What is Coaching?
What comes to mind when you hear the word, Coach? Many people envision an angry person on the sidelines of a sports contest, passionately gesturing to get their players to follow the game plan. A much more helpful definition is found in the original meaning of the term ‘coach’ as simply ‘a vehicle that transports someone from where they are to where they want to go’. Successful people in all walks of life have benefited from having a coach at their side. Imagine talking to a good listener who appreciates where you are going and who you are. Imagine an encourager who believes in you and knows how to draw out of you, your best ideas. Imagine having the undivided attention of a person with whom you can confide, dream big dreams and strategize a plan to reach your life goals. That is a coach.
Questions can be used for a variety of purposes. In some cases, they are blunt instruments designed to bludgeon a person into submission. In other uses, questions are simply information gathering – filling in the blanks on one more form. However, no communication tool is better suited to probing the depths of one’s understanding than a powerful and often profoundly simple question. Coaching wields this one tool with the purpose of unlocking new thinking, creating new pathways around old problems and surmounting mental barriers which prevent a person from fulfilling their potential. The question ‘why’ is discarded because of it’s accusatory tone and emphasis on the past. However, every other avenue of inquiry is used to identify, reject, adopt and transform a client’s thinking into a cogent, well defined decision leading to its supported action steps.
After powerful questions have led to quality decisions, it is time to move forward. ‘Aha’ moments are of little consequence if the insight gained is not followed by action. The goal of coaching for many is clarity; clarity of purpose, clarity of one’s responsibility in a given situation, clarity of a preferred outcome. However, clarity without a step toward what one knows is only sharpened understanding. The ultimate landing spot of coaching is forward movement. We call them action steps, not action leaps, just steps. What one thing or two things can you do today and tomorrow to bring the clarity you have discovered, closer than it was last week or last month?