In the "Creating Room to Play" section of Out of the Box Coaching (Chapter 13) we described ways to develop right brain tactics. Expanding on this, I've sometimes invited coaches to devise metaphorical gifts that break through a client's key Enneagram pattern. Below, in italics, are coach John Porcari's ideas, offered in hopes they'll stimulate your own thinking:
- An articulate, creative, but perfectionistic employee has lost three jobs because of chastising others when they're wrong. Metaphorical gift: A pair of rose-colored glasses or a magnifying glass, suggesting the client notice what is good or magnify positive traits.
- A department head in a social service agency mentors everyone who works for her, but discourages promotions because she doesn't think they're ready to leave her. Metaphorical gift: A dog leash, with the story of the country dog and the city dog: The country dog roams freely, and you often will find him coming to sit by the master on the porch because the freedom engenders loyalty; in the city the master holds the dog tightly on a leash, assuming the dog would otherwise bolt and run. You want to be in a relationship that builds country dog loyalty.
- A highly successful entrepreneur keeps referring to his work with you as "a rite of passage." Metaphorical gift: A big, squeezy heart with a tiny ribbon on it, as a reminder that achievements are only a small change compared to the big change of heart that's possible.
- A melancholy graphic artist moodily withdraws from the reality of his organization's aggressive, hierarchical culture. Metaphorical gift: A Teflon pan: You can stay in the heat but you don't have to have any of the junk stick to you.
- An extremely introverted CEO wants to walk around the halls more and get to know people, but finds it difficult. Metaphorical gift: A toy bomb, with the inscription: "Prolonged time in office will trigger detonation!"
- A conflicted forty-year-old agonizes over his relationship with the woman who lives with him. Sometimes he raves about her good points. At other times he worries whether or not she loves him. Metaphorical gift: A combination pocket tape measure and level, with the suggestion that when he's measuring the success of the relationship and is conflicted to look for the balance -- not too high, not too low.
- A passionately optimistic team member tends to become defensive when you give her feedback. Metaphorical gift: A life preserver: I'm not here to judge; I'm here to help.
- An strong-willed business owner is protective of his family but becomes angry and domineering if challenged. When his wife tries to tell him their children are intimidated, he says she's over-reacting. Metaphorical gift: A shepherd's shaft and the image of a shepherd holding a frightened lamb in his arms, knowing the calm beating of his heart will calm the lamb with the inscription Don't let the beating of your voice prevent your children from hearing the beating of your heart.
- A nurse says it's impossible for her to stay focused and finish things she's started. "It's like I have ADD" she says. Metaphorical gift: A mocked-up doctor's prescription page or a prescription bottle with the instructions: Take two pauses and come back in five minutes.