Research Paper By Alex Stewart
(Career Coaching, AUSTRALIA)
Introducing the Power Tools
Alex: Can we just sort of pour into the actual section that are the power tools. The thing that interested me was that this was other than all the other aspects of the curriculum, probably have roots in the coaching tradition, and probably have references. But it seems that the power tools, given some of the opening dialogue, and this is what it says on the website:
Only available and taught at ICA, you’ll find that you’ll keep coming back to these modules again and again throughout your studies.
So obviously the power tools are a very central part of the teaching and coaching process and they’re unique to the system. How did you pull those together? What was it about the power tools that interested you or that you saw important?
Bernie: You know what, I’m sitting here with tears coming to my eyes just listening to you speak about them. It’s really beautiful to hear you speak about them and I’m moved because when you talk about them being central and core, it’s no different to my life. Since that day, they’ve been central and core to my life, and I guess that’s how it’s been since the moment they came out. For me, it was as fundamental a conversation as we’d created, that we had. For me, it was like at the heart of it all it’s about—I often have this conversation with clients and always have early on about if there’s one thing you’ve got and that’syour free will, the thing that human beings have been celebrating for a long time but not using much of. And the power tools for me are an access to exercise that will create a way to freedom of choice, the ability to control the only thing I think I have control over. As a human being, I’m addicted to control. I’m trying to control everything around me, everyone around me, everything but the one thing I perhaps can control and that is my perspective.
Alex: So let’s talk about the tool, Perspective and the shift in perspective, and that’s the first part of the power tools, this ability to shift perspective. I heard something about that…
Bernie: Reframe is the word.
Alex: Reframing, yes. I noticed reframing becomes key. I noticed that this becomes key in thelanguage of students as soon as they start to take on the power tools and it’s as if you experience a shift in the classes after that. So do you think that for a number of students this is a freeing up once they get this position? Because it says in the notes
Are you ready for one of the most important secrets of life? Your perspective determines your experience in life, not your circumstances. The beautiful thing about this secret is that you can choose to change your perspective at any time.
Bernie: See, I’ve never read that. That’s beautifully put. Alex: Isn’t it beautifully put? It’s kind of like a key; don’t you think? It’s a very important key for a student becoming a coach.
Bernie: It’s like Matrix. I don’t know whether you remember the Matrix…
Alex: I do.
Bernie: In the first meeting, Morpheus says to Neo there’s not going back–once you’ve seen this, if you take the blue pill there’s no going back. It’s like that. So for me, getting that you can actually choose your perspective and reframe, that it’s your choice, that you have it in your power to do that at any moment, that’s something that in my culture I was not really trained in as a child. I wasn’t raised to believe that and think that.
Alex: So this is very important for a coach to get in their training and I think this is why I was so interested in the power tools because there is a real shift. The notes go on to say reframing isn’t about changing your mind. Instead, it’s about
creating and shifting consciousness.
Can you talk about what you think that shifting consciousness is? I think that you just did a bit.
Using a Power Tool!
Bernie: Yes, that is quite profound. When you said you would email me the details to get on this call, and then I checked my email right up until two minutes before I called, I started to react and get pissed off. I started to go for crying out loud, Alex, what are you doing? Are you going to do keep your word? Are you going to do what you said you were going to do? And I noticed that. Well, this is going to go well, isn’t it.
Alex: Yes, that’s great. I love it.
Bernie: I sat there and I went okay, this is perfect. This is so perfect, and you know what, there’s no accident! If we’re going to have a conversation about the power tools, what do you think is going to come up? Exactly that. Exactly that, and I have do deal with that. I have to confront that head on. When you rang me and I first spoke to you, what you heard from me was a commitment to communicate something. But it wasn’t in anger.
Alex: Yes, I got it.
Bernie: And see, all of a sudden there’s a relationship between you and me that allows for something that wouldn’t have been possible if I didn’t give that up, shift that, reframe that in the moment. If I had come on there and invalidated you flat out, our relationship would have been kicked off in this terrible place. There would have been this huge gap between us. There would be no intimacy. You’d be feeling defensive and upset and sorry and apologetic and there’d be no relationship here.
