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How Coaching Changes the Coach

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Reproduced with the permission of choice Magazine, www.choice-online.com

My son called me from college the other day. He wanted to talk about his sophomore year schedule, and we spent a good hour and a half looking at his options, discussing whether he should pursue a double major, the pros and cons of doing a junior year abroad, which professors he had grown to respect, and more. In the course of the conversation, he had an ‘aha’ moment where he realized that he is happiest when he is academically challenged in a subject that intrigues him.

When we were saying goodbye, he said “Thanks, mom. It really helps to have someone to talk this through with. And you know, I never saw before that I really prefer working hard over just having fun. That was very useful.” High praise from him, and a peak mom moment    indeed!

And I have coaching to thank for it.

I’ve been a coach since my son was four years old. When I first started out, I wanted to coach everyone. It felt like having a shiny new magic wand and (like many beginning coaches) I drove enough people crazy (“stop coaching me!”) that I learned not to officially “coach” unless I had a clear agreement and designed alliance. But still, the more I coached my clients, the more coachlike I became, even when off-duty.  In the process, I also became a better daughter, sister, friend, partner and mom. In effect, you could say I engage in a fair amount of stealth coaching by using the skills and tools of my profession in day-to-day life, because frankly, I don’t know any other way to be.

It’s not something we talk about a lot in the coaching world, but being a coach changes you, and generally for the better. From simply learning skills and tools for more effective communication, to possibly even rewiring our own brains, the benefits and rewards of being a coach are so much more than financial or even the satisfaction of knowing we made a difference in our client’s lives.

Below are a few of the lessons of coaching, and how they can show up in day-to-day life:

 

  1. See the best in everyone

A common view in coaching – and an International Coach Federation (ICF) core competency – is to see the client as fully able and capable. I trained at the Coaches Training Institute (CTI), and this is one of the cornerstones of the Co-Active model. As we call it: “people are naturally creative, resourceful and whole.” When we do this in a coaching relationship, we help the client come to their own realizations and find their own answers.

In our daily lives, this is actually a radical way of seeing people. In most cultures we are generally taught that people are flawed, sinful and damaged, in need of fixing or changing. We are trained to spot the problem and solve it. At best, this leads to a desire to be overly helpful and can lead to taking on other people’s problems as our own; at worst, it can lead to damaging judgment, leaving people feeling they can never measure up or be good enough to fit in.

For many (hopefully most) of us as coaches, the idea that people are whole and capable becomes a fundamental view of all people, not just those we are being paid to coach, and thus we begin to see our roles as parents, siblings, managers, etc. vastly differently. We look for the resourcefulness within the people in our lives, and take ourselves off the hook for fixing or solving the problems around us. (It’s important to note that we do this while remaining loving, connected, concerned and supportive.)

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