As coaches, we are responsible for raising the level of the client’s awareness and supporting the client to take mindful action to move forward.
Many clients seek out a coach because they know that there are areas in their lives that they would like to improve. The mere act of engaging a coach is a move towards attending. Acknowledging the client for taking this empowering step is a great start.
It is imperative to help the client understand that he is always making a choice. Neglecting does not just happen. The client opts to neglect even if he is not fully conscious of doing so.
Also, it is essential that the client understands that neglecting is not painless. In fact, a lot of time and effort is wasted in making excuses, feeling sorry for himself and justifying his neglectful behavior. The internal struggle to accept or achieve some level of comfort with, the state of neglect is extremely stressful. If such time and effort is used for attending, the client is likely to feel peace and accomplishment.
Often, in order to shift towards attending, it is necessary to uncover what the client is neglecting. The client may not be able to articulate what he is neglecting but feels that something is not right in his life. A coach will need to focus on listening attentively to the client’s story, notice what the client is not saying and ask questions to help the client create self awareness. (See questions in the Reflections section below.)
Awareness is only one of the two components of attending. The client needs to take action as well.
At times, the client may not be able to take any action because he is paralyzed by his fears or struggling with his conflicting underlying beliefs. One way to support the client is to help him understand that fear comes with change and the only way around fear is to move through it. If the client is able to shine a light on his fear, its insidious power is lost. The client can now see his fear clearly and address it accordingly. He may even decide to accept it. Similarly, negative underlying beliefs must be identified and dealt with as well so that there are no conflicting thoughts and feelings distracting the client. Alignment of the client’s beliefs with his intended outcome is also critical to successful attending.
Imagine the following situation:
John has been working at the same information technology company since he graduated from college. He is now a well paid senior vice president. However, he wants to be an entrepreneur in the travel industry as soon as possible. For the last five years, he has been repeating this goal to his wife and indicating that he is afraid that he may not make it as an entrepreneur. John felt that he should stay in his job until he can build up a financial cushion before he can start his business. He is the sole breadwinner for the family. John felt that as a father, it is his responsibility to provide for his only child’s college education so that she is not burdened with student loans after her graduation in 2 years’ time. Although John used to be an athlete in college and loves running, nowadays, he returns home tired with no energy to do anything except sit in front of the television. John indulges in rich cuisines and fine wines at fancy restaurants five days a week because he feels that he deserves the treats after all his hard work. He pampers his family by taking them on luxurious vacations frequently. He shows his affection by showering his friends and family with expensive gifts regularly. His expenses always exceed his income and he is heavily in debt. As a result of the stress at work and his indebtedness, John’s health is suffering severely.
Apparently, John is neglecting several areas in his life. He is not paying attention to his health and finances. In addition, he is not attending to his goal of starting his own business. If John had been attending to his health and wealth, he would have the energy and the financial means to work on his goal and provide for his child’s college education.
So what is causing John to be in a state of neglect? It seems that John has a fear of change and a fear of failure. Also, it could be that he carries around some sabotaging underlying beliefs such as the way to show love and appreciation for friends and family is through expensive gifts and vacations, the reward for one’s hard work is food indulgence, it is a father’s responsibility to provide fully for a child’s college education regardless of the circumstances. These fears and underlying beliefs are being maintained and reinforced by his behaviors, including overspending, overindulgence, procrastination, lack of exercise, and lack of planning for his goal.
It appears that there may be some actions that John can take, such as finding other inexpensive ways of expressing his love and appreciation, reducing his restaurant food indulgence, and scheduling time to exercise and plan for his business. Of course, only John knows what actions would work for him as he needs to sustain attending in the long run after all, and a coach is present to support him in his journey.
Once the client is able to practice attending mindfully, his better guide will always be present to support him.
- What are you most uncomfortable with in your life at the moment?
- What are three situations that you have been neglecting in your life? What would it look like if you choose to take charge of those situations?
- What are three areas in your life that you have applied yourself to? What effect is doing so having on your greater life?
- What is stopping you from paying attention to your important goals? What is the worst that can happen if you took charge of those goals? Can you handle that?
- If you weren’t afraid, what would you do? What kind of actions will you take? What actions are you willing to stop to improve this situation?
- How do you know that you are attending to your goals?
- What does it take to sustain attending over longer period of time?
- A well attended garden, filled with lush greenery and colorful flowers is a beautiful sight. A neglected garden, overflowing with weeds, is a sorrowful sight. If your life is a garden, what would it look like?