Research Paper By Dr. Sangharsh Daithankar
(Life Coach, INDIA)
Foreword (Leonardo da Vinci):
In order to arrive at knowledge of the motions of birds in the air, it is first necessary to acquire knowledge of the winds, which we will prove by the motions of water in itself, and this knowledge will be a step enabling us to arrive at the knowledge of beings that fly between the air and the wind.
Introduction to Case Study
This case study is about a woman who, having lived a life of doubts and loneliness, decided to fly high to her dreams and aspirations and deep dive into realms of her beliefs, values and rediscover new vistas of her own self…
Aisha (name changed) comes from a bourgeois family from Bangalore. Throughout her 23 years, she had a sheltered, protected upbringing, wherein her studies has been only the focus. All through her school life she had been a consistent top performer. She was good in Elocution and participated in many competition during her school days and stood 1st however,; the language was regional (not English).In school, she was surrounded by fellow students who she have been her neighbors and hence she had grown up with them. Having known them since she was a child, and having been a top scorer, she had always been paid attention by her teachers, friends, family, et al. Thus, the need for learning the skill of developing and maintaining friendships was never felt by Aisha.
However, after completing her 10th grade, she entered college. In college, she found, she was just one among many. There were students who were better scorers in studies. She was, thus, just another student
No one paid any attention to anyone. If you wanted to be friends, you had to make the effort. After the initial shock, she started to try and make friends but found she was unable to as she did not know what to talk, sometimes how to talk or at times just felt really shy. The result was that her friends gave her feedback, which she found really hurtful and so she just gave up on such friendships. She was slowly left with no friends and no support in college.
The result of this was her self-esteem went for a toss, her belief that she was the best, took a bad hit and she started getting depressed. She did very badly in her 12th grade. She had wanted to do her Engineering and with such a low score, she only got a college out of Mumbai.
Her low score in 12th grade was a huge shock to her and her family. She realized she needed to pull her act together and though she was not able to learn the skills of developing relationships through Engineering, she did manage to get top scores.
She finished her graduation in Engineering and was able to join a good MNC. This Company was putting her through an induction programme that was a combination of technical and soft skills training and she was looking forward to the same.
When I first met Aisha, she seemed to be a quiet, shy, nervous kind of woman. Having seen her scores, I was aware that she was a top scorer. When she started talking in class, I also found her to be extremely intelligent. What surprised me was her low level of self confidence.
During our first meeting, I understood her complete background, what made her feel extremely depressed, what stopped her from opening up with people and what she wanted to achieve out of our sessions.
Goals set by Aisha
- To understand what made people reluctant to connect with her
- To know how she could improve her self confidence
- To regain her original, positive, fun-filled personality
The Coaching Process and competencies / tools used
The entire process took 3 months to complete, during which time, I had 6 sessions with Aisha.
The tools that I found worked very well was powerful questioning, powerful listening, acknowledging Aisha for her successes (small and big), using the power tools, responding vs reacting, responsibility vs blame and reframing perspectives and most of the coaching skills like looking at underlying beliefs.
Given below is an account of how Aisha’s transformation process took place:
1. How do I connect better with people ?
For a deeper understanding of connect, we started by looking at what prevented Aisha from opening up and talking to people. The conversation made her aware of her fears of being ridiculed for not having anything sensible to talk about.
She decided to take the action of starting to connect with her fellow colleagues in the training session. She chose a buddy who would help provide a safe space for her to open up and communicate.
The result was by the end of 3 months, she had made more friends than she had managed to in her 6 years of college !! She also realised very powerfully that it was her underlying belief (because of one or two episodes in the past) that people would ridicule her. And challenging that belief really excited her when she found people responding to her positively when she spoke to them.
2. How do I improve my self-confidence?
Aisha discovered through conversations that her low self-confidence was on account of the self-doubts that she had about herself and her constant fear of “What if?” She found when someone provided feedback, she was unable to take responsibility or question, but resorted to blaming both the other person and then herself.
Aisha explored various options and the action she chose to take here was look at every feedback from a different perspective, understand that each person has the freedom to have their own perception, check whether the feedback made sense and take responsibility for the same. She also decided, instead of reacting, she would respond in a positive manner when receiving feedback, accept and thank the person and take a serious look at the feedback received.
The impact was amazing. Like a caterpillar becoming a butterfly, Aisha’s self confidence bloomed and by the time the training was complete, Aisha’s self confidence was clearly visible through her presentations, her body language and her smile.
3. How do I get my personality back?
Aisha shared that in school she was a bubbly, fun-filled very positive person. Over the years on account of the depression and low self-esteem, she had become a person who rarely smiled, kept to herself all the time and looked mousy as well.
