On a recent coaching call, my client John expressed frustration at falling into “same old same old” behaviours. He had set some action steps on our call the previous week and had failed to follow through on them. When I asked him what happened he said, “I just don’t feel motivated around this.” (Motivated, shmotivated)
We talked a bit more about feelings, and how they can’t always be trusted. If we waited to “feel like” doing most things, we wouldn’t get very much done at all. (But we would get lots of sleep, get caught up on a bunch of Netflix series, and eat a lot of junk food!)
I remembered some Powerpoint slide pictures I had used in some workshops a few years back.
“John, since I can’t show you the pictures right now, I’m going to do my best to explain them to you. Picture a well traveled walking trail in the woods – the dirt and brush patted down from hundreds or thousands of foot steps. It’s super easy to walk along because it’s flat and wide.
Now picture trying to walk off the trail and through the woods – stepping over branches, hacking away at small trees and brush trying to forge a way through.
The first path is kinda what your brain looks like when you follow a habit. Your brain makes shortcuts when you repeat a thought or behaviour. But when you try to change it, it’s like forging your way through the bush. So it makes sense that we fall into old habits. It’s so much easier and more inviting to walk the easy path.
BUT, if you continue walking on the new path even though it’s more challenging…it will eventually become patted down and easy to travel. And the old trail will become overgrown.”
John really liked the analogy so at the end of the call, as part of his homework for the week, I told him to find a picture that represents each of the paths so he would have a visual reminder. A few days later I received this picture in an email. (Yes, he had it printed and framed!)
If coaching homework were graded, I would give him an A+ 🙂
I got up extra early this morning. The plan was to find some inspiration and write a blog post. The problem is that inspiration likes to plays hide ‘n seek…and it can be really good at finding places to hide.
So I considered not posting today. I could easily be the one hiding – behind a big fat excuse (like busyness – that’s a classic!!). Excuses make great hiding spots.
But the OTHER voice in my head ratted me out. It drew attention to my hiding spot.
So here I am, out in the open, nowhere to hide.
Interestingly, I came across an old email this morning from 2012. I was replying to a client who had contacted me to work together for a second time. But then she hesitated and considered backing out – at least for awhile.
This was my reply:
I typically begin my coaching appointments with a “check-in” question to get a feel for where the client is at.
“How are you today from zero to ten – with ten being awesome?” Or…
“Choose one word that best describes how you’re feeling today.”
You get the idea.
Lately, I have been test driving some new questions to see where they take us.
“Choose five words to describe how you are not feeling today” brought some interesting responses and even stumped a few clients. (I like to throw them off every once in awhile 😉.)
Today, I was wondering how our initial expectations or approach to the day impacts what actually happens. So in curiosity, I launched with “What outlook or attitude did you approach the day with?”
It seems reasonable to believe that our “wake-up” thoughts and expectations for the day will influence what follows, but I am curious, what’s your experience?