Choosing Choice

My latest post for the International Association of Coaching newsletter. It’s been a great discipline this year to fulfill my commitment to write a post each month – two months to go. And maybe I’ll write another post on living with that discipline. This week alone I wrote three guest blog posts for another blog – leading with questions – that I’ve been graciously invited to contribute to by the delightful Bob Tiede. So thankful to develop more of my writing practice. 
How ironic is it that I should have trouble choosing a theme for this article on choice? And yet, I ponder, isn’t that the inherent challenge with any choice?
Either it’s totally unclear what is on offer to choose from OR there are so many options making it difficult to select only one. Making a choice is the same as making a decision to say, do, create or act upon something. So I’m making a choice right now to take action and simply write, which puts another spin on the choice process — sometimes you can move to action without clarifying a decisive choice.

Like Alice in Wonderland faced with the DRINK ME or DON’T DRINK ME choices – where in both cases she didn’t know what the consequences of her choice would be, making any choice becomes a bit of an adventure into the unknown.

In coaching, I’ve noticed that a client will often get stuck in making a choice. Precious coaching time can be consumed with an exploration of all the pros and cons of all the choices that seem to be available. Indeed, a valuable step of the coaching process is often to open up new choices that the client may not previously have considered were available to her. For some clients this is exciting and inspiring, for others it can become overwhelming. Sometimes the easiest way forward is when there are limited options to choose from. Sometimes the getting stuck comes from wanting to explore that myriad of choices in search of the ‘perfect’ option.

My preferred technique with clients is to recommend ‘experimenting’ with the various choices on offer. Like Alice, the option to try something out and see what happens, is where the learning, growth — or even failure — comes from. A potential choice can often be explored within the coaching conversation, yet ultimately, can only be put into practice with courage and sometimes daring experimentation. And of course, there is often the surprise that the imagined dire consequences which were holding a client back from making a choice to take that next step, will often turn out to be replaced by surprisingly successful results and impact.

Of all our coaching masteries, CHOICE, is, I believe the most empowering capacity to build in our clients. The capacity to choose is where true self-power inspires action.

Choice plus action then, brings results.


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Aileen Gibb
My work has taken me around the globe and to conversations with people from many different nationalities, cultures and organisations. Wherever I've gone, the power of real conversation, founded on intentional listening and enlightened questioning, has been welcomed. It’s a core piece of our humanity to create the space for conversations that matter and to build connection and meaning with members of our family, our business and our communities.