Updated: Mar 3, 2020
I am often asked by coachees what they should do to be ‘good at’ being coached. They don’t come right out and say it but the question is there, often lurking behind a phrase such as ‘Sorry, I’m just babbling’, or ‘Is this an OK thing to say?’ or ‘Gosh, you must be exhausted’.
So, as a coach who has been coached many times, I thought I’d share with you what I’ve learned.
Expect a lot of your coach. After all, you’re paying. So if you want your coach to be a bit more challenging or opinionated or if you just want them to shut and say less, tell them. Nicely, of course.
Expect a lot of yourself. This is serious work. Do some thinking beforehand so you know what you want from coaching overall and what you want from the next session. The clearer you can be, the better. I am struck by the way some coachees prepare and show up full of intent and commitment.
Expect a lot from the process. If it’s lacking the right kind of energy, ask to change it. Coaching doesn’t have to be two people sat down talking. You could go for a walk together, you could both stand up, you could doodle some stuff, you could use Post-its or buttons or plasticine or you could bring an object that sums up your situation. Coaching relies on new thinking and energy, so do what it takes to create that. Does a glass of wine help? Well, ask your coach about that.
Think big. Coaching can transform your life – or at begin to. Consider big possibilities.
When you work with an Oceans coach, you can really trust us. What you discuss is confidential. By entering a coaching relationship you have gifted yourself the most accepting, non-judgemental environment you will ever find. In this space you can be completely honest and authentic about everything you think and feel – even those bits you hardly admit to yourself. Make the most of that opportunity and you will very likely discover things that really matter, things you can use as a compass for your life.
3.Be an Explorer
New possibilities start with new thinking. We tend to do our thinking down well-established routes, but that’s not so useful in coaching, where the value is in exploring to find new insights. That may come from making new connections or going off on tangents or looking more closely at a particular word.
There’s more exploring to do: imagine life as a territory full of experiences, a playground of possibilities. It starts out that way but before long we discover that many of these experiences have been fenced off, sometimes with barbed wire. Keep Out signs warn us away from things that others do with complete comfort. Why is that? That’s worth exploring.
Back to those well-established routes in our brain. We can trust those to be solid and logical. But wait – be ready to go back over what you just said….is that necessarily true? Have you always thought that? Would everyone see it that way? Be ready to prod some of the more solid walls in your mind to see what might open up.
There are also new ways of seeing the same old stuff – putting thoughts into doodles helps to crystallise them, removing the complexity. Your brain has to store the picture in a new place next to something else and new connections will form. Or leave the solid ground of literal truth and take a flight of fancy on board a metaphor – it might take you further than you think, providing a different view and you’ll land refreshed in a new part of your brain.
So, explore. Don’t spend precious time relaying detailed explanations to your coach. We rarely need detail. But find that margin between what you already know and what you don’t quite understand. The zone where you might act but you also hesitate, described by words that are somewhere close to hand but won’t quite come. The edge of awareness, one might say.
New thinking creates possibilities but action is needed to make them real. Plenty of coachees work hard in the sessions and leave with exciting plans but then don’t carry them out. Commit to taking action. Allow yourself to fail by getting into a mode of experimentation – doing stuff to learn. Then there is no failure.
You may need to be courageous. That sounds daunting but if you see courage as just the willingness to try, it doesn’t seem as hard. You will need space and time in your life to do the doing, so you might like to reserve that in advance.
Those are my four top tips, only eclipsed by this one:
To be really good at being coached, don’t try to be good at being coached. Leave at the door any concept of good and bad.
You will find it useful to
· be demanding
· be open
· be an explorer
· be active
but as coaches our job is to help that happen.
Your most important job is to just be. And your coach will be right beside you.