In this episode of Translating ADHD Season 2, Episode 2, hosts Ash and Cam discuss the concept of “journey thinking.” They emphasize the importance of journey thinking in the coaching process for both clients and coaches. Journey thinking involves focusing on the process rather than fixating on a specific destination or outcome. They use metaphors like standing on stepping stones in a foggy pond and unraveling a sweater to illustrate this mindset.

The hosts also mention the challenges of detaching from outcomes and share insights on how both clients and coaches can develop curiosity and navigate the coaching process effectively. They highlight the value of the show’s Discord community in promoting journey thinking among listeners.

Episode links + resources:

For more of the Translating ADHD podcast:

Episode Transcript:

[00:00:00] Ash: Hi, I’m Ash.

[00:00:03] Cam: And I’m Cam.

[00:00:05] Ash: And this is Translating ADHD. Cam, I’m super excited to revisit this topic that I think you said we talked about way back in episode nine of season one. I honestly think that our understanding of this topic has grown and evolved since that episode, especially as it relates to the coaching process, both for our clients and for us as coaches.

So you want to tell our listeners what we’re going to be diving into today? 

[00:00:40] Cam: Sure. Ash, you know, it’s just out of last week when we talked about the reboot and you started talking about, Hey, this is what I want to talk about next week is this idea of journey thinking. And journey thinking is, was, as you said, episode nine, way back in, gosh, we’re talking about early 2020.

[00:01:01] Cam: Wow. We’ve been at this a while. Huh? We’ve been at it a while. Absolutely. And how journey thinking is so important. I love what we were talking about just before pushing the record today of how it matters for our clients in solving their ADHD dilemmas and moving forward in being successful in a coaching engagement.

But it’s also important for how coaching is a partnership. And I love how we’re gonna, again, reveal the curtain a little bit more on the coaching process with the idea of If you have a sense of what’s going on, the coaching process is like a roadmap or a rubric, if you will, to kind of orient to how to move forward.

The other thing you talked about was how our clients show up. I think that when they show up to coaching, things are not going great. I rarely have a client come to me wanting to coach, wanting to engage in this process to partner. When things are awesome, we don’t seek out help or resources when things are good, our clients are coming to us because they’re often stuck.

[00:02:09] Cam: And the term we used was, they’re bumping up against change, right? They need to make a change. They recognize they need to make a change and they’re bumping up against something. And they know that part of that dilemma is theirs. Yeah. So our clients are coming to the sort of one down place, stuck place, and might be thinking the journey thinking is the farthest from their mind. Journey thinking what is it? And how can this possibly help me in this dilemma that I’m facing?

[00:02:39] Ash: Cam, before we dive more into journey thinking, I’d like to start by sharing the metaphor that I’ve shared before on this podcast, and that I share with all of my clients about journey thinking. And that is this. Imagine that you’re standing on a stepping stone on a foggy pond. There are stepping stones in all directions, but the fog is so dense and thick That you can hardly see the stone that you’re on, much less where another stone might be.

[00:03:10] Ash: Destination thinking would be hopping in the water, getting all wet, and just flailing towards shore no matter the cost. Journey thinking is about clearing the fog a little bit to reveal the next stepping stone. And the magic in that is that oftentimes the stepping stone that is revealed is something that you might have missed entirely if you were fixated on a destination because you would just jump in the water and blow right past it.

[00:03:45] Ash: So journey thinking and curiosity go hand in hand. It’s about not just revealing the next stepping stone, but then getting curious about that stepping stone. Do I want to step onto it? And if I have stepped onto it now, what threads might I be pulling? So we talk a lot on this podcast about detaching from the outcome.

[00:04:10] Ash: And that is important for both clients and coach, and that’s at the heart of journey thinking. And not that we don’t set some goals, by the way, when I meet with a new client, our first few sessions are all about a big agenda. But what it’s not about is this job, this way, this car, this house, this life, this one picture that fits.

[00:04:37] Ash: That’s all the what, right? When I’m talking to clients about Big Agenda, I’m talking to them about their who. Who are you? What are you passionate about? What matters most to you? What makes life worth living for you? What do you want more of? What’s not working for you right now?

