You don’t need any help. In fact, help is a four letter word. You’re an adult. You have it all together. You might be a bit overwhelmed and distracted but you still get your stuff done. Maybe not all the stuff and maybe you don’t know why you do some of the stuff you do. And you might be exhausted trying to be all things to all people but…you certainly don’t need a coach.
Yep. I thought the same thing. Needing a coach is like accepting that you can’t handle your own stuff. What I found, surprisingly, is that if you are working with a trained coach (not some charlatan without credentials) you get to actually work on your own stuff. I remember about 4 months ago; I was going through an enormous transition. I couldn’t sleep. I was on a cycle of constant rumination and worry. Yes, a complete stress case. I was stressing out my entire immediate family.
I phoned a friend. A coach friend. She asked me some thought provoking questions. I finally started having some insights into my situation. The clouds started to part. Blue skies started peeking through. Luckily I had a session scheduled with my coach the next day. She asked me to visualize my perfect outcome. I saw butterflies raising me up from my shoulders. I let go of the worry. I let go of the dread. I was free and the storm had passed. The reason I’m telling you this is that; I could not have done that on my own. As I said to my friend, “you just can work on your own $%&@!” I have coached hundreds of people through their stuff, but I can’t work on my own stuff.
These are the reasons why coaching works:
1. Reflection back. When a coach notes and mentions that you’ve said the word “Money” eight times in the last fifteen minutes, it can be surprising. The coach didn’t say the word “money” eight times, you did. Wow. Really? Hmmm. I wonder if I might be hung up on money. Ya think? Or when a coach says, ” I don’t hear a lot of energy in your voice. Why is that?” A good coach reflects back your own thinking. Even if you stand in front of a mirror and talk to yourself, you will not hear the nuances that a coach hears.
2. Being deeply heard. Everyone runs around with a basic need of being deeply heard. Your partner might be a good listener but they’ve also heard you tell that story about not being picked for the kickball team fifty times. A coach is not tied to your outcome. When I was going through that crisis several months back, my husband couldn’t handle the stress of me talking about my stress. He’s vested in my future and our futures are intertwined; a coach is just vested in me and my thinking. They are there to listen. To find themes. To bring out the metaphors. My coach coaxed out the butterfly metaphor and it still resonates with me. She heard me. Deeply.
3. They don’t have an agenda. This is the main caveat of an ICF certified coach. Coaches do not control the agenda. They’re not worried about me making the mortgage payment or if I should sign up for a marathon or not. Without an agenda, a coach lets you call the shots. I think this is the single biggest distinction between a coach and a mentor or consultant. I have clients ask me frequently, “Cathy what should I do?” My answer is, “What are your thoughts about it?” It’s freeing to make your own decisions. If you make the decisions; you are going to follow through on them.
4. No attachment to the outcome. I can remember when I first started coaching. Let’s say the client wanted to quit smoking. When we met for our next session, they hadn’t taken any of steps they said they would take to quit. I would feel let down. Now, I’ve learned to let go. If it’s not important to the client, then it’s not important to me as a coach. I’m just helping them sort out what’s important and what’s not. Whatever outcome they want is what I want. They are driving the train, not me.
5. You cannot have insights on your own. Good coaching creates new pathways in your brain. Coaches are able to make connections between the thoughts you are having. I remember bemoaning the fact that I wasn’t being compensated enough for a gig I was doing. My coach said, “So you’re saying that the only thing you are getting out of it is money?” I suddenly realized that the gig had all kinds of upside besides the money like connection, camaraderie, and the opportunity to share. That was an insight for me that I know I wouldn’t have had on my own.
Coaching is all about you doing your best thinking; setting the space and time aside to really look at what direction you are headed. In the busyness of life, it’s so easy to lose track of what you value, where you are headed and, most importantly, how you want to get there. Coaching is a very viable answer.