Giant Steps

When I was maybe 7 or 8 we used to play a street game called “Giant Steps.”  The leader would tell a player he or she could come closer and when they touched, the leader would chase them back to the start line.  If they got there first, they became the leader, otherwise the leader stayed the same. 

The leader would say, “You may take 3 giant steps,” or “you may take 5 baby steps,” or you may take 4 umbrella steps,” etc.  My point is that you were not allowed to actually take the steps until you said, “May I?” and the leader said, “yes.”

The key element in being able to move forward was permission.

It is still that way.  You cannot engage effectively with another person without permission.  It is another one of the key tips about coaching.  First permission, then whatever else.

And people are enormously generous in giving permission.  The simple request, “is it all right if I tell you something?” shifts the context of the conversation, actually changing the ears of the other person.  Now, if what you want to say feels especially awkward or sensitive to you, go for more permission.  “This may be sensitive; is it still okay?”  Or “I don’t want you to hear this the wrong way, is it still okay?”

Again, people are generous.  It shifts the interaction from intrusiveness to partnership. 

Once you have permission, you can say anything – without fear of reprisal.  After all, you have been invited in.There is another aspect of permission that also has tremendous value.  When you are nervous or feel silly or stupid or inappropriate, give yourself permission – “I feel really stupid saying this, but ….,” or “I’m awfully nervous about this, …”

The coaching model I use goes as follows:  First permission, then ask a question, then clarify the answer… This frequently leads to the client having an insight.  This, in turn, results in a possible action, which, when repeated, leads to new habits and, ultimately to desired results.

My website is www.michaellipp.com

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