Updated: Sep 23, 2022
“Would it be ok if we tried something that is sort of like a game?”
I can’t say how many times I’ve been offered an experience like this, or I offered this kind of experience to someone else, when receiving and giving coaching. Sometimes in life we hit an impasse and we can see no way forward; coaching enables us to take a step outside of the thought patterns and behavior that led us there. How did we get to that impasse in the first place? We can be so committed to the logic of our thought patterns and so driven by our personal story that we drive ourselves right up against a wall. Imagine your nose smushed against a wall, when we are that close all we can see is Wall. There appears to be no way forward or around because 100% of our vision is filled with an immovable, impenetrable obstacle. However, when we are given an opportunity to step back or off to the side, we might see that the wall is only a mile wide, or 6 feet tall, or actually a block suspended in front of our face that we quite possibly hung there ourselves! Suddenly there are long and short options to go around and over or just obliterate the obstacle altogether.
It seems easy enough to take the step to change our view, but how often do we do this on our own? What does taking that step look like? It can be more challenging than you might think. That would be asking ourselves to defy the rationale and narrative that we’ve relied on to get us through our whole lives. Coaching provides opportunities for changing our perspective, and one of my favorites is the opportunity to get a little playful. Sometimes play involves imagination and sometimes movement. One example is to invite a client to try on an option as if they were trying on a new outfit, and they will step into the outfit, button or zip it where appropriate, and fully embody the option as this new way of being in the world. There are many more like this. We tune into parts of ourselves that we don’t often use to make choices. It’s fun, it’s freeing, and it can lead to remarkable results! If words like “magic” or even “playful” cause your brow to furrow and your eyes to roll toward the sky, then you as a client are welcome to say “no thanks” to whatever option is presented by your coach. There are other paths and methods to arrive at your answer and your coach will work with you and your preferences to get you there.
What I like most about being coached is the feeling that someone is listening to me with absolutely no agenda. I feel like the words that I am saying are really landing the way I want them to. Often when I am discussing options with my husband, friends, or family, as every word pours out of my mouth I can see their eyes darting about as their brains interpret all that I mean in ways that are completely tied to their historical biases about who I am and what I am capable of. I am saying one thing and they are taking my words and molding something entirely different in their minds because they “know me” so well. One thing I’ve learned as a coach is that people will surprise you, and you are most likely to see the positive result you and the client are hoping for if you start with the idea that they are capable and will achieve it.
Recently I was talking with a fellow coach about my own personal impasse. Should I stay at a day job where I don’t see a future or quit? There are very clear pros and cons to these two options, and huge ramifications. I’ve already done the pros and cons list myself. I’ve gone back and forth and back again. A or B. Right or left. Which one?! The decision appeared unapologetically diametric, the same is often true for many of my clients. Even as a trained coach, I wasn’t willing to consider alternatives. I know there usually are alternatives, but I wouldn’t create the space or allow for their possibility because the alternatives were unconventional, a little uncomfortable, and more personally challenging. I didn’t really want to entertain them. My coach observed it without any judgment and just asked, “how about part-time?” I won’t delve into the “why” and “how” this choice is problematic here, but I had been subconsciously avoiding this “Option 3.” What she did, was cause me to confront, not just the choice, but also the fact that I was purposely avoiding it, and the reasons why. When I allowed myself to step away from my thought patterns and story, I was able to embrace the alternative and imagine solutions to the problems I was previously afraid to face.
When I coach clients, they aren’t always aware that there exists an “Option 3” or C or XYZ. There are usually more options than you think. Sometimes it takes some work to unearth what other choices are available to us. Talking with a coach and letting them guide us from the circle path we have been beating in our minds to an entirely new way of getting us to our answer can be immensely helpful. If you allow for something playful, you can discover hidden pathways to your dreams. Not every coaching call is about making a choice, but it’s a common one. Not every method utilizes play, but creativity is always helpful to tap.
Do I use a coach every time I need to make a big decision? No. However, I am acutely aware that there are times when I know a coach will help me move forward from a place where I have been stuck, and then I make an appointment. Do I need to have a major decision or big change in my life to use a coach? No. I schedule regular appointments with a coach because I find value in our conversations, I appreciate our communication, and it provides me with insight and inspiration to make positive things happen in all aspects of my life. When I don’t have something particular in mind to discuss, that is usually when I have the most surprising, interesting, and powerful results. “I can’t believe I didn’t realize before that I have been wanting to change how I communicate with my siblings, but now that I am saying it out loud, I feel ten pounds lighter!” Giving coaching and receiving coaching has helped me and helped my clients in innumerable ways and I am grateful to have learned this tool and excited to share it with others as much as I possibly can.
How do you think this kind of coaching could work in your life?
If you want to learn more about coaching, you can visit the coaching page on my website, and you are welcome to set up a free exploratory call with me to experience it for yourself.