When your car won’t start you probably call out a mechanic. And when your drain is blocked it’s likely you’ll need a plumber to help you unblock it. But when might you require the help of a coach? Whilst it’s hard to describe what their role is, it is certainly not to fix things for you!
As it is notoriously tricky to explain what a coach does, it is probably better to flip the question and, instead, describe how the process of coaching might help you.
The coach’s job is to help you move closer to achieving things you want for yourself. However, most of us have a natural tendency to focus on problems rather than on bigger more strategic and longer-term goals that will help us to grow and learn. So I use the mnemonic ‘A.C.E.’ as a reminder of the three possible areas of focus if you work with a coach:
A – an Aspiration, goal or dream that you have
C – a Challenge, problem or issue that you need to rise to or resolve
E – an Experience or event that you want to make sense of
The ‘A’ is future focused; the ‘C’ is mostly present focused; and the ‘E’ focuses on the past.
Based on many years of coaching, here are ten things that most of my clients ask for help with and which usefully describe how a coach might help you.
Aspirational Things (hopes, dreams and longer-term goals)
1. Provide clarity about what you want, then create a tangible plan of the steps you will take to get there.
2. Work out what’s most important to you (rather than focus on the urgent things in front of you now), especially those things that will help you create a more positive future.
3. Determine what success looks like (for you) and embed this into your longer-term goal.
4. Create excitement, momentum and focus to help you move closer to your goal.
5. Build confidence and competence in solving your problems and making decisions about things that are troubling you or keeping you awake at night.
6. Help you to stand outside of the problem, rather than being in it, by questioning your assumptions and helping you think about it from different perspectives so that you can consider different solutions.
7. Work out your options – especially if you feel stuck or that the challenge is impossible to overcome – then create commitment to acting on one or more of your ideas.
Experiences or Events (either negative or positive)
8. Reflect on and make sense of past experiences or situations. This can help you to learn from mistakes and let go of things that are out of your control.
9. Help you discover things about yourself that you may not be conscious of such as:
- Your leadership style and preferences
- How you deal with challenging behaviour or conflict situations
- What works for you (and what doesn’t!)
10. Build positive and productive relationships – even with people you don’t get along with – by reflecting on their behaviour as well as your own.
People who have undergone coaching often talk about it being a life changing or transformational experience. But don’t misunderstand me. It is certainly not a cosy chat over a comforting caramel latte! It requires hard brain work and for you to take responsibility for your life and your future. It needs courage to try new things, and commitment to make changes to the way things are.
This said, when the coach and coachee work well together, it is certainly worth the effort.
Unfortunately, you’ll still need to call out a mechanic for your car, or a plumber for your blocked drain. But with coaching, futures get sharply defined, careers get changed, problems get solved, work-life balance can be restored and, importantly, sleep comes more easily!