As time advisers, one of the essential transformations we must make for our trainees and clients is to shift them from thinking that they don’t have enough time, to the point where they realize they don’t have enough skill.
Many professionals get to the point early in their careers where they start to parrot the same complaint that everyone shares: “I don’t have enough time.” It’s an early warning sign that something is awry, but it’s not necessarily a cry for help.
At the very least it’s an indication of a mismatch – the client has more time demands flowing through their lives than they can manage. They are experiencing some of the symptoms they can’t readily address, such as a feeling of constant rushing or finding themselves unable to keep all their promises.
They don’t know what to do, so in their desperation they blame God / The Universe / Mother Nature for not granting them super-magical powers: an ability to turn 24 hours into 25.
Of course, deep down, they know that this is impossible, yet they still complain. As coaches, it’s important to understand why.
In the moment they indulge in the complaint, they are able to release some of their frustration. That’s a good feeling. However, if they persist then you should be suspicious. They might be using the complaint as a way to gain sympathy and agreement from others. They are running a scam in which they share negativity in order to get people on their side. After all, it’s better to feel miserable with others than it is to feel miserable alone.
It also feels good to have something/someone to blame. Unfortunately, it all carries with it a nasty undertone: they are actually avoiding responsibility. As a result they don’t take effective action and this renders them un-clientable and uncoachable.
There are a few cases in which I’m willing to work with a client on this particular way of being, but usually I simply let them go in the hope that they’ll come to see that there’s ultimately no benefit from continuing that vein.
While most of us have this complaint at some point in life, a few get to the point where we are ready to look beyond Mother Nature’s “shortcomings” to some lasting solutions. A client who is ready has an inkling that there’s something they are either not doing right, or could do better. They are usually unable to see it clearly on their own, but they have at least located the source of the solution.
Once they are ready to enter a learning relationship, I recommend that you deliver a powerful message near the start of your work with them: they aren’t doing anything “wrong.” It’s just that the life they are now living has outgrown the system they self-created to deal with all the demands on their time.
Now, it’s time to upgrade their skills and you can help them make the transition from their current system to one that is more suited to their current goals.
As a time adviser it’s important to know the difference between a prospect who is complaining, and avoiding responsibility and one who is ready to be a client.