A Coaching Power Tool Created by Tracy Van Biljon
(Life and Empowerment Coach, SOUTH AFRICA)
Several Power Tools came to mind in helping a client shift perspective and move forward when I thought specifically of my niche and model. As a recap, I described my client as follows: feeling “stuck”, lack of motivation, lack of self-belief or confidence, worries about finance, fear of failure, or fear of moving out of their comfort zone. Sometimes it is just really a matter of not knowing what their passion or purpose is, and how to use their skills to translate this into a business opportunity. When I really thought about this, the common element was the one of being “stuck” because essentially clients can be “stuck” as a result of all of the reasons mentioned above, but ultimately they are stuck and are struggling to move forward. This then led me to explore what the “vs” word would be. There were many options, but the word that resonated with me was “liberated”. Liberated in its simplest form is defined as given liberty, being freed, released. Being freed from all the issues that are holding the client back will bring the client closer to moving on their chosen path to personal fulfillment.
Marrying my Niche and Power Tool
When I think about coaching in broad terms, I would think that most clients generally seek out a coach because they are stuck with something in their life that they need to work through to move forward. With regards to my model and niche, the “stuck” refers specifically to being stuck in your current role, position, job. The client feels stuck because they are not happy or fulfilled in what they are currently doing and in need of support in two aspects; 1) exploring what it is specifically that is keeping them from moving forward. This could be a matter of finding purpose in what they are currently doing or the reasons why they are simply not leaving the job, role, or company 2) what their new path might look like. As such, they would then be liberated or freed to explore these new options in their lives.
Exploring the Now
According to Katharine Brooks (Evans Family Executive Director of the Career Center at Vanderbilt University), she receives many emails with very similar subject headings as this, “Stuck. Bored. Unfulfilled.” The senders are basically seeking advice on how to get out of their current rut. Many people today find themselves in this same situation. The work that they do day in and day out is merely a job, a means to an end to pay the bills. It is no small wonder that so many people feel unfulfilled, especially when you consider just how much of your life is spent at work. People offer many reasons for remaining stuck, some are completely valid and some are excuses, either way, it is what essentially leads them to seek the advice of a coach.
These clients must realize that it is only in the absolute rarest of situations that you will remain stuck. The smallest of changes in your outlook, your perception, your view of the situation, can lead to moving closer to the meaning that you seek. Only when you accept the responsibility for creating the life that you want, will you be in a position to make the hard and often difficult decision that is needed to effect change to find the liberation that you seek.
What needs to be considered in your current situation?
- Do you experience elements of meaning, fulfillment, or joy in what you are currently doing?
- If you have these moments, can they be expanded in your current role or a different role within the same company?
- What changes could you make now that would have a positive impact?
- If the answer is negative to the above, what next?
What does your ideal future look like?
Often people have a clear idea of exactly what their ideal future looks like and it is a question of how to move from the present or current situation to that future scenario (Client A). But often they have absolutely no idea of what to do, they just know that they are not happy or fulfilled (Client B). These clients still need to explore what their ideal future would look like. Either way, in both instances, the client is stuck and looking for a way to move forward. Client A has an idea of the Path ahead, but Client B still needs to find their Path.
In the first instance, where the client actually knows what it is that they want to do with their life (Client A), it would be a matter of exploring what is holding them back, keeping them stuck. Is it a lack of self-belief, fear of failure, worries about finance? It could be for several reasons.
In the second instance, where the client is really not sure what it is that would truly make them happy/fulfilled (Client B), it would be a different discussion in terms of exploring what factors contribute towards finding happiness and meaning in their lives. What are their values? What is truly important to them? The answer to defining and understanding this might just be the first step in this process. The second step could very well be the path that Client A will need to follow.
In terms of a “coaching application”, the question really comes down to “How would we use the Power Tool of “Liberated vs Stuck” in a coaching context?” Firstly, it is important to understand these two concepts in terms of my particular niche/model. Secondly, to use this difference in moving the client forward by either shifting or reframing their perspective. And finally, using this learning (whether it be a new awareness or insight) to partner with the client to set actionable and achievable goals.
