Published in Womeninc, October 2007
by Diana Gabriel
It recently occurred to me that I have been writing this column’ Ask the Coach’ for the last two years and have not paused to speak directly about just what coaching is, what it is all about and what you need to know before hiring a coach.
The International Coaches Federation defines Coaching as:
Coaching is partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.
Professional coaches provide an ongoing partnership designed to help clients produce fulfilling results in their personal and professional lives. Coaches’ help people improve their performances and enhance the quality of their lives.
Coaches are trained to listen, to observe and to customize their approach to individual client needs. They seek to elicit solutions and strategies from the client; they believe the client is naturally creative and resourceful. The coach’s job is to provide support to enhance the skills, resources, and creativity that the client already has. It supports and deepens intention and growth over time so that the changes you want to make become a pert of your natural fiber the change becomes sustainable. All to often we attempt change with good intentions but with out the extra support quickly dissipates and we are back in to our old habits.
The clients that I have had the privilege to serve and journey with have called coaching a ‘transformational experience’. They describe a sense of goundedness and ease with decision making that they have never experienced before. One client stated “Our coaching relationship has been the key to unlocking potential within myself. I am consciously making choices around my attitudes, my energy level, and my perspectives in both my personal and work issues. These choices have repeatedly affirmed my power to change and grow, and I have had a number of experiences where others have told me that I have made a positive difference for them”.
Through out the years the majority of people I have worked with have been plagued with regrets for the life not explored. Even the most successful amongst us have regrets and blind spots. Each of us is limited by our own assumptions and beliefs. People whom we are close to us often collude with our assumptions and blind spots because they care so much about us, do not know what else to do and just want to ‘make’ us feel better. With the coaching process you have the opportunity explore and expand possibility and be held accountable for your forward movement from a neutral person (the coach) from a place of non judgment or bias. Through the coaching process clients explore what matters most to them and identify how they can and will live in alignment with those values. Coaching offers the possibility of living your life with clarity and intention leading to living authentically – a life of not regrets.
A coach champions your dreams, goals, movement and progress. The following quote captures the essences and power of the coaching process from a client perspective. “Coaching is powerful. I have certainly seen that in my own life. It has been fundamental for me in exploring my own possibility. More specifically, through, it has been your coaching – your compassion, your lack of judgment, your knowledge of coaching concepts and your guidance in helping me to apply those.”
A coach can be a powerful asset, but the key is that it is a co-active alliance with you, and you determine where you want that alliance to be directed. As with many things in life you get out of the coaching experience what you put into it. Coaching can be rigorous, challenging and deeply rewarding.
To Get the Most Out Of Coaching
* Be open to change, for something to be different in your life
* Be willing to be a student of your own life
* Be open to explore new possibilities
* Be curious
* Be active in the direction the coaching takes
* Be committed to doing the ‘homework’ necessary for change
* Be reflective of what you are learning and your experiences
* Be open to observing yourself with compassion
* Be committed to your dreams, passion, purpose – to you
Finding a coach
Just like hiring any professional, you should do some homework and shop around before choosing a coach. Coaches are not regulated (licensed). However the coaching profession is self regulating through The International Coach Federation. The ICF has set standards for professionally certified coaches and coaches training programs. It is important when looking for a coach to ask where they received their training and if they are certified. Then check on the ICF web site www.coachfederation.org to see if where they trained is an accredited training institute and if the coach is certified through the ICF.
The International Coach Federation recommends talking to three prospective candidates and requesting references from each. It advises asking the coaches lots of questions, including how much experience they have, how many people they’ve worked with and what specific successes they have had in helping their clients. A coach is someone you’ll be working closely with therefore it is key to look for someone who is a professional trained coach and experience an interpersonally ‘click’.
I invite each of you to explore the power of coaching so that you can experience a life aligned with who and what you want most for your life.