Living On Purpose
Vail, CO, Colorado
“I’m nervous about losing my job,” Cliff said as we began our coaching session. “Our company seems to be struggling and there’s a sense of silent panic among the employees. No one wants to talk about it, but we all feel it taking over.”
“What specifically is concerning you?” I asked.
“I sell advertising and love what I do. Most often when I meet with clients, I feel like I’m a part of their team. Lately, however, client meetings have turned into conversations about gloom and doom, which leaves me feeling even more panicked.”
“It sounds like client meetings range from being positive and uplifting to a real drain. It seems like your attitude is affected by your client’s. Let’s create a metaphor that helps describe what’s going on.”
Cliff thought for a moment and said, “I’m stuck. I don’t know how to create a metaphor for this. I feel it, but it’s difficult to label.”
“Close your eyes,” I said. “Imagine the last conversation you had with a client that resulted in a drained feeling. Got it?” I asked. He nodded.
“Describe the feelings you have as you meet with your client,” I said.
“In the beginning, I feel excited about the ideas and possibilities to help him build his business,” Cliff said. “As we begin to talk, however, it feels heavy. Then the commiseration begins and we both slip into panic about the economy.”
“To create the metaphor, describe the situation beginning with the words, ‘It’s like …’ which will help to create the metaphor,” I said.
“It’s like … there is a monster in the next room that needs to be fed and the only thing it eats is misery and panic. As we commiserate, we feed the monster, making it stronger … so strong that it is no longer contained in the other room. It comes into the office where we are sitting. It breathes its hot, bad breath on both of us, polluting the air in the room.”
“That’s a great metaphor! I can almost smell the monster’s breath,” I said. “If you could rewind the conversation, how could you change it to NOT feed the monster?” I challenged.
“It’s important to listen to my client,” Cliff said, “but I am very affected by the negativity. It keeps me from being able to help him! If only I could find a way to protect myself before the meeting. That way I could listen, but also have my shield up.”
“What would the benefits be in protecting yourself and how would you create your shield?” I asked.
“I imagine an invisible force ” field that surrounds me. I’m not ignoring the situation, but I’m not letting it spiral downwards into a full panic. The benefit of this force-field is that it protects me no matter where I am, and I don’t become a carrier of the monster’s energy.”
“How can you create this force-field?” I asked.
“It reminds me of a science fiction movie. I’m preparing for battle and a force-field of protection pours over me. I simply push a button and am completely protected and indestructible.”
“Close your eyes and see yourself pushing the button. Open your eyes once the button is pushed and you feel completely protected,” I said.
“Done,” he said opening his eyes.
“How can you take this with you so it’s not just a metaphor we created in this coaching session, but stays with you throughout the week?” I asked.
“This may sound stupid, but I’ll download the ringtone of the theme song for ‘Star Wars’ to my cell phone to remind me of my force-field.”
“That sounds great! When will you do this and how will I know?” I asked.
“I’ll download it this weekend and e-mail you on Sunday. I’ll even attach the audio file,” he said as we closed our session.
When his email arrived, I listened to the song and imagined Cliff’s force-field protecting him. Mid-week, I planned to e-mail the song back to him to see how his new strategy was working.
Coaching Challenge: When facing a challenge, create a metaphor. Begin by describing the situation and then create the metaphor by staring with the words, “It’s like … _____” and fill in the blank. Use the metaphor to help create a solution for your challenge.
Sheri Fisher is a Life Coach who lives in Grand Junction. Her practice, Living On Purpose, focuses on personal and professional coaching. The situations and characters in her column are fictional to maintain client confidentiality. Sheri can be reached at email@example.com or for more information, visit http://www.coachwithsheri.com.