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By: •  1 year ago •  

Coaching Behind The Mask

7 Steps to Success

By Steve Barlow

My first impressions of John were positive. He worked as a business advisor and came across as a self-assured professional. We got talking and he inquired about my line of work. I said I’m a change fitness coach (and then had to explain what that means).

“Nope, no need of that over here”, he said, dismissively. Fortunately for both of us, we kept in regular contact over the next year or so. Periodically, he would inquire about my change fitness coaching programs. Was he just curious, or was there more to it?Then one day, out of the blue, John asked to enrol in one of the programs. I was delighted.

At the beginning of the program (and again at the end) clients take a change fitness assessment. This helps me understand their needs and how to approach them (and enables us to measure progress). John’s scores revealed something interesting.

At the beginning of the coaching program, John thought he was a confident person who was successful around change. And then we began exploring the 7 psychological elements of change fitness. John thought about each one and considered how each applied to his own life. Gradually, as that happened, the scales began to drop from his eyes.He performed well below average, and he masked it well. His outer persona was different from his inner psychological state. But John had no awareness of this mismatch (and I didn’t reveal it to him at the time).

At the beginning of the coaching program, John thought he was a confident person who was successful around change. And then we began exploring the 7 psychological elements of change fitness. John thought about each one and considered how each applied to his own life. Gradually, as that happened, the scales began to drop from his eyes.

About halfway through the program, John made his first breakthrough. He said to me one day, “Steve, I wasn’t interested in this program initially because I thought I had lots of change fitness. But now see that I don’t. And I can see how that has affected my life.”

This was a breakthrough because John saw something about himself for the first time – not as he thought he was, but as he really was. His view of reality had

WHAT IS CHANGE FITNESS?

It is the psychological fitness for the change process. The coaching focused on John’s capacity to succeed at change. If you don’t understand the change process, google the Transtheoretical Model of Change.

expanded; he had learned new categories of thought and a new language to describe and better understand his world.

John had a few more breakthroughs during the 12 weeks we spent together. The change fitness growing in his mind expressed itself in some impressive and courageous behaviours. For example, towards the end of the 12 weeks he decided to confront a family member about an issue that had long troubled him. This person, many years older than John, had always treated him with disrespect. His courage was rewarded with a sincere apology and a restored relationship.

The final change fitness assessment score was the icing on the cake. John had trebled his initial score, putting him firmly in the ‘normal’ range and confirming (if such were necessary) that he had made significant progress.

So, what happened here? What was John’s initial problem (of which he was unaware), and why did he change his selfperception and behaviour?

To understand the answers to those questions, we first need to consider the focus of this coaching – John’s change fitness. What is change fitness? It is the psychological fitness for the change process. The coaching focused on John’s capacity to succeed at change. If you don’t understand the change process, google the Transtheoretical Model of Change.

The point is, change is often difficult, and the most difficult parts are often not the technical parts. Let me give you an illustration.

To understand the answers to those questions, we first need to consider the focus of this coaching – John’s change fitness. What is change fitness? It is the psychological fitness for the change process.

About 5 years ago, I wanted to learn how to create a website. I had no prior knowledge of this, but I did have You- Tube. I kid you not – it was one of the most painful learning experiences I have ever had in my life.

I didn’t understand the strange language or the confusing ideas. Many of the YouTube videos were not very helpful. Eventually, I did master it.Technically, it really isn’t very hard, but what is hard is coping with what goes on inside your head.

I got really frustrated and discouraged. Many times, I felt like giving up. ‘I’m never going to get this’ was my thought. I really, really wanted to quit, but I also really wanted to make a website. On my own.

That’s how the psychological demands of change sometimes feel. They can be exhausting, overwhelming, painful, discouraging. They make you feel like giving up and getting out of the black hole of frustration.

So, what’s change fitness? It’s having the psychological fitness to overcome all those painful feelings and negative thoughts that make you want to quit before you succeed. It’s the fitness that takes you through the pain and out the other side.

And that’s why your clients need more change fitness. As do you. So, here are 7 elements of change fitness to look out for when coaching:

• MOTIVATION – not just the motivation to begin change, but the motivation to keep going no matter how bad you feel and how much you want to quit.

• INSIGHT – having a realistic understanding of what you are up against, what you have to work with, what you lack, who you can call on, and how long it might take.

• AGENCY – having confidence in your ability to make change happen,believing your decisions do make a difference.

• VISION – seeing the future you want and remaining optimistic that you can attain it, regardless of what your current experience might be.

• TRUST – being open to receive support from sources able and willing to help you succeed.

• BALANCE – recognising that you are part of a larger system where your interests matter, and other people’s interests matter and time matters and you have to keep a workable balance.

• BELIEFS – having worldview beliefs that empower you to be successful. Being low in any of these 7 resources makes it easier to quit when change gets hard. If you want to empower clients to push through their anxiety and become

So, what’s change fitness? It’s having the psychological fitness to overcome all those painful feelings and negative thoughts that make you want to quit before you succeed. It’s the fitness that takes you through the pain and out the other side.

more successful at change, help them develop change fitness. Reach out if you would like some training in change fitness coaching.

STEVE BARLOW is a Director of The Change Gym and adjunct lecturer in leadership at the University of Tasmania. He is a pioneer in the field of change fitness and a co-developer of a unique change fitness coaching platform and suite of tools. Steve provides training in change fitness coaching. Steve also delivers training, assessment, and coaching to organisations in change readiness – helping them overcome disengagement and resistance and achieve greater success with change initiatives. Steve has a PhD and master’s degree in educational psychology. Contact him on [email protected] thechangegym.com for information about change fitness coaching.

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