Cultivating a Practice: Perspective Shifts and ADHD

Episode 116

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Cam and Shelly step into their first deep dive into the greater cultivating a practice theme with an exploration of perspective work, a core element of ADHD coaching. When one thinks of cultivating a practice one can think of an action or a strategy and how to step into a task or behavior. With ADHD it is also important to develop a practice or habit of stepping back from a situation or experience. 

Stepping back is a reflective practice and allows us to view how we are looking at a dilemma or a situation. How we are looking at a situation is as important if not more important than the actual situation. Are you looking at something from a One Down perspective? A place of shame or fear? What is it to view it as an equal? To view it from a core value?

This is perspective work and perspectives matter because they are ultimately tied to motivation and seeing oneself in the picture. Shelly shares one of her first coaching sessions where she experienced a client’s perspective shift around time. Perspective shifts are about awareness in a different way and Shelly as her younger coach was amazed at how the client shifted her thinking around a recurring dilemma which then motivated her to address the problem proactively. Shelly pulls in our pause, disrupt, pivot process and how it can help with perspective shifts and also suggests listeners to focus in one small area of their lives with their practice here.

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Episode Transcript:

Shelly: Hi, and this is translating ADHD. Quick reminder, before we get started that we are accepting applications for our next coaching group. The topic is project X and this group begins Wednesday, April 13th at 8:30 PM Eastern. You can find all of the details and the application on the website, translatingadhd.com.

Click on the group coaching tab. This week, Cam, we’re diving into something that is really difficult for newer coaches to grasp. This was a mystery to me and my baby days as a coach and something that’s really hard for our clients to grasp when they’re new to the coaching process. And that’s a pretty big statement because you’ve said this before, and I agree with you that coaching work is this and what it is, is perspective work.

Over the next two episodes, we’re going to dive into what Cam and I mean by perspective work, why we talk about perspectives so often. And our hope is that after hearing these two episodes that you can start to attune that critical ear. And as you listen to other episodes, you’ll hear perspective, work all over them. Almost any time we’re talking about a client or ourselves, there’s some amount of perspective work happening in the bigger coaching picture.

Cam: And it stays with our theme around. practice. The perspective work is a practice. And we talked about this last week. Shelly, about our clients are coming. They want to engage more and step in and step up. Step through perspective. Work is noticing and pausing and maybe taking a step back. So, yeah, I love this, that we’re starting here because it distinguishes big C coaching from other coaching or other conversations.

Right? How we look at the situation, and how it informs our behavior or actions, right. That our belief system is tethered to our behaviors and vice. let’s jump in with that, first example. 

Shelly: So listeners sidebar, if you could have just seen the blank, look that washed over a Cam’s face as he realized that that’s not the way he wanted it to say that. And that was super unclear. It was fantastic. And also someday, maybe we’re going to release outtakes because we’ve got so many, much more funny than that moments that have happened that you all never get to hear, but what can means by that first example, which you all have no idea what that was, is. The very first time I evoked a perspective shift and a coaching clients, and I was a baby baby coach in my very first coaching course, the course I was taking was designed for working professional organizers. And so one of the things that was strongly encourage was part of our homework was to ask at least one of our organizing clients, if we could do some coaching just a little 15 minutes before or after the session, and by the way, Representing exactly where we are in our learning process as coaches.

That’s an important sidebar for any of you looking to hire a coach, working with a newer coach can be a great experience. Always look for a coach who accurately represents where they are. Who’s happy to state where they are on the journey. So I had this great club. Who I’d been with for a little over a year.

And I thought, surely she’ll be gained for this. She’ll let me do this right in the name of getting my homework done, because that’s the only reason I, did it the first place. I really did not want to do this. So this client self-employed and over the course of a year, We did amazing organizing work together.

Now, I don’t know whether or not she had ADHD because my understanding of ADHD at that period of time was not such that I could say one way or another. I do know that her problem was not so much with completing. It was with completing the right things and completing things more efficient. She had a very roundabout scattered way of getting to what she needed to do.

