Whenever anyone asks me about my job, and what I actually do during a coaching session, I find myself stumbling over explaining the essence of what it is.
Yes, there are very specific areas of coaching, but it is not merely the ‘what’ that makes it valuable. The real value of coaching lies in the process of uncovering and de-layering that leads to identifying the essence of the problem.
Sounding board: Almost every single person that I coach already ‘knows’ what he or she should be doing, so suggesting solutions is not useful. At the most basic level, a coach merely plays the role of a sounding board. Seems simple enough right? However when you really think of it, when was the last time you felt truly listened to? How often in this world of constant talking and no silence do we get a chance to sit with a problem, and to think it through fully? In this world of speaking and no listening, when do we have someone who is completely focused on listening to us, not just our words, but also listening at a deeper level to the meaning between the lines, listening to what is unspoken, and listening to the emotions in the midst of the silences? One of the biggest gifts that a coach can offer you is deep listening. In my conversations with my own coach, I am immensely touched by the sacredness of the space in which I am heard.
Curiosity: During the deep and focused listening, the curiosity arises of why? Why is it this way? What makes you think this? Where does it come from? These questions and many more gets the coachee to stop and look at the ‘obvious’ with a fresh perspective. This curiosity, free from judgement, helps us re-evaluate our thinking. Deep questions that arise from deep listening can lead to our ‘aha’ moments. It is these questions that can lead a coachee from “Yes, I know I should probably be doing that.” to “Oh, now I understand what has been preventing me from taking action!”
Challenge: At times we tend to sink into our comfort zones, it’s not called a comfort zone for nothing! It’s comfortable! We like it. Coaching helps us to get out of our comfort zones, by taking small steps. We want to stretch and flex our skills and muscles, without creating such huge leaps that we end up in the panic zone. If we are not challenged from time to time, we don’t grow.
Our ‘aha’ moments: My most favourite part of the coaching session is when a client says: “Oh, I didn’t think of it that way before!” It is this shift in thinking that clears the blockages. The new insight gained creates new energy and momentum to move forward.
Accountability: Once we’ve arrived at a point where we know what the next step is, we need to ensure that life doesn’t get in the way, that we don’t lose focus on our goals. As an accountability partner, a coach will help you to break down your goals into achievable pieces and support you in your progress. Accountability partners increase your likelihood of success.
Support: Let’s face it: We all need more support. There’s a reason why most sporting activities have supporters. It helps you go that extra mile. We all need someone who will cheer us on and encourage us.
These are just a few of the valuable tools and skills that are used in a coaching session. In this world of increasing demands with decreasing connection and support, the benefits of a coaching relationship is becoming more valuable.