Coaching as a humble and courageous act.
At the core of the coaching process is the true belief that our clients are perfect. There is absolutely nothing to fix. Our clients are able, resourceful, and full of potential. Coaching comes as an added tool to support these fully capable individuals to organize their thoughts, broaden their perspectives, and decide for themselves how they want to proceed more effectively and successfully.
To be able to partner with a coachee at this level of engagement, it is imperative that we, as coaches, cultivate a sense of humility and courage deep inside ourselves.
So often in our culture, our pride and sense of self-worth are anchored in the knowledge we possess. We have been groomed and rewarded for being the expert and for always having the answer. The problem is that in this “I know” environment, there is very little space for the other. With each of us being so enveloped in our own perspective we end up defending our points of view at all costs, and rarely being able to truly listen and collaborate.
You can see that, if we bring this mindset to coaching, there will be no partnership. We would be crowding the space with so much of our “I know” that there would barely be any opportunity for the client to take true ownership of their situation and to create their own growth and development.
Especially for new coaches, this is one of the most puzzling aspects of our practice. In a way, this seems counter-intuitive. How can someone benefit from our work if we are not there to give them advice and solve their problem?
However, we must remember that coaching is not transactional. Coaching is a transformational process. And transformation only happens within, not because of external advice, but by the client reaching a deeper layer of self-awareness. With that in mind, we can see that coaching is not about the coach or what the coach possesses. Coaching is about the other. Coaching is about the client’s own world, their experiences, their mindset, and the exploration of those.
The most effective coaches are the ones who learned how to tone down their egos, and their need for being right. Coaches are willing to step out of the spotlight to give room to the client. Coaches develop the ability to go beyond their own perspectives and reach out into the client’s own world. In a way, as coaches, we are just observers – trained in our craft, experts in our process, but humble and courageous enough to give the other their rightful space.
Cultivating this level of humility is not for the faint-hearted. It requires the courage to look inside, to challenge our own values and to grow ourselves into a level of internal stability and authenticity that has absolutely no need for proof. What I believe is just one possibility that has a huge probability of being completely irrelevant in the client’s system.
We can see how crucial it is for us to have an ongoing commitment to work on our personal foundation. Where do we get our level of self-worth? Where do we find our identity? How much do we truly love ourselves? What is the balance between intrinsic and extrinsic rewards? How much do we rely on external validation? By building this internal base, then we will have enough courage to reach out, to listen, and to allow the other to flourish.
Without this level of humility and courage, we are just talking, babbling at each other without a truly authentic exchange. As humans, we thrive on connection. As coaches, we must be humble and courageous enough to give the other the opportunity to fully speak, and to be heard so they can take their rightful place at the table and fully step into their brilliance.
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As a mentor coach, I am always giving feedback to my students and mentees helping them develop their coaching skills and prepare for their certification with the ICF. ForCoaches is a place where I can publicly share some of my insights and experiences. What does it mean to be a truly effective coach?