For every time somebody asks me, “So you’re a coach, so what sort of motivational/training/speaking….?” and I get a dollar, I would be a rich millionaire by now. Well, not quite, but you get my drift!
I’m actually quite a quiet person, a typical introvert who doesn’t like talking very much. People who know me are usually surprised when they found out that I’m a coach.
You see, it’s a common perception that coaching is training, motivational talk, counsulting, public speaking, those sort of dynamic ra-ra stuffs. The picture they have in mind of a coach is like an extroverted superstar in his “expert’s suit”, holding a mic and taking charge from the stage, delivering a power-packed, inspiring talk on something that will work wonders to the audience who just sit there and listen, and somehow their work performances and lives are magically transformed forever!
I don’t blame them for having that idea. After all, we have seen many charismatic gurus and inspiring leaders who employ the word “Coach” as one of their many impressive titles. But that is very far from what coaching really is. It also doesn’t help that many coaches happen to be great, well-known public speakers and trainers.
I’m not saying that coaches don’t inspire, motivate, speak or train, but all those terms have been muddled up with coaching. And actually, coaching really do have the potential to transform your work and personal life forever, just maybe not how you imagine it to be.
“Actually, Coaching is….”
To my friends, I would usually smile, and start my reply with these three words, “Actually, Coaching is….” Hence the title of this post.
Depending on the individuals’ perception, usually one of the easier way is to explain what coaching is NOT – I flip the images they already have in mind. Here are just a few examples:
- Instead of doing most of the talking (image of a speaker), the coach is the one who actively listens while you (the coachee) are the one who do most of the talking.
- Instead of knowing the subject very well (image of an expert), the coach may know very little of the industry you are working in. And since the coach is free from the ‘expert’s syndrome’, he will be more interested in YOU and your processes much more than the subject at hand.
- Instead of telling you what to do (image of a direct consultant), the coach facilitates a non-directive approach of learning and draws the answers from you by asking powerful questions. The coach aims to bring out the best in you.
- Instead of giving inspiring speeches (image of a motivational guru), the coach walks you through a journey that raises your awareness, and evoke powerful self-discovery. And you will find your own compelling purpose to live and do what you really want.
- Instead of prescribing advices (image of a therapist), the coach partners with you to uncover your hidden roadblocks and underlying issues that are previously unseen. He helps you to get unstuck to get back into your natural flow, and propel forward.
Notice that the spotlight is always on you the coachee, not the coach. It’s all about your story, your goals, what’s holding you back, what drives you, what can you do, your journey, your success, you, you and you.
The coachee is the focus. The coachee will find a way (with the coach’s help). The coachee will win.
“The best leaders of all, the people know not they exist. They turn to each other and say, ‘We did it ourselves.’” ~ From Tao Te Ching.
Coaching and Personality
I’m just happy that coaching suits my quiet personality just fine! I’m a natural in shutting up my mouth, listening, observing and learning what someone is saying, what he is not saying, and what he is really saying (yes, they are big differences that change everything).
I love the role of the quiet strategist who helps my coachees to formulate winning game plans, and in the process, see their best self uncovered and surfaces.
I hate being in the spotlight, and I’m here to correct the misperception of who coaches really are.
I can understand from the economic/marketing point of view, how coaches should sell themselves to be at the center of attention, the important ones holding all the power and the keys to transformation. And believe me, we (coaches) do! We are powerful change catalysts. Just not in the manner how most people perceive us to be.
Watch out for Part 2 where I’m going to illustrate with a couple of analogies on what coaches do.