A Coaching Power Tool Created by Susan Hillen
(Career Coach, UNITED STATES)
Any time you sincerely want to make a change, the first thing you must do is to raise your standards. – Tony Robbins
As a Gallup Certified Strengths Coach and a huge proponent of capitalizing on one’s strengths, I pondered the questions of:
- What makes someone achieve their goals and get the results they want in their career or life?
- How does one maximize his or her own potential?
- As a coach, how can I help others realize their full potential?
As “maximizer” is one of my top strengths, and talent or strength is something that comes naturally to a person, the answer to these questions came naturally to me. What if a client “maximizes” their efforts or potential vs. “minimizes” their efforts or potential? Gallup defines “maximizer” as someone who “focuses on strengths as a way to stimulate personal and group excellence. They seek to transform something strong into something superb.” (Gallup.com). Therefore, focusing on maximizing vs. minimizing one’s efforts can help to achieve goals and get the results one wants.
As a career coach, I strive to help clients achieve the maximum results in what they want to accomplish. This enables them to transcend beyond their current way of thinking to achieve their desired outcome which may involve raising their standards, confidence levels, or changing their mindset. Therefore, the Maximize vs. Minimize Power Tool was created to assist coaches in creating a change in perspective to help clients maximize their potential vs minimizing or settling for less.
Everyone has potential, but it may just need to be brought to the surface. What is the difference between maximizing or minimizing your efforts and how does this impact your potential? According to Dictionary.com, maximize means “to increase to the greatest possible amount or degree; to represent at the highest possible estimate; magnify; to make the greatest or fullest use of.”For example, someone can use their strengths to maximize their potential. In contrast, minimize means “to reduce to the smallest possible amount or degree; to represent at the lowest possible amount, value, importance, influence, etc., especially in a disparaging way; belittle.” (Dictionary.com). For example, someone can minimize their efforts by not trying to reach their potential.
This is a choice. Do you want to maximize your efforts to reach maximum potential or minimize your efforts and potentially achieve less or the minimum? According to the Changing Minds website, “some people maximize their lives, making the most of it, while others seem to avoid this.” This thought continues with “most of us live somewhere along this spectrum, balancing the best experiences with the costs of achieving them.”For example, about a career, it is important to evaluate your talents, strengths, and skills and what effort you want to put forth to achieve your career goals. It may depend on how much are you willing to sacrifice personal time (i.e., cost) or education costs to continue to grow and develop to achieve your career goals.
Many of your decisions may also be influenced by your values, beliefs, and life purpose. Values form the foundation of our life choices and actions (ICA Module-Values and Life Purpose). For example, if you value fame and fortune these values and beliefs can drive your actions to achieve your career goals. You may find success as an entertainer or entrepreneur. Wherever your values take you, one thing is certain…at any point in time, you can decide to “maximize” or “minimize” your efforts. The challenge comes from recognizing when and if you are doing so.
Sometimes it is easy to determine when you need to maximize your efforts to gain the most from your talents and reach your career goals. Other times it may be more challenging because your values or underlying beliefs may not be in alignment with your goals.
To maximize your efforts, this requires you to go above and beyond what is required. If maximizer (i.e., aspiring to meet or exceed a standard of excellence) is a strength that comes naturally to you, this may be something that you automatically do. If not, and you want that promotion at work, you may want to ask yourself the following questions:
- What are you doing to develop yourself and increase your skill level?
- Are you taking on extra work or assignments to acquire the competencies necessary for your next role?
- Are you learning through others?
- Are you networking to establish those relationships that create opportunities for yourself?
- Are you having ongoing career development discussions with your manager to gain support and perspective?
This is all about maximizing your efforts to achieve maximum results.
On the flip side, if you want that promotion at work and expect it to be given to you automatically with minimum effort and just do what is required in your job, then the results of that promotion may not be achieved. By holding a narrow perspective or view of yourself or the situation, you may be limiting your potential. Basically, minimizing your effort and potential produces minimal results. Questions to consider include:
- What is holding you back?
- Are you happy with where you are?
- Do you want to maintain the status quo?
- Are you afraid of what would happen if you get that promotion?
- Are you not confident in your skillset?
- What values and beliefs are coming up for you?
If you are not sure of the answers to any of these questions, this is where a coach can assist you in self-discovery and bring the Maximize vs Minimize power tool into play.
As a coach, helping a client to expand or maximize their perspective and way of thinking is part of the coaching journey. Discovering what is beneath the surface and coaching the “who” (i.e., person) instead of the “what” (i.e., promotion) can help the client to move from a minimizing to maximizing mode. Perhaps, the client is “stuck” in moving forward. In this case, perhaps visualizing the outcome (e.g., promotion) as happening and the benefits of the promotion can help to move the client to a future state.
