A Coaching Power Tool created by Shelina Wadiwala
(Transformational & Life Transition Coaching, UNITED KINGDOM)
By letting it go it all gets done. The world is won by those who let it go. But when you try and try, the world is beyond the winning. Lao Tzu
It is not uncommon for people to feel that they are not in control of situations in their lives. They have a specific goal in mind; perhaps it is building a thriving business, aiming for a new job, dealing with health issues or improving certain relationships, and they are seriously working towards it. Somehow, the goal seems elusive and they try even harder, committing more resources, strategising every detail and focusing firmly on the goal to the exclusion of other things.
Questions such as “when will it happen?”, “how will it happen?” and “why isn’t it happening yet?” arise. It is not that they are impatient – people are usually prepared for the long haul. Neither is it that they are not making sincere and responsible efforts towards their goals. But it is the feeling of helplessness that comes from being unable to direct and generate specific outcomes they desire within specific timeframes. This is when the feeling of “not being in control” is experienced.
Generally, “being in control” or “taking control” indicates purposefulness, a deliberate and directed effort towards specific desired outcomes.
There are times where the ability to “be in control” is essential, such as in the cases of politicians, the military and corporate leaders, where the goal is specified at an establishment level. In this context, leaders organise, strategise and manage teams to deliver results. It is their role to achieve specific targets and that is their primary focus. Human and other resources may be substituted during the endeavour and those achieving the targets are deemed successful.
Perhaps it our observation of situations such as those above that we start to believe that as long as we are “in control” and plan accordingly, we will be successful in reaching our personal goals. We start to get attached to our goals, seeing them as the answer to different set of desires, and other plans become dependent on achieving these goals. Our attachment gets stronger and we work harder; after all, so much is at stake.
Failure-avoidance is what drives the hard work. Feelings of nervousness, frustration, stress and anxiety come up and undercurrents of fear are always present, in case the desired outcome is not achieved. Lack of noticeable progress towards the goal gives rise to feelings of insecurity, lack of confidence, vulnerability and failure, further leading either to increased attempts at controlling and directing actions or then ultimately burn-out, giving up or even depression.
And if we don’t quite make the goal, we are overcome by feelings of our own inadequacies.
The energy around striving for our goal is nervous and desperate. The feeling may seem like swimming against the tide, or grabbing a fistful of sand – the tighter the fist is closed in order to hold onto the sand, the more it escapes through gaps between fingers.
Power is defined by Encarta Dictionary as
- the ability, strength and capacity to do something and
- control and influence over other people and their actions.
In this power tool, what is meant by power is the innate feeling of strength and positivity which allows one to always remain centred. It is connecting to an inner reserve which offers limitless potential for building stability and an unwavering belief in one’s own capacity. It is not about actively seeking to direct or influence people or events for our benefit, but rather about acknowledging that there are natural forces outside our realm of consciousness which cannot be controlled.
Psychologist Carl Rogers says,
When in touch with personal power, life stops being such a struggle, and one feels a general ease and attunement to the natural flow of things.
Having power sets us up in a in a frame of mind which invites positive outcomes, where we can move through challenges with an attitude of deep confidence, resting in the certainty that our power will support us and energise us.
As we understand our own power better, we exude confidence, energy, empathy and positivity. These are qualities that naturally draw admiration. It is ironic that the respect that some individuals demand due to their craving to appear powerful, and which is often fleeting, comes quite effortlessly when the need to appear powerful is released.
With this enormous and accessible resource within, energy flows freely. The feeling is like swimming with the tide, or effortlessly allowing sand to sit in the palm of the hand.
Power and Creativity
When we are striving towards a particular goal we are almost in tunnel vision mode, holding onto details of the plan and limiting our view only to the known areas of our experience. Everything is seen in terms of success or failure in achieving that goal. We feel stressed about doing everything we can in order to achieve that goal.
Cognitive neuroscience research relating to creativity indicates that the limbic system, which is the stress response system of the brain, and prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for the higher cognitive abilities, compete for resources, confirming that when we are stressed our capacity for creativity is reduced.
Conversely, when we detach from a particular goal, the liberation leaves us calm and relaxed. Research has also demonstrated that one’s field of view is more open when happy and more closed when anxious. Happy people are able to make more connections in their brain between previously unrelated concepts, and consequently are significantly better at coming up with new solutions.
Moving from Control to Power