Engineering Careers Blog

Engineering Careers

The Engineering Careers blog features news and information about job placement, personal and professional development, and industries and locations that offer opportunity.

Previous in Blog: Resume Writing for Engineers   Next in Blog: Engineers Get LinkedIn
Close
Close
Close
21 comments

Self-Coaching: Take Control and Take Charge

Posted May 03, 2009 4:30 PM by DrDoug

I am human - just like you. I make my share of personal and professional mistakes. Like many people, I beat myself up afterwards. I made a substantial one last week and am still replaying it in my mind. It distracts me. It clouds my focus. It affects my productivity. More importantly, rehashing this mistake consumes my thoughts and tarnishes the precious time that I get to spend with my family on the weekend.

Have you made a recent personal or professional decision that you regret? Are you beating yourself up about it? Has it been more than a few hours since you did it? Like I said, I recently made a substantial one. So here's what I'm doing to get myself out of my funk. Hopefully, you'll find something here to help yourself, too.

Dr. Doug's Self-Coaching Process

I am thinking back through the details to figure out what activated the proverbial trigger inside me. This knowledge can alert me when I'm about to do something I'll later regret. Because I've felt like this before, I know what this trigger is like.

  • It's when I get in a frame of mind where I feel I have to do things very quickly and urgently.
  • I feel overwhelmed and try to do too much, too fast.
  • I get a tight feeling in my chest and my shoulders start to shrug.
  • I end up getting to all of the things on my to-do list, but am not as careful about my decisions while making them.

Maybe you've felt this before during a departmental meeting or during a one-on-one with your boss. Or maybe you've felt like this while working at your desk or while walking along the factory floor. For each of us, it's different.

For me, the perceived benefits of doing everything – of doing all the work, making all the phone calls, and answering all the emails – are outweighed by the damage I get emotional or lose control of the process.

So what's that trigger like for you?

From Process to Plan – Developing a Solution for You

I'm tired of repeating my same mistake and will modify my behavior so that I can take my game to the next level. Here's what I plan to do.

  • The next time I feel this overwhelmed or emotional, I am going to force myself to take a 5 - 10 minute break and take a walk outside.
  • If, when I get back, I still feel this sense of urgency, I will reach out to a trusted person to discuss the situation, my thoughts about it, and my potential actions.
  • I will then describe the situation in my self-improvement log. Specifically, I will note what the situation was, what I did right, what I did wrong, and what I am going to do differently next time.

That's what I plan to do. How about you?

Dr. Doug

Editor's Note: You can visit Dr. Doug online at www.DrDoug.com or by email: DrDoug@DrDoug.com. His next CR4 blog entry will run on Monday, 05/18.

Reply

Interested in this topic? By joining CR4 you can "subscribe" to
this discussion and receive notification when new comments are added.

Comments rated to be Good Answers:

These comments received enough positive ratings to make them "good answers".

Comments rated to be "almost" Good Answers:

Check out these comments that don't yet have enough votes to be "official" good answers and, if you agree with them, rate them!
Guru

Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Transcendia
Posts: 2963
Good Answers: 93
#1

Re: Self-Coaching: Take Control and Take Charge

05/03/2009 11:26 PM

Ten minutes is very good as a time for either delay to no, or delay to yes.

Overall it is very important to be able to make a decision.

You will never make the right decision about every thing all the time.

Of course if you are still alive, and do not have a fatal disease that is the result of a bad decision, how are you to really know?

When I worked for a particular company they would sometimes call and ask me to come into work when I had had very little sleep.

Groggy I had several times answered the phone and just said yes, I'll be there in 45 minutes.

Do not commit to doing things when you are not awake eventually became a rule for me.

I did learn to say, "I'll call you back and give you a decision in ten minutes."

As a bottom line, I guess what I am saying is that it takes ten minutes to wake up, remember what you are most pledged to do, and make a rational decision.

