Coaching Tool – Confronting the Saboteur
One way to bring clients closer to their inner conflict is to have them listen for the saboteur’s voice. Pretending this voice it does not exist, does not mean that it goes away; and if attempting to push it away isn’t working, then coaches can work with clients to bring resolution closer. Coaches can help their clients to hear it, bring it out of hiding, and counter-punch with four questions suggested by Byron Katie, in her book
Who Would You Be without your Story? (Katie, 2008, p. viii).
The four questions she suggests:
- Is it true?
- Can you absolutely know that it's true?
- How do you react when you believe that thought?
- Who would you be without the thought
Example Saboteur – you can’t sing. Coach – is it true? Client – yes, it is. Coach – Can you absolutely know that it is true? Client – of course. I’ve heard myself sing. Coach – how do you react when you believe that thought? Client – I don’t sing. Coach – who would you be without the thought? Client – Hmm. I would sing, at least to myself and maybe do a little dancing! Saboteur – you can’t make money if you leave your job. Coach – is it true? Client – I don’t know Coach – Can you absolutely know that it is true? Client – No, not for sure but I’m afraid. Coach – how do you react when you believe that thought? Client – I “suck it up” and stay in my current job. Coach – who would you be without the thought? Client – I would make my hobby my job, work hard, believe in myself absolutely, and let nothing stand in my way!
Coaching Tool – Affirmations
Affirmations are powerful tools for shifting how clients perceive themselves. Clients create affirmations – written or spoken statements – and speak/read them generally at least once a day. An affirmation might sound something like:
I am supremely capable and worthy of .
Reassure clients who feel inauthentic doing affirmations when their confidence is low that the power of affirmations is that they strengthen belief in them – there is validity in the cliche, “fake it until you make it.” Affirmations can be great confidence builders!
Ask anyone to tell you about their life and you are likely to get a journalist’s version: who, what, where, when and, perhaps, a passing reference to emotions in the timeline (it was painful; best day of my life). Ask them to tell you more, then more still. At the heart of the story, you finally get to know who the storyteller thinks he is. Fortunately or unfortunately, the person will create and recreate interactions that are consistent with the role. When a client sees themselves as a patient, forgiving person then they act like one and clients who see themselves as sarcastic and critical people act the part.
Coaching Tool – Metaphors
In coaching, we can use storytelling as a wonderful metaphor for our clients. They can face their own conflicts and find creative and just resolutions. They deserve the very same opportunities for a just and promised future; they can also create their dreams and realise their potential. And using story allows them to dare to do so! (Bloom, 2011, p.65) It is possible to help clients identify the role or roles they play in their life stories by using story metaphors. Stories can come from many sources: fairy tales (such as Snow White and the Seven Dwarves), books (The Wizard of Oz), cartoons (Flintstones), or TV shows. Clients should be familiar with the story but coaches should still send a synopsis of the plot and characters, to ensure a shared understanding. Example Synposis Snow White and the Seven Dwarves: The main characters are the Queen, her stepdaughter Snow White, the Huntsman, the truth-telling “Mirror Mirror” and the Seven Dwarves, named Sneezy, Sleepy, Dopey, Doc, Happy, Bashful, and Grumpy. One day Mirror Mirror tells the Queen that Snow White is the “fairest” of all. The vain and wicked Queen orders the Huntsman to take Snow White into the woods and kill her. He abandons her in the woods, sparing her life, where she was rescued by the Seven Dwarves. When the Queen learns that Snow White is alive, she puts a sleeping spell on her. A prince, already in love with Snow White, finds her and releases her from the spell with a kiss.Coach (broad question) – Of all these characters, which one do you think is most like you, most of the time? How does this character reflect your values? Coach (focused question) – Which character is most like you when you are at work? In what ways? There are vast opportunities to explore client roles, perceptions and behaviors through the metaphor of stories. Coaches can challenge clients to examine the character roles they have versus roles they might prefer. Coach – What would be different if you acted as if you were Snow White instead of the Queen?
People can feel stuck if they confuse their life story with truth. Truth is complete, factual, immutable – life stories are neither. By using fictional stories as metaphors, it opens the door for clients to view their life stories creatively and take editorial liberty with them. People can shape how they will live in their future stories! And what is the future? It is not something waiting for us but is something we create… and if we don’t create our own future, someone else will fit us into theirs. Life is a series of collisions with the future, said one Spanish writer. Tomorrow is either the sum of our pasts or the sum of our yearnings for what we may become. If we are creating our own future, we nearly always begin with a dream. (Hudson, 1999, p. 188)
- Change can be transformative when it comes from changing the structure of the brain.
- People can infuse negativity with positivity and change how the brain works.
- Because the brain apparently does not distinguish between what is imagined from what exists, people can use imagination as a catalyst to take action.
- People can disempower the saboteur’s voice as often as it is necessary through compassionate and positive thinking. This power of visualizing can combat fear. Dealing with the fear of public speaking through visualization of a successful speech is but one example.
- In a substantive way, people script their life stories and choose the roles they want to play.
- Coaches have an important role to play in the lives of clients by teaching them useful tools, helping them become self-aware, and giving them the courage to take action – all things that serve clients well into the future.
Bloom, L. (2011). Cinderella and the Coach: The Power of Storytelling for Coaching
Success. Lexington, KY: CreateSpace.Hanson, R., Mendius, R. (2009). Buddha’s Brain, the practical neuroscience of happiness, love & wisdom. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications, Inc.
Hudson, F. (1999). The Handbook of Coaching. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers. Katie, B. (2008). Who Would You Be WithoutYour Story? Carlsbad, CA: Hay House Inc. Wahl, C., Scriber, C., Bloomfield, B. (Eds.). (2008). On Becoming a Leadership Coach.
New York: Palgrave MacMillanWilliams, P. & Menendez, D.S. (2007). Becoming a Professional Life Coach. New York/London: W.W. Norton & Company.