One of the most common questions asked in coaching groups is "How do I help my client with this specific problem?" For example, a woman who is afraid of meeting new people and entering a new relationship because she's been alone so long, or a Man who is procrastinating on writing his book, or a parent who doesn't know how to connect with their child, or a business owner who doesn't feel safe being seen and it's impacting their marketing attempts, or a home-owner who can't seem to clear their house of clutter...
So many unique people and problems come into our lives as coaches. And the common misconception, both for coaches, and sometimes clients, is that the coach needs to know the answer to the problem. This is an impossible task. We can't possibly know how to help everyone with everything. And even when we 'niche down' meaning we get more refined in who we help with what, we still cant possibly have an answer for every situation.
So, if coaching isn't about knowing the answer to every issue that could crop up, or even knowing a small number of answers to issues that crop up (some people who do have the answers are willing to share, this, at least in my mind, is not coaching, it is mentoring). If coaching isn't that, what is it?
After years of study, and working with hundreds of coaching students in my mentoring role at one of the largest coaching training schools in Australasia one of the most common things I've said is that coaching is not about giving solutions to our clients, it's about helping our clients look at "not problem", once we do this, they find the solution themselves. Let me explain what I mean by this.
Imagine someone sitting in a dark cave, they have a tiny light that illuminates one tiny corner, and that is all they can see. Everything is focused on that little patch of light. They can tell you about each crack and crevice in the wall, they can see how many water droplets drip every minute. It's all they see, hear, and notice. This tiny patch of light.
Imagine they want to get out of the cave - and they are focused on using the water to expand the crack. It will take them decades, but if they just focus on expanding the crack they can see they think they will get out of the cave.
What if, instead of helping them to expand the crack, we helped them to expand the light. Right now they are focused on the crack. They see it as the problem. But if , just for a moment we can get them to pick up the light, and shine it ANYWHERE else in the cave, they will no longer be focused on that problem.
This is what coaching does. It doesn't seek a solution, it simpy seeks to get people to stop focusing on the problem for a moment, which opens the possibilities of finding a solution.
So, when someone asks how do you help someone with blah problem, everyone answering with solutions is still focused on the problem at hand. If we try and expand the crack in the wall we keep the cave-dweller stuck for decades. If instead we help them look away from the problem, we may find that right behind them is a door to other possibilities. Now this may come with other problems, inevitably it will, you turn around in the cave and go down a tunnel to be confronted by a sleeping bear.... If you then spend all your time focused on the bear we're back to a stuck state. We want to see the bear, and see the doorway right next to the tunnel we just came out of...
Coaching is all about expanding perspectives. So how we do we expand persepctives?
The same way I 'help', or rather guide, ALL my clients.
1. Listen for linguistic presups in my clients' sharing. 2. Identify the misconception holding them back, look for the universal truth to collapse it. 3. Challenge, reframe, educate, and/or explore alternatives using models, contrast frames, and alternative perspectives. (I have 168 options documented and more that I use in my mind) 4. If needed pull one of my exercises out of my tool kit (about 15 documented, more in my mind)
This is why I am able to remain a generalist when it comes to coaching. I haven't learned about how to coach or mentor one thing, I've learned how to address anything using perspective wisdom.
My mentoring is more refined, to the areas where I understand how to create success. Anyone who is focused on a problem, feeling stuck, overwhelmed, frustrated, or guilty finding themselves procrastinating, self-sabotaging, retreating, or pushing against the issue can benefit from shifting their perspective in a coaching session. As a result, you will feel open to possibilities, feel expanded, discover your potential, know where to focus to feel fulfilled, resilient, organised, and gratified. You'll be clear on the decisions to make that will move you closer to creating a life you love. There is a simple framework I use to help curious and passionate people re-focus from their problems and open their perspectives. If you'd like to learn more reach out.