__________________
You don't get wise because you got old, you get old because you were wise.
Reply Score 1 for Good Answer
Power-User
Popular Science - Weaponology - Aerospace nut Hobbies - Musician - music enriches the soul United States - Member - Happy to be from the USA Engineering Fields - Acoustical Engineering - Pro Audio Speaker Designer Engineering Fields - Manufacturing Engineering - Aerospace ME Engineering Fields - Aerospace Engineering - Airplane nut from aeromodels to 747's

Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Seattle WA
Posts: 113
Good Answers: 3
#5
In reply to #1

Re: Self-Coaching: Take Control and Take Charge

05/04/2009 9:14 AM

I like the old saying that wisdom is the ability to learn from another's mistakes. I make too many of my own already. It took an old boss many years ago to convince me that when I made a mistake that I needed to admit it, learn from it and move on. That is some of the most valued advice I've ever received.

I frequently take a walk to mull over problems in a design. I can get away from the phone and other distractions and on occasion I can take the walk with an associate and discuss the pros and cons of my options to come up with a better result.

Being forced into a decision or being overwhelmed by outside influences or lack of knowledge seems to always bite the proverbial derrier. I personally do well with deadlines but not as well under pressure. Another invaluable lesson, learn your limits and try to stay "between the lines" of them.

__________________
The early bird gets the worm, but what about the early worm? A.E. Neuman
Reply Score 1 for Good Answer
2
Guru
Hobbies - Model Rocketry - New Member

Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: East of Seattle, Washington state Republic of the 50 states of America
Posts: 2046
Good Answers: 36
#2

Re: Self-Coaching: Take Control and Take Charge

05/04/2009 12:28 AM

Mentors and individuals on parallel paths make good sounding boards/advisors.

You do not want:

Friends (they will tell you what you want to hear to not hurt your feelings) or;

Individuals with the same goals (competitors),this includes co-workers, or others who could gain by your issues;

Gossips they have no control of the information once they tell others;

The Base (immoral) who will use who or what ever they can for gain.

We learn by our mistakes, more and faster than our triumphs because we have to. The emotional element takes us out of our comfort zone to force us to remember to not do that again.

What it does not do is tell us how best to deal with the next time or how to avoid the next time. It will give you a bad feeling when things start to resemble the same as before.

So to beat yourself up longer than to remember is pointless and destructive. What you can do is failure analysis. Turn off the emotions an bias as much as possible and discern what went wrong, what were the warning indicators, why, best response next time, Systematically. What can be salvaged from the situation? Are there any things to be gain from the mistake? Lemons sometimes make lemonade.

Brad

__________________
(Larrabee's Law) Half of everything you hear in a classroom is crap. Education is figuring out which half is which.
Reply Good Answer (Score 2)
3
Guru

Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Etats Unis
Posts: 1871
Good Answers: 45
#3

Re: Self-Coaching: Take Control and Take Charge

05/04/2009 12:29 AM

Decisions are like intersections, that's where most accidents happen. Any decision, even a good one, has the potential to be superseded by a better decision if it is not acted upon immediately. Procrastinate whenever possible. If you don't give that facility that goes back over everything you do a chance to work, it can't help you. Learn to live with that penchant. It doesn't have to be cumbersome. It keeps you out of trouble. Let it work.

I do electronic design of very complex systems. Sometimes there are thousands of decisions involved. If I didn't have that mental feature that constantly goes back over everything I do I could not be successful. My best designs are the ones on which I have the luxury of procrastination.

Lacking that luxury, try to involve other people. Talk to them and explain your ideas, thoughts, plans and decisions. Even if they are not involve or versed in the art, attempting to explain forces you to think differently about things and often makes apparent what you might have missed on your own.

Lastly, whenever possible, do not assure perfection. Some of my projects are a complex maze of software features that evolve over many years and when new features are added it can be very difficult (or very expensive) to be absolutely certain there won't be interactions with other features. I make it clear up front that I am willing to attempt perfection only if the customer can afford to pay for that. Otherwise I engage them in the mutual process of testing and this usually works out best for all involved.

