Monday, March 5, 2012

In AWE of the Process

There are many "how-to" books on leadership, management, and coaching, lists of all kinds for the 10 principles of this or that. I've done the same and published a variety of steps for specific aspects of behavioral change. 

But what about the bigger picture, the nature of change itself? I've written elsewhere about first- and second-order change, how coaches who address only conscious goals and overt behavior can unwittingly reinforce the worldview a client brings to the table and subvert the intended change.

Einstein once said, "Problems cannot be solved by thinking within the framework in which the problems were created." Our task is to help clients see how their worldviews operate and how to break free of the patterns those worldviews create. The question of "how" is elemental. Asking "why" can lead down many paths and take months or years to answer, possibly never satisfactorily. Discovering with your clients how they enact their patterns will illuminate where to intervene and promote significant change.

I've provided a frame of reference for my clients with the acronym "A.W.E."
  1. Awareness of their unique patterns of motivation and behavior. This can be discovered in ordinary conversation; with models such as the Enneagram, Tilt365, DISC, MBTI; or feedback from others who know or work with you.  
  2. Watching how those patterns operate. Your clients learn to hold full awareness in the present, notice their flow of thoughts, and accept their experiences without judgment or attempts to control.
  3. Experimenting with pattern breaking so their choices are free, energizing, and fulfilling. Even a small, symbolic change can shake up someone's worldview so much the old way of thinking no longer computes. Keep these points in mind when you co-create fieldwork to break old patterns with new responses:
  • Understand the client's worldview deeply.
  • Make sure there's a mutually agreed-upon definition of the desired change.
  • Collaboratively design tasks that will reframe the client's view of the problem.
  • Once any part of a pattern is shaken up, look for spontaneous changes from your clients.