A Coaching Power Tool Created by Samantha Castro
(Transformational Coach, THAILAND)
Doubt increases with inaction. Clarity reveals itself in the momentum. Growth comes from progress. For all these reasons. BEGIN – Brendon Burchard
When I started thinking about my Power Tool, I knew it had to be something around overcoming procrastination, a problem I face very often when presented with a task that I see as complicated or difficult (take for example developing this power tool). My first idea was to write about Discipline vs Procrastination, then I thought Action vs Hesitation, then Determination vs Procrastination. However, during my thinking time about the topic, different books and articles about how to form new habits, change your life, improve your thoughts and so on fell into my hands. If you are in the coaching world or in the path to changing your life, you might have read or listened to as many books (or more) as I have.
I found a common denominator in most of the books and articles I read. You have to know yourself in order to implement the solution that works best for you or your particular problem or situation. We often mistakenly think that by copy-pasting scientific-proven solutions, or the habits of super successful people into our lives, we will be able to get things done. However, we try to implement the actions without considering the mindset that goes with them. To be able to customize our solutions, we first need to truly know ourselves.
Awareness as a first step helps with problem resolution. In order to be able to implement correct solutions, we first need to know if we have the right one. In order to achieve this successfully, we initially should identify the problem and for a more effective solution, we need to identify the cause of the problem. Procrastination is a very common problem among people, and the cause varies from person to person, it would be a mistake to generalize the drives for procrastination and try to apply a one-fits-all type of solution (Buckley, n.d.).
A common belief is that we procrastinate because we are lazy. However, taking some wisdom from professional research, I came to the realization that in most cases the reason why we procrastinate goes far beyond laziness.
In the following pages, I outline the definition of self-awareness and procrastination, the most common causes of procrastination, and finally the application of this power tool in the coaching context. I trust this will be of help to your practice and with a bit of luck, your life.
The Psychologist Daniel Goleman in his book “Emotional Intelligence” defines self-awareness as
Knowing one’s internal states, preferences, resources and intuitions (Zhu, 2017).
Jessie Zhu adds that an essential component of self-awareness is that it should be non-judgmental. This means that we acknowledge and accept what is happening inside us as the nature of human beings rather than giving ourselves a hard time about it. Furthermore, psychologists Shelley Duval and Robert Wicklund’s developed the theory of self-awareness back in 1972. They proposed that
when we focus our attention on ourselves, we evaluate and compare our current behavior to our internal standards and values. We become self-conscious as objective evaluators of ourselves (Zhu, 2017).
Inaction is a form of procrastination. We think about doing something, we want to do that task, complete the project, improve ourselves, even do more of the activities we enjoy but for some reason, we delay doing it. Procrastination, as defined by Dr Joe Ferrari, chairman of the 10th Procrastination Research Conference, is
the purposive and frequent delay in beginning or completing a task to the point of experiencing subjective discomfort, such as anxiety or regret (Murphy, 2017).
Dr Joe also adds
I’ve always made the argument that everybody procrastinates but not everyone’s a procrastinator because everybody may put off a task but that doesn’t make you a procrastinator (Murphy, 2017).
What lies behind procrastination? (Buckley, n.d.)
The following is a list of common “reasons” or undelaying beliefs that drive people to procrastinate:
- Difficulty with discomfort
- Lack of skills/lack of confidence
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Lack of interest
- Lack of motivation
- Fear of failure or lack of confidence
- Fear of success
- Rebellion / Resentment
- It’s a habit
Application as power tool in coaching
In our role as coaches, we help our clients to move forward, to take action towards achieving their goals, to build structures and encouragement to stick to their plans or to do list. However, in my short experience coaching people, I realized that change is challenging for most of us. There are common issues clients bring to the table such as “I want to exercise more, I want to be more organized, I want to expand my business, I want to have better relationships with my family or partner”. They all want to do something but somehow they don’t manage to do it.
My approach to a person that shows interest to change but just doesn’t manage to do it would be to use this power tool to help them understand themselves better, to go deep into their inner believes stopping them from moving forward and growing. But at the same time help them discover their strengths, their willpower, their resilience and at the same time support them in their quest for improving their thoughts about themselves and the situations they are in.
The following questions can support the awakening of self-awareness in our clients:
- What is stopping you from implementing the actions you set for yourself?
- How do you feel when you think about getting started with [Insert task or objective]?
- What are you looking out of completing this task?
- Imagine you have already completed your task/objective, what happens next?
- How do you usually handle difficult tasks/situations?
- Reflect for a moment, what is truly stopping you from stating/moving forward with this?
- What motivates you?
- What makes the completion of this task important?
- What is your role in this situation?
- How confident are you with your skills/ability to complete/achieve this task/objective
- Who would benefit from you competing this task/changing this behavior/taking this step?
- What would happen if you drop it?
- What is your objective with completing this task?
- What is your perception about the task you have in front of you?
- How realistic is the goal/task you have set for yourself?
- How much effort do you need in order to complete it?
- How could you best handle this situation?
- Which of your strengths can help you complete this task?
- What are you afraid of?
Identifying our most inner beliefs, thoughts and feelings is the first and most important step towards real change.
Encouraging them to write down their thoughts and pay attention to their feelings and reactions in different aspects of their life can be a good support system to start building self-awareness. The next step would be to challenge those beliefs. Is what they believe about themselves or the situation true? What can they do about it?
According to the attendees of the 10th Procrastination Research Conference that took place at the DePaul University O’Hare Campus in Chicago, IL, the USA in July 2017, more than call ourselves procrastinators, we need to
accept that changing will require learning to manage your thoughts and emotions more than figuring out how to manage your time (Murphy, 2017).
Understanding the root cause of our inaction and hesitation, through self-awareness, will help us identify what is stopping us. Finding the base of the problem will help us find a long lasting solution, not a temporary one. By building self-awareness, we will do more than just finish the project, go to the gym for a while, tide up the room just this time, try to change our habits just to drop it again or temporarily adjust our mindset. Self-awareness will help us understand what is at the core of our inaction to make sure the fear or false believes won’t stand in our way again.
To end the problem for good, we need to take out the roots.
Buckley, C. (n.d.). Home:Blog:Procrastination:8 Causes of procrastination. Retrieved from Coaching Positive Performance: http://coachingpositiveperformance.com/8-causes-of-procrastination/
Murphy, H. (2017, July 21). Science: The New York Times. Retrieved from What we finally got around to learning at the Procrastination Research Conference: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/21/science/procrastination-research-conference.html
Zhu, J. (2017, January 02). Home-TheSelf-What is Self-Awareness and Why does it matter? (Meaning + 5 Tips). Retrieved from Positive Psychology Program: https://positivepsychologyprogram.com/self-awareness-matters-how-you-can-be-more-self-aware/