Visual Prompts for Change

This week the coaching programme was finishing with a Director I’ve worked with for a year. When a programme ends I do a ‘completion’ exercise to review what the coaching journey was for that client. In advance I ask them how they have progressed on their goals, what have they become as a person and leaders, what tools have they learned, how will they keep the learning alive, what do they want for the next year and what ideas do they have to get there. I do the same exercise, and when we meet for that last session we discuss it.

We had many things in common as we talked. And one thing she had that I didn’t and that she felt was the biggest tool in helping her grow was the use of visual cues. What does this mean? It means have pictures, words and/or props around you to remind you to try new things.

For example, she wanted to be more commanding, confident and less emotional especially in times of high pressure and frustration. She wanted these things to be apparent to others on the outside and she wanted to genuinely feel them inside. After a lot of work she identified this feeling as “steel blue.” So I told her to get a steel blue water bottle or coffee cup and have it in her office to remind her of that feeling. She now takes it to certain meetings and when the pressure increases she has an external, physical reminder of how she wants to be.

Another example is that she wanted to stop jumping to solutions when someone entered her office with a question. She wanted them to think about it for themselves and knew this was possible if she paused, asked questions, and asked them what they would do. So she hid a post-it note on her side of the desk saying “Pause. Get Curious. Ask Open Q.”  This reminds her what she wants to do rather than her reactive solution-giving-response.

What do you want more of or different? Put a visual reminder of it in your sight every day to remind yourself to choose “it” more often?