Updated: Dec 25, 2018
What exactly is coaching?
There are a million definitions of coaching. Coaching is supporting you to close the gap between where you are now and where you want to be. It is getting you to be the best version of yourself. Coaching is adding speed and power in your life. Et cetera. International Coach Federation (ICF) (yes it is a real organization) defines it as “partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential”. For me, coaching is ALL the above plus being a windshield wiper. You are the driver of your car, and you always will be. As a coach, I am the windshield wiper, helping you clear your vision and enabling you to see more options, so you can choose powerfully for yourself.
What does a coach do?
I always tell people that coaching is not consulting. I won’t tell you what to do – not because I deliberately hold back information, but because I truly don’t know what you should do. The follow-up question is most likely “then why do I need to hire you?” Ha ha! It is a good one! The answer is that you will accomplish everything without me telling you what to do. I believe in my clients, their internal wisdom, creativity and power. Deep down they always know the answer: they might need to take some time to dig the gold mine; they might need a new perspective to see the world in a different way; they might need a mirror to reflect what they are really doing versus what they think they are doing; or they might need to face the ugly truth that they have always been avoiding. Coaching provides a container for all of these and beyond. I hold the space for my client so they can explore at their own pace. As a coach I challenge their limited belief so they realize that there are more than two options. I also reflect what I see in an honest way and am curious about what obstacle prevents them from pursuing their commitments. I take a stand for them and by them to reach their fullest potentials.
Who needs a coach?
Nobody and everybody.
A lot of people are living fine without having a coach (or without even knowing what a coach is), yet could probably live excellently by having one. When we are young, we go to school and return home, we study and play, we learn from our parents and teachers. At that age, we live in a confined and well-structured environment. Life is simple and everything is laid out for us. All of sudden, around age 18, we’re on our own. Many people, myself included, feel lost, experience confusion, seek meaning, and long to be understood. When that happens, we naturally reach out to families and friends. Yes, they are the people who love us dearly and want us to succeed. They offer advice from their experience and past.
Coaching is a different support structure that is internal and future driven. Coaches are professionally trained, so they know to hold space, to listen, to ask questions, to be curious, to challenge, and to provide accountability, which you might not get from families or friends. Coaches understand that self-awareness, actualization and fulfillment is a life long journey, but doesn’t need to be a lonely and scary one.
Who should I work with?
First and foremost, work with a professionally trained coach! Keep in mind that coaching is a relatively young industry – booming but not well regulated. You can literally add ‘coach’ next to your name without any consequence. Therefore it is important to know that your coach goes through rigorous training and can provide the service you need. ICF has a list of certified coach training programs on their website.
Furthermore, follow your heart! You’ll know who you want to work with after having a sample session. Every coach has his/her coaching style, personality, and way of communication. Find one that resonates with you! Lean in, open up and trust. Trust is essential for a successful coaching relationship; without trust, it would be hard to share authentically; without truly knowing what you are going through, your coach can’t support you fully. Coaching sometimes can be disruptive and it is the coach’s job to challenge your old way of thinking and doing things. When that happens, you might get defensive, angry or frustrated; and if the trust foundation is not solid enough, relationship can be crumbled easily. All that is to say that coaching is a partnership and you can make a choice for what is working for you.
What else do I need to know?
Hopefully this Coaching 101 guide has answered the basics and emboldened you to consider the benefits of coaching for your own life. Please let me know if you have any questions or comments. I am eager to hear your thoughts! Also stay tuned for the next blog.