I was taken aback recently. Pretty astounded actually. A senior executive in a large organization thought my job was to teach presentation skills to her lesser skilled staff member.
I was a bit confused at first because I thought she had me confused with someone else- hopefully a presentations skills expert that looked like me. It became apparent that she had no realistic idea of my role as executive coach and assumed I was a trainer of sorts. “Well, what do you do then?”, she asked. If she is someone who ‘should know’, I can only imagine the confusion there must be for the general public. It occurred to me that big myths still remain regarding the coaching process and all it entails. I began explaining the process of coaching and how it is a professional conversation in which I follow the clients lead- not the other way around.
Together and through the relationship/ trust/rapport developed we identify well- formed outcomes– usually described in behavioural terms. Using powerful questions and inquiry, we establish how life will be different as a result of the coaching. We articulate very specific details outlining what it will look like when the problem/obstacle is being managed, as well as ‘who needs to be doing what’ differently. Collaboratively, we design actions that raise awareness and opportunities for ongoing learning to ensure clients are moving in the direction they want to go. We create feedback loops to safeguard that we stay on track and maintain progress. My clients, not me, determine whether they need to up skill themselves or acquire further knowledge to bridge any gaps they might have.
If my clients believe training will help, she/he will find the best resources available for the task at hand. We identify any and all opportunities, costs and risks involved for each option and every choice. In the end, it is my clients who make the decisions regarding what they need or prefer to create positive changes. If they want to develop or improve because they can see the benefits of doing so, it is their responsibility to make that happen. I facilitate the process of them uncovering what they prefer to have in order to move in an empowering direction by listening for signs of hope, self-efficacy and possibility.
As a Solution Focused colleague of mine -Paulo Terni – pointed out in an article he wrote recently, “Clients are experts on their own lives and deserve to be treated as such. They know better than anyone else what they want, and what kind of strategies they can put in action to get there. Your job is to help them articulate that knowledge, not teach them your theory about what they should want and how they should get there. Coaches need to be expert on one thing and one thing only: how to lead a conversation that is empowering and enables the best in clients. That’s it. Coaches are expert at process, not at content.” *
As an expert of the process (and not the client’s life) we co-create a conversation that allows the clients’ personal and/or professional potential to emerge. It is a process of enquiry and exploration/self-discovery based on the present and future. I don’t get to tell the client what to do or how to do it (consulting mode). I also make sure not to focus the conversation on emotions and the past (therapeutic mode).
Perhaps this letter of thanks in my client’s words can shed some light:
“Thank you for your help. I know it is still early days but it really does help seeing you. What makes it even more amazing is that you are really genuine. (I know what you do is your work but it takes someone special to do what you do).
I know having you around as my voice of reason and my champion of clarity during this time will help me loads WRT what I need to achieve in order to “break” free and be the person I was meant to be and live the life I deserve.
Sometimes all we need is someone like you to help put our thoughts and feelings down into words, then question those thoughts and feelings, rearrange them and put them into an order that matters, makes sense and is realistic to what we want to achieve.
Some times our goals and better judgement can be clouded by confusion, hurt, lies and betrayal making it difficult to distinguish between what is good and bad, what is right and wrong and what path to take on our journey to healing and self-care.
If there is anything I have realized in the short time I have been seeing you is that NO ONE can make you happy if you are not happy with yourself. In order for me to be happy and make others happy I have to be a little bit selfish (or as you call it self-respecting) and think of myself first because I am equally important.
I have also discovered that along the way to self-care and self-discovery you learn a lot about yourself. Learning and finding yourself puts a lot of things into perspective. It changes the way we see things, it changes the way we love, the way we think, the way we learn, it just about changes every way we look at things. It is unfortunate that most people only start to discover themselves much later in life and then just give up on that self-discovery because they are too set in their ways and think it is too late to change things for the better.
Knowing all of the above is empowering in its own way. I have come to realise that I have the power to change my situation (with a little bit of guidance from you J)
I have also realised that I might lose some “friends/family” along the way (This scares the hell out of me) but I do realise it is part of the journey. I am also super afraid of not knowing what is out there for me. I guess this is the part where I just have to go with it and take it as it comes and try my absolute best to put plans into place that will make the ride as smooth as possible.
SO, THANK YOU AGAIN!!
I so appreciate the way my client has articulated how coaching has helped her. I have noticed that the feedback regarding the benefits of coaching vary because each client that is seeking change is as unique as their circumstances. The thinking environment that a coach creates, generates different perspectives and insights exclusive to each person. What I can tell you is that coaching invites us to live our lives more deliberately.
It can help us to consciously construct physical health and wellbeing,
It can encourage us to define a path for business and financial success ensuring one’s financial freedom.
It can support you to build your own tribe with people who inspire, challenge and encourage you to become the- best-version-of-yourself.
It might even inspire you to design your spiritual mission and contribution or service so you can make in impact in the world.
Coaching can do many things and help in many ways. Where will it take you? Well, that depends on you and where you (or anyone) want to go.
*(SOLUTION-FOCUSED) COACHING 2.0 –CONVERSATIONS FOR CHANGE
ANYWHERE AND ANYTIME By Dr. Paolo Terni, MAPP, PCC