A Coaching Power Tool Created by Amy Barnhill
(Life Coach, UNITED STATES)
Are you creating your life or tracing someone else’s path? This concept of creating your life is easily recognizable. It is filled with passion and purpose. It is a gift, hard work, and sometimes painful but still feels worth it. You feel as if you are in control of your outcome and are moving towards your life’s vision. Tracing someone else’s path can feel comfortable and secure; a path to take when you may not be sure how to create your own. Almost a feeling of taking the next step simply because it is there. Understanding, recognizing and exploring these two perspectives is important in evaluating where you are today and what you want in your future.
As you grew there are many examples of this concept of tracing. Quite literally, as a small child you learned from tracing letters, coloring your favorite picture books and tracing shapes. At this point in your life tracing served as a teacher; showing you the way.
|“In 2013 I hit a brick wall. My career was going well, exceptionally well some might say, but now I find myself professionally wounded and scared. And at this moment in my life, I suddenly realized I was tracing someone else’s path. In 2006, my new career path was sailing. I had a great new job with a lot of creative freedom and a boss with a listening ear. At the time, my boss really invested his time an energy not only into the company but also his employees. We were a small team making big waves in a competitive market and I was a part of that success. My boss noticed this contribution and began rewarding me with responsibility, raises and eventually a path to part ownership. With all of this recognition and his trust to run his company when he was away felt good. It felt like success.But over the past year leadership changed dramatically. My boss brought in another person to co-lead the company whose leadership style was completely different. For me, this change shattered the culture and changed my life. This shift in leadership was so dynamic. It felt like a jolt. While this shift did not change the path to ownership, it did create a mentally stressful environment that led to a manifestation of physical and emotional issues. And yet, I still did not recognize the need to stop and reflect. I just kept pushing through. The stress continued to build until I felt as though I could not take another day and lashed out. And in that moment, one I am not particularly proud of, I was able to verbalize the support I had been missing and how stress of this ownership path weighed on me. “I am not sure I even want to be an owner anymore”’, I said a little too emotionally.|
As adults, tracing can still serve you in many ways but can also potentially hold you back from living a purposeful and fulfilled life and can be hard to identify. Being mindful of how you feel, your goals, intentions and reflecting on your actions and decisions can help you identify this perspective. And sometimes it may take a major change and even a disruption for you to realize the power or answering the question: “How will I know if I am tracing a path?” The story below illustrates an example of tracing a path and how a major disruption identified the tracing perspective.
|After verbalizing the root of my stress, I was almost elated. I had felt for the first time in more than a year that I had opportunities and was excited about the possibility of creating something new. I no longer had to trace this path of breadcrumbs. Until that moment, I had not even realized I was accepting these positions with added responsibility without fully understanding what I really wanted. And out of a challenging time with months of stress came freedom to create. And moments later, I decided to create my future.”|
Many people have experienced this tracing perspective at some point in their lives. And all too often, we are pushed to a breaking point that forces a change. But wouldn’t it feel better if we could identify whether we are holding a “’tracing” perspective before we reach that breaking point? A real sense of self-awareness along with the continued practice of mindfulness is helpful. But reflecting on a situation and questioning will create the space you need to identify the perspective you are holding and whether it is serving you.
When you shift from the tracing perspective to a creating perspective you may gain:
- Clarity on your desires
- More energy
- Renewed Passion
- Confidence to take action and risks
- Feeling of physical well-being
After reflecting on where I ended up and how I got there, I now recognize powerful questions with the potential to impact my situation and perspective. These questions or self-coaching can be used to determine which perspective you are in and how to shift from a tracing mindset to a creating mindset:
- Is this what I really want?
- Does this feel aligned with my values and personal goals?
- What about what I am doing energizes me?
- If I could change the situation, how would it be different?
- What about this situation or decision will make me feel fulfilled?
- When I think about my situation, how do I feel physically?
- Does this feel like a fit?
- Am I doing this because it is being offered or is this something I went for?
- Is this just the next step or the next step toward my vision?
- If I could create my future, what would it my future include?
Creating our lives sounds as if it may be a luxury but in fact can simply be a shift in your state of mind. This shift then impacts how you approach situations, how you feel physically and emotionally, and how you make decisions.
Every client is unique. As coaches it is our mission to understand and appreciate each client’s journey as personal in strategy, approach and timing. Using powerful questions is important in helping our clients to first identify the tracing perspective they are holding and to prompt reflection to shift towards one of creating. Equally important in this process is timing. Clients must be in the right place to receive these questions and be open to challenging their perspectives. So it is important as a coach to be mindful of where our clients are.
There are many questions we can use at different times in the relationship once we identify the client may benefit from challenging their perspective. Below are a few questions we may ask ourselves to determine if a shift is needed:
- What is your client’s current perspective?
- What led to this perspective? What were their circumstances and have those changed?
- Is this perspective aligned with your client’s expressed goals or vision?
- How does the perspective feel to the client?
- Is this perspective aligned with the client’s values?
- Is there a belief or other obstacle holding them back?
- Is there fear keeping the client from creating?
- Do they visualize something different or new for themselves?
- Are they ready do to the work? Shifting perspectives can happened quickly but it may take work and practice to support to fully integrate this shift in their lives.
A Perspective Diagram can be used as a tool for Self-Application or Coaching Application. Knowing what each perspective may feel and sound like is helpful in the process of identifying perspectives and making a shift.
While the Creating vs. Tracing perspectives may not be exact opposites the Perspective Diagram offers a somewhat direct comparison approach for illustration.