__________________
The hardest thing to overcome, is not knowing that you don't know.
Reply Good Answer (Score 3)
2
Power-User
United States - Member - New Member Engineering Fields - Chemical Engineering - New Member

Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Austin, TX
Posts: 368
Good Answers: 10
#7
In reply to #3

Re: Self-Coaching: Take Control and Take Charge

05/04/2009 10:13 AM

I like this answer, I usually will try and leave a piece of work on my desk for a while after I finish it in an effort to "let it ruminate" and be sure that I am satisfied with the work product. This is particularly true if no one else is going to check it or is uninterested in the type of work I am doing. It may be OCD but I apply this same procedure to emails to clients, emails with bosses, CR4 posts, etc. in that I read it over several times before sending. Hence I prefer communicating in writing as it minimizes the chance for a mistake, however most phone calls or meetings I will try to have an outline of what I want to communicate and what information I am looking for in return.

Emailing files is the same way, I will first let the file sit in my checker for a while and then once attached to the email, I will open it and go over it again just to be sure. This last gate check has helped me out more than once, especially when I am in a hurry.

When I still make a mistake, I am similar to Dr. Doug in that I will rehash it for quite a while. I approach everything from different angles and try to see how it could have been prevented. In my new position, it is usually because I am doing something I am unfamiliar with and the conclusion is that I need to spend some time outside of the office familiarizing myself with the topic. I will also try and begin to do damage control, sometimes even framing future discussions with the boss in my mind to get an idea of what I am going to say.

__________________
Money doesn't talk, it screams in your face.
Reply Good Answer (Score 2)
Guru

Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Hemel Hempstead, UK
Posts: 5275
Good Answers: 287
#18
In reply to #7

Re: Self-Coaching: Take Control and Take Charge

05/05/2009 3:17 AM

GA: and I've voted it so, but, there are 11 people commenting on this thread so far, so it's a good place to do a little straw poll relating to the acronym OCD: Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. My point here is the use of acronyms in general rather than this one specifically.

How many people.

1.) Knew what it meant quicker than if it had been written out in full.

2.) Figured it out: because of the context.

3.) Didn't know what it meant and looked it up. That would be 1 vote from me.

4.) Didn't know what it meant and didn't look it up.

5.) Read the post but didn't notice it.

6.) Didn't read the post.

__________________
We are alone in the universe, or, we are not. Either way it's incredible... Adapted from R. Buckminster Fuller/Arthur C. Clarke
Reply Off Topic (Score 5)
Guru
Engineering Fields - Electromechanical Engineering - Technical Services Manager Canada - Member - Army brat Popular Science - Cosmology - What is Time and what is Energy? Technical Fields - Architecture - Draftsperson Hobbies - RC Aircraft - New Member

Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Clive, Alberta, Canada
Posts: 5898
Good Answers: 204
#21
In reply to #18

Re: Self-Coaching: Take Control and Take Charge

05/05/2009 1:36 PM

ooo ooo pick me pick me

I knew what it was!

If I didn't, I would probably be doing what I was supposed to be doing instead of CR4'ing...lol

Chris

Reply Off Topic (Score 5)
Guru

Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: I'm outa here
Posts: 1924
Good Answers: 196
#4

Re: Self-Coaching: Take Control and Take Charge

05/04/2009 1:43 AM

Bad decisions .... I made a real beaut last week while working on one of my projects. Cost me a trip to the emergency room, 6 stitches in my forehead, a week long headache and a bit of a blue funk. My wife was the catalyst that turned it all into lemonade as we talked about why I was in the frame of mind that made me careless and where to go from there.

A favorite talk show host that I listen to a lot loves to ask people who call in with their problems, "And what did you learn from all this?" And sure enough, that's what I was thinking as sat with the icepack on my forehead being consoled by my wife. Mistakes are great learning experiences providing you live through them.

