Focus: The benefits of focusing in coaching and consulting
In order to explain the benefits of having a focus and being able to focus in coaching and consulting, I need to give you a bit of background. When we live our daily lives, we concentrate on our tasks or our plans more or less consciously. In doing so, we may very often follow routines, patterns and behaviours that we have learned and that have proven their worth. Most of the time these behaviours are underpinned by decisions that are based on assessments and prejudices in a positive sense and that make us function “efficiently”. And, as I said, most of this happens unconsciously.
When clients approach me, they do so because they want to change – in other words, they want to change their routines and patterns because they no longer fit their needs or wishes.
They want to experience more satisfaction in their work or private life, or they want to learn something new, master a new challenge, change harmful behaviour and so on. What they all have in common is that they come to me with a problem focus at first. In coaching and also in consulting it is important to take this problem focus seriously and to transform it into a solution focus.
The following approach has proven to be successful: I start to work with them to align the focus of problems with currently unrecognized strengths that they bring with them, or even possible new solutions. This is done by asking questions: For example, “How have you dealt with similar situations in the past?” I may also help you look ahead and work out a future solution. Very often focusing on strengths in itself brings great relief and enables you to change your own behaviour in the long term.
Sometimes, however, you may have several sides that are in conflict, which does not allow you to realise the first draft of a new behaviour or achieve “reasonable” goals. My favourite examples are giving up smoking or achieving a good work-life balance. Many people will quickly come up with great ideas about what they should change – but they don’t follow through because it is not as easy as it sounds.
What is behind these issues will vary widely from person to person. It may be that old behaviour patterns have not yet been sufficiently appreciated. But it is also possible that the environment or context does not really allow it. Whatever the reasons may be, it is important to recognize that a delay in creating and implementing a solution provides important and valuable information to develop a better solution to continue working with.