A Coaching Power Tool Created by Lashley Pulsipher
(Leadership Coach, DUBAI)
Imagine that your car is in the shop for service so you call an Uber to take you to work. You pack up your things, grab your coffee mug, and head out to meet the driver. You look at the name and profile of the driver so you can find him easily. You notice the driver has a 4.9-star rating and more than 5000 rides. He pulls up in front of your house and you get in the back seat, put your bag on the seat next to you, and put your coffee into the cup holder so you can review some notes for your meeting on the way there. You take a sip of your coffee as he turns out of your neighbourhood, cruises down the main street, and heads toward the freeway into the city.
You think to yourself “the traffic isn’t so bad for a Tuesday” as the car merges onto the freeway. The next thing you know, however, your head snaps back against the seat as the driver suddenly accelerates past the cars on his right to get into the carpool lane. He looks at you apologetically in the rear view mirror. You go back to reading the minutes, feeling a little annoyed. The driver’s phone rings and he answers it. He starts arguing loudly with the person on the other end. He speeds up and swerves into the middle lane honking at the car on his left and shouting out the window as your coffee tumbles out of the cup holder spraying hot liquid all over your legs. You bend down to start wiping off your legs when he swerves back into the left lane and your coffee falls out of your hand spilling all over the papers that had fallen out of your grip. You sit up and tell the driver to slow down and drive more carefully. He ignores you and gets back on the phone. You shout at him as he almost misses the exit and recklessly swerves across three lanes of traffic to get off the freeway. He blasts through the red light at the off-ramp, barely missing a collision with oncoming traffic.
Your heart is racing, you start to feel nauseated and frightened. The driver is getting more agitated because of his phone call. You shout at him to “get off the phone!” and pay attention to the road. He angrily gets off the phone a few minutes later and glowers at you in the rear view mirror. You are now feeling quite scared and angry. You have a huge presentation at 9:00 am and you won’t have time to clean yourself up or print new documents before you have to greet the board. You feel anxious and stressed. The driver takes a wrenching right turn that slams you up against the window. You scream at him to stop and he slams on the brakes 100 meters from your office building and shouts at you to get out of the car. You barely have time to gather all your things before the tires squeal and he speeds off down the street, cars honking, brakes screeching. You have to run the next three blocks to arrive on time. You cram yourself into a crowded elevator and step off at the 39th-floor disheveled, out of breath, and aggravated.
The presentation does not go well. Your coffee-stained notes are out of order. You are distracted and flustered. The board responds to your anxious energy by being combative and unsupportive of your proposal. The rest of the day you are on edge, irritated, angry. You call your best friend at lunchtime and share the harrowing details of the ride share experience earlier that day and you feel nauseated and angry all over again. At 5:00 pm you get a call from the dealership and your car repairs are complete. They said they will deliver your car to your house first thing in the morning and are sending you a driver to take you home tonight.
The next morning your car is sitting in your parking spot. Buffed, polished, and shining in the morning sun. Your bag feels light on your shoulder and the morning dew glistens on the flowers lining the sidewalk. Your coffee mug feels warm as you pass it into your other hand so you can unlock the car. Your keys tinkle in your hand and with a pleasant chirp, your automatic locks open. You drop your bag in the backseat and then you ease into the driver’s seat behind the steering wheel.
As you start the ignition your seat glides into your preset position, cradling you in the plush leather as you check your mirrors. Everything is exactly how it should be. You put the car into drive and easily merge onto your street. Your phone syncs with the stereo and you hear the familiar melody of the theme music for your favourite podcast and the dulcet tones of the host’s voice introducing the topic of the day – the power of the subconscious mind.
As you get ready to merge onto the freeway the driver beside you smiles and waves you in. You wave back, smile to yourself, and take a deep breath in and notice that the dealership remembered your favourite scent is jasmine and must have sprayed a spritz or two inside your car before they dropped it off. “How thoughtful of them,” you think to yourself.
You tune back into the podcast. The guest shares a quote from Joseph Murphy about how to make sure you have a great day – “Just keep your conscious mind busy with the expectation of the best.” You glance at the car on your right and see a young professional in the back of a ride-share car holding papers who is gesturing confidently and appears to be silently rehearsing for an upcoming presentation. You start to think about yesterday’s commute into work and feel your heart starts to beat faster, you get a sick feeling in your stomach, and feel a flush of anger and embarrassment in your cheeks as you start to think of yesterday.
Brake lights on the car in front of you suddenly brighten and catch your eye. You take a deep breath in and bring your attention back to the present moment and your heartbeat slows back down. The podcast guest continues quoting Murphy – “The only path by which another person can upset you is through your own thought.” “Hmmm…,” you say to yourself, “I’ll need to Google that later.” You take in the view of the city as the freeway winds down the hill toward your exit. You’ve never noticed how pretty the skyline in the morning light. The tall buildings subtly sparkle in the sun.
You merge onto the off-ramp and the traffic light ahead glows green. Traffic continues to flow along uninterrupted as if the traffic lights were suddenly synchronized by divine power. You pull up to your office building as a car pulls out of one of the parking spots directly in front of the entrance. You park, grab your bag, and saunter into the lobby and into an open elevator. You smile and feel calm as the elevator floats steadily up to your floor. You walk into your office, open your email and find great news about a potential client you’ve been working on for months.
Passenger: (noun) a person who is travelling in a vehicle who is traveling in a vehicle but is not operating it, such as a pilot, driver, captain, or conductor
Many of us find ourselves in unexpected, frustrating, and sometimes scary situations resulting from what we perceive are the actions of others. We find ourselves in the backseats of our lives as they seem to be driven by some external force that is not under our control.
While the actions of others can certainly have some kind of impact on us, it is ultimately up to each of us to choose how we will react to what happens and move forward. In any given situation we are either taking responsibility, and driving ourselves toward the desired outcome, or we are blaming others for what is happening to us, or preventing us from accomplishing our goals.
Coaches support their clients by helping them to recognize the perspective that is framing their view of themselves and the world around them.
When we sense a client is viewing things a passenger stuck in the back seat of their life, we can help them step out of this passive position and get into the driver’s seat and take control.
- What are some areas in your life where you are the one driving? How do you feel about being in the driver’s seat?
- What are some areas in your life where you feel like you are a passenger? When do you find yourself blaming other people or other circumstances?
- What perspectives or beliefs were present in the circumstances?
- What would you like to happen?
- What would it look like if you were to get behind the steering wheel now?
- When you find yourself in the backseat of your life what can you do to change your position and perspective?
Changing Perspectives Visualization
Harnessing the power of sensory perception to help change perspectives we can ask the client to physically get up and imagine that they are getting out of the back seat and get into the driver’s seat by sitting in a different chair. Lead a visualization accompanied by questions about the visual, auditory, kinesthetic, and even olfactory and gustatory experience of changing roles to deepen the sensory experience.
- As a coach are you staying in the driver’s seat of your coaching practice?
- How can falling into a passenger’s perspective take you away from your work with clients?
- What can you do to put yourself in the right seat for managing your coaching business and being present in your coaching sessions?
- How can you act as a true co-pilot with your clients, ensuring that you are not putting them in the backseat of their own sessions?