It was a very reactive way of being, she wanted to be more proactive. She was a real estate agent. She wanted to understand more clearly where her deals were and what the next step was for everything she had going on, rather than waiting for a phone call or an email to prompt her to do the next thing.

So we did amazing work and the course of a year and reorganize. Her entire home office established systems for her closed clients, for paperwork retention purposes, and really, really had her clicking. So. Great candidate in this client for solving things through organization.

Meaning when it came to that kind of stuff, she didn’t have a lot of emotional, big signals. So approaching with a systems approach worked really well for her. However, in this same time period, the one area in which we never made traction was time management. And we tried from an organizing perspective to get some headway there.

We tried calendaring, we tried some planner systems. We tried looking at her slate of responsibilities and making some decisions about what she might be able to let go of or amend. But we never got far. If we established a system by the time I saw her the next week, she wasn’t using it. If we established a rule that she was going to say no more, it didn’t happen.

If we talked about setting some boundaries around a role or responsibility, those boundaries got crossed every time. And just for the context here, this is not just relative to her job. She also volunteered for a number of animal rescue organizations. And is the person that would take on a leadership role and all that entails without stopping and putting herself in the picture.

Also the person that would drop everything to go pick up an animal in need. So lots and lots of boundary crossing, because she was so passionate about this cause and is so passionate about this. Cause I would assume still to this day, passion like that does not just go away. I asked her if we can do a little coaching at the end of our organizing session.

And so in our last 15 minutes, we actually moved to her kitchen. That was her choice. Let’s get out of my office, none of our organizing workspace and sit in here. And she decides that she wants to talk about time. Now I could not tell you for the life of me, what the content of this actual coaching conversation was.

This was 12 years ago. But what I can tell you is how it ended. And that is with my client shooting up out of her chair and saying, oh my gosh, I have to say no more. And I’ve got to start setting some boundaries. I’m going to go write that down. And she walked into her office, grabbed a bread, dry erase marker.

And in huge letters on her whiteboard wrote say no more and underlined it about seven times now. I knew that’s what she needed to do before we entered this coaching conversation. And in fact, I had told her That exact thing numerous times in the course of our organizing work together. So what happened here that all of the sudden, there’s this awareness in a different way, there’s knowing that wasn’t there before.

This connecting to something that she’d been told a thousand times before, because I was surely not the only person in her life telling her this, that now she was ready to take some action to let this start impacting her decisions. And the answer is she had a perspective shift.

Cam: I love what you said there with respect to, again, awareness in a different way, right. Coming back to this idea of cultivating a practice. And so often I think when we think about practice, we think about actions or behaviors or what we’re doing and in coach. It really starts with looking at how we look at a situation, right?

Distinguishing the work that we’re doing with her as an organizer around time and systems and You knew, but she didn’t know. And this is this partnership piece, this empowering piece that when we have that office. Then the motivation is intrinsic and builds.

Shelly: I just want to throw in an important sidebar here and say in that case, I did know my instinct as an organizer was right, but just as often as where I think a coaching conversation might be going, what my instinct or gut or experience says just as often, I’ve learned that it is equally possible. I will be right. Or I will be completely off the mark there.

Cam: it was actually in that. Of your practicing, not knowing that created the space for her to explore that. Right. And yes, this is a actual, skillset of coaching to not assume, right. To not know, to not have that prescriptive approach. Shelly, as you spoken so often,

Shelly: Uh, to not coach to an outcome. And in this case, I was so busy just trying to do the coaching the way I had been taught. That I couldn’t coach her to an outcome, even though that’s a pitfall, I might’ve fallen into along the way from there. My very first attempt at coaching, someone who was not a class participant with me to where I am now.

Cam: And not only she had a perspective shift, but you had a perspective shift. And that’s by design, right? Because I was one of the trainers in that class and we kind of do that, nudge, move to nudge you into that coaching dynamic. So you can experience it because coaching is not something you can just teach out of a book, you have to experience it.

