You know how certain clients are a perfect fit for you? They come to the table fully responsible for their feelings, decisions and actions. They’re hungry for the gifts of coaching, no matter what they look like. They allow it to catalyze their own wisdom and intelligence.
Those folks are showing up empowered and fully stepping into their role in the co-creative relationship.
But what about the flipside when it feels like a client comes to a session resistant, as if their arms are folded across their chest. Coaching seems to bounce off them. Or worse they bring the expectation that you’ll fix things for them, but aren’t willing to be part of the solutions. What’s going on there?
For coaching to happen, both coach and client must show up co-creative, resourceful and whole.
How can you do your part?
How to Stop Shrinking or Inflating Your Power
Most coaches I meet genuinely want to help others. In fact, it’s often a driving force in their lives to give.
I know I have that “helper” archetype. And I’ve gone many turns around the spiral learning to be conscious about the heavy shadow side of that noble desire. Do you feel me?
The title of this post is not a typo – what’s learning you? Before you spur yourself into your future again, take a minute to bring with you the gifts of 2010. Truly integrate what you’ve learned and 2011 will be juicier, bigger and more fun for you!
Almost everyone I know has been in a big boiling cauldron of change in 2010. You too? I feel like I’m finally out of that hot water and into the grace of enjoying what I learned in that uncomfortable time.
So, I want to hear about what’s ‘learning’ you. In other words, are you changed by what’s happened this year?
What has had you on your growing edge?
How have you transformed?
What were the big aha’s?
5 Things that Learned Me in 2010
I’ll start by sharing my big aha’s this year, then you jump in, okay?
Less is More
At her recent Recurring Revenue Revolution event in Las Vegas, Milana Leshinsky said something that stopped me in my tracks.
“Just because something is accurate doesn’t mean it’s useful.”
Wow! Isn’t that the truth?
I’m just back from three extraordinary days at the Rocky Mountain Folks Festival in beautiful Lyons, Colorado. John Prine closed out the festival with a set worthy of the national treasure he is. A lot of great lines from the old poet, but here’s the one that’s still rolling around in my head:
It’s not really a question if you already know the answer.
That’s true about the most powerful coaching questions.
Learning to draw out your client’s wisdom rather than impose your own agenda is one of the foundations of coach training. Is it time to refresh that lesson? It’s so easy to get caught up in the task list and learning curves, and forget to lead with curiosity in a coaching session.
No matter how insightful you are (and you are insightful!) the most impactful moments in coaching are drawn out of your clients themselves. There’s no formula for those moments.
That’s why open-ended questions generally work better than yes-or-no questions in coaching. They leave the field open to the unexpected. The conversation can go in any direction from an open-ended question, and that leaves space for the magic to arrive.
Coaching magic can be courted, but it can’t be forced. No list of “canned” coaching questions holds the key to that transformational shift your client is on the threshold of.
For any coach at any time, but particularly when you’re just starting your business, you might be tempted to get a client by offering free or barter coaching. Should you? There are more reasons not to than you might think.
No fee coaching does have its place (see the last paragraph). But if your goal is to earn a successful living by offering soul-satisfying coaching, it’s usually counter-productive to give it away, except in a sample session. Here is why:
#1 Damaging the co-creative relationship
Coaches often have the heart of altruistic caregivers. If you love to help others and are generous to a fault, being a coach will give you many opportunities to learn balance around giving. This strength, when overused, comes with a high price to your integrity and to your clients.
I’ve been there. I understand that heart-tugging reaction to come to their rescue, when a prospect says they can’t afford your services but they so clearly need help. It’s a RED FLAG.
Many years ago, Thomas Leonard, founder of the first coach training school and the “father of life coaching,” said:
Never want more for your clients than they want for themselves.
That woke me up! I began to examine my motivations and set healthier boundaries for myself with clients.
Have you ever sensed that you might want too much for your clients?
Most coaches fall into this trap on some level, until they let go of their desire to effect change on their clients, and replace it with an understanding that what is best for the client is only what the client is ready to commit to change within themselves right now.
We can never know the path of another person. If we react protectively, anticipating our client’s pitfalls and mistakes, are we keeping them from valuable experiences that may bring success more quickly? If we jump in to solve their problems and salve all their hurts too vigorously, will we somehow take away their power?