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Snippets from the Lab "John"

Updated: Oct 18, 2023

Snippets from the Lab are excerpts taken from real Coaching Intake sessions and do not represent complete developmental coaching sessions. Names have been changed.

"John" came into coaching with the problem of self-doubt. Doubting himself and his abilities specifically when it came to physical activities. "I have never been any good at physical stuff like sports, he said. And also I am very un-coordinated so doing two things at once is hard for me". He went on to say that he believed his body just did not work properly and that was just how he was born.

So how is this a problem for you, we asked? "Well, my partner rides a motorbike so I thought I would also learn to ride so we could ride together".

What's stopping you, we asked? "When I go the class to learn I can't get my body to do the tasks. I stuff up the brakes and gears even thought I've been shown. It's just my stupid body again!".

John went on to say it puts him in a state of frustration that his body let's him down and feels embarrassed when others around him are picking things up quicker.

So how is all of that a problem for you, we asked? "I feel so low, like I'm stupid or not worthy because I can't do physical things well. I'm then in a shitty state for a couple of days".

We now know that this problem for John is tied to his self-worth of what he can DO instead of who he IS.

How do you know this only applies for physical activities, we asked? "Because with anything that is mental only I am fine. I can learn, understand the formula, and apply it straight away".

John is no slouch by the way. Successful in his career and travelled across the world. We knew there were no real physical disabilities as his body worked perfectly well. And coordination seemed fine as he was talking to us at the same time his body was breathing and functioning to keep him alive!. So we could confidently say this was an excuse rather than a reason - and excuses sound best to the one's that make them up!

What do you believe about physical activities, we asked? "I can't do it", he said. Going on to blame his body again and that it just didn't work properly.

So John was holding the frame that he simply cannot do physical activities or tasks that require too much coordination before he even attempted one, therefore clouding his mind and ability to take on instruction and recall that instruction in he moment. The mind and body connection was lost when this frame was running.

We had some further discussion about all the areas in John's life where he does successfully use coordination - typing on a keyboard, turning on the shower, cooking, etc, to disprove the self-diagnoses of physical disability.

Then we asked John, what specifically is the difference between all the things we just listed that you do with no issues and the physical coordination of riding a bike, driving, playing sports? "I guess it's that they are more risky. More risk of something going wrong and having consequences", he said.

Ok, let's say that's true, what do you think of then? "It's a feeling of overwhelm, like I wouldn't know what to do if something went wrong".

Where else do you get this feeling? "It reminds me of when I have say two projects on the go at work at the same time and I have to bounce between them and try and do a good job for the clients on both without dropping the quality, it's overwhelming. I like it when I have one and can really focus on it".

Now we had a new context to play with, and a suspicious as to what was going on here.

What do you have, when you only have one project?, we asked. "Control", he said.

That's when the penny dropped for John. This was about control. Not about physical activities or being less coordinated that someone else. Or there being something wrong with his body. This was about whether he felt he had control of the situation or not.

John went on and explained that he preferences situations where he can stay in control as it protects him from the feeling of overwhelm which was connected to strong emotions from his childhood. But never had he made that connection to his 'inability' to learn and be any good at physical activities.

We pointed out to John that unfortunately the exact strategy he had in place to avoid the overwhelming feelings (the positive intention) was causing the overwhelming feelings (negative outcome).

John had found his leverage point for change and for shifting his limiting beliefs.

And to think John believed he just wasn't good at sports and riding motorbikes...the problem is never the problem.

Cognitive Intention drivers at play:

  • Influence

  • Care for self

  • Procedures

  • External

  • Future

  • Task

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