Originally published in Coaching for Transformation
The exercise that follows is a way to engage people in the process of Envisioning the Future. There are no formulas. Visions are the mysteries within waiting to be born. As coaches, we are the catalysts for awakening, and we do that by paying attention to individual ways of accessing and giving expression to the vision.
Helping clients expand their personal vision becomes a springboard for them to make a more meaningful contribution. Storytelling helps people get in touch with the deeper expression of their visions. As we walk them through the seven simple steps of the Courageous Visions process they become more engaged with their visions.
1. History: sharing milestones & possibilities
Share a story about a peak experience. Choose a time when you felt empowered, in the zone and joyful. What life milestones are important to you? What about your past will help you embrace the future?
2. Values: clarifying what matters most
Examine your peak experiences and milestones for your personal values. Prioritize your top seven personal values. Which value is most important to you right now?
3. Environment: choosing what you want
In your ideal future, describe the environment. What surrounds you? Who is with you? What is your inner experience? What’s significant about this ideal environment? If you had a magic wand, how would you change your physical environment and the ambience?
4. Action: shaping behaviors and capabilities
In your ideal future, determine what capabilities you have mastered. Build your awareness about what you especially enjoy doing. What personal capabilities do you already have that you will use even more in the future? Who else is involved? What new competencies do you need to master to meet future challenges?
5. Identity: honing your image
Brainstorm the identity or nicknames you would like to earn from people you respect who meet you in the future. Imagine that you overhear these people talking about you. What do you want them to say? Ten years from now, when people are still talking about you, what do they say? What do you want children in your life to learn from you?
6. Contribution: serving your purpose
Think about how you wish to serve. Imagine your ideal contribution. Envision how you take care of yourself so you can contribute fully. What do you contribute that’s unique? In the short term? In the long term? What do you consider the most important contribution you can make?
7. Vision: picturing your future Imagine an online article or blog post honoring you: What headline introduces the cover story? You are quoted in the article. What do you have to say about your success? What diff erence have you made? What is the visionary story of your life?1
Here’s a shortened example of the Courageous Visions process, from a real coaching session, with the steps noted:
Coach: In our first session, you shared some of the highlights from your life (Step1) and you clarified your values. (Step 2)
Hope: Yes, and I was really amazed how the peak experiences of my life are a direct window to my core values: contribution, equality, empowerment and fun.
Coach: You light up when you say those words. When we ended our last session, you said you wanted to envision your future, so I’m checking to see if that’s still alive for you.
Hope: Absolutely. And I did some of the homework, to envision my ideal future.
Coach: Great. So paint a picture of that ideal future right now. (Step 3)
Hope: I see myself as part of a loving family in a nurturing work environment, with a dynamic career and inner peace. But today, something new is coming into view. I want healing and safety for girls.
Coach: [silence] I can feel the intensity of your longing.
Hope: Yes. I want to live in a world where girls have freedom and respect…where they don’t have to live in fear.
Coach: The opposite of fear would be what?
Hope: Courage. Freedom to play, enjoy their innocence, have fun.
Coach: I hear all your top values deeply embedded in your vision. So step into your own courage and let’s see if there is anything else coming into view.
Hope: Yeah, but I’m scared that I won’t be able to have much of an impact, that girls will go on being abused, trafficked, sold into lives of misery.
Coach: So no wonder this is important to you. Would you like to take a moment to grieve all that misery and just notice what you want instead.
Hope: What I really want is to create sanctuaries for girls to be completely safe.
Coach: What do you need to be or do to create the kind of world where girls are completely safe? (Step 4)
Hope: First I need to be a more influential leader. I would have to get in front of the right people to raise funds. And I need to develop a team that cares deeply.
Coach: How would that team describe you? (Step 5)
Hope: Inspirational. One who shares leadership and power. Fun-loving. Bold.
Coach: Many people share your vision. What’s unique about your contribution? (Step 6)
Hope: My team and I empower girls to create their own destiny. With my fundraising background, I can start building these sanctuaries this year. I’m ready to create an action plan today.
Coach: I hear your enthusiasm! Before you create the action plan, let’s look at one more aspect of the vision. Imagine an article about this project has gone viral. What’s the headline? (Step 7)
Hope: Teenage Girls Ending Human Trafficking in 63 Countries.
Coach: Wow! And you’re quoted in the article. What do you say?
Hope: I’m really proud of these girls. They are standing up to the $150 billion dollar human trafficking industry where half the girls are sold for less than $100. They have mobilized girls world-wide to end the sex slave trade, created sanctuaries and programs for girls to maintain their freedom and innocence.
Coach: Take a moment to celebrate your vision. How inspiring for you and for me!
Hope: I can’t wait until next week—I’m going to start my action plan today.
Coach: I don’t think I could stop you if I wanted to, but as you plan, allow the vision to expand naturally.
Hope: Yes, I can already see some of the donors involved.
Coach: And will you tell 5 people about your vision?
Hope: Not quite ready for that. I need to get a little clearer fi rst.
Coach: So do you want to take that on as homework? Create spaciousness for clarifying your vision?
Hope: Yes, clarifying the vision now, sharing later.
Coach: I hear you! You really want some time to embody your vision. I want to acknowledge the way you honor your values. This vision is full of courage and it’s all about living life fully—for girls and for you!
Hope: It’s very healing for me. I get to reclaim my childhood—I get to be a very different girl who has tremendous power.
1 Lasley, Martha. Courageous Visions. 2004. Discover Press.
WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR E-ZINE, BLOG OR WEB SITE? You can, as long as you include this: Excerpt from Coaching for Transformation by Lasley, Kellogg, Michaels and Brown. As faculty at Leadership that Works, they certify coaches who offer personal, organization and community transformation. Check out the free Power of Coaching teleclass.
For more articles like this, go to the Library for Transformation.