[00:04:56] Ash: And those are the things that we measure against when we take a step back in coaching to evaluate our progress along the way. As are we getting closer to a life that fits this who? Now that we’ve been engaging in this process for a while, what else do we know about this? Who this incredible person that we maybe didn’t know the first time that we had this conversation that we can add to or expand this picture of a life that fits. And when I say big agenda to my clients, that’s really what we’re talking about. What is a life that fits for you? 

[00:05:37] Cam: And that is often a reveal that takes time that, that those of us with ADHD around emotional regulation and inhibition, right? Impulsivity. It’s like, I’ve come to coaching. Can you give me the answers? Can you give me the answers now so I can build my quick bridge to the shore and be done with this? Get out of this uncomfortable place and get over there? And so that big agenda is not something that’s necessarily revealed in one session. It’s something that we’re curious about and also curious about helping them out in this current situation.

[00:06:17] Cam: I love your analogy or the imagery of the stepping stones in that revealing because not only does it reinforce journey thinking it also has us. See the opportunity to be where we are because often when we come in this sort of stuck place, it’s like this is uncomfortable. I’ve hired you and let’s move forward.

[00:06:36] Cam: It’s like this thing or this I shouldn’t be where I am. I shouldn’t be here right now where I am on this stone. Not sure which stone to pick or where is that? Right? We’re on this unexpected stepping stone as you said, but that journey thinking and that curiosity we’ve talked about keen observer in the past. To be curious about this moment here, what’s possible to get present, right? And I think all of our listeners can appreciate the challenge around getting present to the current opportunity and the current dilemma.

[00:07:10] Ash: Exactly, Cam. And like anything else, every client is different. I have some clients who show up who have done a ton of other incredible work and who know a lot about their who, and who are looking to work on the ADHD piece in particular. That does happen. But more often than not, my clients don’t know a lot about their who or a lot about a life that fits.

[00:07:40] Ash: They feel so stuck in this reactive mode, stuck in a place where their life is happening to them more than they are happening to it. That when I asked the question, the first question I ask for a new client is, what do you know about what’s part of your big agenda? And I’ve had clients who don’t have an answer for that. And that’s okay. I think it’s normal. Part of this coaching process is learning how to think differently. It’s learning how to be introspective and to get those answers for yourself.

And so for every client, I do values and needs exercise because I think that’s a great way to reveal some of those things about those clients who, whether they know a little or whether they already know a lot, and revisiting that is always part of the process.

[00:08:32] Ash: I think one of the beautiful things about what we do and what makes it work is we don’t have to be attached. I tell my clients, we don’t have to be attached to anything you say. If you use some powerful language or say something that has my attention, I’m going to reflect it to you. Not to ask you if it’s true or not, but just to get curious about it. You said it. Now let’s get curious about it. But we don’t have to be attached to it just because you said it, it must be true.

[00:09:01] Ash: There’s something really powerful for ADHD brains about being able to verbalize to get stuff out of our heads so that we can pick it apart and examine it and discover what’s real and what’s true for us and what might be a story or something holding us back.

[00:09:16] Cam: I’m enjoying hearing you talk about what we do early on in the coaching engagement and this curiosity around the big agenda the who, and also the why. All right, so our group coaching class, the group coaching class that you teach on Purpose, sort of this bigger question of what is my why, which can be so difficult for us, and again, trigger all kinds of destination thinking, right, of a should.

There’s shoulds here. They can engage some outcome in our brain that has to happen or should happen and why is it not happening along with the exploration of who and the big agenda when we come and invite the clients to be as they are. To be open and be curious, and embrace this idea of journey thinking, right? That again, to reveal the stepping stones is to be on the stepping stones that they’re on.

I think that, again, as I said before, we’re stuck, and being stuck is uncomfortable. It’s like, can you get me out of this? Uncomfortable position, please. I can’t, I’m not, I can’t handle it, I can’t handle it anymore. I just need to get away from here. And yet this is your ADHD showing up, and it’s a beautiful way. Beautiful. It’s an effective way to explore how the ADHD is showing up.

And so I know we’re going to be talking about the adrenaline response cycle. I think that’s early on. And that was number four of the original library of episodes.

[00:10:50] Cam: But when you come to coaching and you look at the who, it’s also looking at how are you getting things done? We start to reveal the how, and it’s like, it’s Ooh, I don’t like the way I am showing up and how I’m getting things done. It’s always, I’m always running behind. It’s a hot mess.

