Getting out of the Problems and Drama and standing on the summit of Vision: Levels of Attention

Thank you for reading our coaching tools blog series over the past few weeks, where I have introduced you to some of the main coaching tools that we teach our students on the NPCA Certificate in Professional Coaching. I hope you have enjoyed reading about the different processes and tools that you have been learning about and that you have been able to apply some of the models to your own coaching practice.  If you want to read more about last week’s blog on the North Point Meta-Model you can click here.

Levels of Attention

Not so long ago, I arrived at a coaching session with my own coach. I was late and I had a number of issues playing on my mind. In fact, I had been feeling so down that I actually wanted to cancel the appointment, but had also forgotten to cancel so decided that it was unfair to not attend at such late notice.  Rather than getting on with my session, however, I went straight into a whirlwind of apologies for being late which led to an emotional discussion about what was going on in my life.  My coach let me rant for a short while, before politely pulling me back to ask me what I noticed about my current thoughts.

Levels of Attention

Drama and Problems

When I was able to notice my own thoughts, I realised that I was totally consumed in the negative emotions I was feeling, or if we look at the Levels of Attention model above, what we would call “Drama”.

Being in the Drama can be described as being in an emotional state where you are stuck or unable to move forwards. In the diagram above showing the Levels of Attention model, we use the metaphor of a mountain leading down towards the sea. You can see that when we are in the Drama, we are beneath the water, drowning, in fact.

One step up the mountain and we are still underwater at the Problems level, yet closer to the surface. Our focus could be on what’s currently going wrong and all the reasons why our goals are not possible.

In our coaching sessions with our clients we can help them to notice where they are putting their attention, either at any given moment or on a more consistent basis, and the impact of doing so. When they are able to direct their attention to a level that is more useful for them, this will create a more positive impact.

Often, by simply helping our clients to notice where they are can help them to change their perspective. Sometimes, we might need to coach them around their current and desired impact to help them shift to a more useful level.

Vision, Strategy and Tactics

I would like to invite you, for a moment, to imagine standing at the very top of a mountain.  What can you see when you stand up there?

You get the full panoramic view of the beautiful vista below. Everything down below looks peaceful and calm, and you can clearly see the route that you want to take.  This is what it feels like when you place your attention on the Vision that you want to achieve.  You not only know the goals you want to achieve, you also know your reasons for wanting to achieve them and can see the big picture of how to get there.  The Vision perspective can also act as a great motivation for you when things are not going completely smoothly.

When clients focus on the Vision level, they are able to see the big picture in terms of their goals and are able to pull back from the details and potential pitfalls.

When working towards our goals, however, it may not always be useful to stay at the top of the mountain at the Vision level.  There are also tactical steps to be taken and strategic plans to be made at different times on our journey.  People might naturally be better at focusing on one level, for example the client who loves to create visions and goals but doesn’t like to take action. At times, our attention may need to be on the Strategy or Tactics of the Levels of Attention model.

When we focus on Strategy, we place our attention on defining our plan for achieving the Vision we have set without focusing too much on the day-to-day actions that need to be taken. Whereas, at a Tactics level, we are attending to the action steps that need to be taken towards our goals.

Once again, when our client becomes aware of not only where they are giving their attention, but also where they would gain the best positive impact at any given time, they can start to be more effective in achieving their Vision.

For me, there are times when we need to place our attention at any of the top 3 levels of Vision, Strategy and Tactics – remembering that this is not a linear model, so you might move between these three levels as necessary. Where I find it least useful – and more tiring – to be is in the Problems and the Drama.

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North Point Coaching Academy runs a 16-week coach development programme, which is accredited by the International Coach Federation (ICF).  In 2017, we have programmes starting in March, May and October. You can read more about the NPCA Certificate in Professional Coaching on our website or contact me for more details on

Please leave your comments in the comments section below.


Sarah Anthony Sarah is a certified coach with specialties in entrepreneur, executive, team and leadership coaching. She worked in aviation, oil & gas and educational sectors before stepping out to form North Point with Matt in 2012. Sarah is married to Nitesh and is the proud mum of a young lady called Imogen. Her favourite place in the world is Santorini, where she and Nitesh were married.


  1. Simlulan
    March 6, 2017

    Actually, I’m kinda confused on what kind of training/support the coach would provide.Is it on mental well-being/ marketing skills(see this in other section of the webpage).I’m interested to know more. Could you enlighten me on this?

    • Sarah Anthony
      March 6, 2017

      Hi Simlulan,

      Firstly, coaching is actually very different from training. Coaching is about walking together with your coachee to help them to find their own solutions for their goals. Say for example, you have a vision that you want to achieve, you could then work with a coach on finding ways forward to achieve that and how to overcome any barriers – either internal or external that might get in your way. The coach does this not through giving advice though. Instead they use their listening skills and powerful questions, along with a number of other tools and models, to help their client move forwards and come up with their own ideas. As a coach, I believe that all people are objects of greatness and, therefore, that they have the answers within.

      The tool you have been reading about here is one of the tools that a coach might use when the client is stuck and unable to move forwards. Please feel free to look at the other tools in this coaching series also. . The blog on Content vs Process might help you to better understand what coaching is.

      At NPCA, we run an ICF (International Coach Federation) accredited coaching programme to train people to become coaches. We train people in the general skills of coaching regardless of the niche that they decide to work in. Once trained as a coach, our students will coach in a niche for example some people might decide to work as Life coaches, Executive or Leadership coaches or in Sales coaching. They might decide to coach their teams internally within their current position or to use their coaching skills to build an internal coaching culture in their companies. Simulan, if you are interested in learning more about our course or the possibilities for what you can do with a coaching qualification, please get in touch or take a look at the programme details.

      Thanks for getting in touch and I hope my explanation helps you to understand better.


  2. Owain
    March 7, 2017

    Hi Sarah, well I have come late to this but have taken something from it. I too have had negative thoughts whenever something has gone wrong in my life. I sometimes feel all doom and gloom, and sometimes think of all the worst scenarios that may happen as a result of the problem. I think I do that to prepare myself.

    But lately I have tried to think positively. I want to get on top of that mountain. I just need to train myself to be more positive and to tackle the problem or problems in front of me.

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