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The Magic of Scaling

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Scaling people’s experiences, expectations, motivation, performance, etc. on a scale of 0 to 10 is a very simple and effective tool to help people make progress.

A client came to me totally despondent and on the brink of suicide. She was highly stressed with tight facial muscles and two facial tics, one under each eye. Trying to determine what would be helpful to her in this conversation she eventually said: If somebody would just listen to me for a change without belittling me. Asking her what would be the benefits to her if I would just listen to her she replied that it might give her perspective on her life. Asking her how would she know that she has perspective on her life she replied with lots of generalizations and abstract ideas.

Questioning her on all of these I just received more abstract answers. At a stage she said she would have more fire in her life and at that moment I thought I will try to get her to be more concrete by scaling the fire in her life. Zero was no fire, just ashes, and ten was she’s got that much fire in her life that she ignites the people around her spontaneously. Then she responded with an “I don’t know. If I listen to my heart it would be one answer but if I respond with my brain it will be another.”

Remembering to work with what the client brings I took out my magnetic scaling board and gave her the choice of two different coloured magnetic markers. I asked her to mark what her heart tells her on the first scaling line and to mark what her brain tells her on the second scaling line. At least I would then have two scales to use to discover what concrete and positive things are present in her life and something concrete to work with.

She handled the scaling board and magnetic markers herself. What her heart told her she marked as a two and what her brain tells her as a ten. Then she extended the scaling board at arm’s length between both her arms, looked at it and exclaimed: “What is this!” Asking her what she meant she again exclaimed: “What is this?” Keeping silent and just watching her she eventually says: “How stupid can I be!” Her face lit up, her facial muscles relaxed, the tics disappeared and in their place there appeared laughing lines. Asking her what makes her rate the fire in her life at a two as her heart tells her she answered: “ F*** my heart, let’s talk about what my brain tells me because if I listen to my brain my heart is at peace.” Needless to say from here onwards the session progressed at a rapid positive pace. It was a moment of pure magic.

I have seen similar results in corporate settings. However I will write more about this later.

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