A Coaching Power Tool created by Claire Wong
(Executive Coach, UNITED STATES)
We have all a better guide in ourselves, if we would attend to it, than any other person can be. – Jane Austen
Clients are naturally resourceful. Coaching helps the client use his resources to attend mindfully to his important goals. By attending, the client becomes aware and able to connect with his better guide.
According to the MerriamWebster Dictionary, it means “to pay attention to,” “to be present,” ”to take charge of,” and “to apply oneself.”
In order to attend meaningfully, awareness of what needs attending must be followed by purposeful action.
Attending = Awareness and Action
Only when we know what needs attending, can we go about working on it. Once an intended outcome is clearly defined, it serves as the target to which we aim all our actions. A combination of keen awareness and focused actions results in effective attending.
Attending is a choice we make. This choice empowers us because attending moves we forward while neglecting gets us stuck at best.
According to the MerriamWebster Dictionary, it means “to give little attention or respect to,” and “to leave undone or unattended to.”
Neglecting happens when attending is not happening. When there is either no awareness or no action, or when both awareness and action are absent, we are neglecting.
Neglecting = Lack of Awareness and/or Lack of Action
Neglect can take place intentionally or unmindfully. A conscious choice can be made to ignore a situation requiring attention or a choice can ensue because of automatically defaulting to an ingrained habit of neglect.
Likewise, whether to take action or not is a choice. Although, it is often said that the worst action we can take is no action, it is crucial to distinguish between taking mindless action and mindful action. Even if awareness is present, taking mindless actions continues to keep a person in the space of neglect.
Sometimes, a choice made to delay action is the same as lack of action. When dealing with a matter that evokes fears or uncomfortable feelings, it very tempting to avoid the subject and even deny that it exists at all. It is also effortless to procrastinate dealing with the matter in any way.
Avoidance, denial, and procrastination are forms of neglect. By avoidance, all actions are averted; by denying, all actions are precluded; and by procrastinating, all actions are delayed. This behavior discourages identification, examination and reflection. It keeps you in the mode of toleration for an extended period. This inactivity often leads to ultimate failure.
What causes neglecting?
Neglecting can arise when you are operating in the stage of “unconscious incompetence”. You do not know on the conscious level that you are neglecting.
Neglecting can be the result of mindless actions. Some actions are taken because of an ingrained habit, such as keeping needlessly busy so that there is no time to deal with the neglected areas or repeating the same actions even though you know that they would not work.
Sometimes, you are aware of the areas of neglect but you are immobilized and unable to take any action. Frequently, the barrier to action is your fears and underlying beliefs.
Your fears and underlying beliefs affect your perceptions and behaviors. When your perceptions and behaviors are in conflict with your goal, attending to your intended outcome feels uncomfortable, stressful and burdensome. This absence of alignment leads you to react by default, which may include not acting and remaining in the state of neglect.
Some of the common fears include fear of success, fear of failure, fear of responsibility, fear of the unknown, fear of discomfort, and fear of change. Negative underlying beliefs can include beliefs such as you need to play it safe, you are a slower learner, you are not a problem solver, you adapt poorly to change, you are not creative, you are not capable of taking on responsibility, you cannot be trusted, and you cannot attend because it is just too exhausting.
Being aware of the cause for neglecting provides the clarity necessary for the shift towards attending. Once the cause is clear, you will have the power to decide how you can use this awareness and what actions to take.
As coaches, we have to walk the talk. We have to appreciate that in any situation, we are either attending or we are neglecting. To think that by neglecting, we are not choosing is a fallacy. A choice is always made regardless of the situation.
We may be tempted to neglect as it appears to be the easiest way to respond. It requires no effort from us. We just deny the existence of the situation or ignore it and then blame others for our failure. If we choose this option, then we are choosing to be powerless. We become helpless victims of our circumstances.
On the other hand, choosing attending feels liberating. It enables us to own and take charge of our situation. By attending, we are in an active mode that generates positive force to propel us forward. We can use this force to motivate us and create the change we want.
Occasionally, we may feel that attending takes too much effort and is overwhelming; this is not the case. Attending can be as simple as identifying an area in our life that requires attention and taking a step forward. The action step can be as straightforward as making a list or a vision board of what we want in our life. We can also attend by creating moments of happiness to promote our well being as part of our self care. At times, we can attend to our stress by merely removing some events from our over committed agenda. When we are stuck creatively, the act of walking in the park may enrich our imagination.
Our fears and negative underlying beliefs are obstacles that must not be ignored. It is necessary to identify them and decide how to deal with them so that they will not sabotage our journey towards attending. Although the exercise of identifying and dealing with our fears and negative underlying beliefs may be uncomfortable, it is a vital step in our progress to achieve our highest potential.
By accepting our fears and letting go of some troubling beliefs, self judgment or self blame, we can overcome the barriers and create the space for attending to take place. In tending to these barriers, we will become mindful. Being mindful is key to sustaining attending in the long run.
By attending, we are practicing self care as well. We become more aware, aligned and present in everything we do. Practicing attending is part of walking the talk as a coach.