The Way of the Coach

pixabay.com CC
pixabay.com CC

Professional coaching is a passion. When I immerse myself in the process of accompanying my client, then I feel much closer to my very best than in many other situations. And some of my deepest learning related to coaching has come about by instructing others in the practice.

Back in 2005 I trained a group of high school girls to become peer coaches in their school community.  I designed the course and wrote all the handouts. This was during the early stages of my formal training.  Re-reading the materials I developed for them at the time, I am struck now by the clarity of my belief in the power of the coaching alliance.  In preparing them to conduct full coaching conversations I wrote the following:

 

You are the most important resource in coaching others: your precious attention, presence, and personal style. When you turn your attention and focus it intently and generously on your conversation partner, you are already doing your partner and the world a great service. Every time you open your ears and heart to not only hear what your partner is saying but also to feel and understand what he or she is experiencing and offering, you become a source of energy rather than a drain. You create space rather than close it off. You welcome and accept the other rather than dismiss him or her. This is the role of the coach and each of us possesses the wonderful potential to serve those around us in this way.

When you step into the role of the coach, bear these things in mind. Your presence and capacity to listen are to be given the highest priority. As long as these two channels are completely open and free, your competency in the coaching role will grow and become increasingly natural. You won’t need to grope for the next right question. The questions will come on their own, because you are there where your client needs you to be. Finding the best questions for the situation, person and intended direction require time and practice but above all, begin with your willingness to truly accompany and be with your conversation partner.

Be patient with yourself. Free yourself from feeling that you need to provide your partner with answers or advice. The attention you shower on your client and the first rate listening you offer are already huge gifts that can make a substantial difference to someone.

Thank you for your willingness to make the world around you a better place.  (Peer Coaching, 2005)

While it has been nearly a decade since I wrote those words, they are a great help to me today. I know well that professional training takes plenty of time, money and a strong commitment to work, above all, on oneself. Professional coaching programs abound and are expanding around the world. Be that as it may, learning to listen fully, deeply, and without judgement need not cost large sums.  Cultivating a form of conversation which empowers, uplifts and sustains others should not require certification. We can all learn these skills and be purposeful in how we apply them in the varied situations we face.  These are the inroads to building trust and modeling empathy. As Tony Sinanis argues in a recent post, we need both trust and empathy to build successful schools, and I would argue that this holds true for human organizations, in general.  The way of the coach provides valuable guidance on this path.

Let us take heart, be brave and risk being as present as we possibly can with our fellow travelers.  Or, how else shall we set about making that proverbial difference?

 

5 + 5 Reasons Why I Work with a Professional Coach

image from pixabay.com
image from pixabay.com

Lots of people work with professional coaches for a host of reasons.  Done well, coaching enables individuals and groups to achieve what was originally thought impossible or to do something far better than imagined.  Although the process can sometimes feel magical, coaching is not magic. Coaching is partnership between coach and client. The client is the expert in her life – she knows her destination and has ideas about how to get there.  The coach provides support for the journey through various thought and inquiry processes, exceptionally insightful feedback, and an unflinching belief in the client’s capacity to succeed.  Alongside my work as a leadership coach I habitually take advantage of coaching services offered by a fine colleague.

When I sat down to reflect on what it is I really reap from being coached, I came up with two lists: What I actually receive for the money I pay and then the internal benefits I draw from the relationship.

From my wise, witty coach, I get:

1. her full and undivided attention focused solely on my agenda.

2. feedback that is honest and often highlights something I am showing yet not seeing.

3. pictures of what I’m saying. (She makes simple graphics, charts, lists which show what we worked on.)

4. a partner in crime who holds me accountable to my stated goals.

5. an incredibly satisfying and positive customer service experience.

In the process, I give myself:

1. a break. I don’t have to do everything on my own. I can get help and move forward faster.

2. time and space to fully be who I am and explore who I want to become without fear of being laughed at or shamed.

3. a tangible self-affirmation: I deserve to have a coach – who I am and what I do are worth the money I am investing.

4. the challenge of living up to my own expectations, complete with a built-in accountability feature.

5. 100 reminders, large and small, of why this is the field of work I am also choosing for myself.

As a result of the work I have undertaken on myself with the aid of my superb coach,

  • you are among several others reading this post,
  • I have coaching clients of my own,
  • I am proud to share my work with groups through workshops and talks, and
  • I am fully convinced that I am in the right field at the right time.

Curious about what kind of difference Sherri Spelic Coaching can make in your life right now?  Click here to find out more.