December 13, 2019

Superpowers you didn't know you had (Part 2)

The Power of Questions

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This one is truly the catalyst of any change or transition in life, business, and the world. It's The Power of Questions. Questions are the instigators to any change you can imagine. The more powerful the questions you manage to ask yourself and others, the more accurate of a change you can accomplish.

What made you think that thought just now? How will you approach coping with challenging thoughts arising during life events? Who will be your lifeline? Questions help you unravel reality and provide you with clarifying answers. The quality of the answers we get is directly correlated with the quality of the questions we ask. There are different types of questions for different purposes. Becoming a master in asking questions to yourself and the people around enables you to reach any outcome you wish for. The roads have been paved for your life, but you have to ask compelling questions to take you to your desired destination.

There are two main reasons why asking questions is so valuable in life, it helps you to:

  1. Understand the world & others
  2. Understand yourself

Asking questions to understand the world & others

In life we tend to focus mostly on the first reason for asking questions; understanding the world around us. We often forget the third reason: understanding ourselves. It’s amazing if you understand the world cognitively, but afterwards, you still have to reconcile this world with you as a person. That is where asking yourself questions comes in. If you know to ask yourself the right questions, no hurdle looks too steep, no problem looks too overwhelming and no person looks too difficult to deal with.

But if we have a path to every goal in life, why don’t we walk that path by asking the right questions. Asking the right question should not be that difficult, right? No, you’re right, I think most people understand the basics of asking questions but often they refrain from asking them. Fear of the potential answers impedes them from asking most questions.

Asking questions like - what is the time? What is company X’s vision? What are you going to do this weekend - is not that big of a deal. But think about questions - What made you do that? What is your biggest anxiety in life? Why are these struggles experienced by people? These questions can be considered more difficult to ask. Especially when the circumstances are complex and the questions are loaded, it can be difficult.

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Asking questions to understand yourself

Sometimes it can be also very difficult to ask yourself questions. Imagine for example that you firmly believe that your children should always, at any age till 18, go to bed at 7pm. By talking to your children, talking to others and reading several articles about sleep, you begin to realise increasingly that a later bedtime has its positive effects as well, and that this maybe even weighs up against your belief of a 7pm bedtime. Asking yourself the personally conflicting questions “What is the best bedtime for my children after 7pm?” can be like a thorn in your brain. Changing your fixed identity, hence your fixed beliefs, can be super difficult. Repeatedly challenging yourself offers the remedy towards sustainable change.

Framing questions

Framing questions is so important for bringing difficult ones across carefully and letting them land smoothly. Questions should be descriptive and detailed, in order to trigger the right response, resulting in an answer congruent with the intention of your question. Framing them enables you to establish trust, diminish the intensity and probe for an answer in line with your intent.

The Power of Boundaries

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I really would like to enrich humankind with the ability to decide. Client after client comes to me with an extensive catalog of all the things they want. That’s great and, don’t get me wrong, I love ambition. Though, aspirations should always be realistic and balanced out with the time you available to you. Living an unlimited life sounds great but it puts you on the direct path to burnout. The Power of Boundaries comes into play here. 

According to researcher and public speaker Brené Brown, establishing boundaries, your own personal fences, can do wonders for your wellbeing.

Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves, even when we risk disappointing others.

- Brené Brown
Setting boundaries is so important. It means loving yourself but definitely also others, because you will not disappoint them with false promises. Believe me, everybody, including me, can use a lesson in that.

Boundaries are great! Say what? Often people would say boundaries are mere impediments to growth. But I believe growth cannot be accomplished without setting clear boundaries. Boundaries will give you focus and enable you to manage other people’s expectations of you. They're also great for your mental wellbeing. I have a question for you regarding boundaries: do you want to be running around like a headless chicken towards your goals or do you want to possess laser focus like a heron hunting for fish?

Why and how do we set boundaries?

But how do we develop boundaries? While we are building up our identity during our adolescence we create many subconscious and a few conscious boundaries. At that time, the boundaries we have set are very vague and are not well defined nor communicated. After adolescence, we really start becoming more mature and understanding ourselves better. Many of the boundaries that were in our subconscious will surface and transform into conscious boundaries. But why do we actually set boundaries?

We establish boundaries in our lives to protect us from actions not in adherence with our identity. If a personal boundary gets violated we will feel uncomfortable, agitated, and are likely to respond in a vicious way. There are simple and general boundaries like violating physical privacy, if somebody touches you inappropriately, or violating verbal privacy if somebody curses at you. Those boundaries are well shared and we all know that we should not cross them. However, there are even more personal boundaries that are less well-known and easily violated.

Think about boundaries of frequency how often somebody may visit your house, the tone of voice someone uses against you, or the subjects that are discussed on certain occasions. To have peace of mind and grow to your full potential, it is important to set these boundaries clearly. But how?

Setting boundaries can be dissected into three phases:

1. Determine your boundary and consequence of violation clearly

2. Communicate the boundary candidly

3. Protect your boundary considerately

The Power of Self-Coaching

Being a coach is the most awesome job to have. Everyday I can help others cope with challenges, grow and tap their potential. I feel very grateful that I have been granted the opportunity to help others. A coach can be critical for change but it all starts within yourself through The Power of Self-Coaching. Relying on a coach for everything single problem is not a scalable solution. A coach can help you by providing you with a mental arsenal of ways to overcome anything in life, but you have to put them into practice yourself.
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Self-coaching is the best way to live a sustainable balanced life. It is an indispensable skill that should actually be taught in school, in my opinion. It’s sometimes sad that I have to say goodbye to many clients but then I remind myself: “that was your goal all along”. My goal is always to replace myself with the coach that everybody has within. Of course clients still come back from time to time to maintain and hone their skills, but for the majority of the challenges they know how to coach themselves in the right way.

A critical inflection point: to self-coach or not to self-coach?

You may sleep badly from time to time, you might feel cranky a lot and you might have days that feel like everything is going wrong. There may be moments of panic, depression and out-of-control spiraling. At the moment that this cascade of crap falls over you, you have reached a very powerful inflection point. At that point in time, you can decide how you want negativity to affect you. It could be that you think that you really need counseling sessions because you require support. Or on the other hand, you might think, I am strong, I have already overcome a lot of challenges, I live in a beautiful world, I am fortunate with so many things in life, I can also overcome this hurdle. Support is always nearby. You have a realm of untapped wisdom within.

I believe we all can and should always first choose the second option. You can start by dissecting the situation and continue to coach yourself towards how you want to feel. To get your act together at the moment of turmoil is not something you just learn in a day. Through practicing and reflecting on your endeavours everyday, you can train your self-coaching muscle enabling you to cope with any setback. There will be moments when you’re completely fed up with self-coaching. 

Nevertheless, every time you’ll need to get your act together again, keep on hustling and keep pursuing your goals and happiness in life. Awareness of your own thoughts, the circumstances in your life and the goals you have set for yourself, are imperative to start any self-coaching endeavour. So first and foremost try to live more mindfully and be aware of what happens within and around you.

I really believe that if you know how to leverage these six superpowers, a whole new realm of opportunities and happiness will open up for you.

If you haven't read Part 1 yet, be sure to check it out for 3 more superpowers!

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Written by Jasper De Taeye

Jasper is one of the founders of Amplio Coaching. He has been working in tech his entire career and he reconciles his experience working in tech with his personal development knowledge. Jasper is a certified life coaching through the Dublin Business University and a master NLP practitioner studying at the Scottish Centre of NLP.

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