Coaching is a profession that many people have heard about but they don't really know what it is, what it involves or who it's for. I decided to dedicate a page on my website to answer some of the questions I am often asked in order to clarify or demystify the benefits and the process of coaching.
What is Coaching?
Inner Clarity Meets Outer Action
Coaching is a process of self-discovery, it's a process through which you learn about yourself, you grow in self-awareness which allows you to access your wisest, most resourceful and most authentic self and make choices and take action from that place of wisdom and authenticity. As a coach, I don’t act as an expert on your life or choices, I don't offer advice. I work alongside you, I facilitate the process of self-discovery by asking you powerful questions that are designed to take you deeper into yourself to access the part of you that is often silenced when you pay attention to the opinion of others. Coaching allows you to get where you want to be but quicker, the process is more powerful and the goals richer than what you would be able to accomplish by yourself.
Think of sports coaches, would these athletes be able to go as far on their own?
What are the benefits of coaching and results I can count on?
Coaching helps people build good lives. This can mean very different things to different people and you will see a plethora of coaches with sometimes very specific focus e.g. dating coaches, career coaches, wellness coaches, personal growth coaches, leadership development coaches, business coaches, etc. So the results will depend on what you want to focus on and the work you will do with a specific coach. Under the tab Services you will be able to find out more about the benefits of working with me and areas I focus on in my work with clients.
In addition, sometimes the benefits you will get are not what you anticipated, you will learn skills you didn’t know existed, you will find happiness and a sense of fulfilment and empowerment you didn’t believe was possible. Improving one area of your life often has a very surprising, snowball effect on other areas. After all, when you begin to feel more confident at work, you will feel more empowered to address your relationship difficulties, when your relationship with your partner and/or children develops, your friendships will start flourishing too. When you start feeling deeply connected to your work, you will want to keep yourself as healthy as possible to be around for as long as possible. As long as there is a goal in sight and you are willing to do the work, you can go deeper and further, learn more, dream up more and be surprised at what you can accomplish and who you will become in the process.
Who can benefit from coaching?
Everyone can benefit and yet not everyone does or will. We can sustain incredible levels of pain and suffering because we either don’t realise happiness is possible, or at some level we are invested in maintaining the status quo, we want to change but we don’t want to do anything differently.
You will benefit if you want to change your life, if you want to learn, if you are determined to try something new. If you are courageous enough or humble enough to recognise that what got you here, won’t get you there. So my question to you is not whether you need it but whether you want it. Then you will benefit.
What does coaching involve?
At first glance, coaching is a conversation. But it’s a conversation that matters. It’s a conversation about you. You talk, I listen. I listen deeply and ask you about what matters to you. I ask, if you could have it your way, what way would it be? Because you have to know, it’s all about you. I am not another person in your life you will have to please. We will identify and reduce the energy drains in your life so you can be more effective with less effort. So I will ask about your pain and I will ask about your dreams. I will listen to you like no one has ever listened to you.
But we will need to go a little deeper to get to know you so we will do exercises together. Sometimes I will ask you to journal, ponder over some questions, perhaps draw, or move your body. Because sometimes what you know, doesn’t quite have a language, it’s preverbal, it’s intuitive. We will exercise your imagination through visualisations and playful metaphors.
And because new awareness is no good without action, you will take action, small action and big, hairy, scary action. And when you fail, because you will, we will dust you off, re-adjust your wings and send you off into the big world again.
You must know that I am nothing if I am not a teacher so I will show you some tools to help you navigate this river of life, share with you instrumental wisdom and teach you skills you can take away to be able to accomplish your future goals without me.
And if you haven’t realised it so far, I will offer you a deep sense of connection, because the power of coaching is in the relationship. This is where the magic happens.
How long does coaching last?
According to International Coach Federation (ICF), the average coaching assignment lasts for 8.7 months. However, I have had clients who stayed with me for more than two years and I had clients who saw me once and took mind-and-heart spinning action. There are clients who come for 3 sessions only. Some clients come back every so often for a top-up or to move through a project with me because it’s important to them that they make the right choices and don't sabotage themselves (like we all do) in the process. It really does depend and none of those choices are better or worse.
The only difference is when it comes to the Leadership Circle Programme where I really recommend that you go through it in its entirety, it’s a big investment and a powerful intervention with many themes that an unaccustomed client may find too much to deal with on their own to be able to truly harness the opportunities that the tool offers.
What’s with the hype about coaching? All this inspiration on social media is all very well but does it actually work?
