More FWI News
Article By: Larry Akers CHt.
Wikipedia defines unintended consequences as: “Outcomes that are not the ones intended by a purposeful action. A perverse effect contrary to what was originally intended (when an intended solution makes a problem worse)”.
Every so often, when I am working with clients and find myself personally invested in their outcomes, I recall an experience of trying to teach a lesson to my kid brother.
My brother, Rey, and I are 23 years apart. When he was 12-years-old, he had a habit of leaving his bike in the front yard or on the front sidewalk instead of safely storing it in our backyard shed.
Every day, I would remind him to take his bike behind the house to the shed. I would add a warning that he wouldn’t have a bike if he kept leaving it where someone could take it.
The bike storage conversation turned into a daily ritual. Then I saw an opportunity to use a teachable moment and drive home my message.
During the week of Thanksgiving, my brother and his friends were out of school. They enjoyed their holiday time outside, riding their bikes around the neighborhood. All the kids were riding to and from our house, and our front yard was decorated with scattered bikes.
As evening fell, I went outside after finishing dinner. I stepped out to enjoy the night air and saw my brother’s bike in the front again. At that moment, an idea popped in my head. It would teach my brother the lesson of taking care of his belongings and the consequences of not doing that, such as feeling the loss of something he valued.
I picked up the bike, walked to our next-door neighbor, and asked if I could hide the bike in his garage to teach Rey a lesson. We both agreed that it’d be the best way, a teachable moment that he’d understand.
I went home and waited until around 10 p.m. I asked Rey if he had remembered to put his bike away. He stopped playing his video game and went outside to take his bike around to the shed. I waited. I imagined him running back inside, frantic, to tell me his bike was missing. And I mentally rehearsed my response and the lesson I intended teaching him.
I waited and waited some more. Finally, I went outside to check on him, but Rey was just standing near the front door. He wasn’t panicked or upset. He calmly stated his bike was missing. He walked around to the backyard and shed to see if had left it back there. His flat reaction only tinged with some anxiety about how his dad would take the news of his missing bike.
I kept waiting for signs of remorse. I saw none.
The next morning, I walked to my neighbor’s garage, retrieved Rey’s bike and placed it in its usual parking spot inside the shed.
When the family starting to stir from their bedrooms, I met Rey in the family room and asked him to follow me outside for a surprise. The rest of the family followed us. I opened the shed to reveal his bike.
Again, I had mentally rehearsed the moment and anticipated his responses. Again, I waited but the look on his face was perplexing. He looked disappointed.
I asked Rey what he was thinking. He said, “I was hoping I was going to get a new 10- speed!”
He had already decided the missing bike situation would be an opportunity to receive a better bike. I saw the situation as a teachable moment that would make him more responsible and learn to value his possessions. It was completely opposite of his intentions and expectation. I thought the lesson would help, but my best intentions didn’t align with my brother’s perspective.
What I didn’t take into account was my brother’s intentions and expectations of his experience.
My presumptions of teaching him a lesson, without clearly communicating with him, led to the unintended consequences.
As a coach, we may find ourselves with the opportunity to guide a client to a ‘teachable moment’. It may be something we think the client wants. When we’re emotionally invested and want the client to succeed, the opportunity to lead the client to our conclusions may feel even more enticing.
Unintended consequences begin with us.
About the Author
Larry Akers is a Certified Hypnotherapist and Life Coach. He is dedicated to helping others conquer their fears and limiting beliefs so they may achieve their illusive life dreams. After overcoming many life challenges, Larry helps others transform their lives, so they can enjoy happiness, health, and success.
Larry also believes in the principle of “giving back” and leads complimentary, hypnosis workshops in his local community of Tampa Bay, Florida.
For more information on hypnotherapy and coaching for life changes, contact Larry at: firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit his website: http://hypnosisforlifechanges.com
Larry Akers, CPC