"The Good Coach"
Last month, a client posted this article titled, "What the good teachers teach." I have to say, it totally captured me. She gave me a mini dose of permission I didn't even know I was seeking about how I perceive and choose to play out my work.
Her article outlines five tips for choosing the right teacher or coach for yourself. She talks about things like not choosing someone with "all the answers" and knowing if that person is vetted to do the work they're doing.
It seems like simple stuff, but as I look at the current state of the coaching industry I am sorry to say these simple things aren't that obvious or easy to spot. Why?
During an Awaken Your Life class last week, a few of my students brought up that they don't know how to describe the work they're doing. Are they coaches? Transformation leaders? Guides? Practitioners? All of the above?
I joked that I still don't know what I do. (Yes, even I still struggle with knowing what my "thing" is.) But that I also feel this pull to bring great coaching and the power of this work back into rightful perspective.
Is this my job or even my responsibility? Not really; no one elected me to but through all of my iterations of this work I come back to ONE constant over and over - I love being a coach. I love it fiercely.
But what does it mean to be a "great coach"? Can we really define this?
And we should.
I do my best to be lighthearted in this work and I am passionate about it. I am passionate about people and bringing as much unconditional compassion to the table as I possibly can. I am passionate about being a conscious coach, someone who knows her limitations and her strengths and has the courage to be transparent about both.
The word "unconditional" is important to me. It means that I am in constant contact with myself and if I'm ever overly invested in my clients' version of success.
It means not assuming that I know "the way" let alone the right way for a client to go. And it means letting go, big time. Despite our strong belief in healing, there is nothing wrong with the people I work with. Nada, nothing, zilch.
It is common in our culture to assume someone outside of ourselves can solve our problem or fix us. Just look at the western medical system: it is founded on the idea that there are the ill and there are the saviors of the ill.
This is prevalent in many areas of our life - finances, health, love, our job, happiness, and basically anything we want. It is so easy to assume getting it is an "outside job" or that someone has the answers to our woes.
There are many (many!) coaches who fall into this category and who coach from the perspective that they themselves are the solution to their client's ailments. When a coach chooses this mindset they do one of two things:
1) They play God and present a perfectly scripted path for a client to walk down to be "magically" cured.
2) Think they have to BE the solution and get attached to their clients having a specific outcome that is predetermined. And if the client doesn't get there, the coach assumes either they failed or the client just didn't want it bad enough.
As a coach I am a master of a process that a client can climb inside of to do the work, take personal responsibility, and be their own healing. And if a client comes to me who is working on something I am also in the midst of, I have to remember these two simple points:
No matter how similar it looks, it is not the same.
This is an opportunity to convey empathy and compassion.
If we know what good coaching is not, then what is it? How do we spot it? When I posed this question about what makes a coach great to some followers on Instagram I got comments that said...
...shows up and meets you where you're at.
...asks the uncomfortable questions, those questions designed to stretch you.
...allows for someone's deepest and truest self to be revealed.
...really sees me and hears me.
...does their own work and is in touch with their own life.
I truly believe it is this simple.
Coaching is predicated on exploration. Exploration that is unpredictable, creative, and personal to the client.
This is why I fell in love with the process of coaching all those years ago and why although I've created other programs like Awaken Your Practice and the 52 Week Journal, I come back to the art of great coaching time and time again.
To bring such simple tools to something like a conversation, and witness over time as that person sees more and more of their true self, believes in themselves maybe for the first time, and begins to love themselves -- it captures something for me.
It captures the raw truth tucked inside the human heart: that we all just want to be valued and seen.
This is what a great coach leaves space for. So while I don't always know how to describe what I do and sometimes worry what someone conjures up if I say, "I'm a life coach," I also don't care. Because it isn't about my title or some definition that makes it easier for someone to "get me."
It is about the gift of unconditional and compassionate space at the moment someone decides they are ready to go within and awaken something that has been dormant. It never gets old. Almost 5,000 conversations later...it never gets old.