If we are lucky in life we may incidentally stumble across an invaluable mentor at one time or another. The wise and often older person that has journeyed before us. Someone who can hold space for us as we ponder our big questions. While mentors sometimes step forward for us when we need them, there can also be times in our lives where we find ourselves lacking of this kind of support. These are the times where a professional Coach can be invaluable.
What are the benefits of Coaching?
A supportive Coaching relationship can benefit us in multiple ways. It can strengthen our trust in ourselves and help us to cultivate the courage to take important steps in our lives. It can support us to develop wisdom and self knowledge, which can then inform our steps forward. It can provide us with the opportunity to develop the psychological skills to move our projects or our desired life changes forward. The felt sense of support that this can engender can help us to be braver than we might otherwise find ourselves being.
How can a skilled Coach help you?
There are a number of facets to the Coaching relationship. As a Psychology trained, here are nine things that I believe are essential to the success of the Coaching relationship.
A skilled Coach & Mentor…
1. Provides a support system
A skilled Coach provides you with a robust support system. They offer you a sounding board, a reflective space, and an attuned listening ear, while always allowing you to take the lead in the work.
2. Provides you with a safe space, notices well and allows exploration
A skilled Coach creates a safe and supportive space for exploration of your vision. The role of a Coach is to help you to draw out the vision that is already inside of you, and to help you to clarify and more clearly define it. A skilled Coach listens carefully and notices well. They notice what matters to you, what you feel passionate about, and what lights you up. They notice what you don’t say, as well as what you do, and how you say things (e.g. tone of voice and body language). A skilled Coach then feeds back their noticing to you in a thoughtful and integrated way. In this way Coaching is collaborative, but the work is always coming from you. You bring your hopes, your ideas (whatever stage you are at in developing them) and the Coach helps you to hold space for them. In doing so, they facilitate you bringing to life what is already arising within you.
3. Builds a collaborative model of what you need
A skilled Coach has the ability to build a model in their mind of what is happening for you (and what you may need) in your life or work through their attuned listening. As they build a model in their mind they check in with you about their ideas, always testing along the way if they are on the right path and adjusting their internal model as you give them feedback. Only when they have a sense of clarity about what may help you as the unique individual that you are do they offer up their suggestions. A skilled Coach knows that our paths in life are all unique and that each person needs to find individualized ways forward.
4. Orients you to your own inner wisdom:
The role of the Coach is to help you to tune in to your own innate wisdom and to learn to follow that wisdom. A Coach’s role isn’t to answer our big questions for us or to tell us what our life, work, or creative path should be. After all, no one can know the intricate fabric of another person well enough to know the right answers for them. A skilled Coach knows that the answers are already within you and that you are the best guide you could possibly have in life. They know that their role is to help you to learn to tune in to your own inner wisdom and to help you to overcome any barriers to doing that.
5. Maintains a possibility rather than limitation based mindset:
A skilled Coach is able to simultaneously entertain uncertainty and challenges, while holding a space for possibility, creativity, and solutions to arise. It is easy to become caught up in limitation based mindsets (where we become stuck in thinking about why we can’t do things). That is the way of our human minds. A skilled Coach can help you to move beyond limitation and fear, so that solutions can spontaneously arise.
6. Has a broad range of skills, wisdom and experience to draw from
A skilled Coach has within their repertoire a broad range of skills, experience and wisdom that they can draw from and offer to you in a tailor made way. Sometimes the wisdom or skills that we need may be one small tweak or idea that can set us on a powerful path to establishing our lives (businesses or creative projects) the way that we want them to be, or it may be a set of skills that we learn to move ourselves forward on our path. Importantly, the skilled Coach has the experience and wisdom to know what to offer from their range of tools and to be able to thoughtfully time their suggestions.
7. Teaches you skills to move out of your mind
Our cheeky minds love to entertain fear and to get caught on negative stories and beliefs about ourselves and why we can’t do things. A skilled Coach knows the tricks our minds like to play on us well and can pick up when your mind has become drawn in by one of these stories or beliefs. They can then teach you skills to master your mind. These skills can allow you to return your awareness to the here and now, rather than to the past and future where your mind likes to take you. They can also allow you to tune back into your heart, where your own inner wisdom resides.
8. Witnesses and Celebrates your Steps Forward
Often when we are harnessing our courage to try new things, these are quiet and solo pursuits. No one else may know what it took you to take your brave steps forward, and therefore no one may be there to witness your triumphs over fear and limitation. Witnessing and celebrating your steps forward and acts of courage is a crucial role of a skilled Coach & Mentor, which can help us to build momentum and confidence in our future steps.
9. Fosters your own inner Coach & Mentor
A skilled Coach helps you to develop your own inner Coach. They do this, by maintaining a delicate balance between supporting and guiding you, while always conveying their trust in your own inner wisdom. They also teach you skills to tune in to that inner wisdom, and to build your confidence in working out which directions to take. The role of the Coach is to empower you to know that you already have within you everything that you need and to leave you in a place where you know how to access this for yourself.