We all have one. A saboteur, lurking in the shadows.
When I first introduce the idea of the saboteur, I explain to clients that the saboteur is that part of them that is sabotaging themselves in some way. Perhaps through negative thinking or perspectives. Or maybe the saboteur appears in a pattern of behaviour. For example, I often work with high-achieving clients who have a Perfectionist Sabateur which causes them to that the cannot complete a job or task untill it is perfect. A perfectionist saboteur can actually stop people taking risks and trying new things because it can invoke a huge fear of faiture.
So in coaching, what I suggest to clients is that we try to bring their saboteur to life so we can 'shine a light' on it, challenge it and ulimately, see that this saboteur is not them. It's a part of you but it's not a life enchancing or helpful part.
This is important to know. When clients first start looking at the idea of the saboteur, many of them say 'Well, it is me. It's just what I know, it's just telling me the truth'. I usually give them an example from my own life. When I was thinking about becoming a coach, about 12 years ago, I was really excited about the idea and started to look into training courses. Then my saboteur piped up inside my head.
'Well, you can't be coach. Your flat is too small and far to messy to see clients in'
Oh I thought. What a shame. I can't be a coach.
That might have been that. Except fortunately I was seeing a coach at the time and when I told him about this, he got me to challenge this voice and push it out of the room. We then brainstormed some ways round what is in a fact a truth. Yes, I do live in a relatively small and messy flat. So it would be difficult to see clients there. But, once I pushed the saboteur out of the room, I came up with lots of solutions to this - two of which continue to serve me today. I see face-to-face clients in a practice room I hire and I coach clients from all over the world via Skype. What my saboteur made out to be a huge and unsurrmountable problem was in fact, nothing that couldn't be solved with abit of lateral thinking.
What does a saboteur look like? The different forms that my clients saboteurs have taken include:
- A small blue ball called 'The Blue Meanie' that sits on the client's shoulder, whispering mean things in his ear.
- A tall, witch clad only in black - it says little but fills the client with shame and dread.
- A jumping little demon that says to the client 'Oh go on, have some fun, don't worry about that werid thing called committment, you need to ENJOY life!'
- A dark, dark cloud that hangs over the client and it has a paralysing effect - she feels stuck and like she can never get anything done.
In my next reflection, I will explore how you can start to take charge and reduce the power that your saboteur has over you, your thoughts, beliefs and actions.