The following table shows a comparison of the characteristics of a Limited vs. Unlimited view:
|Black and white||Multi coloured|
|One factor||Infinite factors|
|Fragmentation||A bigger whole|
|Categorisation and generalisation||Things are endlessly unique and diverse|
|Mutual exclusivity and absolutes||All thing exists alongside and in relation to each other|
|Negative vs. positive||Paradox|
|Mistakes and failures||Opportunities for learning and insight|
Identifying the states
In a state of Limited view an individual’s energy is contracted and heavy. It is likely they are feeling lethargic and low in energy. In this state everything feels difficult and hard to achieve. They may feel overwhelmed, burdened and unable to see a way out.
The emotions associated with a Limited view could include:
Those in a Limited view may talk a tone of voice that sounds defeated, unconvinced or exasperated. They may say things such as:
- “She never comes home on time” (an example of generalisation);
- “If I do ABC, I cannot do XYZ” (an example of mutual exclusivity);
- “It was all my/her fault” (an example of seeing only one sole contributing factor);
- “It was the wrong decision” or “Nothing good can come of this” (an example of being limited to a good vs. bad or negative vs. positive experience);
- In some cases “I don’t know” may be an opportunity to invite stepping outside of the current view and see the current situation from another perspective.
A state of Unlimited view carries an energy that is expansive and light. Individuals in an Unlimited state feel energised, enthusiastic and capable. Because they do not feel constrained in any way they are likely to be come up with many ideas and possibilities. They are likely to experience a sense of ease and spaciousness in their daily lives and nothing will be too much trouble. Their tone of voice may be animated and compelling.
Some of the hallmarks of an Unlimited state include:
How is a Limited vs. Unlimited view relevant to coaching?
A state of Limited view narrows an individual’s sense of possibility. The related feelings of despair and powerlessness may cause people to become “stuck” and unable to move. These people may repeat the same story or behaviour, seem to go in circles and not make any progress. In this state forward movement or change cannot occur easily.
In a state of Unlimited view, individuals are empowered and brimming with possibility. They are energised, creative and productive. They are able to direct that energy into the things that are meaningful and significant to them. They have the belief needed to follow through on their commitments and dreams and progress occurs.
Very often our role as coaches is to support our clients to break free of old habits, cycles and Limited view that are stopping them from achieving their goals, bringing their visions to fruition and living the life they desire. Clearly the energised and inspired state associated with an Unlimited view is more conducive to unlocking the possibilities and forward momentum required to achieve these goals. By facilitating shifts in viewpoint from Limited to Unlimited, we help our clients find and harness the endless potential that resides in all of us.
Creating the shift
There are many approaches that can be employed by the coach to help their client make a shift.
Questions that may be useful in unlocking new, less limited perspectives are:
- How do you think Mary is feeling right now?
- If your best friend were to find themselves in this situation, what would you say to them?
- What would <name of admired or respected person> say if they were to give you advice right now?
- What external factors contributed to this?
- What have you seen other people in this scenario do?
- How might this experience make you a better person?
- What do you know now that you didn’t know then? And how might you be able to use this now?
- If you were to go out on a limb and imagine that something positive were to come of this, what might that be?
- If you could be grateful for something in this situation, what would that be?
- What would be the possibilities if <XYZ obstacle> did not exist?
- If you were to zoom out on this picture, what else is going on that may not be immediately visible?
Employing The Work of Byron Katie can be an effective way of poking holes in sweeping statements that are disempowering and turning those loop holes into possibility. In this approach there are four questions:
- Is it true?(Yes or no. If no, move to 3.)
- Can you absolutely know that it’s true?(Yes or no.)
- How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?
- Who would you be without the thought?
Visualisation is means of stimulating the imagination and may be useful in helping a client explore and create possibilities. There are many approaches to visualisation and the coach should employ that which is most appropriate to the situation.
As a general guide visualisation usually starts with some form of centering or relaxation. The coach then lays the foundation by informing the client they are in a realm where no boundaries, judgements or obstacles exist. The client is completely capable and in control of the scenario. The coach may then invite the client to talk them through the scene or process unfolding as though it were a movie the client is directing.
As the client talks the coach may make acknowledging or curious sounds, ask questions that encourage the client to keep exploring if they become stuck or enquire into specific aspects in more detail.
Brainstorming is another method of stimulating the imagination in order to generate ideas and possibilities. Again, it works best by removing all boundaries, obstacles and judgement, instead inviting all contributions no matter how silly they may seem to the rational mind.
The coach can prompt the client by asking questions if they get stuck and continually enquiring as to whether there is anything else that could be added.
For some clients it can be helpful to bring awareness to their energetic state by exploring how they feel. This exercise may help your client find some relief from the felt experience associated with a Limited view and motivate them towards a more desired state. It may also help them to identify differing states as they arise in the future and contrast the impact of these states. With this awareness they may be able to create their own conscious shifts that are more conducive to new ideas and perspectives.
Coaches can invite clients to explore the experience of being in the Limited view state with questions such as:
- Where do you feel this experience in your body?
- If it had a colour, what would that be? What about the texture?
- Are there any images that come to mind to describe this experience?
- What are some of the behaviours you exhibit while in this state?
Having explored the state of Limited view, coaches may ask their clients how they would like to feel by using similar questions as above. When the client is comfortable in this state, coaches could enquire into the possibilities that exist from this state of being.
This exercise could also be incorporated into a visualisation exercise.
Sustaining the shift
Depending on the specific scenario and magnitude of the shift, the coach may use many different lines of enquiry according to what is most appropriate in the moment.
To affirm and sustain the shift some lines of enquiry may include:
- Inviting the client to notice how they feel now; how the new perspective positively impacts them; benefits of the new perspective; the potential that has opened up; the opportunities they now see;
- Enquiring into actions or structures the client may want to use to affirm or enhance their new perspective;
- Help the client set realistic expectations. Explore possible obstacles or triggers that could cause the client to slip back into a Limited view; how they would know this were happening and how they would respond if it were to happen.
To keep the forward momentum going the coach may ask:
- If there are any actions they want to take as a results of the new perspective;
- What their next step will be;
- What other possibilities are coming to mind;
- Who or what resources or structures they need to engage to keep moving.
As with any coaching, it is usually useful to acknowledge the client as appropriate. This may be at the time of the shift or after a period of time has passed and the coach observes the client acting from the new, less limited perspective. Taking note of such successes also gives the coach something to draw upon if the client slips back toward a Limited view. For example, they could say something like “You overcame this Limited perspective in the past when XYZ occurred. How might that experience be helpful to you now?”
A note on discernment
It is important to point out that a Limited view is not necessarily a bad thing. There may be times when taking a Limited view actually serves or helps us. A Limited view in the form of critical thinking often provides the discernment needed to ensure we do not act in ways that lead to dissatisfaction or unnecessary risk. If we do find ourselves in a place of dissatisfaction or exposure, however, taking an unlimited view will help us to see this as an opportunity for learning and insight rather than a mistake or failure.
Take time as an example. The reality is that as human beings we have Limited time. If we view time from a place of complete abundance, we may neglect to use it to best effect, delay action or fail to clearly prioritise. We may become frustrated that we are not achieving or seeing the change or progress we want. Taking an Unlimited view around how we might use our Limited time, however, enables us to see new possibilities for arranging that time in a more effective or satisfying manner.
To summarise, it is important to remember there is a time and place for employing a Limited view. A Limited view only becomes an issue when forward movement is hindered.