Whenever you meet someone new, they will ultimately ask you “what do you do for a living?” So, because we are on the internet, I will begin explaining what I do by asking you to watch the following YouTube video with Google Executive Chairman and former CEO Eric Schmidt:
Watch this YouTube Video with Google CEO Eric Schmidt: http://youtu.be/kIiwAcnSN1g
How well do you see yourself? Do you need another set of eyes and ears? Do you need perspective?
One warm fall day not too long ago in northern Ontario, a friend and I were reflecting on various topics while sitting on the dock of his cottage enjoying an adult beverage, and our conversation happens to veer towards a subject near and dear to my heart, coaching. At one point in our conversation this so-called friend of mine described a coach as “a good friend who you happen to pay money too,” and I responded with “so, aren’t you lucky to have me as your greatest and best friend?” Of course there was no reply, just a shared hardy laugh followed by another sip or two of our adult beverages.
In some respects it’s true, there are times it may feel like the coach-client relationship is similar to a friendship. First of all, you pick a coach you feel confident in, relate to and just as importantly trust, just as you would any good friend. Secondly, most coaching conversations include moments of reflection, where old and new stories are told, secrets are shared, new possibilities and dreams are welcomed and freely discussed, just as those with a good friend. And thirdly, at the end of a good coaching conversation, as with a chat with a good friend, you both walk away as equals, feeling better and more invigorated than you had prior to the moment and looking forward to the next opportunity to meet and talk again.
However, may I suggest there are many profoundly fundamental differences, some of which I will touch on here (you knew this was eventually going in this direction, didn’t you?)
Firstly, the coach is responsible and committed to establishing trust and intimacy with the client, and in fact, a good coach will suggest another coach if she/he is not able to establish that trust and intimacy early in the relationship or if the trust and intimacy is no longer present during the relationship and can’t be reestablished. Secondly, the coach is trained to understand and implement the structure of a good coaching conversation; this structure supports the client in taking action toward a predetermined goal. Thirdly, the coach is trained to understand the process of coaching over time, where the coach and client design action plans and manage progress; this may include identifying possible obstacles along the way, addressing setbacks as they happen and, revising existing goals and/or establishing new stretch goals.
Lastly, in a coach-client relationship the coach is always following the client’s agenda, not the coaches’. A good coach will develop and clearly define the agenda with the client at the beginning of the coaching engagement, as well, the coach will keep the client focused on the agreed upon goal(s) throughout the process.
Are sure your good friend always has your best interest in mind, no matter what the circumstances? Are there times when a good friend is projecting what they think is best for you or saying what you think you want to hear? Does your friend have their own limiting beliefs, perhaps similar to yours and really can’t add any insight or a different perspective? Does your friend always keep you on track? And, do you want a friend to keep you on track in the first place?
A Formal Coaching Definition
The definition of coaching as defined by the International Coach Federation (ICF): Coaches are trained to listen, to observe and to customize their approach to individual client needs. They seek to illicit solutions and strategies from the client; they believe the client is naturally creative and resourceful. The coach’s job is to provide support to enhance skills, resources, and creativity that the client already has. Coaches are change agents who serve the interests (agenda) of their clients.
An Eloquent Description of Coaching
An eloquent description for what coaching is can be found in a book written by Richard Enos entitled “Parables for the New Conversation.”
The coaching I am referring to is broadly distinguished as life coaching. It is different from the traditional notion of a’ coach’ who guides and manages the athlete or sports team and is supposed to be the wise authority on the game. In life coaching the game is life itself, and since the flow of life is change, the mandate of a coach involves helping the client deal with life changes that will take them where they want to go. Whereas the goal in any sport is clear- to win – in life coaching the goal itself is determined by the client. Together the coach and client identify obstacles along the path of change, bring clarity to real goals, and help clients move towards realizing them.
Coaching is different from therapy, psychiatry or social work, as it does not seek to resolve trauma or fix what is wrong with a client. It works from the standpoint that the client is already creative, resourceful, and whole, capable of being responsible for their own desired transformation. And unlike consultants, advisors, or mentors, a coach does not need to be an expert in any particular area – except in the art and science of the conversation itself. The coach keeps the conversation in a rhythm of penetrating and stepping back, challenging and allowing, inquiring and stating what is.
One Final Thought!
And just in case you were wondering where my friend’s definition of coaching came from, I think I know the answer?
Watch YouTube Video: http://youtu.be/epf_ulEAGmM
As always, please let me know what you think, leave a comment or suggestion or question or even better yet, if you are in the Toronto area, let’s have a cup of coffer together and chat!
We become what we think about.