And More is Less
On its surface, the expression seems illogical, confounding, paradoxical even. But when people tend to tally up the things that take up time in their lives (the tasks, the goals, and the to-dos) they often try to maximalize; more things, more effort, more friends, more wealth, more work, more social media, more hobbies, etc.
Then what a person tends to find out is that the more they commit to a single thing, the less they are able to do put time and energy into something else. People, most typically our coaching clients, tend to learn the hard way that more is less. But as we will see on CLCI, the reverse is also true: Less is More
Join us as Brooke Adair Walters (ACC), Jerome LeDuff Jr (MCLC), Anthony Lopez (MCPC), Lisa Finck (PCC), and Jen Long (MCPC) discuss how coaches can apply a Less is More philosophy to their coaching sessions and how clients can achieve more by doing less.
The Benefits of Simplicity
When people say “less is more,” they are often advising that simplicity is the better option to complexity. Taking this idea, we can apply it to the coaching industry in order to help our clients.
Clients very frequently take a maximalist and additive approach when working towards their goals, throwing all of their energy into the work to achieve results. Energy is not an infinite resource though. We get tired and as we expend energy, our stamina & willpower eventually deplete, and the quality of our efforts diminishes. This approach is unsustainable. When faced with a problem, we are naturally inclined to be additive. We want to come up with solutions to solve a problem instead of looking at what can be removed to achieve the same goal.
Not only do we see this on the individual scale but also on a global platform with companies like Amazon and Shein who are famous for overworking their employees to barely keep up with past success. If instead of throwing money and people at the problem, these companies instead focused on simplifying their processes and making them more efficient, maybe they could provide a normal workload to their teams. Likewise, we should view our own practices in the same sense. Ask your clients, “What can simplify your process? How can you be more efficient?”
Time is Valuable
Here's a thought experiment. You have a bank account that started every day with $5,000, no matter what you did with the cash, it would always empty at the end of the day and refresh itself at the beginning of the next day.
Almost everyone would figure out how to spend it all each day. Not a penny of that $5,000 would be wasted.
Smart people would find savvy ways to invest the money, the less mentally endowed may gamble it away each day. In either case, almost everyone would immediately recognize the value and try to use the money in some productive way.
Now let's stop the thought experiments and look at the cold reality we all face. Every day we have 24 hours to use as we please. It will never carry over to the next day. Knowing that, do you make every minute, every second of that 24 hours useful?
It’s easy to view time as an infinite resource because we’re so used to it but when you view it from this lens, it becomes more important to spend your time wisely, to check your priorities and analyze whether or not your goals that take your very valuable time are actually worth it.
When clients come to us and list all the things they want to accomplish in a given time period, part of our job as coaches is to help them prioritize their goals. We provide the space for them to figure out how they can accomplish their list and identify which items are reachable in a set time frame and which ones need to be pushed to another time.
As coaches, we also have to value our own time. Hour long sessions are extremely common in the coaching industry, but can we achieve more in less time? For example, a 30-minute coaching sessions can often surprise clients by how productive they are. The key is that the client is paying more attention to their time usage when they feel like it’s limited. They spend every minute wisely trying to not waste time. In this way, the coach is doing less by taking less time and achieving more in that time frame. Less becoming more.
Coaching Clients Through Choices
Just as we work with clients to limit choices and prioritize goals, coaches partner with clients through their decision-making process as well. As much as we would like to, we can’t make the decisions for our clients or try to influence which choice they make. So what can we do?
Our client’s decision process starts at the beginning of a session where the client can spend an entire session trying to decide what they want the session to be about. Other times the clients has so many things they want to work on that they can't make up their mind.
Another word for this phenomenon is analysis paralysis.
One method for helping our clients narrow down their choices is by using the Eisenhower Matrix.
By using this tool, the clients can look at all tasks and identify where each one lies on the urgency scale and the importance scale. Whichever quadrant these fall into informs how you should prioritize the tasks.
Another practice is to limit task lists to three items. No tasks can be added to the list until all three items are complete. This helps us prioritize tasks from a scarcity mindset. If you only have three slots, which items will take those slots?
Coaching Less to Achieve More
In order to be credentialed through the International Coaching Federation (ICF), coaches must provide sessions for observation. One of the major metrics to meet is that the coach only speaks 20% of the time and leave the other 80% to the client. The coach’s role is to provide an ear more than to give their thoughts and opinions. As you go from ACC, to PCC, and eventually MCC, you will find that you speak less and less for your clients to achieve more and more.
Not only does this provide time for the clients to work through their session, it also forces coaches into making sure every word used is impactful and important. We don’t have the capacity nor the time for meaningless words. For the sake of our clients, Less is always More.
Lisa Finck, Brooke Adair Walters, Jerome LeDuff Jr, Anthony Lopez, and Jen Long!
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