I recently celebrated a milestone birthday which gathered together a diverse group of friends, colleagues and family, spanning several decades and careers. I found myself relishing the opportunity to stand in the spotlight and revisit the different roles I have had throughout my life, and witness how they have shaped the person I have become.
A brief slideshow shared my family history, followed by a film montage of my career as a dancer/choreographer. The submerged amaryllis centerpieces were masterminded by my inner weddingplanner, harkening back to the years when I martialed all of my theatrical experience to create unique and elegant wedding events.
When it came to the party favors, it was the Lisa the Life Coach who took charge. I wanted my guests to leave with a playful yet meaningful souvenir of the party. Something that would trigger both personal reflection and lively dinner table conversation.
Through my own research on the connection between text and emotion in a personal growth process, I had been experimenting with giving different word labels to boxes. I decided to roll this out in a concrete way for my party guests by creating a series of small boxes with 5 different texts. It was a simple project - I bought miniature wooden chests at a hobby shop ( 7.5 X 5.5 X 5 cm) and printed texts on transparent labels, which I then pressed onto the lids.
I scattered these tiny text boxes on the tables and invited my guests choose the one that most resonated for them. They seemed both delighted and intrigued by the gesture. It was fascinating to speak with individual guests about which box they chose and why: LOVE: I'm going on a blind date next week and I'm hoping it will lead to something . FEAR: I have to take my school exams soon and I am afraid I won't pass. TRUST: I need to be reminded to trust myself. TRUTH: In these times we need to regain the meaning of that.
I realised that the power of these tiny text boxes is not only in bringing into focus feelings which are 'top of mind' but also because they are miniature vaults for short written messages and very small objects. The strength of such an absurdly small box is that you can't really use it for storage. What ever goes into it is more likely to have a deliberate, symbolic meaning. In this sense, they are perfect ritual objects, which can be buried, burnt, cast into a body of water or cherished and displayed as reminders and vessels of ideas and experiences that are important to us.
For this reason, tiny text boxes can be a useful tool in coaching. Clients who are visually and tactile oriented, who relate strongly to symbolism, are likely to respond positively to the introduction of a tiny text box as a support in their change process.
For coaches, there are limitless possibilities of how to use the boxes. My guideline would be to empower the client to choose the text on the box, what goes in it and what happens to the box, in relation to making progress towards their coaching goal. This can be the starting point for a deeper exploration of specific issue or theme related to their change process.
At the same time the tiny text box serves as visual anchor of a positive core idea or empowering belief that has emerged through the coaching, which will endure long after the coaching process is finished.
If you decide to use the tiny text boxes as a coaching tool or for a personal use I would love to receive your to feedback, observations or questions. Thanks!
Lisa Ross-Marcus, founder of In-Coaching, is an executive life coach and a intercultural trainer.