Ed Weldon

Reply
Commentator

Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: New York
Posts: 81
Good Answers: 4
#9
In reply to #4

Re: Self-Coaching: Take Control and Take Charge

05/04/2009 3:54 PM

"Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can't lose"

- Bill Gates

__________________
Helping you find your way to Great.
Reply
Guru
Hobbies - Model Rocketry - New Member

Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: East of Seattle, Washington state Republic of the 50 states of America
Posts: 2046
Good Answers: 36
#17
In reply to #9

Re: Self-Coaching: Take Control and Take Charge

05/04/2009 9:35 PM

I like the Japanese saying when you win a battle tighten your helmet.

Success is not an end but a mark on a ruler or gauge. Win or lose time moves on, expect it and make plans or at least know your options.

Brad

__________________
(Larrabee's Law) Half of everything you hear in a classroom is crap. Education is figuring out which half is which.
Reply
Guru

Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Tamilnadu, India
Posts: 837
Good Answers: 42
#6

Re: Self-Coaching: Take Control and Take Charge

05/04/2009 9:41 AM

Self coaching,self motivation,self seeking ,retrospection of pastdeeds and timely modification of attitudes are attributes of self quality improvement for an aspiring perfectionist.Given some room for patience,a wider unbiased thinking,understanding others,consulting coherent colleagues will surely add to one's personality values.Dr.Doug had been so open to share this frank experience.Err to human's-but one must develope the discretion of right and wrongs and keep building a matured value faculty.An accepting and open receptive mind /attitude could be an added gift as it sounds to be.Mistakes are our true mentors-non accptance may make people over estimate themselves and behave aggressively to criticisms.

__________________
Nature is so graceful and naked. Human possession is ridiculous.
Reply
Guru
Engineering Fields - Electromechanical Engineering - Technical Services Manager Canada - Member - Army brat Popular Science - Cosmology - What is Time and what is Energy? Technical Fields - Architecture - Draftsperson Hobbies - RC Aircraft - New Member

Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Clive, Alberta, Canada
Posts: 5898
Good Answers: 204
#8

Re: Self-Coaching: Take Control and Take Charge

05/04/2009 1:43 PM

Man's mistake may be Heaven's correction.

It may also be that there is no such thing on earth as 'correct', and that the purpose of our existence is to become aware of this, so that by contrast, we become aware of why Heaven is so perfect. We are not just a body and mind. Emerson wrote of the Oversoul, which is also 'us' but may be the other agent acting in our lives.

I don't believe that God interferes, as that would remove our choice, which would go against his principles. I believe that God (or other divine title) realized that only the sum of all points of view on all things was sufficient, and therefore diversified his divinity into all lifeforms, to experience all points of view, and to return to Heaven with those. No one of us is God, but all of us are divine. We should all be respected, and have respect for others as divine.

Mistakes, Death, Error, and all earthly thought can not be perfect. We are here to learn. No one gets out alive, because we must all have the final lesson. When you get to the other side, and realize the magnitude of all the errors in thinking, especially by believing in the finality of death, do we then capture the lesson, and realize the stunning brilliance and beauty of Heaven.

So for myself, I give thanks for what 'goes right'. There is no experience in this world that does not require management and learning. If you think you have gotten away with simple 'success', then you are probably in denial, and a lesson is forthcoming.

Chris

Reply
3
Guru

Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: Sebring, Florida
Posts: 923
Good Answers: 25
#10

Re: Self-Coaching: Take Control and Take Charge

05/04/2009 4:17 PM

Hello DrDoug,

I learned long that I as very good at doing most anything I felt was worth while undertaking. I also learned my limitations. I learned through experience that there just some things that I should leave to those with greater experience in resolving.

I also learned that there are times that decisions absolutely must be made, that only I can make. I spend a lot of my time thinking about the things that could have an adverse effect on my and my wife's lives, and just what I can do to prevent these things from happening. I don't dwell on these issues, but I am prepared to make informed choices regarding these events, as the result of my considering our options should, these unpleasant happenings occur.

