(This blog post is being reprinted with permission from and attribution to Keith Webb, Creative Results Management.)

I could tell by the expression on his face he just had an important realization. I asked what he was thinking. His face dropped and he said, “I already knew this, but…” and then went on to share a helpful insight. Yet, he was disappointed because he “already knew” it. His insight was tarnished somehow.

This incident highlights the mistaken belief that new knowledge is the key to finding answers to our problems. We seek experts through books, seminars, podcasts, and blogs to give us that new little tidbit of knowledge – the key to making things work out for us.

Seeing with New Eyes

Many leaders view themselves as knowledge providers. But coaching is different. In coaching the goal is not new information or knowledge. Here’s why: more knowledge from the same perspective will produce the same sort of actions.

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking

new landscapes but in having new eyes.Marcel Proust

Transformation comes by increasing the coachee’s perspective – helping him or her to see the same world in new ways, through new eyes. With new eyes, the coachee can now generate options for action that are significantly different than before. As perspective changes, so do the available options.

Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear?

–Jesus, Mark 8:18

The Apostle Paul understood a shift in perspective when he wrote, “I pray the eyes of your heart to be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints and his incomparably great power for us who believe” (Ephesians 1:18-19).

Breakthrough Solutions

Once we see with a new perspective and new eyes we may find a breakthrough solution.

Not long ago, I was driving in France. The road was a small two-lane road that took me through fields and small cute country villages. It was also taking longer than expected and every 15 minutes or so I’d get stuck behind a slow-moving tractor. This continued for 2 hours. According to the GPS it would be 3 more hours to reach my destination. I was going to be very late.

I decided to stop and reset the GPS. Only then did I realize that I had the “avoid toll roads” turned on. When I turned that off, the GPS showed me the way to a toll road with a new arrival time of only 58 minutes!

Usual solutions are those that are just one or two steps ahead on the same road, but breakthrough solutions are miles ahead because they are on new roads altogether.

And the old road’s struggles often become irrelevant in the process. There are no tractors on the toll road or no villages to slow through.

Breakthrough rarely comes only through new knowledge, but often comes from a shift in perspective – seeing with new eyes what we already “know.”

For further application:

  • Forget for a moment all the problems, what’s the root thing you’re trying to achieve? Why is this significant to you?
  • What are three completely different approaches you could take to achieve your goal? (Explore how they could work not the obstacles of each.)
  • What are some crazy ideas that you’ve ignored because they are too impractical?

Dr. Keith Webb, PCC

Keith Webb, DMin, PCC, is an author, speaker, and consultant specializing in leadership development. He is the founder of Creative Results Management, a global training organization focused on helping ministry leaders multiply their impact. For 20 years, Keith lived in Japan, Indonesia, and Singapore where he designed and delivered leadership development programs to leaders around the world. He is the author of The Reflective Journal for Coaches, Coaching in Ministry, and The COACH Model for Christian Leaders. Keith is a past-President of ICF Washington State and lives near Seattle with his wife and their two children. He blogs at keithwebb.com.

The views expressed above are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of CCNI.