How (not) to miss the elephant in the room

“NO. WAY!” I quite loudly stated, to myself, when I first watched this video about selective attention during my undergrad in psychology back in 2005.

It’s difficult not to spoil the experiment even with a subtle headline (I’ll share my first drafts at the end of this Nugget), so my invitation is to watch this video right now before you read on, and really commit to engaging in the task.

Go on, I’ll wait…

Whether you were suprised or not at the end, try this one next…

Why is this an important warning to coaches and supervisors?

Because I see a lot of my students focus too hard on paying attention through a particular psychological lens. And with best intentions. They’ve got excited about spotting strengths, or psychodynamics, thinking traps, or limiting beliefs.

But what are you missing when you’re listening through a particular lens?

Well, possibly a big fucking gorilla doing a little dance in front of your very eyes, or the infamous elephant in the room.

This, for me, is a wonderful illustration of the difference between focus and presence.

Focus can be tremendously helpful. But it’s limiting your view by definition.

That’s why it’s important to “tune out” of focus every now and then and check whether there’s something you might be missing, something outside of “the zone”, on the periphery of awareness, that might just be the thing that’s most important to notice right now.

It’s this interplay between tuning in (focus) and tuning out (presence) that makes for masterful practice.

This is also why supervision is such an important aspect of professional coaching. Because we all have our blind spots, and an extra pair of fully present eyes can help you pay attention outside of the box.

As always, curious about your thoughts. If this resonated, make it swing! I’d love to hear from you.

With Love Yannick

PS: There’s more videos and resources here if you wanted to explore selective attention further. And my first drafts of the headline were “Did you spot the Gorilla?” and “What you are missing when you’re focusing too much”.

New Coaching Uncaged: Cognitive Behavioural Coaching with Dr. Rob Willson

For decades, a cognitive behavioural approach to therapy (CBT) absolutely dominated the world of psychology. If you couldn’t measure it, it wasn’t interesting to researchers, and so we’ve produced a humongous body of evidence for CBT techniques and interventions, which inevitably found its way into coaching.

CBT has much evolved since the early days of behaviourism, and several waves and countless subarms have developed over the years. So in this episode of Animas Centre for Coaching’s podcast Coaching Uncaged I dive into the roots, evolution and application of cognitive behavioural principles with one of the greats in the field, Dr. Rob Willson.

Some of the (AI-generated) takeaways are:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) combines behavioral and cognitive approaches to address mental health and optimize well-being.
  • The integration of behavior and cognition in CBT allows for a more comprehensive understanding of human experience.
  • The hot cross bun model, which includes cognition, emotion, physiology, and behavior, provides a framework for exploring the interconnectedness of these areas.
  • CBT is evidence-based and focuses on measurable outcomes, making it effective in addressing specific issues.
  • Coaches and therapists should collaborate with clients and consider their preferences and needs when applying CBT principles. Collaboration and curiosity are key principles in cognitive behavioral coaching.
  • Empower the client to find their own solutions and test out new thoughts and behaviors.
  • Balance expertise with allowing the client to take charge of the process.
  • Recognize when a client may need more specialized help and refer them accordingly.
  • Power dynamics in coaching and therapy can be managed by maintaining a collaborative and authentic approach.
  • Homework and experimentation are valuable tools in the coaching process.

As always, you can listen to the episode here or where you get your podcasts, or watch it on YouTube.