Coaching for a New Era.

As I begin preparation for our course in Paris on 16th and 17th Nov with Edward Hines, one of the key themes we will be covering is to provide some new coaching tools to deal with some of the problems clients (and ourselves) face today. There is concern about major issues from dangers to the environment and the rise of populism – these issues don’t just confuse us, but also, they represent major shifts in the status quo that so many individuals and organisations used to rely on.

How do we deal with these issues, when the impact any one of us can make can feel so nominal? Indeed, whilst it’s not yet in the DSM, a new psychological disorder called ecoanxiety has been defined and I am sure that something similar spills into concerns about unpredictable developments in politics.

Desires, Beliefs and Cognitive Dissonance.

One of the new coaching tools we have developed is around helping to resolve these more complex issues – sometimes referred to as cognitive dissonance. Human beings seek consistency in their world, yet sometimes conflicts between our desires, values and beliefs create an inner turbulence. If left unchecked, that turbulence becomes a familiar state of being, especially when we believe that we are helpless to make any difference. This is different from conflicting issues where we do not ultimately feel helpless, so Ed and I realised some new techniques were required.

The course in Paris also includes some new tools to gain a new or updated ‘compass’ to help navigate this new landscape. I feel strongly that the new world we face requires new approaches and a fundamentally different attitude.

What Can You Do Differently?

At the same time, all change processes are based on what Stephen Covey called proactivity; the principle being that if we blame others for the problems we face (although there may be some truth in that blame), it doesn’t help move the situation forward. The first practical step is to work out what we ourselves can do differently. Covey also talks about the differences between concern, influence and control (see diagram below). National and global politic policy is certainly not in our direct control, however some of it is within our ‘circle’ of influence – there are things we can do that have a chance of making a difference. There are also areas where we can guarantee to make a difference (our circle of control) but these are actually very small. When we are able to change our attitude and accept that we are not omnipotent and shift from trying to control things to trying to influence them (which means we accept that it may not work) then surprising opportunities can open up.

What our process explores is how to ignite the positive, yet unpredictable journey that is made when we choose to refocus our efforts on what we can influence (no matter how small that is). The argument goes that once we do that, new learnings and opportunities open up that we could not have predicted – and importantly – those new things are only open to us because we started by making a few uncertain steps into areas we do have some influence upon. This means that as we focus our attention on what we can influence, our circle of influence grows, and our circle of concern shrinks – the unexpected consequence of this is it reduces cognitive dissonance: we feel less helpless.

I do hope you will be able to join us in Paris to share some of our new approaches.

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