What is Coaching?

Now y’all might be thinking, “He is a coach. He’s going to tell me what to do.”

I say, “Nay.”

A coach does not tell you what to do.

You: So what the heck does a coach do? 

He listens and asks questions.

You: Okay… my five-year-old niece can do that until my brain can’t take it. 

Think about this. Thinking is a process of asking questions. When you get better at asking questions, you improve your thought performance and level of thinking.

Levels of success in almost any industry or area correlate to a person asking great questions.

Ex) Peter Drucker: Instead of asking, “How can I be successful, ask how to be useful?”

A coach is a trained-professional listener and asker. He knows what to listen to and what to ask to help you change – not temporarily but permanently.

Coaching is not therapy, counseling, training, or teaching. Coaches are not mentors. Health coaches are not doctors or nutritionists. 

Let’s explore how coaching differs from these.

How is a health coach different from a doctor or a nutritionist?

Doctors or nutritionists are experts in their field. Doctors interpret lab testing and give people solutions. They tell people what to do.

If you need specific & tailored advice, ask physicians and nutritionists. If you need help implementing changes that your physician has suggested(such as more exercising, sticking to a restricted diet and lifestyle, stress management through mindfulness practice, work on sleep hygiene to optimize your sleep), that’s where a coach comes in.

How is coaching different from therapy or counseling?

Therapy or counseling is to diagnose and resolve problematic beliefs, relationship issues, behaviors, feelings, and sometimes physical responses – problems that mess with day-to-day functioning.

The client works with a coach to unearth the hidden roots of the problems that keep one from moving forward, exercise thinking based on fundamental truths, and then decide to stay or change with complete freedom.

It may resolve problematic beliefs, relationship issues, behaviors, and feelings, but it addresses people without diagnosis and day-to-day functioning problems.

How is coaching different from training and teaching?

Teaching and training involve an expert teacher that imparts knowledge to their students.

Coaching involves the belief that the individual has the answers to their own problem.

How is coaching different from mentoring?

A mentor offers their expertise, knowledge, and advice to those with less experience.

A coach collaborates and partners with a coachee to define “Point B” and co-design and co-navigate the journey.

How is a coach different from a wise friend?

It is so rare to have friends who are 100% dedicated to helping you to solve problems. People are busy doing their stuff.

When friends are 100% dedicated to helping, often it is more likely one way or another. Advice giving or sharing their own issues.

Advice giving can work, but from a sustainable behavior point of view, it is much more effective when people originate visions, plans, and behavior by themselves with the work of their own thinking process. Coaches chase after that.

Also, you may want to maintain your confidentiality even with your friends. For coaches, confidentiality means a lot to them. It’s one of the code of ethics from ICF(International Coach Federation) and NBHWC(National Board Health and Wellness Coaching). Whatever says in a session stays in a session. Coaches never share what’s been said in their sessions without their clients’ permission. (If you commit to nuclear bombing a city, that’s a different story)

Coaches create a non-judgemental space with unconditional positive regard. You may explore something you never discussed with someone before because of fear of judgment.

Friends may not know what triggers you to change and what you need for sustainable change. A shift in consciousness and truth-seeking rarely happens. Coaches are trained to listen to one’s ideas – that are not true – and reflect them back or ask without judgment. Sometimes it is so subtle, but coaches hear it as loud as a bell. When the shift takes place and the change takes place, the change is sustainable.

So what is coaching?

Coaching is shifting in awareness – in pursuit of unlocking one’s desire and bringing it to reality. It aims to understand a client, explore what is troubling about their situation, and ascertain how they would like to feel instead. Through exploring themselves & implementing changes, they organically improve their performance and unlock all possibilities. They open a possible way to live in their dreams or the one closest to their dreams – or the one they’ve never imagined before.

Coaching is not limited to helping individuals improve diet and exercise. Coaching addresses the whole person, what it means to thrive mentally and physically, and how to leverage the biology of change.