Right. So she had her experience. You had yours. I’d like to go back to, you didn’t know the content of that conversation, but you remember the shift in her and that standing up and walking into the other room, but what do you think it was that allowed her to make that move? What do you think was at play there for her to have that perspective?

Shelly: Hmm, that’s a good question. I think that there was a real openness to the coaching process itself. Or an openness to that conversation. Meaning she was game, she engaged with me with curiosity, and this is a woman, very fast brain. If she does have ADHD, always on the go, always moving, always got a thousand things going on at once.

So just pausing and being in curiosity with me was huge.

Number two back to what we just said unknowingly at the time, my coaching practice today, detaching from outcome is one of my primary tenants. clients ask me, do you know where this is going? Or do you have any thoughts? I tell them, no, I have no idea.

And I’m very comfortable in that it don’t coach to outcome because I’ve learned that I can’t predict those outcomes and I’m comfortable with that. Didn’t have that back then, but just by virtue of the circumstances and the fact that I was trying to really practice the coaching as taught, I was not coaching her to an outcome.

I was not letting my beliefs. About what she needed inform what I was doing. I was just letting her have her experience and talk about her experience and seeing where that went for her without attachment to where it went for her. So funny that I did that in that very first coaching session, because I think as a matter of practice, that’s one of the hardest things for newer coaches to access regularly, certainly was.

Cam: Right. So sort of like listeners are out there thinking, you know, how do you bring a practice to perspective work? And you’re sharing the nuts and bolts here, right? For your client. It was a practice of curiosity. Right leading with curiosity last week, we talked about the arena, right? The stage of being on the stage.

And before that conversation, your client was on the stage in her dilemma with time. And in that conversation with curiosity, to get some distance, to step back and look at it from a different vantage point, right. From a seat in the theater and you. Had the practice of detachment, right? Detaching from outcome, modeling that for her and amazing stuff can happen.

Shelly: Cam, I really like our pause disrupt pivot. When we talk about cultivating a practice of perspective work, because that pause is about being able to pause with curiosity. Catching yourself in or after an unwanted behavior and unwanted patterns, something that’s not working for you and being able to step back and be curious about it and not just once.

So this example is a, one-off a one-off in one session we got there, but for example, Hardy email. Also perspective work. We had to get to the limiting perspective that was messing with my client’s ability to manage her email. That was three or four sessions and the bigger perspective work, which we’re going to talk about next week.

That’s the journey. So it’s not about curiosity once and Ooh, am I going to get that? Aha. It’s about continuing to get to that place of curiosity and cultivating that practice. I say this exhaustively in our coaching groups, I say it pretty often on the podcast too, but I’m going to say it again. The pause is the absolute most important. Because if you’re able to pause and even just notice I’m here, I’m in Hoth, I’m in the valley, I’m in this behavior pattern. That’s not serving me. I’m in this behavior pattern that doesn’t serve me, or I’m noticing that I repeated a behavior pattern earlier that doesn’t serve me.

Just being able to pause and step back and orient is already having a new experience and it’s creating the opening for this curiosity, for this awareness work for if it’s what’s required here, because every dilemma doesn’t require perspective work for doing some perspective, work, getting clearer on what this is or isn’t for you.

And that’s the important piece. That’s where the opening for change exists when we’re able to pause and step back and be curious, even if it takes a while to figure out what it is or what the path forward is, or what’s going to work. Being able to pause is such a unique experience for ADHD brains. Cam before the episode, we both said, ah, my brain exhausts me sometimes.

Right? Like it’s just go, go, go, go, go. Pausing is not natural to us. Being present in this moment is not natural to us. If you can cultivate this practice, just pausing and getting curious, anything else as possible, but you also have to have those moments of. Noticing of change of ah-has of perspective shifts to anchor back to in order to keep cultivating that practice.

