A Coaching Power Tool Created by Francesco Restifo
(Life Coach, ITALY)
Every day we all face several decisions. In fact, some researchers have tried to quantify the number of daily decisions an average person makes, coming up with a staggering estimate of 35000. Many of them are unconscious, some of them impulsive, and probably a small amount may be what we refer to as the important ones, i.e. the ones that really affect our lives and the ones of people around us.
Numbers aside, what does it mean to choose?
Choose: to decide what you want from two or more things or possibilities.
For a choice to exist, there have to be possibilities to evaluate. How we pick one between them is the key. To understand our conscious decisions further, we usually investigate our motivation. What is the compass that drives us?
Let us go a little deeper here – are we driving at all? Do we have the wheel in our firm grip, or are we allowing someone or something else to determine the route?
These are precisely the two perspectives that are represented in the title of this power tool.
Pronouncing the words “I own it”, we have identified a destination we want to reach and are actively deciding where to turn at each crossroad.
On the other hand, saying “I let it” means we are in a different state, one where we are followers, letting the external world choose the next turn for us at intersections. It’s like being in a taxi, not knowing where the driver will take us.
This state might be triggered by so many different situations, for instance when we:
- Are overwhelmed
- Need to save energy
- Do not have a destination, thus we are following events
- Deny our responsibility
- Find it difficult to choose
- Do not think that we have a say
- Do not see that we have the ability to choose at all
- Are in someone else’s shadow, thus follow their lead without questioning
It is often said that, even though we might not be in a position to control events, we can decide what to make with them: our reaction, emotional response, concrete actions are all in our power. Regardless of the reasons, saying “I let it” represents the choice of giving up this power
In my research paper, I dived into the concepts of accountability and ownership. The two perspectives presented in this Power Tool are essentially a statement of auto-determination and choice vs. a state of reaction and surrender to the external world.
Now, referring to the definition of accountability, which implies being responsible TO an authority for something. This disempowering perspective may be relieving at first, in the short term: it means not having to respond to any authority (be it ourselves or someone else) inquiring about our actions.
The formulation of the title of this power tool as a first-person statement is intentional. It underlines something that may not be immediately apparent: both are actually a decision.
Applications in coaching
Example: take one person and situation and run through the model
What to do the practical → application of the model
As coaches, we trust our clients, believe that they have access to all the resources that they need to reach their goals, and stimulate our clients to see situations from different, more empowering perspectives.
This power tool focuses on the perspective of ownership, choice, auto-determination. My coaching model “Own your game!” aims at fostering just this in the client, thanks to a relentless focus on accountability in each phase of the coaching relationship.
Goals and motivation
At the very start of the coaching journey, deep diving on the motivations the client has to reach their goal has the power of making him/her feel empowered.
What’s behind wanting to begin that coast-to-coast road trip?
We do this by encouraging the client to look at two key scenarios:
- immersing into the desired future, one where the goal has been achieved → “I own it”
- understanding the consequences of inaction → “I let it”
Furthermore, the awareness that there may be a bumpy road ahead is also important, in order not to create a false expectation of an easy or immediate path. It is important to explore what the client is willing to invest in and to let go of the journey.
That long road trip is a multi-day journey, and every day there are several intersections to go through, i.e. decisions to be made.
Subdividing the entire, overwhelming route into individual, affordable segments means identifying smaller goals that are in reach.
The coach will help the client own each one, celebrating every turn in the right direction, learning from eventual turns in a different one. Being in the driver’s seat, the client is responsible to him/herself in the first place. This is why highlighting and living every little achievement is fundamental: it builds confidence and strengthens the empowering “I own it” perspective.
As much as we would like to, it is rarely the case that we are entirely self-sufficient in taking decisions or bringing change to our lives. External support may come in many forms.
Take our driver, for instance: s/he would not get very far without gas stations for fuel, restaurants for food, motels for rest. Or that map that represents so many things: the evidence of the road behind, an indication of the right direction, a sense of perspective thanks to the combination of both.
That is what accountability partners provide: they are just like that handy map, allowing the client to share achievements and successes, reminding him/her of where they are, and helping him/her not lose track of the purpose or goal of the journey.
They are the key factor in building a functional environment: even if removing obstacles makes things smoother, for instance, we alone cannot unleash the true power of accountability, which has its very origin in the context of a social group of human beings (refer to my research paper for more on the subject).
At the end of the day, resting in a motel along the road, s/he takes out his/her journal and writes about the day, about how much closer s/he got to the destination, and about the learnings and takeaways.
This is also part of the ownership process. The act of reflecting on each step in the journey is one of the most powerful ways in which we express ownership (i.e. the act of being responsible to ourselves for reaching our goal). In fact, it means allowing ourselves to our own authority and scrutiny, to determine to what extent we have acted towards the goal.
Session after session, the coach offers a mirror in which the client can see the reflection of the actions taken between the previous session and the present one.
Think about the situation that is challenging you in this moment of your life, and visualize your goal.
- What do you see?
- Where is your goal (spatially) wrt? where you are right now?
- What happens in you when you look at it?
- Which of the two perspectives represents where you stand?
- Now, say it out loud. How do you feel when you say it?
- What changes do you perceive in your body?
- How will you act thanks to this new awareness?
- How will you make sure you stay on track?
- Who will you rely on during the journey towards your goal?
- What will you share with them in case of success?
- How will they support you in case of a hiccup?
- How did it go with X (the action(s) identified in the previous session)?
- How did / will you celebrate your success? (if succeeded)
- What have you learned from this experience?
- How will you use it going forward?
How Many Daily Decisions Do We Make? Frank Graff, 2018
Helen Abadzi, Accountability and its educational implications: culture, linguistics, and psychological research, UNESCO, 2017