There are many tools and techniques used while coaching. The choice of and use of any one or a combination has an ultimate outcome of self-discovery and self-awareness. This journey of self has an outcome towards a clearer thought process, responsibility towards actions and accountability to self. At Inscape Solutions, we are experienced in multiple techniques to help unblock the mind and are qualified in many tools that create added awareness.
The Johari Window is a great way to think about pushing the boundaries of the mind. The Johari Window was created by Joseph Luft and Harry Ingham in 1955 as a technique help people understand the relationship with themselves and others. It is a simple and useful visual to understand how various techniques support self-awareness, personal development, improving communications, interpersonal relationships, group dynamics, team development, and inter group relationships. Let us discuss the concept on how the Johari’s window works first. There are two factors in play: first factor is what you know about yourself and the second factor relates to what other people know about you, resulting in four quadrants.
The balance and the information in each quadrant are constantly changing. For example, you may share a “secret” with friend that you have not been comfortable talking about before. Or your colleague can give you some positive or constructive feedback on a behavior.
We strive for you to have more control over the change within the quadrants and reduce the size of the “unknown”. A Coach can help you to discover aspects that you or others may never have appreciated before or are blockers to your progress, such as:
We use as many methods as possible to help you open your mind that you are comfortable with while challenging underlying beliefs and biases that hold back your potential. We use tools and processes that can result in an active and controlled flywheel with the aim to reduce your “unknown” quadrant.
This process of open communication and trust, through structured data gathering, will enhance the experience of self-discovery, driving performance at an individual and team level.
There are many definitions of 'mind-space' but for the purpose of my commentary on this topic, I will define it as the space your mind holds for intellect, skills, tasks, emotions and feelings, knowledge, memories, etc. Most people believe the myth that we only use a maximum of 10% of our brains. This has been debunked by neurologist Barry Gordon and summarized well in his interview with Scientific American. In short, we use various parts of our brain summing to its whole 100%, consciously and unconsciously, throughout the day. So, the question on whether we have limited mind- space is a matter of perception and awareness. How aware are you of your mind-space and how much in control are you of its abilities?
These questions have been on my mind a lot recently, so I wanted to share some of my recent learnings. Over the last few months, I have been coaching many long-term clients on improving their performance and/or getting clarity on their career paths. For all those that are new to the idea of coaching, a little recap - coaching is a structured mechanism to create self-awareness and mindfulness for an individual (or team) to allow them to see their path forward and full potential better. The Coach (i.e. me) creates a safe space for this discovery path through powerful questioning, observations and tools to unlock what is already in the client’s mind. Each session starts off with the client deciding the topic that they want to discuss. So, every now and then, there have been some sessions where the clients have been "too busy" to think of a specific topic where they need support, but they are there with "too much" on their mind and are sure that they need some support!
Here is my perception on the use and growth of mind-space if we were to make it something more visual and less abstract. Think of a room (any shape you like) which has flexible walls (you can imagine it with a roof too depending on the shape you choose), with each one have a different reaction to the pressure applied from the inside or from the outside. Under certain negative conditions like stress, anxiety or fear, these walls seem to close in on us and we feel trapped - the pressure is coming from the outside and we have less control over it. When we release these feelings, we can push back these walls and gain the perspective of our space again. Under positive conditions like self-content, happiness or love, we have the strength and control to push these walls out more from the inside - it is not easy and requires some effort, but we feel more confident that we can. I find the best ways to increase the space of this room that we have been imagining (your mind-space) are to create a positive environment in it. Here are a few tools that I find helpful and have worked for me:
Coaching is one mechanism for growing mind-space as I see this growth transformation with all my clients daily. With the help of an expert, you can see yourself and the contents of your mind space in a different light, find what you need, what you don't want to give space to and know what to add. I have been coaching for years and have grown with the practice. Coaching has helped me overcome the blocks that hold me back. In one of my recent sessions, I was having trouble running for over 30 minutes (I am no athlete!) and after a 36-minute coaching session I was running for 45 minutes within one week. Coaching helped me find the mind-space I wanted to occupy while running and then I practiced on how to stay there longer.