Meaning if we just tell you to be curious and you’re not getting anywhere, you’re spinning your wheels, you’re eventually going to throw your hands up in the air and say, thank you, cam and Shelly, but no, thank you. Right? It’s both. It’s having. This incremental progress in little ways, this was incremental progress for this client.

It’s not like her time management challenges dissolved overnight, but we had something to do to anchor to, because now she was putting herself in the picture of her time management challenges. And she was also seeing her time management challenges for what they really want. Which was a problem of overcommitment and not for what she was previously trying to solve them from, which was if I’m just organized enough or if my calendar is just right, I will have enough time. She was able to see time as a finite resource. And she was also able to put herself in the picture and that enabled further good work both on the coaching side and on the systems organizing functional side to get her somewhere new with time management.

Cam: So well said there, as you were saying that I just imagined her kind of stepping back and walking around this whole picture. And as you said, seen herself in the picture. So often when we are faced with a dilemma, a challenge, it’s a very human thing to remove ourselves from the picture, because our focus, actually, again, we, tighten up and get laser-focused and are looking so hard at this dilemma that we remove ourselves.

We don’t see ourselves. Right. That part of this was her scene, how she fit into this dilemma, her relationship with time, she had to really consider that what is my relationship to time and listeners, you can do the same thing too, is to soften that focus a bit to take a step back, pause and Shelly. I so appreciate you saying that when we have ADHD, That pause is doubly triply, just so much more difficult to do.

The ADHD brain is wired not to pause, but if we can take a breath and step back to do it in ways that get our attention, whether it’s something that’s meaningful to us in our body, right. A breath to step back, be curious. And consider, the way that I’m approaching this? Is this in my best interest? Am I seeing myself in the picture here as I’m doing it? start asking a couple of these curious questions, not focused on some specific outcome or entrenched in some negative negative one down belief.

Shelly: Every client is different, but if a client is coachable and willing to engage in this act of curiosity with me are willing to try, because sometimes we don’t get there over time. There is a pretty predictable course of what will change for them. This pause and awareness work. Doesn’t start by catching yourself in the moment. So don’t worry if you can’t do that now don’t worry. If it’s a week later before you go, oh, I did that thing. Why did I do it that way? Because for most of my clients, that’s where we start to that hour a week in coaching is the very first place that they start to learn to be curious.

And they have Maya support to help them learn how to examine a situation with curiosity. And then. They start bringing that into their week, still in retrospect, but there’s this behavior and this pause and noticing, and curiosity and awareness work that they’re doing between our sessions. So now they’re coming back with a whole story. They don’t need me to prompt them necessarily. We need, let’s get curious about that.

They’re recognizing Ooh. This is something I’m curious about, and they’re starting to learn to examine it from that place. And then we start to have more consistency with being able to pause before or during a behavior and practicing the curiosity there. And by the way, this isn’t a linear process of first you do Pretty far in retrospect, then you do it near time. In retrospect, then you do it in the critical moments it’s incremental. So a client may be getting really good at pausing before one behavior that we’ve coached about that they’re trying to change. See, also my client and Loki, he is really good at pausing before low-key can come in. And he’s got a practice. They’re not just a practice around changing his behavior relative to that one thing that he wanted to do differently, but a practice of pausing. So guess what we get to the next thing, we still have to cultivate that practice of pausing before during the behavior so that he can change.

You can disrupt and pivot, but he has some evidence that demonstrates, Hey, this works. When I’m able to do this, that pause might need to look different. It might not be low-key. And that language that helps me pause here, but the work becomes more about what’s going to help create the pause. What is it here?

And less about how do you pause or why is pausing important? He’s got that part. So pick a thing, pick a little bitty thing. Something really specific. And if you go back and listen to that episode where my client talks about Loki, it was a behavior that happens in a very specific time in place. My client is a field researcher who wanted to record his data while he was onsite because he waited until he got home and had multiple sites of data to record.

