Research Paper By Ana Claudia Mazzini e Drigo
(ADHD Coach, SINGAPORE)
Aiming for a job but hitting a much better target
The given case briefly describes the coaching process of one specific client. During 6 weeks, coach and client work together in order to understand how motivation and creativity can be included in a reality of practical life needs.
L.S. is a young and ambitious woman. About to complete 32 years old, L.S. was raised by high achiever parents and since very early learned the importance of work, responsibility and independence. Around the age of 15 L.S. is diagnosed with ADHD and starts having a different routine since then, taking medicines and attending therapy, in order to deal a little better with all difficulties she has always experienced and are now explained.
A very creative and energetic person, L.S. is always coming up with ideas for her own life as well as friends and family. Very curious about different subjects, L.S. wants to understand how things work, why they happen the way they do. She loves to create and solve puzzles that is what truly motivates her. Although, all her past working experiences never really offered her the opportunity to fully exercise this freedom and creativity.
Due to a work assignment, in 2012, L.S. goes to Asia and meets the love of her life, who invites her to stay, leaving her job and family in her home country. A new life begins and L.S. starts to look for a new job in Asia. After a couple months still looking for an opportunity, L.S. starts to feel the weight of all those values once thought by her parents: responsibility, commitment with her career and the need for independence.
That is when L.S. looks for a coach.
As an ambitious woman, L.S. wants to understand what she can do to find a good opportunity as soon as possible. She wants to understand her own profile and map what is missing for her to get the desired job.
Since our first session, L.S. makes clear that important it is for her to understand what is missing in her profile in order to be chosen between many other candidates, for the job she wants. As she starts to describe the job, we both notice that she is not excited about it. She describes a job that will surely bring consistency to her resume, will pay her accordingly, however it will not fulfill her personal and more subjective needs, needs she has not even acknowledged yet.
L.S. explains that over the years, she learned that she would have to silence the need for a more creative job and that at that moment, she would have to fit in a more structured profile. As she explains to me, this belief started when she was still in school and her mother used to be called by teachers to be advised that L.S. was not following the rules and wanted to do things differently from other kids. Over the years, after changing schools a couple times, she learned that she had to adequate herself to things and not the other way around. Later in life, school became the job market and that is when she starts to struggle even more.
The frustration of being unemployed for months is apparent and it plays a crucial role in making her believe that she is not good enough, what also causes her to feel less and less creative, which later we learned is one of her strengths.
We start understanding her profile a little better and for that purpose, we use the SWOT Analysis exercise. Creativity, initiative, problems solution are some of L.S. strengths. Distraction, difficulty in following rules and procedures are some of her weaknesses.
The exercise opens the space for us to discuss what role these weaknesses and strengths play on her career path and what would be the best use of this information. In the course of our following session, we explore the reasons why she applies for positions that don’t exactly value her strengths and what would keep her from considering other types of jobs, where she could exercise the abilities she naturally possess.
The job search starts to gain a more creative look and we start to brainstorm on what are the characteristics of the dream job. To facilitate this creative process, we use the Mosaic Power Tool, designed by me, the coach.
The exercise intends to create meaning for a word or concept, using all 5 senses, memories, images, songs, basically any possible reference an individual may have. The exercise was used to understand what her dream job looked like. After starting with SWOT Analysis, a very straight forward exercise, the Mosaic Power Tool allowed us to create together, to be more subjective and get in touch with feelings and past experiences.
Challenge, creativity, design thinking were some of the concepts raised by L.S.. Each word would come full of motivation and excitement. That is when we make an important shift in the coaching process. The conversation was not about how she could bear with the positions she really did not want to apply, it rather became a space for her to explore what the dream position looked like.
Acknowledging those characteristics was a major step of her coaching process. Learning that they were not only characteristics of her personality but also valuable abilities in the market. The question then transitioned into something slightly different from what we were discussing initially: How to apply these skills and also be well paid? What positions will fulfill not only the subjective but also her objective needs?
The subjective needs are the need to create, to have ideas, to have space and support from superiors to implement those ideas. The objective needs are: feel financially secure, have a sustainable career plan, continue to be an independent woman.
The balance between the two forces, reason and emotion/motivation became our goal. To clarify the path and create a plan, we started discussing a list of job possibilities, different markets. Is it possible to be creative in jobs that do not specifically require creativity?
An important clarification takes place at this stage: she can create the space for creativity; She no longer needs to look for either the most creative job versus the most mechanic one. There is a half way there and she starts making moves towards that.
Her previews research on possible markets and positions leaves her with a list of places to work where she could implement her plan. Motivated and feeling more secure, she starts creating her own opportunities and in one of those endeavors, she gets the job she was looking for. L.S. describes the position as a big challenge, she would need to learn everything and would be able to exercise her voice and creativity into the job scope.
In our last session, we discussed a starting up plan, a basic guide that would help her prepare for the beginning of this new challenge in life. L.S. soon initiated a new journey of self-development and creation of her own future.
Initially the client intended to learn how to educate herself to fit in a space she not even new was the one meant for her. The coaching process developed naturally enough to guarantee that her goals would not be forgotten but also would not limit her possibilities. The whole path was created by the client, with the support of the coach. The desire for creation started there, in the coaching space, where she allowed herself to be creative and not have a structured plan.
The motivation of the client from the beginning was definitely a strength of this process. L.S. was always willing to make the most out of our time together, thinking, exploring, facing challenges with honesty. Talking about challenges, the biggest one in this coaching process was to keep the client focused, bring back the goals without restricting her personal process.