When you return from vacation or from visiting family or friends how long does it typically take you to unpack? I can't speak for you so I'll just come clean - sometimes days. Unless I have a quick turnaround, where I'm heading out within the next day or two, my luggage rests in the corner like unused exercise equipment; yup, I just stare at it and it stares at me.
Well, if you do deep transformational training, coaching or speaking your learners are seldom in a rush to unpack their luggage (i.e., their "life luggage") either. And you know we all have bags we haven't unpacked yet. For some we carry that luggage around for 20, 30, 40 years. Others can see the toll it takes on us yet we march on oblivious to our predicament and/or "our stuff".. And as their presenter, coach, speaker or professor you have the privilege of helping them unpack. Yet it's not an easy task. Many don't realize they're carrying around the extra bags while others believe they've done all they can do. Or it's not them it's you. You have to figure out the most advantageous way to proceed then move in. Don't chicken out! At first it might seem akin to coaxing a frightened cat out of a corner; do proceed with caution - but proceed.
Consider using deep, penetrating probing questions. Use metaphors, illustrations and stories. You want them to see and think deeply about what you're saying. Be vulnerable by sharing what you've had to unpack to get to where you are today. Even explain how you fell off the wagon at times and how you got back on. Baggage (i.e., luggage) limits people from living big. It hampers sustained happiness and fulfillment. It initiates excuses, selfishness and poor choices. The ironic aspect of all of this is that once they unpack they usually admit that they wish that they would have done it sooner. As the leader of their unpacking experience you have to get them to own their role in their circumstances (i.e., own their choices) and take responsibility for pursuing a different path. It can be a very rewarding experience for both you and them.
- Dr. James