A Coaching Power Tool Created by Enma Popli
(Executive Coach, INDIA)
Change is inevitable. Change is constant. Benjamin Disraeli
When opportunity knocks, don’t let fear hold you back. Open the door and embrace the opportunity that has come forth. Anonymous
There is a sense of comfort in living a predictable life where everything is happening as per a known plan. A routine, knowing where one is headed, makes some people secure and at ease; for them the stability and predictability of such a life is fulfilling.
On the other hand, for some a life of predictability and structure seems monotonous making them in fact feel bored, impatient and demotivated. They are constantly looking for change, something challenging and new.
This change could be
- A change in a job
- A change in a role
- A change in location
- A change in a process or way of doing something
- A change in a situation or circumstances
Therefore, some see change as a moment of crisis and others as an opportunity.
What is change?
Change is the process or result of becoming different.
What is an opportunity?
Opportunity is a set of circumstances that makes it possible to do something.
How is change perceived?
Change, whether big or small, positive or negative, as we all know is inevitable. How this change is perceived varies from individual to individual because of different filters through which they view the same change.
Some people perceive change as a cause of concern; they keep on referring to the past, looking for ways to avoid the change and justifying why there is no need for the change. Such people feel comfortable with the status quo, safe with what they know and therefore feel in control. Change creates unanswered questions in their minds, they struggle with the unknown, feel a sense of loss of control, a sense of fear and doubt because change to them is disempowering !
Other people are excited, charged and raring to go when faced with change. They perceive the same change as an opportunity. They see it as a chance to break away from the past, to progress and even as a new way of learning and growing. Some people even end up chasing change for the sake of change because change to them is empowering!
Coaching a client through a change is about supporting the client to evaluate the change through multiple perspectives, understanding it and dealing with it appropriately.
I worked with a client recently who had to deal with a huge change, the journey was very interesting and insightful, it helped me develop and evolve my power tool as we went along.
Daniel works for one of the larger organisations (ABC) in a relatively small city. He has been working with ABC for the last twenty years. In the course of his career, he has seen considerable growth; he started as a management trainee and is now the C.F.O of the same organisation. Daniel is soft spoken, dependable, a great team player, and a team leader who carries his team along and is very loyal to ABC.
A few years ago, a multinational acquired ABC and it became part of a large conglomerate. While the CXO’s have a lot of responsibility and authority, lot of decision-making is now also taking place at the headquarters of the large conglomerate. As a C.F.O, Daniel now reports into his C.E.O and the group C.F.O. Daniel has been getting excellent reviews during his annual appraisals and he has also got huge recognition for his performance.
On the personal front Daniel is very satisfied and happy. His two sons go to good colleges and are headed towards predictable and secure careers and his wife is working in the public sector and has a safe and secure job.
In his most recent appraisal, Daniel’s C.E.O gave him very positive feedback and also some suggestions on how he could evolve in his current role. At the same time the group C.F.O also offered him a very challenging role in the conglomerate. A role, that many C.F.O’s have been eyeing, a role that has more challenges, more responsibility and it also meant a great financial break. However, this offer meant relocating to another country.
This news was a big change for Daniel and his family; considering that they had been living in the same city for over twenty years. Daniel was born here and even pursued his entire education in this city. The family has a great support system, great friends and a huge sense of comfort in the city. Besides, Daniel is also nearing his retirement that is due to happen in four years.
Daniel is now at crossroads; while he is very hardworking he is not overly ambitious and he is very comfortable and satisfied with his current role. Daniel is quite reluctant to move out (Change) of his current role and take up this new role (Opportunity).
After actively listening to Daniel, I helped him create awareness through powerful questioning. My questions and observations helped Daniel reflect and look at the situation from different perspectives and define the road map for his journey ahead.
I invited Daniel to visualize where he saw himself after his retirement…
He shared that he wanted to become a consultant for client organisations that would leverage from his expertise and years of experience. He also visualized himself as a trainer in management institutes, as he was keen on helping students by sharing industry experience with them.
