Jeanine Cogan
Executive coach

Jeanine Cogan

Heads Cogan Coaching and is on the faculty of the Center for Continuing and Professional Education at Georgetown University.


Creating momentum

Q: Is the success of a sibling a blessing or a curse? Last week Mark Okoth Obama Ndesandjo acknowledged that it hasn't been easy to be the half brother of President Barack Obama. How difficult is it to live with the success of a brother or a sister, even if they aren't famous?

Success breeds success. When one person achieves goals or lives a dream, it creates the space and contributes to the momentum for other people to do the same. As a leadership coach, when I share the successes of my clients with other clients it inspires them -- gives them a sense of "yes I can," which serves to motivate and give them confidence in "going for it."

One client, who has given me permission to share her story, came to me with the goal of wanting to publish her manuscript that was a memoir of her journey as an adopted child to finding her birth parents. She had completed writing her story nine years ago and she finally wanted to publish it.

In our work together she overcame the emotional fears that served as obstacles to moving forward and she accomplished the endless logistical details it took to successfully publishing her book (e.g., continually sending inquiries to agents and publishers). I am proud to say that in the winter of 2007 Nicole Burton published her book "Swimming Up the Sun."

I invited another client who is hoping to publish a book of short essays to Nicole's book signing and it served as a source of inspiration for her as she overcomes her own obstacles preventing her from moving forward. Success breeds success.

In families, where sibling rivalry is common, success can take a different turn. To buffer sibling rivalry, parents can have a broad definition of success and encourage their children to thrive in the positive directions to which they are drawn. If one child is artistic and loves to draw and the other is a bookworm and loves to read, both should be encouraged to do what they enjoy without valuing one activity over the other (e.g., reading is valued as more successful than drawing).

There needs to be room in the family for every child to express talents and desires without being compared to siblings. Also parents can model and teach classic characteristics -- such as persistence and resilience -- that are associated with success.

By Jeanine Cogan  |  November 10, 2009; 10:59 AM ET  | Category:  shadow of success , successful connections Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: The self-secure applaud others | Next: Siblings as teachers

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