A Favorite Thing: Co-presenting with brilliant colleagues to an audience of brilliant career coaches. I just got to do that this week at the MBA Career Services Council Conference in Washington, D.C. with my Georgetown University colleagues Patty Buchek and Laura Kapelski. They shared their formula that has yielded an impressive 100% internship placement for 1st year MBAs at the McDonough School of Business.
My contribution to the presentation was how coaching supports these future leaders during an academic program that is rigorous and rich. One of the points I shared was the technique of “Holding the Vision.” My husband likes to say:
“Hold their vision or their vision will be on hold.”
For example, you’ve probably downloaded a video online at some point. On occasion, that download sputters, falters, or fails. At which point, your patience as a viewer diminishes, the delay causes frustration, and, you get distracted or quit.
The same can happen when our job seekers encounter delays, frustrations, and distractions in their search. It’s easy to lose sight of why they started after their goal in the first place.
Why hold the vision?
An interesting thing happens in our brains when we look to the future. The various parts of the brain that are responsible for the visioning task are not associated with the area responsible for the “emotional hijackings” we are familiar with—that fight-flight-freeze response we experience when we encounter stress and consequently can’t think clearly.
In addition, “holding the vision”-type questions can cause us to see a bigger picture than our current stress-filled circumstances. A neuroscience study by Garland et al. revealed that when perspective is broadened, the positive emotions that are created can counter downward spirals of negativity. Translate: broaden your perspective to counter a setback.
How do you hold the vision?
As a coach, you can:
- Ask reminder questions, such as: “Take a breath … exhale … repeat … now go back to your raison d’etre – your reason for being here (whether MBA school, on a quest to get a new job, wanting to earn a promotion, etc.) in the first place! What was the dream/goal?”
- Ask futuring questions, whether far in the future or even a few hours/days in the future: “I hear that things are busy/crazy right now … if you look beyond today at who you are as a successful [executive] in the years to come, what do you notice?” Or “As you go into that [interview, networking meeting], what do you want them to remember about you [or, what are the value-adds you want them to know about your candidacy]?”
- Ask broadening questions: “So that’s one perspective. What’s another?” Or “I hear you muscling through your tasks, hyper-focusing on getting it all done. And to a degree, that’s good. On the other hand, it sounds like it’s become consuming rather than productive, and that it’s causing tension. What would bring some balance to things right now?”
- Ask ramp-up questions: “If you used your key strength of ___________ 10% more, how would that change the game?”
How about you? What are your favorite questions or techniques to hold the vision? There are many!