What does “Stuck” look like?
In the context of my niche, my clients are essentially feeling stuck in their current corporate job, role, or position. This is exactly how I felt until I engaged a coach who helped me work through this. Many of us feel stuck from time to time, while others feel stuck all the time. We feel as if we are drowning in the ordinary, working frantically to keep up, but ultimately lacking that feeling or sense of fulfillment or inspiration. The other thing I have come to realize is that feeling stuck does not mean that you are not successful or not achieving the goals that you have set, it is often about what you are feeling on the inside that is the problem.
Being stuck can elicit several feelings; that of being uninspired and disempowered. This can often lead to both depression and anxiety. We know that in our heart of hearts, we want things to be different, but we don’t know how to make these changes, where to start. And let’s face it, sometimes it is just easier to stay stuck, especially if that picture is one of success in everybody else’s eyes. If this world that we have created provides external validation, it might be easier to ignore how we feel on the inside and simply carry on instead of possibly facing your fear of failure, your fear of moving out of your comfort zone, your fear of financial risk, your lack of self-belief when your success is going to be dependent on you and you alone.
It is only once you accept that you are stuck, that you can start doing something about it and start moving along the Path of Liberation.
What does “Liberated” look like?
“Being liberated” in the context of my niche essentially means that we have been freed from that place of “being stuck”. You have drawn a line in the sand and listened to your inner voice. You have ultimately worked through all those fears that were holding you back, keeping you stuck. It means that you have taken a step forward along the path to personal fulfillment.
How do I move my client from “stuck” to “liberated”?
Ways of dealing with being stuck
Reaching out for a coach is the first step the client has ultimately taken in listening to their inner voice. They have acknowledged that they are stuck but merely acknowledging the current state will not automatically move them to a state of liberation. Understanding the reasons for being stuck will be the first step to moving towards and along the path to liberate themselves. Questions to think about would be:
- How would you define being stuck?
- Why do you think you are stuck?
- What is holding you back in achieving your goals?
- Are you stuck because you are not sure how to move from A to B, or are you not sure what B looks like?
- What would your ideal life look like?
Often a big part of being stuck is the result of a myriad of fears. If a client wants to move forward, they will need to face these fears. As coaches, we need to empower our clients by creating new perspectives while at the same time supporting them to overcome their fears by challenging the reasons that these fears are holding them back from moving along their path to being liberated.
Addressing Underlying Beliefs
Another big contributor to being stuck is that of having self-limiting beliefs. Is it a matter of not believing in yourself that has kept you stuck in the same place? Do you doubt yourself? Has the client really thought about and explored these beliefs? Are these beliefs stopping the client from moving forward?
Creating a Shift in Perspective
In the context of my niche, this shift in perspective could be a small change in your perception, attitude, how you look at things in your current role that could lead to a mindset change and finding the inspiration and fulfillment needed. In this situation, you would support your client by helping them to look at things differently. Or it could be a complete change in your career, organization, and life. The second situation would require exploration into all the feelings and discomfit that is associated with major changes.
Techniques to move clients from “stuck” too liberated”
When a client is not really sure what they want, the following techniques and questions could be used to help them move forward along their path to fulfillment.
Visualization – when your client has no idea of what their path would look like, it often helps to get them to imagine what their ideal life looks like. How would you be living? What are your “must-haves”.
Values – work with the client on exploring their values. Often when a client’s values are clear, their goals also become a lot clearer.
Clients Definition of Success – sometimes clients have not really defined this for themselves. Often this is an external measure or validation. Defining this success could assist with moving forward.
Goal Setting– this could be a small goal that simply moves the client out of the stuck zone or it could be the huge end goal that excites and inspires the client to leap liberation.
- What other areas of your life are you feeling stuck and why?
- What elements of your personal life influence your attitudes about your job?
- How does being stuck make you feel?
- What is the first step that you can take to move to the path of feeling liberated?
- As a coach, what are the powerful questions that you could ask your client to move them from being stuck?