I am now 8 weeks into my coaching course, and it would be fair to say that a lot is changing for me. I expected to learn new skills that I would use in a work context. I did not expect a fundamental shift in the way I think and communicate in all walks of life. I expected my feeling of general disconnection and scepticism around the practice of coaching to continue indefinitely. I did not expect the high level of buy in to the value and necessity of coaching that I am experiencing just half way through my (initial) training.
A lot is changing for me, and there have been several lightbulb moments in my journey so far. One of the most important was the realisation that the coaching room offers a space that very likely does not exists anywhere else for the client. It might sound obvious to some, but for me this was a big turning point.
I have always been a very introspective person. I reflect a lot, both on my own actions and thoughts, and on the behaviours and words of others. I actually believe this tendency contributes in no small part to my issues around anxiety. Good thinking can lead to overthinking, reflecting can lead to dwelling, consideration leads to concern. So it’s not all positive! However, there are good things about this attribute, and one of them would be the level of understanding I feel I have about myself, the things I desire, love and pursue, and the things that I dislike, fear, and avoid. And this reflection is not only done in isolation. My wife is a verbal processor. Throughout our relationship she has delved into her unconscious mind through conversation with me, and over the years we have fostered a relatively high level of communication. We spend a lot of time talking to each other about situations and how we feel about them in order to arrive at what we want and how we are going to get there. It turns out this is coaching, I just didn’t know it yet!
Here’s the thing though, I thought everybody worked like that…
I have to be careful not to sounds like i’m elevating myself now, but I think its pretty uncontroversial to think that there are levels to this. Some people are more reflective than others, and some people are more reflective than most! Im not sure where I ultimately sit in this picture, but I do know that I had a deeply held assumption that coaching is unnecessary because people already have the equivalent space they want and need in their lives. People know how they feel and why. People know what they want. People know how to get there.
It turns out that is not true. People often do not have the time, space, or will to do this level of thinking. Furthermore, I now realise that even those who are highly reflective are absolutely able to reach new levels of insight through the objectivity of a good coach, and the dedication offered by a good coaching environment. How often in life are we given 60, 90, or 120 minutes for nothing but our own personal development, dedicated time to delve into our experiences, thoughts and feelings, and uncover how they are impacting our lives?
I now believe that what coaching offers is virtually unique! Part of the value that a coach brings is creating a space that most likely does not exist elsewhere for the client – a safe container which actively cultivates exploration and growth.