All mortals have some self-limiting habits and beliefs. A decade ago, I recognized that my intense efforts were delivering poor results and I hired a coach. The progress frankly astounded me. Later I hired a brokerage coach, and wonderful results followed. After that, I engaged a writing coach, and a book better than I had hoped for emerged.
The acceptance and endorsement of coaching have grown dramatically in the last 30 years. The reason is simple. Coaching works. Millions have attained better results by discovering wiser habits, choosing more appropriate goals, or reducing self-sabotage. Change happens and results improve.
About a year ago one of my better coaches asked me if I had ever considered becoming a coach. Candidly, I had thought about becoming a coach in the past but at that time I had the wrong mindset.
My Experience with Coaching
Initially, I did not understand the difference between coaching and mentoring or consulting. Many, but not all, coaches are subject matter experts. The people who helped me prepare for triathlons, become a better broker, or improve my writing were proven experts in their niche. Each one taught, coached, and sometimes consulted.
The swimming coach was barely able to suppress his laughter when he watched me frantically splash but make almost no progress. The bulk of his work was telling me to stop doing what I had done for decades. He taught me to do things I had never done before. Both the brokerage and the writing gurus modeled expertise in their arenas. Gradually I apprenticed and my performance improved.
Yet there is another dimension to coaching that has only recently become clear to me. For some topics, where the client has enough subject knowledge that a different version of coaching can be profoundly helpful.
Thinking partner – a deeper way to understand coaching.
Marcia Reynolds, the author of Coach the Person, not the Problem, articulates this alternate frame. When the client has an adequate knowledge or skill level but has thinking or perception glitches, then a thinking partner can offer options, without judgment. We all have imperfect thinking.
When I first encountered this alternate notion, I was skeptical. Based on my experience of being coached, I assumed offering correction was the core of coaching. I learned that, in some cases, there’s a better way.
When the client is knowledgeable, skillful questioning can help him or her uncover or create a solution. When the client develops a solution, the client owns the idea, and the plan is far more likely to succeed. Even if the client’s plan might seem second-rate, the extra motivation of ownership often produces a better result than an expert’s prescription.
When someone that you trust, respectfully explores something with you that matters deeply to you, you’re more likely to be open to reflection and reconsideration. If a boss or consultant or a loved one tells us what to do, many of us have at least a little resistance to the proposed notion. We react differently if a trusted ally non-judgmentally invites us to consider whether substituting a habit, a pattern of behavior, or a way of thinking would help us improve.
How to increase your effectiveness
We all make mistakes. Most of us repeat some mistakes. Perhaps you know someone who was agitated, drafted an email, then hit send…and regretted the result. Many of us recognize some patterns produce a bad result and resolve not to repeat that blunder. Wisdom comes through reflection, recognizing a poor result, and seeking better approaches for the next time.
Often, we know what triggers a bad result, but we don’t always discern the cause and effect which produced the disappointing end. So, we repeat the pattern with the same distressing results.
Coaching can help. A thinking partner, who has your best interests at heart, may invite you to consider another perspective, help you consider more options, or suggest you plan for more contingencies. Sometimes just understanding why a topic or objective is important can be freeing. All of us have gotten tangled up in the urgent while neglecting the important.
A good thinking partner can help you articulate what really matters. It is better to discover that before you’ve squandered limited resources on trivia.
If you’ve often repeated the same error, consider working with a thinking partner, a coach, to generate some extra options,
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.”