Using the analogy of a computer screen…if you click on the “maximize” icon (i.e., looks like a square) on the top right side of your screen, it maximizes or expands a window to fill the main display area. You want to expand or maximize the perspective of your client to think beyond their current way of thinking (e.g., envisioning the promotion). By using the Maximize vs Minimize power tool, can help a coach understand where their client is coming from. When a client maximizes their issue and starts with the big picture, it enables the coach to start filling in the main display, and each powerful coaching, the question helps them to fill the main display area or maximize the client’s way of thinking.
Below are some powerful questions to help a client maximize vs. minimize their efforts or perspective:
- What do you think could happen if you embraced this opportunity?
- What is the minimum you need to do to reach your goal?
- What is the maximum you need to do to reach your goal?
- How can you maximize your efforts to achieve your goal?
- What strengths can you maximize to help you achieve your goal?
- If you hold onto your current perspective, what is the most likely outcome?
- What could happen if you maximize your efforts?
On the other hand, there may be times when you need to help a client to Minimize vs Maximize. Using the analogy of the computer screen…if you click on the “minimize” icon (i.e., looks like a minus sign), it minimizes the windows to see the desktop. There may be so many things coming up for a client or the client is caught up in too many details, that you may want to help a client to see the forest through the trees. Asking a client to take a step back and reflect on their position or issue at hand to focus on what is important to them can help bring clarity. For example, discovering what is important to them about the promotion and how it will serve them can help the client discover what may be holding them back. The coach can keep minimizing the screen until the client sees the desktop or big picture.
Below are some powerful questions to help a client minimize or gain clarity in their perspective:
- What is important to you about this?
- What would change in your life if you achieve this goal?
- How will you feel when you achieve this goal?
- How does this serve you?
- What do you think maybe holding you back?
- What are you afraid of?
- What beliefs may be getting in the way?
- What barriers may be getting in the way?
Additionally, thinking in terms of maximizing vs minimize may take a reframing of perspectives. According to ICA’s Reframing Perspectives, “the coach’s ability to reframe a situation for the client can provide a new perspective, and, with it, new possibilities. Things that seemed impossible now seem possible.” Going back to the example of getting a promotion, if the client truly wants a promotion, and thought that is was out of their reach, but realizes that they can start to “maximize” their efforts by taking certain actions to achieve their goal, they have now maximized their potential of getting that promotion. Through the coaching process, a reframing of perspectives could have created this awareness for the client to move the client into taking action. According to ICA’s Action vs. Delay, “the action itself has power in it,” and actions have the power to create momentum to move the client forward. Therefore, maximizing efforts and taking action will move them closer to their goal.
As a coach, a great way to reframe a client’s perspective to “maximize” vs minimize is to use the analogy of the computer screen. Ask the client to visualize themselves clicking on the maximize icon. Explain that they probably use the maximize and minimize functions daily in Microsoft Windows without much thought. Questions to ask a client include:
- What would happen if you “maximize” your efforts every day and they became a part of your daily habits?
- What are the possibilities of what you can achieve (i.e., keep hitting the maximize icon)
- What actions can you take to realize your full potential?
- How can you continue to go above and beyond to transform yourself and your life?
- How can you use this learning in the larger picture of your life to achieve your goals?
By maximizing a client’s way of thinking, can open up different thoughts and a fuller range of possibilities, creating endless opportunities. In the end, helping the client to achieve their career goals which uphold their values, beliefs, and life purpose and ultimately reaching their full potential.
As a coach, the Maximize vs Minimize Power Tool can be used in all aspects of coaching where a client wants to achieve maximum results for their efforts. To support the client in their ongoing efforts and create lasting change, ask the client to reflect on the following:
- What structures do you have in place to support you in your efforts?
- Have you obtained the results/outcome that you wanted? If not, what can you do to maximize your efforts?
- What is the driving force that motivates you?
- How will you know you have reached your full potential?
- Are you staying true to yourself, your values, beliefs, and life purpose?
Taking time to reflect provides the client with the opportunity to re-evaluate their goals and outcomes, redirect their efforts if necessary, and celebrate achievements.
Dictionary.com; Maximize and Minimize
International Coach Academy Module: Action vs. Delay
International Coach Academy Module: FlipIt
International Coach Academy Module: Reframing Perspectives
International Coach Academy Module: Values & Life Purpose
Rao, Paulette; A Case for Coaching the Who
Straker, David; Changing Minds.org