“Ovation” Life Coach Amy Steindler on the Beauty of Expanded Leadership: Through Your Own Lens®

Editor’s Note: My dear friend illustrator Sally Wern Comport introduced me to Martha Beck-trained life coach Amy Steindler during an outdoor lunch in Annapolis, MD back in the Spring of 2011. Soon after, I hired Amy to coach me as I was building The Inkandescent Group, and in that process we struck up a kinship. I’ve learned so much from this Truly Amazing Woman — not only by what she’s taught me through her coaching, but through her example as a professional perspective shifter, emotional intelligence coach, and facilitator.

You’ll see her magnificence for yourself in the article she penned (below) for Inkandescent Women magazine.

As Amy evolves, so does her business. In 2019, she morphed and merged her brands InsightOut Life and EQ Insight Coaching into Ovation Coaching, explaining: “An ovation is the spontaneous, effortless response of understanding and appreciation that lifts our bodies and our souls. Ovation Coaching was created to provide sophisticated, personable, enlivening, graceful and practical support while you develop the confidence and clarity to become who you were always meant to be. Who you’ve always been, beneath the weighty blankets of expectations and belief systems that no longer serve you.”

Scroll down to read her article, and be sure to give yourself an ovation. — Hope Katz Gibbs, publisher

The Beauty of Leading — Through Your Own Lens® 

By Amy Steindler • Photos by Amelia Lawrence

During my 30 years in corporate positions, I’ve endured more talent development days than I can remember, mostly because they were unmemorable.

Except, of course for the ones that were horrifyingly gimmicky, had a facilitator who insisted that we cheer, shout or (heaven help me) dance, or left us with useless squishy novelties from China that were supposed to remind us to respect each other’s cubicle space but were only useful for spontaneously hurling at the back of a colleague’s head when they least expected it.

I can remember tossing the squishy toys over the dividers, but I can’t tell you what we were supposed to have learned about leadership, time management, communication, or conflict management.

The teaching methods were drearily familiar. Those of us with vast experience racking up A’s knew the drill.  Sit, listen, fill out the worksheet, break into groups, choose a reporter to tell everyone what your table talked about.

The Big Issue

I was being taught what to think and what we “should know”—about team dysfunction, leadership qualities, client service or problem solving—not how to think about them.  We were served plenty of frameworks that were exciting for about a minute, then faded into obscurity.

We were taught to minimize conflict with others so we could get what we needed from them, which felt horribly manipulative—if you are talking to a person we label as an X, here’s how to talk to an X.  If they’re a Y, change your approach and do it this way.  I could never remember all the possible iterations, combinations or machinations, so I forgot about it as soon as I could.

We were not taught how to be authentic or present or curious, or how to recognize the corrosive effects of fear-based thinking and behavior, or how to stop the madness when we found ourselves circling that particular drain.

When we got stuck on a problem or project, we were expected to double down on our focus—work harder! Remove distractions! Skip lunch!

The paradigm

It’s about making us charge forward, not stop and think.

It was a colossal waste of resources.

Thanks to advances in neuroscience, we know more now about how hyper-focus becomes counter-productive, and how the remedy for feeling stuck isn’t to keep thinking about the problem.  The remedy is to “unfocus”; change from that close-up lens to the wide-angle, so we can take in new information, see what we weren’t seeing before.  Man the drone, and pull up! Pull up!

When we have an opportunity to literally see things differently, we create new neural pathways that lead to figuratively seeing them differently—through innovation, inspiration, and connection—all of which make collaboration meaningful, productive and (dare I say it?) fun.

This is the basic premise behind Leadership Through Your Own Lens®, which is the leadership version of a workshop I’ve been leading since 2011. I’ve launched it to forward-thinking executive teams that value innovation, sophisticated coaching, and emotionally intelligent communications and interactions.

We have to change up how we teach leadership, emotional intelligence, problem solving, and conflict management, and I’m on a mission to encourage companies to embrace novel ideas and experiential learning when they book trainers or facilitators for workshops and offsites.

Through Your Own Lens® is an original method of combining photography with proven coaching techniques to explore the metaphors that describe how we “see” things, and to bring fresh perspective to workplace challenges.  It’s a radical, imaginative toolset for ending cycles of unproductive thinking, opening up possibilities, and shifting toward constructive paths of collaborative action.

I wanted to create a way to help leaders move through difficult circumstances that defied their ability to “figure it out.”  This process helps them see what they might not have noticed: the problem isn’t the problem; the problem is the thinking they’ve been using to try to solve it.

The Solution: Through Your Own Lens®

Since Through Your Own Lens® involves sensory, emotional and kinesthetic systems, more of the brain is engaged to make novel connections that can be applied to a wide range of challenges. Breakthrough solutions appear, only without the struggle.  And who doesn’t want that?

This brings me to what I call the “metaphorical madness to my method.”

Metaphors help us understand and communicate abstract, complex concepts. When we take the time to notice them, they embody the richness and detail of our current state of mind.  Exciting and valuable “Eureka!” moments start flowing in from unexpected, new connections.

The unique approach I’ve created drives leaders “out of their minds” and into deeper sources of knowledge, understanding, and connection—the metaphors that show up in their photographs. This is where they find opportunities to develop emotional intelligence and intuitive skills, and become aware of deeper meaning and possibility in the language they use every day.

I love this quote from author Jerry Sternin: “It’s easier to act your way into a new way of thinking than to think your way into a new way of acting.” It’s a lovely summary of what Through Your Own Lens® is about—doing things that expand your capacity for consciousness, for seeing, hearing, feeling, sensing more, to compensate for the cognitive shortcuts we’ve grown accustomed to.

Is “Thinking” Your Issue?

Since the brain is a major energy hog, we’ve evolved to make a lot of assumptions based on our past experience.  It’s these very assumptions that need to be challenged, but aren’t wired to do that, so we need some prompting.  And we’re reticent to let go of the “wisdom” we’ve accumulated—we think we “know” so much—why bother to question things?  Why bother to be curious?

Curiosity is the one requirement for finding ways to change the world.  Wouldn’t it be to our evolutionary advantage to cultivate it? Through Your Own Lens® is all about seeing things in new ways, getting curious about what we see in the photographs that capture our attention, and applying the new understanding we glean from the metaphors to whatever we’re working on.

Click here to learn much more about Truly Amazing Amy Steindler!