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In one of our leadership coaching classes, we had a fascinating discussion about getting to the root of a client’s challenge.

I had to laugh, because that same day, I joined my husband in digging a trench in our backyard so that we could lay an electrical line out to the fence (I wanted to string twinkly happy lights around the perimeter of our garden)! A few minutes into the job, I struck a nasty root that was in the way. I love the way that life provides us with metaphoric reminders of the stuff we’re learning.

How to Get to the Root

As coaches, we’re proponents of asking curious, compassionate, open-ended questions. Those questions often start with “What.”

With a hat tip to Michael Bungay Stanier in his book, The Coaching Habit, try repeating this question: “What’s the real challenge here for you?”

Then repeat that question several more times: “And what’s the real challenge under that?” “And the challenge behind that?” “And the challenge with that is…?”

After a few “real-challenge” questions, you’ll likely get to the essence of what really needs to be addressed. Often, that is some form of cognitive dissonance, or a fear of disappointing others, or a limiting belief about ourselves.

If we don’t get to the root, we either fix the wrong thing, or get a temporary solution, or end up creating more problems. All because there’s a root beneath the surface that hasn’t been uncovered.

Once we do get to the root, we can lay new wiring that will support whatever it is we want to create. Like the beautiful life each of us is meant to live.

Light and Love,