Having coached many people over the past 15 years, I’ve witnessed my fair share of human struggle. I’ve had the honor of walking with many as they navigate their way through life’s challenges – the good, the bad and the ugly. As a result of these many experiences I’ve had with my clients, I have come to the conclusion that, while painful, confusing and downright frightening some of these challenges can be, they force us into consciousness of our strength and potential. They are the things that truly let us know who we are and what we are capable of. But how do we coach someone who is tormented by worry, heartbreak or total confusion into seeing it as a growth and learning opportunity? Here is a bit of a checklist to help coach someone from tormented to enlightened.
This means the coach has to be patient and have the ability to sit in the discomfort of it all with their coachee without pushing for solution and resolution. Just being with someone as a calm, still presence can be the most helpful thing you can do to help them move forward. Listening with just silence and nods can be a gift beyond measure when someone is in a state of confusion or fear. It’s important that the coach holds, within themselves, the belief that there is a way out, around, over or through all this and that the coachee will find their way to it when the time is right.
Think about what we do as coaches: We listen. We ask questions. We clarify. We reflect the essence of what we hear/observe so that a client can see themselves. And then assist in moving to desired results. What we do is truly brilliant and helpful work. One of the most powerful aspects of coaching that catalyzes significant change is when the coach challenges the coachee. As the coach develops their skill and gains more experience, how they challenge their coachees becomes more sophisticated and indelible. The seasoned coach is willing to go farther out on a limb and ask for big things and risks strong push back from the coachee. The payoff? Shifts happen!
So, as coaches, what are we challenging and how do we do it? Most of the time, the bigchallenges come in the form of very powerful questions. Questions that challenge what’s been said or what isn’t being said, but implied in the coachee’s language and attitude. Another way coaches challenge is to make big requests. The bigger and hairier, the better! The more outrageous, the more powerful they are! Giving the coachee the option to accept, reject or negotiate a request means START BIG! Challenge them to rise into their most audacious self!