A Coaching Power Tool Created by Robert Letchford
(Leadership and Org Development, Myanmar (Burma))
Then Atlas had a strange thought. Why not put it down?… Let me crawl out from under this world I have made. It doesn’t need me anymore. Strangely, I don’t need it either. I don’t need the weight. Let it go. There are reservations and regrets, but let it go. WINTERSON, J. (2018, pg. 86 & 94) WEIGHT. Published by CANONS.
It can be a challenge for individuals or clients to set aside the ‘weight of a situation (the world) in either or both their professional and personal lives. As Janette Winterson wrote about Atlas in her book titled Weight, “Let me crawl out from under this world I have made. It doesn’t need me anymore…There are reservations and regrets, but let it go”. What stops clients from ‘crawling’ out from under the world that they have created? Clients are often concerned that if the world (weight of situation) is not placed down carefully that it may break in unfixable ways, bringing a range of negative consequences. The client is looking for assurance that when they decide to put down the ‘weight of the world that it will bring the ‘lightness’ (changes) that they seek. As coaches, we are not able to predict the future for a client, but we can help them uncover their underlying concerns, blocks, issues, talk through those concerns and empower them to make the best choices for themselves, with full awareness of their current situation and desired change (lightness).
Clients can be obsessed with concerns about their ‘world’ breaking if they seek to lighten the load on their shoulders, often thinking that a more ‘right’ time to make difficult choices about ‘how and ‘when’ to lighten the load will come. Client’s can often delay offloading the weight to achieve the lightness (change) that they want, repeating patterns of behavior indefinitely. As coaches, we can observe this a clients weighted down by stress, frustration, physical distress, or even sickness that they are experiencing as a result of carrying too much weight on their shoulders (metaphorical reference).
What is Weight?
Dictonary.Com defines weight as:
The amount or quantity of heaviness or mass; the number of thing weights…a mental or moral burden, as of care, sorrow, or responsibility
Weight can mean many things to a client, it can be physical, it can be emotional, it can be a combination of the two.
Weight as an emotional thing as defined by Dictonary.com above can be experienced by a client, as a sense of burden, stress, responsibility, moral obligation to do something, complete a task, and/or behave in certain ways to conform to the cultural norms of a society, organization, workplace, religious community or even just that of the family unit one exists within.
Weight as a physical thing as defined by Dictionary.com above can be experienced as an amount or quantity of heaviness or mass. A client might experience this in many ways, the physical activity of a working day, driving, traffic jams, picking up children from school, shopping, attending meetings, sporting activities, and the like.
The weight combined (physical and emotional) A client might feel the weight of their emotional world in a very physical way and/or vice versa as it relates to their physical and/or emotional wellbeing in their day-to-day lives. This weight can often be felt as ‘stress’ and often a client can feel that stress in a very physical way like a ‘burden’ upon their shoulders. In some cases, the manifested outcome of ‘weight’ can impact a client’s wellbeing. That is to say their physical and emotional wellbeing.
Clients are often well aware of the weight that they are carrying, but instead of making choices or decisions about how to achieve the lightness (change) they want, they hope that the situation will improve, that somehow burdens (weight) will be lifted from them and that the lightness they are looking for will emerge. Thus, clients are held hostage to their current situation, not able to put down the weight (world) they are carrying and achieve the lightness they are looking for and achieve their desired future state (lightness).
What is Lightness?
Dictonary.Com defines Lightness as:
The state or quality of being light in weight…lack of pressure or burdensomeness…gaiety of manner, speech, style, etc; cheerfulness.
Lightness can mean many things to many people, it can be physical, it can be emotional, it can be a combination of the two.
Lightness is an emotional thing as defined by Dictonary.com above can be experienced as a lack of pressure, burdon, a gaiety of manner, speech, style, which might be observed by oneself or others as cheerfulness.
Lightness as a physical thing as defined by Dictonary.com above can be experienced as a less pressured environment, a well-organized schedule, a lifestyle that makes the client feel less burdened and happier as a person.
Client’s can know that they are carrying a weight or burden of responsibilities, that is not actually theirs to carry, but to drop all of that weight and to crawl out from under the world they have created is not easy to do. Clients will put roadblocks in their own way as they worry or think about what will happen when they set the weight to one side to find a happier lightness in their lives.
Clients can be blocked from finding the lightness that they want and ask themselves questions like. Will others pick up the weight? Who will pick up the weight? What will the reaction of others be? What will the world look like after putting down the weight?
As Janette Winterdon notes, there can also be ‘regrets’ and ‘reservations’ about getting out from under the self-imposed weight that a client has put on themselves. Clients are often blocked because they cannot foresee what the changing world will look like and how affected people they interact with (personal and professional) will respond/react to the client putting down the weight that they are carrying. Thus, they don’t make the changes to achieve the lightness they are looking for and continue to carry the ‘world on their shoulders.
Clients can arrive at coaching sessions with a feeling that they have the ‘weight of the world on their shoulders (emotional/physical). The coach has to create an environment in which the client can explore their sense of ‘weight’’ creating awareness of factors that have led the client to this moment of feeling so heavy (weight) in their lives (personal/professional). The coach needs to work with the client to work through their feelings of ‘weight’, identify underlying issues and work to develop solutions/awareness that will bring the ‘lightness’ that the client is looking for in his/her life.
Questions to ask your client:
- What is weighing you down?
- What weight would you like to take from your shoulders?
- What is stopping you from taking the weight from your shoulders?
- What can you do to safely take the weight from your shoulders?
- What is the lightness that you are seeking?
- What does lightness look like to you?
- What needs to be done to safely achieve the lightness you want?
- What support do you need to take the weight from your shoulders?
- What resources do you need to make the changes that you want to achieve the lightness you are looking for?
WINTERSON, J. (2018, pg. 86 & 94) WEIGHT. Published by CANONS.
ICA Coaching Power Tools, https://learnsite.icacoach.com/english-campus/power-tools-course/