Transformation: Just hype?
Transformation is a word that gets kicked around a lot by coaches. It'd be easy to dismiss it as hype. Bust out of your cocoon: become a butterfly!
Here’s the deal: Transformation is real. In nuts and bolts terms, transformation happens when a person sees (often suddenly) the world in a wholly new way and that new way of seeing opens up an entirely new set of behaviors, feelings, actions that weren’t available or possible previously.
Let me tell you a story:
Jessi (names have been changed, etc.) was a bright, ambitious woman in her early 30s who wanted to start her own business. She was stopped, dead in the water, however, because she was too timid to do the networking necessary to find clients. When she did go to a networking event, she hung back, a wallflower, and waited for someone to approach her. Result: no clients.
First thing we did when we started working together was to distinguish what her perception of herself and others was that resulted in her being shy and timid. No surprises here. She didn’t think she was “likeable.” With that in her background she wasn’t going to risk the sting of rejection by introducing herself to people she didn’t know.
“When you’re walking towards someone, what do you do?”
“I wait to see what they do. If they ignore me, I ignore them; if they smile, I smile.”
“What do you think is going on inside their heads as they approach you?”
“I don’t know. I suppose the same thing I’m thinking.”
“They’re worried I might not like them.”
“How do you feel when they ignore you?”
“Not so good—like screw you.”
“And when they smile?”
“It’s like they’ve given me something."
Silence. Seconds tick by.
“Are you still there, Jessi?”
“I’m having an ah-hah moment.”
In her ah-hah moment, Jessi understood that by smiling first she was offering a gift to whomever she was approaching. Suddenly, smiling first was something she was eager to do.
Technically, a coach would say that she had shifted her context—from “I’m "unlikeable” to “I’m a gift.” In that shift, she transformed her relationship to herself and to other people and was now able to do what she couldn’t do an instant before.
The next week when we spoke, she said she couldn’t stop smiling at strangers. “The men in white coats will be after me soon.” In New York City, smiling at strangers is still, too often, “seen” as odd.