Coaches are change agents and performance enhancers.

Coaches believe that people are resourceful and capable of change. We know people are way more successful in long-lasting change when they figure out how/what/why to change – by themselves.

A coach won’t give you a fish. A coach won’t teach you fishing, either. A coach will help you explore what makes fishing important for you and work on the fundamental truth rather than what’s true for someone else. Then, if you desire, s/he will help to figure out what fish(es) you’d like to catch, what tools you already have, what tools and skills to gain, what to do to get that desired skills and tools, how to use them, and what to do to improve them. Coach sits with you as a skilled thinking partner. 

Thoughts lead to feelings. Feelings lead to actions. Actions lead to results.

What will your coaching look like?:

1. We first meet for 20 minutes to see if both parties agree to be the client and a coach. This is free.

2. Clients confirm that they are ready and want to do the work to make changes in at least one area.

3. In each subsequent coaching session, clients come to a session with a focus that is important to them. Those are common themes in coaching:

• Valuable insights

• Creating connections

• Personal Empowerment

• Eliminating Obstacles

What to expect me to do as a coach:

As a coach, I assist my clients in connecting the dots between who they are and who they want to be. I assist them in understanding themselves and taking incremental behavioral steps that will enable them to succeed in their desired changes – leading to a higher level of life. I shine the light on the client’s ego and blind spot.

Some coaches usually do ‘visioning session’ for an hour or two for their first or several hours. I found that clients can quickly(and vividly) capture their vision(or desired state) with simple questions. It saves time while staying relevant to what’s most important.

Some coaches also give’ homework,’ three to five goals or small steps or experiments, and check and review the process each week. Often these strategies work only temporarily, and the client will bring the same exact problem, or the problems will come in a different form. Or the client won’t say it because they feel ashamed.

The purpose of giving homework is to enable progress toward the goals and their desired states. The intention is good. However, the end game of coaching is self-determination, which is my clients’ ability to reach their highest level of motivation, engagement, performance, persistence, and creativity – without a coach( homework assigner.) I believe every coach’s goals have to make them obsolete and unnecessary as quickly as possible. If you expect me to be someone who keeps track of everything about you, saying, “did you do that?” I am not the one. If you want someone who believes in you and honors your autonomy and believes that you will bring up again if the trial is not working, then I am the one.

Case study of Transactional vs. Transformational Coaching

A client comes with a problem that he’s been overeating, and sometimes he can’t stop eating.

A transactional coach reflects and then asks, “What do you want to walk away with?”

The client answers, “I want something to remind me to stop overeating when it happens.”

The coach then goes to brainstorm with the client. They come up with a strategy of putting a sticky note on the dining table. Then the coach even goes further, asking when s/he will do it, where exactly s/he will put your sticky notes, what s/he is going to write, how is s/he going to measure, etc. (aka. SMARTening the goals)

On the other side, a transformational coach is curious about what’s underneath the problem. Then he asks, “What does it mean for you not to eat so much?”

A client says, “It means I get weak and thin.”

There, the coach and the client discover the idea driving the problematic behavior – in minutes.

Then they have an opportunity to work on the root cause if the client wants it. In the end, the client organically comes up with what he’s going to do – s/he does not need ‘homework’ from the coach.

Former takes about an hour while getting lost in details resulting in temporary change – putting a band-aid.

Latter takes about 25-40 mins while get to the heart of the problem resulting in a sustainable change relatively effortlessly by gaining a new awareness (or perspective) – addressing the root cause.

Now you get the sense of what is coaching – or not. I offer a free 20 minutes “No Bullshit” session for my prospective client. I often find demonstrating coaching is way easier than explaining it. No bullshit-selling here. I may show you what coaching is if you want, and I will answer your questions. We get a sense of each other. If the vibe is right, then we decide to work together. If the vibe is not right, we may find others that resonate.

You can book a No Bullshit session here.

I hope this article helps you find a powerful coach.

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