A Coaching Power Tool Created by Dragos Marian
(Executive Coach, ROMANIA)
A synergetic alliteration as a tool to keep momentum
We have all been there: got a burst of enthusiasm (e.g. from an idea), started big and strong only to see our focus fade away during implementation. It happens in everything – personal life (think dreams and aspirations), health (think weight loss), business (think failed projects) etc.
As coaches, we have been trained in the power of systems: organizing ourselves in such a way that we ensure long-term focus on what we want to achieve. In practice, however, there are clients that no matter the system in place, fail to make progress. The reason, usually – lack of commitment. However, how does commitment feel like? What do we hear in our client’s voices when we know they committed to their dream? Most of the time, we hear enthusiasm.
The synergy of the two, their interdependence, is critical to any success. This power tool argues for the need that each feeds and maintains the other.
Being organized is useless without keeping in mind the WHY
The power of systems is undeniable. Be it habits or accountability partners, systems ensure we get results by setting us up in such a way that we pursue the “desired” outcome. If we take for instance healthy living, we build systems to achieve that – usually centered around weight loss, fitness buddies, reserved workout time, cooking in advance, calorie counting tools, tracking progress publicly and so on.
The systems work – until, for one reason or another, we fail to follow them and our perspective changes and the cost/benefit perception becomes altered. In healthy living, you may easily break any of the systems in place – forget to cook, be under stress and order junk food, be tired / stressed and not work out, skip meeting with accountability partners and so on. It may even feel justified – “I earned this little cheat” – until someday all systems seem to have been paused and progress is stagnant.
The reason typically is forgetting WHY we have put the systems in place. The vision, the desire fades in time – here is where again systems may help by continuously maintaining the vision alive, the enthusiasm flowing. In any system that the client builds, we need to listen and ask, “how will you keep the energy and the enthusiasm high”? The solution is of course always coming from the client, but as coaches we need to be aware that building systems that do not maintain the initial enthusiasm may lead to a high rate of failures.
Enthusiasm is Ephemeral
Enthusiasm is the one of the sparks that ignite change (in contrast, another possible spark is a perceived shock, which I will not debate here). A critical element of positive motivation, enthusiasm is unfortunately quick to fade away; it suffers greatly at the first sign of difficulty, it is eroded by perceived effort & cost, it seems to transform into disappointment and even bitterness when the desired outcome seems to become more and more distant.
But very little starts without enthusiasm. In many sessions, clients state their objective with a flat, monotonous tone that clearly states they do not have any energy to pursue their dream. The objective may be valid, wanted, clearly owned by the client; however, there is no passion, no drive to move towards it, no pleasure in approaching it. The client may build systems but these will not even start if the spark does not happen.
In this phase it is our duty as coaching to find that inner motivation – to ask the “why is this important for you” question and to pursue it until the client finds the spark. It may be the spark is far and removed and the vision is wrongly formed around and indirect indicator of achievement; for example, healthy living might be erroneously seen as a weight loss project, for which the client sees the “medical” benefits but misses the larger picture of being happy in their own body. As a generalization, this is the danger of focusing only on the effort of doing things and missing the vision of the real, desired destination.
In summary, enthusiasm and getting organized are not a “versus” case. They are synergistic elements needed to drive change; they need each other as failure is often easy to attribute to either of them fading away: systems failing because of lack of enthusiasm, or enthusiasm fading away as systems are not maintaining it. As coaches, we need to ensure that the motivation is clear to the client and that the client leaves the session with the systems to pursue the objectives; that we follow up and help the client either adjust the systems or re-create the enthusiasm lost as needed, until their enthusiasm/systems become self-maintaining.