Friend: Do you have a coach?
Me: Yes….(shares a bit about my coach and what I’m learning)
Friend: That’s reassuring, I can’t stand those that sell a service/product and don’t actually utilise it themselves. However, I’m intrigued – being a good coach, shouldn’t that mean you can coach yourself?
Me: Actually no! While I use some of the techniques and skills on myself, I need someone else to hold the mirror up and challenge me in a way I can’t do myself.
I share that conversation for a number of reasons. Firstly, this was the first time I’ve had someone, who’s not a coach; ask me whether I have a coach. That intrigues me – if you were looking to hire a coach I’d encourage you to ask that question as I suggest the insight it gives is invaluable.
Secondly, what my friend did very simply and eloquently, without even knowing it, is ask, what we coaches call, a powerful question. An open question that gets the other person thinking in a deeper way than before – and that thinking quite often continues long after the conversation has completed.
Finally, in evidence of my last sentence, it made me review something I’d been pondering sometime, which is how do I share the benefits of coaching in a real life and tangible way respecting I will never share details of my clients. That’s when my eureka moment came – I can share my experiences of coaching!
Last year I had a reoccurring health issue. I’m naturally a strong, positive, courageous and adventurous individual, but this challenge knocked me sideways. When I’m not at my best, I find my inner voice goes mad, chattering away every minute of every day and starts to take over. In usual circumstances I can grab hold of that inner voice, but this time I was struggling. I could feel myself falling deeper and deeper. Only three weeks prior I’d been to see Brene Brown talk live in London and there was a copy of her Rising Strong book sat on my bedside. So one dark early December night, I picked it up and started reading – I got to paragraph three and had tears streaming down my face and spent the next two hours reading through those tears. This was the moment I realised I needed to do something different.
Through coaching I realised :
· I was not alone. There were others around me who cared about me and would support me through this moment of my life.
· I wasn’t thinking rationally. My coach repeated what I had said and hearing it immediately made me spot the irrationality of my words.
· Through some self-discovery during those sessions, I realised that the health issue wasn’t the biggest challenge. I was living a life that wasn’t honouring what’s most important to me – and that was creating all sorts of emotion and feelings in side of me that I was choosing to just accept.
· I had options and choices. While I felt hopeless and a victim I couldn’t see any of them. Through talking with someone who came with no judgement, no opinions, no agenda and focussing only on me, it was like a light had switched on. Suddenly the map in front of me was readable again, and I was back in control of navigating my life.
Fast forward 8 months. My whole world has changed. I no longer do a 60 – 70 hour week working for a corporate. I’m in the midst of setting up my own business where every day is different and unknown. I’ve spent more time with those important to me in the last 6 months than I probably have in the two years prior. I can give back through offering my time and skills to things I’m passionate about. Sounds amazing? Well yes, it’s also scary and hard!
Through coaching I’ve learnt:
· I value high achievement but it can be my worst enemy too! It motivates me and encourages me to be brave and courageous, but it also means I’m really hard on myself and can tell myself I’m not good enough. Historically this has enabled my success, yet more recently it’s getting in my way – it’s causing me to freeze and not be effective and to dwell on things I’ve not achieved yet. Without a coach I would have let this just occur, through coaching I’m acknowledging it, identifying what and how it’s happening and then dealing with it. Sounds easy, I promise you it’s not!
· To act on those important things that I’ve been putting off. Family is really important to me and yet there was a family member I’d not seen for far too long. My coach threw out a direct and tough challenge to me – if family is so important then what’s stopping you see that family member? Sharp intake of breath and OUCH! I needed that shock and am so grateful for what came from it.
· That having supporters around you is great and needed, but someone without judgement and objective is powerful and creates an environment for better decision-making and action. I recently found out something quite significant via social media (read between the lines – this isn’t something you might expect to find out on social media). I leaned on a friend, who reacted with a “OMG, you found out on social media?”. Which is a very real and respectable judgement. My immediate thought following this conversation was to reach out to individuals involved and challenge them about their actions! What coaching has taught me is to slow down; you don’t need to react immediately. I used an upcoming coaching session to explore this situation and realised it wasn’t about me; I didn’t want to get involved and just to let it go!
Only in my last coaching session, I agreed to spend time between sessions answering this question ‘what makes me the beautiful soul that I am?’ I’m learning that I appreciate a lot about what’s going on around me and about others, but not me. I worry about what I’m not and that takes up time and energy, which could be better spent! My coach set me that question – one that is hard for me to even type let alone think about, but because it’s hard I know deep down it’s a cave I need to go in and explore to find out more about myself.
So I’m hoping by telling my story you’re starting to appreciate the benefits of coaching. We humans are designed to be connected with others and are more effective when we do. We don’t have to live this life alone, and a coach is one way to have a cheerleader, challenger, visionary, advocate and mirror by your side enabling you to fulfil and expand your potential along your journey.
Most coaches offer free sample sessions – go on, go and experience it for yourself!
This blog was recently published on Huffington Post. You can see it here – http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/58074b15e4b021af3477648a?timestamp=1479048042794