What is Coaching?

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.”  Marcel Proust

Sometimes we hope for our job to change, or our spouse to change, or our “whatever” to change – even just a little. Once that happens, whatever the “whatever” is, then things will fall into place. So we hope and believe, both the person dissatisfied with their life, and the successful person not quite enjoying their success to the fullest. But have you noticed how long we, or people we care about, may wait for this “whatever” to change? Countless numbers of people have tried to change the people around them, yet success stories are few. Changing one’s environment tends to be slightly more successful. Similarly, we may feel frustrated at not being able to use the talents we know we have (or think maybe we have) to create the things that are really important to us.

Coaching suggests that we do not need to seek or wait for a new landscape. Instead, by reconsidering the way we see or perceive something, we can bring about substantial and meaningful change. We can only change what we are aware of. For example, we develop a certain way that we hold our hand over our computer mouse or keyboard, too often in an unhealthy way. Ever notice how at some point, out of the blue, we naturally change this position to something much healthier? Didn’t notice? Neither have I! Something happens, we start to feel a pain in our wrists, a colleague watching us type makes a comment, we read an article on healthy computer habits. Something like this suddenly makes us aware of our hand position during computer use, and at that point there is an opportunity for change. Not before. Increased awareness is the first step to all change.

I often hear: Oh, I know exactly what I am doing wrong, I just cannot change it. Maybe. Maybe not. Have you considered the “maybe not”? “It is the things we know already that can prevent us from learning.” So often we are so sure of the problem that we no longer “see” the wider picture. A manager who relentlessly pushes her staff may be very aware of this. “I get feedback that I push my staff hard, sometimes too hard, but that’s who I am. Besides, I think it makes my staff work harder. And I’ve tried to be different, but it just doesn’t stick.” What this manager did not know was that while her staff was working very hard they were not working very well. She also did not notice that they were getting burnt out. She did not hear their grumbling. And so when this manager got transferred, some would even say “demoted”, it was said that she did not “see” it coming. What might have happened if she could have seen this picture through new eyes?

Like any “operating system”, people input, process, and output. Increasing our awareness of how we perceive (input), and increasing our awareness regarding our mental, emotional, and intuitive processing, can profoundly affect the choices we make in our words and other actions (output). Coaching is a partnership in increasing this awareness, and in making more informed and intentional choices for your subsequent words and actions. So that we can bring about the “whatever” that is really important to us.