Saturday, August 10, 2013

Untying the Knots

My client, Walter Frazier, was an innovative, idealistic leader. He held high standards for himself, his employees, and the company, but he was losing people's respect because of the angry tirades he unleashed whenever he was disappointed with the quality of someone's work. Walter came to me only for help in managing his anger. It would have been easy enough to coach him on how to use anger-management techniques. But my questions ran deeper: Why did he feel so much anger? How could I coach him to break out of the worldview that kept reinforcing his perfectionism? When I led him to this deeper level, he learned how to interrupt the inner patterns of processing information that made him angry. He became less harshly judgmental and his underlying anger began to dissipate. I was able to help him accomplish this shift because of the Enneagram’s power as a coaching tool.  

Most people acknowledge how important it is to act in accord with their internal needs and values. But they're often out of touch with their deepest motivations, behaving instead according to who they think they are, playing familiar roles and piling up trophies from their worldly successes. Often, the very characteristics that propelled them to reach personally important goals now get in their way. People like Walter who are idealistic and quality-minded standard-setters, for example, may find their perfectionism and inability to delegate effectively prevent them from achieving their real goals.  

When we started working together, Walter held a filtered view of how the world should work. Your clients may want to shore up the crumbling mortar of their personality styles when their usual coping strategies fail them, seeking help on how to make more money, quit feeling anxious, change to a more enjoyable job, or find a new boss/lover/spouse. As with Walter, coaching can take clients beyond their immediate requests to what they really want and often urgently need—a way to break “out of the box” of their habitual perspectives and reactions to the world. 

The Enneagram is a brilliant diagnostic tool to identify nine different ways of viewing the world, each of which has a common set of patterns. When your clients know these patterns and how to interrupt them, they'll consistently experience long-term, profound changes. If you do not yet know the Enneagram, click here for brief descriptions and follow the links that attract you.

(From Chapter 1 of Out of the Box Coaching with the Enneagram)