Research Paper By Riccardo Mereu
(Business Coach & Career Change Coach, ITALY)
When I was at secondary school, I used to attend a course called Industrial Technical Drawing which mostly consist of hand-made drawing from a different point of views of progressively complex solid objects, and called orthogonal projections.
I clearly remember that I always enjoyed this class, and besides not being very good at hand-drawing itself, I really liked the exercise of watching a piece from different angles, to see the same piece, represented in different ways.
When the piece is complex this exercise can be really challenging and it definitely required a lot of mental openness and visualization skills.
Here below a simple example:
When I joined ICA and I started learning about the power tools I became very interested in the concept of Reframing Perspective and immediately my memories went back to the orthogonal projections.
If you think about it, the concept is in fact exactly the same.
When you have an object in front of you, you might think it has a certain shape, but in reality, watching it from a different angle the shape might change.
In coaching the same concept can use when defining an obstacle.
Considering my engineering background another interesting thing popped-up on my head while reading the Action vs Delay power tool that says:
“Delay works in opposition to action. If we look at the action as an accelerating force that moves or pulls us forward, we can also look at the delay as an accelerating force that pulls us back and keeps us stuck”
Beside the mere concept of this sentence, what came to my mind is that in fact this statement holds something that it is not exactly true, in fact the acceleration itself is not a force, instead is the result of the application of a force and it is regulated by Newton´s Second Law of Motion which states:
“The acceleration of an object as produced by a net force is directly proportional to the magnitude of the net force, in the same direction as the net force, and inversely proportional to the mass of the object”
This means that the acceleration depends upon two variables: the net force acting upon the object and the mass of the object, and therefore:
- As the force acting upon an object is increased, the acceleration of the object is increased
- As the mass of an object is increased, the acceleration of the object is decreased
Getting to a more practice statement, this means that if we want to move an obstacle, either we apply a greater force, or we reduce its mass.
So how do the Orthogonal projections, the second principle of Newton and the reframing perspective tool come together?
Well, the answer is quite simple:
- What if the obstacle we are watching at is different from what we think?
- What if the shape of the obstacle is not what we have always thought?
- What if its weight is not what we perceive?
- What if while exploring new perspectives, we realize that the obstacle is not as big as we thought?
- What if it is lighter than we thought?
In such case, we are not really changing the mass of the obstacle itself of course, but we are redefining its dimension and perhaps we discover that its mass was not as big as we thought!
As a direct result, the force we will need to apply to move the obstacle does not need to be that powerful at all, in fact, redefining the mass of the obstacle we might even realize that the force needed is really small.
In addition, applying a greater force and minimizing the obstacle mass would even produce a much greater acceleration, sometimes even unexpected!
This study case goes around a real story that happened to one of my clients, for simplicity and privacy protection I will refer to her as Anna.
Anna is a young graphic designer who decided to start working as a freelancer in her own small touristic city after an important experience in a large multimedia company located in a big city in the north of Italy.
With the bag full of experience, talents and lots of motivation Anna quickly gaining some market shares that allowed her to be independent in her life.
Part of her success was undoubtedly due to the help of a guy she met, Mark a guy who owns a shop and art gallery located in the heart of the little touristic city she lives and with a lot of connections with other artists and event organizers.
Being able to promote her own brand, selling her own art and her merchandise in such a small city was very challenging for her, however, have created this connection with Mark it really helped her to gain terrific visibility and of course some financial stability.
The summer was starting and her business was shining.
Unfortunately, after the initial excitement, Anna started noticing some behavioural changes in Mark. He started to be unclear in his business requirements, there were often mistakes in the profit-sharing calculation, and every time someone was appreciating Anna’s works in his shop and asking for contacts he was referring to her as “her own artist”, behaving no longer as a peer business partner but trying to get more advantage from her and even obstructing her own independence as freelance artist.
During this period other little discussion happened and the relationship started to seriously be compromised.
Eventually, the problem bigger when during an important event Mark decided to use Anna’s works without her authorization, not giving the credits for her job, and neglecting her any possibility of discussion.
Anna was furious, she tried to approach Mark in more than one occasion but their conversations were heading nowhere.
The communication in between the two went from poor to terrible very quickly and after a couple of months the two were no longer talking to each other, instead, they were only exchanging emails with long reply delays or passing messages through other intermediates.
The only reason why they were still doing business together was that Anna needed Mark’s space to sell her art, and Mark needed Anna’s art to make money out of it.
When Anna came to me, she looked a bit confused about where to start and what to accomplish.
Considering at that time she was having multiple clients and dealing with multiple situations, her first session goal was to find a way to manage her priorities and therefore her time.
During the first session she was often bouncing in between mere technical or logistic problems related to her struggles to print her arts, to find reliable business partners, to get quotations on time from suppliers, or accepting jobs she didn’t really like to do, and emotional breakdowns where she was even questioning herself and her capabilities.
