A Coaching Power Tool Created by Emily Ann Lombos
(Transformational Coach, PHILIPPINES)
I got inspired by the “View” “Zoom to” function in the computer. If you have a Word document, this function allows you to look closely at the document or to view the document as a whole. I thought this also happens with how we see life. We sometimes zoom in too much that we forget to zoom out and look at the big picture. We may only see a part or small picture and not see the whole picture. Sometimes we zoom in on what is wrong instead of looking at a bigger picture of what can be right or learned from the situation. Zoom in is like having a narrow-minded perspective. As compared to zoom out, having an open mind, macro and broad perspective open to possibilities.
One may zoom in vs zoom out of one’s life time zones. One’s future self may be looking at the present self through reflection. That future self might ask, “What did I do in the past to help me become a professional coach? What did I do to get to where I am now?” The past, present and future are all part of one’s total self. By zooming in and out of life situations and time zones, one gets to see the full picture of one’s life.
Furthermore, one may zoom in vs zoom the many aspects of the self: the physical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual. One might zoom in too much on one aspect that one neglects the other aspects of one’s self. For example, one might be too engrossed with work that one neglect to eat and nourish one’s physical body. One may even miss out a family dinner because of being too engrossed with work. Another may be, one zooms in a negative mental thought that it later affecting one’s emotions and brings one’s feelings down. By zooming out, one can check on the other aspects of one’s self and act as an observer. Some questions to raise awareness may be: What’s happening? What’s making think this way? How is it affecting me? How are the other aspects of my life? Am I doing fine? What areas need attention?
One needs to check and take care of all the aspects of one’s life. In the end, who wouldn’t want to be a whole integrated human being? Thus, the idea of a tool that helps one look at the whole picture and parts of a whole, Zoom In vs Zoom Out.
To zoom in (on) means “to bring (a subject, scene, etc.) into close up by using a zoom lens; to examine closely or in greater detail; to focus on”. To zoom in is to look closely at a part, fragment of the self, a role, a position, a situation, problem or life aspect.
Zooming in can have beneficial outcomes in terms of being able to focus on a goal, task, and details. It can help one to persevere. It can be like being in the zone and performing. By looking closely, it can help one analyze, understand the situation and solve problems. It can be zooming in a unit of a system like a team member, family member and looking closely at a role of parent, worker, leader to understand it better.
On the other hand if one focuses too much on something, it can lead to overlooking or disregarding the surroundings. One may become too narrow-minded. One may be too focused on the self –“I, me, myself, my spot, my space, my situation, my way, my control”. One may think that only one’s way as the only way. One could also zoom in on self doubt with thoughts such as I’m not good enough. I’m so poor. I’m always the victim. Life is unfair. Will my idea fly? Will it be accepted? What if they don’t like it? What if I fail? I don’t want to fail.
It then limits the person’s perspective and can make one stuck. For example, a team leader may be too focused on accomplishing a goal and may be blinded or lose selfawareness. He may be spending hours in front of the computer not noticing the eye strain, stomach grumbling, time passing and forgets that he has to pick up his son at school. One may no longer see the purpose of why they’re doing certain things. With just too much focus on work, so little time, stress comes in, one’s voice may easily raise or one may bark at peers to get tasks done.
By being too zoomed in, one may either benefit or suffer from it.
Zoom out means “to decrease rapidly the magnification of the image of a distant object by means of a zoom lens. To consider the essential points rather than the details of a subject.” Zoom out is the macro, broader perspective, bigger picture, wherein a spot becomes wider, other elements outside one’s spot is observed. There are other possible ways. There are other aspects of the self. Beyond the self there are other people. By zooming out, one can see the greater scheme of things. It may answer questions such as: What’s the big picture? What’s the vision, mission, purpose and meaning of one’s life? What’s the Divine’s or universe’s plan? How do all the pieces come together as a whole?
The shift from zoom in to zoom out is like moving from psychological fragmentation of life states to one’s spirtual wholeness. One’s existence is not only for self-improvement but for a higher purpose.
By zooming out, one learns to look beyond the self and into humanity. What’s my life like? How does my life affect me and others? What do I want out of of my life?
In the aspect of the self, it looks at aspects of the self (social, emotional, mental, physical, spiritual) to form a whole. If one is looking at a system by zooming out gradually to different levels, one may see one self as human being part of a family, neighborhood, work team, organization, industry, society, country, world and planet earth and so on. The perspective expands so wide that it encompass the universe and the unknown. By having a balance of zooming in and out of life situations, one can have a systemic view of life and the different systems. By shifting from zoom out to in, vision, mission, values can be translated to goals, tasks then linked to purpose. By being able to see connections of past, present and future one may find life’s meaning.
The function of zoom in and zoom out and vice versa is dynamic. It can shift back and forth.
Zoom In vs Zoom Out reminds me of working on a jigsaw puzzle. I look at the big picture of how the puzzle will look like at the end (zoom out) then I look at the small pieces (zoom in) and how I can put them together. I work on the small pieces by focusing, finding common colors and shapes that match. I may zoom out to look for other pieces if I don’t find it in the area. It may not be easy going through thousands of pieces. But I stay on zoomed in on the task. It’s like I’m in the zone. After a while I get tired and need to take a break. The next day, I work on it again. Look at the end picture then look at the small pieces and connect them. When some pieces come together like the frame of the puzzle, I feel excitement and accomplishment. When slowly the pieces in the middle part come together I feel energized. I sometimes get tired, challenged when the pieces don’t fit. So I move on to the other pieces, try and see what fits. Whenever I find pieces that fit, I celebrate. As the days go by, pieces of the puzzle come together. Viola! What a joy to see all the pieces form the complete big picture!
