Coaching Case Study By Kris Talynn
(Success Coach, UNITED STATES)
Kate (name changed to protect client privacy) is a 48-year-old woman with a history of abusive and unsuccessful relationships with men. She has been married twice and had one long-term relationship that ended 14 months ago. She has an estranged relationship with her three adult children as well as with her oldest sister. She suffers from a lack of confidence, unclear direction, and overall feelings of low self-esteem.
Kate came to me for coaching after having attended a personal development seminar I conducted. She was interested in moving past her limiting beliefs and creating a more successful future for herself.
In my coaching practice, I use an integrated coaching model based on the acronym for SUCCESS. The SUCCESS coaching model uses a blended approach wherein I provide pure coaching as well as education on the Canfield Success Principles and guidance on how the client can incorporate those principles into his/her life.
Kate was intrigued by the blended approach and was highly interested in learning and applying the Success Principles in her life.
SUCCESS Coaching Model:
The SUCCESS model uses a bottom-up approach, beginning at the bottom of the triangle and moving to the point. The bottom of the triangle is the widest part and provides the foundation for the client’s change journey. As clients move toward the top of the triangle, their efforts get more focused. The point of the triangle represents the target: action on the client’s goals.
When I met Kate for her discovery session, it was clear that she was willing and wanting to try anything that would help her become more confident and clear about her future as well as to mend the estranged relationships she had.
Kate was familiar with visualization from my personal development workshop she attended and was willing to explore the idea further. Kate professed that she was not spiritual and did not believe in God, but that since what she was currently doing was not working for her, she was willing to try more “foo foo methods” to help her move forward.
Kate and I decided to meet via telephone for one (1) hour each week for a total of eight (8) weeks.
Introduction to Visualization
Although Kate had experienced a simple visualization exercise during my personal development workshop, she had not used visualization in any form before our coaching sessions. During the E-Explore Limiting Beliefs and C–Challenge Thoughts and Expectations phase of my coaching process, Kate explained that she felt she was not successful in her career, love life, or as a mother. She also revealed that she felt like her “financial life was a disaster.”
As we moved into the C-Change Mindset phase of coaching, she and I discussed how visualization could be a powerful tool for her to use in reversing the limiting beliefs she felt as well as in creating the future she wanted for herself. I introduced Kate to the following seven areas of her life that could be enhanced by using visualization:
- Career / Job
- Community involvement
- Personal development
- Health & fitness
- Fun time & recreation
Kate was interested in improving her life in each of these areas. However, we narrowed the focus on visualization exercises on finances, career/job, and relationships during our coaching sessions.
Although there are several ways to visualize, because Kate was new to visualization, I kept the exercise simple. During our coaching sessions I would follow the following:
- Obtain Kate’s permission for me to conduct a guided visualization
- Ask Kate to sit in a comfortable chair, close her eyes and take several long, deep breaths
- Ask Kate to think about her life in the future. We initially focused on one year in the future but narrowed that focus to three months as she became more proficient.
- Ask Kate to focus on each of the three areas: Finances, Career/Job, Relationships. Within each area, I explored with Kate:
- What do you see?
- What do you feel?
- What do you hear?
- Where are you?
- What do you smell?
- How are you acting?
- How are you talking to the other person?
I continued with exploratory questions in each of the three areas
- After visualizing for each area, I asked Kate to write down what she saw, felt, heard, smelled, etc. in as much detail as she could remember.
Process vs. Outcome Visualization
During the process described above, Kate was able to visualize the outcomes she wanted in the areas of finance, career/job, and relationships. Her initial visualizations for one year in the future were not detailed. She would get hung up on seeing her future because she felt the future she was seeing “wasn’t realistic or even achievable.”
Because Kate was struggling with the feasibility of her visualized future outcomes, we spent two sessions exploring “what if” outcomes. I explained that outcome visualizations do not focus on how things come to be but on seeing things how you want them to be, irrespective of the process of achievement. Outcome visualization does not focus on the “how” of accomplishing the future vision. It focuses on the final achievement of the vision.
I worked with Kate to “daydream” her hoped-for financial outlook, the career she wanted one year in the future, and relationships she wanted to have. She spent time in each of these areas “playing” by waving an imaginary wand and in her mind, seeing anything and everything she wanted to have. Allowing Kate to imagine in this way helped clear her blocks and she was able to more fully visualize in detail the future she desired.
Areas of focus
For each area of Kate’s focus, finances career/job, and relationships, Kate created a one-year vision. This step occurred during the U-Understand Next Steps phase of the SUCCESS model.
Kate visualized that she would like to have $3,000 in her savings account within one year. She envisioned using this money for a vacation that she would like to take with her children to Yellowstone National Park. She envisioned getting an increase in pay of $1.00 per hour from her current employer within three months. She also envisioned that she no longer lived paycheck-to-paycheck and would have an emergency fund of $1,000.
