Designing Actions

“The point of life is therefore to create – who and what you, and then to experience that” ~ Neale Donald Walsch

Source: Conversations with God, Book One

My father assigned this reading task for me at the start of the Movement Control Order back in March 2020, and I’ve been contemplating many chapters from this book. Yes, at 76 years old, he still persists to give reading assignments to me. I find it cute, sweet and such a revelation that I can share with him my thoughts based on my assignments. The above excerpt highlights the importance of the experience and action. Concepts, theories, hypotheses, theorems, frameworks, etc etc are great on a board, on a proposal, to discuss, to share, to have deep conversations on, however, the TRUTH is only revealed through the act itself.

We’ve heard this before right? It’s nothing new. I know friends who lament about work-life balance, yet choose to reply emails on the weekend (citing no choice), I know of family who complain of health issues, yet loving every creamy dish in every buffet line every weekend, I know colleagues who want to get that dream job, yet don’t take the time to improve themselves unless the company sends them for training.

Caveat: I’m not judging you. I was there once too. And some instances, am still at the spot. I was blind too. I resisted. As the saying goes, what you resist, will persist.

Why, oh, why then do we hesitate when it comes to taking action for that desired change? What makes us resistance to pivot the change? Tonnes of reasons (and excuses).

“I’m afraid to change” ~ in fact a person could be afraid of the ‘approval’ that family & friends have of the change. “Waaah, now you so healthy, we cannot invite you for dinner already, hahaha!” or “Dang, what if my peers are jealous that now I can enjoy my weekends time, will my boss think that I am overpaid? and throw more work my way?”

“I don’t want to fail” ~ action is the only way to know whether you will be successful or not. Look at all the bloopers of people trying new skills. You will not know how to balance that surf board unless you get on it. What is failing to you? Ridicule? Shame? Stigma? Disappointment?

“Chilling with Netflix is so much more relaxing than running around the block. Next week lah!” ~ pleasure is always preferred over pain. Pleasure and pain is also subjective. If you can find the pleasure in the pain, hmmm, that could be a tipping point. Imagine your bikini body ready for when the borders are open post COVID-19! Perhaps it is worth giving up a few minutes of Netflix.

“I’ve just recovered from a stroke. I saw my life flashing past, and the struggle of my family at that point. It’s time to cut back on my pastries” ~ action tends to stem from two extreme points – inspiration or desperation. You could be inspired of the potential life that you want, hence all that visualization and manifestation exercises will now come to fruition, or you could face desperation, and you will need to rise like the phoenix from ashes.

“I love my smoke breaks, that’s where I get most of my ideas, inspirations, and I am calm to take on the next challenge” ~ sometimes, the most obvious actions may not be aligned to our own neurological levels such as attitude, motivation, and identity. Taking action could be seen as an act of destroying the very core of one’s self, that have been built and anchored for many, many years.

Following the previous 8 Core Competencies of the ICF, Designing Action (Core Competency No.9) takes the coach towards the “Ability to create with the client opportunities for ongoing learning, during coaching and in work/life situations, and for taking new actions that will most effectively lead to agreed-upon coaching results”

No one said action to change was going to be easy. INSPIRED ACTIONS can challenge a person to different levels of experiences, through unchartered waters, pushing the limits of the locus of control in yourself. It tests courage, resilience, love and faith. The tough CEO, may be seen losing his touch, if he tries to empathize. The mother may be seen as a tiger mom, if she allows her child to cry it out at the toy store. The daughter may be seen rebellious for leaving that dream job. The entrepreneur may question himself 100x over for that decision to support social entrepreneurship, when he check his accounts.

As a coach, there are many ways that we can assist the client to create and design their actions, action plan, to-do list, planned goals. Brainstorming, looking for exemplars, design thinking, asking what-if questions, role-playing, disjointed learning, empathy maps are some of the ways that a coach can work with the client to design actions.

Basically, this is illustrated in the sub-competencies as below:

  1. Brainstorms and assists the client to define actions that will enable the client to demonstrate, practice, and deepen new learning.
  2. Helps the client to focus on and systematically explore specific concerns and opportunities that are central to agreed-upon coaching goals.
  3. Engages the client to explore alternative ideas and solutions, to evaluate options, and to make related decisions.
  4. Promotes active experimentation and self-discovery, where the client applies what has been discussed and learned during sessions immediately afterward in his/her work or life setting.
  5. Celebrates client successes and capabilities for future growth.
  6. Challenges client’s assumptions and perspectives to provoke new ideas and find new possibilities for action.
  7. Advocates or brings forward points of view that are aligned with client goals and, without attachment, engages the client to consider them.
  8. Helps the client “Do It Now” during the coaching session, providing immediate support.
  9. Encourages stretches and challenges but also a comfortable pace of learning.

This critical stage, is where the coach has to be sensitive to every single competency before this. There could be actions and then there could ACTIONS. I would reserve judgement for each action will have it’s own relative gauge of difficulty, based on the clients’ context. For example, Ms. X in the previous post, may feel it a mountainous task to speak to Management about her career options, and see it easier to resign without a job at hand. This is where the real ‘TEST’ lies with the client.

Every action designed will be an integral cog to the bigger plan of change, leading towards the agreed-upon coaching results. No action should be deemed too simple or small. For instance, a 10 minute morning meditation, helps to provide the clarity that is needed for a client that is coaching for work performance. Clarity of action (the why), certainty of outcomes (the analysis), and criteria of success (the insights, reflections, resources) are important considerations for designing action.

Our role as a Catalyst Coach is to trigger that of mind and heart to hand and body! As Robin Sharma says, everything is created twice, first in our minds, and then in reality.

Published by Shereen Kaur

Coach, Consultant, Wellness Advocate, Artist, Mom

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