A Coaching Power Tool Created by Amir Iqbal
(Executive Coach, PAKISTAN)
Goals, Targets, Destinations, Deadlines these are the words that we often hear. We are always running after some target. Rather if I even say that this is the mindset that we seem to be living with, won’t be wrong. In the current era of competiveness and material success, this mindset has become our purpose of being. But often we forget why we are doing this. The end has become more important than the mean.
On one side this is what has driven the progress in this world, but on the other side this has become a major source of anxiety and unhappiness. We focus so much on the destination that we lose all the learning, experiences, blessings and enjoyment on our way. When we reach our destination we feel that there is something missing and we still have dissonance, emptiness in our life. As a result we keep looking for contentment and fulfillment.
I don’t mean that this is entirely wrong; however we need to understand and handle this relationship between Destination and Journey better. We have to find the right balance, for which we need to re-frame our perspective. We can still reach our destination, but if we are mindful of our journey we will reach there in a better condition- mentally, spiritually and physically.
My monthly sales target; Goal to lose weight; Getting highest grades in the class; Getting the promotion…
How many times do we ask ourselves “once I achieve this target or reach the destination, so what?” How will it improve my life? Is it aligned with my values, to my definition of success? Is this going to give me real happiness? Are you destined for this? Next time when you are losing your sleep over the goal or frustrated, just ask yourself some of these questions and you will be surprised.
We undertake a journey to reach a destination. Journey is a dynamic process, where we plan, undertake, navigate, change, and improvise to reach a desired state which is the destination. Our ability to reach the destination relies on our journey. The process of journey starts once we have finalized our destination and are committed to it. This requires us to plan- which path to take, what resources we need, how much time is required, and what structures do we need. Then we start to implement this plan.
Now do you take this journey, just for the sake of reaching the destination or you respect it as a separate wholesome adventure that will lead you to the destination. Wholesome as it will have its own beauty, challenges, barriers, learning, rewards, experiences, wins. Hence the journey becomes the main focus and the destination the consequence.
With this change of perspective, we will not only reach the destination, we will be more content, wiser, fulfilled and happier. Ready for the next Journey!
The road of life twists and turns and no two directions are ever the same. Yet our lessons come from the journey, not the destination. Don Williams, Jr.
Implication and Evidence
Setting our goal or destination is key – no question about it. Unless we are not clear where do we want to go or what do we want to achieve, no action should be taken or journey started. Once we have decided and are committed to the destination; now is the time that we should be mindful, cognizant and living our journey- step by step; milestone to milestone, celebrating our wins and embracing our defeats. But wiser, bolder and happier with every lesson we learn on the way. Tired but content. As it happens in life, that when the goal changes, you will have no regrets as you started for the destination, but then you were enjoying the journey.
In a study conducted by Fishbach and Choi (1) in 2012 they investigated the impact of how focusing on the goal the activity achieves on the motivation to pursue it and also in the enjoyment. As per my understanding and interpretation; some of the key findings were:
- Goal setting is key especially at the start of the change or project. As the benefits of achieving the goal are known, whereas the experience of pursuing is not.
- Focus on the goal negatively impacts the experience of engaging hence making it more tedious and less pleasurable. Hence reducing the persistence.
Taken together, we predict the focus on the goals an activity achieves motivates behavioral intentions at the deliberation phase but negatively affects the experience of this activity’s pursuit, which in turn decreases persistence and rate of engagement. (extracts from the original article)
1-Ayelet Fishbach, & Jinhee Choi (2012). When thinking about goals undermines goal pursuit Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 118 (2), 99-107
In conclusion, it is imperative to focus on the destination at the start to build commitment and plan, once the journey starts; focus more on the experience and the pleasure associated with it.
If we examine our daily lives, we keep setting ourselves ambitions goals and we track our progress towards them and judge ourselves based on the achievement of these. At times the level of achievement does not reflect the efforts we have put in. At times the goal becomes redundant or is changed. All this and more leaves us frustrated and impacts our self confidence.
My personal belief is that setting goals, objectives and performance indicators are very critical to mobilization and planning. Still more critical is the plan, efforts and the journey. I have to ensure that as an individual I have put in my best effort; and accept that the results are not directly in my control all the time. I control my efforts and not the results. With this approach, I am more mindful of the events and the surroundings hence more empowered. If any hindrance arises, I will be aware of it and find solutions, I will be able to celebrate wins that will motivate me.
