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6 Quick Steps to Coaching the Butterfly Effect

What’s meant here by coaching the Butterfly Effect is coaching someone to think through the various options they have in front of them and consider where each may lead – sort of like chess; you as the coach or leader are helping them to think several moves ahead.

This is actually quite simple to do, but challenging to stay focused. The tendency is to allow one option to take over the conversation, while you chase your client, and the option, down the rabbit hole to see how far it goes – likely to the exclusion of the other possibilities.

So here are 6 quick steps to stay on track:

State the Situation Clearly
Ultimately, you’re going to be deciding which choices best address the current situation, so you need to make sure you’re starting point is clearly known and stated.

State the Desired Outcome
Now that you know where you are, you need to know where you’re going. This actually becomes very important when the person you’re coaching might have a button pressed or an emotional reaction to their situation. Focusing on the desired outcomes moves them away from what they're experiencing and towards what they really want, thus, they're more likely to focus on beneficial choices, as opposed to just reacting.

List a Minimum of 3 Possible Paths Forward
The first idea that usually comes out is the default “go to” option. This may or may not be working for them; it’s typically just their gut reaction. Having only two options essentially gives you only a “this way or that way” option, which can still be limiting. Brainstorm at least 3 options (definitely no more than 5 are needed) and see which one or which combination of them might be best, leading us to the Butterfly Effect stage.

Weigh Each Option with 5 Follow Up ‘And then what’s?’
For each option labeled, you don’t need to determine how these choices will impact every year of their lives from this point forward. Focus just on thinking through a few steps at a time. One way to do that is asking the person to talk about what it might look like to take this path, what their next steps would be, and continue asking, “and then what might reasonably occur?” or “and then what might that lead to?” up to a maximum of 5 times. You can then ask them about the pros and cons of that scenario as they think it through. This does two things:

1- it gets them to weigh their options in terms of what best leads to the result they’re after; and
2- it gets them to look at the situation in a larger context, with more information and perspectives (which increases objectivity to help make the best choice)

This is where it’s key to not chase the rabbit down the hole. Give each option its 5 minutes (or 5 follow ups) and move on to the next option. Remember, the goal is to review each option and the likelihood that one of them will lead to the desired outcome.  So if you get mired in details, or the situation doesn’t seem to be moving forward, remind yourself and the person you’re coaching of the goal, and make sure moving forward is their intention!

State the Likely Choice and Ask for Commitment Level
Simply have them state the choice they want to pursue and ask them how committed they are to taking this path. If they're anything less than 100% committed, ask them what would increase their commitment.

Close Any Remaining Gaps to Boost Commitment to Moving Forward
For any gaps, coach them to come up with strategies to boost their commitment level to the point they're ready to give everything they can to their intended direction, which best sets them up for success. This isn’t to say they'll be 100% confident, completely fearless, or without doubt; it just means that they have thought through their options and know that this is the best path to pursue at this time, AND that putting themselves fully into taking that path best sets them up to achieve their desired outcomes.

Live on Fire!

D. Luke Iorio, CPC, PCC, ELI-MP
President & CEO
Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (iPEC)

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