Updated: Aug 15, 2019
Extracts from this article were first presented at the Global Management Conference at the University of Riverside, California
The easiest way for me to describe what I do is to look at Tinkerbell.
- Who helps Wendy, Michael and John to fly?
- Who saves Peter when his enemies get the upper hand (ok, she may have been part of the cause, but she's probably "chaotic good" - for those in the D&D know)?
- Who turns up when she's needed and makes the narrative infinitely better but could otherwise be superflous to the plot?
...and I'm often saddened when people just don't believe in me.
Coaching is a luxury
I am well aware of that. I charge £30-£75ph (depending on circumstances). However, in a world that is so fast paced, and one where we are struggling daily with the insecurities of unconscious bias, toxicity in the workplace, a need to 'survive today' driving us to be short with or overlook those whom we value most in the world, it is one that it is helpful to afford.
It's not "therapy". It's about unlocking your full potential.
A single hour of dedicated time which simply involves exploration of your concerns (the surface of which may open to deeper discoveries) through open questionning, and sometimes observation or limited signposting followed up - at least the way I do it - with a summary of notes and things for you to think about before the next time, can unlock a breadth of awareness and strength that will last you a lifetime. Coaching is short term; 4 - 6 session blocks, it's part of my job to ensure the relationship doesn't become co-dependant!
"...thoughtful outcomes of our sessions have been truly inspiring and grounding! ...a catalyst for our wide ranging and deep considerations."
"But seeing my friends is enough".
If your friends are anything like mine - and I love them dearly - they don't want to listen to me for an hour, much less help me explore "me issues". (And worse...they might know who's involved and that's tricky). Also, I often see my friends at social events - which are a great way of energising - I'm not going to drag the good listener off to a corner to talk about the things I think are holding me back! Friends want a shared catch up, and they might offer some advice. Parents? Similar - more on the advice. Coaching is not about advice, it's about exploring possibility. It's about options. Most importantly, it's about you navigating your solution. I'll give you the tools, build you up, and be there when it gets tough, but you will be building your emotional muscles to move forwards...and those tools will stay with you.
Not only that, but coaching is a skill. The coach needs to recognise change of nuance, sense the emotion, cut through defences, and ask pertinent questions. Coaching is also individually tailored, often on the fly - every client is different, and every session may elicit different responses from the same person. Every person has individual needs, individual forms of expression, individual responses to motivation. Also the coach knows when to say "I think you need to see other people." (I jest with this latter phrase, but I am always aware of whether the coaching relationship is an effective one, and whether I am still skilled in the areas of support needed.)
Coaching is about what's best for you
When coaching is offered within organisations, there is often an end-goal in mind. Collaboration with managers aside (and there a balance between client privilege and organisational demand needs to be struck and maintained), sometimes the client's goal is different. Even if the organisation has brought me in, if the client wants out - I'm the client's personal cheerleader. I understand that this will cause hesitancy in offering such a helpful personal service to team members, but ultimately, isn't it better that high fliers fly high - happily? Trying to control other people will only stifle your own growth.
As a private client, you might present with one goal and through the process that goal will change - that's ok too. A question I often ask is "Do you want my support to live better as you do, or do you want my help to change how you live?" I've said this in a previous article - there's a fine line between the two, you can jump from one to the other - but there is a world of difference in approach, mentally.
The coaching process
You get a first 30 minute consultation for free, and all sessions can be done in person, on the phone or via Skype. I prefer Skype to the phone because I like to read nuance, so it helps more if I can see you, and face-to-face is most desirable as I also have some extremely powerful exercises which have practical elements, and it's (OK, but) a shame to miss those out.
Then my sessions tend to start with one or two explorations (two if the issues are deeper rooted). The third session is often more focused on the pertinent areas, and a fourth would be a follow up. Within each you are given thought exercises - I like you to have a notebook (or make points on your phone), because although I will follow up with my summary and a reminder of the exercises as well as further thinking points, the most progress is made when you reflect during the week as well...and a journal is a lovely, if a little "old fashioned" - I like to call it "romantic" - way of doing so.
Should you require further sessions, we can extend to 6 within one block, or take a break before starting again.
The break is essential.
During the process it is often easy to capitalise on the momentum the sessions produce and great leaps are made. During the haitus it is easier to fall back into habits - especially those which have been successful in the past. This isn't a bad thing (you need to "get through" sometimes), but if you become too comfortable you may stunt your growth. This doesn't wipe out all the past progress - and perhaps you are happy like this for a while - but coaching is about raising pro-active awareness of the self and taking action, and it is always my hope you realise this and make the changes you need to get the spring in your step again.
On that though, I also am happy for clients to stay in touch via email (at no extra charge). Sometimes you need that neutral sounding board...and the knowledge that you aren't completely out on a limb.
Are you trying to sell me coaching right now?
Yes, and no. If you want to give it a go, of course, please get in touch - you can still say no after the initial 30 minutes! I'm writing this as a form of my own personal development as I realised yesterday that I struggle switching "coach" off. I genuinely like to help, but I also have to live and I can't just keep giving it away!
While I bring Tinkerbell in as the best example of the value of coaching, I'm a bit more Dr Quinzel/Harley, as Poison Ivy says "If you had a middle name, it would be "Welcome"". If I see I can help you I start the exploration, often to positive response, but then I struggle with switching the clock on to begin billing. Part of my own process is to focus on the value of who I am and what I do...and to be aware that, especially in a world of consumerism, skilled advice is not free. (What is free are the articles and the vlogs on this site!)
We're all learning, we're all growing, we're all trying - myself included. I have my own coach...two in fact! The question is, how high do you want to fly, and can you do it alone?
Audrey is a Chartered Psychologist (CPsychol), and the author of "The Leader's Guide to Mindfulness" (2018) and "Be A Great Manager - Now" (2016) She is a CPD Accredited speaker, trainer, and qualified FIRO-B and NLP Practitioner. She is the founding Development Coach and Training Consultant with her training consultancy CLICK Training, and the resident psychologist on The Chrissy B Show (Sky191), the UK's only TV programme dedicated to mental health and wellbeing. She consults, coaches and often presents at National and International conferences in the fields of leadership and team cohesion, as well as being part of the Amity University conference panel. She currently lectures in Personal Development and Mindfulness and provides psychological consultancy in these areas to organisations.