What’s in the 5?

Being reminded of what I am doing well is such a powerful motivation

The importance of focusing a client’s energy and attention on “what’s working well…” is something I lost sight of momentarily. I have recently been reflecting on how to get back to coaching after taking a break. The experience of feeling a bit rusty even with just a few weeks of not being in the coaching chair, is a powerful reminder that like any other good habit, coaching too needs to be a regular part of my life. What I did well was to go back to my study material and spend time getting back in touch with the basics.

As I felt my way back into the coaching zone, slowly regaining my foothold and starting to feel confident again, a gap in my practice got illuminated – enabling a client to see what is already in place and working well. I had lost sight of this really important part of what makes coaching such a powerful way to support growth. But thanks to this video that I watched by Peter J Reding on The ICF Core Competencies, Marker No 3 – Establishes and Maintains Agreements, it’s now firmly back in place and in use. Interestingly this awareness came to me when brushing up on marker 3, but it put me back in touch with Marker 7 – Evokes Awareness.

So much of life is about finding problem/s and then fixing them. It is like when you see an ink blot on a white sheet of paper, the mind is so focussed on that blotch, that we tend to lose sight of all the beautiful white space that surrounds it. One of the reasons that coaching is such an effective way to support a person to find their most resourceful self, is that it puts them back in touch with “what is working well” in their life about the situation they are seeking support to navigate.

For instance, if I were being coached and I had chosen to work with the topic of healthy eating habits here is what a conversation would sound like. “On a scale of 1 to 10, where would you place yourself Nikhil” (a pun on the scale is unintended but makes me smile).

“I would be at about a 5.” “Okay, what’s in the 5? What are you doing well that makes you give yourself that score?” “Hmm… let me see. Well to start with I am committed to this path and paying attention to healthy eating… I have also really reduced my sugar intake and am now having just two meals in a day” “ok what else…”. 

When I travel I am more disciplined than I used to be… and I have reduced my alcohol intake to the occasional beer with a friend…” “Okay anything else in the 5”? “No that’s about it… what I really need to focus on is portion control…” “and now that I think more about it, I am not as disciplined about my daily exercise routine anymore, I must get back to my 10,000 step routine and maybe a few days on the tennis court”

Being reminded of what I am doing well is such a powerful motivation to keep doing more of what’s working. Adding new actions or habits is also a part of what coaching catalyses but building confidence and being a mirror to progress is an equally important part of the progress. That is why core competency number 7.6 reminds me as a coach that it is best practice when a coach “Notices what is working to enhance client progress”.

If you are like me and had taken a break from coaching this is me reminding you to unpack the 5. Don’t lose sight of this ever-so-empowering part of what you offer your clients – help them see what’s working in their life before they jump into action to fix what’s not. Or to put it another way, give your clients a chance to give themselves a high 5.

If you are not a coach and happened to find your way to this article, I still hope you will pause to reflect and identify “What’s in your 5?” and then pat yourself on the back, celebrate your achievements, and focus on what is working well. Where your attention goes, there your energy flows. Remember to focus some of your energy on something that is working well and it will serve you well.

You can connect with Nikhil – Click Here

Nikhil Dey

Executive Director at Adfactors PR and the founder of soul2sole coaching. With over 25 years of experience in both, the agency and corporate sides of communications, Nikhil is focused on finding ways to value add to client campaigns, drive creativity in public relations and build a culture of continuous learning in the industry. He is also a big believer in the power of coaching to catalyse positive change. You can connect with Nikhil – Click Here

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3 thoughts on “What’s in the 5?

  1. Thanks for sparking a reflective Sunday morning Nikhil – as with all your posts, this piece made me pause & rethink. Remembering to consciously ask “what’s going well” is a powerful way to both acknowledge progress & rediscover our “why” .
    Offering ‘5 Stars’ in gratitude 🙂

  2. Thanks for sharing this insightful article Nikhil. I can able to connect more with you because I took a break recently from Coaching.

  3. Udayakumar Gopalakrishnan

    Nikhil – You have scripted a meaningful piece. Indeed, thought provoking and practical in terms of perspectives shared. Having been an ardent practitioner of Appreciative Inquiry, the process of nudging clients and groups, to discover what was the best experienced thus far in given situations and what do they value most in the here and now are brilliant openers for engaging reflections and conversations. I am able to connect this with what you have clearly voiced out with conviction: ‘Being reminded of what I am doing well is such a powerful motivation to keep doing more of what’s working.’ It is experientially powerful for anyone to reset and place them back with bigger and renewed motivation, to go beyond the past and present…

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