Many coaches focus on helping their clients set and achieve personal and business goals. I think this is a good start. However, I believe there is much more to coaching than simply clarifying goals, analyzing actions and monitoring results.
Based on my expertise in emotional intelligence and research in neuropsychology, I have found that for many reasons, the mind does not comply no matter how important your goal is. Sometimes it is more important to help my clients figure out why they aren’t doing something than on the specifics of what to do. I help them look into their blind spots, their resistance, and the gaps in their perspective. Once they see their situations more clearly, they know what they need to do to achieve their goals.
For example, one of my clients was a senior vice president of a major retail chain here in the U.S. She asked me to help her with prioritizing her tasks. My response was, “You have created a very successful career. In addition to being a VP, you are an attorney. I don’t buy that you don’t know how to prioritize. What I want to know is what is either stopping you from doing this or diverting your focus.” We then talked about how she was losing her motivation for her job, but didn’t know what was next for her in her career. So the next step was to start working on a plan for her future, which she then committed to have these conversations with her husband. In the end, she developed a five year plan which helped her to recommit to her current job. Prioritizing was no longer an issue.
This might sound as if I am stepping on the toes of therapy. Yet this type of coaching still deals with the present and what it will take to move forward. If this were therapy, we might explore further what her fears were about the future and if this was a consistent pattern that needed to be explored.
When coaching, I never assume that something is wrong. I assume my clients need to broaden their awareness to make the right choices. They need someone to help them reflect on what they are doing and what is the impact. They need someone to ask them the tough questions they have avoided asking themselves. In other words, they need a “thinking partner” to see what else is possible for them to decide and do. As their coach, I partner with my clients to discover these answers by asking good questions, reflecting on what is going on, offering options to consider and to encourage and support them as they victoriously face difficult truths and old fears about the future.
I call my style of coaching “awareness-based” as opposed to “solution-based” coaching.
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