The insight space. What's really going on?
Updated: Aug 12, 2019
It's in the nature of being human that we seek to make sense of the situations in which we find ourselves. Coaching provides the opportunity to explore fresh perspectives from which to view your world, or particular questions you are wresting with. A technique I find particularly powerful is to use "windows of insight" to provide a variety of different conceptual standpoints.
The role and value window
Sometimes we discover that the role we are performing has changed so much that it feels as if the role we are performing isn’t the one we ww signed up for. We may feel that the value we used to bring is becoming so diminished that we wonder if the return for the investment in our time and energy is worth it. Depending on the reason for this sense of dis-ease there may be a reasonably straightforward solution. On the other hand, you may be facing some deeper questions.
The skills and ability window
A sensible question to ask is whether we can stay where we are and adapt. We can ask ourselves the skills question – what do I need to be able to do that I’m finding difficult? This is often the easiest issue to address in the workplace. Maybe you just need some refresher training or training in a new skill that you are able to acquire and master to a sufficient degree to enable you to continue.
The ability or opportunity window
At other times you may discover that having addressed the challenge of ability, the real issue is more in the area of opportunity. You have skills and experience that you’re not getting the chance to deploy. This could be a moment to have a creative conversation with your colleagues, leaders or partners to identify the skills you are not using, and explore other contexts in which they could be deployed. This may not necessarily mean a change in job or organisation – think more broadly. It could, for example, involve swapping some element of your role for someone else’s, or sharing skills through a mentoring relationship with a colleague.
The values and alignment window
The issues become trickier when they start to get deeper. You may hit an issue of personal values when you start asking why am I still doing this? There may have been particular reasons why you took on a role – to have a job in the first place, to develop your career, fulfil a desire to make a particular difference in the world, to earn more to meet some financial commitment, or perhaps to work with particular colleagues or a particular manager. You are starting to realise that these reasons no longer pertain. What’s important to you now has changed, and the job is no longer matching your new priorities. You are discovering that your own values, and those of your employer, are no longer aligned. Or worse, these respective values are starting to diverge at an angle which makes their respective trajectories too wide to bridge.
As a sense check in these circumstances it can be helpful to undertake a values audit where you systematically explore your own values and compare these, first with the espoused values of your organisation, and then with the organisation’s demonstrated values. This can be very rewarding and enlightening, and is best done with a skilled practitioner.
The identity window
Finally, you might be hitting the identity question – just who am I now? It’s vitally important to frame the correct question here. On one level you will want to know who you are to the organisation you work for or to the cause you serve. The dead end this can lead you to is if your self-definition is shaped disproportionately by your working environment. But what if who you are does not depend on where you are? You only have to think back over your life to see how true this is. Just think about the various contexts of which you have been a part and the jobs and roles you either did apply for, or could have applied for, that would have put you in a different environment – an environment in which a question such as “who are you to us?” would have resulted in very different answers.
Where you are will certainly shape how you see yourself, but should never be the main source of your self-definition.
The divergence and convergence window
A strightroward way of beginning to get some perspective around all this is to consider the various roles you currently play in different contexts. When you are with your family, who are you? In social gatherings, who are you there? Do you have a role in a voluntary organisation or have some other responsibility outside of work – who are you in that context? Look for some common themes, but also look out for areas of divergence. It is likely that these areas of divergence will help you understand more clearly why you’re thinking: “It’s not just me any more!” and the themes of convergence, where the truer insights into the “real you” are likely to lie.