Am I Ready for Coaching?

Coaching session
Am I ready for coaching?

The greater your responsibility, the greater the pressure on you to focus on and address external matters. You focus on meeting work and family obligations and duties, attempt to satisfy and maintain the demands of many relationships, and then you address what matters to you with whatever time remains. Do you wish you had time and space to delve into what really matters to you? Do you have facets of your business and personal life and performance that would benefit from genuine attention? Could you benefit from a safe, confidential space with a trusted confidant? If you answer ‘yes’ to any of these questions, you can definitely benefit from coaching.

Coaching is a fabulous way to take charge of your life, improve personal performance, own a new work role, strengthen relationships, deal with conflicts, manage a transition, develop personal capabilities, pursue stretch goals, and manifest dreams.

Getting the most out of coaching requires preparation. Having the right mindset and approach enables you to gain the most from coaching. You are READY or best prepared for coaching IF you are willing to:

  • take real action to create your own results;
  • eradicate old, redundant and limiting habits, thought patterns and beliefs;
  • be challenged in thought, feeling and behaviour;
  • take responsibility for your own results;
  • drop excuses for poor performance;
  • be open to self-directed learning of new skills and ideas.

OR

  • at least wish to occupy this growth space and develop these capabilities.

As your coach, I create a confidential space within which you experience unrestricted self-governance. You set the agenda. You work on what matters to you. It may be quite an unfamiliar experience to be in an environment where you focus solely on what matters to you without anyone else taking any degree of responsibility for what you do or create for yourself.

Coaching will enable you to enter new, previously unexplored, territory. I support and enable you by walking alongside you as your guide. I use questions to assist your exploration, expand your thinking, and confront new possibilities. I provide space for you to consider and reflect, generate insights, and develop approaches and ideas that work for you. Being with “not knowing” is integral to the coaching process. It precedes insight, the generation of one’s own solution that meets your unique approach and learning style, and which you own because they are your own ‘Eureka’ moments. A major outcome of coaching is your strengthened self-awareness and your capacity to intervene on yourself when you recognise you are undermining your own performance. Coaching is offered to support you generate ideas and pursue solutions. Are you ready for the benefits that coaching can offer you?

Being “ready for coaching” also considers how to prepare for a session, the first in particular. One of the tools that can assist you be ready for coaching is the Pre-Coaching Questionnaire. It is a simple process to assist you clarify and focus on what matters to you. While it provides me, your coach, with useful information, it is primarily offered to support your preparation for coaching. You benefit from completing it more than I do.

Coaching may be used to establish and pursue goals over an engagement (an agreed series of coaching sessions) or to address burning issues a session at a time. It can also be a combination of these and other possibilities. When you turn up for a coaching session, it is great if you already know what you want to work on, and are prepared to work. If you are not clear on what to work on, at least be prepared to work, to think, to be challenged, so that I may assist you gain the clarity that is eluding you. We will partner together in creating the purpose of the session, and ensuring you walk away satisfied with the time we spend together.

If coaching is right for you, or you wish to explore how it may help you, fill in the Pre-Coaching Questionnaire (click here for the questionnaire), and book a free initial coaching session with me, Stephen (click here to book a coaching session).

In summary, you are ready for coaching when you:

  1. recognise that you will benefit, get real value, from coaching;
  2. have the mindset and attitudes, or the desire to have such, that would make coaching work for you; and
  3. are prepared to get as much from a session as you can, knowing what you wish to work on, or at least being prepared to work with your coach to develop that clarity.

Offer: Free Coaching Session With Stephen

If you have never had a coaching session with me, you are invited to experience a free coaching session. To take up this offer, complete and submit the Pre-Coaching Questionnaire (click here for the questionnaire) and then book the free (up to 90 minutes) session (click here to book the session).

To Give or Not to Give Advice? That is the Question!

Know your customer
Great advice! Do you receive it entirely positively?

Mr Fix-It is a well known male stereotype, the one who hears a problem and instantly gives a solution. Males are not the only gender that likes to give advice. In the context of communication, males are known for seizing a problem and wanting to rescue the situation with a fix whereas women like to voice their issues and concerns, be heard, and know there is connection rather than a solution (another stereotype). They may still enjoy a solution but after they have connection.

There is something really satisfying about giving a juicy piece of advice, a solution to someone else’s dilemma. ‘Irrespective of the chaos and issues in my own life, I feel in control and satisfied when I can solve someone else’s problems, … and I don’t carry any of the responsibility for the repercussions.’ It seems easier to address someone else’s issues than to take a cold, hard look at one’s own situation, and apply energy to personal challenges and barriers.

