A Coaching Power Tool Created by Doukessa Lerias
(Transformational & Motivational Coach, USA)
What works best?
FOCUS is a magic word. It is defined as one’s ability to pay attention to. It is a term specifically used when an individual is striving to complete work, achieve goals and nurture success. A person’s motivation, energy and determination, are often measured by their ability to be and stay focused.
In my observations of everyday life and my own energy and motivation to succeed in the tasks that I have set for myself, my ability to focus has also become a measure of my potential success. However, what happens when I cannot focus? Does this mean that I have lost my desire to achieve my goal?
My personal response to a loss of focus has often been panic! Self-criticism! And fear that I will not fulfil my potential and the path I have set for myself. I can become paralyzed by such feelings and lose my ability to focus completely on the abyss of my own catastrophizing and negative evaluations…
WHY is it so important to be focused?
Focus creates energy that is specific to the task that needs to be accomplished. This energy creates ideas, generates solutions and thoughts directly related to accomplishing the goal. Today I am focused on writing my power tool. I am able to put together a plan, consolidate my ideas and begin the expansion of those ideas. I am not thinking about other things. I am not self-critical, I am not in a dark emotional state. I am consumed by my task.
My mind is accomplishing the goal without any coercion from me, without my need to coax it, threaten it, criticize it or punish it. Being focused is essential when it creates the space to think.
What happens when being focused does not create anything?
In today’s world, there is a huge emphasis on success and its ingredients of passion, drive, dedication and determination – and a fear of failure.
Fear can drive an individual to become so hyper-aware of their goals, that one can become focused on being focused. When I am focused on being focused, I use my energy to compare myself to others, criticize myself, and become frightened of the work that I have to accomplish. I can create unrealistic standards for myself and ultimately panic! I then avoid focusing as it becomes too uncomfortable to experience.
What happens when I allow myself to be unfocused?
I was walking along the Chicago lakefront, admiring the view and daydreaming in the sun when I had the idea for my power tool. I was having a shower that same evening when I thought of the first two sentences of my introduction. When I awoke this morning, I steered towards my computer and my notes while I was drinking my coffee and watching TV. How curious…
Fear of failure is normal and otherwise known as performance anxiety. When this type of anxiety is too high, it can often inhibit rational thinking and the problem-solving process. It genuinely interferes with attention and concentration. It causes the mind to misinterpret the world. An individual can feel genuinely stuck in their inability to think clearly.
Engaging in activities that create a relaxing state of being, allows positive emotions to flow. It creates space for useful thought and invites our mind to produce ideas that can strengthen our concentration later on. Activities that allow us to be unfocused, can replenish the energy required to be focused by steering the mind away from negative emotional states that block real thinking.
Being focused is only effective when it creates the energy I need to be successful in the goals that I have set for myself.
Being focused is essential to me when it allows me to feel productive and creates a real result.
In order to determine whether I would need to be focused or unfocused I ask myself some questions:
- Am I able to focus on this task easily?
- Am I feeling anxious about this goal?
- Am I being self-critical about my ability to complete the goal or task?
- Have I set a deadline, why or why not?
- Are my tasks or goals achievable?
- Am I comparing myself to others?
- Am I focused on being focused?
- What is my energy level like around this task or goal?
As a coach, it may be important to appreciate the intensity of worry that comes from not being able to focus, when you really want to accomplish something that is important to you. This is an experience that most people understand intimately.
Procrastination is often an indication that a client is focused on being focused and that perhaps the strategies that they assume are effective in enhancing focus, are actually reducing their energy and motivation.
A coach may consider a detailed discussion around the following points:
The task or goal – what is it? Is it achievable? What has the client tried to achieve the task? What has worked to bring the client closer to their goal? What has not worked in achieving the goal? What has been the effect on the client when they have not been successful in completing their established tasks or set goals?
Fear of failure – what are the client’s fears, frustrations and criticisms about their ability to achieve their goals? What effect do these issues have on the client? What is the client’s understanding of how their fear interferes with their ability to accomplish their goals?
Validation & Normalization – Fear can isolate the client. It is important to identify the real discomfort that the client is most likely feeling. A coach can create a safe space where the client feels that their fear, frustration & self-criticism is a normal response to goal attainment and achievement.
When was the client at their most productive? – Ask the client to describe a time when they were at their most productive or, had their best ideas or best flow of thought. Where were they? What did they do? Why were they successful? What was different about that time? What did they do at the time that was so effective?
Being focused- What context does the client believe they are most focused in? How can they simulate those conditions to accomplish their goals? How would they evaluate the effectiveness of their strategy?
Being unfocused – “I have sometimes had my best ideas while I have been in the bathroom, has that ever happened to you?”
If a client identifies the need to be unfocused, what structures would help them steer their mind away from being focused?
Being unfocused can sometimes feel like a risk for clients that are used to being focused on being focused. What are the client’s reservations about doing something different? Can their perspective shift?
If a client created an experimental situation where they could examine the benefits of being unfocused, how would they do that? Is there a structure that the client has not tried that they would like to try and evaluate?