4 Secrets of a Coach
The coaching industry can seem a little mysterious to those on the outside. Perceptions range from coaches’ ability to “solve problems” to “they have it all figured out”. There can be confusion for people thinking of becoming a coach as they contemplate which coaching certification to pursue. I feel that sometimes coaching is made out to be a lot more complicated than it is. At a fundamental level, coaching is about connecting with others. Nothing complicated about that – except that humans are complex and so therein lies the complexity for coaching.
Here are my 4 secrets to coaching from that last 4 years of coaching. The caveat here is that I consider myself an unconventional coach by the standard industry norms. However, I have had a wonderful journey of self-discovery through my practice and feel that my unconventional approach has consistently stretched and developed me .
1) Start coaching others – just start
Prior to coaching others, I had read books on coaching as the sense I had was that a person needed to learn tools and techniques in order to coach others. Starting with the popular GROW model and progressing on to various other techniques. Although it was comforting to have this basic model on hand when I did my first coaching session, I quickly realised that the model was a small part of what coaching was really about.
The basic ingredients of coaching is to listen attentively, ask intuitive questions and to keep breathing. Even when my focus is on the client in front of me, I am also constantly checking into my breathing. If I find that I have knots in my stomach, I take deep breaths to calm and centre myself. I find that the calmer I feel within myself, the better I can be present for someone else.
By the way, just start coaching. You don’t need to wait for anyone to tell you when it is alright for you to start. Just start – even if informally. That very first session is where your learning begins and it will continue to grow.
2) Being coached – you must
One of the most powerful learning experiences I have had is to be coached myself. The feeling of having my coach’s utmost attention is powerful and motivates me to keep looking into myself. It has raised my level of self-awareness by highlighting my blind spots and areas which I can consider focusing on. Often my coach guides me into inquiring what I was learning about myself as a coach through my experiences. This “mirror in the mirror” conversation with a coach has been especially useful to me as I feel more confident that I have a person to check-in with my learnings.
So if you plan to coach others, make sure you get a coach for yourself too.
3) Inquiry Questions I frequently ask myself
Coaching has taught me is to always inquire about myself and my practice. My learning and development comes from being a reflective practitioner. Questions I often ask myself are:
· Who am I now as a coach?
· Why am I doing this work?
· What am I learning?
· What am I struggling with?
· What am I celebrating?
4) Journaling and blogging
Related to the point above on inquiry, one of the most powerful tools I have picked up over the last 4 years is journaling. This helps me to (1) write down my learning points (2) appreciate about what went well and could have been better (3) re-look after some time to review progress and themes that may be emerging for me.
Blogging has been a good way for me to crystallise my thoughts and try to package it such that it can be useful for others. I have overcome my initial reservation with blogging as I am focused on the practice and discipline of writing rather than worrying if anyone is reading my blogs
I hope these 4 points help you get started on your own coaching journey. For experienced coaches out there, I would love to hear what is your coaching secret?