I know, a quote a day can be a little too much, even for me.
Yes, both therapy and coaching changed my life and I believe in scratching my own itch and doing the work that has helped me. In therapy I reconciled myself with some painful experiences in my life. In coaching, my mind and heart exploded. I developed skills, resilience, a sense of self, belief in myself, ability to deal with failure (if there is one skill I could teach people is really how to stand up with their fists full of wonder after failure). I discovered my creativity, I discovered a deep seated sense of fulfilment, I am brave, I am intense and whatever happens in my life - I feel at peace.
And we want that, people (even or perhaps especially the cynical ones) have dreams, we want to feel like our lives are meaningful, we crave a deep sense of connection, we have ambitions, we want to be successful, we want to matter. And with all the access we have to other people’s lives through social media (real or pretended), the comparison is killing us and there is so much more pressure to succeed. But success is nothing without fulfilment, so often we get to the top and…there is nothing and no one at the top waiting for us. Success without fulfilment is a tragedy and we don’t want tragedy. We want to be happy, don’t you?
Doesn’t this work drain you?
I don’t know if this question is relevant to you at all, but it’s literally the most frequent question I get asked - doesn’t it drain you to listen to people’s problems?
No, it doesn’t. To be able to listen to someone with a sole purpose of witnessing them, to allow them to empty their hearts is a privilege of this work. And I don’t listen to just problems, I listen to hopes, I witness peoples’s truest, most intimate selves, I am reminded on a daily basis what authenticity looks like. I see courage that takes my breath away.
Compassion, feeling with people, it's true, is at times gritty, it asks me to be permanently open-and-broken-hearted. "There is a crack in everything, sang Leonard Cohen, the crack is where the light gets in and out."
How is Coaching different from Therapy/Counselling?
I trained both as a counsellor and a coach and in many ways these two approaches are very similar. Neither is about fixing people, both approaches hold clients as naturally creative, resourceful and whole, in both cases the counsellor/coach treats clients with unconditional positive regard, acceptance and respect. Neither is about dispensing advice or telling people what to do. In both, the process is confidential.
Therapeutic approaches are helpful when there is a powerful disturbance in the client’s life which doesn’t allow them to live a life of relative normality, e.g. they had an accident and have experienced a post-traumatic stress discover (PTSD), they have had a bereavement and need to go through a grieving process, there is a powerful addiction at play which requires a more in-depth intervention. Perhaps they need to reconcile themselves with a trauma in their life, they’re depressed or suffer from anxiety disorder or other personality disorders they need to come to terms with. Counselling allows the client to resurface from the dark depths of their souls and see the light of day and be able to move on with their life. The state of deep despair they’re in might not allow them to think clearly enough into the future to set goals and take powerful action. It’s more about reconciling themselves with the past and be able to face the present moment. Therapy is about looking more into the past (although not always, it’s a frequent and unfair generalisation) and bringing the client to the now. Therapy/Counselling is a healing intervention at its core.
Coaching can be healing and in many ways it is. Tears flow just as often. People get upset. The difference is where we take it from. Coaching is looking at what we have today, clarifying and setting goals and the process is one of forward motion. In my experience, it’s often true that people come out of depression or a low in their life and get stuck again and move in circles with apparently no reason for it. It’s this moment of finishing therapy and a few months later asking a question - and now what? Nothing is dramatically wrong with their lives, but something is missing. They love their kids but the kids frustrate them. They feel ambivalent or cynical about their work, they dislike the people they manage, they feel overwhelmed at work, the work feels pointless or meaningless, they experience the Sunday evening dread. Their relationships are not as intimate, friendships not as deep as they would have wished, giving them a sense of a low level disconnection that is subtle enough that prevents them from divorcing their partner, but strong enough to keep them miserable, misunderstood and resentful. There is at best a ‘meh’ factor that permeates some or many areas of people’s lives, and at worst people ‘hate their lives’. They hate themselves and they drink too much at the weekend. For no apparent reason. And they might think that’s the way life is. This is where coaching can help. Coaching is about helping people build good lives, really good lives, remarkable lives. It’s about establishing a goal or goals and pursuing them. Coaching is like building a bridge between now and the future, it’s about learning new skills that allow us to walk that bridge and then know how to walk it again and again, without a coach. Because by then, the client really knows they you are, what’s really important to them and when they know that, what they need to do feels like painting by numbers.
Why should I work with you?
You shouldn’t. If you like what you see, if you’re feeling it from me, you will call me, if you don’t, you won’t.