[00:11:08] Cam: I’m running from crisis to crisis. I get drawn into others’ drama and, ah, just, can you make this go away? Can we just clean the slate? It’s going back to a clean slate or a fresh start. And here’s an opportunity to, again, come and be curious about how you get things done because we can’t just do this coaching and nothing else.

[00:11:31] Cam: We all have to wake up and make our kids lunch, get them to school, or get them to the bus stop. We’ve got to show up. We’ve got obligations. We’ve got commitments and we do what we have to do. And sometimes it’s messy. Sometimes it’s a mad scramble and sometimes, you know, it is this trim. It comes at a tremendous cost of time, attention, and energy.

[00:11:55] Cam: But to look at how you do it differently, as you said, we look at our words and we again, not be attached to it. We also look at our behaviors and start to look at them more objectively. And the practice here is with less criticism or judgment, right? That can have us go down that blame, shame, dread spiral.

[00:12:20] Ash: And less shoulds. Early on our clients have this idea that they should be a certain way, A brand new client said to me today, I want to be a good daughter. Brand new client, first session. So we haven’t pulled that apart yet, but I sure did put good daughter in quotes in my notes. That’s an example of powerful language. It sounds like there’s probably some storytelling there. 

[00:12:45] Ash: The cool thing as a coach in those early conversations as we’re looking at what’s not working, is you and I can see through the reactivity, the ADHD, the struggle. And we also really start to see our client’s strengths. We start to see those shine through.

We had a group coaching participant not too long ago who took some planned time off of work. Brought up a coaching topic that he was not happy with how he handed that off to his team. He felt like he could have done better, and was down in the dumps beating himself up about this. And where we ended up in that coaching session was that because of his other strengths, he’s an amazing relationship builder, a good mentor, and a great teammate who’s earned a lot of goodwill with his team.

[00:13:42] Ash: And so this story that he was catastrophizing, that felt like he just did it all wrong, there was a lot more nuance there. And that okay, maybe you’ll never be amazing at handing stuff off before you go on vacation, but look at how your strengths are showing up and taking care of you in a different way there. That you have the goodwill with your people to not necessarily do that part perfectly because of the other things that you do well,

[00:14:16] Cam: We could keep going on and on about this. And I think it’s a great opportunity to pivot to the other side. Yeah. So listeners, again we want to share more about the coaching process and Ash’s term in the sense of inside baseball.

So we’ve been talking about clients or listeners and embracing this idea of journey thinking, but it also is a necessary skill to develop for coaches. So we know coaches are listening. We know you’re out there.

[00:14:48] Ash: And for those newer coaches out there, one of the struggles and getting good at coaching is detaching from your client’s outcome. It’s tough. It takes a lot of practice and a lot of evidence-building to be as confident as Cam and I are approaching a client dilemma with no attachment to the outcome. And that’s normal because your client is coming. And there’s this dilemma, this major pain point, and yes, part of the goal of any coaching session is to have some learning about this new dilemma so that we can get to some action on this dilemma. The cool thing as a coach is when you start to get good at fully detaching from the outcome. Yes, you want to.

[00:15:42] Ash: And by the way, for our listeners, getting a topic, talking about why it’s important to that client, asking them what kind of outcome they’re looking for. That’s all standard mechanical stuff that’s supposed to happen in a coaching session. And it does, and it’s important, but there are those times where you start with topic A and outcome A. And then you find topic B, topic B. That’s the thing in the way. 

[00:16:10] Ash: And that right there is journey thinking in action between client and coach. So as the coach, when topic B shows up, it’s our job to check in with the client, notice this new topic that’s on the table, and find out if they want to stay on topic A, or if they want to pivot to topic B and again, without attaching to that outcome.

[00:16:35] Ash: When you get good at this as a coach, what you’re doing is you’re inviting your clients and teaching your clients how to approach dilemmas with pure curiosity. That right there is what it means to detach from the outcome. To get up above the dilemma and all of the emotion attached to that dilemma, and to be able to be genuinely curious about what’s going on there.

[00:17:04] Ash: What do I know? What don’t I know? What has my attention? What am I curious about? Oftentimes, when I’m not sure, where we should go next in a session, I’ll ask my client. What has your attention from here?

