One of the main premises in, “The Art of War”…
…is “Know Thy Enemy.”
If you want to win the war…
…you must learn everything possible about your adversary.
The same goes for building a coaching practice.
I’m not talking about your ‘coaching competition’.
I’m talking about your WORST enemy.
…the source of your own limitations.
And this enemy is even harder to pin down because it’s INSIDE YOU.
I have faced my own “inner enemy” many times.
She robbed me of time…
…and even threatened my health.
My mind is guilty of pushing me to…
- clean my house instead of working on my coaching business.
- blame others (or my circumstances) for problems I was 100% responsible for.
- elevate my cholesterol by over-indulging in ice cream.
Each time my mind gets the best of me, there’s one common thread:
Instead of facing my emotions…
…I’ve intercepted my painful emotions instead of facing them.
…I’ve separated from the emotions that felt unsafe.
…I’ve moderated the pressure of those emotions.
I call it “BUFFERING” for short.
Buffering is a survival mechanism that everyone uses from time to time.
Buffering is distracting yourself from a problem by doing something that feels safe…
…instead of addressing a problem head on.
When buffering, rather than sorting through your feelings…
Some common ways to buffer include…
- Over-drinking to avoid social anxiety
- Blaming other people for your problems
- Watching TV when you have work to do
Buffering feels good in the moment…
…but the net result is negative…
…because you’re not getting what you really need.
Buffering always means you miss out.
Buffering always means you lose in the long term.
This is one reason why people come to coaching.
They don’t face the ‘hard things’ in their life…
…and so they get ‘stuck’.
They come to YOU to help them get ‘unstuck’.
What they don’t usually realize?
Their coach is mostly there to get them to face that SAME ‘HARD THING’’.
So, if your job as the coach is to help your clients with their own ‘hard things’…
…you’ll need to start with YOU.
Because it’s really hard to help someone do something that you yourself haven’t done.
Because the journey to find and help your best clients is riddled with ‘hard things’.
Because you’re the coach who walks their talk.
So, let’s get into it : )
When you need to do something hard, scary, or risky, there are 3 choices:
CHOICE 1: React / Distract
This is when the emotion is completely in charge of you. You bounce off the emotion like a pinball off a bumper.
Think of reacting like ‘running’ from an emotion.
Running means you’ve given in to the urge to buffer.
…eating the ice cream
…or getting up from what would otherwise be a productive work session.
It’s obvious that this choice slows progress toward your goals; but there are also negative side effects:
By over-eating, over-drinking, or under-sleeping, you end up overweight, hung over, or too tired to be effective.
By failing to make progress toward your goals, you’ll risk ongoing anger and resentment.
Have you ever blown up at someone for a somewhat minor request?
That’s often because you know you are about to rob yourself of the opportunity to take care of your own business.
CHOICE 2: Resist
Think of this as the ‘willpower’ or the ‘white knuckle’ approach.
When resisting you might use willpower and…
…force yourself not to eat the ice cream.
Or……force yourself to just “push through” challenges without being effective.
What’s lost when you just ‘resist’ the emotion?
You still ignore the core issue… whatever’s at the root of that troubling emotion in the first place.
The problem with that?
The core issue stays around, bothering you again and again.
And, eventually, even the most ‘high discipline’ people succumb to the pressure and fall back into reaction…
…drinking, eating, distracting themselves, etc.
The point around RESISTANCE?
Willpower alone is unsustainable.
“What you resist…persists.”
“What you resist…persists.”
Instead of working through your issues, you end up repeating the pattern… often subconsciously.
CHOICE 3: Allow
Allow the urge.
Allow the pain.
Allow it to be ‘hard’
Allow the fear.
Allow the risk.
Allow the problem.
…and then, for the first time, you can authentically work through it.
Allow yourself to feel the feeling without hiding from it:
- Where do you feel the urge in your body?
- What is its shape?
Lean into the feeling and accept it.
This doesn’t ‘kill’ the problem (as in RESISTING)…
…or make you feel better immediately (as in REACTING/DISTRACTING).
But as you meditate on ALLOWING…
…the intensity of the problem will subside, and eventually pass.
And, even if it doesn’t, that issue will no longer LIMIT YOU.
That’s the point of ALLOWING, breaking through and surpassing your LIMITS.
Unless you ALLOW the issue…
…you won’t see the issue.
Unless you SEE the issue…
…you can’t work through the issue.
Unless you WORK THROUGH the issue…
That part of your life will be like driving with the parking brake on.
It takes a lot more energy and the results are much slower.
Which is your ‘go to’ option when the stakes are high?
React, run, and distract yourself?
Resist and force yourself through?
Or, do you allow the difficulty?
Allowing emotions is the only path that opens the door to actually processing them.
Processing them leads to real awareness.
And, awareness is the only path to becoming mentally stronger.
Think about it…
The most mentally ‘strong’ aren’t more forceful with their mind.
They don’t ‘overpower’ themselves or others to prove mental strength.
- They adjust quickly and easily.
- They stay the course when it renders no short term rewards.
- They become MORE than who they were yesterday.
That’s mental strength.
No biceps required!
How can you use this ‘allowing’ to break through your limitations?
Remember, allowing is about SEEING.
Once you’ve allowed the issue, you can see with clarity for the first time.Here are 3 things you can ‘see’ once you’ve ‘allowed’:
SEE THE ENEMY:
You can see the problem and the pattern.
- See your emotion that comes with the problem.
- See your pattern of behavior.
See it all… in exquisite detail.
When I’m feeling uncertain I take a break to scrub the kitchen:
- I’m letting fear stop me in my tracks.
- I don’t like the uncertainty as it feels uncomfortable.
- I make up a story like, “I don’t have time” or “The kitchen is a mess” to justify my behavior.
One way to help with ‘seeing the enemy’ is to write everything down.
You get bonus points for locating WHERE this pattern typically takes place. Post your written observations where you see it (use a sticky note).
This’ll help you ‘see’ the pattern more quickly.
SEE THE CONSEQUENCES:
Allowing the issue and emotion opens up the opportunity to see the consequences of this emotional enemy:
- Look into the past, present, and future… Can you see the consequences this enemy has brought you?
- Look at yourself, your emotions, and your life… See any consequences?
- Look at the people around you… See any consequences for them?
What else can you see this enemy costing you?
- Your dreams & goals?
What’s the emotional cost of this enemy?
See the pain you will experience if you don’t change this enemy and the pleasure you will experience if you do change.
Go Deep with this… It’s worth it.
People go through HELL simply because they couldn’t see those consequences in advance.
AND, people experience HEAVEN through keenly noticing the consequences of their actions, patterns, and issues with a little ‘foresight’.
SEE THE CHANGE:
Allowing the issue to appear, in all it’s detail, makes needed changes obvious.
- What alternative plans can you see?
- What can you see that might remove barriers for you?
- What mistakes can you see that you won’t allow in the future?
NOTE: When you catch these mistakes… celebrate.
Celebrating your seeing a mistake will motivate you to see more of your challenges instead of resisting or reacting/distracting.
There are parts of the coaching business that can seem like a battle.
How do you go from survival to winning the battle?
Allow the enemy onto the battlefield.
See the enemy clearly when it appears.
See the consequences of that enemy.
And see the new plan that could arise from all that awareness.
Then just follow through.
Do this as though your life depends on it…
…because it does.
It matters to you…
…your coaching business…
…and the lives of everyone you touch.
Colette “Consequences” Coiner