Expanding your “personal bandwidth,” is a concept originally articulated by the late Thomas Leonard, the grandfather of the coaching profession. He listed 10 ways you could increase your ability to absorb and handle new concepts, ideas and information. Expanding your personal bandwidth is like upgrading your mental hard drive or adding disk space to your brain so you can do more, faster, and with less effort. An intriguing concept to say the least.
It occurs to me that there is yet another way to expand your bandwidth, one that is, in fact, critically important.
I was working with a client having an argument with her spouse about their house renovations. They bought an old New England Cape Cod with many original features intact, including windows. He likes modern, she likes antique. As the house has a modern 1970’s addition, it seemed a good compromise. The problem? He wants to rip out all the old windows and put in easy-to-clean modern ones. She is convinced this will destroy the charm and character of the house and perhaps even lower its resale value. They are head to head and getting nowhere, both feeling like the other isn’t listening.
I pointed out that the problem isn’t actually the windows, it goes much deeper. It is a conflict in values.
According to one of the powerful computerized assessments we offer within the Career Change Coaching Kit ™— the Personal Interests, Attitudes and Values—there are 6 core driving values that strongly influence the choices people make in life:
- Utilitarian (money/practicality/how is this useful?—think Donald Trump)
- Individualistic (a desire for power/control, especially over other people—Margaret Thatcher)
- Traditional (highly principled, makes choices based on a system for living—Gandhi)
- Aesthetic (beauty/harmony/personal growth—Giorgio Armani)
- Social (helps others [people or animals], selfless—Mother Theresa)
- Theoretical (quest for the truth, knowledge, information—Einstein)
(Disclaimer: I haven’t assessed any of these famous people personally so this is a rough guess on my part to give you sense of what we are talking about.)
Most people have two values that rank as “strong,” two which will come into play in some situations and won’t be a driving factor in others, and two “indifferent” values.
Your two strong values pretty much determine why you make certain life choices and what is most important to you.
With my client, her values rank: #1 aesthetic (rather unusual, many people rank “indifferent”); #2 social–she is a people-oriented, caring person; and #3 utilitarian (doesn’t like wasting money, practical). She is unusual in that she had three come up as “strong.” Her husband has strong theoretical and utilitarian factors with aesthetic in the indifferent position. Now you can see why the windows are a problem. She values the aesthetics of the old windows. He thinks, “Why tolerate old when we can get better, easier, practical, new?” Neither is right or wrong, they just have different values.
I suggested she make her case by appealing to his practical, utilitarian side—restoring the old windows will save money and retain the house’s resale value (perhaps adding $50k in value for restored windows). This quickly resolved a problem that had been creating tension in their relationship for months.
How is this related to personal bandwidth?
You can’t really understand people, even your own mate, if you don’t know where they are coming from. In fact, you may not even understand your own crazy choices! Once you know why you are driven to make certain choices you’ll understand why others may be driven to do something that looks like sheer madness to you (i.e., ripping out antique windows). You’ll become more open-minded and understanding. What’s driving your choices?
If you haven’t already established what your top four emotional needs are you may be interested in this article Raise Your Emotional IQ Instantly—Take the Free Relationship Quiz.
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