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Master Assessments

"I Don't Want to Play this Game Anymore!" I admit it: I got so mad at my sister when working a jigsaw puzzle the other night that I said, "I don't want to play this game anymore... I'm going to bed!" It was silly, childish, and, of course I was "right" as she was hogging the picture on the box and not sharing the puzzle pieces I had spent so much time sorting by color. Sheeesh!

So, in deeper reflection the next day, I began to wonder where it might serve me... and those around me... to quit playing a game. There might be a time when a childish behavior is just what is needed. As I continue to ponder this thought, I remember the story I wrote in this e-letter last month about giving up my game of holding on to "my" story about my mother. There is one, but what else? I can see that this will take time as it is not always easy to identify the games one plays... or it wouldn't be a game, would it?

In transformational coaching we call these games "master assessments". A master assessment is something you don't even know you are playing. It is a rule you live by that guides (narrows) the choices you have in how you live. It usually comes from our childhood; a statement someone made, usually a parent or teacher, where we formed a strong opinion about how we are and should be or behave. An example for me is from my first grade teacher: "Why can't all of you draw like Linda? She is the only one in the class who draws well." (She said that as she held up one of Linda's "beautiful" drawings.)

Probably more kids in the class along with me took away the idea that we can't draw and pretty much gave up trying to improve in drawing. For me, it moved into the idea that one is "born" to be creative... or not (note the jump to include much more than drawing) and since I could not, that was that. I lived with that until I studied weaving on a harness loom in the 1980s when I found that, yes, I could be very creative and that my tapestry weavings... my creations... served me and those around me. For me, life events increased my desire to learn something creative and new which allowed me to put aside my master assessment of "no creativity". Sometimes it is not that easy.

Transformational coaches support clients in first discovering those games they live by, and then grounding them. Grounding is the act of reflecting or having a conversation with ourselves and/or others to find out the real truth of the game for us. Once we have discovered the real truth for ourselves, we can choose (it is so totally a choice) to say, "I don't want to play anymore!"

"It is impossible for a person to learn what he thinks he already knows."

-Epictetus