Research Paper By Susan Porter
(Transformational, UNITED STATES)
Whilst my journey through the halls of International Coach Academy (ICA) has been enlightening and life changing, parts of the requirements to graduate have been scary. These requirements have resulted in some interesting effects on me, nervousness, butterflies in the stomach, sheer panic, at times feeling overwhelmed and anxiety. With heightened self-awareness now as an ICA Student I also realize that I have allowed my skills of procrastination to develop very well concerning the area of my fear. I have procrastinated as to why I could not possibly address this fear today and always said I would deal with it tomorrow – which of course never comes. I believe I could quite easily write a bestselling book with a title of 101 reasons why I cannot!
So which of the requirements of ICA have made me fearful? The written assignments, specifically the task of writing an article, research paper or a case study. It has been many years since I myself have been in a learning environment as a student. Usually I am in the driving seat in the position of teacher. In the past I have successfully written similar assignments, however now as I am considerably older I feared that my skills would not be sufficient for the task ahead. I consequently put up brick wall after brick wall, turned all the lights out so I couldn’t see the route ahead and then in addition to all these self-made hurdles, I just put my head in the sand and hoped the problem would go away.
As my journey through the halls of ICA continued it become obvious to me that I had to deal with this roadblock. So in order to overcome this fear of inadequacy that I had, I decided to use the assets that have been made available through ICA and used my procrastination as a topic for a coaching session with my peer coach. We discussed the three options, the case study, the research paper and the thought leadership article. I had such a blinding fear of these tasks; I had built up walls, with black holes behind them that led on to swamps with crocodiles in! Gradually through powerful questions she provided a ladder to get over the wall, shone a torch into the black hole and find ways to walk around the swamps to avoid the crocodiles. She asked me how each of these different assignments affected me and did one seem less scary than the others. The research paper was eliminated immediately as I really found it hard to even overcome the brick wall with this one. Yes it could be said that this is the task I should have done – overcome my fear, battled with my demons. However my father always told me it is better to be a live coward than a dead hero! The thought leadership article was rejected as it evoked no passion from me.
At the beginning of this coaching session I had celebrated a win with my coach and told her about one of my clients that I felt I had helped to have one of those magical “Aha” moments. My coach asked me if I realized that the win I had shared with her would make an interesting case study. Sometimes through fear we can become too fixated on what is in the box and don’t even consider looking outside of its boundaries. For the lid to be opened on my box all it took was some focused listening on the part of my coach and some powerful questions.
This particular coaching experience heightened and embraced my self-awareness to a whole new level. It gave me the strength to acknowledge my fear and walk beside it. The fear I experienced concerning this assessment was debilitating and prevented me from moving forward. Fear may not be overcome, sometimes it just needs to be acknowledged and allowed to walk beside you to make you stronger.
Background of my case study
I was delivering a series of 5 Confidence Building and Motivational workshops. The group of people that attended consisted of 7 women. Each of them with different stories as to why they felt they had lost confidence. A comfortable relationship developed between this group and myself, so at the end of the 5 workshops I enquired if any of the group would like to assist me in my coaching studies and become clients. Many of them did.
From this selection of new clients I acquired I decided to do my case study on one of them. The client that this case study is based on – I will refer to her as Miss H, is an educated and professional lady. Miss H has acquired a vast experience of the business world and was very helpful to other members of the group and frequently offered inspiration. She appeared focused and goal orientated. Each week that homework was given she embraced it wholeheartedly. Frequently in conversations the topic of how many hours a week she had worked in her previous job came up. How this job had taken over her life, how she had been working at least 60 hours a week and how she could not remember taking a vacation without her laptop so she could work whilst on vacation. The professional side of her life had completely engulfed her. Whilst attending the workshops, Miss H had celebrated her 60th birthday and her husband took her on a vacation to Florida. Upon her return she came back like a young girl full of excitement, informing everyone that not only had she left her laptop at home, but she had read a book for fun, which she couldn’t even remember the last time that had happened.
On one of these workshops I challenged the group to answer the following question:
What are you capable of that if you did it would astound yourself?
Miss H said she had taken an art class some 25 years ago which she enjoyed but due to her busy work life had not managed to draw/paint a picture since. So I asked her if she felt like being challenged. Miss H graciously said she would accept the challenge. The following week she was so proud of herself when she showed the group her wonderful picture. The enjoyment that she experienced from doing it bubbled over.
The beginning of Miss H’s coaching journey.
We arranged a suitable time for Miss H and I to have a half hour discovery session. During this session I asked her about her goals that she wished to achieve through coaching. Her reply was that she would like to use this coaching experience to “sort out her pension”. She had a number of pensions from different employers, but she had not been consistent with filing them away and was unsure what paperwork she had relating to her pension and where it was. I felt it important to clarify to her at this point, that I was not a Financial Consultant and therefore would be unable to provide her financial advice. Also that the coaching space was not about giving advice but helping people establish and reach their goals, develop action plans, define or redefine their priorities. This was accepted by her and she volunteered that she just needed someone to support her in getting her retirement plans sorted, not to do it for her. In addition to the goals she wanted to implement regarding her retirement plans, she also wanted to find a better life balance.
The first coaching session.
I welcomed Miss H into the coaching space. Ensuring confidentiality and informing her that I would listen to her in a nonjudgmental manner. Once I had settled Miss H into the coaching space, I asked her if her goals for the following coaching session were still the same as she had discussed with me on the discovery session – to sort out her pension plan and to find a better life balance. She confirmed that yes I had heard and understood her correctly.
During the session I asked her the following questions:
- What would you love to happen at the end of this session?
- What could you do as the first step toward meeting your goal?
- How will you reward yourself when you complete actions that will take you to your goal?
- What skills/resources do you need to develop to help you reach your goal?
- What are some useful qualities you already have that will help you move towards your goal?
- What actions leap out at you?
- What is the most challenging part of this for you?
- What might get you off track?
- How can we eliminate hurdles?
- Who can be of support to you?