When it comes to organizations, leaders work with vision. With a macro perspective of where the organization is and where they want to take the organization, they are in the zoom out mode. However, to translate these vision and strategies are translated to plans, activities and tasks they need to be broken down to functions, units, team leaders, team members and so on. Here, the leader now is gradually moving in the zoom in mode. Zoom out look at over-all vision and goals and tasks. Zoom in on to identify team member willing and fit to do the task.
The leader needs to shift from zoom out to zoom in and vice versa. Another example is a corporate executive going thru a life transition from working as an executive to becoming a coach and yoga teacher. The life change goes through Bridges’ transitions stages: ending, neutral zone and new beginnings with the use of zoom out and zoom it. The ending is last day of work as an executive. The neutral zone is being neither here nor there, feeling of loss and lost, confused. It’s a phase where experimentation and exploration of new structures, new ways of scheduling activities, sorting things occurs. New beginnings, starts once one establishes structure that work and starts living the new life as coach and yoga teacher. In the journey comes zoom in and out especially in moments of being stuck. Zoom out to create a big picture and vision to be coach and yoga teacher. Zoom in to focus on day to day activities and schedules such as studying, attending classes and workshops, time for connecting with friends, caring for self, home and pet. There may be struggles with habits such as formerly having structured schedules to having no structure to learning how to flow with the activities. Flowing was part of his big picture (zoom out).
He learned to shift from zoom in which is focused on his ways to zooming out to exploring other ways; from narrow mindedness to zoom out having a broader perspectives, exploring new structures, new schedules. By zoom out, he becomes more open to other options, ways, more opportunities and sees what works for him. He sometimes gets stuck when he zooms in too much so he zooms out and reminds himself of his vision and purpose. He reflects, journals, has gratitude list, meditates, and works with a coach to follow through on his action plans. By zoom in and out, he successfully transitions to his new life.
Life presents to us different challenges. In the world of work, it may be a new role, new task, new project, new team or new goals, vision and mission. Given a project, one has an over-all objective/plan/vision that’s broken down into phases, activities, and tasks. There’s project team leader and team members. It’s having a whole team and project with parts such as the sub-goals, tasks to help it achieve an outcome.
In the case of Virgil, he is a new team leader who has to handle a new project. He has never led a team before. He feels anxiety and excitement. The anxiety comes with the unknown and uncertainty. For him, this is all new. “I don’t know how to handle people and a team at that. I never led a team before. I’m so used to finishing my own tasks and accomplishing my own goals. Now I have team goals. Will I be able to do it? What if I fail?” He is zooming in on self-doubt thoughts.
By helping him zoom out with powerful questions, he can shift perspective. The coach can ask him to describe his ideal team leader or refer back to the time he was part of a successful team and recall what the team leader did. What did team leader do/say to be effective? Who are his role models? What were their leadership styles? Who are the people he will be leading? How will he get to know them? How will this experience help him grow as a leader? How will this contribute to his career development? What actions can he take to lead the team? How can this experience contribute to his career goal, vision, purpose for oneself? What is he willing to do to empower himself? By zooming out and seeing the bigger picture, he can move forward and take actions.
Aside from asking powerful questions to zoom in vs zoom out, one can also use powerful questions to increase self-awareness. The coach works with the client to zoom in to create actions plans and zoom out to see the connection to the over-all goal and vision. The outcome can be clarity, shift in perspective, balance, or a total system perspective.
Some tools/tips to use:
- Increase self-awareness with the practice daily reflection, journaling, gratitude list, checking on oneself, meditation and linking events to one’s vision.
- Take a Break/Self-Renewal recharging oneself and taking care of all aspects of the self – mind, body, spirit, emotion, social. Setting aside time for all aspects of life such work, play, service, me time; exercise, meditate – rest the mind; get in touch with inner self/spiritual self, pray, time with nature, time with special people inour lives.
- Explore new ways, structures, schedules, and strategies. See what works.For example, having color coded calendar to reflect aspects of the self. Having monthly goals, broken down to the week.
- In relationships, practice active listening, have an open minded, let go of biases and judgment.
- Acknowledge and celebrate small and big accomplishments.
- Revisit and connect with your life purpose, vision, mission and values.
- What experiences did you recall while reading this power tool?
- Where am I right now? Where am I zooming in my life? Am I only zooming in one aspect of my life? Is it helping/hindering? If it’s hindering/not helping me, what do I want to do about it? What will I do about it?
- What do I hear/see when I zoom in? What do I hear/see when I zoom out? What is working/not working? What is helping/hindering?
- What do I want to do about it? What choices do I have?
- How can I zoom out to include all aspects of my life?
- How do I know when I need to zoom out? What can I do to zoom out? What are ways for me to zoom out? How can I shift from zoom in to zoom out and vice versa?
- What can I do increase awareness if I zoom in too much? What are signs/triggers? How do I know if it is helping/hindering?
- What structures can I put in place to remind me?
- How can zoom out help me see the purpose of what I’m going thru?
- What am I willing to do create the balance of zoom in and zoom out in my whole self, situation, or the challenge I’m facing?
- By zoom out, how can this event/challenge/situation/aspect of my life be related to the big picture? What am I learning from it?
Bridges,W. (2010). Managing Transitions Making the Most of Change. Boston: Nicholas BerkleyPublishing.