MS`s coaching process
For this case study, it was important to provide an overview of the coaching process, regardless an accurate explanation of its content and main insights and actions, considering that the process was not recorded and was developed three years ago. What means that the appointment derives from notes of each session and what the coach remembers.
The choice of the structure to present this case study is based on the main coach`s approaches resulted from a careful listening in each session, moments of self acknowledgment brought up by powerful questions and central levers of her development resulted from transformational conversation along the process.
Stages of the coaching process
Four main stages were identified in the case of MS that define the dilemmas and most important answers elaborated by the client, that were crucial to anchor important decisions leading to a new professional identity.
Each of these stages was divided to enable the comprehension and the evolution of MS`s coaching process, but in practice they were linked and went backwards and forward as the sessions developed.
I – Initial Exploration – Where am I?
Anchored on the coaching experience with executive development, Marshall Goldsmith provides an approach that illustrates the first coaching movements in MS`s coaching process. As the author suggests, when starting any personal development process, it is important to determine the current situation and, in order to do that, Goldsmith provokes us with the following text:
You are here!
Have you seen those maps in the malls that show “You are here”? They exist so that you can be guided in an unknown territory; they tell you where you are, where you want to go and how you can get there. Many people don`t need this kind of map. These people have a gift: a kind of a guiding light that guides them automatically – thanks to this guiding light these people always turn on the right corner and get where they want using the shortest way. There are people who live like that – and then know their way not only in the malls, but also at school, work, marriage, and friendship. When we meet people like these we say they have a “foundation”, because they know who they are and where they are going to. We feel safe around these kinds of people; we know that if there is any surprise it will be a nice one. They are our models and heroes.
These people have in common a refined awareness of which they are – that is evident with a perfect impact on other people.
There are other people who have lost their sense of direction.
This lack of sense of direction characterizes the heart of MS`s situation at the beginning of the coaching process. During the first sessions, she was able to acknowledge how unhappy she felt and what a stressful situation she was facing, with emotional handicap resulted from being unsatisfied for years as well due to not knowing where to go and how to do it. She only was sure that couldn`t stand living that way and needed to find a way out.
Thus, the first step to the question “Where are you”?” was being aware of how unsatisfied MS was. The next step focused on the conclusion that changing career wouldn`t be an easy process and would demand a hard personal investment. According to Stella Angerami, who wrote the introduction of Herminia Ibarra`s book – Identidade de Carreira, this change is something deeper that implicates facing the persona (beliefs, values, reasons, interests) as well as changing the references we have about successful people, the speech we are used to introducing ourselves, etc.
A crucial moment in this stage was the identification of MS`s inner sabotage factors. Timothy Gallwey uses the concepts Self 1 e Self 2. According to him, Self 1 is the inner voice that sends orders and does not trust Self 2, defined as the human being himself, in other words, the essence of a person. It embodies all our capacities already acquired or not. It also personifies our ability to learn and develop any inner capacity. Self 2 is the one that must be triggered in a coaching process in order to allow Self 1 to be disabled and then enable learning new behavior or practices.
Once established a reliable relationship and an open and honest dialogue was set as one of the scopes of the process, still in the initial stage of the coaching it was possible and convenient to challenge the client to identify typical behavior patterns she showed. The client`s understanding lead her to identify how much energy she lost complaining about her dissatisfaction and how she felt unable to change the reality.
I only know how to be a dentist, I am 42 years old and won`t be able to change anything. There is no way out!
Though these were not exactly MS`s words this was the tone of her speech. Anchored on the belief that the client would take advantage of a “mirror speech” the coach ventured the following approach:
You are 42 years old, hate your profession, but do not realize that there are no possible alternatives and, therefore, can`t change this situation. You will probably work until you are 65/70 years old. So you still have to face about 25 to 30 years as a dentist. Then what is the problem?
Facing this perspective, MS immediately demonstrated she must change this reality. Jenny Rogers states that this question makes explicit the pain through the understanding of probable consequences if the client decides to remain in the same situation. Thus, this author believes that facing the consequences produces energy for change. This could be proved in this crucial moment of MS`s coaching process when she questioned her attitude of denying the possibility of change and, above all, decided to change her attitudes and behaviors in order to construct new alternatives.
II- Stage: Who am I?
The stage “Where am I?” ended with the decision to take actions and started with questions and thoughts to build answers to the question:
Who am I?
In order to answer this question, the sessions focused on finding answers to determine “The WHO”, mainly the following:
- What are your strengths?
- What are your values?
- Where and with what kind of activity does the client identify with?
- What do Professional achievement and success mean?
- What kind of future would you like to build?
Summing up, I can affirm that at first it was very hard for the client to realize her real self. It seemed that the 20 years she dedicated to the profession had put her apart from her essence. It`s interesting, at this point, to read her testimony, as a contribution to this case study:
… I chose this profession influenced by my father whom I deeply admired and was a great dentist who loved his profession. Besides, he was a professor and thus he could guide me. I chose the profession myself and today I realize it was a wrong choice. I never liked it. I often thought about quitting, but since I couldn`t see any possibility I never changed. I worked with my dad and I believe that it made me feel strong and safe…
The process of enlarging the conscience and feeling responsible to change the course of action aiming the desired future got stronger and MS took advantage of the development of a clear view of her profile, values needs and Professional expectations.
Among the tools of self knowledge, besides powerful questions related to the matters mentioned above, the client was submitted to MBTI – Myers Briggs Type Indicator and to “Strength Finders ” from the book wrote by Marcus Buckingham e Donald O. Clifton.
These self-knowledge tools offered a more structured board about some characteristics of the client and contributed to strengthen her self-understanding.
…A remarkable conclusion for the client was the comprehension of the central characteristics of her psychological profile – ENFP in MBTI.
It is worth explaining briefly the four MBTI scales to enable a better comprehension of MS`s profile and her career as a dentist. In the first MBTI Introversion (I) X Extroversion (E), MS is extroverted (E), in other words, a person that gets energy from the outside world, with things, people and ideas and tends to get demotivated in isolated environments, the kind of activity more related to a dentist.
In the second scale, Feeling (S) X Intuition (N), MS is intuitive (N), in other words, prefers information that belong from new connection, beyond the text, metaphors and the future, including changes and innovation. Odontology, in turn, encompasses concrete activities, routines.
In the third scale, Thought (T) X Feeling (F), MS prefers Feeling (F), in other words, prefers decisions based on values, relationships and on the impact on people; the reason is the one from the heart. The opponent preference to Feeling is Thought (T), that is the decision made on data and facts, on logical and rational principles. This scale does not necessarily define which is the preference that most suits the dentist profession, but MS felt uncomfortable for disliking the profession because of its impact on clients and questioned if she was being ethical with them. She had a closer and more affective relationship with clients and this enhanced her uneasiness. I believe this factor had a large weigh what would not happen if her preference was Thought (T).
In the fourth and last scale, Judgment (J) and Perception (P), MS prefers (P), what means she prefers to live more spontaneously, without planning, focused on the present and open to last minute adaptations. On the other hand, her profession was more predictable and structured.
Each MBTI psychological profile has a dominant preference and, in MS`s case, the dominant one is Intuition that is extroverted. It means she uses the preference Intuition most of the time, which is less relevant for a dentist.
Considering the objective of this case study and the fact the MBTI tool is not the best one to define careers, we are not going to focus on analyzing MS`s profile. However it is important to highlight how understanding her psychological profile moved her, enabling MS to express clearly and emotionally:
the world is too big to be encapsulated in a mouth.
I consider this critical moment of MS`s acknowledgment and, from this moment on, she decided to explore alternatives to construct a new career identity.