As I reflect and tune back into the coaching and mentoring conversations I have had over nearly twenty years as a coach, I continue to notice the impact of my clients’ stories on their attitudes and the nature of their world.
Most often I notice how the stories reinforce and recondition people into often unhelpful pattern-behaviour. They reconfirm difficulties and challenges, reignite habitual stresses, emotions and feelings. There is always a body and mind response and sometimes these unhelpful patterns play out in physical as well as mental aches and pains.
I explore this in my latest book - The Attitude Book – and how the way you tell your story, internally and externally, is influencing you.
A couple of recent coaching dialogues reminded me again of the role our attitude plays in creating and re-creating our everyday conditions. How we act, behave and conduct ourselves is brilliantly magnetic at drawing in the corresponding conditions, conversations, pressures and outcomes.
Let me explain through sharing Emma’s story (name changed!).
After a sustained period of much change – new clients, new products and new services; expansion of her role; lots of international travel - Emma was frazzled! She described her days as hectic, chaotic and stressed and most of her decisions and actions as being reactive.
Emma had become so used to these four attributes that they felt like ‘normal’. On her best days her resilience was strong and her attitude was upbeat, positive, excited and coping. On “overwhelm” days those four negative attributes lived out in everything in which she was involved – a hectic and exhausting schedule; winging it through the chaos; tense and annoying stress loads; and perpetuating disorder in the constant state of reactivity.
Emma, like many others, had been digging deeper and deeper into reserves. In these types of scenarios, we find and experiment with a plethora of coping strategies – ultimately engaging a coach to perhaps find better ways of coping. All the while we are hoping that one day soon it will, suddenly, get better.
The repetition of patterns of behaviour means your attention is perpetually brought back to the same place. Growth is restricted and your new brighter future is prevented.
Each time you think about or retell your story it is likely to, at best, be a balance between the good and the bad, the triumphant and the woeful. And, sometimes, depending on your prevailing attitude, you may well dwell on the glum. I wrote earlier this year about the impact on attitude of the stories we hear and the ones we tell and the importance of being able to let it go.
The way you tell your story tends to set an expectation for your future and a defined range into which your future might expand. In some cases, depending on what you have encountered, survived and grown through (recent or long time history), this can be useful and encouraging, even motivational – you won through, despite circumstances. In other cases your story may be more restrictive and damning than it is inspiring.
The pain you have had to endure can activate an attitude that is magnetically drawn to finding the annoyances and the pains again. You garner more evidence that ‘proves’ your story is true and that potential future you dream of, remains just that, a dream.
Have the emotion, feel the dip, if that’s what comes up, but let it pass and don’t let it influence your story – re-edit and shift the emphasis.
How do you retell your story? What recurring stories have come to define you? What aspects of your story replay today, every day?
I asked Emma to describe how she would want to be - when the new team is in place, when she has mastered the new expanded role – her answers were quick and clear: smooth (out of hectic); strategic (out of chaos); calm (through stress) and considered (not reactive).
My challenge for her was simple – be that now. Even if, at first, it’s just for an hour a day – get used to the new attitude protocol now. Initially it will mean acting in spite of the prevailing conditions, but soon she’ll begin to attract the corresponding conditions to the upgrade.
What is your current attitude set-up? Is it a learned and reluctantly accepted “normal”? What will the future-you be experiencing and how will you be, then? How will that future-you feel?
Nothing changes until something changes – and that change is in you.
NOTE: - There is a strong probability that conditions may already have begun to change in your world but it is your conditioned attitude that is preventing it from taking hold – you may be the one perpetuating the circumstance around your attitude!
As always, keep it simple.