Client: Yes. I’m completely broke. I have retirement funds, which I cannot touch without having to pay high withdrawal fees and equity in my home, which I cannot access.
Coach: So what I’m hearing is that you DO have money – your choice is not to access the funds that you do have, either through a withdrawal from a retirement account or from refinancing or selling your home, is that correct?
Raising awareness around the inaccuracies in our internal dialogue (which we all share) is a good starting point. In that example, just asking whether this was “true” the first time, helped to access more information which gives a broader, more factual picture of the clients’ financial situation. Had the coach not probed further, both the coach and the client would continue with the same story-line of the client being completely broke – a story which is factually false, emotionally upsetting and preventing the client from taking effective action by exploring the facts and the options and choices that exist.
Here is another example:
Client: I have a book inside me that wants to be written but I am having a tough time getting started. I have the title and an outline, but I just can’t seem to stay motivated to start writing the content.
Coach: That’s terrific! It sounds as though you’ve actually made a lot of progress, with a concept, title and an outline, so I’d like to acknowledge you for that. Tell me more about your thoughts around staying motivated to continue your writing.
Client: Honestly, I think I’m just lazy. I really love relaxing, dreaming and sleeping!
Coach: Are you lazy? Is this true?
Client: It must be true. My mother ran a shop, worked hard and used to tell my sisters and I all the time when we were growing up, how lazy we were.
Coach: OK. So it’s true that your mother said this. Do we know for sure that this is true? What does lazy mean to you?
Client: Lazy to me, is someone who doesn’t work at all or if they do, not very hard…someone who doesn’t take action to progress, learn or grow.
Coach: Ok. So how does this apply to you?
Client: I hold a full time job, I’m busy raising two children, I’ve found time to earn a master’s degree and now have ambitions of writing a book.
Coach: Excellent. Among many other things I know about you! So what are you noticing here?
Client: I never thought about it before. It’s just something I’ve always heard in my head, my mother’s voice, telling me I’m lazy!
Remaining open and coaching from a curious, neutral place, unattached to outcomes helps us to identify those statements that may need further exploring.
Questioning what’s true can provide added insight and assist in the realization that this thought may no longer be serving the client. After we raise awareness, we can work with our clients to help them become more conscious of their internal dialogue and challengers of their thoughts. In this way, we can assist in moving clients from negative to positive or disempowered to empowered states, replacing fear or paralysis with action in alignment with truth.
O’Brien, Soledad; Top 10 quotes from the PRSA International Conference
Tolle, Eckhart 2008, A New Earth- Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose, Penguin Group, NY, NY
Katie, Byron & Mitchell, Stephen 2002, Loving What Is – Four Questions that Can Change Your Life, Three Rivers Press, NY, NY