Put me in coach.
On what coaching is, what it isn't, and why it matters.
Coaching has exploded in the past decade.
In high growth industries, most executives have coaches and many companies offer 3rd party coaching for their employees.
I have a coach. My coach has a coach. You get the idea.
But what the heck is coaching?
It’s one of those terms that’s thrown around so often it seems to mean nothing and everything all at the same time.
What coaching is.
Coaching - at least my nontechnical definition of it - is using the process of inquiry (good questions) to drive clarity and commitment toward a compelling future (good actions).
Imagine there is some better version of you out there in the future. That version of you is just on the other side of a clear and compelling vision for the future, and committed action toward it. A coach is the person who helps you bring that vision into focus, and is your most candid and committed partner in helping you achieve it.
A good coach is candid because you need a mirror, not a avatar. You need to see reality as it is, not how you perceive it to be or pretend it to be. That requires candor.
A good coach is committed because they know how difficult growth can be without a support system in place.
A good coach is always listening, always asking questions, and sometimes giving advice, in that order. Because sometimes clients are stuck and just want to know what to do. Coaches should be experienced enough to have an opinion, candid enough to give it, and wise enough to know when not to. The best answers usually come from the person asking them.
What coaching isn’t.
At surface level, therapy and coaching can feel similar because they’re both rooted in inquiry and conversation.
But coaching wants to know what’s next, not what was.
If therapy is the rear view mirror, coaching is the windshield. Put more directly, therapy is oftentimes about things that happened in the past, while coaching is firmly oriented in the future.
Coaching isn’t just questions. If it is, where’s the actions? Where’s the change? Questions should lead to answers.
Coaching isn’t friends catching up with a hint of professional conversation. Coaching should be hard sometimes. It should press into uncomfortable areas. Discomfort can be the vehicle for growth.
Coaching isn’t a how-to manual. Every person and situation is unique. That’s why coaching is rooted in inquiry and conversation. Getting stuff out of your head and into the clarifying medium of conversation is what uncovers the how-to as you go.
Why coaching matters.
No one needs coaching.
But for those who want coaching? That’s where the real growth happens, where real changes begin.
Coaching matters because nearly all of us carry an underlying tension between who we are and who we can be. Coaching is a salve to the tension.
Coaching matters because it grounds people in the foundational elements of growth. What’s in your control. What isn’t. What gives you energy. What drains you. What to stop doing. What to start doing. Where to apply your time and attention.
Coaching matters because our world is getting more hectic, not less. The commonalities across my clients are astonishing. Too much work. Too much stress. Too much anxiety. Too much pressure. Too many priorities. Too much to do. Just. Too. Much.
The image above is from the iconic book, Essentialism, about the disciplined pursuit of less.
But it could just as easily be applied to coaching.
Because at the end of the day, that image perhaps captures what coaching is better than this post could.
Chaos to calm.
Distraction to focus.
Good to great.
✌️ and ❤️,
Certified High Performance Coach™
👉 Forward Coaching