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Mirror, mirror on the wall, is that person really saying it all?

In 95% of the work I do as a coach, there is a fundamental realisation that the person who sits in the driving seat of our life, who gets to call the shots and who has the most airtime in our minds is not a true reflection of the person we really are and want to be. It's an authentic version, often a contributor to success to date, but a limited and constrained version that is holding back future progression or new change. Sometimes it's too busy proving someone is smart, sometimes it's full of doubt; always there's an element of self-delusion.


Have you ever caught yourself saying any of these things?... I'm not bright enough/I'm far brighter than everyone else; I don't have anything interesting to say/others have nothing useful to say; others are idiots/others are better than me; I'm not the kind of person who does that/no-one can do this as well as I can; I'm not Partner material/I'm ready and everyone else is wrong; I'm not good enough/I'm too good for this place.


These are clearly extremes to illustrate a point but I'm willing to bet there was something in there you recognised, albeit maybe with some discomfort. You're in good company but that doesn't mean it's the truth.


What if we could peer into the mirror and see clearly for the first time? Forget a vague sense of self doubt or superiority. Actually look into a polished, clean, unfiltered mirror and see and hear what the critical and positive sides of ourselves have to say? What if you could see a balanced reflection? What if, for example, for the first time you understood you are motivated by fear of failure and that there is another way to get the same results but be happier? What would change?

Here are three reasons to get curious about your thinking habits and behaviours:

  1. You will need to stop doing some things to be successful at the next level. What got you here won't get you there (see Marshall Goldsmith's book of the same name or How Women Rise on the 12 habits).

  2. You need to intentionally choose what to leave behind from the past and what to take with you. Not everything you're carrying from previous workplaces/families/systems is relevant or helpful to your present and your future (see Systemic Coaching Constellations by John Whittington).

  3. Fear of failure is an excellent motivator but a cruel master and ultimately a saboteur. You have an active mental judge that has kept you safe and driven you on but it's at a cost to your future success, wellbeing and happiness (see Shirzad Chamine, Positive Intelligence).

Thinking drives behaviour. Good quality, true and clear thinking is the thing on which everything else depends (Nancy Kline, Time to Think). Coaching doesn't focus on the symptoms or tell you what you ought to do. It looks at the issue behind the issue (what's really in your mirror) and generates new intelligence whilst resourcing you to make sense of that and take action.


Coaching simply isn't effective in a vacuum of 'work only' conversations although its purpose absolutely can and often is focused on changes at work. We need to understand and acknowledge the holistic picture; we are one person. We need to look at thought habits and touch on how our past is shaping our current and future direction and to identify these influences in service of moving forward. Where therapy delves deeply into the psychology of the past and works on dealing with and resolving issues, coaching doesn't live here. It connects the dots in order to make sense of the blockers and saboteurs that are holding us back and releases some old habits. The focus is on weakening ties to what's unhelpful to liberate new insights and fresh ways forward. A great coach will recognise when therapy is the better option and recommend that instead.


My purpose in coaching is simple: to create clarity (hold up a clean mirror), support clients with what they see and help to unlock fresh possibilities. Sometimes this takes time. It always takes partnership, curiosity and courage.


So what's in your mirror that's serving you well and holding you back? Do you recognise the differences between these things and know how to choose the truest version of you? What might you need to stop doing, leave behind or take forward with you?


If you knew the answers to these questions and had the ability to be intentional about them, what would you do that seems impossible today? I would love to help you find out.

 

Georgie Rudd is an accredited Executive & Leadership Coach, working with business leaders across global FTSE 100 and Professional Services firms. She leads Rudd Coaching Ltd, offering 1:1 and group coaching on a range of topics spanning business development through to leadership effectiveness, emotional intelligence and working parent coaching. Georgie often works on leadership impact, self-belief and the inner critic, managing healthier work/life rhythms, effective delegation, building relationships and career transitions. She also runs a highly impactful coaching skills programme for managers and leaders. Contact georgie@ruddcoaching.co.uk for more information and start a conversation.



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