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This article was originally published in November 2016 and updated on October 20, 2020.
Do you know the book, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten? It’s a marvelous book written by a Seattle-area author, Robert Fulghum. I wish I could write the same book about coaching school: All I Really Need to Know About Coaching I Learned in Coaching School.
However, after 15 plus years of coaching, I’m realizing how much I didn’t learn about coaching in either of the two certified coaching programs I completed.
While I really could write a whole book about what I didn’t learn about coaching in school, I’m focusing this article on four key insights I’ve gained from thousands of coaching hours, much of which has felt like trial and error. I’m hoping these four key concepts that most coaching schools don’t emphasize will help make your learning curve steeper than mine was!
As coaches, we are always creating awareness in our clients. While all the ICF Core Competencies are important, creating awareness is perhaps the most central competency to coaching.
Our clients hire us because they want something to change, about themselves, their lives, their careers, their leadership, and/or their relationships. If they could change it themselves, they would. And often our clients can’t change what they are wanting to change because they can’t see what’s getting in their way.
Oftentimes, what’s in their way —the obstacle lying between where, how, and who they are and where, how, and who they want to be — is some aspect of themselves.
Our clients typically can’t see what’s getting in the way of their change. The obstacle to their growth is so ingrained, so conflated with the frame and lens through which they see others, themselves and the world, that they can’t see it. It’s in their blindspot.
After thousands of coaching sessions working with hundreds of clients, I’ve learned to spot a few common blindspots that create obstacles to a client’s growth. It was only after seeing these blindspots over and over through the lens of attachment theory and relational intelligence, that I began to see some obvious patterns emerge.
Here are three of the most common client blindspots:
We all have blindspots. Even us coaches. It’s part of how we humans have learned to survive – narrowing down what we focus on, labeling our experience to reduce energy drain, projecting our past onto the present to increase predictability. It’s normal.
Part of our role as coaches is to be doing our own work constantly – identifying our own blindspots, understanding our habituated patterns, expanding what’s above the line and shrinking what’s below the line of our conscious awareness. We do this work in coach training. We do this so that our blindspots, our patterns, our conditioning don’t get in the way of our coaching.
And yet, they do. We can’t rid ourselves of all of our blindspots. Because we’re human. All we can do is to keep looking for them.
After having worked with and trained coaches for many years, we’ve identified three common coaching blindspots – coaching choices made by coaches that reflect the patterning of the coach and negatively impact the coaching. (more…)
I’ve loved hearing so many people’s insights on what they are awakening to during these strange times. It’s also been thought-provoking to hear how people make their own meaning of what’s happening.
A recent conversation with a coach in Mexico City was enlightening. When asked how he was coping with the current situation, he replied that he was still coaching, working from home and doing fine, however, some of his clients were struggling. When I asked him how he was working with his clients’ struggle, he said, “Everyone has to find their own way to peace.”
What a wise and true statement, and one that fits closely with the lessons of mindfulness. And so the question follows, how do we help our clients “find their own way to peace”?
A practice called Vipassana Out Loud (VOL) is an interactive mindfulness meditation that we coaches can use with our clients to help them find their own way to peace. Using this practice, we can support our clients in being with their own challenging experiences. VOL isn’t about changing or shifting anything and it’s not about moving our clients from a current state to a desired state. VOL is about supporting our clients in being with what is. Because only being recognizing, connecting with and allowing what is, can our clients truly process and move through their difficult emotions, thoughts, and sensations. (more…)
Our relationships are perhaps the single most important aspect of our lives. Yet many of us still find it challenging to heal severed or damaged relationships and maintain strong connections. Being mindful in relationships is the work of bringing presence and acceptance and conscious awareness to the most difficult aspects of our relationships to begin to heal the relational divides with ourselves and others.Being mindful in relationships is the work of bringing presence and acceptance and conscious awareness to the most difficult aspects of our relationships to begin to heal the relational divides with ourselves and others. Click To Tweet
One means to support ourselves in having mindful relationships is the RAIN method — a mindfulness process to use when triggered or when experiencing intense or difficult emotions. We can use the practice of RAIN to awaken us from our reactivity and our non-conscious, habituated patterns to be more mindful, particularly in relationships.
The RAIN method was introduced 20 years ago by Vipassana teacher Michele McDonald and has built upon by Buddhist meditation teacher, Tara Brach. In the context of our connection with others, RAIN is a very specific way of giving ourselves what we need to feel accepted, appreciated and loved so that we can give them to others. (more…)