A Coaching Power Tool Created by Marie Laure Dancer
(Career Coach, MALAYSIA)
Or the battle between our « Ideal » Self and our « Ought » Self
You can be anything you want to be, have anything you desire, accomplish anything you set out to accomplish – if you will hold to that desire with singleness of purpose. – Robert E Lee
Rebecca is a very successful woman. At 36, she is a board member of her company. She is considered as an accomplished woman, supervising a team of 150 persons. She works in a very competitive and demanding industry : the finance sector.
Everyone admires her. She shows incredible skills in leading a team. She has demonstrated abilities to analyze, to gather scattered information’s, to prioritize actions, to make decisions. Everyone agrees on the fact that she has a bright future.
She is really an example for her colleagues. Her parents, husband are very proud of her successful career. However she hasn’t sacrificed everything to it, She is happy in her marriage, has two children and if she sometimes struggles to balance her life, she handles everything perfectly well.
Then, one day, she is not able to move forward. She suddenly stops working and she’s been on medical leave for five months. She has no more energy to go back to work for a job she is however good at.
Listening to a friend’s advice, she meets a coach once a week. At the beginning she feels really guilty of her burn-out. She says she must regain her energy to go back to her demanding job Her speech is that she has everything to be happy but she feels an unexplained lassitude.
She must not deceive her relatives who are so proud of her career.
It is important to have a successful career, to be the best.
She gradually takes consciousness that even if she has amazing skills to be a leader, to meet the challenges and to wear the « competitive » suit, it is just a suit. This suit is far away from who she is and the person she dreams of to be.
She recognizes that she has always lived up to her mother’s expectations. Her mother is a famous politician who really enjoys competing, be the first and win the race. She was a very supportive parent to achieve goals, to encourage her to compete and to make demands of herself.
However, she reminds that when she was a child and visited her grand parents she loved to contemplate nature, to wander in the countryside. She had not so many opportunities to do it as she had to work hard, to practice her piano and take part in piano competitions.
She discovers that her values and inner nature are not fulfilled in a competitive environment.
At the end, she realizes that she can use her skills in a more meaningful environment respecting her « Ideal » Self.
In the following months, Rebecca quits her job and is hired in a NGO defending economic development in emerging countries.
She is now attentive about taking the time to care for herself practicing yoga and having week-ends in the country. She also devotes a few hours a week mentoring women who want to run a business.
Her salary has been shrunk in half but she is definitely happier as her life doesn’t meet other’s expectations but her personal vision of an authentic life. Se has not reached her « Ideal Self » yet but has designed the path to get close.
A personal vision can be defined as a vivid, imaginative anticipation or conception of what we want to be. It is about who is our “Ideal Self” The goal of a personal vision is self-realization and this is involved to be detached from other’s expectations, which is not easy to achieve as sometimes we are not conscious that our actions or behaviors are based on somebody else desire or expectations.
We have a lot of selves and one of them is the « Ought Self ». It is the part of the « Ideal Self » that others people are giving us. It is the cage of the other’s expectations. It might come from our parents, our education, our spouse. We can feel like a sense of obligation to our family, to others. We often lose sight of our personal vision, « Ideal Self » and dreams due to effects of chronic stress and preoccupation with analytics.
We can dream our “Ideal Self” but most often our “Ought Self” comes across this motivation for change.
The « Ought Self » is motivated by our duties, the convention, what is right to be, the way others think you are successful, because there are some rules to be considered as successful. But these rules are relative. If in your family, success means money, you won’t be considered as successful dedicating your life to be a social worker. If your family thinks that to be an artist or an intellectual is the path for a successful and worthy life, they won’t really admire you if you run a business.
A lot of people live their life according to other’s expectations, they adjust themselves unconsciously to the « It is the best for you ». It’s sometimes surprising how little we know about the reasons we’ve made the decisions we have.
It is interesting to dig in the process of making decision and to be inquisitive. This is a good way to guess if it is about you or others expectations. We all have a voice in our mind talking to us. The voice may be from a parent, friend, or boss. If it’s not your own, that is worth some examination.
