A Coaching Power Tool created by Jamie McKenna
(Business Development Coach, UNITED STATES)
According to dictionary.com, these words are defined as follows:
Facts: something that actual exists; reality; truth
Stories: a narrative; either true or fictitious
Stories are more than compelling facts. People remember stories more than they remember statistics.
Every ego confuses opinions and viewpoints with facts. Only through awareness – not through thinking can you differentiate between fact and opinion. Only through awareness are you able to see: There is the situation and here is the anger I feel about it, and then realize there are other ways of approaching the situation, other ways of seeing it and dealing with it.
We live in a fast paced world of technology and information over-load. Data is coming towards us from all directions – hundreds of television and cable channels, newspapers, the internet and the use of social networking sites, advertising on your shopping cart or while you’re getting gas, satellite radio and then, of course, our human interactions.
It can become challenging, at times, to distinguish fact from fiction. Watching a political debate unfold demonstrates how many different ways information is creatively and persuasively delivered. Living in a consumer-driven society, messaging is designed and directed toward selling us more products, concepts, lifestyles and values. In order to assimilate and understand information we rely on our listening skills and processing faculties, our past experiences, values and belief systems and other people we have belief in. In addition, our emotions – both our emotional “baggage” and our emotional state can impact our interpretations, perceptions and understandings about what we should believe in, incorporate into our lives and act on.
As a result, what we hear, repeat or believe can originate from false or untrue data. Untrue “stories” can mislead us, perpetuate limited beliefs, create judgments, prevent us from taking action or lead us in the wrong direction. Stories we believe, which are not based in fact or assumptions we make about others can contribute to feelings of low self-worth and keep people in a state of disempowerment and negativity. What we tell ourselves through our outer or inner dialogue also has a tremendous impact on our overall emotional well-being, mental and physical health.
Stories emanate from various forms and sources, such as:
- Comments, opinions, viewpoints of others
- Assumptions (about information or what people say, do, look like, etc.)
- Statistics that don’t give the full picture
- Media reports – television, print
- Blogs – anyone can write anything!
- Thoughts we have about ourselves
Becoming aware of our own constant stream of thoughts is the first step. The magic comes in when we can actually step back, become the witness of our thinking, challenge a specific thought or idea and explore its validity.
The best time to use this is when you are feeling a strong emotional reaction. Let’s say that you just finished a coaching session and you felt uneasy about how it went, wishing you would have taken the conversation in a different direction. Later that day you received an email from the client, saying that he must cancel the next two coaching sessions and is not able to meet again for 5 weeks. You immediately had the “thought” that he was unhappy about how the session went. You become fearful. It must be because he isn’t receiving value from you or the coaching and has determined it a waste of time. He’s putting future coaching sessions on the back burner…perhaps he’s thinking of cancelling your coaching contract and…..the made up “story” you’re telling yourself, through your thoughts, keeps going on and on like a run-away train!
But this time…you’ve caught yourself making up stories! You witnessed the thoughts…the incessant stream of thinking that can take us over and if left unchecked, lead to poor choices or disempowered states of being. Now you step back and say “Ok – these are just thoughts…let’s take a closer look.”
Following just the first 2 steps Byron Katie mentions in her book entitled Loving What Is and using what she refers to as “The Work,” you can take any statement, data point or story and ask yourself:
- Is this true?
- Can you absolutely know that it’s true?
- What evidence do you have that supports this 100%?
This simple act of questioning the absolute truth of what we hear or what we tell ourselves helps us to dig deeper into thoughts that we may be processing like we would a factual statement. Our choices, reactions and actions stemming from “stories” can be quite different than the choices and actions taken after looking at “facts.”