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Your phone rings.  It’s Anxious Andy/Angie, a former coaching client—back for a third series of conversations.  On the surface, Anxious Andy/Angie is a “perfect” coaching client—motivated and solution-oriented, on the move and in a hurry.   But, Anxious Andy/Angie may be too hurried.  When Andy/Angie is being coached, anxiety can propel the process and create an emotional sprint for a solution—a quick solution.  Later, when surprises and second-order challenges loom up, Anxious Andy/Angie gets overwhelmed.   One small pebble in the pond created big tidal waves that no one saw coming.

So, what can coaches and clients do together to make better choices?  Why not try a “more” approach?

Add more options to explore.   Futurist Joel Barker, developer of the future search device called the Implications Wheel, presses for five or more alternatives before we move forward.  Each alternative is then played forward to its second-order or third-order implications.  Extra options and their “waves” give us automatic Plan B’s, if needed. Decisions become more nuanced when we expand and explore more possibilities more broadly in advance.

Look at positives and negatives more thoroughly.  In every cluster of options, Barker also insists that both positive and negative outcomes be explored.   Negatives introduce new questions to optimists.  Positives provide leaven for pessimist’s thinking.  In tough economic times, looking at all angles and “getting it right” the first time feels even more critical. 

Weigh alternatives more carefully.  Explore all options slowly and thoughtfully.  Considering advantages and disadvantages is important.   One-sided solutions don’t solve much for long.

“Sin bravely” more faithfully.  The Protestant reformer, Martin Luther, understood the risks of moving into uncharted territory.  He once noted that, after all rational avenues had been exhausted, faith still had to be exercised.  Faced with unknowns, he said we have to trust in God completely, move forward, and “sin bravely.” 

There’s the phrase futurists use to describe second-order changes, or outcomes that weren’t anticipated in the early blush of change—“surprises we should have expected.”    

There are frequent “surprises” after anxiety rushes to judgment.  Explore what comes after what comes next.  Focus clients’ anxiety on “more,” and perhaps some false starts can be avoided.

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