A Coaching Power Tool created by Omprakash Padmanabharaju
(Leadership and Sales Training, INDIA)
Your visions will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakens.” ― C.G. Jung
Introspection: (dictionary.com) Observation or examination of one’s own mental and emotional state, mental processes, etc.; the act of looking within oneself.
Extrospection: (dictionary.com) The consideration and observation of things external to the self; examination and study of externals.
For me an expression I read makes my Power Tool really meaningful –
You can’t see the forest for the trees.
Here the forest is the external environment, a holistic view, the macro and the trees represent the internal systems, the micros. Both the forest and the trees are important. However, sometimes, people focus on the forest and thereby miss out the trees and at times it is the other way round.
Introspection (the trees) is examination of one’s own conscious thoughts and feelings. In psychology the process of introspection relies exclusively on observation of one’s mental state, while in a spiritual context it may refer to the examination of one’s soul. Introspection is closely related to human self-reflection.
Extrospection (the forest) is the observation of things external to one’s own mind, as opposed to introspection, which is the direct observation of one’s minds internal processes. Extrospection is ordinary sense perception or reasoning concerning the things so perceived.
Thus, both introspection and extrospection can be conducted with different levels of focus. In extrospection, the levels may range from the intense concentration of a thinker pursuing a process of logical deduction to the peripheral awareness of a man walking on the street. In introspection, too, the man who maintains a generalized awareness of his emotions while attending a cocktail party will have a different level of focus than the patient and therapist attempting to identify an emotion of pain repressed in childhood.
Continue reading… Having worked as a human resource professional for over a decade it amazes me how in many ways the human part of the function is reducing, as more and more importance is given to resource management and processes.
When I was working on the coaching tool and in relation to my case study subject, I realized that knowingly or unknowingly we become victims of situation, surrounding and culture that may or may not be conducive in the long term.
Self Awareness = Introspection + Extrospection
Both are necessary if a person has to evolve and move to the next level of awareness.
Consider the following situation
Tarun is a small scale business entrepreneur, engaged in the manufacture of hosiery. He employs 5 people, yet is not able to trust them enough and delegate responsibilities. As a result he finds that people join the company, learn the skill and then leave. Though his team had provided him this feedback, he was unable to accept the same. Being able to introspect is empowering.
As the problem started aggravating in the form of high attrition, low morale and productivity (that is the external environment started getting impacted), Tarun started realizing the urgent need to change himself (his internal environment).
The first step was to introspect and become aware of the truth in others’ feedback. Once Tarun was able to reflect and introspect quietly, look within and understand himself, he was in a position to accept the fact that the underlying belief that he alone could do everything right was what prevented him from trusting others and delegating work to them. Awareness of your external environment helps take informed decisions.
Once we become aware of our internal mental and emotional processes, becoming realistic about our external environment enables us to take informed decisions.
Once Tarun was aware what stopped him from trusting others, he was able to address this belief. As a next step, he reframed his perspective by gathering data regarding his employees, their skills and abilities. This enabled him to realize that 2 of his employees had the capability he was looking for and he was thereby able to trust and delegate additional responsibilities to them.
As Coaches, we need to be constantly aware of the sharing that the client is doing and allow him / her to go within to explore the underlying beliefs, values and spaces.
Through powerful questioning and listening, the Coach can lead the client to a powerful reflective / introspective mode.
The Coach needs to listen and question powerfully in order to enable the client to introspect and reflect.
- Would you like to reflect on what is causing this discomfort?
- Where do you think this thought / opinion / feeling is coming from?
- What is the kind of emotion you are experiencing right now and where are you feeling this in your body?
Introspection enables the client to become aware of the triggers, the underlying beliefs, the fears, the perspectives and the values that drive all of this.
Once the client develops this awareness, extrospection enables the client to move forward towards action. Here too, powerful questioning enables the Coach to move the client forward to certain outcomes.
- How would you deal with this trigger / belief / fear?
- What action would you like to take in order to reframe this perspective?
- Whose help would you seek to support you in this journey?
Triggers the Coach needs to look out for
In conclusion, a coach is essentially believed to be a person who needs to allow the Coachee to introspect – i.e. reflect, discover, unleash options and potential.
However, when the Coachee’s reflection, underlying beliefs and situation mirror a life situation of the Coach, the coach can get attached and thereby become judgmental and push the client to extrospect (focus on things external). Thus he / she may also start leading the discussion instead of staying detached.
An e.g. Coachee is facing abuse in office; coach has also faced similar situation. Instead of allowing coachee to explore options that focus on his/her potential (introspect) to face/get out of the situation, the coach may lead the discussion towards how the coachee will handle the abuser (extrospect). Thus it is now not about the coachee but about something external to the coachee.
Thus both introspection and extrospection need to be enabled and used by the Coach without getting attached or judgmental or transferring ones’ life situations on to the Coachee.
- What does introspection and extrospection mean to you? Give examples.
- Do you think an awareness of both is important or is one more important than the other? Please give reasons.
- Please share few applications of this Power Tool in your coaching process