Coaching Case Study By Maurice Lim
(Executive and Business Coach, SINGAPORE)
Rain (Not her real name) is an expatriate who has lived and worked in Singapore for the last 6 years. She is the Vice President of Human Resources for an International Digital Media organization. She travels extensively globally during the week/months and is stretched throughout the day with physical meetings and conference calls that sprout anytime during the night as she caters to the different time zones. She sees herself somewhat of a perfectionist. She describes herself as a high achiever and does not believe in failing. She is married and does not have any children. She says this works well for her as there is “No Distractions or Obligations” to cater to. She tries to follow a schedule of exercise and study but has failed miserably at it. Recently, she has started having pain in various parts of her body and especially in her back. She has sought out medical treatment and that has eased her pains slightly. She has reasoned that her pains may have been caused by work stress and possibly age.
Terms and Agreement
During the Coaching discovery phase with Rain, I explained to her that the Coaching sessions were held in strict confidence between myself and her. The sessions were not Medical Interventions, Psycho Therapy, Advise, Consultations or Teachings. Through the coaching sessions she would embark on a journey of Self Awareness and Discovery and she would learn and find answers on her own will and accord.She would be in total control of the entire process of setting out what she wanted to do, accomplish or realize. She was also at liberty to stop the sessions and not continue as she willed at any point of time. Likewise, I had the option to stop any session if I felt that she required assistance outside the realm of Coaching. With the Coaching Terms and agreement accepted, the sessions proper commenced through Audio Channels.
During our initial session, Rain wanted to find ways to balance her personal and work life. She had repeated the phrase of wanting to find a work life and Personal Life balance quite a few times but with no direction or commitment.After listening to Rain, I rephrased back to her that I heard that “it was very important for her to balance her work and personal life and she was looking for ways to doing that”. She acknowledged that.
Active Listening, Awareness, Powerful Questioning
I asked her the following questions. I waited for her replies, listening intently for what she replied and what she did not say through her silence, the tone of her voice and breathing. The questions were not stacked or preformulated but were asked after I had listen to her replies
The questions were:
- What would a balanced work and personal life look like?
- What would it be like if you could not achieve the wanted result? [ I asked this question to get a better understanding of Rain’s “make-up” and trying to discover any underlying belief she may have had]
She replied forcefully and with aggression that she always achieved and succeeded in what she set out to do! This I could hear in her quickness of her reply and her increased tone of voice. I did not answer and Rain went on to add that she had always succeeded in everything she did. She had never failed.
Discovering and Exploring
I asked permission to take her back to her childhood to understand where her drive and “passion for success” came from. She agreed.
I asked her “what was one thing that she remembered and stood very clear in her mind?” Rain paused for a very long time and when she finally answered I could sense sadness and pain in her voice. She said,” My parents were always angry with me when I did not get full marks for my studies. 95%, 98%, 99% was not good enough. I was scolded and put down. I was told that I was useless and stupid. I felt they would throw me away for not achieving perfect result. They were only happy when I had perfect scores and then I felt loved by them.”I learnt that I had to study and work really hard and achieve full marks and even for things I did not like doingin order to get their approval, praises and love.Because of this I have been molded to do the things I do, I continue to drive and push myself until today. Failure is not an option. Rain’s Underlying Belief: Fear of being cast away and rejected if she were not perfect or if she did not achieve perfect results or outcomes.
I asked Rain “What would you change if you could go back in time? She answered “Me and everything that I was made to believe in!”
I asked Rain permission to do a visualization exercise with me. In the exercise, Rain would come to a river. The far bank opposite bank) had greenery, flowers, music, a sense of new adventure, new life. The bank she was on (near bank), she had lived through it all. It was the same old place…..it was bearable., albeit wear and tear
- What would be her decision? To cross or Not to cross the river?
If she decided to cross the river, she would have to answer the following questions
What would make her cross the river
- How to cross?
- When to cross?
- What happens should she fall into the river?
- How would she feel when she finally crossed the river?
- How would she celebrate her crossing?
If she decided not to cross, just yet or never that would be also be acceptable as well as it was her own decision and answer.
Setting up, Plans, Goals
Taking Rain back to what she wanted to achieve for the coaching session. I asked the questions again.
- How would a balanced work and personal life look like for you in 3 year’s time?
- What would it look to you a month’s time?
- What would you need to do for it to look the way you want?
- What will you commit to?
Rain’s reply that in 3 years she would like to have more personal life and maybe she may not need to rely on work life. She realized that she was not indispensable and that the company would still survive without her. She realized that her drive and Underlying Belief to always needing to be 100% correct in everything had adverse effects on her health and well-being.
It was okay for her not to be 100% correct all the time or being perfect. Life adjusts and still goes on. Life and people are not perfect and they forgive. She is learning to forgive herself.
She has immediately set up a daily and weekly schedule for exercise and self-reflection. She has pushed back on attending to late night meetings and conferences and has started to scale back on her travel schedule.
She has also roped in her husband to be her support to remind her of her schedules and to be her listening and sounding board. She tells me that her pains have eased tremendously ever since she decided what she wanted to do to achieve a work and personal life balance. She is grateful that she realized herself that she was living and working life for others and not herself. She now has the opportunity to work and live life for herself. I continue to provide support for her agenda.
Food for my growth – Learnings and Reflections
What I have learnt from Coaching Rain.
I have many things and continue to learn.
I learnt that setting the agreement is important from the start. Confidentiality, Gaining Trust and building comfort with the client is very important to allow for free expressions in thoughts and communications.
The client sets the agenda and I lend a listening ear and at times a mouth to help the client raise their own answers and questions through their own thought and reflections. Being present in the moment with the client and being aware of their insights whether said or unsaid, allows for trust and strong relationships to be developed.
Active Listening, Non-judgmental and Powerful Questioning allow for the client to answer themselves and derive their solutions.
Silence is a great tool. If we listen intently to silence, there is so much being said.
Goal setting, Commitment and Support is required to get the client moving in their own chosen direction that allows for changes to take place
Underlying Beliefs, Reflections, Visualizations, Perceptions help the client understand and see who they are and what they are capable of.
Gratitude is something we forget easily and yet this is the greatest. To be thankful for allowing us to be present in another’s life, their situation and to be able to reflect on our own and to continue to learn and develop.
Coaching is the ability to help the client move Forward from Today (Present) through their own doing. It also allows me to plan where and what I want to be starting from This Day forth in my own being.