Marilyn Atkinson is the Founder of Erickson Coaching International and originator of the Solution-Focused Coaching methodology. A former Registered Organizational Psychologist, Marilyn is an NLP Master Trainer and specialist in Ericksonian Communications. Since 1980s she has been helping leading global companies and leaders through Solution- Focused and Outcome-Oriented Coaching. Marilyn has authored eight books, including The Art & Science of Coaching trilogy (Inner Dynamics of Coaching, Step-by-Step Coaching & The Flow of Coaching).
The Power of Self-Coaching
To get what you want in life, you must know where you are and where you want to go. Picture an ant backing away from an elephant’s front foot. If the ant doesn’t know where it is going, it may go right into the elephant’s back foot or fall off the path.
The value-based vision of your destination and desired state lead you toward what you want with inspiration, instead of away from the less desired state in desperation. If the ant looks around for the direction it needs to go, it can easily move away from the foot while avoiding any other dangers. Vision shows us where we are going. It lights the path. If the ant sees a safe place off the trail to move toward, that aim will guide its direction much more powerfully than simply moving away from the danger.
Vision without aim and intention may not have the energy to move. Aim and intention without vision will lack the capacity to move and will not create sustainable results. Ideologies produce very little.
Interested in becoming a coach? Discover how Solution-Focused coaching skills enable you to create transformational change in yourself and others.
Having clear and feasible first steps to take toward the vision is important. That’s when you actually start the journey. If the ant is paralyzed by not knowing where to go or the first steps in getting there, he may be crushed. To close the gap between where you are and where you want to be, you will need to find clear action steps. By taking one tiny step at a time, you can quickly move past a limiting belief you might have that the path to change is just too long. It is important to know that you don’t need to be forceful or fanatical to motivate yourself. Consider that the idea of maintaining will power with an inner tone that sounds like a warrior is part of the old no-yes, on-off approach you may have held emotionally. A demanding inner voice, in fact, tends to produce victim identification and self-sabotage.
As you lead with clarity of vision, inspiration, and authentic intention, you naturally learn to work the gears of change. You gain the necessary visionary skills required to effectively accomplish your goal by applying the right level of energy, at the right time, for the right purpose. This includes the lightness of heart and clear communication that allows others to join you and to support you.
Another useful metaphor for old emotional habit systems built on negative thoughts is that of the jungle. If the mind has been a jungle of thoughts filled with fallen trees and parasitic vines, swampy places and quicksand, you might ask, “What will help me find my inner Tarzan?” Transformational conversations can take you upward to the treetops of the soul and into the clear viewing places where you can swing past the gremlins by seeing a valued path important enough to move past them.
In a transformational conversation, you ask powerful questions that have people swing up to their own treetops to experience the brightness and warmth of their vision. Like Tarzan, they can then fly toward their goals by swinging on your strategic focus, your warm curiosity, and your appreciation. They become agile with their purposeful overview of the best direction to get there and their own first steps. They get to know their old jungles by swinging high above them seeing the best pathways to be able to move through or around them quickly.
When you deal with the emotional considerations of others it is important to remember that for them, the goal may seem impossibly huge—like an elephant blocking their path. To be able to move, the person may need to consider breaking down the goal into its smaller components. When people have big considerations, encourage them to take it step by step. The way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time.
The aim is to continue to move forward slowly but surely, concentrating until real momentum is attained. With persistence, you develop the capacity for concentration and momentum, all ‘mind muscles’ that move you forward.
Can We Change on Our Own?
This is a very important question. You escalate integral development and your capacity to take on masterful goals as a result of transformational conversations. Such conversations may be internal ones that you have with yourself, or they may be with a friend, relative, total stranger, or a Solution-Focused coach. The more you begin with small goals and complete them, the stronger your muscle of completion grows.
A coaching space is one in which a caring person supports you in getting clear on exactly what you want, supports you in clarifying how you might get it, invites you to go further with the project to make it even more meaningful, and supports a powerful and satisfying conclusion. When a coaching space is held for you, you will have a magnetic pull toward valuing your goal enough to do what it takes to get there.