In coaching we sometimes speak about ‘the problem behind the problem’. Sometimes what we really have to do is get to the root of the problem.
What we mean by that, is that, the problem that the client presents with isn’t usually the actual cause of their woes.
There’s usually a lot more to the original problem than meets the eye!
And so the coach’s job is to explore with the client – ask questions and really dig around to help them better get to the root of the problem in order to help them.
There were two coaching sessions the other week that really illuminated this so I wanted to share them with you as you may find it useful – either for your own problems or for the next time someone shares their problem with you.
Example from the field
I’ll start with Client 1, Jack, in this blog and the next, we’ll have Client 2, Jill.
Names have been changed (and fake names have been inspired by nursery rhymes!).
Part 1 – Jack’s story
He had a part-time job that took up 1-2 days of his week, and the rest of the time he worked on the business he was trying to set up and get going.
This set-up is what a lot of people actually strive for – a part-timer to provide some stable income, whilst they can use the rest of the time to work on their creative projects or turn their side hustle into a full time biz. So read on to see what problems come up when you do finally have this set up…
Jack appreciated the part-time job for its stability but felt frustrated that it was on a Tuesday.
He felt he had a really good Monday, was just getting into his work, and then he had to go to his part-time job and so he felt he lost momentum.
He wondered whether he should get rid of the part-time job and really dedicate himself to his business.
That would free up time, but then would the financial strain put pressure on him? And would he potentially be scaring off clients with his dependency on them for his finances?
Now, the problem here isn’t the part-timer.
This issue isn’t just a ‘should I quit or not’ one.
After digging around to help us get to the root of the problem, what came up was that he doesn’t actually know what he should be doing in his free time to build his business.
He realised he felt lost with all of his thoughts.
As you can tell from what we discovered when we dug in to find the root problem is that the problem behind the problem is always an emotional one.
With the feeling of being lost, comes the feeling of being overwhelmed by your thoughts and feeling like you’ll need a lot of time to dig through all those thoughts and all this can eventually lead to feelings of burnout.
But not if you have a thinking partner aka a coach who can help you sift through the thought soup.
It only took a few coaching questions to get Jack clear on what he could do in the time he had.
He thought he’d have to do something big and complicated (our brains love making mountains out of molehills).
This came from Jack looking at competitors and seeing what they were doing.
But those competitors had been around for years and were at a totally different stage to him.
It also wouldn’t make sense for him to do some of those things because he had a different market.
Instead, it was a lot simpler for Jack. All he had to do was look at what was already working and build on that.
Over to you
If you resonated with the above then ask yourself:
- What’s the emotional problem behind my issue?
- Where do I really need help?
- And can the help I need be something smaller and simpler than what I’m thinking it should be?
I’m a big BIG fan of journaling so my next step would be to recommend you journal around that (or get a coach of course!).
If you want help with diagnosing the root of your problem, then 1:1 coaching can help you see the wood for the trees and discover what you need to work on.
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