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A Need for Coaching: The Stages of Change

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A Need for Coaching: The Stages of Change

The tipping point, or the breaking point, or the last straw, or whatever you want to call that very nanosecond where you decide ENOUGH.  I am not doing it the same old way for one more moment.  I am going to ask you to think back to a time when you reached your tipping point in business when, again, you did not prepare for the presentation and now you are so stressed. Or you decide the spinout conversations around marketing plan are not productive, never mind fun.  Or the moment you decide holistically that your life has to change because the way you have taken care of yourself, previously, is not going to allow you to have the kind of fun you see in the financial planning brochures.  Think back to a time when you made a real change.  Something that set your life in a different direction whether it was subtle or strong, big or small, it changed the course of your direction.  That change could be as simple as making your bed or remembering to put dog food in a place where the raccoons couldn’t get to it. Or it could be a moment where realizing that your life as it is right now cannot carry you into the next twenty years so change must occur.  Think about the moment you made the decision to change.  What happened?  Was it a loud boom or was it a thought you had when you were alone?    Was it all at once or was it a creepy little thought gnawing into the back of your mind until one day it came forward and sat at the kitchen table to be seen so you had to address something.

And you saw that issue…

And then there was silence….

And then panic…

And now – Now What?

The hard part of being an adult is you mostly have to manage yourself.  No one is prepared for every possible situation that will happen, challenges, the people who are going to come your way, or the sequencing of those events.  You are totally responsible for the effort and the choices you make.  You may not have a clue how to manage yourself.  You may not have the skills to do that well.  One thing is for sure, you do have to be alone with the fact that you just don’t know.  In truth, you don’t know a lot about what that “different life” or changed behavior might look like.  More importantly what will it take to change into that different life?  How do you change anything that you have been doing so long?  Are you too old to learn new tricks?   There is a gentleman named William Bridges who upon his departure (involuntarily) from his job he found himself in the awkward space of not knowing.  He found himself with no one to talk about his feelings of inadequacy in managing the different lifestyle he found himself thrust into.  His family did not understand and needed him to be the same person as before.

need coachingBridges writes about it in a book appropriately called Transitions (Bridges, 1988) where he describes three stages of transformational change; the ending, the neutral zone, and the beginning.  The ending he talks about is the tipping point.  It is the very moment your world, as it was, no longer exists.  The change has taken place.  You no longer view things in the same way as before.    The neutral zone is that place where you world in not clear.  You may have an idea forming or a preconceived notion of what “should” happen, but it is still vague.  This is the most difficult for everyone.   Not knowing (ambiguity) is just plain awkward.

But, after you’ve declared “enough,” or someone has helped you realize you are in the “enough” stage, you are in the neutral zone which is a good thing.  It is power time.  It is the richest, juiciest, most creative and incubative (I know it is not a word) time.  Make use of it.  You have to be willing to hang suspended, not knowing, and it might be a little quiet.  You might feel alone and compelled to draw someone in.  But if you can hang, the most amazing things will happen.  Ideas and plans will come to you.  Trust me.

When you move through those changes the pathway starts to form and you take steps into the new direction where you are in The Beginning.  What is most notable about the beginning stage is that you are no longer thinking about that change.

People who want to control The Ending and The Neutral Zone might need coaching to hang in the neutral zone long enough to allow the really creative juices to flow.

So what does this have to do with coaching?  Well, people who want to control The Ending and The Neutral Zone might need coaching to hang in the neutral zone long enough to allow the really creative juices to flow.  What happens in coaching is we talk about situations where you are not happy with the outcome of the effort and need adjustment.  For example, I really did not like my job.  I could do it in my sleep and I knew I was not going to be promoted until my boss was promoted and she was not going to be promoted.  I was stuck and I knew I was stuck.  I was smack in the face of an Ending.  I knew what I was doing, but I did not know what it would look like to be happy in a career.  That is the perfect example of someone who would need coaching.  I did not know where to start.  I thought the answer was simple; get a different job.  As we all know that breeds another hundred questions.  So my coach guided me to find my answers by finding out about my own values, behaviors, strengths, what was fun for me and so on in the Neutral Zone.

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Coaching helps identify limiting or counter-productive behaviors and beliefs that make current situations more lucrative and equitable, opening up great possibilities within the same structure or help you root out the next step towards finding your smile.  My job as a coach is to help your need to reflect, dissect, research, experiment and slow down what you are doing now to help you see it.  I ask questions that are often met with “that is a great question,” beginning into that crazy productive incubative time opening the possibility of being happier.  Often my clients are not aware of even asking those questions as they thought they have already answered them.  As you know you change over time, the world around you changes, your experiences bring  new perspectives, and that sage wisdom brings you answers that you did not see before.  If you want to fast track to the next step, then you need coaching.

Bridges, W. (1988). Transitions: Making sense of life’s changes. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley Publishing Company.

Contact Us Today if You Think You Need Coaching through Changes like This

If you find yourself in the face of change and need the right guidance and coaching to make great choices, call or email Pat Weiland, Executive Coach and President of Sage Strategies.
+1 310-503-5856
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