A Coaching Power Tool Created by Richard Haynes
(Business Coach, CANADA)
Even after all this time The sun never says to the earth, “You owe Me.” Look what happens with A love like that, It lights the Whole Sky. – Hafiz
When we experience success it is usually accompanied by a sense of exhilaration, satisfaction or accomplishment. As we live in this moment or look back on the journey and see how far we have come our perspective becomes filled with gratitude. Gratitude always exists in these moments unless our mindset is one of entitlement. Entitlement often comes in the form of thinking that a certain result is deserved or necessary to fit our world view, whether for fairness, balance or we think the result should have happened anyway. It can grow or wane depending on the emotional energy we put towards a certain outcome by focusing on unknown future results. Gratitude is an emotion experienced in the present, it is a way of being and provides a sense of fulfillment and wholeness
As life and time passes we build up our memory bank of experiences based on what we are taught, experience and the thoughts and filters we inherit and develop along the way. With each new experience, the wonder, awe, joy, pain or other emotion is felt and noted. This bank grows with each day, each event and each moment. Gradually these experiences build until we start noticing similarities. With these similarities we begin to develop expectations of what the next similar experience will be like. As our expectations are validated our learned behaviors are shaped and perhaps the potential for wonder and awe diminished. This can escalate to the point where we think and feel that life should happen a certain way and when it doesn’t the awe or wonder can instead be replaced with disappointment, self-doubt, or victimization. These types of belief and behavior can spiral and replicate. We feel entitled to experience what we hold as the expected outcome.
Life doesn’t always happen the way we think it should. Although there are many aspects of it that are predictable, there are often inputs and by-products that we simply cannot foresee and results we cannot forecast. We may be told that A+B=C, and perhaps that worked for the person sharing, but there is no way for them to simply transfer or consider the previous life learning you or they have had and how this learning and experience influences the inputs let alone all of the variables that may be encountered while making the journey of A+B; reducing the reliability of achieving the outcome of C, that we may feel entitled to based on performing. Entitlement can lead to low energy outcomes and an attempt to force results. Feeling entitled doesn’t change what happened or happens, the change it causes is within our mind and our emotions. Entitlement sabotages our integrity by keeping us from being who we truly are and filling our mind with fragmenting emotions such as anger, frustration and arrogance.
Shifting from a space of entitlement to one of gratitude can bring the energy back and allow an individual to view their world from a place of ownership and power. Perceiving the world from a place of gratitude allows a person to appreciate the journey, enjoy each moment, feel the power of contentment and be open to rich learning that comes by being present. Gratitude is experienced in a present state and does not extend itself beyond what is. It involves all moments, including the one of sitting outside the barely cracked door until it opens for you, resisting the urge to burst through and expend excess energy trying to force the door open before the time is right.
In life, one has a choice to take one of two paths: to wait for some special day–or to celebrate each special day. Rasheed Ogunlaru
Consider the following case studies:
Tim had 5 children, he loved and enjoyed the time he spent them, but he also had goals and structures for himself such as taking care of his home and working on his physical fitness. It seemed like every time he went to the basement to exercise, or work on his room building project, there was a large mess. Toys, dress-up clothes, used dishes and food were strewn over the space he needed. At first he just cleared space, but slowly after each time the frustration mounted until perhaps he might lose his temper and say some words that would harm his relationships and move himself away from a space he valued.
On one occasion when the frustration peaked, he asked himself: what am I feeling entitled to? A clean room, place to exercise and less work. Then he shifted to another question: what am I grateful for? My family, relationships, and being with them. He then had a powerful experience where he saw the day when his children would be grown and the toys would be gone and there would be no mess. He realized how precious these times were to him and that even though he had to do a little extra work, the toys, food and dishes represented the life and vibrancy within his home that he valued. It was a privilege to have the children and be able to spend time with them even if it meant dealing with a few messes. He became grateful for the moment he was in and what it was bringing to him.
