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Life Shields: A Coaching Tool

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Step Four [Levels One, Two and Three]

The coaching client is asked to answer six questions. At Level One, the coach simply asks one of the six questions (listed below) and provides her client with ample time to reflect on and answer each question.  At Levels Two and Three, the client is asked to use her life space or shield as an arena in which to respond to, usually, six statements or questions. At Level Three, the response to each statement or question should be nonverbal and may involve a combination of pic¬tures, colors, shapes, diagrams and so forth. Most clients will want to divide their shields into six sections, though this is not necessary. Clients, however, should be aware of the amount of space they allocate to each of their six responses, as well as the amount of time and attention they devote to each response and ways their six responses interact on the sheet of paper.

The six statements or questions to which the coaching client is to respond will vary depending on the focus and direction of the coaching engagement and on the age and primary concerns of the client. In general, the statements and questions should give equal attention to past, present and future events. I usually pick two statements or questions from each of the three following time dimensions; I most frequently use the first two or three statements in each category.

Past Events

a. Identify one highly valued possession from your childhood.
b. Identify one “peak experience” from your past — one event that was particularly meaningful and has had a significant impact on your life.
c. Identify one value from your childhood or early adulthood that no longer is important to you.
d. Identify one fear from your childhood or early adulthood that continues to be of concern to you.
e. Using one or two words or a single phrase, identify one theme that would best describe your life until the present time.

Present Events

a. Identify one thing you did this past year that would generally be acknowledged a success by most people you know (or that would generally be acknowledged a failure).
b. Identify one important learning for you during this past year.
c. Identify something that you have mastered during this past year.
d. If you were to change one important decision which you made during this past year what would it be?

Future Events

a. If you were guaranteed success in doing one thing during the coming year, what would it be?
b. Imagine that several years after your death a movie is made about your life; what would you like the title of this movie to be?
c. What do you fear most about your life during the next five years?
d. Describe a very special event (a “peak” experience) that might occur in your life ten years from now.
e. If an epitaph was to be written for you, what would you like it to say?

As an option the client might be instructed to answer each of these questions using one word or phrase (Level One) or a cluster of words that are placed spatially on the page in a manner which conveys something about their interrelationship (Level Two).

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