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Who is getting in your way?

Do you ever find yourself held back by doubt about your capabilities?  Have you ever known the right thing to do, with absolute certainty, but lacked the courage to suppress the voice of caution in your head?  Did you ever want to get on with things but find yourself over-analysing every detail – almost against your will?

Me too.

Split Personality

It is almost as if there are two people inside your head, competing for control: an inner you, who knows the truth, and some sort of gate-keeper, trying to protect you from disappointment; even harm.

Timothy Gallwey has names for these two characters: Self 1 and Self 2.

Self 1 and Self 2

Self 1 is the critical argumentative voice in your head, which is giving instructions, offering warnings, and expressing doubts to Self 2, the inner you.  Self 1 is the interference that stops you from achieving your true potential.  There are other sources of interference, but Gallwey sums his whole attitude to coaching up in a simple equation:

Performance = potential – interference

The Father of Modern Coaching

Timothy GallweyI regard Gallwey as the originator of our modern ideas of coaching: be it management, executive, performance, life or any other form.  It was he who took coaching out of the sports context and gave a really solid base to some of the ideas that now dominate coaching.

Overcoming Self 1

Self 1 is a know-it-all who does not trust Self 2 and therefore tries to control it. Self 2 represents all that we are and all that we can be – our present and future capabilities, our unlimited potential.  Our best performance comes when we can quiet Self 1 and let Self 2 take control. Self 1 distorts our perception and interferes with our results.

Based on his observations that “should” and “shouldn’t” instructions get in the way of learning, and that learning takes place within the learner, Gallwey developed three principles for coaching.

  1. Non-judgemental awareness is curative
    The clearer your perception is, the better you can adapt yourself to the situation.  The role of a coach is to raise our awareness, and to help us to perceive without judging.
  2. Trust Self 2
    Your intuition is powerful, and your potential is immense.  The coach’s role is to help us to listen to Self 2 and hear its wisdom.
  3. Leave learning choices to the learner
    The fundamental difference between coaching and other forms of learning support like mentoring, training or teaching, is that the coach will help you to find your own solutions, rather than give solutions to you.

How can you get Self 1 out of your way?

All that Self 1 is, is a voice in your head.  It may sound simplistic, but you need to pay more more attention to Self 2.  Teach Self 2 to be more assertive and listen to it more carefully.  Find counter arguments to Self 1’s assertions and demand a higher standard of proof, when all Self 1 does is criticise.

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