Do You Need a Bigger Flashlight?



  • Having more without doing more (1:25)

  • Getting a bigger flashlight (2:50)

  • Your turn: Shine a bigger light on your challenges (6:10)


I was working with a coaching client today when she told me that she was really puzzled. While looking at the numbers for her business, she realized it was experiencing a drop in revenue but an increase in the number of customers they were serving.

We explored the many options which immediately came to her mind that could have a positive impact on how much money each customer spends, as well as some of the factors that could be negatively contributing to the situation…

…and it was fascinating to me that all of the potential improvements she came up with involved big, labor-intensive initiatives that she, herself, would have to do.


The big reason she is working with me in a coaching relationship is that, after many years of hands-on running her business, she wants more time with her growing family. But these kinds of labor-intensive solutions – this kind of doing – would impact her ability to have personal time.

The focus of our coaching relationship is on delegating and leading rather than managing, as well as spending more time on strategic thinking versus tending to “clean up in Aisle 12” emergencies.

I allowed her to go through all her big ideas, and then I asked her a simple question—

How can you be present without having to do more?

This led her to realize that her business needs her presence – in terms of modeling desired behaviors, coaching and mentoring, and training others – more than it needs her to do the work that others aren’t doing.


She was so excited by this insight and the new strategies she came up with that she couldn’t wait to get off our phone call and start working directly with her managers.

When she first came on the call, I knew right away that she had a problem that was weighing on her, and it turned out to be this revenue puzzle. I’m glad we got to a place where she could see how she needs to shift, but our call had gone over the allotted time. That didn’t really matter, though, because working it through was of utmost importance. 

I could hear the relief in her voice, and I wanted her to notice that shift, as well. Many times, we get to a place where, by seeing a problem from a different angle or through a different lens, we arrive at a shift, and we feel this massive amount of relief, but then we don’t reflect on what caused the shift that gave us that relief.

She came into our call with some guilt and shame because of her thinking error that the only way to solve this problem was to give up the time with her family that she had worked so hard to create. So, before we disconnected, I stopped her and asked, “How are you feeling right now?”

“Beth, I feel like you just gave me a bigger flashlight.”

“Say more,” I encouraged her – because I didn’t want to make assumptions about what she meant by that.

She said, “Every time I talk something through with you, I can see the problem and the solution in such a clearer way than I could before we talked about it. It’s like you give me a bigger flashlight. I realize now that my staff needs more of me. They don’t need me to do more; they need my leadership presence.”

I am so eager to hear how the strategies she and I talked about – true leadership behaviors versus the behaviors of a task manager and doer – will move everything that is already going really well for her business to a place where things are going even better. I can’t wait to see how my dear, hard-working client will reap the benefits of an empowered team while she gets to enjoy the well-deserved time with her family.

Because that’s what it’s all about!


So, if you are struggling with a challenge and think that shining more light on it could help, here are some quick questions to ask yourself:

Am I looking clearly at the facts, or am I entwined with the story?
My client was so wrapped up in the thinking error that the only solution was one that required her to go back to working as hard as she had, she couldn’t see any other options.

What fear or emotion am I projecting onto the situation that’s clouding my view?
My client was fearful that taking time for herself and her family caused the problem, and so the only solution she saw was giving that up, although that was what she most wanted.

If you look a bit to the left and right of the problem instead of straight on, what do you notice?
Problems and challenges frequently feel insurmountable because we only see a giant roadblock when we look at them straight on. Yet when we look at the outer edges of the problem, we can frequently see where other people, systems, tools, or strategies can create a shift, even a tiny shift, that will have a giant impact.

How is solving this problem on my own limiting my ability to move forward?
It’s time to let go of the expert or sole-fixer status (“I’m the only one who can fix this.”) and engage in more of a collaborative approach. Who can you ask for perspective? If you have a team, how can you empower your staff to step up and help you with solving the problem?


If there is a place in your work or personal life where you could benefit from a bigger flashlight, our team of Navigating Challenging Dialogue® Master Facilitators and coaches at Beth Wonson & Company are ready to lend you a hand.

Contact us at to learn more about how our monthly coaching packages and our training for leaders and managers just may be the bigger flashlight you need.

- Beth