A Coaching Power Tool Created by Nawal Bendefa
(Career Coach, SINGAPORE)
Even a happy life cannot be without a measure of darkness, and the word happy would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness. It is far better take things as they come along with patience and equanimity. Carl Jung
What inspire me?
This power tool is inspired by my experience as a coach and a student in ICA.
During the classes and practicums, I was amazed by our ability as coaches to move from the expectations area to the intention of presence area.
With the experience and the valuable feedback we got, we see that our presence is more valuable to the clients than our expectations. We let go of our personal agenda and we dedicate our time and energy to the client and his agenda.
But we can still keep slightly some expectations in our mind : develop our presence and enhance our questioning techniques for the best intention : supporting the client ever and forever.
The story: A mix of Grimm’s Brothers and a piece of contemporary life
One upon a time there was a nice lady living in a beautiful house with her family and having a beautiful life full of joy, happiness and daily challenges.
She was happy and wanted her life to be just like that.
One day, while going to the market she found a mirror. While wondering who’s mirror it is, she realised that it is talking to her :
“You are beautiful milady, but you can also be the most beautiful woman in the world”
“You have a nice life milady, but you can have a better life with more money and power”
The nice lady started worrying about her life and her accomplishments. She started looking at her life in a different way, as if something was missing…and then as if everything was missing.
She started making lists and lists of expectations followed by frustrations and a bitter feeling of unaccomplishment.
She became rude with her family members because they are not perfect and they don’t meet her expectations.
She was suffering and so was her family. Joy and happiness had left her heart while desires and frustrations took hold of her.
Of course, any ressemblance to reality will be a result of pure chance and coincidental.
Any expectations today?
It seems that we do have a list of those. Consciously or unconsciously, expectations are everywhere in our daily life and usually, this word comes in plural.
The Merriam webster define expectations as “a belief that something will happen or is likely to happen” or “A feeling or belief about how successful, good,etc, someone or something will be”.
At first sight, expectations tend to be positive and quite helpful in giving structure: what do I want? How do I want it? when? where?
In realty most of our expectations are pushed to an extreme obsession, especially when we put in them a high amount of personal desires : I want it to be done my way…You owe me a certain quality or service, I expect you to be perfect, to be the friend I want you to be and not the one you are right now….and I and I and la la la…
Also, if we look closely, we can notice that we are surrounded by expectations : ours but also the ones from the people we interact with. Parents, boss, teachers, kids… we are thorn apart by them as they can be contradictory sometimes.
Mixed with desire and ego, expectations could turn a peaceful life to a nightmare as in the story above.
What are your intentions today?
In the merriam-Webester, the intention is the thing you plan to do or achieve. An aim or purpose. Intention is a determination to act in a certain way.
- It’s what one intends to do or bring about1.
- The object for which a prayer, mass or pious act in offered1.
- A concept considered as the product of attention directed to an object of knowledge1.
In Scholastic logic and psychology, the intention is a concept used to describe a mode of being or relation between a mind and an object1.
As synonyms we find: purpose, design, aim, goal, objective1
The word “intention” is widely used in prayers, yoga, meditation and mindfulness exercises. Although the dictionary implies that the intention is linked to a plan and a list of attainable achievements, the yoga and meditation practitioners define intention as different from setting a goal “the intention focuses on what is of most value to you in the now, the goal is directed toward a future outcome” 
Either way the intention looks like a nice and balanced place to be, especially if we stick to our list : I intend to be calm today, to live the moment, to acknowledge my family for they love and presence, to forgive, to smile…
When expectations meet intentions in a coaching session
In the area of the red star, the client has high expectations of himself and the others. He is under pressure of a specific outcome and his definition of success is likely to be unrealistic and unattainable.
He has no intention to open a window for other possibilities and the fear of failure, or a certain definition of failure is very present.
- SMART analysis : Are your expectations realistic? Attainable? Measurable?
- Do you have enough ressources?
- What will happen if you fail? what will happen to you? What will happen to the others?
- Who would you be without your expectations?
- How would you manage the unexpected?
The client is fully present, positive and mindful. He has the best of intention but no structure, no plan and nos vision.
- What do you really really want?
- Where are you now and where do you want to go?
- What’s possible? What's best?
- When? Where? Who?
The client is in the intersection between intentions and expectations. He is curious and want to anticipate. He wants to set a vision and immediate objectives and he is willing to visualise possibilities. He is open to a new experience in case the plan didn’t run as expected.
- What are the things you are doing that serve well your productivity?
- What could possibly get in your way?
- How would you feel if the outcomes are not aligned with your vision?
- What would you do if the plan didn't run as planed?
A wonderful gift may not be wrapped as you expect. Jonathan Lockwood Huie
I have to admit that I come from the red star place (diagram above).
In my survival kit, self-expectations were at the top : behave well, be good at school, work hard, be always present for your family and friends, be always ready for self-abnegation and when the others dont respond well to your expectations : manage your frustrations.
I realised that when I was busy making my list of expectations, I wasn’t really paying attention to what was happening really:
- I was loosing friends who were not able to cope with my expectations
- I was not delegating properly to my team members fearing the delivery not to meet expectations.
- I was reacting more than responding.
Bringing the intentions to my expectations helped me:
- Live the present without giving up on my vision for the future.
- Release my ego and work on my own sel
- Consider that the essence of my work as a coach is the client satisfaction and not me dealing with my expectations.
- Open up to my intuition and live well with the unexpected, especially in a coaching session.
- have fun
I am sure there are other underlying benefits, it’s all about finding the balance and feeling comfortable with the idea that this balance is not eternal. We need to explore continuously and adjust to change.
Knowing your darkness is the best method for dealing with the darkness of other people. Carl Jung
When looking at the diagram above, either coming from a high expectations/low intentions place or from a high intentions/low expectations place, the client is in the coaching session for a balance he wants to find.
Exploring the issue might take us to ask:
- What are the limiting believes?
- What are the tolerations and the frustrations?
- What are the patterns?
Moving the client forward and helping him plant the seed of intention might take us to explore the “opposite me”:
- Can you allow yourself a day without expectations? (or a day with some expectations)
- How would you feel?
- Any expectations from a day without expectations?! (some humour)
- What would you like to add to your intentions?
- When was the last time you’ve done something for the first time? (and without expectations)
- What are the things you are ready to change right away?
- What are your intentions today?
- Could you try to:
- Watch a movie without reading a review?
- Try a meal without knowing the ingredients?
- What would you like to find in this box?
This power tool is connected to other power tools roaming around the Be-Do-Have concept and also Carl Jung research about the preferences.
Some people prefer to look to the big picture and then deal with details as they come, some prefer to look at the details and set everything right before starting a project.
As I said earlier, it is all about the balance the clients are seeking : how would they like to respond to life, events, pressure… my intention as a coach is to support them reach the area of choices and possibilities.
The shoe that fits one person pinches another ; there is no recipe for living that suits all cases. Carl Jung