Lori Shook

Pioneer in the coaching profession - Master Certified coach, Co-Active coach and author of coaches going corporate

Marie: Hello listeners. Lovely to be with you again my name's Marie Quigley this is the Empower World Coaching and Leadership Podcast. Gosh, I'm feeling excited today as I share this wonderful inspiring guest with you! Well, before I share her name let me tell you she is a pioneer in the coaching world. She jumped into the budding field of coaching in the mid-1990s. Maybe some of you aren't even old enough to remember that. And she's earned the designation of Master Certified Coach. She earned that in 2001 and she's been training coaches for over 20 years. Lori, oh shared her name already! Lori Shook. Welcome to the show. Before I say hello to you properly let me tell our listeners a little bit more about who you are because you're very special to me as I met you when I was training. Lots of years ago and you've been an inspiration to me. So Lori you are a driving force for the expansion of coaching around the world and you've helped spread co-active coaching across North America and helped introduce coaching to many countries throughout Europe and the Middle East. You've contributed to the creation of quality, scalable programs and training excellence for three international coaching training schools, The Coaches Training Institute, Performance Consultants International and CRR Global, the provider of OSC systems coaching. Lori you're a highly respectable, respected coach and talent in training coaches. You've got practical and a no nonsense approach, and I know you'll share that in this podcast today. You've made coaching skills accessible to thousands of coaches and leaders all over the world. Consistent with your educational background in the sciences, you currently use neuroscience as the basis for the training and coaching work you do with leaders, coaches and teams. Lori you are the author of the ICF accredited online master level coaching program "Coaches Going Corporate". And you've also co-authored the book "Team Up" applying lessons from neuroscience to improve collaboration, innovation and results. Welcome Lori.

Lori: Thanks Marie. I have to tell you I'm really excited to be here.

Marie: It's wonderful to have you.

Lori: Thank you very much. Thanks for the opportunity and the topic that we'll discuss is obviously deep in my heart and really important to me.

Marie: Yeah and first of all let's acknowledge all of that beautiful bio that we shared. Now that's a lot in this world of coaching, you started it all up. You were one of the people that started it all up.

Lori: I was very passionate about it and I was completely committed. I felt like I was living my life purpose and bringing coaching and consciousness to more people and that was my life purpose and that being on the leading edge of bringing more consciousness around the world. So I really felt alive.

Marie: Yes. And we were talking earlier and I named you the Edgy Elder of coaching. That's what you do; provide thought provoking subjects, topics questions for us all to think about. And actually this podcast was sparked by a post you made on a group that we are both part of because, because I’m CTI trained you know. And on this group you shared about your new year's resolution and what that was. So could you share with our listeners?

Lori: Sure. Yeah I’ve been a little shy about getting myself out in the world. You know I'm not one of those people who have been great marketers and here I am. And all of that I always have done that within the capacity of an organization. But I got my own organization now in which we will be doing more of this. So it was partly about just getting my voice out there and in the last couple of months I had the opportunity to really take a clear elder-ship role for a number of people. I helped train them up in some real, fineness kinds of things. And I love that and I realized that I do have a role I have been around and I have had a huge impact on the coaching world especially in Mayor. And I'm just claiming that. And so my new year's resolution is to be more expressive.

Marie: What was it that you shared?

Lori: So that this post, my main purpose was to name this thing, this impulse, this culture that was happening in the coaching communities that I'd been a part of and a lot of coaches, had bought into this idea that: to be a real coach you need to leave your job, leave the organization that you're a part of and create a business on your own outside of an organization and people are... I had a conversation in December with somebody who was a relatively new coach and she was basically apologetic. You know “I like my job. I want to stay in my job. And I want to coach. But everyone's pushing me to leave”. And there was such apology and I don't know if it was guilt or just something and I thought “Well where is that coming from?”. But it's not new I mean I’ve been hearing it for years, decades even. You know people take coaching skills and what's model to them are independent coaches who are building businesses. Sometimes getting business from the people in the room you know and modeling that as if it's easy, but it isn't. So I just wanted to name it. Really that's what the post was about, I wanted to name it. There’s this big push that a real coach is a coach outside of organizations. Meanwhile I’ve met plenty of coaches who are in organizations happily and thriving and making such a difference, such a difference. They're bringing emotional intelligence, they're helping people make better decisions and getting organizations on track and helping people work better together and having an amazing impact in organizations. So I also wanted to challenge people that you know don't just fall into that group think, thing and think that the daring and brave and courageous thing to do is leave. Maybe the daring brave courageous thing to do is stay and change the organization. Wow.

