Everyone has a view of coaching and everyone has a view of coaches. While the vast majority may be overwhelmingly positive - some may not. Any reflections that I hear on less than great coaching always prompt me to describe what great coaching looks like.
I often use the metaphor of coaching as a journey, and like any journey it follows an arc.
Important disclaimer - I am not a world-class hiker, a mountaineer or a seafaring hero but it is still a compelling image :
It's Not My Journey.
Coaching involves partnering with a client to explore, to read the signs, to identify the pitfalls, to discuss possible routes, to take time to reflect on the surrounding beauty and clarify what reaching the destination means for them. As a coach I could fall prey to the illusion that it's my journey, since I've invited the client into the space and they agreed to join me.
But that gets things totally backwards. Coaching is always the client's journey - it’s their boat, it’s their map. In fact it’s their invitation that I’ve responded to and after our work is done I must go ashore while they continue on to the next leg that awaits.
Coaches do ask a lot of questions and offer feedback if it is useful, but the responsibility for decision-making must always rest within the client's hands.
Reading the signs.
In days long gone, when sailors had only the stars and trade-winds to follow, they paid particular attention to these markers and signs. Having a map was important, but watching and listening to what was right in front of them, knowing how to feel with intuition - that could save lives. When you set out on your coaching journey take the time to establish how you like to travel. Think about what degree of certainty you feel comfortable with and whether free-styling and going off-piste creates stress or excitement for you.
The best kind of coaching is a natural conversation, a dynamic dance, with the freedom to sync from one approach to another, one that can be fluid or structured. This should show up both within a single coaching conversation and over the arc of the coaching relationship.
Harbours and high places.
Journeys begin in a safe place, in place that is known and comfortable - a harbour. Some are destined to stay close to the path or within sight of the shore. This is fine if we don't have very far to go, or if we're content to take our time. Sometimes, we need to venture past familiar signpost, or cross into uncharted territory which requires taking some risks.
Great coaching relationships are built on a foundation of safety and trust. As a coach I attune myself to the client's perspective and earn their trust. A certain level of trust can be established within minutes, but it may take days, weeks or months to get out to the open ocean.
Our first conversations unfold in ways that involve less risk and this is natural - we’re just starting our journey together. Only after we feel a sufficient sense of safety and trust can we venture into areas that are more intense or that truly challenge our thinking.
Steering into deep water just to prove a point is not good coaching. But it it's equally important that my clients feel safe enough to travel there with me. I am here to let them know that when they have identified the peak they want to climb or the summit they need to reach - we will get there, when and if they choose.
If you want to start your fearless collaboration today - please contact me