A Coaching Power Tool created by Allison Everest
(Expatriate Coach, UNITED KINGDOM)
The dual concept of Stability and Instability has been a recurring theme with many of my clients. Each of these perspectives of Stability and Instability has both positive and negative aspects and qualities to them. Whether life is currently in a phase of Stability or Instability, there is always room for the client to reframe their perspective, take inspiration from the phase that they are in, and work towards a positive outcome.
By focusing on this concept and the underlying qualities inherent in these life phases, clients will be able to recognize and take advantage of the positives, whilst at the same time understanding and accepting the negatives, to make the most of their situation whatever it is and enable them to make a continuing journey towards their life goals.
Let’s look at each of these perspectives separately, to see what they might mean to different people.
For some, stability is a goal in itself. At the extreme end, those living in countries ravaged by war or famine, or in countries where continual social unrest make each day a new challenge, many people the world over prize stability above all else. For them the word carries nothing but positivity – the chance to live a life of some predictability and ease; have a roof over their head; raise, feed and educate a family; make provision for old age.
However, arguably, we all operate our own “Hierarchy of Needs” (Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, 1954), and once an individual’s day to day biological and physiological needs are met, for many it is a natural progression to then move on to look for a deeper level of personal fulfillment (Maslow’s “self-actualisation”). Simple stability can perhaps become stifling to some, and what started as “a stable job” or a “dependable partner” can become “a dead-end job” or an “unexciting” relationship.
Some clients will then, naturally and willingly, move from a state of Stability into a state of Instability, in order to achieve a higher degree of fulfillment. This change will be sought after, and met with excitement, hope and optimism.
Ask those who are recovering from broken relationships or who are the victims of the current economic downturns to describe Instability, and their perspective will almost certainly be negative in its entirety. Those forced into Instability will often be in denial, fearful and very negative about the changes happening around them. They feel anxious and disorientated, helpless, and rendered paralyzed by their experiences, unable to see a path forwards or to take any forward action.
Conversely, ask an entrepreneur about Instability, and the conversation will be all awash with heady opportunity, personal growth, and “the world’s my oyster”. Their perspective will be one of risk taking, pushing back the boundaries and boundless possibilities.
Such differing view points! Many of those who we coach will be teetering on the brink. Some will have already taken the plunge voluntarily, others will have been pushed over the edge unwillingly.
Here are some of the key ideas/words/feelings which you might come across surrounding these states, depending on the perspective that your client is coming from :
Positive perspective Negative perspective
- Calmness Boredom
- Contentment Feelings of being limited
- Peacefulness Restlessness
- Easy-going nature Emotionally stuck
- Strong/determined and self-assured Uninspired