Through the visualisation process, Aisha was able to see the kind of personality that she wanted to become. She also realised that ‘she’ was responsible for this change in her personality. Through powerful listening and acknowledgement, I was able to make Aisha aware of how people are attracted to positive personalities and how both her earlier goals too were linked to her 3rd goal.
Few actions she decided to take immediately were:
- Smile more often
- Take the effort to greet people and ask after them
- Make conversation and thereby understand what is important to her and to others
- Look forward to exploring new interests - like going with friends to watch movies or have dinner
- Engage in fun-filled activities.
By the end of our 3-month period, the transformation was visible to Aisha, myself and her colleagues also started commenting on the same which in turn boosted Aisha’s self confidence.
A Summary of the Approach based on ICF competencies, Model & Tools Used
The sessions with Aisha were spread over a period of 3 months.
All the sessions were Face to Face and had a duration of minimum 1 hour.
On the basis of the trust built, Aisha was able to open up and share all that was bothering her and hampering her forward movement.
The focus of every session, therefore, by her, became to take an action which would move her forward towards the goals that she wanted to achieve.
The Coaching Model used during the process
I used the GROW Model during this process as detailed below:
- Outlining the Goals
The Goals were outlined very clearly and Aisha was happy to commit to them. Every conversation helped her map her progress and goal achievement.
- The Reality
By powerful questioning and delving into the challenges faced by Aisha, she was able to clearly see the reality and where she was getting stuck. This helped her to be clear about the actions she needed to take to move forward.
Aisha was able to identify various options to go from her reality to achievement of her goals. By using various coaching tools and following the ICF competencies, Aisha was able to select the suitable option that would help her achieve her goals.
Aisha's amazing commitment to the goals and her positive approach to taking the action decided mutually, helped her to move forward and achieve the goals. Today too, her commitment to herself has allowed her to carve a way forward in the corporate world.
The Coaching Approach
A. Setting the Foundation & Establishing the Agreement
- The process was started by having a Chemistry meeting rapport was built between the Coach and the Client. The prior interactions ensured mutual trust and genuineness in the relationship.
- In this meeting, the purpose was clearly defined and the goals outlined. An agreement was drawn up between the Coach and the Client.
- At every session, it was clearly outlined that all conversations would remain confidential.
- The outcome that the client wanted to achieve was also established at the beginning of every session.
B. Communicating Effectively
- During the process the Coach was able to help the client explore herself through active, patient and empathetic listening.
- This powerful listening enable the client to share the challenges faced, the beliefs and delve deeper into her psyche to look at whats working and whats not.
- By using powerful questioning and paraphrasing where required, the Coach was able to help the client look at options, reframe perspectives and release judgement. The Coach was always detached and would challenge the client to explore different avenues.
C. Faciltating Learning and Results
- In the entire coaching process, the Coach was able to create awareness within the client about her reality and the actions she needs to take to bring about a positive change in her life.
- Through the process of visualization, the client was able to see the kind of personality that she would love to be and thereby get committed to moving in that direction.
- The Coach also used role playing during sessions in order to create awareness of how others viewed her and what was their perspective. This gave the client deep insights into the actions she needed to take to reach her goals.
- The Coach, over the period of 3 months, kept in regular touch with the client to monitor implementation of action initiatives and ensure accountability to achievement of goals.
Insights for client
Through the entire process, Aisha was able to realise, very powerfully, that all through these years, she had allowed other people’s perspectives to control her life, her thoughts and her actions.
By releasing that, looking within at her innate strengths, she was able to change her perspective about herself and gain her confidence back.
Insights for coach
I believe that all of life is a “perspective”. What I see, may or may not be what the other person sees. These sessions reinforced that belief. By using the coaching process and the various powerful tools outlined by ICA, I was able to co-create a wonderful inner discovery for Aisha. Even today, it gives a warm feeling.
I spoke to Aisha few weeks back. She is now rated as one of the best employees of the Organisation within her group. She is working on one of the sought after projects and has thrown off her glasses by going through a laser eye surgery !!
Lastly, the very relevant statement, “After the first few sessions, all of coaching is life coaching” comes to mind and brings a smile to my face !! When I first met Aisha, I was very curious to understand what made such a top scorer have such low confidence. The goals we set were all within my domain as a “Behavioural Consultant”. Yet as we delved deeper, I realised that there is much more to the iceberg than just the tip !!
And so today, am able to acknowledge myself for having worked with Aisha and supporting her through this life-transformation process.