Monthly Archives: September 2013

Musings From The Waiting Room

All kinds of people seek out a coach for reasons which include getting them focused, unsticking them on a project, helping to maintain and reach their chosen goal. This includes helping them redefine their goal if they believe it is required. So, sitting in a doctors surgery waiting to be called is hardly part of a go getters plan, is it?

Well, actually it’s very useful. We each spend a lot of time surfing the internet on iPads and mobile ‘phones quite apart from the odd sojourn in work time for other activities. Sitting here watching the assortment of people in various states of wellness go by, it struck me how much time I spend drifting between posts like a gondola without a real destination. See what I did there? 😉

This is not to say that every waking minute should be involved in being productive. We need down time, especially when unwell. (I’m okay, thanks for asking 😉 The need to be dormant is important, but how can we recognise when it became an occupational hazard? That last bit was deliberate, by the way.

‘The devil makes work for idle hands’, someone wrote many yonks ago and it’s true! Having our hands too full is not a good thing either, but sometimes we cannot see our way through all the stuff we tell ourselves we have to complete to keep the world turning. However, it will keep turning whether we do it or not, so why are we slaves to this obstacle course? Do you feel obstructed? Contradictions abound in most peoples lives, but having time to address them seems in ever decreasing supply. We need to give ourselves permission to sort it out.

One useful coaching tool I use is called The Wheel Of Life. It’s a big pie chart really, and it helps us look at our individual life activities like a trendy snap shot. How much time we give, or have for work, family, friends, personal space, projects, walking the dog, personal ambition. Never saw that one on ANY pie chart but mine yet.

My aunt died recently and as old as she was, it was still an unwelcome shock. The sudden loss is palpable, but to be truthful I had not seen her for many years. Families are complicated, other things and situations get in the way, but of course those can easily be seen as excuses and they are for the most part.
If I wanted to eat myself up I could blame myself exclusively, but I won’t. I’m sad about it but recognise my humanness – and hers.

The other thing that’s been on my mind is how we get ideas set in our minds at a certain age. The time we last saw someone is generally the visual memory we initially access. This is relevant to coaching because the person being coached is affected by these things too. Sometimes an individual holds on to a limiting belief because their head is stuck with a situation that is thirty years old. The people in their memory have moved on, the world has moved on, but they have not – so why not just get over it? Or ignore it, pretending they have got over it?

Now, don’t get me wrong, I have upset more than one professional stating my belief that scratching at old wounds can sometimes be counter productive. I really do believe certain people can be caught up in addiction to trauma and facilitated in their relationship with it to their detriment for many years. Not everyone, just some, although I am not a clinician. Memories or snap shots do not need to be in any way traumatic to lodge themselves firmly in our minds. Sometimes they are fabulous, glorious and happy.

So, if we have these snap shots about other people we also use them about ourselves. Think about when you were five years old and then every five years until now. The things you thought about the world and your place in it have changed. When we are very young we are hopefully encouraged to think in terms of possibilities. Generally, the only limitation given by our parents and guardians is around our need to be safe and not hurt ourselves too much and to avoid running into traffic on the road.

Now think of what happens to us as adults with increased responsibilities. Time seems to run away, unlike as a child when one week felt like a year! We have boundaries all around us. We have to be politically correct, we have to fulfil others expectations and live our lives a certain way. Or, do we?

Do you? What if you could live your life with a better balance still considering all the things and people in it? What if you could dispense with some of the ‘stuff’ in a positive way and give yourself more elbow room to do what’s important to you? What would you do? When would you do it? Are you unofficially in the waiting room shackled to old feelings and beliefs! Are they even your own or did you accept these from someone else?

This is why coaching is useful and why I do it and when it works for you it’s fabulous, baby! Next!

Testing Real Authority

On the odd occasion, like some fellow navel gazers, I have taken psychometric tests. Myers Briggs is the main one people remember, but the last one I did wasn’t theirs – can’t remember what it was called, but it demonstrated an unintended result. No, I’m not a genius, that would be a surprise!

How would you feel if you thought you were pretty good at something and had a test result proclaim you were only classed as ‘moderate’ at it?

That’s what happened. It said I was moderately creative. Only moderately! How very dare it! Perish the thought of looking at the good stuff it had said about my other aptitudes. That’s when I had a mini realisation. Yes, I know about the habits of only concentrating on the negative rather than the positive, but it had not said I was without creativity. I quite simply refuse to believe it’s opinion, as a very creative person, yes, a bit wacky but always known by my closest friends as being as … well … different. Not better, just different, as we all are, so why did this test get under my skin so much? Ego? Yes and that the test result was wrong. Beauty is after all in the eye of the beholder. I went into an art gallery today and saw some (meh!) good and mediocre stuff. Wouldn’t call all of it art, but the artists would – and expect money for it too. Good for them.

Self limiting beliefs are generally thought of as negative things. In fact to believe one can breathe without air and without some form of assistance is crazy. Reality limits most of our beliefs, but how can we decide when something is real or not? When are our perceptions damaging our potential needlessly? What makes it so easy to dent our confidence?

The perception of another person or organisations authority can effect self limiting beliefs. They may not consciously create this effect, but their audience may not be aware of themselves as the most valuable ingredient in the equation. Over dependence on another persons opinion or questionnaire can send us spinning into some very dark places, rendering us helpless at the worst of times, if we are feeling particularly vulnerable. Remember going on the internet with symptoms and scaring yourself to death with the massive list of illnesses? Partial details, incomplete knowledge and a need to be told what to do can cause more issues than we need or are ready to consider, especially when the diagnosis is incorrect.

While some psychometric testing can be useful and even amusing, using it as the unadulterated truth may be a mistake. Different tests come out usurping others with great regularity. I have no opinion on how good they are, but if a set of conditions are put together in varying ways the incidences of certain trends will become apparent and almost become regulated unless sufficient variants in the equation are included. To include every possible variant is actually pretty impossible without weakening the scope of any such test. It would be impractical.

Noting the need for comforting recognition that each of us are members of one herd or another, while catering for the truth that we are all individuals is a balancing act. Trusting our entire identity to an equation like we were a piece of computer software is a dangerous thing for sensitive souls like me. Like you, I have my own sense of whether I am good at something. Some even more sensitive people (I believe sensitivity is very positive) may somehow view such a result as saying “Don’t try too hard, you’re not that special at it”, which would be a a huge mistake.

Authority on ones abilities is not down to a psychometric test (which can be faked if one knows the tricks). Authority to permit all kinds of things has to begin with the individual. You. Don’t give away your authority.

If you believe you can do better in your chosen field of endeavour but keep running into obstacles, they may be learning opportunities. If the learning opportunity has arms and legs and has been a pain in the proverbial, you may need to consider how to improve the situation. Unsure how? You may need a coach.