How Does Coaching Work?

What is coaching?
Coaching is a process that guides a client to articulate their potential and create pathways to inhabit possibilities.

What does this mean?
There is something about your life you want to change and coaching can help you do it!

Like getting a better job or losing weight?
Coaching is a whole life invitation; my clients desire an overarching shift in perspective that will affect many areas of their lives. Through a systematic process I accompany each client as they discover for themselves what is deeply important and intrinsically motivating, we create a weekly strategy to practice and embed new habits and they are held accountable for these changes.
If you are looking for advice and instruction to achieve a specific tangible result, there are many consultants and experts out there who can help, such as a career counsellor or nutritionist.

Give me an example of why a person would hire a coach.
Although the underlying training is the same for all professional coaches, we all branch out into various areas of focus.
I am known as the minimalist coach! Through the lens of minimalism I help clients pare down and slow down to get to what matters in life.
This attracts two categories of people:

  • those who are expressing overwhelm and need to declutter their lives. “I need help clearing through the reeds so I can navigate the pond”.
  • those who want to take the next stage of their lives to a new level of fulfillment. “I am ready to chart a path across the open water to see what else is out there!”

I admit the first group is a lot more represented in my practice than the second. What they both share is a choice to move forward and the decision to take action.

How is coaching overwhelmed people different than going to therapy?
This is a very general statement, but clients in therapy often experience obstacles that can prevent them from functioning in the present. Therapists are trained to help clients deal with emotional trauma, to cope with mental health issues, and manage behavioural and developmental disorders. Sessions are ongoing until the client is ready to move on.
Some coach niches focus on working with clients who experience some of these challenges and I certainly have worked with clients who have seen a therapist or currently may be seeing one. The difference is that coaching encourages self driven, future oriented pathways that requires the ability to take a leap forward. There is a defined number of sessions to work within. Clients may add sessions afterward if there is more work to do, or to ‘touch base’ down the road to keep on track.
(read the ICF page that distinguishes coaching from other professions)

So what are your clients going through in life?
Day to day, they are functioning well enough, but at some point they lift their heads up and notice that they are not thriving. This may manifest in career dissatisfaction, relationship obstacles or health issues, to name a few examples. However, in my five years of practice, I see the real problem, essentially, is an erosion on wellbeing.
Most of my clients are too ‘full’ in life. Being distracted means they ignore cues to take care. Being busy means they lean on unhelpful habits to get by. Being unaware means they lose touch with what really matters to them. They forget to continuously fill up their well of resources so that they can cope with challenges and a sudden turn can drain what little is left.
If all of our effort is spent just getting by, where is the energy for self improvement? How do you find time to contribute to those around you? What is required to engage with purpose on a level that brings fulfilment and joy? This level of participation is eventually where my clients want to exist.
As a coach I assume my clients are capable of leading a satisfying life and they are choosing to say ‘Yes’, to do the work required to get to where they want to go. Depending on how many issues there are to navigate, the start may be a bit sluggish but each session creates a bit more elbow room and exponentially there is positive change.

Neat! So take me through it. What happens in these coaching sessions?
In my practice over the last five years I see this successful pattern:

  • Share – it takes time and care to unpack what has been happening in a person’s life;
  • Organize – my job is to guide this conversation so that jumbled thoughts end up in useful categories;
  • Reflect – after this mental ‘decluttering’, I then assist my client with determining what is truly important and where is it they want to go;
  • Simplify – It takes work to get to an easier place and this in itself can be overwhelming. This requires reassessment of wants vs needs, giving permission to slow down and sometimes just letting go of some things.
  • Map – in a way that works for them, the client designs a path toward an overarching objective. The key is to prioritize and do just one thing at a time.
  • Build – each session goal dovetails with the action taken in the previous session. Seeing results can be inspiring, and it is exciting to see the long term vision come into focus.
  • Integration – along the way, a client practices using mindfulness, positive language and self compassion.
  • Maintain – change is embedded, and different habits are formed to keep on the new path.

Going back to your initial statement about coaching, I now understand what you mean about potential and possibility! There is so much more to this than just solving a particular problem. I will say, having a desire to live this way seems to take effort – do people really do this work?

Yes! I hear clients sometimes express doubt about whether it is okay to take care of oneself in this way, is it selfish. Astounding, isn’t it? In coach fashion I ask about the benefits of this kind of transformation and they easily respond with how it will help others. It takes a deeper moment to reflect on being present to themselves, to fully inhabit their body and to recognize their internal light in this great universe. Each client is different, realizing results that range from the practical to downright soulful. I have a great job, I really do!