Categories | Getting Things Done | Inspiration
By Michael Gorsline – Community Contributor
As a Parent Coach and Family Therapist I spend a lot of time helping people everything from troubleshooting how to get kids to bed, to how to help dinner time go smoothly, to how to give an effective timeout when it is needed. I also help with teaching principles about relationships. For instance, how to share control in areas where you don’t need it as parent so that when you really do need it, kids will be willing to follow your lead. I also help clients with common therapy related skills like developing a deeper understanding of themselves or learning some self-empathy skills. Parents get a lot out of these skills. These skills create profound changes in people’s lives, yet I discovered that there seems to be a ceiling that clients bump up against, limiting their growth as parents.
My supervisor in grad school, a very wise and seasoned psychologist, had a knack for capturing the essence of life and of therapy by dividing things into three “baskets”. Here was what became the most important of them to me:
We have Three Primary Tasks in Life. If we’re good at these three we are successful and happy. Here they are:
1) Get along
2) Get things done
3) Self-soothe (manage our emotions)
They sound really simple and straightforward, don’t they? I find it amusing looking back that I had no idea as a graduate student that number two was the name of a program which was on the cusp of becoming huge and which I’d one day being blogging about.
A lot of what I did with parent coaching and family therapy boiled down to the first and the last, getting along, and self-soothing, as well as teaching kids to do those same two. Those are truly important. And they are of course much more complex than they appear at first glance, otherwise we wouldn’t call them life tasks. What I’ve discovered over the years though is that when I do nothing but helping with getting along and self-soothing, many parents hit that ceiling I mentioned. That’s because helping them with getting things done was a gaping hole that I was missing.
Too many therapists focus exclusively, by the nature of their profession, on numbers 1 and 3. And they just expect that clients either do or do not know how to get things done. They just don’t really see getting things done-skills as a task they ought to help with. But much like there are parenting skills such as the art of sharing control that in retrospect look like just common sense, there are Getting Things Done skills that are the same. That’s how we know they’re powerful. They are effective, and once you know them and practice them you get an illusory “Hey I knew that all along” feeling. David Allen has a term for that. He calls it advanced common sense . Social psychologists refer it as hindsight bias.
What I’ve found is that parents, and all my other clients, including kids struggling in school, benefit from learning the skills from number two basket, Getting Things Done. I’m glad to have stretched the therapy model a bit, as many other therapists are doing now, to incorporate coaching on Getting Things Done. Because I would sure hate to have missed the opportunity to see families push past that ceiling by offering practical, easy-to-use GTD skills for accomplishing life’s second, and too often, overlooked task.