Marie: That's phenomenal. And a wonderful perspective on it and I know I shared with you in Doha a lot of the coaches that get trained do stay in organizations. They come to bring this work into organizations and they are making such a wonderful cultural difference to their organizations by introducing the concepts of coaching, that it's having such a ripple effect. And that's what prompted me to reach out to you and say “hey do you want to come on and talk about this?”. Because like you, we too believe you don't have to break out and set up on your own to make a difference in the world. In fact, you could just take it into your family and make a huge difference in the world.

Lori: Absolutely. Totally agree with that. People have more real conversations within a family, wow that changes people. Yeah and every one of those family members then behave differently out in the world too, most likely.

Marie: Yeah I was having a lovely coffee with two coaches recently and they talked about the ripple effect that their work is having. It was bringing tears to their eyes when their clients are talking about the things that are happening in their family life and extended family. It's all because of a coaching conversation that may have happened a few years ago. That is now still having a reverberation.

Lori: That gives me goose bumps. You know I love that. Good for them recognizing that and it's those, you know, one conversation at a time.

Marie: Absolutely. So what's important for you about having this discussion?

Lori: To be completely honest I feel a little bit responsible for a lot of things that are happening. I know I am not personally responsible all by myself. But as I was saying earlier I put a lot of energy and effort into bringing coaching to new countries and I felt like I was on purpose living my life purpose bringing more consciousness to the planet. But then I have to get real with myself and ask myself “did I really do that? Did I bring more consciousness?”. Are people really having conversations about conscious choices? Or are people swept up in the group think and doing, you know like “Oh I know I need to make the big choice”. Well that's not consciousness. You know that's just being swept up in “I have to have the big kahuna goal and leave my job and move to the other side of the world” and all of these things. So I feel a little bit responsible and as, I suppose, if I'm stepping into an elder role, I do have a role that I can play in helping people come back to you know maybe we can live with the happier if we're more content. Maybe we can challenge ourselves about how we actually do have a bit of an agenda when we coach. When we asked people the question “What's your dream?”. That points those client's attention to dream, “Oh I need to dream”. That's an agenda you know. So It all comes down to feeling a little bit responsible and wanting to provide a slightly different viewpoint. Coaching isn’t it just about have more, more, more, do more, do more. It's about consciousness and I hope in the end.

Marie: Yeah it's about being right.

Lori: It's about being. It's about knowing yourself, really knowing yourself and in this thread that we were both talking about. A lot of people have pushed back against my message about you know: stay. So now everybody makes their own choices. Well I think that's what coaching is about. Actually it's helping people really reflect and make their own really honest in their hearts choices, not being pulled by the system, the stream of consciousness out there you know… what other people are doing.

Marie: Isn't that what brings people to coaching in the first place? What other people are thinking, doing what other people want us to do instead of really tapping into our values and internal voice that is allowing us to create, as you say, conscious choice.

Lori: Yeah. You know you mentioned in my bio and the things you were talking about. Neuroscience is a big part of the work that I do. And so if I can bring a little bit of that in. There's different Brain chemicals and Neuro-chemicals that are at play. And dopamine, a lot of people are talking about dopamine these days. Dopamine is a big driver, dopamine gets us moving and it's the realm of excitement. “Let's do this big thing” and the imagination of “ooh I can have it like this and I’ll be like that and yeah! That's great”. And if we live according to that, dopamine is really addictive. So we keep living you know it's like “well what's the next dream. I can never settle and say wow I’ve got the life of my dreams”. You know, dopamine, that addiction that we get into, wants us to have more and more and more and do more and more. And there's another chemical called serotonin that people get from mindfulness and it's the chemical of contentment. And it's not about to do do it's that being place. And it's about finding peace. It's a calm place, it's an ohm place, it's an hmmmmmm place rather than a “Yeah!” Dopamine place. So I’ve been reflecting on that a lot as well. Are we selling dopamine addictions sometimes in coaching or can we shift that to “what's really your goal?”. Because values I believe bring us to dopamine sometimes you know “oh I get really excited to one of my values is adventure”. Yes, you get that excitement and resonance with that. And is that going to bring you long term happiness if it's always got to be an adventure? So in a way I'm kind of challenging values, which feels a little scary because I’ve done a lot of values work with coaches and trained coaches to do values work. I think there's a question “what's the message that we're creating with that? And can we help people find the values that bring them contentment as well as excitement?”.

