‘How has your week been so far?’ I asked my client – let’s call him Matt – as we sat down for his session.
‘It’s been a bit of a mixed bag really: some good stuff, quite a bit of difficult stuff and I’m feeling like I haven’t stopped. It’s all a bit overwhelming and I’m finding it hard to focus.’
‘A mixed bag? That’s an interesting image. If it was a real bag, what would be in it?’ I queried.
‘Good question. It’s a huge heavy bag!’ Matt started to doodle in his notebook: he’s a creative type so often draws in our sessions. ‘I’d like to explore that.’
We sat quietly for a few minutes while he doodled, filling a double page spread in his A4 book.
‘Tell me about the images, Matt: what does this medal mean, for instance?’
‘Ah, that’s one of the best bits of the week. My wife ran her first 5k at the weekend and I’m so proud of her. It was a real challenge for her and she stuck with it. It makes me smile every time I think of her crossing that finish line. Then this plate here – that’s the business lunch I was at on Tuesday. It was with a new client and it went really well. We made a good connection and I think it’s going to be a very positive working partnership,’ he smiled.
‘This one is the pile of paperwork that I need to do. I finished my team’s reviews last month but I never seem to get around to entering the final thoughts on the system. It’s hanging over me.
‘Speaking of things hanging over me, this black cloud here is the way I’m feeling about a presentation I did recently. The client asked a question, I got the wrong end of the stick and went off on a complete tangent. My colleague didn’t stop me but just told me after the meeting. I felt like a right idiot. I called the client later and she kind of laughed it off but I worry that I’ve jeopardised our work with them.
‘The picture of the car – well, that’s because I need to get it booked in for a service. I know it probably needs some work done but I’ve been putting it off because well, you know, cash flow. It’s only going to cost me more if I don’t get it sorted though.
‘The sunglasses are reminding me that it’s only a few weeks until we fly out to see my parents and get some sunshine. Can’t wait.
‘The question mark – there’s an opportunity to go for promotion but it’s in another department. I can’t decide whether to stay put and build on my current team or try something new. It’s kind of on a loop in the back of my mind all the time.’
Once we’d gone through everything Matt was carrying around with him in his huge heavy metaphorical bag, I asked him what he wanted to do next.
‘I want to decide whether to carry on dragging this stuff around with me. This bag is too heavy!’
And so we reviewed each of the items and decided what to do with them: the black cloud got discarded – dwelling on it wasn’t helping the past situation and it was literally ‘clouding’ Matt’s ability to plan for a better presentation next time. We spent some time on a cost/benefit analysis to help him decide whether or not to go for promotion. The medal, plate and the sunglasses went back in his metaphorical bag to remind me of good things that have happened or are coming up. Matt blocked out some time to finish off the performance reviews and was on the phone booking his car service as he left our meeting.
Today’s pebble for your consideration: is it time you took a long, hard look at what it is that you carry around with you?
Turning over pebbles is the blog of Thinking Space Coaching.
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