If, for example, you hear your father’s voice, you can ask yourself how big of an influence he has on your decision. Once that is clear, you can decide if you agree with his impact on your life, how it is aligned with your values, desires and ambitions.
How does it look like to set a personal vision?
We set a personal vision of what we want to achieve: we see it out in front of us, and we decide on a plan to get there. There’s a good chance we may not enjoy every single step of the path, and this probably won’t feel good.
This kind of “feeling uncomfortable” is natural, and not necessarily a sign of attempting to live up to the expectations of others. It is simply part of the process of following through with the steps necessary to reach this goal.
When a client comes along and asks for coaching there is an urge for change. It is our role to assist them in their own growth, an inspiring and motivated sustained development.
Dr. Richard Boyatzis, PHD professor at the Case Western Reserve University- Cleveland developed with his peers the Intentional Change Theory (ICT). It is a model of sustained, desired change.
Empowering our « Ideal Self »: Define our personal vision
The motivation for change stems from finding our passion and our dreams and breaking from the « Ought Self ».
The five discoveries of Intentional Change Theory are :
- the Ideal Self: The person we aspire to be, our personal vision of this person
- The Real Self: who we are with our strenghts and weaknesses
- The learning Agenda and plan to move closer to your vision
- Experimentation and practice with new thoughts, feelings, or behaviors and
- Resonant relationships – Supportive relationships that make the rest of the discoveries
The « Ought Self » might affect all the stages of an Intentional Change. Actually, when you want to make a sustainable change in your life, this goal will be confronted to your « Ought Self ». When you dream of your « Ideal Self », your « Ought Self » might arise asking you « Won’t you disappoint some beloved persons ? » When you face your « Real Self » especially the weaknesses, your « ought Self » might whisper « Does it worth making so many efforts ? » and during your learning Agenda, it will come and tell you : « You ought to …. instead of being so focused on yourself ».
What makes us change to achieve our self accomplishment?
What is the perspective we want to achieve ?
We need to envision the person we want to be, our « ideal self ». Ideal Self or personal vision is not an irresponsible or narcissistic issue. It is about how we would love to be as a person. Visioning who we want to be. It is part of the mindfulness technique. The ideal self guides us to pay attention to cues for achievement and successful goal pursuit.
The question is to identify the path to bring us closer to this person. The first step is to identify our « real self » with its strenghts and its weaknesses. Ours strenghts are the parts which empower our « Ideal Self », which make it possible.
When our real self does not align with our ideal self, we typically feel disappointed, sad or despondent Our weaknesses are the ones making us aware that we need a support or to form strategic alliances to move forward. It is also an opportunity for growth, experimenting new thoughts or behaviors.
Ideal Self or personal vision is not an irresponsible or narcissistic issue. It is about how we would love to be as a person. Visioning who we want to be : it is part of the mindfulness technique.
When we achieve goals related to our ideal self (our promotion focus), we feel pleasure.
Our « Ought Self » is to focus on other’s expectations It is the « self » of feeling guilty, anxious. For example, « I used the family money to become a profesional coach, I have to make money with it to justify the expenditure». It is not just for my personal growth. These thoughts lead to anxiety and feeling of pressure.
To achieve a sustainable desire change, we need to empower our Real Self to get close from our « Ideal Self » and to be conscious of our « Ought Self » to master it.
- Ask yourself, “What are the reasons I want this goal or made this decision?”
- Take the time to check out whose voice you are hearing in your head when you consider the goal.
- Ask yourself, how will people close to you feel about your statement of (and completion of) this goal?
- Go through past goals you have achieved. Are they the result of your « Ideal Self » or your « Ought Self »
- Explore anything you do that doesn’t “feel good.”
- If you never had to work another day in your life, how would you spend your time instead of working?
- When your life is ending, what will you regret not doing, seeing, or achieving?
- What strengths have other people commented on about you and your accomplishments? What strengths do you see in yourself?
- What weaknesses have other people commented on about you and what do you believe are your weaknesses?