Marie: So how do we do that Lori? How do we create that balance and have that serotonin and maybe a little bit of dopamine that helps us get motivated brings the serotonin into think “okay I'm at peace with where I am right now? And I am on track with values that are aligned with this serotonin”? How do we do that?

Lori: As coaches, How do we do that for clients or how do we do that for ourselves?

Marie: Actually either or! Let’s speak of our self because the work always begins with self.

Lori: Yeah so the first answer is let's do that for ourselves, let's find that place. How do we practice mindfulness? That's big in the world now too. How do we tap into the feeling of contentment and go through the withdrawal symptoms of dopamine? Because it is very much like an addiction and there is some kind of withdrawal that happens and you know to find that calm cool collected space and contentment in life isn't about having more stuff or doing more things. How do we find that? I've put flowers out on my terrace that I look out on and I just reflect on the flowers, they are beautiful you know and I love just having that as opposed to wow! What’s my next thing I'm doing? It's a practice, it’s a daily practice of trying to find that calm cool collective state. And I think then when we're in that state we convey that. As a coach we show up with certain energy. So if we're always in energy of “Yeah what's next? What's next?” That's going to drive our kind of questions we ask. “What's your dream? How you are going to get there?” As opposed to “what's important to you? What would have you be contented?”. If that's a coaching question that's very different than “what's your dream and how do you go for it?”.

Marie: Beautiful. And I'm thinking of even myself when I'm on social media and we are bombarded with: “You can do this! Get a six figure income! Sign up to this program it's easy I’ll show you the blueprint to blah blah blah!”

Lori: Yeah.

Marie: And something I practice is “what's not true about that? What's absolutely not true about that?. So its Perspective taking right? We've got to balance that addiction to wanting the success that we see around us or maybe isn't true.

Lori: Yeah I love that question. What's not true about that? It's such a bring us to reality kind of question and Marie some people would call you a pessimist for asking that question! I'm an optimist, things are possible. I'm a little concerned about optimism these days too. But maybe that's another conversation… having to always be positive. The world is a bit messy at the moment, sure we want to be able to be stable but do we always have to have, you know, give me a perspective so I can feel positive about things. Maybe we need to recognize that it's not always pretty and then move forward from there rather than covering it up with an optimistic plan.

Marie: Right. So this is about again back to balance. We can't be all great, great, great. We've got to see some of the reality in it, recognize what’s true but also what's a lie.

Lori: That's right. And the six figure income and all of that out there you know checking in with that is you know, is that really possible for coaches? Yes, it is for some those people who really have the magic of marketing and all of that and that really, you know. But with that topic of where do I go as a coach. But any client where do I go next? How do we have the balance? I'm just kind of reiterating what you're saying. How do I have the balanced view? You spend so much time in this ‘up place’ but sometimes we don't give ourselves a chance to be practical and realistic and pragmatic and “well I’ve got to pay the bills”. And some people say “oh well that's just a negative self-talk”, You know “we've got to pay the bills”. Actually no it's not. So another thing coaches can do is be really conscious about what they're labeling as negative self-talk. So I’ve seen a lot of that, throwing away the practicality as “oh that's just the gremlin or a saboteur or negative self-talk” whatever you want to say. That's unfair, throwing that out when a client wants to be practical and pragmatic and create a plan. You know, we should also be able to just you know look through that “OK. What's important to have in place? What are the practicalities? Look forward a little. How you will aim for retirement or what's next or the next decade?”.

Marie: Yeah. You know we talk as coaches that 95 percent of change is creating awareness but 5 percent is taking action, realistic action. And if we forget about the action steps that are required to move into it, then we really aren't addressing some of the truths that are going to be there along the way.

Lori: That's it. Yeah

Marie: And before we logged on to the call Lori, you shared some research that was done a while ago. In all truth it was a while ago, but you had an interesting percentage of coaches who created their own practice.

