Jeff Altman: Some of My Back Story

I was asked to answer a few questions by WAHStory because of work I’ll be doing for an affiliated service. The original post appeared here

Building an Early Foundation:

I don’t think there was anything in my childhood that was relevant to what I do now. I was someone who played sports, went to school and graduated with a useless degree that required me to scramble and find a job after graduating from college. It wasn’t until my late 30s or early 40s that I finally decided to get out of my comfort zone, stop relentless searching and planning, and getting into the action mode. Even then, I thought of becoming a psychotherapist in private practice. I had the good fortune of meeting my wife in graduate school. We got married, adopted our son and raised him before I returned to the idea of leaving recruiting and becoming a coach.

 

Beyond the Barricades:

There have been a lot of phases in my life which made me realize how important it was to learn how to say No – I was very “nice.” I was so nice that I said yes to everything to the point I ran out of money. Over time, life taught me how to say “No” without being rude, without being deceptive and by being open in my relationships. I realized how common this problem was in the society too!

 

Transforming the Coaching Culture with ‘The Big Game Hunter’:

People need external allies to open up to. Too many people hold onto their fears, failures and stress of life and need someone to help release this pressure. They need someone to ask questions, learn useful strategies and provide solutions to their challenges. Yes, many can do this by themselves however; the process becomes much easier and relieving with the help of a coach. Years ago, I was working with a successful business owner in New York who described the pressure he was holding onto. “Where do you feel the pressure?” I asked. He pointed to his abdomen. “You need to find a way to release the pressure you’re holding onto before it eats you up from the inside.” That is where the cancer appeared. He died within 18 months.

 

Sources of Powerful Lessons:

When I think of the guidance that was most helpful, it is the awareness that there is rarely just one right way to do things and learning from polar opposites can be incredibly helpful! One of my favourites is a mentor who was a polar opposite of me in many ways; we learned from one another and that helped both of us.

 

Life Mantra for aspiring Leaders:

Listen more. Speak less. Nowadays, people tend to only hear their own voices and miss the beauty of hearing another’s voice and realizing the power of listening!

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