Coaching is a profession that requires specific competencies, skills and techniques. Best coaches constantly work towards mastering their approaches and tools, learning and exploring more and more so as to offer the best combination for each particular client. The more tools and techniques we master, the more confident and tangible our coaching becomes and the better the results obtained by the client.
Here at the-Coaching Blog-run by Gerard O’Donovan, our aim is to constantly bring value to those seeking to improve their lives. Therefore we have a policy of publishing articles and materials by guest authors whom we value and appreciate. Today’s guest author is Karolina Little (USA).
Sometimes a new approach, tool or technique is developed and added to the ever growing coaching kit. The continuous expansion of tools which we can use to facilitate the client’s growth and success makes our industry something truly unique, rich and complex.
Another aspect of approaching the coaching tool- kit is freedom. We have the freedom to use what is in our kit based on our intuition accompanied by a solid knowledge and practice of the techniques that are specific to our profession. This makes out of coaching something equivalent to art, every session being a nonreplicable creation.
There is no right or wrong in regard to what should or should not be in our ‘coaching kit’, as long as it is used in line with the core specifics of this profession. Each coaching school has their own approaches and ways of training coaches how to do the job. And this is what makes out of our industry this unique and rich place I was drawn to in the first place.
Being aware of the complexity of the profession, I feel both a profound responsibility about the claim I wish to make, but also great ease and confidence.
All of us should be trained in mindfulness. I believe it is the foundation on which all ‘technical’ coaching skills should be built, if we are to genuinely respect the client’s space of growth, to act as change catalysts and to facilitate the client’s positive results from a place of non-interference and attentive presence.
Many of us are privileged to work with leaders, change makers, entrepreneurs, writers, artists, visionaries, people who care, people who are brave, who are eager to make our world a better place. This is one of the things that make this job so wonderful.
But what is it exactly we offer all these people?
My belief is that the most import thing we offer is our own state of being. It is a place from where everything else starts: what we hear, what we say, what our next question is. And this is the reason why I am at ease claiming that coaches should be trained in mindfulness and that mindfulness should be in every coaching tool-kit.
Mindfulness has been a never ending path of continuous discovery, moment by moment, a way of getting to the core of who you are. Surprisingly enough, the result of being mindful when coaching a client is an ever greater presence to the client and not to one’s self.
Some coaches I interacted with are of opinion that mindfulness should not be thought of as the only right way. I fully agree. Indeed, we need to stay open and curious, we need to rediscover things over and over again. How bizarre and funny it is to know that to stay open, to stay curious, to become free of one’s prejudices and to rediscover things over and over again is exactly what mindfulness is about.
Since coaching is about practice and facilitating positive change, the question is: what precisely does mindfulness offer coaching?
I see at least two angles to approach this question: your clients and you – the coach.
Mindfulness offers a vast number of tools you can share directly with the client if appropriate. (Without going into details, just a note that it is important we do not compromise on ‘if appropriate’. Time needs to be right, trust established and permission granted.) All of these tools are practical and tangible, ready made and applicable to the wide spectrum of issues. The tools I find most useful in my practice are based on short meditations and on exercises that promote mindful living. The most important, however, is ‘the way’ of working with the client – a sort of non-judgemental open awareness that stimulates the client to take a plunge into their own consciousness and emerge with a new insight and the appropriate solution to their issues. It also offers the client the possibility to experience each ‘present moment’ as a starting point of learning and growing, whether it is during our coaching sessions or in their life at home and at work. I call it ‘working with the client in the happening of the now’. This I believe is a skill. Skill that each of us can learn and master.
I truly believe there is something that should be in every coaching kit, something in which every coach should be trained – old and young, business coaches and life coaches, those with years of experience and letters next to their names and those just starting out – no exceptions.
You, the coach:
Firstly, mindfulness offers solutions that we can practically apply directly to ourselves when we coach. I remember having a client who spoke very slowly. I was constantly catching myself filling in the gaps with my own thoughts and ideas. Using the mindfulness self-discipline – ‘notice, acknowledge, let go, come back’ – I returned to the moment and to fully listen to the client.
Secondly, mindfulness can be used before and after coaching sessions to support us when we get ready for the session and when we conclude the work with the client. Again, a number of available tools: starting with the ability to centre ourselves, through letting go of what we believe is right for the client, to the way we write down the notes when the session is finished.
Last but not least, mindfulness trains our natural mind qualities of ‘being’, enabling us to expand on them so that we get closer to reaching the full presence of awareness. It enables us to bring the wholeness of our being, the most wonderful ‘unity’ of who we are, to the task. It creates ease and flow where, as my teachers would say, ‘all the magic happens’.
I believe that it is our duty, as coaches, to be an example – to be kind, to care, to be brave, to be open, to be curious, to not judge, to be patient, to trust, to honour and to serve. I believe it is a duty not only to our clients, but also to our friends, families and all the people we meet on our way. It is our duty to ourselves and to the word we live in.
We, as coaches, can play a role in this change for the better. At the same time, however many experiences behind us, however many grey hairs, however many thousands of coaching hours and titles, we need to stay humble to the initiation of this process. Always open and ready to learn, to explore over and over again, as if for the first time, seeing and rediscovering the world and ourselves, moment by moment. For this is who we are – moment by moment.