From Goals to Tools
An accomplished goal is seen as a true measure of success. Setting a clear and smart goal for the coaching process and for each session is one of the core coaching competences. It’s natural for people to visualize success as an upright, vertical effort in which we identify an opportunity, set a goal, find the most efficient route to achieve it and celebrate the triumph (or summarize the lessons we’ve learned). There is however one big disadvantage in that perspective: it takes the shape of a steep climb. And while the view from the top may be worth it, the anxiety of the expected endurance often stops us (and our clients) from even considering “the journey.” Redefining the vertical effort into a horizontal process is key for a flatter yet more effective approach toward accomplishment.
MOMENT AND MOMENTUM
There are two types of goals: those we put in place just for the sake of setting and achieving goals, and those “other” goals that genuinely move a person forward.
Evoking awareness is another core coaching competency that supports a client’s insight and learning about themselves and their goals. The following questions may be of help in mapping out the awareness avenue when distilling the goal:
- What are the core values of your client?
- How will a goal they identify for themselves empower them to feel connected to their values?
- How will the goal impact others around them?
- How will the goal empower them to become the leader and human they want to be?
MIND THE LAYERS
Clients come to sessions talking about goals, but what they are often expressing are actual desires, or perhaps even problems they would like to get rid of. The coach can then help formulate the actual goals. Therefore, having a strong and clear agreement in a coaching session is often half of the work in achieving a satisfying outcome for both client and coach.
For example, a client’s opening “I want to be more confident” can be an indicator of a sensitive inner world or negative self-talk. How can a coach uncover the layers?
Let’s use the game of darts as an example.
Invite your client to a metaphorical journey. Dividing a wish or desire figuratively into the sections and point values of a dart board is helpful in painting a clear and simple picture of what is around and inside your goal. With the example of “I want to become more confident,” you can support the client in helping them to see the full image.
In the periphery
Around the outside of the board and inside the one and two point sections are where the client’s desire to be more confident reside.
On the way
The three to five point sections are the spaces where the client more clearly defines the situations or aspect of their life where the extra confidence would be welcomed.
Getting in the zone
Six to eight point sections provide clarity on what this confidence will give them when developed, how will it feel, how will it impact their environment and people around them and how it is aligned with their core values and purpose.
Now we talk goals
Nine and 10 point sections correlate with the stages in which the client knows how and when they will reach the desired state. This is the action plan, the execution and the first step forward.
Beyond the goal
Beyond the bounds of the 10-point section in the center of the board lives the goal’s sustainability after the coaching process is closed. The client lives their newly transformed life with a new mindset. Getting to this stage in a way is a powerful evidence of the effectiveness of the coaching process.
Questions to reflect on at that time:
- How has the initial striving for confidence become the basis for new desires and achievements for this person?
- What has become possible for the client now that they can take a stand on a different level and make new quality choices?
Once the client can see the horizontal opportunity instead of the steep climb and vertical effort toward a goal, they can set off on the “From Goals to Tools” journey as I call it. In my practice, I invite my clients to do a reverse engineering of a past goal they have accomplished. We converse on how yesterday’s goals have become today’s tools. From here, they envision how a present goal will become a tool or means to achieve the next big thing “tomorrow.”
I invite you to test the “From Goals to Tools” approach with a client’s goal and observe how this moves their energy and determination to make it happen. It may well serve you too, as a simple way of thinking about accomplishments – more as a bridge to cross, rather than a ladder to climb.
© Svetoslava Stoyanova