I passionately believe that coaching is a person–to–person healing profession; one whose very purpose is to enable people to step into the fullness of what it’s like to be human.
Most of my work is with people who work in big, complex businesses; typically my clients are very senior men in commercial roles. It would be easy to think that we sit in beige rooms, wearing grey suits, with an agenda, talking about goals and planning actions. But we don’t. We do beautiful, poetic energy work that very often has a profound impact on their lives and the lives of those around them. And a profound impact on my life too.
In this short article, I share some commonly held, historical ‘beliefs’ about coaching, that I no longer consider to be true. And I share a little about what my clients and I really get up to in our coaching work – so you can see how this differs from the traditionally held view of what coaching in business is all about.
Belief 1: Coaching is a ‘thinking process’.
Coaching is a feeling process, an intuitive process, a somatic (body) process, an energetic process, a thinking process and much more.
We are more than our thinking minds. Our bodies, our hearts, our psyches, are full of intelligence – rich seams of data, ripe with messages we need to hear. Coaching is a space where one can learn to connect with all of this and importantly, let it out.
Belief 2: Effective coaching must focus on set goals and outputs.
Coaching is like the rest of life – best when we allow the journey to unfold at its own pace, in its own way.
I never ask my clients ‘what do you want to achieve from this conversation?’ I believe that if they knew the answer to that question, they wouldn’t be sat with me in such a way. It’s more useful for the person coaching with me if I ask them questions such as ‘What is keeping you stuck?’ ‘What do you need?’ or simply ‘How are you?’ From this place the work can begin and unfold as it needs to.
Belief 3: Coaching must result in clear, tangible actions
When we leave things undone, we leave energy in the system. When there is energy in the system, life can breathe, move and shift as it needs to. Many coaching conversations are best left ‘incomplete’. I encourage my clients to reflect, let things drop in and settle as they need to; and to trust what sticks and what doesn’t.
Belief 4: Coaching should be done in a ‘neutral; and private space
Yes, some privacy is important – enough for the client to feel secure to open up, share and explore, but that doesn’t mean coaching needs to be conducted in ‘beige boxes’ or out of sight from the real world. So many of the people I work with spend way too much time in these places every day and they’re craving something else in the coaching work we do together.
When choosing where to work with my clients, I tune in to what’s needed and what will best serve the work – this is an energetic and intuitive decision. I offer my insight to the client and we agree what’s best for our sessions. Typically, we work outside in nature, by water, or in the garden. We’re almost always outside – connecting with the real world in a relaxed and unbounded way (and usually barefoot!).
Belief 5: The coaching relationship should remain distant and the coach should not express emotion.
The relationship between a coach and client is a professional one yes, and it’s full of emotion too. In my work the client is entirely free to express their full selves – secrets, fears, dreams, passions. I meet them with care, empathy and warmth. Sometimes I cry when they cry, feel their joy when they feel it, and feel their pain when they feel it too.
My job is to show my client that they are safe and to demonstrate that everything is welcome in our work; that means bringing my full self – emotion and all to the conversation and connection we share.
I hope this opens your mind and heart to what is possible in this work. Take care for now, Laura