Name: Matthew Gray
Company: The Rocky Mountain Innovation Lab
Title: Executive Director, Coach and Strategist
Professional Background: Community service and leadership programming in colleges, teaching leadership courses, consultant
Alma Mater: The Johnston Center for Integrative Studies at the University of Redlands
Last Book You Read: Stealing Fire
Advice you’ve been given and actually used: “Practice the disciplined pursuit of less” from Greg McKeown’s Essentialism. Read it!
Method of Relaxation: Being in nature, running, meditating, and hanging with my family
Often we, as human beings, get wrapped up in the chaos that is life. We schedule too many meetings, take on one too many projects, forget to put our phones on airplane mode for a rest, or don’t take advantage of the weekend. Perhaps at the top of the list of things we forget to do is think about and understand where we are going or what we want to do professionally. That means looking at things a little more long-term, like a year plus. The beginning of the year is always a good time to take pause and set goals. Where do you picture yourself by 2019? What goals do you have for yourself? Will you have mastered new skills? Helped your company increase business? Will you have gotten that promotion you’ve always wanted? Do you have any goals for yourself?
Matt Gray, founder of the Denver-based Rocky Mountain Innovation Lab is a certified executive coach. He works with a variety of professionals including executives leading organizations, divisions or teams, and new professionals in their first job or transitioning to their second job. By listening to his clients deeply and asking them the right questions, Matt becomes a guide. He helps them answer questions they’ve been asking themselves and helps them discover solutions to challenges that have been presented to them, in effect clearing a path towards their set goals.
Matt Gray took a few minutes out of his busy schedule to talk with us about what it means to set goals for ourselves, common challenges that arrive while moving towards those goals, and the importance of looking ahead come the New Year.
Can you tell us what you do as a certified Life Coach?
For people engaged in a growth mindset and ready to achieve what they want from their life and career, I coach clients to design and implement the solutions that will help them reach their goals and enable them to be successful. Many training programs provide invaluable materials and best practices and then leave the attendee to fend for themselves in figuring out how to utilize the new learning. Coaching empowers people to discover essential solutions while simultaneously intentionally reflecting on their capacity and skills so they can reach their goals again and again.
Who do you mostly work with?
Executives leading organizations, divisions or teams, and new professionals in their first job or transitioning to their second job.
Do you find that people naturally set professional goals for themselves?
By the time people track down a coach, they usually have a set of challenges they are working on or want to improve. It is the goals we set for ourselves and the ways in which we discover ownership within our lives that allows us to excel. We set goals within the first coaching session, and begin working on a strategy to achieve those goals immediately. People are ready to do that if they haven’t already.
What are some of the core challenges you feel people deal with when trying to achieve career-oriented goals?
1) Time and resources to invest in those goals … despite being a priority it is difficult for many of us to focus on goal setting—life is busy! 2) Identifying the right goals to work on … through coaching, we dive into discovering the most essential priorities right away.
What are some strategies that could help people overcome those hurdles?
I think finding other people to help them be accountable to their goals is absolutely key. To help them look deeper at the challenges, to help them increase their self-awareness, and to help them design a strategy that will work. Mentors, friends, colleagues, and coaches can all play versions of this role. I believe in the power of a coach to accelerate goal setting and achievement.
What’s so important about setting regular goals in your professional life?
The word intentional gets thrown around a lot, but I think that’s because it matters. Life moves too fast that if we don’t set specific time, energy, and space aside to focus on goals or other things in life that matter to us, we can get swept up in life’s swift current, and quickly. By setting regular goals and a strategy to work towards them, you’re ensuring that you’re living and working towards what you want, not what others tell you to follow.
How does someone decide on what kind of goals to set?
Part of the coaching experience
is processing and thinking out loud. During that time, insights are revealed and realized and what’s most essential to someone becomes crystal clear. We all know what we want, we just need focused time to think about it, and even more focused time to develop action steps to get there.
Do you think the idea of The New Year has significance in creating success?
Yes. I think renewal, and taking time to enjoy the start of a new cycle, is a wonderful gift. And I recently wrote in a think piece that while New Year’s Resolutions are ubiquitous, they are helpful, ESPECIALLY if we take time, intentional time, to reset those resolutions every day, or at least every week.
Any other tips to impart that may help in our audience’s professional development?
Willingly expand your self-awareness, and mindfully make changes as needed based on your self-awareness. Don’t be afraid to stand up to yourself and say, “it’s time to make this change.” And then when you do, don’t take on too much. Find the most essential and important thing to work on right now, and follow that path. We often get distracted by too many possibilities and spreading ourselves too thin: You don’t have to read every book, attend every seminar, or set ten goals today. Set one goal, and follow that through with everything you have.