The term ‘coaching’ covers a wide range of philosophies, methods and personal styles. So it’s not surprising that people are often unsure about what to expect when they approach a coach for help.
Why do people work with coaches?
Coaching frequently involves these sorts of questions from the client:
- I’m facing a specific challenge in my life (e.g. work, relationships, health, finances). What can I do to resolve this situation or to support myself more effectively through it?
- I’m under pressure to make an important decision. How can I weigh up all the options and make the best choice?
- I’ve set some goals or resolutions for myself, but I’m not making much progress. Where am I going wrong? What would work better?
- I feel that I’m not fulfilling my true potential. How can I make my career/life more successful or meaningful?
- I know I’m very fortunate compared to lots of other people, but somehow it’s never enough and I’m still not happy. Why am I feeling like this?
- I don’t really know what I want to do or be. How on earth do I work this out?
- I need to make some big changes in my life, but I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed and stuck. Where do I start?
- I yearn to live my life in a different way, but I’m scared of failing or letting people down. How can I overcome this fear and move forward?
My way of working
The way I integrate Life/Executive Coaching and Zen Inquiry tends to vary in each session, depending on the preferences of the client, the nature of the challenge we’re working on, and what I feel is needed in that moment.
My breadth of experience means that I can work flexibly around your needs. I bring alternative perspectives and approaches that cast new light on challenging issues – but I also ensure that the coaching relationship is grounded in practical considerations, goals and action plans.
Life and Executive Coaching – at its best – tends to follow these core principles:
1 – Non-directional: Unlike many forms of counselling or technically-focused coaching (e.g. sports training), life coaching doesn’t tell you what to do. As the client, you set the agenda, and you choose your own answers and actions. The coach’s role is to:
- Hold your agenda, and keep you accountable to it
- Listen carefully and empathically
- Ask powerful questions that unlock your self-awareness, take you beyond your perceived limits, and help you to find the right solutions
- Recognise and support your progress along the way
It’s a collaborative relationship, which gives you a greater sense of empowerment and ownership. It also means that the resolutions and life-changes you make during the coaching process are far more likely to continue working for you in the longer term.
2 – Non-judgmental: A good coach will create – and hold – a safe, trustworthy space for you to share your feelings, dreams, and ideas during coaching sessions. He/she knows that all your beliefs and actions are motivated by a positive intention. And all your feelings that come to the surface are welcome and valid. For the client, the experience of being listened to non-judgmentally is a rare and profound experience, and it’s a cornerstone of effective coaching relationships.
3 – Constructive and forward-looking: Unlike traditional forms of psychotherapy, coaching won’t analyse you or dissect your past experiences. It may help you to let go of old limiting beliefs that aren’t benefiting you any more, but the focus of the sessions is your present situation and future path. To this end, the coach guides you through the design and implementation of clear, motivating goals and plans.
An integrated approach
In many ways, our daily lives are more hectic and complex than ever before. Not surprisingly, we get overwhelmed, or we look around us and believe that something crucial is lacking in our lives and our selves. Even the most outwardly “successful” people can get caught up in:
- A relentless pursuit of self-improvement, higher status or new symbols of success;
- Constrictive ideas about what we “should” or “shouldn’t” do;
- A tendency to over-analyse our thoughts and actions, which drains our energy and prevents us from moving forward.
Instead of using life coaching to set up yet more external goals, detailed planning processes, or self-flagellation routines, it’s often more helpful to step back from these old patterns and filters.
Zen Inquiry helps us to connect with ourselves and others in a deeper, more authentic way. It melts away layers of self-imposed pressure and protection, and brings us back to a place in ourselves which is more calm, compassionate and wise. Once we have accessed this state of being, we can bring more clarity to the issues and challenges we are facing, and we can move forward to address them with far greater ease and thoroughness. Often, our problems then seem to just dissolve rather than needing to be actively solved!
It isn’t spiritual or esoteric or ‘New Age’. It’s a simple, powerful approach, based on questions that refocus our awareness on the present moment and our essential nature. In some ways, it’s similar to everyday mindfulness exercises that you may have heard about or tried – but we’re embedding these in a clearly defined, actionable coaching context.