A Coaching Power Tool Created by Pam Vas
(Career Coach, SINGAPORE)
Doing is an action where people observe your “doing”. Being is an action where you observe your own “doing”.
We live in such a busy world. And even with the introduction of technology, which is supposed to help us manage our lives better, we seem busier than ever. We fall into the trap of thinking that the better we are at multi-tasking the more efficient we are. We eat while we read. We walk and we text. That could be a reason why our minds are constantly racing. Sometimes we get edgy when we are idling and we immediately look for something to do.
But coaching is all about being in the moment. The Client being in the moment with the Coach and the Coach being in the moment with the Client. How is that supposed to work? Being present with your Client, listening, and getting curious – yet we know that at the end of the session we face the inevitable test – did we help our clients make the shift? It’s back to doing again.
- What then is the difference between BEING and IDLING?
- Is there a benefit we can derive from doing less?
When doing is not a good thing
There is a famous biblical story about 2 sisters – Mary and Martha – who had offered hospitality to Jesus and his disciples when they entered the village where the sisters dwelled. Martha being the oldest sibling was the one managing the household, preparing the meals, getting the house cleaned up so that her guests could feel comfortable when they visited. This was the traditional role a woman played in those days. Mary however, ‘sat and listened’. This was the usual posture of a disciple of any teacher in the ancient world.
We can see from this story that Martha was obviously the doer while Mary was the thinker. The story does not end there.
Martha, seeing Mary sitting down and not helping her, became upset. She started to complain against her sister. She was not merely asking Mary to come and help her. There were so many tasks to be done, food to be served and all Mary did was to sit by Jesus’ feet. Martha was resentful of her sister and she started to demand that Mary get up and help her. She even complained to her guests about her own sister!
When you feel that doing more is seen as superior to doing less, doing is not a good thing.
When you are doing too much
Some people find significance in doing. The more involved they are the more they feel important. They feel better validated when they are doing.
In the case of Martha, she placed doing above sitting and listening. There was nothing wrong with preparing a meal when you have guests come over. Or tidying the house so that your guests can feel more comfortable. It is when you start carrying that ‘my doing is better” attitude that makes you feel superior, that is when you need to check yourself.
I recalled a time when I was in between jobs but instead of enjoying my sabbatical leave, I found myself rushing from place to place trying to feel like I was still important. I was still needed. I was visiting people in the hospital, conducting cookery lessons, participating in workshops and joining Parents Support Groups. I started to feel like I was doing more because I needed to feel significant that I was involved.
Doing for the approval of others
When doing becomes a performance issue, you are no longer doing with joy.
We know that in the corporate world, we are constantly subjected to appraisals. We feel a need to “pass the test” of customers, bosses and colleagues. We feel we need to show others how much we are doing in order to win the accolades we crave and the promotion we desire. We sometimes resent others for doing less yet getting more recognition.
It is a performance based world we live in. No one can run away from this fact. But if we are merely performing for the approval of others, we find ourselves stuck in a rat race which soon corrodes our satisfaction and leaves us exhausted, and feeling pressured with little time left for leisure and contemplation?
Control and Choice
I know a couple in their late 60s. They are healthy and maintain an active lifestyle. They play tennis and swim regularly. They are great and wonderful people with hearts of gold. They have grandchildren, whom they adored. But when the grand children were born, they made a conscious decision not to take over the role as the main caregivers. They encouraged their children to find external help – put the children in day care, find part time help for household chores. Once a week on Wednesdays, they welcome their children and grandchildren over to their house for a meal together. Sometimes the grandchildren have a sleepover in their house. They welcome that with joy. They joke that they spend Wednesdays playing with their grandchildren, and all of Thursdays recovering from it. While they are getting on in age, they are still able to enjoy the company of their young and active grandchildren. They say it with a smile on their faces. Anyone could see how much they love their grandchildren.
We have a choice. We can decide how much we want to do. In the case of the elderly couple, they felt once a week was what they could do without feeling resentful that they have to give up their active lifestyle.
We can take control of our lives and make the choices to will lead us to a place of fulfillment, contention and satisfaction.
Rest vs Run
I run regularly. I enjoy heading out to the park before sunrise and unwinding as I pound my feet against the floor. Running makes me happy. While I am running, however, sometimes I cannot wait for the run to be over. There are days when I could go a mile longer and still have breath. When I think not of the distance I have yet to cover but the distance I have already covered – it keeps me motivated and gives me a great sense of achievement.
But as equally important as my run days are my rest days.
No athlete can train without stopping. We rest to recover. When we are resting, our muscles are being repaired. We rest so we can avoid the risk of injury. We rest so we can run a longer mile. Over working our muscles can lead to long term injuries. When we develop injuries, we have to stop running. Prevention of injuries is therefore of utmost importance.
Similarly, when we rest from doing, we are doing ourselves a great favour. Our mental, emotional and physical capacities are finite. We cannot go on forever.
Key is in Achieving Balance between Doing and Being
Unlike consulting and mentoring, coaching is free of an agenda. It’s all about the client – let him take the driver’s seat, let him direct his own path. How can a coach be present to allow the process to take place if he’s concerned about DOING? Staying in the state of being helps the coach to listen better. It transports the coach from an “it’s about me” position to an “it’s about you” position.
There is a profound truth in the saying that we are human beings and not human doings. Our significance should not be based on what we do, but what we are.
It’s often said – faith without deeds is dead, intention without action is futile. We cannot deny that ultimately the client has to take actions to shift and in taking action he’s actually doing something.
How then do we strike a balance? Are you doing without being afraid of the disapproval from others if you don’t? Doing without comparing to others and fearing that you might be out-performed? Doing because it aligns with your overall passion and purpose in life?
Life is made of cycles of ups and downs. Life is also made of cycles of being and doing.
- Was there ever a time in your life where you felt burnt out just from simply doing too much? How did that feel?
- Why do you think people continue to be caught up in the rat race?
- What is it like to do more and not receive the approval you were hoping for?
- How do you move a client from a position where he feels he needs to do more to a place where he feels he is content with doing less?
- How do you move a client who does not want to do more because of his fears and feelings of inadequacy?
- What might be beneficial for you to stay in the state of being?