Each quarter we feature one of our Associates so that people can learn more about them and what they do. This quarter we had the opportunity to interview Peak Performance Coach Dr. Carol Gaffney about her influences, inspirations and how the coaching process works.
Dr. Carol, what is your story?
I have always been passionate about motivating people and helping them succeed. I have a Ph.D. in psychology, but started out in the engineering field along with some work in business and information technology. Throughout my career, I’ve combined the critical thinking side of engineering with working with people.
There have been a few very important turning points in my career. The first was the opportunity to study with Dr. Herbert Jensen on his mind/body connection. I also learned about stress management and resiliency.
The second important point was when I started using assessments that were descriptive rather than diagnostic. The medical model I trained in used assessments to create a diagnosis. In the mid 90s I started using assessments of behaviors, motivations and emotional states to determine the normal state of a person and began using this information to understand how people can become their personal best.
The third turning point came when I began to understand the integration of the individual—the mind, body and spirit—within the context of his or her life, including personal, professional and family. As a coach, I consider the whole person when evaluating the forces that impact the individual.
Tell us about your expertise.
Making order out of chaos is one of my strengths and what I enjoy doing. I love to gather a lot of information and sort it out, and creating strategies that are succinct, approachable and understandable is one of my natural skills. I focus on behavioral intelligence—doing what’s right to get the right things done.
What inspires and drives you?
My passion is to understand people in their own world and then help them find satisfaction. I meet so many people who can’t seem to move forward. I love to see people gain new insight or experience “aha!” moments. When I can help people engage in a process of change or transformation for personal reasons, it inspires me. To see success for the individual, within the framework of where they want to be successful—career, sports, family, etc.—is very rewarding.
How does client coaching typically work?
We start by scheduling an initial interview to discuss why the individual is interested in a coaching relationship, what their expectations are and what changes they want to see happen. We get a good idea of how the two of us relate—chemistry and trust are very important. I then come back with an idea of an approach to their coaching sessions, along with timing and cost. If we agree to move forward, the coaching arrangement usually lasts about six to eight months; solutions-oriented coaching situations take less time. We set clearly defined goals and work together three times a month minimum via videoconferencing or teleconferencing.
I use an assessment-based approach, along with the Behavioral Intelligence™ coaching model and STARR© process, which I’ve developed. We review our progress throughout the coaching engagement and discuss insights, accomplishments, goals and next steps. I often joke that the optimal situation is for me to become obsolete, meaning the client has internalized a problem-solving method he or she can continue to use across many situations.
Tell us about one of your success stories.
One of my clients was a very high-performing, successful business owner with breast cancer who wanted me to help her maintain the management of her business while she was going through treatment. We decided to use her golf game as one of the main tools and created specific goals using a mind/body approach that included her roles in both family and career. Together, we created a plan that would allow her to work on her golf game while she couldn’t actually play golf. Although not immediately evident, the golf game became a “story” of her frustrations, physical and emotional pain, and the need to meditate and relax. It also revealed attitudes she held about herself that kept her more focused on working than leading a balanced life. This strategy not only had a tremendous influence on her ability to maintain her business success, but also allowed her to reduce the number of hours she worked per week by 15 hours.
During the coaching process, we met three times per month for eight months. She was a terrific coaching client as she was very focused on being successful. It’s been eight months since our coaching engagement ended, and the skills she learned have allowed her to continue working the reduced schedule and spend that time on other activities that are important to her. Her self-confidence has grown tremendously, even though she was already very successful, and she’s more satisfied in her business and personal life. She says the coaching process wasn’t an event; it was life changing.