When we focus on what’s wrong in our lives we shut out positivity and opportunity. Transfer this reality to the world of coaching others and we create stunted thinking and limited possibilities.
Recent research analysing brain imaging patterns highlights how important it is think productively about potential outcomes rather than current limitations. This is the essence of Continue & Begin Fast Coaching®.
A group of researchers at Case Western Reserve University examined the effects of a 30 minute coaching session focusing on Positive Emotional Attractors (PEA), and a second 30 minute session focusing on Negative Emotional Attractors (NEA) (Boyatzis, Jack, Cesaro, Passarelli & Khawaja, 2010).
Respondents talked about their dreamed-about future ten years ahead (the PEA coaching) activating parts of the visual cortex involved in imagining things. The positive interview elicited feelings of pleasure, hope and inspiration. Meanwhile, the NEA session, which asked students about how they were doing on their homework, readings and assignments, revealed such questioning activated areas known to indicate anxiety self-consciousness and guilt. Performance Anxiety is well known in therapeutic circles as a (common) inhibitor of well-being and consequently, achievement.
Boyatzis recognises the dangers of what I (NDK) call ‘Failure Focus’:
“Another implication is that… a focus on what needs to be fixed, and overcoming weaknesses and ‘gaps’ has the exact opposite effect on the subject of the interview. The discussion only cements the subject’s defensiveness and potential to discount any benefit of the recommendations or advice. While it may invoke compliance-oriented behavior, any positive effect of such activities or desire for improvement will probably be short lived.”
Boyatzis commented, “Our results suggest that engaging in a performance review… is quite different than engaging someone in a developmental discussion. The more evaluating… discussion actually leads a person to be more neurologically closed to new ideas or to work on learning or changing.”
In Continue & Begin Fast Coaching® we help people self-identify positives and build ego, empowering coachees with sufficient self-confidence to take on personal development goals with enthusiasm and optimism.