Just imagine that you are a Captain of a luxury cruise named “Life”. You have to voyage from the East Coast to the Bahamas. Before the start of the cruise, you have to know where the Bahamas, how far, how much fuel is and people are required. How much food is required and what will be the route. You set up destination and the route in your navigation system Once you are confident and committed you decide on the date and start the cruise.. When in the open ocean, where will you focus? The Bahamas or the route and the surroundings? As a captain you will be monitoring the direction, speed and power of the ship, the direction of the wind and the waves. Your navigation system will be showing your place in the journey. You will also appreciate the vastness of the ocean; enjoy the company of the colleagues and the mechanical wonder of the ship. You will log the learning which will be useful for the same journey, for the same route and for your future journeys. This will enrich you and make an experienced and valued captain. If any storm is approaching, maybe you have to take a de tour. So you are focusing on the journey and present. One morning you receive a message that due to some political unrest you cannot dock at the Bahamas but to the Caribbean. Present in the moment and focusing on the journey, it will give you more flexibility to move towards the destination.
Coaching itself is a journey in which you and your client are together to unleash the client’s potential. Clear goals are set at the start of the process, and then the journey starts. As a coach you are a companion in the journey.
As the Fishbach and Choi study suggests that setting goals are critical at the start of the journey, to get the commitment and intention, to pursue- the focus has to move to the journey. As a coach we should help re frame the client’s perspective to be mindful of the actions and the process. Helps create awareness around what is working and what is not, what are the wins, where are you in the journey to achieve the goal. Encourage the client to identify what changes needs to be made in the route. Create the sense of achievement and celebrate the wins, milestones that the client has reached, solutions and possibilities identified. Highlight what strengths the client has developed or shown during the journey and be mindful of these.
- How important is this goal for you?
- What will it take to make it happened?
- Can you relate this situation to another situation which you have previously undertaken and succeeded? What make you succeed? Strengths, structure, support
- How do you feel about your progress/journey so far?
- What are you looking forward to?
- Where are you in the journey?
- How do you feel about it?
Another important role of the coach is to manage the client’s emotions effectively. During the journey the client may feel very positive emotions due to wins and progress and feel high. The coach needs to channel these positives emotions to further motivate and accelerate the journey; if not the risk is that positive emotions may lead to complacence and over confidence which may hamper the journey? Similarly, there will be times when the client is feeling tired and low emotionally. As a coach you have to help manage these emotions to get back on the track. So as a coach you need to have the ability to read these emotions carefully and mange in a timely manner.
- What learning/strength you can use in this journey?
- What have you enjoyed most; what have been your wins?
- How are you celebrated your wins?
- What have been your challenges so far and how did you overcome those?
By focusing and enjoying, the whole coaching journey is not just another problem-solution or self improvement exercise but a real journey to explore, understand and unleash the client’s (and coach’s) potential.
- How has the journey transformed you?
Using this tool is fully aligned with the ICF core competencies of: Establishing Client’s agenda, Coaching Presence, Active Listening, Powerful Questioning, Creating Awareness, Planning and Goal Setting, Managing Progress and Accountability
- After reading the power tool, how do you connect with it, if you do?
- What is your underlying belief on journey vs destination? Does it resonate with you?
- How would you support your client to re frame their perspective?
- How will you manage the emotions during the journey?
- How will you celebrate the wins?
Final words of Inspiration from “Manuscript Found In Accra by Paula Coelho”:
Until one day without warning, the road stops testing the traveller and begins to treat him generously. The traveller’s troubled spirit takes pleasure in the beauties and the challenges of the new landscape.
And each step, which had until then been merely automatic, becomes instead a conscious step.
Rather than speaking of the solace of security, it teaches him the joy of facing new challenges.
The traveller continues his journey. He does not complain of boredom now; he complains, rather, that he is tired. But at this point, he rests, enjoys the landscape and then carries on.
Instead of spending his whole like destroying the road he was afraid of following, he begins to love the he is on. Even if his final destination remains a mystery. Even if, at some point, he makes a wrong decision. God sees his courage and sends him the necessary inspiration to put matters right.