Believe it or not, this thought process was reignited a little while ago as I walked along a rocky shoreline behind my wife. It can be very easy to say “Follow my lead across these rocks”, something I saw being modelled by another couple. I was naturally following my wife yet found myself stymied and frustrated. I could not see my own path because I was too close to her. Her path was not working for me because she takes smaller strides than me. I quickly ventured out on my own route. I felt freer and had more fun rock hopping as soon as I did that.

Our brains are similar to this path exploring process. Each person has a unique brain with its very own set of neural pathways. We have different experiences and approach situations differently. While a similar approach may often work, insight, the basis of learning and personal illumination, has to be individually earned. When we experience insight our brain literally creates new neural pathways. In the moment of insight the thing we realise becomes ours, hard-wired into our brain circuitry. The more significant the process of discovery that led to the insight, the stronger the experience of insight. Insight also carries benefits of personal ownership of the learning, and a marked increase in the motivation and capacity to implement what has been learned.

Spoon-feeding information and solutions does not create insight without an independent cognitive process that deepens awareness and understanding. Advice giving has poor results in idea uptake. It is an improvement over mandate, yet it is not a benign act. It carries a message of “I know better.” While that may be true sometimes, it does not strengthen or develop the capabilities of the person receiving the advice. It undervalues the autonomy of the recipient, indicating a lack of belief in them to take responsibility and action to create their own results. Advice is often given out of impatience, an unwillingness or personal inability to nurture and support the other person, believing that giving advice will get the end result quicker. If the end result is purely about finishing a task to specification, then it may be the way to go. If developing the recipients’ capabilities matter, then advice is counter-productive.

There are certain situations advice, in the professional sense, is necessary. Then, someone credible provides feedback on a planned approach before investing in something that might be doomed to fail. I have spent much of my career in this space, giving and receiving professional advice. However, advice is often received as a “thou shalt…” which carries a sense of coercion that most independent, autonomous beings resist. Even when asked for, advice can be difficult to receive and does not map into personal insights or ownership for the recipient. Regardless of intent, advice is often received as a coercive or aggressive instruction, even if below the level of consciousness. I have seen many excellent ideas not implemented. I am not advising you to never give advice. My intent is to open the door to an alternative way of engaging with others when the situation allows.

Engaging with others in a more meaningful manner has been a primary motivation for me moving into coaching, an area in which advice is a complete no-no. An agenda held by the coach is also a big no-no. Coaching relies of establishing a relationship of trust, and the coach asking sound questions, without agenda, and meeting the client where the client wants to be met. Coaching supports them to develop their own insights. There are a lot of professed coaches who revel in the opportunity to give advice. This is not coaching as defined by the International Coach Federation (ICF), the professional body I associate with. The ICF defines a set of core competencies that they assess their coaches against. Advice giving, even with the permission of the client, is counter to the best practice of coaching. I continue to learn to deepen this capacity within my own being.

The following are some questions I use to develop my awareness of my advice-giving tendencies. Perhaps you will find them useful:

  • How often and when do I offer advice to others?
  • When I do give advice, what do I notice happens to the receiver of my advice? To the connection between us? Do they expand or diminish in their role?
  • What would I need to change within myself to engage with this other being without giving advice?

An Alternative to Giving Advice

Holding a coaching conversation
Conversing about possibilities and generating insights

It is so easy to offer advice when asked for input. In many cases it feels fantastic being asked, and sometimes even when not asked, to offer a ready solution and send the other person on their way with a greater sense of how much you know and is needed. Sometimes the advice is given at the first hint of what the solution might be, not taking the time to hear the person out, because “it is so obvious” and after all “that is what they want”.

Of course, there are times when it is appropriate to offer advice, examples being: You are the subject matter expert and they specifically need your expertise that they do not possess themselves and cannot develop easily in the time available.

Hmm, that’s about it.

However, there is an alternative to advice giving that, while taking more time and effort, offers great rewards both to the provider and the seeker of guidance: having a coaching conversation.

With a coaching conversation your responsibility as the provider is to enable the growth and development of the seeker, while leaving responsibility for what action to take with the seeker. Give advice, and it is your solution, your approach, your responsibility, and there is no ownership by the seeker. By having a coaching conversation you facilitate the thought process of the seeker, open and extend their capacity to develop their own solutions, enable them to have “ah ha” moments of realisation from which they permanently own the insight and develop in them a greater sense of self-esteem. In general, the benefits to you as the provider include a rich and meaningful conversation, the knowledge that someone else has left your space with greater capacity within themselves, and most likely you have strengthened the relationship with and the loyalty of the seeker to you.

