Socrates said: “The only true wisdom is in knowing that you know nothing”
He also said: “The unexamined life is not worth living”…
We seem to be in love with the concept of knowing and knowledge, we place such a high value on having answers… and yet, perhaps we should be more in love with the questions!
The International Coaching Federation (ICF) defines coaching as “partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.”
When thinking about coaching, the first word that comes is “choice.” To be at choice is at the very core of being human, being free, being creative and being one’s full and true self, whatever that may be. Our philosophy is also informed by how I came into coaching in the first place. Having trained as a counselor some years ago, whilst I found my work very meaningful, at the same time it also seemed very problem based and really quite “pathological” in its approach. As I studied more, I learned about the “disease” model and really wanted to find a way of working that was more focussed on how people can feel that they have regained their choice and therefore thrive rather than simply survive their life or life’s circumstances. So the forward moving quality of coaching also sits deep within my philosophy and is what initiates such a space of possibility, both for my clients and for me too.
Linking to choice, my thoughts then go to “awareness” and how the exploratory, yet focussed coaching space ignites a great opportunity for awareness, self-knowledge and insight to be fostered. It is very often this deeper level of awareness that opens up possibility and therefore greater choice. What is so exciting about awareness is the increased range of perspectives that can come with it, perspectives that ultimately not only benefit the individual, but also those with whom they interact. In this way, the positive impact of coaching can cascade far beyond the boundaries of one room or one conversation.
Another aspect to the choice that is created through coaching is that of ownership and accountability. Returning for a moment to the more healing model that is counseling, I became very aware of the possibility for a dependency model to be created. One of the things that I love about coaching is, not only the choice that emerges, but also the ownership and accountability that go with it. This is key in supporting my clients to take real responsibility for their lives and experiences and along with that, enjoy the freedom of choice that this can imply.
When I continue to reflect upon the absence of dependency, what come to mind with coaching is the deep level of support that is offered within a very equal and respectful relationship that is created between coach and client. A relationship that also lays the foundation for both parties to do great work together, as well as grow and benefit equally as a result.
So, as I reflect upon these words of choice, moving forward, awareness, ownership, support, equality, respect, growth and thriving…the place I reach in this reflection of coaching is “meaning.”
The meaning I find in being a coach is that I have an opportunity to connect with someone and make a contribution from deep within me. This contribution is underpinned by my skills, knowledge and experience and is leveraged via my intuition and this is when I am at my best as a coach – when I feel my way through the work and I am not in my head.
Coaching is more than just engaging in coaching sessions with clients each week, it informs how I experience my world and influences my thinking and how I approach many and varied situations. It has changed the way I parent, consult, partner, facilitate and every other role that I play in my life.
As a result, coaching doesn’t fit into my life – it is part of my life and part of who I am. As I continue to grow, so coaching and the depth and breadth of its positive reach also grow with me. I work as a coach because I find this a way to truly connect with humankind and offer something personal of myself to the world – it is my way of making a positive difference and leaving an imprint in the world.
For me, coaching is all about being genuinely curious and asking questions. Questions which raise our awareness and insight into ourselves and our lives. Questions which provoke an exploration; leading to a most powerful conversation. A conversation with the capacity to transform our thoughts and actions. A conversation that enables us to grow!
Coaching conversations are about tapping into your fullest potential so that your performance in any given situation or context truly reflects who you are and what you are capable of. I have a deep interest in Positive Psychology and to me, coaching is the perfect vehicle for us to experience transformational positive change and progress.
As we face a changing landscape, I believe coaching as a development tool is crucial. A short while ago I heard Julio Olalla, one of the pioneer’s in the field of coaching, say that we create things for a reason; to solve a problem or achieve a goal. Coaching has been created by us for a reason. I believe that it is because powerful coaching conversations are one of the most significant ways in which we will tap into and leverage the type of growth that we want and need. Growth to sustain us through challenging times and growth to lead us to our fullest potential!