A Coaching Power Tool Created by Debbi Knauft
(Strengths-based Transformational Coaching, UNITED STATES)
When she transformed into a butterfly, the caterpillars spoke not of her beauty, but of her weirdness. They wanted her to change back into what she always had been. But she had wings. Dean Jackson
This Power Tool will explore the relationship between information and transformation. The intent is not to elevate one above the other; rather, it is to illuminate their integral nature. The shift in perspective comes when the client undertakes action to move from a point of information into the process of transformation.
You see, in life, lots of people know what to do, but few people actually do what they know. Knowing is not enough! You must take action. Tony Robbins
As a living being, our sensory perceptions are continuously gathering information from the environment, sending signals to our brains so that we may respond appropriately to various stimuli. As infants we use this information to get our basic needs met. As children we are placed into a formal education process where we are exposed to information that has been deemed necessary and useful for functioning in our society.
Throughout the course of our lives we collect and store vast amounts of information from a multitude of sources. As we mature we seek out information that is required for advancement in our education, career, hobbies, etc. We are bombarded with information from social media, the media, internet, as well as the world around us. Some information come to us as we encounter a crisis or unexpected event in our lives.
For some, this information is carefully organized and stored in notebooks, files, bookshelves, and hard drives. Others rely mostly on their brain to store the information. Some of this information is used on a daily basis, but much of it remains stored just in case we might someday need it. Retrieval of the information is sped up through frequently accessing the information, whether it is on a bookshelf, a computer hard drive, or in your brain. Eventually the frequently accessed information can become engrained in us. It can cause us to change our response or behavior at some level, much like a habit.
It is all very well to copy what one sees, but it is far better to draw what one now only sees in one’s memory. That is a transformation in which the imagination collaborates with memory. Edgar Degas
But, true transformation is more than a new habit. While habits can be difficult to break, they frequently are broken, returning to the user more information about the challenge to sustain the habit. Transformation is not about how much information you can gather or how quickly you can access it. It is not about reading the next best-selling self-help book and expecting your life to change. Simply acquiring information does not create transformation.
Intentional life transformation occurs when you discover your purpose and choose which knowledge to acquire and put into practice to align your passion and priorities with your values and strengths. Intentional life transformation is the process of integrating all aspects of your life such that you experience the life you were created for.
It doesn’t stop there! As transformation is a process, there is a continual renewal of your intention which is strengthened by new information that you acquire. This process is enhanced through the synergistic interaction of all the parts.
Wikipedia describes synergy as:
the interaction of multiple elements in a system to produce an effect different from or greater than the sum of their individual effects.
It is beyond the scope of this Power Tool to discuss in detail change vs. transformation. However, it is important to recognize that transformation does not stop with change. Change tends to look at the past and make improvements—bigger, stronger, faster, healthier, wealthier, happier, etc. With change, your actions are intended to correct or alter the results of your past so that your future becomes a refurbished version of your past.
Changes will occur during the transformation process, but change in itself is not transformation. Transformation begins by becoming fully aware of the present; and of who, what, and where you are at this very moment. In transformation there is an integration of all your values and strengths to create a foundation upon which to build your future. Through this construction process you will take the information you have collected and see it in a new way. You become the architect of your future, creating a whole new you that has never existed before. You are not just an improved version of your past. You are a new creation!
Step out of your comfort zone and into transformation!
Let’s take a look at the transformation process from some different perspectives.
Martin desires to be a top performing, world-class athlete in lacrosse. Initially he knows nothing about the sport, so he reads a few books about how the game is played. He studies the pictures and diagrams. He may watch a few videos of lacrosse or attend a live event. Martin now has a lot of information about lacrosse. He knows the rules of the game, the positions of the players, and the skills required to play lacrosse.
Is Martin ready to play lacrosse? Has he mastered the skills necessary for the sport? Does he have what it takes to be considered an athlete in lacrosse?
No! All he has is information. A lot of information. He can continue to acquire more and more information, but he will not begin the process of becoming a world-class lacrosse athlete until he takes that information and puts it into action. He will have to condition his body to be able to endure the practice necessary for the sport. He will need to practice over and over again. This conditioning and practice (action) begins the transformation process.
Martin will benefit from working with a coach who has expertise in training individuals to become high performing lacrosse players. His coach will guide his skill training, keep him motivated, encourage him when he has set backs and celebrate with him the advancements he makes in the process of becoming the world class athlete he desires to be.
Practice is the hardest part of learning; and training is the essence of transformation. Ann Voskamp
Martin will not become a world-class athlete by himself. When he combines his skills and training with other high performing athletes, the synergistic effect takes place and he is further transformed in his process of becoming a world-class athlete.
