The Gremlin Effect

During the course of the coaching relationship, clients will experience ups and downs, plateaus, periods of great insight, everything happening at lightning speed, followed by a trough of the wave, drifting in the doldrums.

In particular, for most clients, there’s a slump between weeks three and eight. It happens because change is not happening fast enough, or the initial euphoria of commitment has worn off. The client realizes that talking about action is one thing and actually taking action is quite another.

One of the reasons coaching relationships typically have a minimum time agreement of three months is to help clients get past this initial slump.

The slump can also be a sabotaging work of the client’s Gremlin – that inner voice that abhors change and demands the status quo. It’s the voice that says, “This is stupid, or too risky, or you’re not ready, or you’re not equipped, or……..” Well, you probably know that voice yourself.

As soon as the client’s Gremlin catches a whiff of significant life change, it’s likely to show up with lots of reasons why this program shouldn’t go one step further. As a coach, I need to point this out and bring it to my client’s attention during the initial intake session to be forewarned and forearmed.

The intent of the Gremlin is not malicious mischief. The purpose is to preserve the status quo. A similar voice has kept us from doing stupid and dangerous things in the past. It’s just that, at the point when people need to take. risks and make significant changes in their lives, Gremlin will always be there.

The Gremlin has a favourite language set: “ I should be stronger……I shouldn’t be so needy…….. they won’t like it if I do……. I can’t succeed on my own……. I don’t have the answers /don’t have the money/talent, don’t have the experience/don’t have whatever they’re looking for.

The variations are endless. And at any point where the client is considering action that poses the slightest chance of risk, you will hear the Gremlin’s familiar phrases: “ What was I thinking of? This is stupid! This is too risky, and I might get hurt. What will they think of me? I’m out of my league and way over my head”.

The Gremlin is scared most of the time. But it’s even scarier when the Gremlin starts to sound almost reasonable: “I’ll be more productive if I wait until Monday……I have to earn a living after all……I should give this more consideration – no need to be hasty.” The Gremlin is always there to point out your weaknesses, your failure – to reinforce your self–limiting judgements and beliefs. He’s there to hold you back and hold you down.

The point to remember is this: The Gremlin does not care whether or not you honour your values. The Gremlin wants what it wants in the moment. About the only time the Gremlin cares about your values is when you’re not honouring them the way you said you would. Then the Gremlin says: “See, you’ve got no spine. You’ve got no follow-through. Give it up.” And remember that the Gremlin is with you for life. There is no killing it off. So the coach and the client must become skilled in noticing the Gremlin. It’s the first step to liberation.

My offer to you

If you’re considering working with me or want to find out more about reinvention coaching and how it could help you, have a chat with me. Book a 30-minute zoom call to answer your questions. If all this call did was to inspire to take action would it be worth it?

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