“If you showed up to this class with the intention of learning how to use coaching to influence your team to get big results, then let me say that this is not that kind of class.”
I uttered this line during the introductory stage of one of my coaching workshops last year.
What was going on?
Do I not believe that coaching is one of the powerful tools for leaders to bring out the best from their people and perform better? Yeah, but deep down, I always knew that there’s a deeper purpose. There’s something missing. Something more.
During that early morning, I awoke with a burden in my heart. It was about 4 am, and I was thinking, “Oh no, not again! I need the sleep and energy to run the coaching workshop. This is a long and important day.” I tried to doze off but to no avail.
It wasn’t the first time my heart woke me up at an insane hour. Every now and then, my heart does that so I could “open unread notifications” stored up for days. It is the best (only) time to get my attention – when my rational mind (the judge) is still half-asleep.
It was another one of those mornings. This time I decided to pay attention to it.
I said to my heart, “Ok you win. You got my attention now. What is it? Tell me, I’m listening.”
As I was listening within, a powerful realization hit me. You see, I have been carrying some inexplicable burdens in my heart as I support organizations as a coach and in other roles. There and then, in the quiet morning, I suddenly had an insightful understanding of what those burdens were – I could put them into words and labels. And I’d unexpectedly discover my deeper purpose and true calling as a coach – my mission.
I carried that sense of mission to the coaching workshop that morning.
I can’t remember the exact words but I was saying to this effect in the introduction:
“Almost everywhere I go, I see orphans, metaphorically speaking.
In many coaching conversations, my coachees would confide in me things that they would not share with anyone else, not even to their bosses or leaders.
There was a time during my early days as a coach, when I felt needed and important. These days, I feel really sad – that the lines between leaders (like parents) and their people (children) are broken.
As a coach in organizations, my role is NEVER to take the place of leaders as a “parent”. But to help rebuild trust and relationships.
Some of your subordinates are more willing to confide in me (coach) than in you (leaders). That is not right. I want to put things right. This is my true purpose today.
If you showed up to this class with the intention of learning how to use coaching to influence your team to get big results, then let me say that this is not that kind of class.
The purpose of this class is so that you can truly listen and understand your team members better as coaching leaders – to reestablish that parent-children connection and restore trust with them.
As a result of feeling safe with you, they would feel great and inevitably perform better and get bigger results.”
My mind was drowsy, but there was an unmistakable fire running through my bones as I speak those words that day. I was speaking from a deeper place. A deeper purpose as a coach.
This would be one of my lifelong missions – waking up “parents” (leaders) and equipping them with coaching knowledge and skills; and they will be able to hold a “safe space” for their “children”.
Simply put, my coaching mission is to eradicate orphans i.e. emotional and spiritual orphans.
It breaks my heart when I hear coachees express feelings they could not share with their leaders. The heart of the issue is usually not with their performance – it is they do not feel safe to express their true voice.
Organizations are broken – they are “unsafe”. The world is broken.
Perhaps, I’ve been an “orphan” for the most parts of my life. Until the day when a coaching leader woke me up to my true potential. But first, he provided a “safe space” for me to be myself. He supported me in the process of finding my unique voice, and gave me the permission to express it. He saw the light in me and allowed me to shine. More than a leader, he was being a “father” to me.
Instead of coaching someone to perform better, it is better to first hold that safe space for him (or her). Every individual longs to be seen and heard for who he really is. Then he will show you what he is truly capable of, which would often surprise everyone including himself.
That was how coaching changed my life.
The Missional Coach
More than success, wealth and recognition, true coaches are driven by a personal sense of mission. Because they have tasted the transformative power of coaching, coaches want others to encounter this life-changing experience for themselves.
I have written various Mission Statements in the past for my coaching practice. I’ve finally found one that’s simpler and more powerful – it hits the heart (mine first, and the leaders I support).
Many organizations and business leaders may not resonate with my mission and that’s fine. I am perfectly capable of doing the usual coaching and consulting.
If you are a coach or in a similar profession, what’s your purpose beyond making a living and fulfilling your responsibility?
What’s your mission?
For many, it may not be obvious at first. Clarity surfaces when you immerse deeper in the work of serving people.
Let me know your thoughts. I would love to hear your heart. I’m curious about your story – what’s your mission?