Progress is movement. It leaves room for expansion and creativity and even fun. Progress starts with a heart and mind open to the vulnerability of the unknown yet still willing to take action. Progress is in real time, standing in the Now looking forward. It is not about assigning all-encompassing importance to any one task or outcome but better seeing each task as one piece of the much bigger puzzle of self-development and growth. Each action or task is but one step on the journey. As we begin to practice staying in action in real time, Progress generates self-empowerment. In this respect, Goethe put it so well:
Whatever you think you can do or believe you can do, begin it. Action has magic, grace, and power in it.
Even when an action results in a setback, progress still is positive in that it provides an opportunity to learn resiliency and self-forgiveness, that is, to go within and stay connected to our goodness and inner power to try again. In this sense, taking action always results in growth even when we fail to realize the initial goal we set out to reach. Progress, even when measured in small increments encourages us to not hold on too tightly to something that is not working for us or hugging ourselves so tightly that we cannot run. Progress inspires us to stretch our arms out and trust in our ability to create change and new meaning in our lives.
Coaching Application – Exploring Negative Beliefs. There are two areas in which the coach can support the client on moving from a mindset of Perfection to a heartset of Progress. First, the coach presents the client with a different perspective on Perfection by asking Powerful Questions on the value of maintaining a self-expectation of excellence in all actions and how that affects the ultimate decision to not take action or move forward. The coach encourages the client to explore the paralyzing negative beliefs of self-doubt and equating mistakes with failure. It is important for the client to understand the debilitating impact of focusing on self-evaluation at the expense of creativity and learning.
- How has maintaining a high standard of excellence served you in the past?
- Do you remember the first time you felt you needed to maintain a high standard?
- Do you remember ever being criticized for not meeting a high standard?
- Can you share a time when trying to meet this high standard affected your ability to take action or to produce something? Your ability to meet your deadlines?
- How comfortable would you say you are in dealing with ambiguity in your work? In your relationships?
- On a scale of 1-10, how important is it to maintain high standards?
- On a scale of 1-10, how important is it to do something that is unlikely to meet those high standards?
These questions will help lead the client to an awareness of the imbalance between maintaining standards of Perfection vs. taking action and making Progress. The client needs to embrace the reality of the power they have bestowed upon these negative self-beliefs before they can open up to alternative structures for taking action and tempering the effect of these high standards and the need to be perfect.
Coaching Application – Exploring Alternative Structures and Tools.
Structures and tools help the client to experiment with new beliefs or values related to accepting the self as incomplete or in process yet always growing. Several structures come to mind in supporting the client to move from the static condition of always waiting (and hoping) for perfection in every action to the fluid state of taking on tasks and staying in motion, always progressing and experiencing.
1. Structure of Small Steps
Objective: Scale back the enormity of the goal or desired outcome to small steps. Ask the client to think in general terms about
what can be accomplished in one day, or even one hour. If the client is overwhelmed by the idea of failing or not completing the task so it is perfect, break down the task into smaller steps. Encourage the client to visualize completing the smaller step and the feelings associated with completion. The point of this structure is to make the goal manageable and within reach. Ideally, the client will find that moving from one small task to the next will generate momentum in realizing the larger goal or end result. Progress is the focus.