My former wife found this trait to be troublesome. She said so sometime after we were divorced. She stated that she and her family were troubled by the fact that " I always seemed to be right" when others were wrong. We were talking one day, after she had been divorced from me for several years. She remarked about the above issue. Then she said the after the divorce, she realized just how much I had really been correct in my efforts and choices. I thanked her for making that statement, and admitting to it. I also said that I was far less than perfect, that I did make mistakes, but endeavored to minimize to impact of my bad choices. Then I told her that we could not undo the divorce, too many harsh words, too much hurt had followed that could not be erased nor forgotten. She should just accept that mistakes happen that no effort could overcome the results thereof. I said: "Joyce, you need to forget about me and and get on with what is left of your life." "Remember that I told you when I was leaving to live at Lake Tahoe, that something had died at our home that you would not be able to bury." "We neither of us can undo the past, nor can we forget it." "Frankly, it broke my heart again to have to make that statement, but I know that it was the correct thing to do."

"Its for the better that you consider your mistakes for a little while, its just a part of life and the never ending learning process. But: dwelling on the issue will cloud your ability to avoid future mistakes that could be worse for you and those you love or are working with/for."

We should all remember that though we were made in "GODS" image, we were not necessarily granted his talents. Remember always, that when others make mistakes, you were just a little short of perfect yourself, and be considerate with your comments.

TooMuchFun

__________________
The only problem with common sense, is that not very many people have it, or know how or when to use it.
Reply Good Answer (Score 3)
Commentator

Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: New York
Posts: 81
Good Answers: 4
#11
In reply to #10

Re: Self-Coaching: Take Control and Take Charge

05/04/2009 4:25 PM

Well said and I thank you for that.

doug

__________________
Helping you find your way to Great.
Reply
Guru
Engineering Fields - Electromechanical Engineering - Technical Services Manager Canada - Member - Army brat Popular Science - Cosmology - What is Time and what is Energy? Technical Fields - Architecture - Draftsperson Hobbies - RC Aircraft - New Member

Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Clive, Alberta, Canada
Posts: 5898
Good Answers: 204
#12
In reply to #10

Re: Self-Coaching: Take Control and Take Charge

05/04/2009 4:26 PM

Thank you for your insight. sorry for your pain. GA

Chris

Reply
Guru
United States - Member - New Member

Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Mojave Desert, Southern California
Posts: 515
Good Answers: 13
#13

Re: Self-Coaching: Take Control and Take Charge

05/04/2009 4:28 PM

I had a stepson from a previous marrage, he was really off the wall.... and to try and prevent mastakes, I tried to get him to think before he acts by going thru these 4 steps, 1) What are you doing? 2) How are you going to do it? 3) What could go wrong? 4) How can you prevent it from going wrong? These are very basic and the starting point of coherent thought. And the kid turned out ok.

I on the other hand am regularly haunted by past mistakes and I sought counsel to deal with these ghosts, I was told to try and find something positive from the event when the memory returns, and to not let it crush me. So I have tried to enjoy the view on the way down and try and not think about the splat.

__________________
The person who wrote the above is not resposible for spelling, grammar or puncuation, ......
Reply Score 1 for Good Answer
Commentator

Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: New York
Posts: 81
Good Answers: 4
#14
In reply to #13

Re: Self-Coaching: Take Control and Take Charge

05/04/2009 4:39 PM

Sorry that you go through that from time to time. By the way that is excellent advice for your stepson. For what it is worth, one strategy that I offer my clients when they have ghosts in their memory that keep haunting them is to reposition the event(s) in a different light and keep them in perspective. In other words, what I find is people tend to draw vast, painful and severe conclusions about things - especially when they personalize it. Step outside yourself and look at it objectively so you can really see how bad, aweful or painful the event REALLY is. Maybe look at it relative to the the bigger picture of things around you.

