Coaching can be expensive. And often we might not be aware of how we can go about really utilising this platform to the best of our ability. When I would go to my personal development facilitator, I was often so conscious of how quickly time goes by and how easy it is to get caught up in telling my story and not really using the session as effectively as I can. We forget why we are there.
In my last blog, I spoke about the power of intention and how this clarity can serve as an effective rudder in ensuring focus and tangible progress on your coaching journey. That is the first step. I thought that I would go on to share some observations around how some of my “high performance” clients maximise their coaching journeys —tips that can help us all to really maximise our personal development efforts.
Here are some of the ways in which many of my more swiftly evolving clients operate:
- Reflect before a session. They usually have an idea as to what they would like to focus on and we build that into our session. Sometimes there are sessions where they will confess to having nothing specific and request suggestions from me. This is when we use the session for “strategic stuff” to build on the competencies gained such as putting together a life plan, and it is often very valuable.
- Use a journal. Active participation through noting down any insights in a coaching journal or on a tablet or laptop. Writing bridges the gap between our conscious and subconscious minds and is a powerful way to internalise learnings, develop new neural pathways, and focus the mind.
- Being clear about the competencies that they wish to develop and tracking their progress. This empowers them to play a role in directing the sessions according to their needs rather than just leaving it all up to the coach. I know that a client is tracking their progress when they mention behavioural change examples that have occurred or describe how practising their homework technique is going for them.
- Staying alert and focussed during the session, for example, switching off their phones, listening carefully, thinking deeply, and trying to be 100% present. In the world we live in with its endless distractions, many of us really struggle with knowing how to do this. I’ll do a whole separate blog on this so watch this space.
- They think strategically, showing an ability to link an “operational” example that we discuss to a competency that they wish to enhance, i.e., they take their sessions to a higher level than “fire-fighting”. For example, getting upset at a colleague may involve exploring the inner beliefs that led to being offended, questioning the truth of these beliefs, and then examining appropriate inner and outer responses. Taking this operational example to a strategic level, one might then go one to identify a wider competency issue e.g. the tendency to be triggered by the search for success by another and we then go on to exploring this at a deeper level.
- Regular sessions. Clients who are erratic with their scheduling make far slower progress. Starting off with at least weekly sessions before we reassess is absolutely essential to laying the groundwork for progress and displaying commitment to the journey by taking care to schedule wisely.
- Dropping me a short email sometimes in between sessions to let me know the progress/challenges being experienced around any particularly important endeavour, decision or even around the homework. These “drop-ins” show me that the client is reflecting on our sessions and guides me on progress.
- Ego management. Sometimes we forget why we go for coaching. Every coach has a different philosophy and mine is based on the Anais Nin quote: “We see the world as we are; not as it is”. The implication of this is that I focus on the person and not the problem, or the “other person”. So often in life, we get irritated by others and this is usually the biggest gift that we can get on the journey of self-mastery. Why? Because a deeper exploration of our reactions can reveal our subconscious insecurities and belief systems. When we complain about others to friends and family members, they sometimes tend to side with us, increasing our sense of righteousness. Coaching can help to provide us with an objective platform to examine these instances and understand ourselves better. When we do this, it enables us to choose our responses with greater emotional intelligence, because we focus on ourselves and not the other person. As Rumi says: “If you are irritated by every little rub, how will you be polished?” As a coach, I may sometimes poke a client a bit to shake up complacency or stuck belief patterns. Remember: Unlocking your growth is what you pay me for. Never forget your intention. Being willing to put down the ego is our biggest asset on the path to growth. As I responded to one client who complained at having to leave his mental corner of comfort: “Do you want a coach or a beanbag?”
And the growth in such clients is tangible and fast. Working with them is like a joyful dance. It impresses me that even the busiest, most senior executive still takes the time to invest in their journey so proactively. Which leaves little excuse for many of us with fewer responsibilities and less hectic lives. What it really comes down to is then not available time but the amount of love and respect for ourselves, enough to be committed to expressing our highest potential in our journey of life.
In a Nutshell: Own your journey. Coaching is a “co-creative” process. The most effective people are the ones who take responsibility for ensuring that they actively participate in the process of their own growth. Isn’t it true that we tend to invest more energy in those that are prepared to invest in themselves? In the end, it is about using our power of choice.
“I cannot teach anybody anything. I can only them think” -Socrates