A Coaching Power Tool created by Vishwanath P
(Executive Coach, INDIA)
Stop thinking in terms of limitations and start thinking in terms of possibilities
As the humankind has evolved over time, our survival has often depended on our ability to spot danger in our immediate environment. Not only has this helped us respond quickly to the imminent danger but also helped our evolution along. And as we stand today, with no real danger lurking around the next bush, our instincts have now moved on to being able to very quickly locate what what’s wrong with things around us.
Growing up as children, we are mostly taught about what we are not doing correctly. As adults, our careers actually begin to depend upon our ability to spot “problems” quickly. No wonder then, that as adults, our key strengths lie in quickly zoning into what is wrong.
This seems to apply to all areas of life. For e.g. Our “feedback” begins to consist of what the person is not doing right or what the persons “problems” are. Be it tasks, people or politics, we have, over time, become trained to view everything through a “problem seeking” lens. If we pay close attention to our inner dialogue, most of us will discover that our minds are constantly focusing on problems around us – be it the traffic, the neighbor next door or our work.
The moment we spot a problem, it begins to causes stress and negative energies to build up at both the physiological and psychological levels. Often, the mind can go into an infinite loop over the problem, causing a spiraling down of our energy levels. Our response to finding a problem is to go looking for the causes of the problem and trying to device a way out if it.
There is much to be said about problem solving approaches and the usefulness of it. It is a rational logical step-by-step approach that builds towards a solution. But one must also pay attention to not just the “rational” but also the “arational” which responds to a completely different set of cues. It is important to remember that the “problem mindset” can sometimes constrain our ability to think and be creative in our response.
It is here that the “possibility” mindset needs to evoked. The “possibilities” view opens up a new array of possible futures and engages us with the energy that comes from hope and anticipation. Often, in looking at these scenarios and the emotional energy created, the problems can lose their grip our thinking and we are invited into a new world and paradigm, which automatically solves the “problem” in its wake.
Defining a Problem
A problem is an obstacle, impediment, difficulty or challenge, or any situation that invites resolution. A problem implies an apparent deficiency, doubt or inconsistency that prevents the desired outcome from taking place. Very often during coaching conversations, the client will bring up the “problems” that he is facing or is likely to face.
Possibility is defined in this paper as “that which has a future potential or prospect of happening”. This is the world that is waiting to emerge. Scenarios that hold the potential of coming true.
The human mind, in looking at possibilities brings forth energy and a commitment to a future yet to be born.
Using this frame of reference is very useful when we find ourselves “stuck” with one or many problems together – wherein, one is not making headway. Using the rational problem solving approach in such situations can actually create a negative spiral and end up in loss of focus and more importantly loss of motivation and will to act.
At these times, moving to “possibilities” view helps shift both the psychological and physiological energy towards the future. The crux of the shift is investing our energy in exploring the possible futures that are waiting to emerge. This engages both the cognitive and emotive aspects of ourselves and therefore creates both the intended future and also embeds in itself a course of action. This creates not only a desire towards movement but sometimes also challenges the very paradigm in which the problem arises.