The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


December 26, 2013

Breathe, reflect and take ownership of issues

— By far the most frequent feedback I receive from readers pertains to the nature of the approach to problem solving I advance.

This comes in a variety of flavors, positive (makes so much sense) and negative (more of the simplistic claptrap you see everywhere). From my perspective, both ring true, and get to the essence of the difference between advice and coaching.

As you’ll know if you’re familiar with Coach’s Corner, the first step to understanding any situation is to know your own place in it. We all carry beliefs and biases that influence our understanding. Moreover, we can develop patterns of interpretation based on our past experiences that limit our ability to develop new solutions. When we take time to step back, we can then open ourselves to new possibilities.

It’s not just about thinking; there is also a physical aspect. If you hold tension in your body about a situation, it’ll be more difficult to find solutions. This is where breathing comes in. When you’re preparing to think through a situation, take time first to concentrate on your breath. Imagine your breath moving in and out, not just through your lungs, but anywhere you’re holding tension. You’ll see that your shoulder can breathe, and the experience can bring you deep calm.

All this is just prep - the core of the approach comes in thinking through relevant factors, whether it’s about the internal or external realm. And this seems to be where people love it or hate it. Here’s why.

Taking ownership of issues and making things happen is hard work. The steps seem simple, so it’s very easy to gloss over the effort that is required. Think about the simple question: “What are you afraid will happen?“ If you read the column quickly and breeze by that, it’ll seem simplistic. If you explore deeply, you may achieve profound insight.

That also leads to the difference between advice and coaching. As a coach, I can’t possibly know your concerns, strengths, vision, all the characteristics that are embodied in you. Hence, I can’t answer these questions for you. All that coaching - either in person or in the newspaper - can do is hold a flashlight for you so that you can find your own answers. In contrast, advice will likely include the dreaded word “should,“ and may or may not fit your needs at all.

In the end, you’ll get what you put into any type of reflection and problem solving. It’s most helpful for me when I’m willing to think about things that make me uncomfortable so that I can move past them. That’s my year-end wish for you: that you’ll be open to growth and find a year full of great inner and outer adventures.

Liz Reyer is a credentialed coach with more than 20 years of business experience. Her company, Reyer Coaching & Consulting, offers services for organizations of all sizes. Submit questions or comments about this column at or email her at


Text Only
  • Balancing Act: How much is your time worth? Consider outsourcing some tasks

    Todd Paton has a booming business getting customers noticed on the Web. One tool he uses is generating online press releases to build brand awareness and create links that will send traffic to a customer’s website. But Paton, owner of Paton Internet Marketing, acknowledges that writing the releases is not his strong suit. Rather than spend his time doing it, he hires out the task.

    July 23, 2014

  • The Color of Money: No easy way to get out of debt

    Many people who are deeply in debt are desperate for a quick fix. They ask the question: What can I do to get out of debt?

    July 21, 2014

  • Watercooler: When to speak up if you see problems down the line

    Q: Our organization has hired a new director. I am one of a number of division heads; above us, there's the associate director, and above him is the director. The associate director is feared and disliked for his duplicity and dictatorial nature, though few have come forward because of his vindictiveness.

    July 18, 2014

  • Career Coach: Bringing a purpose-driven spirit to work

    Increasingly, religious beliefs and practices of employees are becoming more evident in the workplace. Religious diversity and concepts of spirituality are more prevalent in organizational settings.

    July 18, 2014

  • Ask the Mompreneur: It’s best to farm out your payroll

    When my husband and I hired our first employee at our Web development company, we had it easy when it came to doing payroll.

    July 17, 2014

  • Protecting against unnecessary losses

    QUESTION: I run a small bar and grill which is open 7 days a week and have to rely on others for some of the shifts. How can I ensure employees have not become my partners?

    July 17, 2014

  • A checklist for keeping you focused at work

    A quick check of Facebook and next thing you know, a half-hour’s passed. Start chatting with a co-worker and suddenly 20 minutes is gone and the report you were supposed to finish by lunch is late.
    Workplace distractions are everywhere, especially in an age of social media and open-plan offices. In the face of so much temptation, accomplishing what you’re paid to do can be tough.

    July 16, 2014

  • It could be time for a career coach

    Need a little help figuring out your next career move?
    If you’re putting in the hours and still not seeing the rewards, feeling undervalued or simply striving to be more successful, it may be time to hire a career coach.

    July 16, 2014

  • Your Office Coach: Turn to boss for help with disgruntled underling

    QUESTION: When I joined this company a few weeks ago, I discovered that the person who previously held my position is now working for me. “Sarah” obviously resents my presence and frequently says I don’t have the authority to manage her, even though I clearly do. Her negativity has made my job much more difficult.

    July 15, 2014

  • You are not trusted

    If it seems like employers don’t trust employees - well, they don’t.

    July 15, 2014

Business Video