Tonya had a busy week at the office. She had worked hard to prepare a report and presentation for her organization that she knew would be vital to her long desired promotion. She submitted her work to her manager for review on Thursday and eagerly anticipated his promised feedback as her deadline for completion was Friday at 4:00 pm. Her manager was busy compiling year end budget figures, but knew how important this project was to Tonya, so he set aside time for review early Friday afternoon. Impressed with her work he had almost finished reviewing the presentation when he realized that she had missed a critical piece of information in her analysis. He immediately called her in to discuss, the change needed would not require many alterations as she had already done some great work, but she would need to modify portions of her presentation and only had 25 minutes left to do it.
At this point Tonya has a choice to make. Perhaps some limiting beliefs will pop into her head and encourage her to get frustrated at the lack of time to make the change, or she might believe that because of all the hard work she had put in, the project is good enough for upper management and the change suggested by her manager would be outweighed by the quality of her other work. Alternatively she could be grateful that her manager saw the hole in her presentation and choose to make the most of her 25 minutes by improving her presentation. After all, his review had provided an opportunity to strengthen her work and the time right now was enough to make the change.
As coaches, we want our clients to be able to move forward, align with their values and accomplish their goals. Expectations can turn into feelings of entitlement when unexpected and/or unwanted events and results occur; these feelings can move a person further away from their desired outcome. In this state a client might only see a barrier and lose confidence, momentum and judge the situation to be too hard or even impossible. Their underlying beliefs could be holding them back from moving over, around or shaking off the obstacle and stepping up.
Create a Shift in Perspective
Help the client create a new and different way of looking at the situation. This can be done by asking a question, reminding them of their goal, using visualization or sharing a different perspective. We can help them see that feeling entitled to a certain outcome because of past experience doesn’t move them toward their goal and they can view the perceived barrier as an opportunity to develop skills or create strength along the journey to their goal and shift to a sense of gratitude.
A powerful tool that we hold as coaches is acknowledgement. Acknowledgement sews the seed of gratitude as it both validates and encourages strengths, movement, values and being. It also focuses on what is, shifting perspective to the present moment where gratitude can be experienced.
A few questions to help the shift:
- What type of learning could going through this experience offer you?
- What are some strategies you could use to overcome this challenge?
- How could the experience from overcoming this challenge aid you to accomplish your vision?
Shifting to a sense of gratitude from entitlement has great power. It can allow an individual to see the scenario they are in from a whole new perspective, moving from being a victim of circumstance to a humble learner which has the potential to unlock new purpose and learning in the journey to propel them forward.
Tips to moving to a perspective of Gratitude
- Live in the now, be present
- Look at the world through the eyes of a child
- Allow life to happen, sometimes the greatest gifts and opportunities are the ones we least expect that only come when we are open to what is happening.
- Experience nature
- Reflect on your greatest achievements, how did they happen, what was expected, what was unexpected, what made the experience successful? What did it feel like at the time of success?
- Serve and give your time and talents with your heart in an area that is important to you and aligns with your values.
- Give yourself permission to laugh and see humor in life.
- Acknowledge the beauty within yourself and in what you create.
Each moment, each experience in life is a gift, it enables us to live, love and fulfill our purpose, even if the moment seems replicated or hard there is an opportunity for us to see the world differently – through eyes of gratitude. Gratitude brings us back to the moment, the newness of the experience and the appreciation for being able to experience it and then discover the result of actions with freshness and originality. It is an activator, a perspective that allows life to be enjoyed. It allows us to see the challenges we are confronted with as stepping stones rather than barriers.
- When have you felt the sense of gratitude or fulfillment in your life?
- What types of experiences have left you filled with gratitude? How long did this feeling last, and what effect did they have on your life?
- What are some of the things that you expect to happen each day? Why do these expectations exist for you?
- What are some ways you can help a client shift from entitlement and hold a perspective of gratitude?
- Think of the last time you had a good laugh, what were the circumstances around this moment? How did it feel at the time? What does remembering this moment do to the way you feel now?