It was always a bad experience. He never felt like doing it, and he always regretted not doing it onsite. Very specific time and place, very specific behavior. He wanted to disrupt, pick something like that and start with reflecting after however far after once you’ve pick your things. Start with the last time it happened.

See if you can’t find something that you might notice the next time it happens to catch it a little sooner. And just keep doing that. It can be so frustrating. Our add one solutions to everything. Now it’s so hard to stay on one tiny thing. This is the hardest part of coaching for my clients is when they’re new enough that we’re still trying to cultivate that first practice of pause, disrupt pivot so that they then know the power of that practice.

So stay with it, stay with one little bitty baby thing. you’re able to cultivate that practice until you’re able to find the limiting perspective, do your work with it, and eventually pause in the critical moment and have a different experience, because it’s about more than that one tiny behavior that you’ve changed.

It’s about now, knowing what this practice looks like and feels like for you. And being able to apply it to the next little thing and the next one and the one after that, and the coolest thing happens over a longer period of time with coaching clients. And we’re going to dive into this next week, but there is a moment.

And again, what I can’t predict, but there is always a moment. With a longer term client for whom we’ve done this over and over again, that all of those little incremental changes suddenly start to come together and form a bigger picture. So it’s not going to stay incremental forever, but it necessarily has to be incremental at first.

So one more time. Can’t emphasize enough. One tiny thing. And stick with it. Stick with it. Even though there are a hundred other tiny things that you also want to create, change around, commit to that one, and really work on cultivating this practice of being curious, noticing your perspectives. Finding what it is that you might need to be able to notice that behavior in the moment, be it language like Loki, be it a metaphor, be it a mantra.

It’s something else entirely. I had a client for whom picking up a candle and smelling it was her place to create a pause disrupt moment. Not because the candle smelled good, but because. It was funny to her because she had unconsciously one day at her desk picked up that candle because it did smell good and was just standing there holding it in this office full of hundreds of people, holding it to her face, smelling it while she was working, she recalled back to that humor.

And so now connecting to that humor by way of picking up that candle and smelling it is a pause mechanism for her around a specific. Don’t attach to an outcome here. One tiny thing don’t attach to an outcome. Just keep at it. Keep going back to the well of curiosity.

Cam: As I’m listening to you, noticing that this is. What is happening in our agency class, that our participants are getting super clear on a specific area of practice to create agency. And really has a lot to do with first that pause and perspective shift, right. Kind of lining up that intention. So I so appreciate that and a great place for our listeners to focus this.

Shelly: Thanks, Cam. So if you like what we’re doing here on the show, three big ways you can help us out, you know them already, but we appreciate it. If whichever one is accessible to you, if any, if you’re willing to take a moment to pause and see it through to action. First is don’t keep us a secret. Share us on social, share us with other neurodivergents in your life.

If you have ADHD support groups at work or in other places in your life online communities share us there. Number to leave a rating, a review, wherever you listen, your reviews, help other people find the show and let other people know how we stand apart in boys. Since I started saying that stand apart piece, you all have latched onto that because that’s now flight.

You’re writing in your reviews and holy cow, is it so affirming for cam and I to read those reviews? And know that our good work here in our impact here reaches so far beyond the relatively few listeners that we actually have the privilege to interact with. So, awesome. Number three, as you can support the show financially by becoming a patron, visit the website, translating adhd.com. Click on the Patreon link in the upper right-hand corner. And for $5 a month, you gain access to our discord community, where our listeners are working together to do their own understand, own, and translate work, and you help cam, and I cover the costs of running this show.

Thanks to all of you who are already patrons. Cam and I were able to, once again, just now, up our level of support around the podcast, delegate some more tasks, engage our assistant more meaningfully, and that is a tremendous help to us because doing the show part of the show is rewarding and fun for us.

We see no end in sight. And being able to focus our attention on that part and have support to get the other more functional pieces done is incredible and a big boon to our ability to show up every week with creativity and curiosity leading the way. So until next week, I’m Shelly and this was the translating ADHD podcast. Thanks for listening.

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Episode 116