Coaching is a powerful way to enhance your strategic thinking capability.
For one thing, our brains have a cognitive bias for the perspective that we hold.
It’s not nefarious nor inherently harmful, but often we see what we see because that’s how we see it.
Keep in mind that a cognitive preference – the story your mind wrote – was likely written unintentionally, automatically.
Most of our thinking lies beneath the surface.
We have our cultural influences. Family. How we responded inside that family. School and career, and those limited inputs.
We shape ourselves and life as we know it from the clay at hand – what’s happening and how we think about it at the time.
In a way, it’s remarkable that any of us are able to change our minds when the external programming is so ubiquitous and our brains code in patterns without our agreement or cognitive consent.
Yes, one way to expand and adjust our thinking is to have new experiences.
And, of course, we can analyze our life’s events and our responses to inform our future-oriented decisions.
Yet I believe that our mind is most impacted and change is most accelerated by finding and exploring new, fresh perspectives.
I often make statements like this in coaching, particularly if I have a trust bond with the client:
- That might be true. Or not.
- Well, that is one way of looking at it…
- What an interesting narrative about those events!
- Such interesting word choices. Do you want me to reflect those words back to you?
Speaking for myself, I often do not even see a mental program running until I am being coached or have a situation where I intentionally reflect, like something not meeting expectations or working towards a goal.
So, dear reader, here are 3 easy-to-integrate suggestions for asking your brain to slow down and consider another perspective:
#1 Write the Police Report
Imagine you are writing a police report about a situation your mind is thinking about. “The basketball coach aggressively attacked my child’s driving in the parking lot before practice. She also fails to do what coaches should do and never provides positive feedback. The other parents and the governing organization completely disregards my complaints.” Phew. Not neutral! This is similar to a situation that often arrives in coaching. My job is to help my client see that they have a perspective that leaves little room for the other side of the story.
#2 Swap out adjectives for something opposite
In the above example, it might sound like, “The basketball coach lovingly provided feedback out of concern for my child’s safety. She also does exactly what I expect and provides fair, neutral feedback (or even none at all) so the children learn to look at their performance objectively instead of fishing for validation. I am delighted that my child is served by a community that fosters independence and encourages people to resolve conflicts like adults.” Same situation, entirely different perspective. Which one is true? Neither. Both are equally valid interpretations, though.
#3 Bring an Enemy Closer
Do you have someone that you despise? Real, imagined, close to you or far away?
How would that person see the situation? What if they were right and you were wrong?
I despise Walter White, one of the main characters from the TV show “Breaking Bad.” I can’t stand him. I could write an article just about how I can’t stand him. 😂
A few years ago, I had a lively discussion with someone who is a huge fan of this character.
It was an awesome reminder that we hold different perspectives.
Walter White’s view of himself and how the world works would not be my first choice of perspectives. Which is exactly why I sometimes invite this character to provide a fresh perspective on a situation.
What would he do? Is there any validity in his perspective?
If nothing else, it brings levity to something that I, too, am sure is right/accurate/etc. It adjusts my vision to be more expansive.
Try these suggestions. See how they work for you. Go hunting for new perspectives and notice how you grow in the process.
P.S. I invite you to fall in love with my podcast, “Less Stress, More Fun.” Subscribe today! Each week’s episodes are short (14-18 mins, on average), smart (lots of research) and fun (especially if you love 80s music).