18 July 2013

What I Love About Coaching

I just got off the phone with a person I started coaching today. He lives in Los Angeles, is in his late twenties and has a wife and a baby.

After talking with him, I found myself energized. I wondered: “What makes me so happy about interactions like that?”

Here’s what I love about coaching:

1. The diversity. I consider myself privileged to have the chance to interact with folks in different career fields, of different life-stages, with different personality types, from different ethnic backgrounds. Taken together, the people I coach possess an incredible array of talents.

2. The learning environment. People who welcome coaching are teachable! They want to learn and grow, otherwise they would not agree to be coached. I love how each and every one of them welcomes the kind of interaction that calls them out of their comfort zone.

3. The creativity. I like to think of coaching as a playful process. In my experience, good coaching involves improvisation.  It’s amazing how a single question can spark out-of-the-box thinking. Coaching encourages people to take a step outside a situation to look at it from a different angle. The process of slowing down to entertain questions we might not otherwise consider can serve as a powerful resource for breaking through barriers.

4. The safety. Coaching provides a context where people can be completely honest. Many people think of coaching as merely “performance driven”, but I do not share that sentiment. Whether we like it or not, our actions are most often driven by our thoughts and feelings. So…no matter what someone is thinking or feeling, I want those I coach to know I will not judge them or think less of them. If they are feeling doubtful, they can express it. If they are jealous, they can own it. As a coach I love helping people get in touch with the source of their thoughts and feelings. By encouraging authenticity, the way can be cleared for real progress.

5. The intentionality.  Coaching takes a dream the size of Mount Everest and breaks it down to one-step-at-a-time segments. Too often people feel a situation is totally beyond the realm of their influence. That’s when I like to ask, “What can be done?” By thinking “possibility”, people are able to see a path in the woods. You can take that one step, you can make that one call, you can face that particular challenge. By the end of each coaching session, each person has a clear idea of what they can do next. Their action steps are realistic, yet stretching. People discover the difference they can make as they become deliberate about what to do next.  It’s amazing what you can accomplish if you are patient and willing to commit to tangible action.

6. The companionship. The word “companion” comes from two Latin words meaning “with bread.” We like to think of non-judgmental friends as those who are “there” for us, bringing the simple “bread” of solidarity. Well, I like to think of coaching that way, too. In my coaching sessions, I hope people will be nourished by the gift of a listening, understanding ear. No one likes to feel alone. I love coaching because I get to come alongside all kinds of people to champion them—their gifts, their dreams, their passions. In my own experience, I've found those kind of people invaluable—the ones who say, “We see what you are doing, we see what you are about, and we celebrate it. We believe in you!” That’s what coaching is to me and that is the biggest reason I love coaching.   

-Troy Cady  


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