Perspectives are helpful when facing a big, life decision with multiple aspects at play. Often we find ourselves stuck with lists of pros and cons and still can’t arrive at a decision. There’s a Co-active coaching exercise where you divide the floor into 8 sections with tape. You view the choice or topic at being in the center. Then, each section is a metaphor for a perspective that you put yourself into. Now, ask your self how would xxx see this/do about this…?
Goldilocks and the Six Chairs Perspectives
I have altered the Co-Active model a bit to ask clients if they have a conference or dining table with 6-8 chairs.
Then I have them take stickies and put the topic in the center and a perspective at each chair. Often, they like some suggestions for perspectives; so, I offer a few and them them choose some others.
Write the names of 6-8 such metaphors for perspectives on each sticky in front of each chair. Sit in each chair and consider the topic, the perspective is more relevant or resonates better for this topic. You can also switch back and forth between chairs to consider the different angles. Once you’ve found the most meaningful seat/perspective, stay with that for a while. This may help you get unstuck.
Perspectives that have Resonated
In doing this exercise, I have discovered a few perspectives that seem to resonate well with different people.
- OJ: Old Joe – you at 95 sitting happily at a bungalow looking at the waves, chuckling as you look back. What would the 95-year-old you say to you right now?
- You @ 21: the young college student/adult – full of optimism and ambition (or cynicism and doubt?). What would that perhaps naive or not-yet-jaded youngster suggest to you now?
- A Passed Confidant: a particularly close parent or grandparent perhaps no longer with us. When we ask ourselves, we’ll usually discover we know exactly what they’d say.
- A Former Teacher, Mentor or Coach: a past , mentor or coach.
- The Critical 13-Year-Old: If you’ve ever one, you know this hyper-critical perspective…
- Favorite Pet: what would a long-time companion pet say if they could speak?
- Spirit Guide: a spirit guide or animal or shaman.
- Hero(ine): Wonder Woman. Spider Man, RBG, MLK …
- Your Car: our car represents certain meaning to us and there are reasons we own it.
- Identical Twin: it’s easier to give a close friend advice than to make a decision. What would you say to them?
- Eagle: a bird’s eye where you lift off to heights above the walls, trees, mountains or seas that surround you. You distance yourself from the immediate obstacles you’re confronting to gain perspective and a bigger picture.
Your Table and Chairs as a Wheel of Life
Another tool leveraged in Co-Active Coaching is the Wheel of Life. It helps assess where you are regarding various aspects of your life. You can then choose which aspects you are potentially feeling a need to change. However, you can leverage each aspect when confronted with a life impacting decision. Instead of using such a wheel to assess your dilemma, imagine each of these perspectives as names tags of guests. Then, sit in each seat. Now, consider how each aspect of your life would be impacted by each option you have to choose from.
Imagine a choice between staying in your current job A, or jobs offers B and C. How would you image each of these aspects of your life to be impacted by each possibility?
Below are different representations of this aspects/perspectives on your life that might be affected as a result of a choice you’re feeling yourself confronted with:
Vicky Schubert uses the following wheel of perspective in her Seeing Yourself Whole: A System of Power and Purpose:
Discover Wellness Within of Ontario leverages a wellness wheel to help you assess your current “health” level in each area, but it could also help you consider how each of these aspects may be impacted with each of your choices:
Other Characters to Seat Around Your Table ..
In Michael Ventura’s Applied Empathy he introduces seven “Archetypes of Empathy” (hey’re embellished with some characters here that you might imagine seating around a table to help embody that perspective). Ventura suggests you try out each perspective to see which perspective/questions resonates the strongest with you for self reflection …