Our Perceptions Influence The Way We Think & Act – A Coaching Story
‘Significant problems cannot be solved with the same level of thinking with which we created them’
We are all on a journey in life that is perceived through eyes that represent our beliefs, values and understandings. We develop assumptions of reality, of what we perceive is reality and rarely question whether our assumptions are true. These assumptions influence the way in which we perceive ourselves, others and the situation.
Our thoughts can limit our behaviour, our willingness to explore new opportunities and to challenge ourselves. It takes enormous effort and commitment to challenge our thoughts and to make any long term change. These thoughts are well entrenched in our minds from reinforcement probably on a daily basis. They become self-limiting inhibitors in our lives.
How can self-limiting thoughts be adjusted?
It starts with a decision, a conscious decision to expand self-awareness and to challenge thoughts and how they inhibit us. Self-limiting thoughts influence decisions, relationships with self and others, and impact on our life generally. Recognition is the first step in wanting to change perceptions. Unwillingness to accept a future defined by self- limiting thoughts, and knowing what’s at stake if you don’t change, is the next most powerful step in making change.
What’s this got to do with Sharon’s story?
Sharon was a client of mine a couple of years ago. She came to me for Career Coaching. She had left her prior workplace because the contract had been terminated. She acknowledged that her relationships with colleagues had not been good. She was finding it difficult getting another job and had been unsuccessful several times.
She was unhappy and felt rejected, which is often the case after receiving a few knock backs. It’s hard to bounce back, particularly when there have been a few. Belief in yourself starts to waver and you take it personally. Sharon’s negative thoughts escalated with this experience to the extent that they increasingly influenced her relationships with others.
How did coaching help Sharon?
Our first step was to clarify Sharon’s expectations for coaching, the parameters of our coaching partnership and what each of us would bring to the table.
Coaching is a 360 degree approach, not an isolated, one dimensional or lineal process. It makes good sense to consider life as a whole, as both professional and personal lives are intertwined. Insight into what was important to Sharon, her values, beliefs, personal philosophy and life’s goals, were all equally important in assessing where Sharon was currently in her life and career.
The way we perceive things determines the way we think and act.
Our coaching focus:
To explore self-awareness in relation to working with, and leading others. To reflect on the role of inhibiting thoughts in influencing her relationship with self and her team.
What was at stake for Sharon?
In Sharon’s case, it was clearly a sense of worth, her potential to relate successfully with and manage others. Her leadership path would be limited. Sharon had a great deal more potential than would be realised if not addressed.
Over the next few sessions we were able to clarify Sharon’s skill set, particularly related to managing others, and identify possible inhibitors limiting success. Sharon’s comfort zone would be stretched.
In my experience, very little is achieved in your comfort zone.
To gain an objective description of workplace behaviours Sharon agreed to complete a standardized psychometric assessment which provides information about Self Image, Work Mask & Behaviour under Pressure. These assessments provide reliable and consistently accurate information that is revealing and in some instances, confronting.
The Psychometric Assessment I use consistently surprises clients with its accuracy.
Over the next few sessions we spent time reflecting on the assessment mostly in relation to her perceptions, their accuracy and their ability to hinder Sharon’s relationships in the workplace and to limit her full engagement in life.
Coaching helped Sharon to develop an awareness of the frequency of her negative thought, the level of accuracy of her thoughts and how they influenced her behaviour.
Coaching provided strategies to take control of her self-limiting thoughts and to feel empowered with alternative, more positive perceptions.
Whilst acknowledging this process can be a lifetime task, it is incredible how feeling more in control can adjust perceptions.
Knowing that there is another way of thinking about things can be enough to alter the course of action. Achievement of this is not an overnight success. Our perceptions are continually tested and this can be an ongoing lifetime challenge for some. However, with awareness comes a sense of more control. Feeling in more control of our thinking, our behaviours and our relationships is empowering.
Empowerment is the most formidable gift a coach can provide.
Sharon and I continued our coaching partnership for a total of 4 months. I still hear from her, as I do from other clients.
Successful coaching is very much based on building trusted relationships and so enabling real conversations to occur. Real conversations require you to take a step out from behind your sensitive and protected self, and engage openly and honestly, regardless of how challenging the topic is. It is only when this occurs that significant change can occur. It can be literally life changing.
That’s why I love coaching.
Real name not used.