In the year 1972 a new book entitled “Limits to Growth” appeared in the bookstores. At the time, this book aroused a great deal of interest. It focused on what happens when exponential growth meets finite resources. Its main thesis was that economic growth can’t be unlimited because it is fuelled by limited resources.
A coach, and anyone who works closely with people, knows what it feels like to run out of resources. A client may come to you for help with a certain problem they are having, or to improve their chances of attaining something they want, and soon enough you will discover where their limits lie.
Limits manifest themselves in a number of familiar patterns. Here are just a few of them:
- the client seems to understand what they should do, but there’s no follow-through
- the client makes excuses about why they didn’t do very much
- the client expects you to fix their problems for them
- the client is so successful they don’t want to take advice and can’t see their weaknesses
Patterns such as these are not really the problem itself, but are symptoms of an even deeper problem. It can be very frustrating working with people who reach their limits. Many coaches get lost at this point and don’t know how to move the person beyond this impasse. When this happens, the coach is often blamed for being ineffective.
There is a way to move people beyond their limits. It involves the nurture and growth of their change fitness resources. Unless you know how to develop these resources, the old limits will continue to manifest in different ways and both the coachee and the coach will get stuck.
Dr Steve Barlow is a change consultant at The Change Gym.