A Coaching Power Tool Created by Pat Moseley
(Career Coach, UNITED KINGDOM)
What is confusion and how does it lead to the solution. For some time I have been wrestling with why do I need my power tool. Reading and absorbing all the useful power tools in the course content and thinking surely this is enough. How many ways do you need to help a client change their perspective? Discussing this challenge in my state of confusion with my peer colleagues in coach supervision I had that “ahh hah!” moment, as one of my peers described it. Linking your power tool around who you are as a coach, really focusing on what your model will involve, and how you want to work with your clients, you get to see the importance and for me the “WHY” it is important to have your power tool. Simon Sinek encourages people to “Start with Why”. This is what I now realize “why to have a power tool” was so important for me to work through before I could put pen to paper. We all have a different way that is ours to discover and it is important to work in that space of confusion first to find your why understand how this is going to help define and design what actions you need to take that move forward.
My coaching practice is all about the journey an individual travels along as they transition in their lives or their careers. Working to explore the obstacles, barriers, thoughts, and feelings and the learning of moving forward instead of at times going round in circles or not wishing to start to move forward or to transition at all. In that space, the reframement or the perspective that needs to be worked on can bring with it confusion and fear. Confusion vs Solution. The voices of self-doubt, inner or outwardly shown, speak very loudly and stop the movement forward.
Enabling a client to move forward by asking powerful questions to bring that reflection to their thoughts (conscious or unconscious) and feelings. If we look at Greek philosophy – “Socrates did not wish to impart knowledge; he sought to instead encourage self-understanding”.
“uncertainty about what is happening, intended, or required, the state of being bewildered or unclear in one’s mind about something.”
We see the world our way so how do we change this and how do we help our clients to reframe to make that shift in their mind and see things differently. For me the discussion with peers around what was important about a power tool to help with reframing a perception. I could not see the importance, as I was looking only at the granular level of all the areas we already know and have learned about from the valuable information to hand as we studied. Aligning my thinking to what type of power tool could complement my model straight away allowed that shift to happen. Before this I kept going around in circles, reading the examples without applying a link. Once the link was formed I could move forward with seeing how this tool could work for my clients.
Working in that confusion to explore thinking, behaviors, ideas, and values help to show who your client is and what they are holding onto. For me, the idea I was holding onto was “I don’t need anything else” – I don’t see the rationale for another tool. Once I started exploring this space I realized that this exactly what my clients may also be thinking, feeling. The importance of their values and beliefs may be holding them from moving forward. What underlying belief may be being held onto. To test this I worked with one of my clients who wanted to transition in her career and make a fundamental change.
“Joan was a successful career coach working with students in a secondary school. She enjoyed working with the students and the human inter-action but she did not enjoy all of the administrative tasks she needed to complete for each student and year on the year she was getting more and more unhappy and dissolution. She knew that she wanted to change and started to explore all the areas she enjoyed in her life. She first took a training course to qualify as a personal trainer, she then completed another course to train as a yoga teacher and when we met she was in the final stage of training to teach a dance fitness class Zumba. She described all the things she had accomplished over the last 18 months and in the description, the passion and excitement were clear from her voice. As we explored the importance of why she had gone in the direction she had and where she believed it was going to lead her, she admitted that she did not know. She wanted to do something that made her feel happy but could not see where this could now lead her as she was an educator. “Tell me what to do” she implored.
A coach will not provide the solution but by working in the confusion and drawing out what is causing the confusion we worked together to her solution. Joan joined me in a state of confusion, self-doubt, and fear of what to do next. Confused by what to do with the learning she had embarked on which was her passion and in her own words brought her to “her happy place”, self-doubt and inner conflict from her upbringing that she had to have a “proper job” and fear that she had wasted her time and money. The aspect of the fitness qualifications she had undertaken fell into the category of not having a “proper job” as defined by her parents and therefore she did not feel she could allow herself to view something that could give her the passion and excitement back, as worthwhile or “allowed”. She was going round and round in circles, listening to her inner voices and putting barriers in the way of her moving forward. A very strong underlying belief formed way back in her childhood she realized had been the barrier to her moving forward.
Walk with your clients in their confusion – explore their beliefs, hear the inner voices and powerful questions will bring them to the surface. Help your client to recognize this so that they take control to move to a solution.
It’s ok to be confused. Confusion is the route to all the clarity in the world… Shah Rukh Khan
“a means of solving a problem or dealing with a difficult situation – the answer to a problem”
Once the solution (or solutions) is identified they will need to be underpinned with the actions and goals to move forward. For me, the first action was to do some research, next get some structure around how to approach writing the power tool with the goal being to publish it. There will need to be support structures, learnings, recognition of obstacles that may get in the way, and how to hold accountability. Without working in this space there is a danger that any solution will not become embedded.
Using Joan’s example as we moved into the solution phase. Once she had recognized that the underlying belief that the areas she had chosen to retrain in were seen as “not a proper job” was instilled by her parents, she started to look at a career as a personal trainer as an educator. An educator in wellbeing, self-care, and self-development. She started to take back control. She realized that she could use all the skills she had developed in her educational role and apply them to the area which gave her pleasure but also the opportunity to teach.
Once Joan allowed herself to identify what was causing her the confusion and what the problem was she could then put all her energy into what her solution could look like. Steve Job of Apple was quoted as saying
If you define the problem correctly you almost have the solution.
As her coach I did not have to “tell her what to do”, she took back control, recognized what was causing her confusion and fear, worked through the issues, and moved to a solution.
Using this power tool alongside my Journey model – working with the client as they embark on their journey to transition – will compliment my coaching practice and bring importance and clarity for my clients.
Definitions: Confusion and Solution. Oxford English Dictionary
Brook, Vikki G – Sourcebook of Coaching History, 2014
Whitmore, John – Coaching for Performance, 2009
Simon Sinek “Start with Why” YouTube and TED Talk