By Courtney Anderson
“There is a kind of elevation which does not depend on fortune; it is a certain air which distinguishes us, and seems to destine us for great thins; it is a price which we imperceptibly set upon ourselves.” - Francois de la Rochefoucald
Jessica is an intelligent woman who has big plans for her professional life. She graduated first in her class from college with a double major in English and Accounting. While in college, she was on student government and was a regular volunteer at a homeless shelter. After college, Jessica joined the Peace Corps before beginning her studies at an Ivy League law school, where she graduated with honors. Jessica enjoyed learning about the law and planned on using her law degree to do civil rights work, but needed get a job with a high salary in order to pay her loans. She is a corporate attorney who is very financially secure, and has proven herself to be extremely dependable with the legal skills needed to make partner in her large firm. Although Jessica has accomplished a lot in her life and is grateful to be gainfully employed, she is unsatisfied with her career. She feels as though her job is stifling her creativity and spirit, and the stress and pressure of a working within a strict hierarchy with expectations to always be available and willing to work long hours is causing her to feel depressed and anxious.
Jessica dreams of writing an award-winning screenplay, and admires creative celebrities and people in her life who live unconventionally and express themselves through the arts. All screenwriters who inspire Jessica have chosen to immerse themselves in ideas and thoughts outside of formal education and worked hourly jobs, usually in the manual labor or service industry, prior to becoming famous for their screen-writing abilities. Jessica is afraid that her conventional lifestyle as a corporate lawyer will cause other screenwriters to judge her. She also thinks that her day-to-day life does not give her the inspiration needed to create impressionable works of art.
Since Jessica is organized and motivated by nature she decides to pursue her dream of becoming a screenwriter and begins to plan what she can do to make this happen. She knows that Hollywood is the place where movies are made, so she decides that she will need to move from Philadelphia to California as soon as she can. She decides that will also need to quit her job so that she can focus on her writing, and either live off of her savings or get a waitressing job with a more flexibility. Jessica also plans to watch her favorite movies over and over again so that she can understand the formula to creating a great screenplay.
Jessica is excited about the prospect of creating a new life for herself that lets her live her dream. However, months pass without Jessica acting on any of the steps she has written down. She is fearful of all the major transitions needed to become a screenwriter and does not want to step away from a prosperous job into the unknown.
What is Change?
Change means ìto make or become differentî or ìan act or process through which something becomes different.î The theme of difference automatically judges a part of oneís self as inadequate and conjures up the need to replace that part.
Jessica has judged herself as the antithesis of a screenwriter and is trying to make change herself into something that she is not in order to reach her goals. Though implicit, her process of detailing the number of changes that she needs to make has a number of unintended consequences:
1. Jessica is overwhelmed by a number of drastic changes that have to take place before she can take a step towards her goal
2. Jessica has decided that her current self cannot be a screenwriter
3. If these changes do take place, Jessica is not living her truth.
What is Elevation?
To elevate is to ìraise to a more important or impressive level.î Change may come about naturally as a part of elevation, but there is a difference in setting a goal to change and setting a goal to elevate.
Jessica has accomplished many great things in her life. Though she does not see how they are related to screenwriting, the act of accomplishing steps of an action plan is transferrable to any goal that is in line with your true self! If Jessica commits herself to using her current skills to elevate herself to her ideal occupation as a screenwriter, the following breakthroughs are likely to occur:
1. Jessica will draw upon her strengths to create art and a career that is in line with her natural abilities and values
2. Jessica will not justify delays in actions towards her goal because the first steps are too daunting
3. Jessica will feel less stressful about the transition
Change can be positive. It is just important to identify when change is a result of negative judgments about your abilities and/or worth, and when change is a natural phenomenon that occurs as you evolve along your journey to become your ideal self. Trying to change yourself to fit preconceived notions that you or society hold about what ‘should’ or ‘should not’ encompass elements of a position, lifestyle, or state of being is to place limits on the natural talents you possess. Further, this type of negative change will force you to suppress what could be assets to your goal because they are unconventional.
o If you make a decision to change an aspect of your life, what will you lose? What will you gain?
o Do you associate change with any negative judgments about yourself?
o How can you change and still maintain the positive aspects of your life and personality?
o What are words you can use other than change to describe the process you must go through in order to reach your goals?
Your client knows herself better than anyone, and throughout the coaching sessions you will use this to encourage your client to communicate the most harmonious way to achieve her goals. Active listening is an integral part of coaching, and it is important to reflect to the clients what you hear when they declare that they must change who they are in order to become their best self.
Rather than focusing on the doubt and negative connotations within change, reframe your client’s statements. If Jessica was your client and she negated her work ethic, intelligence, and naturally writing ability to mimic a preconceived notion of an artist, how will her values be compromised? Though it is not your place as a coach to force a specific course of action on your client, it is your role to support your client as they articulate the path they want to take.
The path taken should be one that lifts the client to a place where they can view themselves honestly and take an inventory of their abilities while identifying room for improvement. This elevation does not judge actions, motives or traits. It uses what is within to reshape present situations into dreams.
o If your client is insistent upon changing a part of his or her personality, what is your role in supporting this insistence?
o How can you give your clients space to use their current tools and strengths to achieve their goals without being overly directive?
o What techniques are available for you to use that will support your client in seeing his or her perceived shortcomings as strengths?
o When your client lists a number of things that she wants to change about herself, what underlying beliefs is your client projecting?