What’s the problem . . . really?

I’ve worked for physicians for more than 25 years . . . and if there’s one thing they’ve taught me, it’s that if you treat the symptoms of a problem, you’re not truly fixing it. That’s probably the only thing medicine and coaching has in common. A good coach will help you treat the CAUSE of the problem, not stick a Band Aid on the symptoms.

Take the example of a client who came to me to reduce stress with her former department. She recently transferred from one department to another and was still handling some of the projects from her old job. Her successor was making changes to programs that had been fairly successful for a decade. She felt happiness would come once she set up a plan to break away from the old department.

It would be easy for us to develop this plan: List projects with deadlines. Set a drop-dead transition date with her old boss. Craft a conversation with old boss, so boss she still has to work with doesn’t get ticked off. Done—right? No.

This plan did not get at the cause of her feelings. Her stress and unhappiness wasn’t about transitioning. Phrases that kept coming up as we spoke: I created it. Someone is in my old role. The cause was about something entirely different. Everything pointed to her sense of loss in leaving a job and projects she successfully created over a decade. She felt replaced.

When I made that observation, she agreed this was exactly what was bothering her. She was sad to watch someone else in her old role. Her new plan was to acknowledge this sense of “loss”, let it go, and focus on the positive choice she made to begin a new career. She loved the new job and was excited about it. She had spent years getting a masters degree to switch career paths.

She planned to meet with her former boss to set up an exit strategy, focusing on transitioning and helping because she loved the old department and respected the decade working together with her old team. She succeeded!

Are you willing to be honest with yourself and address the causes of your problems rather than sticking a Band Aid on the symptoms?

Are you willing to access more joy and abundance in your career?

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