Doug

__________________
Helping you find your way to Great.
Reply
Guru
United States - Member - New Member

Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Mojave Desert, Southern California
Posts: 515
Good Answers: 13
#15
In reply to #14

Re: Self-Coaching: Take Control and Take Charge

05/04/2009 5:31 PM

Good advice Dr. thank you.

__________________
The person who wrote the above is not resposible for spelling, grammar or puncuation, ......
Reply
Guru
Engineering Fields - Electromechanical Engineering - Technical Services Manager Canada - Member - Army brat Popular Science - Cosmology - What is Time and what is Energy? Technical Fields - Architecture - Draftsperson Hobbies - RC Aircraft - New Member

Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Clive, Alberta, Canada
Posts: 5898
Good Answers: 204
#16
In reply to #14

Re: Self-Coaching: Take Control and Take Charge

05/04/2009 5:35 PM

Good advice Dr. Doug.

When I went to college back in the early 90's, the college offered free counselling on-site. So I took advantage of that. I had some father issues, (military) and the counsellor suggested that I write a letter to my (passed away) father, to express my perception of the feelings as I felt them at that time. She also suggested I didn't need, in that activity, to render any reaction or impact by my father, but to actually simply focus on my own childhood condition. Most abused (def: removal of choice) people tend to let the abuser off the hook to some degree, and that it was valid, for the purpose of identifying feelings, to negate that. The result is a real empowerment.

So Dr. Doug, while I agree with what you are saying, ("people tend to draw vast, painful and severe conclusions about things") I also think it is important to find a method of identifying one's real feelings. Too often we miss opportunities to feel, through addictive or stifling behaviours, when the feelings are simply the feelings of a child. When we feel those simple raw feelings, we liberate them, and the energy they hold back. This might put an end to the hauntings...

As much as I enjoy Don Henley's music, and especially his song "Get Over It" is entertaining, with the lyric "Complain about the present and blame it on the past, I'd like to find your inner child and kick its little ass".... I for one feel that inner child work was extremely helpful for me to feel real.

Chris

Reply Off Topic (Score 4)
Guru

Join Date: Feb 2008
Posts: 638
Good Answers: 45
#19

Re: Self-Coaching: Take Control and Take Charge

05/05/2009 8:26 AM

Ready, Fire, Aim

Taking a break is an excellent approach. Breaks increase productivity and imagination.

Immediatley, one must tag the alleged mistake as a learning experience.

"I haven't failed, I've found 10,000 ways that don't work"
Thomas Alva Edison

__________________
This moment is as it should be.
Reply
Guru
Popular Science - Cosmology - New Member

Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Halcottsville, NY
Posts: 665
Good Answers: 16
#20

Re: Self-Coaching: Take Control and Take Charge

05/05/2009 1:05 PM

I make a list of reasonably accomplishable goals for the day. Then I do one less than that. Procrastination at the sticking point will allow you to 'sleep on it'. Deadlines are good, but if you get in a hurry, your previous work can be lost.

When I yelled "quittin' time', I expect to hear machines shut down, and tool belts hit the floor within 30 seconds. After that is just courting mistakes and injuries. Much better that the client/boss is pissed off than a costly mistake, or a trip to the hospital.

__________________
De gustibus non est dispudandum.
Reply
Reply to Blog Entry 21 comments
Interested in this topic? By joining CR4 you can "subscribe" to
this discussion and receive notification when new comments are added.

Comments rated to be Good Answers:

These comments received enough positive ratings to make them "good answers".

Comments rated to be "almost" Good Answers:

Check out these comments that don't yet have enough votes to be "official" good answers and, if you agree with them, rate them!
Copy to Clipboard

Users who posted comments:

betomachine (1); chrisg288 (4); DrDoug (3); Ed Weldon (1); Randall (1); rcapper (1); s.udhayamarthandan (1); snewkirk (1); spacecannon (2); szwasta (1); Tippycanoe (1); Toomuchfun (1); Transcendian (1); U V (2)

Previous in Blog: Resume Writing for Engineers   Next in Blog: Engineers Get LinkedIn

Advertisement