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The Context of Coaching

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Knowledge and information areas. This requires staying abreast of the knowledge explosion, and particularly the information relating to effective living and working in our global village. Our knowledge from our younger years is outmoded and replaced several times throughout our lifetimes. To be awake and effective we need to keep learning in all areas of our lives.

Human skills. These are abilities and tools for being effective in the settings and roles you are in: speaking, writing, listening, persuading, caring, and managing conflict. These are basic human skills for being effective as a person in all our roles.

Professional skills. Each of us has a responsibility to sustain expertise within some specialty area, usually related to our career tasks and commitments. We live in a technological age which is changing at a rapid pace. Only those disciplined to build ongoing learning into their schedules will sustain their expertise and effective leadership.

Values and leadership.  Adults typically become more vocal about values as they mature. Adults perform most of the leadership roles in our society, and they are the bearers of culture from one era to another. Particularly in the post-parental years, adults emerge as the critical leaders throughout society, from executive roles to voluntary causes to mentoring relationships.

Today’s world is universally described as “continuous change,” “permanent white water.” The goal of adult learning is to stay awake, alert, and alive—ready for the living of our days. The goal is to become as conscious as possible about what is taking place in our human experience. The goal is to sustain a livable balance among the four dimensions of the adult learning agenda: new knowledge and information, human skill development, professional skills, and values and leadership.

Coaching was Born in Our Change-Dominated World

Very few professions have been born in a change-dominated world. Most professionals (teachers, physicians, lawyers, psychologists, and others) function with a set of core skills and concepts that they keep repeating throughout their linear careers. The coaching field emerged as a field to facilitate change and development as its central functions.

During the past twenty years, I have watched efforts at short-term interventions in organizations prove themselves of little worth as entrenched corporate cultures struggled with unyielding forces of global change. American work organizations have felt forced to retrench, flatten, and measure their success by short-term plans around bottom-line issues. That trend away from the long-term, human dimensions of work toward immediate financial issues has altered most work organizations in America. A great many people are working harder than ever and enjoying it less.

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