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Tracking down unwanted assumptions


Over the weekend a new client came to see me. I asked her what she wanted to achieve from the session and without thinking she reeled off the following list:

  • Moving forward
  • Stop what ever is holding her back
  • Get over her fear of failure
  • Get herself back on track
  • Take more action

Sounds like a lot of words from a personal development book, or a coach wanting to sell their services.

“Are you ready to get out of your own way, stop what is holding you back, get over that fear of failure and really get yourself back on track? Then sign here for my 6 hour DVD set for only $197 ($699 value!!)

Sadly none of it actually means very much, at least not to my simple brain.

If you say to me, I’ve dropped my pencil can you help me pick it up, then I understand what you want. If you ask me to help stop what’s holding you back, I don’t know what you mean.
Below I’ve simplified an hours coaching session into a few lines. Think about this in terms of your own life and you’ll likely get a few light-bulb moments as you read.

It’s time to get specific!

So first of all we need to take that shopping list and cut it down to just 1 item.

Coach – If you could resolve any one of those issues today which one would it be?
Client – Stop what is holding me back.

Great so now we are down to 1 item. It’s now time to take that sound-bite and find out what it actually means!

Coach – What does that actually mean – what have you been doing that you’d prefer not to be doing and what have you not been doing that you would like to do?
Client – I’ve not been making appointments. I’m scared of people saying no, I’m scared of saying the wrong thing.

Now we are getting somewhere and I’m starting to understand what is actually happening. Simplifying it down (and after a bit more dialogue) what I understand is that the client is not picking up the phone to book appointments.

The big question

This is the key question and the one that you can ask yourself anytime that you’re not taking action or procrastinating.

Coach – when you think about calling a prospect, what are you assuming to be true?
Client (after a lot of thought and some prompting and clarifying) I’m assuming that I won’t know what to say and I’m assuming that they are going to say no.

Bingo – these are the limiting beliefs, this is actually what is stopping her from booking appointments so we look at these separately.

Coach – Is it true that you won’t know what to say?
Client – I guess it’s not really, I’m pretty good at talking and once I get going I find conversations quite easily (boom, 1 limiting belief has gone)
Coach – and do you believe that they are going to say no?
Client – well yes actually, I’ve been told (and it makes sense to me) that more people will say no than yes.
Coach – from what I know about network marketing that sounds like it’s probably true.

So this assumption or belief turns out to be true. It’s still a limiting belief though, it’s not exactly empowering to pick up the phone expecting people to say no.

Coach (reality check here) so with the true assumption that more people are going to say no than yes, do you want to be doing network marketing?
Client – yes I do, I just need to learn how to do it better.
Coach – so before you pick up the phone what would be a better assumption to make, what would be better to tell yourself?

The next part was what took up most of the session. The client came up with lots of ideas of what she could say to herself, positive affirmations if you like, before she picks up the phone.
She came up with several that on the surface sounded fantastic but have some hidden pitfalls if you don’t know what you’re looking for so this became the education part of the session.

Finally she hit on something really simple and really powerful. There is a great axiom here, if it’s not simple, it’s probably not the right answer!

Client – When I make the call, perhaps they will say yes, perhaps they will say no and it doesn’t matter. What matters is that I do the activity and have fun doing it. The more fun I have the more I’m going to learn from it.
Coach – brilliant. So what are you going to do as a result of knowing that?

And the result was that the client went home and spent a few hours making phone calls and booked several appointments over the following week. As she is just starting out, no doubt she will have some more mental blocks next time that we meet but that is the simple process that helps people become unstuck and get moving again.

And what can you learn from this? Many things and I’m sure that you’re brain is already whirring but if you remember nothing else from this remember the question: What am I assuming? It will get you out of all kinds of pickles.

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