Meditation: everyone meditates differently but most use the practice to "center themselves" or "find their center", with varying outcomes for the use of that center. The concept of "center" is different for each of us. For me when I find my center is when I have found perspective. This allows for clarity. I am a neat freak, so the analogy I will use is a room with a lot of stuff that looks very cluttered and full, but when organized, space is created within the same size room and contents. Meditation creates more space in my mind by organizing the areas that are cluttered. One other result of meditation is the release of Serotonin in the brain, also known as the "mood stabilizer". Serotonin is a neurotransmitter carrying signals between your nerve cells and the rest of your body. It has many other functions such as improving digestion and sleep.
Learning a new skill: Skill learning is training a muscle, either in your body or mind, to do something new or improve on what it already knows. It happens slowly, many times with frustrations and hiccups. This is what tests the agility of these "muscles" and grows them to achieve a little more with every effort. This growth is a new space in your mind that can store and use the new learnings. The chemical in your body that gets released is Dopamine, the "reward chemical". This is also a neurotransmitter, playing a role in how we feel pleasure and our unique human ability to think and plan. It helps us strive, focus, and find things interesting.
Gaining knowledge: reading, traveling, watching thought provoking television programs, etc. are many ways that you can increase your knowledge base. The one that I like is debating on ideas. I am not referring to arguing or fighting but more towards constructive discussions about differences in our thoughts and views with an open mind, without the personal pinch. This new gained knowledge through static or dynamic sources pushes the boundary walls of your mind-space into new directions, dimensions and shapes. Take a moment to guess what your body releases here…. Right! Dopamine!
Exercising: Yes - it really increases your mind-space and formula is simple. Exercising --> creates endorphins (another wonderful chemical in your body) --> activates the "happy juice" in your mind --> increasing the intent towards positive action. Endorphins are tiny neurochemicals released by your body after working out. They are a large group of peptides produced by the central nervous system and the pituitary gland. Endorphins act on the opiate receptors in our brains, reducing pain and boosting pleasure (i.e. activating the "happy juice"), resulting in a feeling of well-being. They are released in response to pain or stress, but they are also released during other activities, like eating, exercise, or sex. Simply put, when you are happy, the likelihood of your actions being positive are higher. When your intent for positive action is active then learning a new skill or gaining knowledge gives you more pleasure and it will be easier to change to more positive habits.
Unconditional Love: This may be obvious to some and others may be highly skeptical. Let us start with a definition first; Wikipedia defines it as "affection without any limitations, or love without conditions". Carl Rogers, a famed Humanistic Psychologist, defines it as "an unconditional positive regard and dedication towards one single support". As a coach, this is the foundation that we stand on with and for every client. This is not easy and takes a lot of practice. The process of loving someone unconditionally starts with loving oneself unconditionally first. Self-awareness creates a judgement free understanding of why we have the behaviors we have, why we feel the way we do, and accepting ourselves --> increasing your knowledge of your own mind-space. This in turn creates a mindfulness towards your surroundings and others with an increased curiosity of "if these were my reasons for these behaviors, I wonder what their reasons are?". This form of inclusive and non-judgmental understanding of others creates more space in your mind for empathy. Empathy is a positive energy that results in positive action. This positive action has a feedback loop of learning and growing, and an added benefit of producing Oxytocin. Yes, another happy chemical produced by the pituitary gland, a pea-sized structure at the base of the brain, known as the "love hormone". Oxytocin's emotional responses contributes to relaxation, trust, and psychological stability.
Each one of these ways will work on their own but think about the power of combining them - the power of a finger vs. the power of a hand! You may have a list of your own that work for you. Your ability to increase your mind-space, i.e. your ability to utilize more of your brain, has endless positive outcomes. The target is to get to POSITIVE ACTION. Start producing the Happy Chemicals: Serotonin, Dopamine, Endorphins and Oxytocin… Start the journey to explore and grow!