A Coaching Power Tool Created by Anamaria Ciobanu
(Career Coach, ROMANIA)
Empowerment increases the capacity of individuals and groups to make choices and transform those choices into effective actions and outcomes (World Bank definition).
The choiceless dictionary definition is about offering or permitting no choice, or being unable to choose. Besides this definition, one could see choiceless as a state of mind in which the individuals have the belief that they have no choices/ options that can be available for them in order to change the state of affairs in which they are. External factors should intervene to solve the matter for them. They are the victims of the context and of the others.
This power tool is about the power to choose for ourselves the path we want to follow and the empowerment the arise from choiceless awareness. The meaning of choiceless awareness will unfold in the next paragraphs.
Looking back at the moment when I had to choose a power tool to work on, I have to share that I’ve searched an antonym of empowerment which is my preferred subject of my coaching model. I wanted to make a balance and a comparative analysis of two states of mind that bring opposite feelings and outcomes for us. I’ve opted for choiceless as the perfect antonym for empowerment and the following quotes have inspired me.
May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears. – Nelson Mandela
In a few hundred years, when the history of our time will be written from a long-term perspective, it is likely that the most important event historians will see is not technology, not the Internet, not e-commerce. It is an unprecedented change in the human condition. For the first time—literally— substantial and rapidly growing numbers of people have choices. For the first time, they will have to manage themselves. And society is totally unprepared for it. — Peter Drucker
Thinking back to the multitude of choices we have made each of us in our life, we can remember the good choices, the bad ones, some we do not even remember. We also remember the anxious feeling of making a choice, when pro’s and cons were balanced and choosing one option was like “killing” the other one and all the future that will unfold with it. Yes, this could be a real burden. But not making a choice is, in fact, a choice. By not knowing what we want, we will let the others choose what is fitted for us. Not making choices does not relieve us of the responsibility we have upon the effects of our actions. Not choosing our own path in life is like being on autopilot, not knowing why and where we are going.
But how can we make our choices without bearing the burden of choosing?
Choiceless awareness is the answer to this question and the essence of empowerment.
The Indian philosopher Jiddu Krishnamurti (1895–1986) often commented on the subject of choiceless awareness. Krishnamurti held that outside of strictly practical, technical matters, the presence and action of choice indicates confusion and subtle bias: an individual who perceives a given situation in an unbiased manner, without distortion, and therefore with complete awareness, will immediately, naturally, act according to this awareness – the action will be the manifestation and result of this awareness, rather than the result of choice. Such action (and quality of mind) is inherent without conflict (Wikipedia).
Below a short tale that put into perspective the choiceless awareness:
A samurai, a very proud and well-known warrior, came to see a Zen Master one day. In those days for a samurai to visit a Zen Master was unheard of. The samurai came with many questions, but looking at the Master, looking at the beauty of the Master and the grace of the moment, he suddenly forgot his questions and felt inferior to this unassuming man.
He said to the Master, “I came here with questions and now I am feeling inferior. Just a moment ago I was fine but now I am confused. As I entered your court, suddenly I felt inferior. I have never felt like that before. I have faced death many times, and I have never felt any fear — why am I now feeling frightened?” The Master said, “Wait. When everybody else has gone, I will answer.” People continued the whole day to come and see the Master, and the samurai was getting more and more tired waiting. By evening the room was empty, and the samurai said, “Now, can you see me?“ The Master said, “Come outside.” It was a full moon night; the moon was just rising on the horizon. And he said, “Look at these trees — this tree high in the sky and this small one beside it. They both have existed besides my window for years, and there has never been any problem. The smaller tree has never said to the big tree, ‘Why do I feel inferior before you?’ This tree is small, and that tree is big –
– why have I never heard any whisper of it?” The samurai said, “Because they can’t compare.” The Master replied, “Then you need not ask me. You know the answer.”
The moral of the story: when we don’t compare, all inferiority, all superiority, disappears and we are living in choiceless awareness and of what we truly are.
Choiceless awareness is a state of being that makes us take the path aligned with our values and beliefs. This way we don’t feel the burden of making choices and of “killing” options in order to keep the only one we choose. We just choose who we are.
From this state of being empowerment arises from our presence to the answers of our values and beliefs.
The power is in you. The answer is in you. And you are the answer to all your searches: You are the goal. You are the answer. It’s never outside. Eckhart Tolle
As coaches, we can support our clients to get the self-awareness and have a deeper understanding of their values and beliefs. This will strengthen the clients’ sense of being and will bring clarity into what it truly matters to them.
This shift in perspective could be triggered through powerful questions that increase the self- awareness.
- What is important for you in setting this goal?
- What is important for you in the change you expect?
- What are the challenges in the situation you have to face?
- If you were to create an ideal situation for you, what will be the changes that you envision for you?
- What makes you want these changes?