I got a confession to make (yes, another one…).
Despite the fact I became a qualified Coach in 2006 and that I’ve been coaching ever since (even before), I experienced strong resistance to embrace Coaching as ‘what I do’.
Why? For many reasons, but the top 3 are:
- The work of a coach is widely misinterpreted and often confused with get-rich-quick scammers of the 80’s. Hence, coach = scammer.
- The lack of barriers to enter the industry allows literally anyone to say: “I am a Coach”. To some individuals, it takes as little as watching the movie “The Secret” (ouch)
- Difficulties in explaining what a Coach does without sounding too ‘woo-woo’. Many people, especially those who never had a Coach, still believe claims such as “improving performance”, “overcoming mental blocks”, “inner-game”, “unlocking potential”, “helping achieve goals faster”, “acquiring new skills and abilities”, “live more on purpose”, “regain and sustain motivation”, etc… are associated with Jedi or mind control techniques.
In my head, I heard voices saying:
“I have to call myself something else, I don’t want to be associated with scammers”
“I did not spend nearly 10 years of my life learning about psychology, adult learning, behaviour science, communication, business, marketing, strategy, etc…. to fine-tune strategies that get results to my clients to be mistaken by airy-fairy professionals who clearly haven’t done their homework”.
Trying to change the name of what I do was very irrational. A complete non-sense.
Instead, I should have acknowledged I was simply afraid of discrimination because coaching is a methodology which is very close to my heart.
I realise that my initial resistance is not uncommon. It’s a form of protection for those who see their chosen career as an extension of who they are.
I recently realised I should have been educating people about What Coaching Really Is and how it works.
So, this is the first of a few articles on the topic.
I’ll also write about other training and advisory services for those who need expert help but don’t always understand what kind.
So, what is Coaching?
Coaching is a collaborative endeavour between a coach and an individual to facilitate the attainment of the coachee’s goals in the coachee’s context. The purpose of this endeavour is to enhance skills, performance and capability. However, in contrary to training which involves telling, its aim is helping individuals explore and understand themselves and the situation they are in so they discover the answers for themselves.
Coaching is more about asking the right questions at the right time. The general belief is that “people are naturally creative, resourceful and whole. That is, they can and should find their own answers, are not in need of fixing, and can recover and learn” (Co-active coaching).
Extensive research in Adult Learning supports people are much more likely to engage with solutions that they have come up with, rather than those that are forced upon them.
A great Coach takes into account each person’s ‘inner’ game and attempts to remove or reduce internal obstacles to their performance to allow the coachee’s natural ability to flow. This ability isn’t necessarily an inherited special talent, but a relentless curiosity to learn and a desire to improve.
Coaching is unlocking a person’s potential to maximize their own performance. It’s helping them to learn rather than teaching them. ~ Sir John Whitmore
Coaching is both an art and a science.
Great Coaches diligently study the intricacies of human behaviour, motivation, business and natural systems, psychology, etc. They embark on a never-ending search for a model that consistently delivers results with the discipline of a scientist.
Great Coaches are artists as they possess unique ability to listen beyond what it’s been said, build meaningful and deep connections with their coachees and “dance in the moment” (responding to the coachee situation as needed) as there are no scripts to follow.
Ultimately, when combining art and science, skillful coaches help coachees change their inner game and achieve their goals faster.
Even though anyone can call themselves Coach nowadays, Coaching is rare
In my nearly 10 years working both as a Coach and Trainer, I learned that Coaching is one of the most powerful tools for creating sustainable changes. However, apart from necessary skills and experience, it takes patience, self-control and wisdom for Coaches to give up instructing (telling what people what to do), be present and see the Coachees true potential.
On the other side, it takes courage for Coachees to trust solutions will unfold when their awareness sharpen up and responsibility and self-belief develop.
The goal of a Coach is building awareness, responsibility and self-belief.~ Sir John Whitmore
I hope I haven’t complicated things further. After all, explaining What is Coaching is not an easy task.
It’s much easier to simply, demonstrate it.
Are you ready for a challenge?