Alex: That’s a beautiful example and thank you for saying it. That’s fantastic.
Bernie: It’s not like you never have to use this. It’s not like okay, ten years down the track I’m the master of power tools now. I never have to reframe my perspective. That’s the point. It never ends. Alex: That’s fantastic. This is great. This is great because when we talk about the coaching application, the notes go on to say
reframing is an art, and when done powerfully it can change a client’s life in an instant.
Bernie: Yes, that’s right. I think we just experienced that, right?
Alex: Aha! We did.
Bernie: The beauty of that—see for me, that’s why this is so powerful because as a coach, for me the ultimate coach is never telling someone what to do or how to do it. Who they’ve been is powerful and who they’ve been is committed and all the things that we say we want to be. For me, as a coach, sure I’ll share the power tools with a client. But ultimately how they get it is by me using them effectively on myself.
Alex: That’s absolutely the core of it. It’s really the partnership.
Bernie: Indeed, indeed, because I think most cases fall into it–I certainly have and still do. We’re allowed to be superior as the coach. I’m the expert. Yes, I’m the expert. Yes, come to me. That’s not what makes a difference to people. You just said it. Being a partner, actually empathy, actually being with them in the journey right in the mud, right in the crap, and actually being able to be with them in it and go through it with them.
Alex: Which is your favorite power tool? Do you remember?
Bernie: I’m not a big fan of favouritism of any sort. But look, I’ve got to say shared commitment versus trying was probably the first thing written down. But having said that, I think we wrote eight or ten originally. I think the core of the program probably still has eight or ten.
Alex: Do you want me to read them off?
Bernie: Yes, sure.
Alex: Well first of all there’s reframing perspective–we’ve just discussed that; commitment versus trying; then responsibility versus blame; trust versus doubt; responding versus reacting, that’s my favorite by the way; truth versus fraud.
Bernie: You said truth versus doubt or trust versus doubt?
Alex: Trust versus doubt.
Bernie: Yes, gotcha.
Alex: Then truth versus fraud; lightness versus significance; action versus delay; and respect versus invalidation.
Bernie: Well that’s the original. That’s it. They were the very original core ones. What happened was at some point, Robin and I discussed the idea of writing a book about them. When I started that, well actually it was even before we’d discussed it, it just happened again on a plane flight somewhere. I was just sitting there with a piece of paper and a pen and I started writing stuff. And what happened was I came up with one that I felt wrapped it all up. So when you said what’s my favorite, well again as I said I’m not keen on favoritism, but for me I’m still interested in writing this book so that more people get the benefit of this technology. Because clearly, students of ICA really are saying that it makes a difference. So Robin and I are really keen that as many people in the world get the benefit of it. The one that kind of wraps it all up for me personally, and again the beauty about ICA I noticed is that they get students to create their own and that’ really great. People own it. For me I guess the one that I like to own is appreciation versus expectation.
Alex: That’s lovely—appreciation versus expectation. Why is that your favourite?
Bernie: Well, I guess for me, and this maybe just a personal thing, it could be from my past, my history, my upbringing, who knows. All I know is that for me that’s the one thing that if I manage to do that, if I manage to appreciate my life in any moment, then my life is amazing. I feel blessed. Sometimes the other power tools are the ones that lead me to that. Sometimes it requires me trusting before I can be in appreciation of my life.
Alex: Yes, and would you say that that’s something that also would come with practice and working with a number of clients over a number of years, that you really get to use the power tools as you’ve said in your own life obviously but in the lives with your clients and assisting the clients to see what it is that motivates them or holds them back—all of those sort of aspects of their lives. Do you think that you’ve come to this place out of that, out of using the power tools over a longer period in your life?
Bernie: The beauty about being a life coach is it’s such a powerful structure for having a great life because if you know you’ve got to turn up and be with your client or if you’ve got a list of clients throughout the week like spread out, they call you to be. They have an expectation of who you’re going to be for them. And the beauty of that is that it calls me directly into being who I say I’m committed to being. So it’s just a wonderful structure. And you’re right, the more you’re doing, the more you’re practicing, the more you’re practicing. Because every session I’m with a client I’m practicing being great, I’m practicing reframing, I’m practicing being powerful, responsible, committed, empathetic.
