I started training to be a coach earlier this year with Erickson Coaching. I have seen so many people start up coaching services and felt like this might actually be the ‘thing’ I’ve been looking for to give back through my blog and retreats. I was so excited after months (no let’s be honest, years!) of trying to work out what my ‘thing’ is and coaching finally feels like it.
If I gained nothing else at all from the training, I wanted the course to give me a structure with which to take clients through sessions. It delivered in spades.
But rather than giving me an elaborate and complex set of theories and ways to format coaching 1:1s, it gave me a very simple, single principle by which to lead all my coaching:
The client is okay.
I’ve talked before in a blog post about my ‘unconscious negativity’ – about wanting people to be better. Why can’t people just be ‘better’ at their lives? Why don’t they just do that thing, take that course, read that book, listen to that podcast, make that decision or behave in that way?
A big part of this attitude towards others comes from a good place (I promise). It comes from wanting desperately to help others. It’s why I was drawn to coaching.
When people tell me their problems I want to have the answers that will solve everything for them. You know when your friend just can’t figure out what to do about their dead-end job, or your sister keeps dating the wrong kind of men or your colleague can’t find the courage to push for a promotion? Those kind of situations.
It’s also how Lauren and I felt about running The Reset retreats when we first started. How can we have the answers for all the people with such different approaches and problems? We must pack out the sessions with loads of information and give them every scrap of knowledge we have!
The thing is, we don’t have to. Because guess what? They’re okay.
In a coaching situation your client is not your patient. There is nothing wrong with them. They don’t need answers or advice from you.
Everything they need is already inside them.
When I am coaching, the sessions will go in the direction that the client wants and needs to go. Not where I think they need to go. Sometimes that’s hard. As an outsider you feel like something might be screamingly, blindingly obvious as someone speaks to you. “Why can’t you just see what’s staring you in the face?! Can you even hear yourself?!”
But sticking to that one principle: the client is okay – means I trust that they’ll find the right answer for them in their own time. Rather than me forcing it on them.
I was worried when I learned this principle that potential clients would look at this way of coaching and decide it wasn’t right for them. They would want a coach that gave them solutions, resources and answers.
Surely no-one wants a coach that isn’t going to give a scrap of advice?
But then I remembered – chances are I’m going to be attracting clients who want coaching from me because they’re like me.
And guess what?
I hate being told what to do. It’s the one thing I hate most in life. Particularly if I’m doing something wrong. I do not take kindly to being told “don’t do it like that, do it like this.” Why would I want to pay a coach to make me feel like that?
Sometimes it’s hard to accept that the answers are already inside you. That you are the only one holding you back from making that decision or taking that action. There’s nowhere else to go and no-one else to blame. No secret knowledge that people are keeping from you or magic solution that you haven’t found yet. It’s already there, you just need to tap into it.
Partly I feel people who are ready for coaching already know there’s something bubbling inside. They’ve got a fire, a passion, something that’s ready to come out and they just can’t quite figure out what or how. It’s all there, it’s just a matter of piecing it together. It’s coming and they just need a coach to help show them the way.
Show them. Not tell them.
As a coach and now also as a friend I have realised this fundamental principle: the client is okay– has changed the way I deal with people. I am infinitely more patient. I don’t try and jump to solve people’s problems with examples of what I’ve done or suggestions for things to try.
Instead I listen. I try to listen on a different level to the value words people are saying, and I try to ask the right question that will prompt them to seek the answers that’s buried inside them already. Not feed them with the answer or the ‘truth’ that I can see.
Because the only truth they need to see is one that becomes clear when someone holds up a mirror and shows them what you knew what was there already.
The thing is: it’s already inside you.
If you are interested I offer free step-forward calls where we can explore what you’d like to achieve and how coaching could be the missing link you need to make it happen. Check my diary now to book a 30-minute free session. No obligations.
PS. Photos for this blog post are a mix from recent trips to Cartagena in Spain and Olhao in Portugal. You can always find out where I am by following me on Instagram.
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