A Coaching Power Tool created by Amy Hertzberg
(Life Coach, UNITED STATES)
Perspective is a point of view; how one looks at an event, or even how one views the world. While we cannot control every circumstance in our lives, we can control our perspectives. By choosing a new perspective, we can break old patterns of thinking, limiting beliefs and other learned ways that we have programmed ourselves to view a situation. When we feel stuck and are unable to move past our limiting beliefs, a shift in perspective can help us move forward. The bottom line is there is more than one way to view any given situation. When we become aware of the power we possess to change our viewpoint, we see all sorts of choices and new possibilities. When we shift our perspective, the results are powerful. Suddenly, our world looks vastly different!
What if you choose a new perspective that is the complete opposite of your current perspective? Imagine that you are a child at a playground. It is a summer day with a beautiful, clear-blue sky and you are on the monkey bars. First, you hang on a monkey bar right-side up, gripping your hands around the bar with your feet hanging below. You feel safe in this position. You look down at the ground or slightly forward but your view is limited. In this position, you try to expand your view by looking upward and side to side, but it causes some discomfort in your neck. While you are able to move forward from bar to bar, viewing each bar ahead, as you grab it, your view is still limited. You can see what is in front of you, the ground and your feet below. However, it is difficult to see all that surrounds you.
Now, imagine that you are that same child at the playground. Today, you decide to step out of your comfort zone and try something new. You decide to hang upside down on the monkey bar! Initially you hesitate because this doesn’t feel as safe or as comfortable as what you have already learned to do. Yet, you wonder what this experience will be like and how this will be different. You go for it! This time, your legs are bent and the back of your knees grip the bar. Tentatively, you remove your gripping hands. Suddenly, your head, neck and arms are hanging freely below. At first, the upside-down position feels slightly uncomfortable but then you notice that the view from this angle is quite different. Not only can you see the ground below, but you are now able to see the trees, the birds and the infinite blue sky. This time, your view is limitless!
The example of the child on the monkey bars demonstrates what happens when we challenge ourselves to step out of our comfort zone and take a look from a different angle. While this is not always easy to do, when we abandon previously learned ways of viewing a situation that are no longer working for us, our perspective changes dramatically. By breaking through and moving past those comfortable and safe, yet limiting beliefs, we see new possibilities that dangle from a different viewpoint. Turning a current view or belief entirely upside down to reveal the complete opposite perspective is a powerful coaching tool. This is called “The Flip Side”
According to Urbandictionary.com, the term “flipside” (originated between 1945-1950) was the term used to describe the B side of a phonograph record. For 40 or 50 years, the “Single” 45 rpm records had the popular, title track on Side A and the lesser known track on Side B. One had to flip the record from Side A to get to Side B, hence the “flipside” of the album.
On Dictionary.com, the first definition of flipside is, “the reverse and usually less popular side of a phonograph record.”
The term “flipside” has evolved from its original definition to take on other meanings. A second definition of flipside, on Dictionary.com states “an opposite, reverse, or sharply contrasted side or aspect of something or someone”. Likewise, AudioEnglish.org defines Flip Side as “a different aspect of something (especially the opposite aspect).”
For the purpose of reframing a perspective, the “Flip Side” refers to a power tool used to reverse one’s belief or perspective to reveal the exact opposite perspective.
My Personal Experience:
One of the reasons I chose the The Flip Side as my power tool is because I have used it successfully in my own life. The Flip Side power tool enabled me to shift my own perspective around a limiting belief that was hindering me from moving forward in the area of my health. During the time I enrolled in ICA and for years before, I had not been physically, feeling well. My R.A. (Rheumatoid Arthritis) had been chronically flaring up, causing pain and swelling in multiple joints. During the past 10 years, my Doctor recommended that I try the new RA medications in which he has seen positive results for many of his patients. During 10 years, however, I was committed to the belief that these medications cause terrible side effects and would make me more ill than I am today. Instead, I saw holistic practitioners, adding various supplements and making changes to my diet. I was very committed to my belief and acted in accordance with that belief by only pursuing natural alternatives to medicine. I truly believed that medication would cause horrible side effects and even cancer. The holistic treatments did provide some positive changes to my health in the area of diet and nutrition and some temporary relief in my joints. Unfortunately, it did not provide me with any long term relief from the R.A. Deep inside, I was feeling down, disempowered and negative about my situation.
Then, one day I asked myself a question that completely changed my perspective:
What if NOT taking medication and leaving the inflammation in my body untreated, could actually harm me more than the medication itself? Prior to asking myself that question, I was completely programmed to do anything I could to avoid taking medication. My behaviors and the actions I took to treat my illness were programmed around my belief that medicine would cause worse conditions, even cancer. I now turned that belief upside down to reveal the exact opposite perspective; not taking medication and not treating the inflammation might actually be causing more damage to my body. Suddenly, I saw an entirely new viewpoint, which was the complete opposite of what I had programmed myself to believe.
I remember how it felt to have that new awareness. It was, as if, suddenly, something changed inside of me. A light bulb came on! In an area in my life where, for years, I had felt negative and stuck, I now felt assured, empowered and motivated to take new action to move forward. My world looked infinitely different.
An important role of the coach is to challenge the client’s views and learned beliefs beyond the client’s own perceptions. Often the client’s underlying beliefs are so automatic, the client is unaware that those beliefs are preventing the client from moving forward. The Flip Side can be used by a coach to help the client see a new way of looking at a situation; to see a new perspective that is the exact opposite or the reverse of their current one.
First, the coach must help the client identify and become aware of those limiting beliefs and underlying automatic commitments (U.A.C.’s) that are holding the client back. Once those are discovered and explored, the coach can introduce the opposite belief or viewpoint. Visualization is one way achieve this. The coach can help the client envision how the client’s life or circumstance might look with the opposite belief or perspective of his current one. The coach can further explore by asking the client to describe how it feels and what it looks like to “sit in” the opposite perspective.
Another way a coach can utilize the Flip Side is by posing these suggested questions to the client:
- How does that perspective work for you?
- How does this perspective NOT work for you?
- Imagine what it would be like if ______ wasn’t a problem?
- What would happen if you turned the current perspective upside-down to reveal the opposite perspective?
- Are there ways in which this situation might be perceived as the exact opposite of your belief?
Second, to tap into the client’s own resources, the coach can ask the client to share some examples of the clients’ actions or behaviors that are not only incongruent with the client’s belief, but also demonstrate the exact opposite of the client’s belief. Here, a coach might ask,
What are some examples of your behaviors/ actions that demonstrate the opposite of this perspective?
Finally, when employing the Flip Side might seem extreme, consider the purpose of using this power tool to reveal that there are other perspectives. While the opposite perspective might not necessarily be the right one, it opens new angles and unlocks old patterns of thinking. By providing the client with two extremes, the coach and client can explore not only the two extremes, but also those perspectives that exist in between. By doing so, possibilities and choices will be seen and the client can ultimately determine the perspective that works best for him.
The Flip Side is a powerful tool that coaches can apply to shift a client’s perspective. By introducing the reverse or opposite viewpoint, the coach can quickly move the client away from a current, disempowering perspective to a new, empowering one. Of course, a shift to the opposite perspective may not be right for each situation. However, by using the Flip Side to reveal not only two extreme viewpoints, but also those that hang in between, the coach successfully helps the client discover new possibilities and choices to assist the client in moving forward.
- What experiences in your personal life did you recall when reading about the flip side?
- What coaching experiences come to mind when reading about the flip side?
- In what areas of your own life can you apply the Flip Side?
- In what coaching situations can you effectively use the Flip Side?