Kate visualized that she would be promoted to Team Lead at her current employer within one year. She envisioned the Team Lead responsibilities, working hours, daily tasks, employee coaching, and feedback sessions that she would be conducting for her team.
Kate’s biggest challenge was her relationship with her three adult children. She visualized a future with them where they would gather monthly for a Sunday dinner. She envisioned loving telephone calls in between the monthly dinners.
She also wanted a better relationship with her estranged sister. She envisioned having a loving “sisterly” relationship, developing a closeness she’d not experienced with her sister.
Once Kate was able to free her mind to the idea of visualization, I taught her the idea of process visualization, wherein she learned how to break down her outcome visualizations into process steps that would help her achieve her visualized outcomes.
Areas of focus
Once Kate visualized her one-year future outcomes, she needed to break those outcomes down into manageable chunks to begin taking action. This step occurred during the U-Understand Next Steps phase of the SUCCESS model.
Kate broke down her $3,000 vacation savings goal and visualized herself putting money away each paycheck to be able to save that money. She visualized the joy she would experience watching her vacation account grow. She visualized the looks on her children’s faces as they enjoyed Yellowstone Park with her.
Kate visualized conversations she would have with her employer that would prepare her for asking for a raise. She envisioned being in her boss’ office. She envisioned the conversation, her responses, her boss’ responses, and her boss saying yes to the increase.
She also visualized the feeling of her emergency fund and the security that came with that. She envisioned herself feeling the relief of knowing that she had money to cover an unforeseen event.
In order for Kate to get promoted within a year, she wanted to visualize steps she could take to make that happen. She decided that having a conversation with other Team Leads as well as the manager of the office would be a good way to solicit feedback. She used visualization to see each of those conversations, what questions she would ask, how she would present herself, and what the outcomes of each conversation would be.
Kate understood that relationship repair would likely take some time so she envisioned herself reaching out to her children on the phone weekly as well as in text message several times a week. She visualized what those conversations would look like, what she would say, how she would react if they became negative towards her, and the outcomes she’d like to see in those conversations.
Kate also visualized talking with her sister. She visualized crying as her and her sister made amends for past hurts. She envisioned her and her sister spending time on the phone talking, going to dinner, and making plans to spend time together.
Although Kate was not a believer in visualization and was not experienced at using it, she was willing to give it her best efforts. During our coaching sessions, she was an active and responsive participant. She was eager to begin each visualization exercise and spent a good deal of time after each exercise recounting her visions.
Understanding the difference between outcome visualization and process visualization helped Kate dream big (outcome) and break those dreams into chunks (process) for taking action.
Kate became excited about how the visualization was making her feel so she decided to engage in visualization outside of our coaching session to explore the remaining four areas of personal development, fun time and recreation, community involvement, and health and fitness. In our fifth session, Kate shared with me her outcome and process visualizations for each of these areas as well. It was clear to me that Kate was fully embracing the visualization practice and was enjoying the experience.
By the end of our eight sessions, Kate reported that she felt more confident in what her future looked like, not only one year from now but from week to week as she practised process visualization weekly. Her self-esteem had improved because she was already accomplishing steps towards her one-year visions. She noted that she was substantially less depressed and felt more positive about her path forward.
Specific outcomes Kate experienced include:
- Kate now talks with her children once per week on the phone, texts every few days to say “I love you” and check in.
- Kate’s son has come to spend the weekend with her.
- Kate’s oldest daughter has reached out to Kate for assistance with her pregnancy. Note: her prior pregnancy was kept from Kate until after the birth.
- Kate has had a heart-to-heart talk with her sister. The two have cleared the air and forgiven past issues. She has invited her sister to dinner and enjoyed a nice evening out. She also recently attended a family dinner and noticed the fact that there was no longer uncomfortable tension in the air because of the prior disconnect between her and her sister.
- Kate has set up direct deposit into two different bank accounts to save for her vacation and emergency funds.
- Kate scheduled and met with two Team Leads and received constructive feedback on what she needs to do in order to further her chances for promotion.
- Kate set a record at work for the highest number of volunteers at a work function, which she attributed directly to her increased confidence.
- Kate has a meeting scheduled with her plant manager and feels confident, through the use of visualization, that the meeting will go well.
In Her Own Words
“I have to admit that I wasn’t sure visualization actually worked. I have seen it at the workshop but didn’t know how it would really work in real life. Working with Kris, I learned how to do it and saw the results. I’ve never been confident and kind of figured that my life was just going to go like it was headed. I know now that I really can create a better future for me and my kids and at work by using visualization. I got hope that I can now create what I want and I don’t have to settle anymore.”
As a coaching tool, visualization can be a very powerful technique to help the client expand his/her current line of thinking. Visualization helps a client step outside of themselves and into a future that they can create. I saw the power visualization had in Kate and I’ve used it in my own life. Visualization is free, easy, and effective in creating a different tomorrow.