I asked Daniel who he believed was his role model…
He said that he idolized his C.E.O and always wanted to be like him. He admired his C.E.O for his executive presence, his wealth of experiences and his humility. An outcome of this exercise, it helped create awareness that Daniel wanted to gain new experiences and he felt there was no opportunity better than this one, where he would get huge exposure and his family could experience the life of an expat. Daniel recognized that in his current role, he would never gain such exposure or his family the kind of experiences he always wanted.
This however did not mean that Daniel was ready to embrace the big change.
While Daniel sounded excited when he talked about what might be the benefits of this ‘new role’, I sensed an underlying fear and concern. I shared this observation with Daniel and asked him what he thought about it.
Daniel is from a modest background and not very fluent in English, our conversation revealed certain underlying beliefs. While Daniel was confident about his skills and his capability at work he had other apprehensions. He felt that he and his family might not be able to interact with the residents there because of a language barrier. He was also unsure if he and his family would be able to adapt to a different culture and feared that they would experience cultural shock.
I asked Daniel about the extent of his international travel in his current job…
He shared that while he never lived out of his country, he had traveled abroad extensively for work and also expressed that every time he came back from his trips abroad he would have a desire to experience that life.
When he shared this view, while there was apprehension to take up the offer there was also a veiled excitement in Daniel’s voice. I shared with him that I hear shift of energy and excitement every time he talked about new experiences.
I invited Daniel to focus on the opportunity rather than the change and asked him, “What came up for him then”.
He expressed that if he was able to address concerns regarding language and cultural shock, this was a great opportunity and reinforced that this would be great exposure for his family.
I shared with Daniel that I was a trainer in soft skills and cultural sensitivity and offered to help him and his family address concerns on language skills and culture.
Daniel showed excitement and talked about personal growth, empowerment and exposure for his family. Daniel had made a shift in perspective. He started viewing the change as an opportunity. He started focusing on the benefits of the new role rather than what was stopping him from seeing the opportunity. He was now raring to go.
He wanted to address the concerns and accepted my offer so that I could enable him to be ready for the new opportunity that had knocked on his door.
As a Coach, I believe we create a safe space for our clients to think in and explore. A space where we don’t judge and help them think beyond their current environment.
We help our Clients explore their underlying beliefs, wants and values. Through our interactions we help them look at situations from multiple perspectives and think out of the box. We provide our clients a listening platform and encourage them to think beyond what is obvious.
In the case above, the natural choice for Daniel could have been to reach out to someone he knew, who would have guided him based on what he/ she saw and not necessarily helped him peel the onion.
The advise would have been based on the facts and information provided by Daniel and they would have perhaps focused on the ‘what’ and not on the ‘who’. Even when Daniel evaluated the new role himself his perspective was focused on ‘the change’ and not on what is the benefit of that change , i.e. ‘the opportunity’.
Like Daniel, many of us are offered new opportunities in the course of our lives. We have fantasies of a dream opportunity that might set us in a direction that suits our future ambitions. However, when that dream job actually knocks at the door, while the initial reaction might be extremely positive, many a times, apprehension of change takes over and fear sets in. Hesitant thoughts begin to traverse the mind – “is the change really worth it”, “I am in a familiar setting , I know everyone”, “I am well appreciated for my work”, “I am also well paid” and we give up on the opportunity, justifying it rather than addressing the fear to move out of the comfort zone. The focus is on what we have and not on what could be, with the opportunity of change.
While, change is always uncertain and the fear of change is completely natural, surrendering to this fear and hesitation without a thorough evaluation and exploration of underlying beliefs can lead to regret later.
What Socrates said really resonates with me,
The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.
Many a times it is just a fear of the unknown and the fear to make a change. In that case then as Alan Wilson Watts says,
The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it and join the dance.