Ready for Real Change?
“Have you read ALL of these books?”
The question came from the young man sitting in my office, with his head slightly cocked sideways, immersed in pondering some of the titles displayed on my three walls of books. I explained that I had read most of them, with the exception of those "encyclopedia-type research books". He sat for a moment more, and then read a title aloud, “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People?” He paused, and in that moment I remember thinking to myself, “Oh, please don’t ask me what the seven habits are!!” And at that moment it hit me, I had not even remembered the habits, let alone purposefully applied them to my life-circumstances.
And that about sums up human nature as it relates to personal growth. The inertia of human nature makes the momentum of human change difficult to gain. In order for that inertia to be overcome, a precise and determined effort is required over an extended period of time. Applying truth is always more difficult that hearing truth. So, what are some of the principles required to overcome this inertia and gain this momentum? Here are a few.
Somehow, we need to change the viewing angle as we look at our circumstances. Human nature has a tendency to see our own lives in two dimensions. We see a flat surface in the shape of a square. But if we can somehow elevate ourselves and move to the side, we suddenly see a cube; there is more to the object than we thought, there is depth, and we begin to see the shades of problems and textures of solutions in a different way. Most of the time, we need a fresh set of eyes, someone to walk us around to the other side of the table so that we can see ourselves from a completely different angle.
A Deeper Focus
When you first look at a piece of three-dimensional art, you see a flat surface of chaos. But if you change the focal point of your eyes to look past the surface and deeper into the picture, an object comes into focus. At times, we stare at the same flat, chaotic surface in our lives, and just cannot make any sense of it. Then someone comes along who challenges us to look more deeply, and helps us to focus past the surface. Suddenly we gain a new awareness that makes a solution obvious.
Human nature has a tendency to compartmentalize life, missing connections between the parts. Like two wires, separated by a thin space of air, there is no flow of electrical current to turn on the light. We see both wires clearly, but we have not connected them to create a solution. Like the business person who recently realized that the same modified voicemail message she uses to create 90 minutes of uninterrupted time for a business meeting, she can use to create uninterrupted time with her teenage daughter. “Hi, I’m in an important meeting, but if you leave a message I promise to return your call promptly after 2:30… beep.” The last I heard, she was considering using the same technique to buy 3 hours off for a trip to the spa!!
Knowledge Transformed to Action
Reading a book on golf will not make you a good golfer. You can memorize the “10 Tips to Transforming your Golf Swing,” but until you actually put those tips into your swing, they remain locked in the vault of head knowledge. However, if a seasoned golf pro watches your swing in high-speed slow motion, he will help you identify the specific changes needed, and some techniques to help you translate the knowledge to action. If he continues to watch your attempts to improve, and the results it produces in your swing, he will eventually help you replace bad habits with good ones. We all have a vast amount of accumulated knowledge about life, business, and personal development. The trick is seeing which principles apply to the unique circumstances of our current lives, and developing the skill to put those principles into practice. Sometimes we could use a “life-pro” rather than a “golf-pro”!
You likely used a mirror this morning as you groomed and dressed. That’s because we need to see ourselves as we really are in order to know what we need to change. The same is true of our personal growth process. Since we are inside of self, we cannot see ourselves as others see us. Remember the first time you heard a recording of your voice? “That does not sound like me!” was your likely response. That is because what you hear from inside your own body is effected by the resonation of your voice in your body. In order to know what you really sound like to others, you need a recording. Likewise, we occasionally need someone outside of us to accurately reflect what they see in our lives, without judgment or bias. Then we know more accurately what needs to be changed.
There is something about having another person know our goals, that moves us to pursue them with more motivation. That is human nature. If we know that someone is going to be asking us about our progress, we are more likely to give attention to pursuing that progress. So as we determine to take action steps toward change our lives, we will benefit from sharing those intentions with someone we trust, and feeling the accountability that flows from that.
A Listening Ear
If you have ever worked a jigsaw puzzle, you know that the essential first step is to lay all the pieces out on a table, face up. Only then can you begin to look for the corners and edges, and begin setting a frame for the solution. Sometimes our lives are like an unsolved jigsaw puzzle. The first thing that needs to happen is to talk the puzzle out onto the table. We need to vent, to inquire, and to explore. Sometimes just spending some extended time describing the puzzle of our lives aloud to someone, helps us to begin to build the frame for the rest of the pieces to fit.
And, of course, there is a lot more to be said about the process of human change. But the one thread that connects each of the items above, is the benefit of having another person who partners with you to provide the listening ear, the accountability, the mirroring, the development of skills, the connections, the deeper focus, and the fresh perspectives needed for life-change.
That is what Executive and Life Coaching is all about. Partnering with a coach gives you a professional person, trained to provide each of these elements, and more. You meet with a coach either in person or on the phone for 30-60 minutes every week or two. You drive the agenda, with each coaching session focused on a specific objective. Your coach’s job is to unlock the brilliance you already have, and cooperate with you. You decide on your action steps so that you own them, and you do them. Coaching is not about digging into your past, and figuring out why you are the way you are; that is therapy. Coaching is not about giving lots of advice; that is consulting or counseling. Coaching is about accurately seeing where you are, discovering where you would like to be, and actually taking the action steps to close that GAP. Coaching translates seminars into life change.
Are you ready to overcome the inertia of human nature, and gain some momentum in your personal change? Would you like to see the next seminar you take, or book your read actually seep into your life and transform you?
Give me a call. Coaching may be just the edge you need to leverage yourself up to the next level.