Many of us have perhaps given some initial thought to coaching but have not gone on to consider just how it might really benefit our own on-going development. Having been a coach for over 15 years now it still amazes me how so many of us leave our own personal growth so far down the agenda that we usually miss out on this wonderful opportunity of shortening our learning curve and in the process we start to tap into and use far more of our real potential.
Setting your agenda
If we stop to consider for example typical executives performing in busy environments, I firmly believe that having an opportunity to just take a step back and take stock of things (i.e. own performance) on a regular basis gives us that chance of noticing what we are doing in our role and what impact the behaviours we are using are achieving. It also gives us the opportunity to take a more objective perspective of our performance and to be curious about what can happen if we started to add some different ways of “doing” into the mix or even stopped doing things that get in the way of us achieving more.
However it doesn’t stop there because the all-important next step is deciding what we want to take from our coaching session and put into action! Obviously if you keep doing exactly what you did yesterday then today does not change nor does future performance! Also it is important to focus on the specific context you want to work on to change and what you will be doing that is different. Finally you will need to find a method to identify when you have met your desired outcome. Coaching does provide that space for you to address these kinds of points.
My point here is that nothing happens without your intervention and the danger some fall into is walking away with a wish and not a 100% commitment to move forward. Then as time slips by again we notice an absence of change thereby denying ourselves the benefits the change would have given us! May sound a bit familiar but that is how things work. So coaching does support you in making real decisions and keeps you focused on what really matters in terms of taking your performance to the next level.
So here are some points for you to reflect on and consider if coaching can help you to grow your self awareness to a point where you can have more choice in terms of the way you operate in your job or other areas of life that are important to you.
How your beliefs create your reality
So much of what we do – or even don’t do – is closely related to the beliefs we hold about ourselves. When we know we can do something we usually just get on and do it without thinking any more about it. In fact so many of us have stopped noticing what we are good at doing but focus a lot on what we perceive our weaknesses are. As a result we create a somewhat distorted self-images, which is biased towards being judgemental and self-critical. Perhaps we need to bring more balance here and one good thing about coaching is that it can remind ourselves just how good we are and build on these strengths.
We have to remember; when we are not so confident of succeeding then things are a bit different! For instance, when we are expected to manage a difficult situation where conflict is present or give a presentation or to speak up and say what we mean then we can often find these kind of situations don’t run so smoothly! We can become more aware of our inner critical voice and how it gets in the way of us being at our best; we can also become more aware that our attention is fixed on “what can go wrong” or “why this won’t work out”. As we do we can also become aware that we have smoothly slipped into an anxious or fearful state and therefore feel those negative emotions running wild!
So if we know our thoughts, feelings and behaviours are all interconnected then perhaps there is an opportunity to become interested here in what we can do to shift ourselves back into a more resourceful state that will help us to learn to be more confident. One benefit of coaching is that it can help you become more aware of your own tendencies and more importantly support you in focusing on what you really want and what you must do to achieve your desired outcome.
We have to understand that much of our thinking goes on automatically. Psychologists suggest that around 60% plus of our thinking is automatic and habitual, we tend to have the same thoughts today as we did yesterday! Yes there are certain stimuli that will cause us to react in a preconditioned or learnt way. That is we all have our own certain ways of responding to any given stimulus (and we are all different so we will respond to external stimuli often very differently).
For instance someone looks at you in a certain way and you respond; or someone speaks to you in a tone of voice and again you react on the inside. There are many, and I mean many, things we respond to without fully realising our own response as these kinds of patterns are well engrained into us. Most of these stimulus/response patterns are okay but what about the ones that do get in the way of us achieving more? What about those ones that produce a negative state for us or we produce behaviour that is in excess of the stimulus? So again coaching provides that opportunity to step back and notice more about the impact our behaviour is having and relate this in terms to what we are trying to achieve. Where there is a mismatch then we might want to do something about this!
The benefits of coaching
Well this is really where coaching can support you because one of our goals is to grow awareness and become more vigilant about those things we do that get in the way. We need to sharpen our awareness so we can notice aspects of our behaviour that has been filtered out and as a result we are blinded to the effect we are producing. We also want to challenge what we do in certain contexts and evaluate if behaviour we have learnt to produce perhaps many years ago is still helpful today or if we have alternative choices that can produce more effective results in today’s world.
The point is we want to learn to drive the bus again instead of being a passenger. So we need to focus more on what we want to achieve in a given situation and what actions we take to achieve the result. We want to spot where there is a difference between what we intended by doing something and what we got in terms of a result.
If these match then fine but if not then we might want to open up to doing things differently. There is a choice here too in terms of staying rigidly to what we have always done or choosing to do things differently. The important bit is having that awareness because without that you can’t really change anything.
So perhaps focusing on your own tendencies could be useful territory to just reacquaint yourself with some of your own habits and to evaluate if they are serving you well or not! You can ask others to give you feedback in terms of what they are noticing about your behaviour and you can use reflection to look back and relive an experience you have had to really notice more about what you did and impact you had.
Also you may want to get the support of a professionally qualified coach to support you on this journey. As you think about yourself now you can start to acknowledge that you know far more than you ever put into practice. So what stops you from really stepping outside your comfort zone? And if you continue to put up with your current situation what are the consequences you have to also put up with? On the other hand if you took action now what are the benefits that would flow from this for you? Finally how could you use a coach to help support you on this journey?
What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments!