A Coaching Power Tool created by Lara Steward
(Health Living Coach, IOWA, UNITED STATES)
A young woman, named Abby, was at the beginning of her career when she was given a great opportunity. All she had worked for and studied for was to one day become a nursing home administrator. She was awarded this position and found herself in the midst of giant challenge. Abby, not having any administration experience of this magnitude ran mostly on her will power to succeed.
When it came to compassion for the residents Abby had tons. When it came to support of her staff members Abby also had tons. When it came to solving one emergency problem after another she became overwhelmed quickly. Abby wasn’t a quitter and she wanted with her whole being to succeed and to succeed above all expectations.
Abby found herself working later and later at night. She came in to the facility in the middle of the night to solve problems and during the weekends. Her pager was always in her pocket and her cell phone was ringing constantly. Staff were quitting because facilities problems were so deep. Residents and their family members were then complaining of the lack of staff to help and the staff that was there didn’t do good work. So, Abby found herself at the facility more than at home filling in for open positions. She so feared a resident would be injured due to lack of quality care. This result Abby couldn’t bear because she felt 110% responsible for the care for the residents.
Her will power was huge; however her soul and heart were hurting badly. She was tired, frustrated, irritable, and unhealthy all around. Her marriage was suffering. Her spirit was suffering. Abby wanted to run and not look back. How had she gotten in this position? How could she get the facility out of danger and more importantly the residents out of danger? She had no one to rely on, had no one to trust, and felt she had to put on the face that she had it all together; when really Abby was desperately grasping to hold on to just something. What was she missing? Abby was using her adrenalin all day every day.
Things did get better. Abby hired great department leaders; who she was very honest with in regards to facility challenges and her deep concerns. Teams were put into place to solve problems. All staff positions were filled and staff members were all retrained so that improved care was given. All residents were communicated to in regards to staff changes and expectation they can have of them. Abby was delegating and was getting some of her personal time back. However, the personal damage was done.
Abby quit after only two years. She totally turned the facility around in all areas and even made it profitable. Living on will power and trying to succeed on will power alone took all the wind out of her sail. When she finally discovered structure and how valuable it was it was too late. Abby achieved her goal by turning around a facility so that it was a safe and happy place for the elderly to live but at a great cost. She had no energy left or will power to see the final product live on. Abby really couldn’t enjoy her success.
Put yourself in Abby’s shoes. Can you feel her anxiety? Can you feel her desire to succeed? Can you feel her loss of direction and constant scrambling to find her way? What was missing from Abby’s work model? Could it be structure? Did you get the sense that she was lonely in her fight to make the facility a good one?
First of all, let’s look at structure a bit more. What is it? Structure is the manner in which something is constructed. How was Abby supported by structure? How was Abby supported by will power? Why did it take Abby so long to effectively building structure? Many of us have experienced times such as these.
Second of all, let’s look at the importance of structure in our lives. We all put some level of structure in our lives. Whether it is how we get ready in the morning. How we pay our bills every month on time. How we clean our house. How we stay fit. How we eat healthy. There are many structures we live within. But, why do we do it? Haven’t we all been at a point when we realize that something isn’t working and we investigate why and how we can make it work better? This is putting structure in your life.
For example… you hang a pretty heavy picture with two screws, one to support each of the top corners of the frame. A few days go by and you look and your picture isn’t straight anymore. You investigate and realize that one of the screws has ripped the drywall and is almost ready to fall out. However, the other screw is very firm. You investigate further and the other screw was screwed into a stud in the wall. You then, determine your heavy picture needs more structure to support the weight. The picture is then hung again but this time using adequate structure.
Going back to Abby how would structure have helped her? Can you identify with how her stress level could have been lessened if she had put more structures into place earlier on? Structures can help do the thinking with you. Think of the picture hanging example above. If you didn’t investigate the root cause of the problem you would be fixing it every day by pushing the screw back into the same hole. Having discovered that more structure is needed you were able to fix the problem and continue to move forward in life a much happier less annoyed person.
Structures can come in so many forms such as cement, wood, people as support, calendars, time management skill building, steps you are going to follow when xyz happens, or maybe it is as simple as something you tell yourself when you feel a certain way. It doesn’t have to be rocket science to create a structure. You can help a client by listening as they talk through a problem, then asking them questions to help them discover the root of the problem, and then provide a supportive and safe place for them to identify a structure that they can use to move through the challenge. You, their coach, can be part of their structure!
- What do you feel when you think about will power?
- What do you feel when you think about structure?
- Can you share a time when you used just will power to achieve something? How did it feel at the time? Would adding structures have made achieving easier?
- What structures in your life have saved you energy, time, and frustration?
- Can you give an example of something you didn’t achieve because you didn’t have adequate structure?
- How can you help a client shift perspective on a challenge by using this power tool?