We all get stuck. Seth Godin in his book, Linchpin, would say it’s caused by our lizard brain refusing to let go. Keith Yamasita and Sandra Spataro their book, Unstuck, take a systemic view of the concept so that we can identify the component of the system that seems to be stuck and then get it moving.
Whatever the cause, we all get stuck and coaches often are called on to help their clients get unstuck. One technique that I’ve recently come across is called appreciate dialogue and is championed by Marcia Reynolds. With kudos to her, I want to talk about how I’ve used the three step process.
First, I ask my client to “box up her current situation and put it on a shelf.” I make the metaphor as vivid as I can. The more the client can see herself literally doing it, the better the situation becomes. Depending on whom I talking with, I may say:
- Put in on a shelf
- Leave it on the curb
- Walk away
- Close the door.
Second, I ask my client to describe a time when they created a peak performance. Again, I try to use very colorful language and then give them lots of time to talk. I may say:
- Think of a time when you were working with a group on a problem and they would not have succeeded without you.
- Think of a time when you were operating at full blast and your world orbited you.
- Tell me about a situation where you made things happen (in a good way).
As the situation unfolds, I push for more details on their role, their participation, and their influence on the positive outcome. I love it when the peak experience they describe has nothing to do with their stuck situation. That means to me that they truly have put boundaries on the problem.
The peak situation they describe may have nothing to do with the problem. I had one new corporate direction that I was supporting through her transition talk about how she successfully sold her house. Another client in direct sales talked about researching and buying the car of her dreams. You just never know. The more I can get them to talk about their strengths, talents, attitudes, values, and the like, the better off they are.
Third, I ask them to describe how (a) what they brought to the peak experience can be applied to (b) the situation within which they are stuck. What has happened by this point is their mental pattern has shifted.
- Rather than thinking about what’s out there, they are thinking about their super powers.
- Rather than seeing problems, they are seeing solutions.
- Rather than being surrounded by their own negativity, they are bathed in their own positivity.
When coaching in a one on one situation, this method allows the client to shift gears. Feel free to comment on how this method may work for you.