What is coaching? The CoachNet team answers this question more than any other.
Let’s make three distinctions: 1) Coaching is not the same as being a coach. 2) Integrated Coaches (what CoachNet develops) live in a distinct category of their own. And 3) Coaching carries a unique definition. I’ll dive a little deeper into what this means as we go.
What Is A Coach?
Try this simple definition: A coach is someone who chooses to invest what themselves in accelerating someone else’s development or accomplishment.
Coaches are people. Coaching is what we do. But we don’t stop there. Coaching is also HOW we do what we do. It’s a skill set, a mindset, and a lifestyle. Every coach wants to see other people live out their potential.
The best coaches have a specialty or a niche that determines who they coach and how they coach. We measure by monitoring when and how our clients accomplish what is most important to them. As coaches embrace new skills, a simple shift moves to front and center. Coaches shift from searching for the right answer to searching for the right question.
Being a coach means you are helping someone else do what they feel called to accomplish. You’re not doing the work for them; you’re greasing the wheels so they can get started doing the work themselves.
You might offer your experience, your skills, your time, your insight…it could be anything. There are plenty of places where the broad term “coach” is the right one.
What Is An Integrated Coach?
Coaching builds on how you think about yourself, the people you connect with, the problems you face and how you manage it all. Once you make that part of your life, you’ve integrated coaching into your worldview. Coaching becomes part of your essence, and it oozes out of you.
Integrated coaches have a skill set that uses their experience to listen deeply and ask the best questions they can. It’s not about statements or directions. Coaches explore with the people they coach (whom we’ll call clients). Over time, coaches draw action steps and meaningful commitments out of their clients. Integrated coaches don’t even have to think about it. Coaching becomes part of who they are and how they experience the world around them.
Anyone can learn coaching skills. But integrated coaches work at their craft so that the behaviors of a capable coach become habits. It takes work. Coach training should speed up that process. Practical training is a part of the integration, along with mentoring, experience and ongoing assessment of your skills. The developmental process falls into stages.
In the first stage, you learn the skills. Trying new approaches reveals what works for other coaches and what suits your style. This season connects information and application. You shed longtime behavioral patterns. You don’t always get the results you want, but the journey matters as much as the outcome.
The first stage can be confusing, and you’ll have moments where you wonder why coaching is so tricky. But this season doesn’t last long. Your skills accelerate as you find more and different clients. Embracing a sense of experimentation shows you the kind of coach you can be. The season ends as a glimmer of transformation shows up, for you and the people you coach, whether your working with friends, co-workers or even a family member.
Soon the second stage starts. You learn a LOT about yourself and begin to apply those learnings to clients and potential clients. Feedback tells you what’s working and what’s not. How you listen and ask questions deepens and changes. Your clients make extraordinary progress, and you find yourself thinking, “I KNEW this would work!”
During the second stage, you try out the disciplines that work for coaches and discover your coaching niche.
The third stage is one that not every coach experiences. With enough time and repetitions, coaching becomes effortless. You default to listening, asking questions, and drawing actions out of your client.
When a client engages a coach, things happen. Achievements accumulate. The client learns about themselves and the world around them. Things change. It’s powerful. Coaches make things happen.
So, What Is Coaching?
At surface level, coaching is the power to help people learn about themselves, get unstuck and get moving forward toward what they want. Coaching is a mindset that makes things possible for other people. What things? Virtually ANYthing.
Coaching can help you start a business. Coaching relationships explore new ideas or practices. Maybe strategies to parent your kids. Or the process of patenting a new product. The right coaching relationship might close a chapter in your life. If you name it (when being coached) or get someone else to put words to it (assuming you’re the coach), a coaching relationship and process helps build clarity and choose ideal actions.
When I’m coaching, I see possibilities that I don’t see otherwise. So do my clients. When you dig under the surface, coaching becomes a relational way to grow, make sense of the world and solve problems.
Coaching is both vigorous and valuable. I can charge for it. I can use it to make a living, or sometimes, I can give it as a gift.
Coaching is a lifestyle. It touches everything. It’s like listening to music…always there, capable of adding a lot of beauty, meaning and experience to your life, but you’re not always even aware of it.
Coaching is a way of life. It fills the cracks of your relationships. Before you know it, you’re coaching all the time. Coaching gives structure to your working relationships.
Coaching flows out of how you think about yourself, the people with whom you connect, the problems you face and how you manage it all.
Since you’ve read this far, think about these two questions:
Do you need a coach? (Because you’ve got something you need help to happen.)
Do you want to become a coach? (Because you want to help make someone else’s dream come to life.)
If you answered yes to either question, you’re ready for coaching.
And I think you can do it.
(Some of these ideas originally appeared in my book Coaching Hacks: Simple Strategies to Make Every Conversation More Effective. I wrote it in 2017.)
Also published on Medium.