How to move in a purposeful way
I’ve recently been enjoying a beautiful book by Malachy Tallack called 60 Degrees North. It’s an exploration of the 60th parallel starting in Shetland and moving on to Greenland, Canada, Alaska and so on until he finds his way home. He is searching and observing and reflecting along the journey. He also has to confront his fear of brown bears. It reminds me a great deal of the coaching journey.
He writes: ‘The roots of that question - where am I? – are not so much philosophical, nor exactly scientific; they are practical. Where we are only truly makes sense in so far as it relates to where we have been and where we want to be. In order to move in a purposeful way, to avoid wasting our time and endangering our lives, we must build an image of our location, and where we stand in our surroundings. We must make maps.’
The coaching process
Like Malachy’s journey, coaching is a practical process. It is about finding meaning. It is about exploring ‘where we have been and where we want to be’. Some aspects of it can be scary.
As I coach I help you explore questions: Where have you been? Where are you now? What are you bringing with you? What are you leaving behind? Which direction do you want to go in? What do you need on the journey? What might get in the way? This exploratory, reflective, collaborative and exciting process is a way of helping you build your own map – or range of maps – so you can ‘move in a purposeful way’.
Working through Covid-19
Take one client I’m working with at the moment. She had a work plan for 2020 that became impossible to follow due to the pandemic. She had become completely de-motivated by the notion she had simply wasted the last 12 months – she had lost her way. There were days when she could barely even find her way out of her room. Firstly we considered her current location – isolated and far from home during a global health pandemic (she's from outside the UK). This enabled her to be a little more forgiving of herself.
When we explored the last 12 months together, she was able to recognise that although she’d been struggling recently and she had missed a few deadlines (and meeting deadlines was something she prides herself on) she has actually made much progress and learned a lot. She was then able to consider the practical steps she needs to take to regain motivation and to look forward with confidence again.
Locate yourself – where have you been?
If you feel you’ve lost your way in the last year ask yourself the following questions. Think about the year as a whole or if you can be more specific think about one particular incident (it can be something that went well or not so well).
- What happened?
- What did I do?
- What skills did I use?
- What was I thinking?
- How did I feel at the time?
- What was good about the experience?
- What was bad about the experience?
- What does this all mean to me? What can I learn?
- What else could I have done?
- What can I take from this to help me next time?
And remember to be forgiving of yourself if things didn’t go as well as you would have liked.
It can be difficult to fully explore events, to unpack all the details and make sense of things on your own. If you’re stuck or the road ahead feels unclear or daunting or even frightening, it may be that a coach is the thing you need to help you find your purposeful way.
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