the “cocktail party problem”, a scenario in which we’re challenged to filter out unwanted noise in order to effectively engage in a one-on-one conversation.  This experiment was one of the first known experiments in the scientific community addressing the struggle to stay focused. [Read more…]

The Seven Year Business Itch

Can you renew the passion, or it is time for a major change?

by Dean Long

In 1955, Billy Wilder co-wrote and directed a film entitled The Seven Year Itch, starring Marilyn Monroe, based on the play of the same name by George Axelrod. The film includes the famous subway grate scene, in which Ms. Monroe’s dress is blown up above her knees by a wind gust created by a passing train. In the movie and the play, the “seven year itch” refers to a declining interest in a monogamous relationship after seven years of marriage. [Read more…]

Manage Your Time and Yourself

Take the time to identify the most important priorities for life and business.

In contrast to entrepreneurs, employees are generally given assignments with specific deadlines. However, entrepreneurs don’t have anyone to supervise them. Instead, they create a myriad of possibilities and options for themselves: what to do, when and for how long.

Freedom of choice in entrepreneurship can be liberating, but can also be a bit frightening. Presented with too many choices, studies indicate that we procrastinate, stick with the status quo or make ill-advised decisions. Managing time can be a challenge. [Read more…]