Ian and I had engaged in our first coaching. To get an immediate sense of how it would feel to work with me he had asked me to help him with a problem he had just been confronted with.
As we started to investigate the problem most of his reactions were based on some evaluation of himself. Not only that, they all included some potential reasons why things didn’t work well. In doing so, he was focused on showing me how well he understood the problem he was confronted with. By giving me an evaluation of what he wasn’t doing sufficiently well he was sharing a solution that wouldn’t work for him.
As the pattern started emerging I could associate it with a coaching tool I sometime will be using. I started paying attention to how much time he would leave between my comments, the problem he would find and the solution he associated with it.
Depending on the amount of information he was sharing on the problem I was able to get an idea of how clearly he experienced the problem and how he was understanding it.
However, when his description of the problem stayed a mere statement I was left alone to understand the problem by myself. With the explanations, he shared as to why that problem would persist I was invited to think about a different solution as he had already told me one that wouldn’t work.
What I was thus looking for was one of three things. His willingness to step into the experience and make himself aware of it. His ability to describe the experience. And what he could make out of that experience by thinking about it.
Looking at it from a different angle the first step is about making oneself aware of the data, the second step is about analyzing the data, while the third step is there to give meaning to that data.
Whichever step is left out, tells us more about “the distance between the problem and the solution”. It thus tells us how many of the steps needed to have an idea of the solution may have been left out.