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 Secret of Long-Term Planning
One skill set that is built and sharpened through coaching is the skill of effective long-term planning.
I was sitting in on a planning meeting in an organization I work with and watched a manager put forth a rather extensive checklist for internal course preparation for different kinds of participant needs to a group of leaders. Someone said, "Aren't you over-planning? Look, we have a good product, great people, good trainers - everything will be fine!"
This was a marketing leader whose marketing job had flourished in a period of expansion. It had been rather easy for him to produce good results with a set of formulaic plans. I realized that there was one secret that person didn't know, and that was the secret of long-term planning.
Milton Erickson was constantly reminding his clients that "change is inevitable" and to prepare accordingly. Great long-term plans develop through time with testing, repetition, and focus on consistent improvement.
If my own success has had a physical basis, it has always been, "Plan your work, and work your plan." Working strategically over months and years and building a strategy through time is a "secret" that most successful entrepreneurs know very well. It is certainly the heart of effective implementation stage (Module II) coaching. This strategy, often called The Disney Strategy, usually needs several "repeat views" by a coaching client, as do other long-term thinking coaching approaches.
As coaches, this awareness and skill is a major area of development we are supporting in our clients. We need to assist people with the secret of long-term preparation, and the preparation needs to be for the long-term transformation of results and people. This quality of visioning changes our needs - this changes everything, and when we prepare for it, it happens.
Milton Erickson always seeded the idea of long-term growth through consistent empowerment and development. This is true for business results and also true for individuals. None of us have "arrived". We are all personally "in transformation".
There is a famous Zen saying: "To be truly alive, we need two capabilities: To swim against the tide, and to float downstream."
"Go with the flow" is a wonderful sentiment, but it is only one half of what is necessary. We need robust attention on developing our abilities to swim against or across the current if necessary. This allows us to be playful in any tide. At other times, we need the ability to relax completely and be totally receptive.
Create your own flow of abilities; then swim in the stream you choose.