At its heart, the coaching conversation is a dialogue in which you, as the provider, listen for understanding and potential, use questions to discover and extend the seeker’s thought process, provide open, clear, balanced and honest feedback, and facilitate the conversation so it remains on track. It does require ready solutions to be parked, for you to value the seeker as someone worth your time and investment, and for you to develop your capacity to truly be with someone else instead of caught up in what you need to do next.

As someone who is often approached for career advice, I vouch for the personal benefits of shifting tack and developing capacity to have coaching conversations. I experience a much deeper connection with and richer experience of people with whom I have such conversations. I enjoy my shift of attention being from “being right” in the advice I give, and all the responsibility that goes with that, to the appreciation of the qualities and capabilities of the person I am conversing with, and recognising the genuine intent within them to perform as well as possible. It is a refreshingly different and exciting place to function from. Anyone can occupy this space.

What motivates you and strengthens your desire and capacity to perform? Of the people who have had the most profound and positive impact on your development, what were the key qualities they exhibited?

If you find yourself offering advice, what factors are you aware of that encourage this behaviour? Do you have any interest in strengthening being less advice-giving? If so, what could you do to bring about that change within yourself?

Why Coaching Excites Me

Coaching session
Coach and coachee working together

As an achievement-driven coach, I particularly enjoy seeing people tap into and manifest their potential. When they do this they act from their own personal power, in congruence with their core values and their life purpose and, in doing so, make a tremendous difference on this planet.

I dream of a world of people living at their potential. Imagine being surrounded by people who recognise their own strengths and weaknesses, are willing and able to connect with others who have complimentary capabilities and are able to work through conflict as it arises, as it must where any two people are actively engaged in creating what matters to them. While perhaps fantasy, I am inspired to contribute to this dream every day with every person I work with.

As a management consultant and trainer over the last 20 years, I have been expected to address problems, advise recommended options to fix the problem and teach new tools, skills, approaches and facts that enable a new solution to be implemented. All these methods have their place and I will continue to use them. However, I am particularly excited about the transformational impact of coaching.

For example, one of my clients wanted a job and through coaching, shifted his thinking from ‘find a job so there is money on the table’ to ‘I want to be a sensational leader’ and seeking a job that would enable that growth opportunity. Within two weeks he had found, been interviewed for and hired into a job that offered the environment he needed to step fully into his leadership goal. The role was a major stretch over past roles, and offered all the opportunities he had opened up to and chosen to grow into. We were both excited by his success and his subsequent coaching process focused on him being successful as a leader in this new role.

Unlike consulting and teaching, coaching shifts from advice-giving to eliciting the coachee’s own solutions through probing questions that assist the client engage their own thinking processes. Coaching works to the client’s own agenda, addresses what matters to and will benefit them, and enables them to gain their own insights. As coach, I facilitate the process, provide a safe environment for the coachee to explore new insights and to consider and adopt stretch goals, and then hold the coachee accountable for enacting the actions they freely chose to do. The process allows the coachee opportunity to reflect on their patterns of behaviour, habits and beliefs that may impede their authentic self-expression and opens the window of possibility, inspiring new heights that the coachee may have never considered possible. Coaching empowers because the agenda and commitments made come from the coachee, and the coachee is entirely responsible for implementation.

The process of participating in turning on the light of insight, engaging the self-belief muscle and observing the magnificence of the individual being expressed is a phenomenal and humbling experience. These experiences, one person and one moment at a time, creates a society of people living life to their full potential and that is what excites me about coaching.

Do you aspire to creating greater things with your life? Do you dismiss the possibility of greatness, holding belief systems that suggest failure before you start? Do you know what your life purpose is? Do you know how to make your life meaningful to yourself? Have you got ideas to express and lack the forum and safety to explore them? Do you want something better for yourself and for those you love? Would you appreciate the unbiased, objective support of a neutral outsider to facilitate your process of realising your dreams and ambitions? Would you like a positive hand extended that comes with authentic feedback on what you are doing well on? If there is a yes for any of these questions, coaching may be for you. I would love to see you and work with you on creating what really matters to you, even if you do not know what that is at this point.

For more information, check out Coaching