Coaching Tools: Writing Your Ideal Conversation
The following story is going to change your life. It’s going to help you expand your horizons, think bigger, dream bigger, and ultimately help you get exactly what you want out of life.
Pretty lofty goals for a blog, right?
That’s the point. Because today, we’re talking about how to envision an ideal conversation—the kind of conversation that will change your life forever—and how to take that conversation off the page and turn it into reality.
This is a coaching tool we love to use called The Ideal Conversation. Let’s dive in.
Writing your ideal conversation
I want you to try something right now. It’s a journaling assignment, so if you don’t have a journal, it’s time to get a notebook (or choose an online journaling format that works for you).
Now it’s time to write that conversation. Here are the rules, which are purposely simple:
1. Choose an imaginary scenario with anybody you want. They can be alive or dead, famous or unknown, real or fictional… it can be someone you’ve had a crush on forever, or someone you’re in a major argument with. Maybe you’re interviewing for a job, going on vacation, or you’re on a romantic dinner date. Let your imagination run wild.
2. Now, flesh out a conversation with that person, and make it ideal. Write out everything you’ve ever wanted to say to them, and have them respond in the best possible way.
That’s it! That’s the exercise. Simple stuff, right?
Before you dive in, though, I want to tell you a story—this is a story about a client of mine who did this journaling exercise in a pretty interesting way.
The not-actually-ideal conversation
Many years ago, I had a client who was the VP of Sales for a technology company. She decided to write an ideal conversation between herself and the Obama administration. The goal of the conversation was to conduct a job interview in which she became Secretary of State.
Very lofty indeed!
She journaled that the administration brought her in for an interview and said, “Wow. We looked at your resume. You seem like a very promising candidate, so tell us in your own words what qualifies you for this position.”
My client proceeded to write paragraphs and paragraphs about her many qualifications. She talked about her education, her heritage, her business acumen, her work experience… she even wrote a ten-point plan about everything she’d do as Secretary of State.
She then had the interviewer respond with, “That’s amazing! We’re really impressed with you. As soon as we’ve interviewed all the candidates, we’ll get back to you and let you know about the position.”
At the bottom of the journal she wrote me a personal note that said, “How’s that for dreaming big?”
The truth? My first thought was: I gave you blank slate to create whatever you wanted, and in your ideal scenario, you didn’t even give yourself the job?!
This is the interesting thing about writing out your ideal conversation. Even when you don’t want it to, what you write says something about you, your values, how you feel about yourself, and how big you’re willing to dream.
I asked her why she didn’t give herself the job, and she said, “Well, that would be presumptuous, wouldn’t it? It’d be arrogant and self-serving of me, and impolite.”
Through reading her ideal scenario, I learned things about my client I’d never known before. She’d internalized all these beliefs about what it meant to be too forward, too self-assured, too self-serving. What’s more, I learned that a stronger, deeper belief was holding her back. In her mind, she was saying I can’t ask for what I want, because to ask for what's ideal is too much.
After sharing that with my client, we started to uncover a pattern. She was doing this in all areas of her life: her work, her relationships, her romance, you name it. And once she realized that she was doing it and made a mental shift, she performed better in that fiscal quarter than she did the entire previous year.
That's the benefit of having an ideal conversation.
It reveals so much more than you think it does.
And all it takes is a skilled coach to uncover what you’re missing.