Alex: This is beautifully put.
Bernie: Whereas I might be at home with my family or my friends and being lazy and I’m just being a schmuck, being difficult, like oh what about me, and talking about me. Who I say I am as a coach is like a declaration. Of course I am committed to being who I am and saying I am a coach in my life and there’s something about having a paying client on the end of the line or right opposite you that really calls me to be.
Alex: Absolutely; so well put. I have a couple more questions and they’re perhaps not too much left to field but they’re a little bit different. I just wanted to ask you do you think this versus that is too binary and limiting, life’s kind of not like that.
Bernie: Well I guess it depends where you’re looking from, Alex.
Alex: Yes, some people sort of have shades of gray.
Bernie: Of course, of course, and you’re right. But see, for me, this is about what works. It’s always about that. It’s actually not about what’s true or what’s right or what’s wrong. It’s not about having a debate. That’s the point. It’s actually about managing me. It’s about me managing me. So sure, there are times where I may not manage to reframe my perspective by just getting present to a power tool. Sometimes the worst thing that could happen is someone goes hey, come on Bernie. Why don’t you just use one of your power tools? That would really trigger something. I guess sure, it’s simplistic. But then again for me, the truth is really I think humans complicate things in our minds and that ultimately the truth is simple.
Alex: I was just thinking about more of a spectrum approach instead; of saying something like, towards responsibility, towards commitment, that sort of approach as a teaching method. I love the power tools, though. I’m just throwing this out there.
Bernie: It’s one tool really, Alex. As I say, really for me the biggest value of these things—maybe this is why they’re in coach training—it’s about a tool for a coach for me. Sure it’s a tool for a human being. But then again it’s a fairly advanced level. You’re right; if you’re going to go okay, like big Tony Robbins would say,
change state, change state.
That’s an advanced conversation. You’re not going to take most people off the street who have never even considered any kind of self-awareness or self-management and go okay,
Alex: No. I’ve seen him try to do it though.
Bernie: Sure, well you know he’s a powerful guy and maybe he enrolled people into that. But certainly, I guess this is just a way of defining something that we’re out to become masterful at. It’s a game. It’s a practice. It’s something to practice. It’s like going to the gym for muscle.
Alex: If you had the time again with this, is there any that you’d drop or anything that you’d add?
Bernie: I’m not into hypotheticals.
Alex: All right, that’s fine.
Bernie: For me, there is no such thing. There’s no such thing. There is no time again over. That’s what happened and here we are now.
Alex: I had to think of things, mate.
Bernie: Well that’s what humans do, right. But imagine, just imagine what could you use your head for if you weren’t filling it with speculation. See listen, can you hear this?
Alex: Yes I can.
Bernie: Hear the bells?
Alex: Yes I can.
Bernie: I tell you what—it’s hard to listen to them when you’re speculating.
Alex: Well, on that note I think we’ve come to our time. Bernie, this has been fantastic. I’d love to talk to you again. This is great.
Bernie: I’m down every month, so I go and visit my kids and my grandkids down there. And I’ve got a bit of a special road trip this time because I’ve got a film project and I’m doing a research trip, heading out to Leongatha.
Alex: How long are you down here for?
Bernie: I’ll be literally just whipping in and out of Melbourne to Leongatha, back to Melbourne on Tuesday evening, perhaps catching up with Robin Tuesday evening, and then heading out to the countryside to see my kids.
Alex: Well maybe the next time we can catch up and have coffee. I’d love to take you for a quick meal.
Bernie: Sure. Yes, that would be great. That would be great.
Alex: And say thank you.
Bernie: My pleasure.
Alex: All right mate, thank you so much. And now you’ve got my email address, yes you do. Thanks for doing this mate. By the way, this is my last piece and I graduate.
Bernie: There you go. That’s why I’m here.
Alex: I know. It was such a beautiful piece.
Bernie: And that’s why clearly I was so inspired to be intentional in getting you sorted fast.
Alex: You sure did.
Bernie: All right, mate.
Alex: Thanks Bernie.