A Coaching Power Tool Created by Mary Kathryn Marcom
(Life Coach, UNITED STATES)
As I studied the Power Tools and went through the courses and discussions, my own view on the ability to achieve success in goal-setting as well as the importance of putting things in a positive perspective was reaffirmed. The way I look at any given situation can alter my view and my attitudes toward it.
I have lived with chronic illness most of my life, and the way I view it can have a dramatic effect not just on me but on those around me. One of my physicians several years ago told me he preferred to look at me as challenging and not as someone who is complicated. I had just been to a nephrologist he had referred me to, and that nephrologist said he could not see me because I was too complicated. I love the difference in perspectives in the two doctors, and I have never forgotten it.
When I wake up thinking about the day ahead as a journey and a challenge, I leave the complications of my chronic illness behind and focus instead on the challenge of living well with it. I am able to see it in a positive light, as something that can be managed rather than something that makes my life more difficult. This enables me to be with coworkers, friends, and family, and enjoy the time I do have with them, rather than focusing on all the things they do that I’m unable to do. It’s all about perspective. Seeing things one way can create a negative, almost self-sabotaging view while altering perspectives can greatly encourage success.
Out of my own experience comes my ICA Power Tool. By viewing my illness as challenging rather than complicated, the fear goes out of it. Each day becomes about challenging myself, being motivated to be the best I can be, rather than worrying about the long list of complications that might interfere with my quality of life. This Power Tool works for me, anyway, and I like to use it with others.
The Power Tool I am writing about is Challenging vs. Complicated. To start, let’s define the two, according to Webster’s dictionary:
- offering a challenge; testing one’s ability, endurance, or
- stimulating, interesting, and thought-provoking: a challenging suggestion or
- provocative; intriguing: a challenging smile.
- Composed of elaborately interconnected parts; complex or
- difficult to analyze, understand, explain
This is one of my favourite Power Tools and has implications not only for Coaching clients but also for Coaches themselves. Using Complicated as a Power Tool suggests that something is almost too difficult to achieve and out of reach to someone who does not want to spend lots of time and energy figuring out an issue. It suggests something very difficult to understand or solve.
However, viewing the same issue as Challenging might suggest that yes, there may be a little difficulty, but that it can still be overcome. Challenging suggests images of a slow, uphill climb, with the feeling of victory waiting at the top. It motivates and encourages, unlike Complicated, which suggests many hurdles and problems overcome on that uphill climb, almost making it impossible. Complication suggests near impossibilities, whereas Challenging suggests possibilities.
Consider, for example, a client who is not very computer literate but who wants to set up a Linked In profile. If he views it as complicated, he is likely to approach setting up an account with negativity, fear and dread, thinking perhaps that he will not be able to succeed, or that if he does succeed, it will only be with a great deal of work and exhaustion. He sees it as a burden and it becomes a weight, something to avoid.
If, on the other hand, he sees setting up his Linked In account as a challenge, his energy will shift, and he will feel energy, inspiration, and excitement. He will likely be motivated and embrace the idea almost as he would embrace a dare as if he’s ready to confront the issue. He feels provoked and motivated. Viewing it as a challenge rather than as a difficult and complicated task enables the client to move toward success.
Thus, the client’s likelihood of achieving his goal increases by changing his perspectives. As his Coach, by simply helping him shift his perspective from Complicated to Challenging, the client then finds his motivation and has the energy and drive to achieve his goal. A Complicated goal might provide less incentive than a Challenging goal. Rather than feeling fearful and putting it off, he now has the encouragement and drives to set up his profile on Linked In and takes on the challenge because he sees it as manageable and doable.
This power tool can also be useful for Coaches, not only in the way a Coach views a client but also in how the Coach pursues their own work. Having a Client who is challenging may not be nearly as fear-producing as having a client who is complicated. It becomes all about the perspective and how the Coach views the Client.
The power tool is also helpful to Coaches in their own life and work. For example, simply writing this paper and choosing a power tool can be a real block if seen as complicated. The thinking might be “it’s hard, it’s complex, it’s too difficult” and produce a mentality of “I’ll just wait and do it later”. However, if choosing the power tool is seen as a challenge, the thinking becomes “I can do this, I need to decide which one to use, I want to get this done and I’ll feel so good then,” so the approach becomes one of energy, enthusiasm, and motivation.
I know this because I procrastinated choosing my Power Tool. I was overthinking it, wanting it to be the perfect one. It just seemed so difficult. After talking with a peer coach about some things I needed to finish up, I realized I was going about it wrong. I was making it way too complicated!! Shifting my thinking, I looked at this paper instead as a Challenge, and BOOM, I realized I could do it. I felt motivated, encouraged, energized, and knew that I merely had to face it head-on, and then I was fired up. I knew it was manageable.
And see how the change of perspective worked?