What do you see? Do you see the open ocean ahead as you set sail on a new adventure? Or does this photo make you feel alone and adrift? Either way, I can help you navigate and adapt.
Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.
What is coaching?
The International Coaching Federation (ICF) defines coaching as,”[P]artnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential. The process of coaching often unlocks previously untapped sources of imagination, productivity and leadership.”
Broadly speaking, coaching is a process by which a coach works with a client (or “coachee”), meeting in-person or virtually, during which the coach serves as a partner by conducting focused and structured inquiry, helping the client improve professionally or personally, tackle projects, develop strengths, and maximize potential. By helping the client find the answers, rather than simply giving them the answers, genuine shifts or change can arise.
It can be helpful to consider what coaching is not. It is not psychotherapy, which may identify mental health issues more suited to trained clinical psychotherapists, and often explores what happened in the past to understand the present. Coaching is more focused on moving forward to an objective we define together. Coaching is not the same as consulting. Consultants have expertise in a subject area and impart that knowledge. Coaching doesn’t give you the answers, it helps you find the answers, driving real change. Coaching is not mentoring, because as with consulting a mentor is selling experience.
The metaphor of learning to ride a bicycle is often used. A teacher will tell you how to ride the bike, how it works, etc. A consultant will tell you how to ride and likely sell specialized equipment. A psychotherapist can help with any fears of falling or other issues arising from the past. A coach will support you, be there as you slowly gain your balance and momentum and run alongside in support.
Some people use coaches for short bursts, to get something started, to do a “reset” on goals, objectives, skills assessments, etc. Some people like the ongoing regular check-in.
Why do I need a coach?
Strictly speaking, no one needs a coach. You might need a job, you might need dinner, you might need a coat on a cold morning, but you don’t need a coach. You might think that because someone suggests you use one that it is a criticism in some way.
Tom Brady has a coach. Serena Williams has a coach. Elite athletes, performers, musicians, surgeons, aviators, have coaches. Successful people have coaches because they want to be more successful, they want to be at the top of their game. A coach can help, by being a partner in your work, by being another set of eyes, noticing things you might be missing, asking questions you haven’t asked yet, helping you identify and remove obstacles, helping you clarify your next steps or your ultimate objectives, and helping you stay motivated, focused, and accountable for your progress. Just about everybody can benefit from a coach.
How do we start?
Here are some questions you might reflect upon, that might help you identify issues you want to work on.
- What habits, thought processes, or patterns need to change for you to be able to move forward faster?
- What is a long-term goal you want to work on? (Note the “want”, not “should”.)
- What are you eager to accomplish in the next 90 days?
- A year from now, what would you want to be different in your life?
- What are you spending time on that is not adding value?
- What is the biggest challenge you face?
- What do you want in your career that you don’t have yet?
- What opportunities are you missing?
- What is holding you back?
- What dream have you given up on?
- What skill do you most want – or need — to learn or develop?
- What saps your energy? What energizes you?
- Do you have a clear purpose in life?
I don’t have time for this.
Maybe. But crowded calendars are often indicators of prioritization challenges. Busy people may be missing opportunities. Clarifying, prioritizing, focusing, motivating – all of these are things successful people make time for.
How will I know it’s working?
Part of the coaching process is helping you determine next steps, find ways to measure your progress, and ensure that you are holding yourself accountable for your progress. If it’s working, it should be evident to you over time. And rest assured, when I see you make progress, I’ll be cheering you on.
Is it confidential?
I abide by the International Coaching Federation Code of Ethics. We can’t have a meaningful coaching relationship if you can’t trust me or the process. There are two small exceptions to this. One is if you tell me you are doing something illegal or unethical, I’ll have to take action. The other is with regard to my coach training and certification. Just as clinical psychologists or physicians do, I may discuss issues for training purposes without indicating your name. Also, with a view toward getting the next level coaching certification, I have to report hours coaching and have to provide validation that I have coached the hours I say I coached. With regard to discoverable documents, those will be documents like this one, the coaching agreement, that sort of thing.
The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.
William Arthur Ward