When a client engages with a coach they will typically present with an issue or an item that they’re not happy with. They typically want something to be different about a situation, they want something to change.
As a coach, I often notice that a client may struggle to articulate their current situation, and what it is about that situation that has prompted them to engage with a coach in the first place. They will often talk at length about what is going on for them and what it is about that situation that is causing an issue for them.
What I have found to be extremely helpful in some cases for some clients is to ask them the following question.
“If you were to do a Google search for an image that represented your current situation or if you were to show me a photograph or a picture that represented your current situation what might that image look like?”
The choice of image can tell volumes about the situation and where the client is in relation to that situation. Here’s a few recent examples that I’ve encountered.
The pizza slices.
A business coaching client recently contacted me about some issues he was experiencing within his business. He spoke about being out of control, not knowing where to start, being stuck.
When I asked the client what image might be representative of his current situation, he thought about it for a number of seconds and then replied “it’s a messed up sliced pizza”.
When we explored that image a little bit more the client was able to articulate that under, what he deemed to be, normal circumstances his business was highly organised, his personal life was highly organised. It was like a well organised sliced pizza within a pizza box.
He then went on to explain that it now looked like that pizza box had been violently shaken before delivery and that the slices were all messed up.
We continued to explore his situation with the metaphor of the pizza and the client began to gain clarity in terms of how he wanted things to look. He knew how things looked now and he was able to identify some strategies that would enable him to move forward to restore order to the pizza box of his business and his life.
At the end of the session the client commented on how valuable that image had been in giving him a different perspective on how to look at things and how he could go about restoring order.
The steep mountain trail.
A Business coaching client I worked with was looking to progress in her career. There were a number of gaps in her skillset that had been identified by her manager that were preventing her getting to the next level in the organisation. She spoke at length about the various gaps that were stopping her progressing and how he was going to go about addressing these gaps.
The client seemed to lose her way the more she spoke about the situation and seemed to become quite agitated and confused.
I invited the client to choose an image or a metaphor that was representative off her current situation. I offered this to her to see if would help her perhaps gain some clarity.
The client thought about this for a little while then she smiled and said “I’m at the bottom of a steep mountain trail and I’m looking up wondering how I’m going to get to the top”.
When we explored the image she had chosen and the fact that she was smiling she commented, “This is a steep mountain trail but it is in no way daunting to me, I’m a mountain biker I love the challenge. My challenge is to figure out how to get from where I am now, to the top, and how to negotiate that steep mountain trail and overcome each of those challenges en-route.”
This was the point at which there was a change in the coaching session and transformation began to happen. The client kind gained clarity about their situation and more importantly how she could put the strategies and actions in place to get to where she wanted to be.
When I engage with a potential new client we have a brief phone call or video call (known as a chemistry session). The purpose of this call is to understand a little bit more about the client situation, to discuss how coaching works and to establish if we are a good fit to work together.
One question I am commonly asked is how the coaching process works. One image that seems to really resonate with potential clients during these chemistry sessions is the image of a snowglobe. When a client presents to work with a coach, the situation or the reason that has caused them to reach out in the first place can often be likened to a snowglobe that has been shaken. Things are unclear, it’s hard to really see what’s going on, but by working with a coach you can help settle the noise, the picture can become clear, and once that picture is clear the client can find the way forward.
The use of metaphor or the use of images can be really powerful in helping a coaching client get real clarity on what it is that’s going on for them right now. Once they have that clarity, they can begin to identify what it is they need to do to bridge the gap between where they are now and where they would like to be.
If any of this resonates with you, why not book a FREE 30 minute coaching consultation and let’s discuss how I can help you.