Lori: Yes. This was when Coaches Training Institute got a new CEO and it was in 2003. He came in as a businessman and he didn't come through the ranks of being a coach, he came in as businesses man, a young president and he looked at “well what is working here in coaching?”. So he did a survey of as many people as he could, graduates of the program, to find out how many people were actually being full time coaches and the number was 7. 7 percent of all the people were actually in… and I think people also even inflate when they answer questions like that so one might even question that. That's a small percentage. Even if it's not inflated you know, it's 7 percent. And those 7 percent can be quite loud and verbose and say “wow, you know, we've done it. Look at the possibility”. I don't even know if there's enough room in the marketplace for a hundred percent of coaches to be out there creating a business with it. To be really practical.

Marie: Isn't that fascinating that number. And that means that there are potentially more coaches working in the workplace creating some kind of cultural change to support that shift.

Lori: The shift, I'm sorry, the shift from?

Marie: To create a shift in organization.

Lori: Yes.

Marie: From that number it looks like that's a small percentage of people who are doing the coaching work. Versus Those who are actually in organizations may be creating change.

Lori: Well I don't think the ninety-three percent were still staying in organizations creating change and I think a lot of them we're giving up. “Oh I can't create a business let me go do something else”. Which I think is an even deeper shame, not that it's shameful but you know, it’s unfortunate. That a lot of people take coaching and they have a dream about it, it doesn't turn out the way they expect. They go “Oh I can't do that”. When there were so many other options of how they could apply what they learned and take it with them. And I think a lot of people do, do that, is take that with them. But I also know there are a lot of people just give it up and go “OK I'm just going to go back to my marketing job or my engineering job”.

Marie: And you said something to me only on the thread about when people do that, they have this sense of shame: “I failed, I haven't made it in the coaching field”. Can you say that and your experience with that?

Lori: Yeah well it's similar to that conversation I had earlier where the women was apologetic like “Oh can I stay in my job”. People are pushed out and then they try to create a business and it doesn't work, they don't have the marketing skills or the will to do the marketing work or the network or whatever it is. And it doesn't work and it doesn't pay the bills. Some people are fortunate that they have a partner who has a steady income. But those who don't, you know, it doesn't pay the bills. And it's like, you know, now that practicality sets in, “I need to have an income. I need to go find a job”. And so many people I’ve talked to are hanging their head low you know, like “oh I need to go find a job now because I failed”, there’s such a feeling of failure. And of course if its lauded, if the thing that’s lauded is “be an independent coach then you're successful” of course people are going to feel horrible. That “oh I'm not part of that cool crowd, you know, I need to go get a job”.

Marie: Yes.

Lori: And I just wish it wasn't that way because there's so many things to do with coaching skills and ways to apply them, as a leader, you know, if you end up as a manager or a leader in your organization, coaching skills are essential and you could be a great leader and a great manager. Or a team member, just being a great team member. Or customer service, you know, talking to people, having coaching skills, you know, to be in a place where you can really listen to a customer complaint for example. There are so many applications that I think get overlooked.

Marie: I have to say that is what we're discovering here in Qatar. As I said, most of all coaches are working in organizations and that's what they're reflecting back. The changes that are happening are phenomenal because they've learned these powerful skills to sit with somebody and listen and ask questions in a way that they haven't before.

Lori: That's beautiful. Yeah and that is making a difference.

Marie: Yes it is. Now there are some people that would say “well Lori, isn't telling people to stay in their jobs just as much pressure as telling them to leave their jobs?”.

Lori: Of course it is! And that was part of being, you know, being provocative. Let's get a different message out there. I was pleased with how it provoked a conversation. But yeah you know, I do not want to create yet another trend where everybody stays in their job that's the right thing to do. I just wanted it to be raised to have a different conversation instead of just you know you “leave your job or yeah stay”.

Marie: Yeah because it's not a conversation that we hear very often in the marketing speeches. Is it?

Lori: No. It's often you know get out there and build your own business. But these days so many people, so many organizations, are hiring coaches- they have internal coaches, they're bringing in more external coaches. But there's also a lot of internal coaching going on. I think the coaching industry could change their tune a lot and say how do we support internal coaches and create coaching organizations? I know there's some of that going on about creating coaching organizations. But how do you do that internally and not just externals coming in and doing that? But there's a lot of room for that conversation and to support coaches in all of the ways that they apply coaching internally.

