Defying Challenging Times – through Coaching

Once a farmer came to Buddha and complained that his life was miserable. He was plagued by many problems like his crops didn’t yield, his family didn’t respect him, the moneylenders treated him unfairly etc.

Breaking his meditation Buddha looked at the farmer and expressed his inability to help the farmer. The farmer got wild and said, “What good are you if you cannot solve my problems?”. Instead of getting agitated, Buddha calmly said, “Every person in this world has many problems and it is beyond my capability to help them with all of those. However, there is one problem which I can help you out with. This problem will help you solve all the other problems.”

The farmer felt baffled and got a bit curious. He asked the Buddha what that problem was which could solve the others. Buddha slowly said, “That problem is the thought that you want to get rid of all the other problems. If you understand that life is never without problems, it won’t look so bad.”

Isn’t that true?

Life continues to hurl challenges at us. It bogs us down, makes us feel frustrated and helpless, undermines our sense of self-worth and leads us to inaction.

Since the beginning of last year, it has been extremely challenging for us. The pandemic has robbed many of their livelihood, relationships, dreams etc. leading to a sense of instability and despair. However, helplessness and growth do not reside together. 

So, how do we not only get past these feelings but also defy them?

Coaching might be the way.

Coaching acts as a catalyst and makes it easier for you to make your way. It focuses you to use your skills, insights and expertise to accomplish your goals and act successfully. By asking the right questions and challenging you to take a fresh look at the situation, the coach helps you to see the situation in ways you have never approached before.

Coaches play a crucial role in co-creating the future you desire. It is all about your aspirations and the actions that lead up to that place. Considering that coaches help in taking new self-directed actions towards agreed-upon results, it cultivates a sense of agency and personal responsibility in you that leaves you feeling empowered about your life.

Albert Bandura, author of the pioneering paper Toward a Psychology of Human Agency (2006), states that one of the four functions through which human agency is exercised is ‘intentionality’ – people form intentions that include action plans and strategies for realizing them. Coaching helps surface those and create a plan with concrete steps. By focusing on what is within their locus of control, you are less likely to deflect accountability, blame external variables and circumstances, and activate your inner saboteurs which hinder your success.       

In all likelihood, you might be able to upend the challenge you are facing into an opportunity. It could open you to change, examine your priorities, choose the path you would like to take, create a new meaning of it, redefine progress and make you start taking small steps in the desired direction.

So, the age-old saying ‘when the going gets tough, the tough get going is a conjecture presented as an authoritative lesson in pop psychology but not sound advice rooted in science-backed by research. 

Like every year, the entire month of May was dedicated to Mental Health Awareness to highlight the importance of mental wellness and this has gained more relevance this year considering the hardships that the pandemic has inflicted upon us. Coincidentally, it was also The International Coaching Week from May 17 to 23 and the theme for this year pertinently was ‘Defying Challenging Times’. It is a global celebration that educates people about the value of working with a professional coach and acknowledges the results and progress made through the coaching process.

So, when life is giving you lemons and if you want to make lemonade, get a coach and other forms of professional support.

Author – Abhijit Bhattacharya

Abhijit is a Career Coach with a global financial services organization. He has spent more than a decade in talent and leadership development.


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