A Coaching Power Tool Created by Claudia Purpura
(Career Coach, FRANCE)
- was extremely busy: she had a full-time job, she enrolled in a challenging course, was in a relationship and had parents to take care of. She came into coaching as she wanted to get more confidence in her journey towards a new career. Her full-time job was not what she had imagined to be and she wanted to change her career but she wanted to be sure to choose the right one now.
- was very well organized and she has set milestones and a deadline for completing her course.
- seemed to be very much in control of what she wanted and has set the direction where she wanted to be. During the course of the coaching sessions though,
- showed increasingly tiredness and a feeling of being overwhelmed. She had also enrolled in another course that she thought necessary for her career change, but found too difficult to juggle all her activities daily. She suddenly started to delay her initial deadline for completing her course and wanted to review her priorities. She realized that she had been going at full speed and suddenly she wanted to slow down and needed to accept the idea of taking time for herself, doing nothing, just being. In the following coaching sessions, after some rest, the coaching conversations switched towards a more introspective area looking at real passions and interests versus activities and plans.
- realized she was not moving as she wanted because she had to reconnect with her values. During the coaching conversations she realized her biggest passion but she had not figured out where this may take her.
- needed time to accept not continuing further the activities she started as they were not aligned to her values. More importantly she realized that she had already been in the past too much in action and achieving objectives that in the end did not satisfy her. She, therefore, came to the conclusion to take time to think through and connect to what her real passions and values are. And for a while just let it be.
How is it to be in control?
As in the above case study, clients often come feeling overwhelmed, confused over conflicting priorities or decisions to make.
Setting SMART goals for the session enables the client to narrow the multiple doubts and feelings into a place of action. As mindfulness theories explain, focusing on a specific question or goal has a calming effect on the mind.
At the end of the document there is a list of questions related to the coaching process leading to being in control. However, the use of these questions is necessary but not sufficient to achieve an objective. As much as we are trained to think in a rational way and plan all the options, threats, and opportunities to accomplish something it is important to feel the energy and the drive that come from acting according to own values.
At the end of each set of questions, the coach asks how the client feels like about what he/she discovered, learned or became aware of. So, the questions would be:
- Now that you know this, how do you feel?
- How is this feeling? If it had a shape how would it be?
- Can you describe its colors? Is it hot or warm? Where is it in your body?
The coach notices the descriptions of the feelings as well as the shifts in the voice, the direction of the look, the body language and mirror it back to the client what he/she sees.
The visualization of the feelings associated with the plan are important elements as they trigger the desired action. If there is a metaphor coming out, it is great to use it to reinforce the desired outcome. Pictures, music, or other personal visualizations can also serve the same purpose.
To include the feeling component is very important as it raises the client’s awareness on his/her subconscious throughout the process. In fact, actions that only take in consideration the mind but not the client’s feelings will not be sustained for long. This is one of the reason for the failure of many traditional trainings as they only focus on the ‘How to’ without linking the ‘How do I feel?’ or the personal drive and motivation for change.
When I find myself in times of trouble
Mother Mary comes to me
speaking words of wisdom, let it be, The Beatles
We often associate the concept of ‘Let it be’ with the acceptance of an ineluctable destiny. Somehow, ‘let it be’ is a kind of last resort when you tried it all. Some people resort to faith or other spiritual forms, and some just go through it.
Accepting that things can have their own way and that they cannot be controlled is difficult especially if trained in the Cartesian way where the assumption is that for every action there is a reaction.
Still there are times when the only thing to do is to let it be. We are not in control, everything can happen. In fact, we do not know what may happen and we have to take the risk of going with the flow of things.
Planning is often an antidote against something that may happen. The scarcity of time is such that minimizing the delays and the uncertainty is highly valued by many in our societies. ‘Let it be’ is actually a real fear or a luxury.
So, when the client is in a ‘let it be’ mood, he/she is free from the fear of failure, certainly in delay, and probably waiting for something to come. There is nothing more beautiful than watching flowers opening up or a butterfly coming out from a cocoon. While in a ‘let it be’ state we allow ourselves to go back to a natural place where things happen just at the right time not at the time we planned to.
While it is highly valued to plan and organize our life, it is certainly not widely understood to “let it be” (unless faced with difficult circumstances such as loss and grief). However, for a client who is constantly in action, a real change may come from being in a ‘Let it be’ state allowing things to happen and feeling what his/her reactions are. So, ‘Letting it be’ allows for reconnecting with an inner life, with a personal time, rhythm, and to live the life we want and not the one planned to be.
When a client is overwhelmed by conflicting priorities, or decisions to make, it may be that the person is seeking to be more or less in control of his/her life.
In some coaching sessions, the client seeks permission to slow down; in other, the client seeks confidence in achieving an objective. The coach does not know immediately what the client is really looking for. This power tool raises awareness on the fact that the fear of not being in control can hide the fear of let it be.
Questions like these help the client set the goal clearly:
- What do you want to achieve NOW?
- Where do you want to go?
- How important is this goal for you?
- What happens if you achieve it?
- When do you want to achieve this objective?
- Who is going to support you in this journey?
- How would you know that you have achieved your goal?
Once the client has identified his/her goals it is important to explore what their position is in respect to the objective by asking:
- How close to this objective are you at the moment using a scale from 1 to 5 (1 very far, 5 very close)?
- What are the necessary steps to get you there?
- What have you accomplished so far towards achieving this objective?
- What competencies can support you to achieve your goal?
- What previous experiences can help you to achieve your goal?
- What other resources do you have access to?
- What does it take to get to the next step towards your goal? (What does it take to get you closer to your goal?)
When the client has described his/her position with respect to the goal to be achieved, the next step is to explore the possible ways of accomplish it:
- How many ways are there to get to your goal?
- What is the best scenario?
- What may happen if the best scenario does not work?
- What other scenarios are also possible?
- So what is your preferred scenario?
- How will you work towards making it happen?
- What will happen when your scenario works?
At this point, the work focuses on planning the details of the preferred scenario:
- What are you going to do as a first step towards achieving your goal?
- When do you think you will do this?
- How do you know that this step is completed?
- What happens then?
- What can help you to keep you focused towards achieving your goal?
- What else do you need to make it happen?
Questions around “Letting it be”
- Where would you like to be NOW?
- How would you feel in that place?
- If you had 8 extra hours a day what would you do?
- If you could stop doing something what would it be?
- If you could do less of something what would it be?
- If you could do more of something what would it be?
- How do you see yourself in one year from NOW?
- Who would be coming along in your journey?
Each question would be followed up by:
- “And when you do …, what would happen next?”
- “And how would you feel? In that feeling what could you do more or less of?”
- What is stopping you to do …? What will it take to do more?
- What will it take to do less?”
When working on a “Let it be” state, there is no real path or model to follow. The coach ‘dances’ in the moment, is in the flow with the client and mirroring back with the exact language what he/she says. Hearing out loud the things that are really coming out of their mouths have a tremendous impact on the client in giving him/her the permission to just ‘Let it be’.