Demystifying Coaching

by Mona Shair-Wloch

Do you “live to work” or “work to live”?

It is a struggle for all of us to find a life balance between work and family. Seemingly, work and life exist as two separate entities to be chosen from. That, if we are to be happy we must choose between a happy home and happiness at work. However, this is a misnomer. Finding a balance means asking the tough questions that seem to linger in both work and home life: What drives me in life? What makes me happy? What are my goals? Or even more succinctly, who am I?

Finding a balance means asking the tough questions that seem to linger in both work and home life: What drives me in life? What makes me happy? What are my goals? Or even more succinctly, who am I?

These questions have been man’s companions before work and life balance became a go-to in the modern world and has been the impetus for many of the deeper thoughts that steady our busy lives. But, one does not need to delve into the purely existential to find hope. There is more to the sage than a three-hundred page treatise on happiness. While the thoughts and quick videos can be helpful for a time, the majority of all the great thinkers of history had another thing in common that helped them develop a steady approach: They all had a coach.

Coaching has gone beyond the traditional understanding of mentorship or a sage giving the answers from on high. Since the 1980s a new profession and understanding has emerged that deals exclusively with guiding people towards finding the answers for themselves.

The term coaching means different things to different people. It ranges from sports or corporate business coaching to Oprah’s Dr. Phil or Anthony Robbins’ mass motivation events. The question remains, who is coaching for and what do you need to watch out for when planning to hire a coach?

Who can be coached?

The bottom line? Coaching is for anyone going through a period of transition or frustration in their life. Once change seems to be written on the road signs ahead, many challenges, fears and blocks can suddenly emerge as obstacles. In other words, self-development can be both exciting and effortful at the same time. One important determinant for a successful coaching relationship is self-motivation. There is no point in forcing anyone into such a relationship, no matter how helpful one would think it could be. The first step has to be made by the client-to-be, since personal readiness sets the starting block for the road ahead to a lasting change.

Coaching is based on supporting people towards discovering and maximizing their potential.

Some people have achieved their professional and financial goals, many find themselves unfulfilled and begin the search for meaning and realization of personal potential. Add to this phenomenon the fading away of traditional family structures and religious belief, the increased pressures imposed by society and the common social isolation in larger cities and you find yourself amongst a large group of people on the search for connection, intimacy and meaning in their lives.

Since coaching is based on supporting people towards discovering and maximizing their potential, whether professional or personal, it becomes obvious why this discipline has become one of the fastest growing industries of the last two decades. And it isn’t just about finding a balance or choosing between work and life, it is about steering yourself in a direction where fulfillment comes from both parts.

Coaching has become such a natural part of adult transformation and self-development that the majority of people, whether they are CEOs or career changers, pride themselves in having a coach: the new symbol for “self-investment”.

What is coaching?

Coaching has become such a natural part of adult transformation and self-development that the majority of people, whether they are CEOs or career changers, pride themselves in having a coach. It is the new symbol for “self-investment”.

Though coaching supports clients in general life situations, improving performance and creating desirable results, it does not focus on specific, significant problems such as traumas and mental illness. In fact, one of coaching’s basic philosophies is that the client holds the answers to all of his/her questions and can arrive at these once given the needed context and time.

The power of coaching lies in the special relationship that is based on mutual respect and influence. The client determines the agenda and goals whilst the coach acts as the guardian of these. Clients generally leave coaching sessions with a profound sense of empowerment and clarity, the most effective driving force towards personal change. Finally, the combination of a coach’s neutrality, non-judgmental attitude and “solution focused approach” ensures that a clients’ path towards personal change is truly in line with his/her values and sense of individuality.

What do I need to watch out for when hiring a coach?

The possession of an accreditation from a professional association is key, since it ensures that its members have received specialized training, whilst adhering to the principles, ethical guidelines and skills of the profession.

Coaches believe that every one of us possesses the capacity to answer their own queries and that the art of finding these out merely lies in asking the right sorts of questions.

 

Recommended Reading:

Hargrove, R. 2008. Masterful Coaching.

Jones, G. & Gorell, R. 2012. 50 Top Tools for Coaching: A Complete Toolkit for Developing and Empowering People.

Sandahl, P. & Whitworth, L. 2011. Co-Active Coaching: Changing Business, Transforming Lives, by Karen and Henry Kimsey