The synergistic effect can be seen in the performance of a symphony. Initially, the composer works with a blank piece of paper. Through creativity, intuition, and previous knowledge, he will eventually create a masterpiece score. The score itself contains changes, modifications, and rearrangements of previous musical information. But it is just information. The purpose and effect is not realized until it is performed. The individual musicians work with the music that is specifically written for their instruments. They practice until they have mastered their individual parts. This again becomes new information in the form of sounds that are created through the various musical instruments.
Have you ever listened to an orchestra warming up before a performance? The individual musicians are focused on their particular instrument and each has their own way to assure they are ready to perform. The mixture of sounds can be described as a cacophony, and is not pleasant to hear.
Transformation takes place when the conductor of the orchestra directs all of the musicians to simultaneously perform their individual parts. The black marks (music notes) made by the composer on the original blank sheets of paper are transformed into the blended sounds of multiple musical instruments. Synergy occurs as the conductor provides the stimulus and direction for the individual musicians to work together to bring the score alive! Once the musical sounds are made, they do not return to the musical notes in the score. Transformation is a forward moving process. A new symphony is created each time the score is performed.
How does the composer take the thoughts and melodies he hears in his head and make a symphony from it? He picks up a pen (or turns on a computer) and begins recording the melodies in a tangible way. This is action! The thoughts become something new. How does the musician turn the musical notes on the sheets of music into the sounds we hear? They take action. They put energy into the system through their instruments. They become a catalyst for the sound to be made.
We learn about catalysts from chemistry and biological systems. Catalysts increase the rate of chemical reactions. They are not used up in the process and remain unchanged. Metaphorically, catalysts can be the spark or impetus that initiates action in a system or individual.
Application for Coaching
The coach can create an environment where the client gains clarity around their intention, and stimulates the identification and gathering of information that is needed for the particular individual. This can be done by asking powerful questions that make the client pause and search within themselves for the answers. The coach can use appreciative inquire to help the client identify their strengths, values, priorities and passions. The use of various tools to discover strengths and values can also assist the process. This is the information gathering phase of transformation.
The coach acts as a catalyst to help the client create action steps that will take the information from multiple sources and put it into action. The transformation process begins immediately and is nurtured along by the coach. The coach may also aid the client by providing support and structure so that the transformation process can begin and continue. The coach celebrates with the client as new information is integrated and the transformation process is strengthened.
The change of information into useful tools for the client occurs along with the transformation process. At times, this new information is all the client wants, for example the mastering of a new skill needed for a promotion at work or the completion of a master’s thesis.
While the client may believe these are final endpoint, the coach can reflect back to the client how this endpoint has actually created a transformation in the client. In the process, the client has gained new information from the synergistic effect inherent in the process.
The highest education is that which does not merely give us information but makes our life in harmony with all existence. Rabindranath Tagore
The process of personal transformation is the journey of a lifetime. Coaches become companions for the journey and have the awesome privilege of witnessing the client discover who he/she was created to be. Individuals who allow themselves to be transformed do not return to their early state of being. Knowledge is not unlearned. It may be unused, in which case the client is stagnant in his transformation journey, much like a symphonic score that is written and never performed.
Use the power of action to take information and create transformation. Brian Lomax
Questions for the Coach
- When did you declare, “I am a coach”?
- How do you know you are a coach?
- How do you continue to be transformed as a coach through information?
- What can delay transformation?
- How do you suspend judgment of your client and allow the client to determine what information he/she has/needs to move from information to transformation?
- How do you help the client create action which will lead to transformation?
- How do you work as a catalyst for your client’s transformation?
- How does identifying purpose relate to transformation?
- How can you apply this Power Tool to leadership development and for creating high performing teams?
- How does this Power Tool relate to spiritual formation?
Questions for the Client
- How has the information you have acquired over the course of your lifetime created the person that you are today?
- When have you experienced transformation in your life?
- How did you feel?
- What transformation are you desiring right now?
- What are you willing to do to move from a place of information to being transformed?
- Describe how a coaching catalyst can help you move forward in your transformation process.
- What action step do you need to take to move forward in the transformation process? When will you take that step?
- How will you know that you are using information and being transformed in the process?
- What can you do to sustain the transformation process and not become stagnant?
- Explain why you are a new creation as a result of the transformation process.
Personal transformation can and does have global effects. As we go, so goes the world, for the world is us. The revolution that will save the world is ultimately a personal one. Marianne Williamson