A Coaching Power Tool created by Raju Bhatnagar
(Executive Coach, INDIA)
This submission is an attempt to explore two states of the human mind with the intent to create a more effective approach for coaching an individual.
Basal State of Human Mind: Deliberateness
Man is a social animal and therefore most of his actions are conformist. He1 does not want to stand out and be noticed as being the “odd person out” when he does unconventional things. His actions, therefore are well thought out and conform to accepted societal norms i.e., his actions are deliberate. In a few instances, he may give way to unconventional decisions but in most such cases, the consequences of his actions are isolated and do not impinge on his standing and impression in society in general.
Sometimes, performances by virtuosos, in their field of expertise are hailed as spontaneous performances. It is generally believed that because expert performance is qualitatively different from normal performance the expert performer must be endowed with characteristics qualitatively different from those of normal adults. However, empirical studies conducted by Ericsson, Krampe, and Tesch-Romer2 have shown that expert performances are the end result of individuals’ prolonged efforts to improve performance while negotiating motivational and external constraints. Many characteristics once believed to reflect innate talent are actually the result of intense practice i.e., a regimen of effortful activities (deliberate practice) designed to optimize improvement.
A star sportsperson or a dancer delivers a masterful performance and the audience applauds it. The masterful performance delivered is after years of training and practice. All nuances of the game or dance style have been studied to the nth degree and mastered. When the performance is delivered it is a supreme display of a well trained person, a true master of the art. The fact of matter is that each stroke of the game or each movement of the dance is well choreographed and rehearsed even to the point when, in the event of something going amiss, recovery is seamless. These are all deliberate or intentional actions of a master proponent of the craft.
Deliberateness is often associated with serial processing, effortfulness and the rejection of emotional influence.
Enlightened State of Human Mind: Spontaneousness or Spontaneity
On the other hand spontaneity is often associated with parallel processing, effortlessness, lack of insight into the decision process, emotional influence and impulsive actions (impulsive actions here does not refer to rash or unrestrained erratic behaviour). Being spontaneous means acting in the present, being responsible for one’s actions no matter what they may bring. Spontaneity creates fear which is why people shy away from it. The great Spiritual Guru, Osho, was once asked:
Why does spontaneity create so much fear in a person?
His reply was:
Spontaneity creates fear. It means you are taking responsibility for your actions. If you rely on the conditioning given by your parents, teachers, priests, leaders and instead of being spontaneous just act out of your past conditioning, there is no fear. Because you know you are not alone; you know your action is approved. The fear arises when you find yourself alone and you are doing something which goes against the whole training. Spontaneity means you are acting in the moment — not reacting, but acting. When you react it comes from your past accumulation of knowledge, experience. But when you respond, it is a pure act out of your present consciousness — not from memory. [emphasis added]
Our past experiences often prevent us from seeing things clearly and also tend to limit our creativity. At times, they also prevent us from exhibiting high level performance by forcing us towards routines and bias.
When leaders are truly spontaneous and creative, they flick a power switch that electrifies human energy potential to respond with competence and confidence to the demands of today’s rapidly changing business environment.3