Coaching - What is it?
"Most people do not need advice. They just need support and discipline in doing what they already know works." - Marianne Williamson
So, this quote brilliantly defines in real terms what coaching is all about. Since my journey over the last few years of developing myself in this industry, time and again I have had people say things to me like:
"I've never even heard of that."
"Is that a thing?"
"What exactly do you do?"
"Is that like being a counsellor?"
and my all-time personal favourite, that never ceases to make me giggle:
"You mean like a sports coach?"*
Now, first thing's first... that last question is a personal favourite because sometimes I don't even have enough stamina to run for a bus, so I would pity any person that thought I could help them get to sporting excellence with my help! And no, I am not putting myself down; there is a difference between being too critical of oneself and merely stating fact - I am definitely doing the latter. I do love the fact that people even think that I am capable of that, so thanks guys!
As for the rest of the questions... I had never heard of coaching either and came across it when life turned upside down on me and I found myself at a junction of life with the signposts saying: "cold, sad, lonely, dark, no hope, no fun, feel sorry for myself" or "blank canvas with which to re-create a new and truer version of me". I had already travelled a bit of the first road and I have to tell you, it did not do much for me. I was also intrigued (but terrified) with the freedom of the second road so with a lot of trepidation, I took the blank canvas route, learned about myself, researched, listened to myself, researched, got a job that I knew did not resonate with me but gave me purpose, researched, found the exciting world of coaching, researched, studied, researched, quit my job... and here we are!
Yes, coaching is a thing and in the context of life and business coaching, it really started to be a thing in the 1980's but with more and more need for people to consider their health, well-being and mindset, I am a part of the group of people who holistically help others to help themselves.
As the quote at the top of this piece states, I am not here to tell people what to do. I am here to be supportive, encouraging and, if needed, to be a mirror; to reiterate back to clients what they are projecting outwardly. So often people say one thing and their attitude and body language screams something else. Or they don't have much love for themselves at all because they either feel they don't deserve it or are too tired from sending all their love out to others that they have none for themselves, or think that it's selfish to think of themselves - another chat for another time on that one!
As for the question on coaching being a counsellor; then no, it is not the same thing. I am not a qualified psychiatrist, psychologist or counsellor nor do I claim to be. The best way I can explain is that a coach helps a person from their current day position and towards the future. A counsellor looks at the person's current day situation and what has happened in the past to this point. A coach works with a client, a counsellor takes control of the situation until such point as the patient is strong enough to be in control again.
At the end of the day, more often than not, we all have the answers inside of us - yes, even you who is reading this and is saying, "yes but I'm stuck, I don't know what I want to do or how I should go about being unstuck." I just help to shine a torch in that dark space so that you will say, "there it is! There's my mojo. There's my 'what I've always wanted to do' thing. There's my joy and contentment. Oh and look... there's the direction I can take." And I will simply say: "Good on you! I always knew you'd find it!"
*Professional coaching does have extensions in theory from the aspects of sports coaching, and I particularly refer to Timothy Gallwey's, Inner Game of Tennis
(Gallwey, W. T. (1974). The inner game of tennis: The classic guide to the mental side of peak performance (2008 ed.). New York: Random House Inc.)