Marie: Absolutely. And again just want to want to be a little bit provocative and maybe not but it's just something that we talk a lot about as coaches is that everybody's naturally creative, resourceful and whole.

Lori: I love that you brought that up.

Marie: How does that fit into this conversation?

Lori: Well, if I say “you should do something like this, you should stay”. If I trust that people are naturally creative, resourceful and whole, that means, and many people on that thread had this point, people are going to make their own decisions for themselves and of course they will… maybe. You know, I mean we are human beings and we are social animals and we are influenced. It's our brain chemistry, it's our brain design and we are influenced by our tribe, and we are influenced. Group think is a real thing. There's been a lot of study, amazing study in the neuroscience community. You know, you can you can get people to do really bizarre things because everyone else around them is doing that. Not anything aligned with their own self. So does that violate people are naturally creative resourceful and whole? I don't know, it's another conversation I'd love to start. Yes, as coaches we can hold people naturally creative, resourceful and whole. But that's not an excuse to say “do it like this” and then trust them to go figure it out themselves. No, the coaching is supposed to be about figuring it out themselves. So I’ve heard naturally creative, resourceful and whole being misused in many ways. I've had you know as an excuse to be a jerk. “Well they're naturally creative, resourceful and whole, they can handle this”. I've had somebody break a business contract with me and go “oh well she's naturally creative, resourceful and whole, she'll get over it”. Yes of course I’ll get over it but I'm never going to do business with that person again. That was just irresponsible and unprofessional in my opinion. So what are we doing and calling it, you know, with the label they're naturally creative resourceful and whole. They'll take it. I think we just misuse it. It's not that the concept is wrong, it's just how are we using it and how can some people use that as an excuse to just do anything.

Marie: So as we're wrapping up our conversation Lori, if, and I know we have lots of new coaches, coaches in training, new coaches also established coaches who are maybe looking at their practice. And are sitting in their workplace thinking “I'm failing, I'm not doing what everybody else is doing”. What would you like to leave them as a reflection?

Lori: I would really ask people to include more voices in their own mind. So yes, there's the emotional impulses that they have and the thing they want to do. To look at that and see how influenced are they by the culture around them. But also look at what other voices, what are the very practical voices that say “I'd like to be doing it like this? I'd like to be making this kind of money” and allow all of that. Don't label those as negativity or you know, negative orientation or something. That's just part of who you are. And to evaluate all of that in your decision. Yes, it's great to be a coach externally and to externalize and outside of organizations. But wow, there's so much you each have, every one of us has to offer and we can do that in lots of different situations. So give yourself a chance to look at the different ways to contribute.

Marie: Yeah I was just going to ask a question Tim Ferris usually asks his guests at the end, if you had a billboard that you could write anything on for the whole world of coaches to see, what would you say?

Lori: Oh it's blank at the moment so let's see what comes to that billboard. I guess it's ‘let yourself be enthralled with life and pragmatic too’. That sounds very boring. But for me that's it. You know we throw away some of the pragmatism.

Marie: No that's not boring to me. Lori thank you for these reflections. I believe that another conversation is going to be required for all of those lovely topics you've alluded to as we chatted along this way. And as an elder in our community, I'd love to thank you from the bottom of my heart for everything that you've done for the coaching community and these conversations matter. Because we need to shake up the system a little bit. We need to stand up and look at different perspectives and ask what's not true about some of the things we’re seeing and enable us to be optimistic about what we truly want.

Lori: Yes that's great. I'm taking your words away with me. So thank you for those and thank you for that beautiful acknowledgment. It's been a delight to have this conversation with you Marie.

Marie: It has to0, Lori. I know our guests will want to find out about you and your work. So where can they go ahead and have a look at your work and connect with you?

Lori: Can find me on LinkedIn, Lori Shook, or on my website which is: shooksvensen.com

Marie: Wonderful. Thank you so much. We'll be posting your details so that everybody can connect with you. Lori, thank you again for sharing your wisdom, being provocative as always and a beautiful coaching conversation.

Lori: You're welcome. Thank you Marie.

Marie: Thank you for listening everybody we trust you have enjoyed this podcast. If you love it, share it. If you'll like it, share it. If you have got comments for Lori, if you've got comments for Empower world, please let us know we want to continue having conversations that matter. Have a wonderful day.


50% Complete

Free Workshop: Experience the Transformational
Power of Professional Coaching