I can’t tell you how many people ask me what coaching really is, or how often they misconstrue it for therapy or consulting. That being said coaching is also quite difficult to describe and much easier to experience. Through a couple of examples I’ve drawn from real-life coaching situations, I’m going to try to show you what coaching can be.
Relationship coaching: My client, we will call her Sally, came to me feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, angry, and resentful at her husband and three teens. She recently returned to a fabulous career after being a stay-at-home mom, and the family was not pitching in with the housework, cooking, or laundry, leaving everything for her to do in addition to working full-time. You know that feeling ladies, when you walk into the kitchen and it’s covered in a huge mess to dig through just so you can find the counter space and pots you need to cook in!
First, we looked at the chores and meal preparation from the perspective of being overwhelmed and angry, and decided that creative or warm and fuzzy solutions were not coming from that perspective–just more frustration. So we turned the chair and faced a different side of the room, and I asked Sally to tell me about her favorite vacation spot. Her shoulders dropped and serenity washed over her as she described a family vacation at the beach. She recalled how she felt and who she was as a person while there, and even how meal preparation worked better at the beach house. And from that clearly resonant perspective, she brainstormed solutions to her current situation: She wanted to use the slow cooker more often, buy pre-cut vegetables, and re-institute Kids Cook Sundays which used to be a lot of fun for her family. In the end, I suggested a metaphor she could bring to her teens: Think of the family as an orchestra playing in the symphony, if the whole string section doesn’t show up, the piece just won’t sound the same and it is impossible for one person to play every instrument at the same time. The family needs to run like a symphony in which each person plays their part.
Sally left our Skype call session transformed and motivated to move forward with a plan that worked for her.
Career Coaching: My client, let’s call her Jane, wanted to launch a brand new product in her business but she was stuck in the “wait until it’s perfect” phase of her launch. She was paralyzed by her own inner critic. We all have that voice in our head that sabotages our biggest plans, the one that says: “Who do you think you are?” and “What will people think?” or “What if this is a total failure and you lose all the customers you have?” So I asked Jane to build a caricature of that voice in her head to personify him or her, to describe what the gremlin looked like and sounded like and to give it a name.
By really shinning a light on this saboteur, Jane was able to dissociate from the voice, recognizing that it was not her opinion but the saboteur’s opinion. From there I asked Jane questions that connected her to her true self, her wise, compassionate, courageous, and certain self and we explored the purpose of launching this product, how it was meant to affect people’s lives in a huge positive way, what her intention was behind it all, who she was becoming by serving the world through this product, and what was possible.
Jane ended our phone call empowered and successfully launched her new product.
I hope these examples gave you a small glimpse and a better understanding of what coaching is all about and how it can help in your life. Coaching is support from someone (like me) who takes the time to listen to your situation and draws on experience, and mastery of skills to offer unbiased focus (or re-focus) that helps you reach your own conclusion, solution, goal, or objective. Lastly, I often hear “I don’t have any problems and I’m comfortable with my life, why do I need coaching?” THAT is why you need coaching. Coaching is for leaping out of the comfort zone and going after your big dreams. If you are bored, not quite satisfied, and looking for big changes you need a coach like me.