[00:17:18] Cam: So early on in my coaching, I was attached to outcomes and, you know, delivering a good service, right? It’s like, my clients have hired me. They’re paying me for a service and that I’ve got to deliver a really good service. But there was a, what’s in coaching called a collapse distinction of delivering good service and getting them somewhere.

[00:17:38] Cam: You see how that can encourage destination thinking. I got to get them somewhere. I got to get them, and I got to get them that nugget in this session. I got to deliver value. And value is this specific thing that again encourages destination thinking, which has this going down this corridor. There’s something very far off.

[00:17:58] Cam: And guess what? We’re then not available and present to this current. A moment in time. So when the coach and client can do this together, it is, and your word earlier was magical.

So as we finish up for both coaches and clients, a little exercise is to notice, What am I attached to? To be human is to attach – that is to be human.

[00:18:23] Cam: We make meaning. We’re always making meaning and kind of, again, creating stories to explain a situation to comfort us in our discomfort. So this is about that. Getting out a little brunette brown vulnerability, and exploring if you’re in an uncomfortable place, there might be an attachment of some sort, and you’re bumping up against an opportunity for journey thinking.

[00:18:48] Cam: When you embrace journey thinking, then you can start to embrace a change process. But again, back to that question. So what am I attaching to? What am I attached to? What’s drawing me to that? And how can I take a step back from that to get a little space and encourage more of a journey? Or Ash’s metaphor of standing in the pond on your rock, on your stepping stone, kind of looking around, what are the stepping stones that are there close to me? What’s the unexpected stepping stone I’m on that I maybe want to jump off or as you go scramble to shore, stay here for a moment. Just be curious. 

[00:19:30] Ash: Well said, Cam. And in probably a Translating ADHD first, I’m going to share a second metaphor. So I love the foggy pond metaphor as a metaphor for life, a metaphor for the bigger journey, a metaphor for the fact that a life that fits is always going to be a journey. There’s never a destination where you say, okay, now I’m done, when we’re getting a little more granular as we do in coaching.

[00:20:02] Ash: And as you’ve just asked our listeners to do, to think about where they are in the here and now, what they’re attached to, what has their attention. I like to think about unraveling a sweater. I tell my clients it’s like pulling on a thread. Let’s just pull on it and see what happens.

[00:20:19] Ash: If you ever pull a loose thread out of a sweater, sometimes it’s just a little bit of nothing. That happens in coaching, too. We’ll pull on a thread, it’s a little bit of nothing. Okay, let’s find a different thread to pull on. And then you find one, it’s a little bit longer, got a little bit more to give you. Maybe frees up another thread or two for you to pull on. So I like to think of the coaching process in terms of session to session, day to day, week to week, like unraveling a sweater.

[00:20:47] Ash: If we keep pulling on threads, we’re going to find what we’re looking for. Not every thread is going to produce much. But that’s okay. Pull on it, see what’s there or not there, and then see what’s revealed based on what was there or not there.

[00:21:04] Cam: That’s a great place to finish up this week, Ash. 

[00:21:07] Ash: I agree, Cam. So listeners, we said this last week, but we’re going to go ahead and say it again. We have revamped our Discord server. It is much more simple, and user-friendly, and we intend to keep it focused on doing this good understand, own and translate work that our community knows how to do together.

We talked a lot in this episode about how new clients show up. I think one of the coolest things about this podcast is my new clients who are longtime listeners of this show don’t show up that way. Yes, they show up with their dilemmas and their struggles and look for support, but there’s also already a really strong seed of journey thinking planted there.

[00:21:50] Ash: And we see that play out all the time in the Discord server with listeners helping each other. Get curious, pull on threads, and learn something new about the dilemma that they’re examining. So if you’re already a patron, and you’ve never checked out Discord, or you haven’t been back in a while, come back and see us.

[00:22:10] Ash: And if it’s something you haven’t yet tried, because it seemed too complicated, we invite you to give it a shot. To do that, visit the website Click on the Patreon tab, and for 5 bucks a month not only are you helping Cam and I pay for all of the costs involved in running this show, you gain access to the Discord server. So until next week, I’m Ash.

[00:22:37] Cam: And I’m Cam.

[00:22:40] Ash: And this was the Translating ADHD podcast Season Two. Thanks for listening.

More from this show


Episode 184