These questions all encourage a fresh look at solutions to the problem and encourage one’s client (or oneself) to probe deeper into their own ideas regarding potential solutions. Coaching clients often limit themselves in considering nontraditional ideas, in part because they have been “right” so often in their life that it is hard to risk being “wrong.” The effective coach provides a safe and supportive environment in which to articulate and explore these “wrong” and crazy ideas and in which to consider parameters of the problem and solution (time, resources, authority, approaches) which have always been on “the back burner” for this harried client. This is particularly challenging (and important) to keep in mind when doing self-coaching.
There is one final point to be made that is fundamental to an effective coaching process—whether it is engaged with a professional coach or engaged with oneself. The coaching process must provide a safe setting—a sanctuary—in which we can reflect on the nature of a problem and its solutions. It should be safe when engaging a professional coach—not only because the coach is accepting and supportive, but also because the coach is not intruding with their own ideas. When we impose our ideas as colleagues, then the recipient of these ideas must acknowledge them, find something good about them (so that our feelings aren’t hurt), and—if we have been particularly helpful (in terms of giving our client considerable time and attention)—plan some way in which to make use of these ideas (even if it means that the solution is unsuccessful). All of this distracts our client from the real task at hand which is to find a solution to his or her problem, not to the newly created problem (making us feel good about our assistance, etc.).
The coaching process I have just outlined is simple, straightforward and often a valuable tool for a coach who works in an organizational setting or for someone who is coaching themselves. It all goes back to the basic description of the three domains. Ultimately, our perspectives and practices as leaders and contributing members of an organization should incorporate and move through all three domains whether we are burning with Ruby Red fire, gazing at an Azure Blue sky, or shining Golden Yellow light on reality.
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