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5 lessons I learned from coaching

“Each person holds so much power within themselves in that needs to be let out. Sometimes they just need a little nudge, a little direction, a little support, a little coaching, and the greatest things can happen.”
~ Pete Carrol

January 5, 2021.

This year I have made some progress in my development as a coach.

I have been career coaching helping people to become more effective in their job hunting activities in my capacity as a job developer, and I was also providing life coaching sessions to everyone who knocked on my door on LinkedIn.

Today I’m going to talk about five things that I’ve learned from coaching this year.

So let’s start with the most discouraging one.

1. Most people won’t get it. Those who get it will be grateful forever.

Most people, when they hear that you’re a life coach greet you with deep skepticism.

That’s understandable. Their ego gives rise to a lot of stereotypes and cliche, hence the resistance.

The ego screams: “You want to teach me how to live my life? How the hell do you think you are?!” And that is the first misconception.

To understand better what coaching is, let’s first define what coaching is not.

Coaching is not teaching.

Coaching is evoking a response.

It is guiding people to places where they would have never gone on their own under normal circumstances.

The personal truths that a coachee needs to discover, all answers, and all solutions to his problems are hidden within his own mind. It is the job of a coach to lead the coachee to this place of deeper insight.

Of course, sometimes some teaching must take place. There are situations that require placing certain information in the mind of the coachee, however, normally coaching is not about teaching. It is about self-exploration and self-awareness. It is a new degree of understanding that the coachee must achieve, not the coach.

Coaching is not therapy.

One of the fundamental presuppositions in life coaching is the following:

  • There’s nothing wrong with you.

Life coaches refuse to put labels on the coachee, and we all agree on the notion that nobody is sick or broken, hence there is no need for a therapeutic intervention from our side. We are not therapists.

It’s true though that talking about the past can reveal a lot about the nature of the problem the coachee wants to resolve, however, in coaching, we are not interested in the past. We focus all our attention on the current state, the desired state, the gap in between, and the system that will help us to close it.

Coaching is not consulting.

We define consulting as expert advice to people in a particular area of knowledge. For obvious reasons, coaching cannot be that.

The only person who can have expertise in your life is you and you alone by definition.

Coaching is simply a dialogue the sole purpose of which is to uncover limiting beliefs and come up with a system that would eliminate them or substitute them with functional ones.

Those who succeed to relinquish all their preconceptions about coaching and come into the coaching conversation without any expectations are the ones who can benefit from it the most.

2. Coaching is an opportunity creator.

“Opportunities don’t knock, they whisper. So shut up and listen.”
~ Thomas Leonard, founding father of professional life coaching.

It’s funny how it works, but when you give your value and time for free, when you invest your energy into this world, the universe responds. Oftentimes, it responds in absolutely unpredictable ways.

There were so many times when people whom I coached were coming back to me, returning the value to me in a different form.

But coaching is a reward in itself. It is a great pleasure to see progress in your ability to drive transformational conversations.

3. The coaching is only as powerful as the coach himself.

In other words, your skills matter. You can only guide people to the depth of insight that you yourself have already reached. And this by itself is not an easy thing to do.

One of my most favorite philosophers, Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote:

“To be yourself in this world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”

It’s true.

Everyone who comes to seek the help of a coach is struggling with some sort of impositions.

  • The ideas that are imposed by the world.
  • The beliefs that are imposed by his or her family.
  • The thought patterns that are imposed by his or her own mind.

Consequently, if you’re someone who wants to practice coaching you have to care about the following.

The depth of your own insight.

Again, you can only guide someone to the depth which for you has long become normality.

You can only show how to transform, only when you yourself have undergone the transformation.

Real competence only comes from experience.

Your ability to stay still.

Your ability to stay still (a.k.a. mindfulness) defines your ability to build trust.

It is when you are still, anchored in your center, and deeply grounded in the truth that you can observe and listen to the other being without judgment.

Unconditional acceptance — that is the foundation of all trust-building.

You’ve got to master active listening, be fully in the present moment, and learn how to make the person in front of you feel that when you are with them nothing else matters for you.

Also, you need to learn how to be vulnerable. You have to “bleed” a little bit, to make your conversation partner feel that they can also open up without a risk of being judged.

Your ability to ask questions.

Your ability to ask quality questions directly depends on your genuine curiosity about what another person has to say.

You don’t just listen to words, but you learn how to look between the lines, scanning for indications that will reveal the internal driver that makes people say what they say and do what they do.

Any kind of online courses that train for interview skills or books on interviewing will be a good step to learning how to go deep fast and unobtrusively.

Here are some books that can get you started:

  • “The Question Book” by Mikael Krogerus.
  • “Supercoach” by Michael Neill.
  • “Coaching Questions” by Tony Stolzfus.
  • “The Coaching Habit” by Michael Bungay Stanier.
  • “96 great interview questions to ask before you hire” by Paul Falcone

4. Ego is the enemy.

If there was only one major insight that comes from coaching, that would be it:

All problems come down to one single problem.
The Ego.

To rephrase that, all struggle comes only from the things that people believe are true for them.

People get so convinced that their belief system is the only one that has a right to be valid, that they completely miss the point.

Nothing of what exists in the realm of beliefs is or can be true.

There is no true religion. Every religion is just a unique expression of the same truth — that we all are spiritual in nature.

There is no best nation. The idea of patriotism is absurd. Do you think that your country is better than others just for the fact that you were born in it? Well say it loud and try to grasp how deep is your illusion.

There’s no black and white in life. And even the notional shades of gray that we otherwise choose to see lie only within the range of our limited human perception.

The universal truth lies elsewhere. And it is hidden very well from us because it is hidden in our own minds, behind our minds, to be precise.

Most people repeat the same mistake — they grow to believe that life should be a certain way. Well, it shouldn’t. Life does not comply with an eccentric rule book that one’s mind has created, and you as both a human being and an expression of life should not comply either.

Seek freedom.

The freedom starts when you are tired to drown in the falsehood of all the notions you have about yourself.

Instead of staying afloat at a current level of consciousness clinging to the beliefs that are no longer working for you dare to take a deep dive to find out where the bottom of your beliefs is.

You won’t find the bottom, but you just might catch a glimpse of the truth.

5. You can’t save those who don’t want to save themselves.

Here is what we call the Principle of Transformation:

The change occurs when the pain of change becomes less that the pain of remaining the same.

This is true in job coaching, life coaching, and just life.

In job coaching, for example, you can’t help someone get a job if your desire for them to be employed is bigger than their own desire for employment.

In life coaching, you cannot facilitate change in someone who is not ready to change. As a matter of fact, once the resolve to change is there, very little facilitation is needed. Most people will only require some gentle guidance and a tiny bit of support.

In order to change one must build up an intent to give up what he thought was previously true in his self-concept and start adopting new behavior. And then, it is through the adoption of new behavior that the identity shift takes place.

So let’s summarize what we spoke about today.

  • Coaching is nothing but a transformational conversation.
  • Coaching is a great tool for opportunity-creation.
  • The power of coaching is defined by the power of the coach.
  • All problems that coaching is intended to solve are the problems that arise in the mind. These problems can be solved by showing that accepting what is true for you is always a matter of choice.
  • You can’t help those who don’t want to help themselves. Focus your energy on those who are ready to change.

I continue my coaching journey. It has been a wonderful ride to sculpt my personal and professional identity in this direction. I will be sharing more insights as I go.

If you feel like you are stuck, feel free to drop me a message on LinkedIn 👈.
It will be an honor to help you.

Stay safe.

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