When I was young, I thought brilliance is shown by smart answers. In the last decade, I’ve been converted to the conviction that intelligence is shown by great questions. Coaching is part of the reason for the change.
Then and Now
When I was young ordinary mortals didn’t have coaches. Teams had coaches. A few professional boxers had trainers but bosses, sales professionals, and teachers, no way. Of course, people went for continuing education or courses to learn new skills but coaches? No.
My MBA focused on management and how to help organizations become outstanding. Coaching was never mentioned in any of those classes or texts.
Well, that was then, and this is now. Millions of Americans are coached monthly. Probably the best in your craft grow because of coaches, whether you know it or not. Professional athletes, actors, business leaders, impactful people in ministry, and other nonprofits benefit from coaching. People who aim to make a bigger positive impact routinely use coaches today.
You know I’m not special, yet several folks assist me to increase my effectiveness as a business owner, husband (and boy do I need that), a man of faith, writer, and weekend athlete.
What Coaches Do
Coaches help you get from where you are to where you want to be, from current performance to something more significant. “Help” is the important word. Coaches are trained to create a safe environment and enable people to discover what matters to them and how to leverage mental and emotional power tools to reduce risk and boost chances of success
A coach can be a thinking partner, inviting you to consider if previous assumptions and beliefs are still useful or relevant. People who benefit from coaching often reframe their understanding and or discard thought patterns that previously limited progress or beneficial impact. A coach or trusted friend can allow you to consider notions, non-judgmentally. Often a second opinion will reveal extra options
It is not magic, but many competent people catapult out of stuck places. The results can be delightful.
Coaches help you find appropriate solutions, even though the coach may not be a subject matter expert. In contrast teaching and mentoring set out to teach the less skilled person how to imitate the master. Experts consult; they tell you what to do. That is not coaching.
A great coach focuses on your success. Coaching, like other professions, puts client interest ahead of the practitioner. An effective coach is willing to die to self.
Coaching is future-focused. Counseling and therapy are often past-focused.
You’re in Charge
The coach’s job is to help you articulate the major goal. Then, session by session, you move toward that goal. You develop each step along the way.
You know your background, strengths, habits, skills, goals, and situation better than the coach. The coach is an expert in the process: developing an agreement and asking questions that evoke awareness and lead to action steps.
Together you and your coach anticipate and plan for how to deal with obstacles. You celebrate interim victories and ultimately you become the person you aspire to become.
In consulting the expert tells the client what to do. Coaching on the other hand has the client design the action steps. Results show that when the client designs the path, there is greater commitment. Even though the first path is not always the best, if the client is committed to the process there will be another chance to improve.
Wise Questions are the Tool of Choice
Coaches do their job by asking questions. Your coach is on your side, never the inquisitor. The questions help you sharpen your thoughts and generate more and more novel alternatives.
Good questions challenge you to think. They prompt you to consider options while in a place of psychological safety. Sometimes “why?” is a good inquiry because it reveals what really matters.
In many schools of coaching the coach talks 20% of the time. The client talks 80% of the time.
Deliberate reflection aids wisdom. Coaching provides a structure for people who may not already have the inclination or habit of reflection. Coaching can make planning easier for people who have not mastered that practice.
In an earlier post, I told you that I was becoming a leadership coach. I still love brokerage and expect to continue for years. Coaching extends my ability to promote positive impacts to more people than real estate investors.
In the weeks ahead you’ll learn a bit more about coaching and you’ll read about serving more for significance than for financial success.
Out of curiosity, what has been your experience of being coached as an adult?
Terry Moore, CCIM, is the author of Building Legacy Wealth: How to Build Wealth and Live a Life Worth Imitating. Read his “Welcome to My Blog.”