Quadrant 1 Touchstones

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Each quadrant has four touchstones, which are areas of development

that all clients will need to have a minimum level of facility with in

order to move on to the next quadrant. These building blocks open

the door to deeper levels of insight. The touchstones in a particular

quadrant reflect the core learning that underlies the great variety of

tangible outcomes that are achieved in that quadrant. Together, the

touchstones in each quadrant serve as a foundation for the development

in the next quadrant. Quadrant 1 touchstones are introduced

as follows, including references to how these touchstones play

out in the case study:

1. Commit to change

2. Cultivate the ability to stay calm

3. Get clear on what matters most

4. Create a positive energy balance

1. Commit to change. Making significant personal and professional

changes is hard work. A client can’t just think about

doing things differently, she has to put in the effort to actually

make the changes. It isn’t always easy. Clients may have to feel

a sufficient level of pain to be willing to take the time and

energy needed to really look at how they are operating and

choose a new approach. Even after Jane signed up to work with

Amanda, she was still so caught up in the relentless rhythm of

her work that she found it difficult to find the time to talk with

her coach.Amanda had to make the point to Jane several times

that by taking time out to reflect on her situation, Jane was

empowering herself to work more effectively and efficiently.

Jane quickly realized that the changes she was making were significantly

improving the quality of her work and helping her

reduce some of the stress in her life. This outcome deepened

Jane’s commitment to continue coaching.

The commitment has to be personal because coaching is

personal. To realize the greatest benefit from coaching, clients

have to be willing to see the world from new perspectives, let

go of old habits, and interact with others in new ways. Jane

needed to personally feel value from coaching to commit

herself fully to the process.

2. Cultivate the ability to stay calm. Many people now live and

work at breakneck speed, with little time to stop for even a

moment. It is not uncommon for people to fuel their nonstop

lifestyles with adrenaline. They get this potent stimulant in

many forms, including caffeinated beverages, overscheduling,

underestimating time requirements for projects, driving too

fast—you name it. People are creative about how they keep

their systems pumped up so they can keep going and going. A

person who is in this kind of perpetual motion is not available

to make meaningful change and will probably not derive much

value from a coaching relationship. Clients have to be able to

calm down, at least periodically, in order to engage in the

personal reflection required for transformational coaching.

One of the first areas on which Amanda worked with Jane

was helping her to notice what habits contributed to her high

levels of stress. At Amanda’s urging, Jane reflected on the

choices she made every day that contributed to her feeling

overwhelmed. Among other things, Jane noted that she scheduled

herself into so many meetings that she did not leave any

time in her day to get her work done, she tended to say “yes”

to almost every request made of her, and she was consuming

a significant amount of caffeine during the day. Once she

became aware of this pattern and what it was costing her, she

realized that she needed to make some changes.

Amanda guided Jane to experiment with some different

tools and approaches that allowed Jane to calm down and find

her center, that quiet place within where she is tuned into what

is going on around her. Jane found that the combination of

taking a walk before work in the morning and some simple

breathing techniques she used when she felt her stress levels

escalating helped her be much calmer and respond to events

with more flexibility and patience. This was a huge change for

Jane, which allowed her to make better decisions, communicate

more clearly, and focus on important tasks.

3. Get clear on what matters most. Clients who work predominantly

in Quadrant 1 may have lost touch with or may need

to reevaluate what is important for them, both personally and

professionally. They may have become so overwhelmed with

their responsibilities that they just do not have the time to

reflect on their changing priorities or they may know what

matters most for them, but they are not sure how to realign

their activities to reflect their choices.

At this point, the coach is not discussing deeply held values

or life purpose. Those bigger holistic conversations will come

later when clients have sufficient access to their own insight to

discern their own inner guideposts. Initially, the client needs

to define what success will look like, both personally and professionally,

within a time horizon that is typically the length of

the expected coaching engagement. These time frames seem

tangible for most clients, and thus goals that are set within

those time frames will seem plausible. Occasionally, clients

enter coaching with a long-range goal established. In that case,

the coach will help the client define the steps that need to be

taken to achieve that goal in the time frame that is available.

The coach and client will need to spend some time establishing

what the client needs to deliver to be successful professionally.

This is particularly important for clients who have

recently been promoted and need to make some significant

shifts in their priorities. Even though coaching takes place in a

professional setting, there needs to be a conversation about

what is important to the client personally. The work in this first

quadrant involves making choices about how to use the precious

resources of time and personal energy. A clear articulation

of what is important is essential as a guide for making

these important decisions.

4. Create a positive energy balance. It is amazing how easily we

give away our time and energy. We say “yes” to commitments

because we think that we should do these things or we have to

without really thinking through whether the effort will be

worth the expected return. If we equated our personal energy

to money, many of us are in serious energy debt, which takes

the form of stress, exhaustion, and illness. In the same way that

we learn how to budget money to meet our needs,we also need

to learn to expend our energy on initiatives that add value. One

of the lessons of Quadrant 1 is accepting responsibility for

using time and energy well. Just like a financial balance sheet,

there are two sides to this equation. There is the energy creation

side, where clients focus on managing their lives so they

have energy to expend, and there is the expenditure side,where

clients make choices about what to invest their energy in to

create the greatest return for themselves and the companies for

which they work.

Jane was feeling overwhelmed as a result of being out of

balance energetically. Jane was pouring more time and energy

into her work than she had to give. As a result of working such

long hours, not taking care of herself, and not feeling like she

was accomplishing her goals, Jane was becoming increasingly

worn down. It was as if at the end of the day, she had less and

less energy left in her personal energy bank account. Most of

the things Jane enjoyed in her life or that contributed to her

well-being had been eliminated so that she could work longer

hours. Jane was not replenishing her energy supply, so she was

using adrenaline, in the form of caffeine, overscheduling, and

rushing around to make up the difference. Jane was living in

energy debt. One of the first areas Amanda focused on with

Jane was helping her to see this dynamic of being chronically

out of balance and how it was detrimental to Jane’s well-being

and her ability to meet her goals.

It is important to note that just like a bank account, one’s

personal energy balance will fluctuate. There are times when a

client may “borrow energy” to get a big project done or create

a healthy surplus by taking a vacation. The key is not to live in

perpetual energy debt. Just like financial debt, energy debt

reduces the choices that a client can make, erodes selfconfidence,

and can lead to serious problems in the client’s

professional and private life. It takes energy to make change.

Clients need to create a positive energy balance to derive significant

benefits from coaching.