A Coaching Power Tool Created by Eleanor Gurney
(Executive Coach, Wellness Coach, SINGAPORE)
A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. Lao Tzu
We’re all on our path: some of us know exactly where we want to go, some of us have no idea. Some know exactly where we are, whilst others are completely lost. Some of us have chosen the easiest route we can think of whilst others choose a more challenging route.
Whatever path you’re on, one thing is for certain, there will be, on occasion (or frequently), obstacles. Whether they be big, small, visible, invisible, easy, hard, ones we put there ourselves or ones that someone/thing else did; obstacles/challenges are a part of life.
Obstacles do not block the path, they are the path. Anon
- a thing that blocks one’s way or prevents or hinders progress.
“The major obstacle to achieving that goal is money”
The word “Obstacle” tends to come with negative connotations like fear, uncertainty, delay, powerlessness, frustration, constraint, for example.
However, if we continue with the analogy of an obstacle race, obstacles are part of the race – they are the path to the end goal (the finish line). We just need to determine how best to overcome them. In an Obstacle Race, the way we get to the finish line is to move over, under, or through the obstacles. Furthermore, as we progress through each obstacle (as each obstacle is addressed, tackled, and overcome) there is a deep sense of progress; forwarding movement, achievement, and empowerment.
The same is true for life obstacles.
If we shift perspective and view challenges as a means of PROGRESSION, towards our desired outcome, rather than an OBSTACLE that stands in our way, we will start to move towards them and embrace them rather than shy away from them.
- forward or onward movement towards a destination.
“the darkness did not stop my progress”
- the development towards an improved or more advanced condition.
“We are making progress towards equal rights”
The word Progress then comes with positive connotations like action, confidence, satisfaction, control, and capability.
OBSTACLES can be viewed as something that stands in our way or they can be seen as the path to PROGRESS.
I continue to use the analogy of participants in a physical Obstacle race/course.
- a series of objects that people taking part in a race have to climb over, under, through, etc.
- a series of difficulties that people have to deal with to achieve a particular aim
Where participants are presented with a variety of different obstacles, they will approach each one with similar questions but, depending on the obstacle and the participant, their answers will be different. Just like life’s obstacles; where the challenge and/or person differ, so too will the response.
In coaching we start with, firstly, understanding where the client wants to get to.
What is their “finish line” for the session and how will they know when they’ve crossed it. “What is your goal?”Once that has been clarified we can explore the path to progress towards that goal. We do this by exploring what obstacle(s) there are. “What’s the challenge for you?” In asking this question we can then dig deeper to start to provide clarity “What does this obstacle look like?” or “What is it about this that is a challenge for you right now?”.
Then we can work to shift the client’s perspective to enable them to see the challenge as a means to progress (towards a goal); as a stepping stone for growth. We do this by helping to create awareness in the client “What do you know about yourself about this challenge?”, “What skills do you have to be able to deal with this challenge?”, “What do you need to resolve to enable you to navigate this challenge?”.
In asking these exploratory questions we open up the space to allow for action. “With this awareness, what do you need to do now?” “What are you learning about yourself about this situation?”, “What steps will you now take?
Enabling action drives progress toward achieving the desired goal which can have an enduring empowering effect. “What have you learned about this situation that you can use going forward?”
Like in an Obstacle Race the client completes this exercise with a deep sense of accomplishment (of purpose), a renewed trust in themselves and their abilities, and a grounding feeling of empowerment. This is PROGRESS.