A Coaching Power Tool Created by Calvin Chuang
(Life Coach, AUSTRALIA)
Daniel ‘Rudy’ Ruettiger was never college football material. Standing 5’6” tall and weighing in at 185 pounds he was just too small to play the very physical game. He also suffered from dyslexia making getting into college especially challenging. Despite all this, in 1975 Rudy Ruettiger became the first college football player to be carried off the field of the University of Notre Dame . His ability to fulfill his dream of becoming a player of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish came from his relentless determination and his ability to see situations as privileges rather then burdens.
- a heavy load that you carry: The little donkey struggled under its heavy burden. Something difficult or unpleasant that you have to deal with or worry about: the burden of responsibility
- an opportunity to do something special or enjoyable: I had the privilege of interviewing Picasso in the 1960s.
A burden is a situation that feels heavy. Burdens can lead to anxiety, stress, and resentment as individuals feels that what they are going through is unfair and undeserved. Contrary, a privilege is a situation where individuals feel blessed and honored to be in. Whether an event, a relationship, a responsibility is a burden or privilege depends on how the individual chooses to view their situation.
In David Anspaugh’s 1993 movie “Rudy”, Ruettiger is assigned several tasks that many would consider burdensome. From cleaning helmets, to working on the Notre Dame grounds, to being the practice opponent for the team, Rudy completes each mundane task with enthusiasm and to the best of his ability. Unlike others who complain around him, Rudy feels privileged to contributing to the success of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. This privilege perspective allows Rudy to gain the respect of those around him as well as fulfill his dream of playing on the team.
However, Ruettiger did have moments when he felt burdened. In his senior year and with one football game left in the season, he expresses to the football field’s caretaker that there was no point to all the hard work had put in to get to Notre Dame if he is unable to make it on the football roster. The caretaker responds by pointing out that Ruettiger is “going to walk out of here with a degree from the University of Notre Dame.” While Ruettiger saw it as a privilege to be a part of Notre Dame football team, he failed to see the privilege of being able to obtain a university education.
When applied to coaching, the Burden vs Privilege Tool can help lift the “heaviness” of the client’s burdens. In many cases it may not be possible to change a client’s circumstances, but a coach can assist them by helping shift their perspective from burden to privilege.
A mother taking care of her child can see her little one as a burden that prevents her pursuing other interests or a privilege to be able to raise and shape another human being. School assignments can feel like a burden that needs to be done or a privilege to be able to learn more about a particular topic. Labor that one does not enjoy may feel especially burdensome or it can be viewed as privilege to be able to have a job and earn money. Looking at their situation as one of privilege will help the client be more positive and grateful.
Coaches can help the client shift focus from burden to privilege by asking question which draw their attention to their values and how their current circumstance supports their values. Questions that cause the clients to focus on the positives of the situation may also help shift perspective.
Here are some example questions:
- What are your greatest values? How does insert “burden” here allow you to support these values?
- What are the positive points about this situation?
- What are some things you can do to make this feel less heavy?
- What are the benefits of this circumstance?
- How will doing insert “burden” here help you in the future?
- If your child, parent, or close friend were to be going through this circumstance, what advice would you give them to make them feel less burdened?
- Who would you be without your story (your burden)?
Visualization is a very helpful tool to help a client lighten their burden. The coach would get their client to close their eyes, breathe deeply, and imagine the situation they are facing. The client would be asked to describe their surroundings and their feelings toward the situation that they are in. They would then be asked to visualize their situation from a perspective of privilege. They would describe why they are blessed to be in their situation and what good outcomes that could lead to. The coach should check in with the client to see how the client is feeling, with particular emphasis on how “heavy” they feel. The coach could also invite the client to visualize the same situation but in a supportive environment positive environment or an environment where they feel in control. It is hoped that through this visualization process that the client can move from a feeling of burden to privilege and in doing so create solutions to their situation.
While circumstances may be hard to change, how we view them can make a big difference. By seeing burdens as privileges the Burden vs Privilege Power Tool allows clients to find the value and purpose in their current situation and in doing so help them have a more positive, fulfilling life.
Cambridge Online Dictionary, http://dictionary.cambridge.org.
Rudy, 1993, Film. Directed by David Anspaugh, Tristar Pictures.