Impact · Leadership

The Foundations of Coaching

As many of you know, I am currently going through an advanced coach training program at NYU. This week I completed a course on the foundations of coaching, and thought it would be fun to share excerpts from my final essay.

I often work with a brilliant facilitator, who starts every session by saying, “Everything we need to change the world is already in this room.” I always nod in agreement, before launching into workshops and activities. Over the past few weeks, it has become abundantly clear that what he says resonates deeply with the coaching mindset. Every answer that a client needs already exists within them. What a beautiful idea. It is our role as coaches to create the space that allows for deep questioning in the pursuit of change.

As a coach, I have no agenda and I have no answers. As a leadership development facilitator, mentor, and teacher, that is a humbling notion. Just recently, I was in conversation with a therapist. She stopped me midway, and asked: “Are you coaching me?” Without realizing it, I had suspended judgement, was going down questioning paths, and was creating space for her to uncover solutions, as opposed to trying to fix anything with my own advice and experiences. Those three elements are at the core of what coaching is all about. Oh, and by the way – that therapist was my mom.

Suspending judgment is a difficult task, and often goes against human nature. The antonym of judgement is ignorance. While the word often has a negative connotation, I actually think that it ties in with the premise that a coach is not paid to know. Instead, we are paid to be exceptionally curious, to make connections where they might not be obvious, and to hold a mirror for our client, so they can uncover their own areas of unknowing.

Most humans are natural problem solvers. Yet so often, people just need the space to speak their truth, without another person trying to fix anything. As coaches, we rightfully assume wholeness in each person. This ties in closely with empathy, a core value I hold very close. As a coach, the need to be empathetic and be able to be present with someone, without trying to solve their problems, is paramount to successful coaching. You cannot tell someone to change a habit (the brain won’t physically let it happen!) or magically unlock hidden potential within with your seemingly brilliant advice. Again, you can only create the space required to do so.

We must not underestimate how much discomfort is required for change. Coaching is an approach to behavioral change, and it is the role of a coach to help influence our clients to change – or better yet, invoke the imagination to see what is possible.

Are you interested in learning more about coaching, or trying out a session? Contact me to learn more!

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