This is a guest post by Mershon Niesner, retired Certified Life Coach & Author of http://motherloss.blog
Mershon gives 6 insights into some of the most important aspects of life coaching and how you can use these tips to enhance your life:
Professional Coaching or Life Coaching does not replace therapy, or counseling or good common sense. However, coaching does help people get unstuck, move forward, solve their own problems and live a healthier, happier and more successful personal & professional life.
I started coaching in 1997 and was certified as a coach in 2000, long before most people had heard of coaching and certainly before coaches started writing guest columns in magazines and there were such things as blogs. Retired now, I’ve turned to writing a daily blog that includes coaching questions and I’m currently writing a book, When Lightning Strikes, to be published in 2019. Here are some things I learned during my coaching years:
1. People know the answers to their own important questions
Perhaps they don’t know how to access the answers, perhaps they don’t even know the important questions, but once they discover the question, chances are that somewhere deep inside, they have the answer. The coach’s job is to ask the questions that help people find their own powerful answers. When the answer comes from within, folks are motivated to act and results are infinitely more likely to happen. You know the feeling…when you’re told to do something you might drag your feet, but when you make the decision yourself to take meaningful action, you’re eager to try out your theory and experience the results. Coaches trust this process. They believe in their clients and create an atmosphere of trust, self-worth, and compassion.
2. Big changes sometimes start small
I had a client that was unmotivated, constantly tired, angry at herself for “not getting anything done.” When I had her do a life style assessment, I noticed she self reported that she didn’t make her bed. So, the first request I had for her was to make her bed for a week and report back. The next week she was surprised at her progress…no more naps, more energy, a greater sense of well-being and self-worth. She started her day with purpose by making her bed. She didn’t want to “mess it up” by taking a nap so she had better nighttime sleep and more energy. Did this solve all of her problems? Of course not, but it was a powerful start. Another client did an online class with me about having more fun. She realized that as a very busy corporate person she had zero fun in her life and did nothing for her own joy. Her assignment, “Buy yourself flowers once a week and put them on your desk to remind yourself that you count.” She did. She later quit her corporate job and became a coach. She was a client for several years. Little things can make a difference.
3. Most people thrive with accountability
Our profession is called coaching because in some ways, we show up like athletic coaches especially as it relates to accountability. For instance, if someone wanted to sell more widgets, I’d ask them, “How many sales calls will you make this week?” They know they are paying their coach good money to hold them accountable so that is part of the motivation. Another aspect is simply wanting to say, “Hey, Coach, I met my goal this week!” Some say, “I did such and such because I didn’t want to disappoint you.” Whatever the motivation, calls are made that would not have been made otherwise, sales increase, self-esteem rises and soon the coach is no longer needed.
4. Generally, people give themselves bigger and better challenges
As a coach or a parent or even a boss, it is tempting to “be in charge” and hand out the goals or punishment. It has been my experience as a coach and as a parent that generally well-meaning people will give themselves an even bigger challenge/punishment than you might give them. Have you ever asked your child what kind of punishment he or she deserves for a particular offense? Maybe you would take away their electronic device for a day. Depending on how bad they feel about their behavior, they will possibly say two. Remember the guy selling widgets? I might have asked him to make 10 sales calls but, likely, he will challenge himself to 15. If he says 5, I would ask him what it would take to double that and see what he says. It’s still his decision…that’s where the power lies.
5. It’s all about the listening
Few people have someone in their corner who truly listens to them. Not half listens, not listens while checking for messages, not listens while stirring the pot but listens with their whole mind and beyond…heart to heart listening. Most of my coaching was done over the telephone. I had clients all around the country and occasionally in exotic places like India. I always called them at the appointed time. Often I “had them at hello.” With just a word, I could tell much about their state of mind and would immediately ask, “what’s up?” surprising them with my “knowing.” When folks are really heard, they begin to shine as if they are on a stage with a spotlight. When they know they are valued and understood, trusted and cared about, listened to with the heart…their life begins to change. You don’t have to be a coach to really listen to the people in your life.
6. Coaching, like life in general, is messy
And finally, I used to tell my clients, “Sometimes you have to throw a lot of spaghetti against the wall and see what sticks.” Living life is a messy business. To have a successful, joy-filled life, you have to try new things, step out of your comfort zone, trust yourself and your instincts (which aren’t always 100 percent), and really live this messy life to the fullest. You have to get out of your own way, have compassion for yourself and others, tap into your faith, make mistakes in order to learn and allow others to do the same. Professional or business coaching may start out to be about marketing or business plans or climbing the ladder but it always evolves into life coaching. We are whole people, experiencing life through a wide lens, not a pin hole. What’s keeping you from being all you can be? What’s one action you will take today to move towards your Future Self?