A Coaching Power Tool created by Anja Serfontein
(Executive Coach, TAIWAN)
It takes but one positive thought when given a chance to survive and thrive to
overpower an entire army of negative thoughts. Robert H. Schuller
What does it mean to be in Surviving mode?
Surviving is first of all essential. Without it – there is no existence. After we have established ‘surviving’ a certain situation it is important to bounce back into life. Nobody wants to only survive – as this would be like hanging on to drift wood in open water. Barely lifting our head out of the water and constantly struggling.
Instead we want to see ourselves thriving. Perhaps being in a boat that safely lets us sail over the rough waters of life. Yet, many people accept their existing status quo in life and appear to be surviving rather than actively going for thriving approach.
Thriving is not necessarily having an outstanding career success. Thriving is also meant as having a zest for life. This zest is the feeling to be alive and wanting to share precious moments with others. Research has shown that people who are terminally ill or are seriously wounded often loose this motivation for life and deteriorate in a survival mode. Even people without a visible trauma may lose their inner resilience and operate in a state of existential surviving.
The greatest challenge derived from the two living modes ‘Surviving’ and ‘Thriving’ is that often one is not being able to identify the state one is in.Being in a cloud of indecision and uncertainty is possibly the worst state-of-mind. It is possible that two people are defining ‘thriving’ in a complete different way. Looking at one’s finances and money matters, it is possible that one person feels he/she is thriving based on the fact that there are no debts that linger and all elementary needs are met. Yet, for the other person ‘Financial thrive’ may relate into accumulating a certain amount of savings in the bank account. It is important for each individual to find their own ultimate state of thriving. Looking at the Wheel-of-life exercise, which has been developed by the Coaches Training Institute, this would mean clarifying the question: ‘what is ‘ten points’ for YOU in YOUR Life?’ If 10 points are our Shangri-La of Thriving, then anything below 5 is actually a survival mode. As less than 50% of the desired vision is met.
- Are you “surviving” or “thriving” in life?
- Which areas in your life would you want to flourish more?
- How does a 10 on the wheel-of-life look for you?
- Has your interpretations of what is a 10 on the wheel-of-life changed over time?
- What holds you back from “thriving” in life?
Joanna is a widow and 60 years of age. She has buried her dreams and desires under a pile of sorrows that life challenged her with. Her husband died of a long illness at the age of 48 and since then she has not been able to find employment or things that she is passionate about. One of her friends takes her to a Group Coaching event in her community, where by chance she wins a Coaching Package with the present Coach. Although hesitant at first, Joanna finally agrees to meet with the Coach. For the Coach to establish an understanding with the coachee on wether she is in a state of ‘Thriving’ or in a state of ‘Surviving’ in various areas in life – it does help to explore matters from an angle of ‘inactivity’ vs ‘movement’. Which areas in the coachee’s life are filled with movement – meaning they are filled with motion, development and advancement? In comparison which areas in life are inactive? Meaning motionless and stagnant?
Note: There is a chance that an area is filled with movement but not in the desired direction. The coach is able to explore the movement and obstacles and
why things are not moving in the desired direction. In Joanna’s case her Coach asks the following questions:
On a scale from 1-10, how happy are you with your current life?
- Which areas had little or no movement in the last couple of years?
- Which areas would you like to focus on? Why?
- With regard to your preferred area, what exactly do you want?
- What skills do you already have that will assist you in achieving this?
- What skills do you want to gain that will assist you in achieving this?
- Where can you learn these skills?
- What will be the effect of this on other areas of your life?
- What other options do you have?
- Who can you ask to support you in this?
- When can you have these conversations?
Joanna was visibly shaken. Viewing her world from a helicopter perspective made her realize many things had been stagnating and, as a result, deteriorating. With the help of the Coach she started a DIY-class in her neighborhood and began to exercise a few times a week. Later on she started selling her DIY product at a nearby market. Joanna received a lot of recognition from the community around her. Joanna felt the zest for life again! Of course a Coach needs to be cautious when dealing with potentially depressed people – as this requires help from a professional therapist. During the Coaching journey it is important to verify: Are the clients’ thoughts and beliefs coming from a place of trust? Like Steven M.R. Covey described in his book “The Speed of Trust:
The one thing that changes everything” a technique to shift the mind. There are various ways to achieve this – for example examining the self-limiting beliefs that are present in the Coachee’s perception of the world. Once the Coachee is able to see the state-of-mind then they have an understanding for their own situation on hand. Once this is achieved then it is possible to make the next step. If there is trusting in their own decision then there is the opportunity to make a commitment. If there is commitment and the Coachee acts according to their decision, then success is inevitable and the Coachee is able to thrive in life.
- If you know, you could not fail how would a '10' (= utmost thriving) looklike?
- How can you re-install trust in yourself, in your actions, in the process?
- Which area in your life needs the most attention?
- Is it true?
- What is very first step you can take to move towards your vision?
Stephen M.R. Covey: “The Speed of Trust: The One Thing that Changes Everything”