The Missing Link
I rarely share this, but I feel so proud when clients, friends or family members notice how well I understand something they mean. I love it when I have an insight about something they did not explicitly state. And when they notice, and agree, I am extremely pleased, because that means that I am doing my job as a LEAP coach.
I remember doing a LEAP workshop with a woman more than ten years ago. She had decided to do a personal plan because she was in transition. She was an American living in Italy and she wanted to make a change. She wanted to move to Switzerland, find work and make a go of it as a cross cultural trainer. But she was facing work permit visa problems at the college in which she had been offered work teaching. She wasn’t sure if she should stay in Milan making too little money at a job she did not like, or take the risk and move into the unknown, and try to work out the work permit and visa issues from there.
As a cross cultural management teacher, she was well organized, neat, focused, and knowledgeable. Her curriculum was well researched and based on current thinking. So for her to be in a quandary was a new experience for her and it made her quite uncomfortable. She was a do-er, a go-getter. But her questions were, what to do, where to go? (Frankly, as an aside, this is an excellent place, in my opinion, to begin a LEAP plan, because the process itself gives clarity. You do not have to know what you want when you start. That you have to know what you want is a misconception people often have.)
So, back to my client. We proceeded through Step #1, the Achievement Analysis. She listed learning Italian as an achievement, as well as hanging in there in her current position as another. Moving on to Step #2, Picturing the Situation, she drew a picture of her professional “future”, and, as I recall, she was smiling in front of a class of students. Her “current” picture had a big question mark in it, among other things. We moved on to Step #3 Facing Facts and Problems, in which she described what she lacked in her present that she needed to have to make her future happen—one idea at a time. For example, one of her cards (sticky notes) stated, “I do not have a Swiss work permit.” Another stated, “I do not have an apartment in Switzerland.” Another one stated, “I do not make enough money to sustain my lifestyle.” She created about fifteen statements.
We moved on to Step #4, Developing Objectives, and, as if by waving a magic wand, linguistically turned all of the problem statements into Objectives. So, the above problems became, “I have a Swiss work permit,” “I have an apartment in Lausanne,” “I make enough money to sustain my lifestyle.” Then she categorized all of her “objectives” into three categories, “Work,” “Home” and “Finances” and proceeded, in Step #5, to build an objective tree on a large piece of paper, with sub objectives, leading to these three main objectives, and they leading to her purpose, which was something like, “My life is complete.”
Hmmm I thought to myself, as I read her purpose, and I looked at her objectives “What about love, a significant other, a family?” And because it is my job as a coach to delve and ask, I said something like, “Looking at your objective tree, and looking back at your future drawing, I don’t see any significant other in your life.” This matter-of-fact statement, stimulated by the chart she had produced, led to the most interesting and significant part of our LEAP experience. She said something like, “Yes, I know. I just don’t know what to do about him. So I didn’t mention him. We have had a relationship for 6 years off and on. He is the reason I want to move—to once and for all see what is going on.”
We continued to discuss significant others she told me that she had been married in her twenties, but divorced at 30, and wanted a stable love relationship in her life. So because in a LEAP plan anything can be added, or removed at any time, she created a whole new “love” root system in the objective tree, with its main objective being “I am part of a loving relationship.” She now had four main objectives to reach her purpose.
When we finished the rest of the Steps (in which she came up with activities and things to do to reach those objectives (Step #6); partners, people and organizations with which to interact (Step #7); deadlines and indicators (Step #8); some short term activities to do first, (Step #9); and a date for our next interaction (Step#10), the plan was complete. My client was pleased that I had unearthed her secret and that she had a plan to discover if he was the “one” or not. I was also pleased that I had seen the missing link.
I am happy to report that this client and I are still in touch on LINKED IN. She broke up with the 7-year relationship guy, had many years of success teaching cross cultural management in Switzerland, and is now in a relationship with an American guy she went to high school with (!!) and is living and teaching in the USA. For more information about LEAP Personal Planning or to order LEAP FOR LIFE, please go to Facebook.com/LEAPlanning.