In between the first and second coaching session I asked her if she wanted to complete a personality test and a value-based test. She was very excited to do it and eventually she turned out sending me emails with deep emotional statement where she was often letting her self down, saying she was not talented enough, and even questioning her entire experience as a graphic designer.
During the second session, we used the results of her test and her reflections to explore her resources such as her talents, her past achievements, her values and her original motivation.
Slowly her light started to change and become more confident in the way she was talking about herself, yet there was still something to come.
By the end of the second session I asked her:
- What are you learning about yourself today?
She was silent, she had a very intense moment and she then told me:
“You know Riccardo, apart from all this, I am having a very big problem with a person that business-wise is very important to me, but it is sucking all my energies out of me…”
At this point, she unfolded the whole story.
Since the time of our session was already over, and I couldn’t go deeper with this new topic, I told her:
“Anna, form the way you are talking right now and your clear energy shift, it sounds to me like here there is something really important to deal with. As you know our session for today is over, but if you allow me, I am going to ask you two things that I would like you to think about during the next couple of days. Then during our next session, you will tell me if you want to continue with this or move on.”
She agreed, so I asked her two simple questions:
- What needs to happen in order to resolve this situation?
- What do you need to do to make it happen?
After a week Anna contacted me to set a session for the day after. She told me she really needed to make a decision about her situation.
When we met or our third session the goal was crystal clear, she wanted to make a decision whether to continue this business relationship with Mark and to drop it.
The coaching session was very deep and intense. We moved on through her believes, both in terms of what she believed about herself and the business. We talked about her own insecurities and she courageously explored her own mindset.
It was clear to me that during the week she was thinking about what needed to be changed and what she needed to do to make it happened and she was moving very fast.
At one point I asked her:
- What happens if nothing changes?
She stopped and became very serious.
Suddenly she started talking about all her fears in terms of losing visibility in the market, her struggle to start again from the beginning looking for an art gallery where to promote her job, and a lot of other personal insecurities.
I asked her about her support system and what she could do differently and she mentioned about her best friend, but then she paused again, then she mentioned she was starting from zero.
Then I asked her:
- if you were Anna’s best friend, knowing all her qualities, her motivation, her talents, her energies and so on, what would you recommend her to do?
She didn’t answer.
Long seconds of silence passed.
I could see she was processing something at a very deep level.
Unexpectedly she looked at me, I could see in her eyes something different, a massive energy shift had just happened. I was curious so I asked her:
- I am noticing something in your eyes, Anna, what’s happening?
Suddenly she told me she understood that the right decision was to leave him immediately and that even every second more could have been crucial considering she had the urgency to find new business partners.
She told how foolish she had been for so many months, that she should have left the guy much earlier but for some obstacles were preventing her to do it.
When I asked her about the obstacles, she said it was mostly about the lack of confidence in herself, the courage to drop this little island of financial security and the fear of losing the good connection with other artists and event organizers that Mark was able to provide.
Yet, eventually, she realized that her talents and her art were making her feeling very confident, that after all, she was earning money also from other distribution channels, and that after all, all the other artists she now knew could have been her new support system to help her reaffirming herself.
When I asked her when she wanted to do it, she said:
“Immediately Riccardo. I cannot wait any longer, I have to go, now!”
She was on fire.
Our time together was almost over but she didn’t even want to wait for a second more, she told me that the session was over and she closed the call.
Less than 10 minutes later I received an SMS.
“Riccardo, I did it, I dumped him, and I feel awesome! Thanks a lot for your support!
Since I started my ICA journey I had about 15 clients and I covered around 45 hours of coaching. Obviously, I am a newbie but this case really helped me to understand the power of reframing perspectives.
My coaching model is called SWELL and it focuses on the recognition of one’s potential, identification of obstacles and challenges the client to face reality, acknowledge excuses, seek for new perspectives and pushes to consider what could possibly happen if nothing really changes.
During the process used my model and I noticed that Anna’s awareness increased in between the first and the second session thanks to the help of the personality test and even more important about the value-based test.
If I was to do the session from zero again, I would definitely propose to complete the test after the discovery session instead and surely, I will do it with future clients.
In this case, I believe that an earlier introspective exploration would have helped Anna to speed up the process even faster.
What I learned is that Anna was really resourceful and what surprised me the most was the result of our journey together which to me was totally unexpected.
Personally, I thought that Anna would have proceeded in a different way, perhaps trying a more diplomatic approach and trying to re-establishing a connection with Mark.
Instead, something really big happened inside her, and suddenly everything was clear. She made her obstacle become so small that eventually was almost insignificant and with literally no effort she took her final decision.
ICA-PowerTools-EBook.pdf- page. 53