The ancient Greek philosopher, Heraclitus, may have said it best: “It is in changing that things find purpose.” Most people come to coaching in search of purpose. It can be broad sweeping • my true Life Purpose • or very particular • my purpose here and now. Coaches encourage, support, and challenge people to find purpose by assisting them to make self-directed changes.
Why? Not because there’s something wrong with where they’re at, but because self-directed changes bring purpose. Last week we talked about purpose in terms of having a plan. Not just wandering around, from one day and moment to the next, but setting sail for a particular destination. It is important to be heading somewhere, intentionally and confidentially steering the ship, rather than just drifting with the wind and sea.
Intentionality and confidence are important even if your plan is to “drift with the wind and sea.” Whether your purpose calls for taking something on or letting something go, it will take intentionality and confidence to get there. Coaches do as much work with the letting go as with the taking on • so don’t think unwinding and decompressing are not worthy projects.
Unfortunately, many people are good with big-picture planning • the where do I (or my company or my project or my family) want to end up • but bad with detail planning. They can come up with the bullet points, the high-level view, but when it comes down to what I’m going to do right now, the low-level view, they proceed with no more intentionality and confidence than someone with no plan at all.
We call the low-level view a strategy, and it’s certainly as important (if not more important) than the high-level view. The best plan in the world means nothing if it doesn’t get broken into bite-size pieces. And even if it gets broken down, it still means nothing if we don’t consume them one bite after another. Trying to cram them all into our mouth at one time will not move us in the direction we need to go. It will instead risk injury, pain, and even death (literally as well as figuratively).
Insight can be gained from the world of athletics. An overarching purpose might be to become a world-class runner. A plan might be to run in a particular series of races. But your results will be less than satisfactory if you don’t have a strategy. To achieve your purpose and do well with your plan, what should you do today? How far should you run? How fast should you run? What should you eat? How much should you sleep? What cross-training should you do? The details are legion. No one captures them all. But if you don’t capture enough, or if you develop a strategy that will not support your plan, you’ll never get to where you want to go.
Insight can also be gained from the world of investments. An overarching purpose might be to become financially independent. A plan might me to invest in a balanced portfolio of stocks and bonds. But your results will be less than satisfactory if you don’t have a strategy. What do you buy and what do you sell? When? Once again, the nuances of a sound financial strategy are legion. But you better pay attention to them if you hope to achieve your purpose and do well with your plan.
Many people retain coaches and advisors to assist them with the high-level as well as the low-level views. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed, get distracted, and lack the required knowledge. Coaches and advisors help people to develop their strategy and stay on track.
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May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.
Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC
President, LifeTrek Coaching International, www.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformation, www.SchoolTransformation.com
Immediate Past President, International Association of Coaching, www.CertifiedCoach.org
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