I had a very enlightening conversation with Raoul, a small engine repair man, the other day. I never expected that a conversation about repairing small engines could be so enlightening. Now I want to read the book that has been on my shelf for years, called "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance," by Robert Pirsig. Clearly, the author was on to something.
Raoul works on broken motors that live inside lawnmowers, snow blowers, snowmobiles, chainsaws and generators.
He described what it's like to troubleshoot a broken engine. The first thing he does, he said, is rule out the usual suspects: gasoline problems, or worn spark plugs, for example. But if checking those don't get the engine going again, he turns on his inner detective.
You need to pay attention, he said, to what the engine is telling you. The answer is in what you can see. It's also in what you know.
Make, model, and style of engine are some of the clues. But you have to go deeper.
What gets an engine to start? Compression, lubrication, ignition. Knowing that, your next task is to look at the engine's behavior. Does it start and then sputter out? Or does it not turn over at all?
As Raoul explained it to me: if the gas and oil are fine, and if the spark plugs are good, but the engine doesn't turn over, then it's got to be the compression.
In other words, the symptoms tell you what area of the engine to consider looking into. Once you check these areas, you can narrow down the problem to the actual cause.
Identifying the problem is one phase of engine repair. Now that you know what's wrong, how do you fix it?
Well, you have your tools and parts. What are the right tools to use? Which parts do you get and where do you get them? Each model has interchangeable as well as unique parts. A supplier who sells parts for one model has parts for other models. The quicker you can get hold of your tools and the parts, the sooner you can have the engine running again. That's why Raoul has his shop in his truck. He also knows his suppliers and for which engines they supply parts.
Having this kind of knowledge and efficiency comes with practice. It's not something that someone new to the craft of engine repair can instantly be aware of.
The similarities between coaching and engine repair
The more I talked with Raoul, the more I realized that his work and mine are almost the same. I don't repair engines. I am a life purpose and career coach.
I'm not saying that clients are the same as small engines. But the approach to repairing an engine is similar to how I work with a client.
As a coach, it's not my job to fix the problems my client brings to a session. In fact, not all clients use coaching to address a problem. Some clients simply want to get clear on the direction of their life.
Coaching requires detective work to discover what keeps my client from moving forward in the direction they say they want to go. Curiosity is the antidote to judgment or criticism. It makes me wonder and seek answers. The very first conversation I have with clients is what I call a Discovery Session, because we are working on uncovering what's hidden.
People are more complicated than engines, obviously, but by paying attention, I notice trends. People have habits. What emerges from habits are patterns that are identifiable human behaviors.
I look for the symptoms, like Raoul does. Does the client have healthy relationships if he wants to find love? Does the client have healthy physical or nutritional habits if he wants to lose weight? What excuses does he give for his less than helpful behaviors? What might those excuses tell us about how he thinks about himself?
Behaviors come from thoughts. Some thoughts or beliefs are unconscious. When you change the thought, you change the behavior. First the client needs to become conscious of his thoughts. That's where the coach comes in.
It is up to me to point out what I see that could be holding them back. I know what to look for and where to look. To help the client see it, too, I use inquiry. When you ask questions, it gets people to think. Being conscious means waking up, becoming aware. You can't change what you can't see. My questions are designed to help the client to tap into his own wisdom. The wisdom is there, it just hasn't been placed under observation in this way before.
If a client's desire is to direct his life in a certain direction, then let's optimize his thinking. How can this client live his life by design rather than default? How can he raise himself to a higher level of consciousness?
The conversation with Raoul moved off the topic of engines and onto his own life. As a man in his fifties, Raoul has reached the phase of his life when he knows his values. Hard life lessons have taught him about the importance of self-fulfillment.
"Find yourself, and you find your life," he told me. I couldn't have said it better myself.
I help people to live a life of fulfillment through raising their consciousness. Clients learn to live according to their higher purpose, their true heart's desire. If interested in learning more, please email me or call me at 781.583.8242.
And if you live in the seacoast area of New Hampshire and are interested in small engine repair, call Raoul DeSerres from DeSco of Seabrook at 603.474.9532.