Have you ever worked with clients who fully commit to actions identified in coaching, but they turn up not having done it? Maybe they repeat this a few times, so are they really just procrastinating?
Often, we as coaches will assume that it’s something about the client’s commitment or that the goals associated are not meaningful enough. So we will often invite reflection and enquiry around the goal itself. Logical, right?
But there is another reason why work doesn’t get done. Your clients may be procrastinating because they’re suffering from the stress reaction: Fight, Flight, Freeze or Appease, or indeed a mix of these. Procrastination consistently comes out of the Resilience Engine research as the top impact of stress.
There are two types of procrastination, both built from fear of failure:
- In behaviours: someone will avoid having their ability judged by others. They believe that worthiness comes from their abilities, and if they fear that their abilities can’t be demonstrated, they don’t show their work.
- In decisions: here someone is plain afraid of making errors, and so avoids making decisions.
The issue is of course, the double looping of procrastination. It causes more failures, and loss of opportunity. All this leads to unhappiness and eventually to ill health.
(Reference : Ferrari/dePaul University of Chicago; Research Group, Canada)
What can you do? Rather than help the client connect with all the skills of decision making or prioritisation, or defining what ‘good’ might look like for the work, consider instead the client’s resilience. Could their resilience be at a low ebb? If so, the focus of the work needs to change. Resilience coaching includes spotting the real barriers that stop the client acting on the changes needed in the coaching contract. Resilience coaching helps get to the nub of things more quickly.
What will enable your client’s resilience? Your client will probably know! The quickest way to discover more is to explore more about the client’s energy. Energy is a proxy for resilience; it’s not the same, but it does follow the same ups and downs. Help the client explore what drives the ups, and what drives the downs. Then, work on how the client can increase their energy.
This is a straightforward step towards helping the client increase their own resilience. And since resilience is a buffer to stress, it’s a great step towards decreasing stress and the reaction for procrastinating.
And if you’re caught in the same situation as a coach, why not try the same?
Author: Jenny Campbell, CEO of The Resilience Engine
To learn more about how you can become a Resilience Engine accredited coach, click here.