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What the heck is coaching

by Sep 10, 2018Coaching, Leadership

Few weeks ago I started a new coaching journey with a coachee.

The first thing I had to make sure was to set the expectations right and to explain what coaching is and what coaching isn’t because setting expectations is everything.

What coaching isn’t

  1. Coaching is not someone telling you how you should do stuff.
  2. Coaching is not someone telling you how she has done it before.
  3. Coaching is not someone listening to you, feeling sorry for your problems and giving you a pat on the back (though listening is heavily involved)

What coaching is

Coaching is first and foremost undivided presence.

For me the first time was one of the first times in my life that I had in front someone who was really listening to me without thinking what to answer next.

It was liberating and daunting at the same time.

Did you really listen to what I just said?” I started thinking to myself.

It was liberating because I did really have someone truly listening to me, without judging, without second guessing me, without trying to tell me how she would have done it.

It was daunting because I then realised that it almost never happened to me.

For those 30’, 60’ or 90’ I had a person listing all to myself!


Coaching is powerful questions

Then what happened next: I started getting asked questions, very good questions, questions I wouldn’t have come up with myself.

And at the same difficult questions to answer.

(Because let’s be honest if you don’t know the answer you are smart enough not to ask yourself the question).

And it forced me to think. Hard. About the answers I was giving, going beyond the answers I was hiding behind. The easy ones.

That accelerated my thinking, reframed my beliefs and offered me a different point of view. All the while putting me outside of my comfort zone.

Coaching is action.

We spend so much time thinking about stuff, fantasising about potential futures in which we have actually done something about whatever we are thinking about.

Truth is all those possible futures are only possible if you do something about the issue at hand. Otherwise they become yet another “If I only had done that” futures.

And as long as we live in this reality nothing happened.

Coaching moves thinking into action.

Because the coach is trained to ask for commitment. And once the coachee is committed there is at least a 50% chance that something would be done within a certain timeframe.

Coaching is learning about yourself

Finally the gift of going through a coaching journey is that you become more self-aware. Rather than doing things in an automatic manner, processing thoughts in the background and making decisions with “your guts”, coaching helps you to stop and think for real about issues.

In the process you understand more about who you are, what you really want and what you really need from work and life.

And the best and worst part is that you realise how often you are wrong about much of it.

Also: you understand more about the behaviours you keep with others and at some point you start thinking “Hey but what if I actually started listening to people as well, rather than just saying my opinion?”.