I have really been enjoying the coaching part of my business lately. It has inspired me to focus on increasing my coaching capability, so I can provide continuously enhanced service to my clients and strengthen interactions with everyone I encounter. A proud bibliophile, reading is my preferred approach to learning and self-improvement, and I am fairly discerning when choosing a book to occupy my precious discretionary time. Also, I believe God speaks to me through messages in books, or at least, I hear Him more clearly through written words. Considering all of that, I selected Leadership Coaching: The Disciplines, Skills, and Heart of a Christian Coach by Tony Stoltzfus. It was highly rated by my “peeps” at Amazon (I like to imagine all the reviewers are doing me a personal favor by sharing their opinions on my pending purchases), and the description of the content aligned well with what I seek to accomplish.
The biggest “Aha!” moment from the book was also its most reinforced concept: The source of the solution to client problems comes from the client, not the coach. The coach’s job is to help clients to harness the power they already have to identify and implement their own solutions. This represents a departure from how I’ve tended to operate in the past. My first inclination upon encountering someone else’s challenge is to offer a number of my own ideas for how to effectively address it. Those ideas don’t always work out because…they are my ideas! When I make suggestions, they need to be practical, relevant, and doable in the mind and heart of the client, regardless of how compelling they seem to me. Put another way, it’s not a viable solution if the client isn’t motivated to pursue it. Further, when I’m the one driving the solution, the person will likely turn to me to set the course for future fixes instead of relying on his/her own problem-solving ability. When that happens, a dependency is created that misses the point of authentic coaching.
The “Aha!” moment I have described here should have been more of a reminder to me than an enlightening surprise. Apparently, I didn’t fully embrace the concept the first time I encountered it years ago. Back then, I routinely made the following assumptions:
- I deliberately spend a lot of time figuring things out, so I assumed everyone else does too.
- I assertively advocate for myself and do not need to be prompted to effectively communicate my preferences, so I assumed that was the case for everyone else too.
- I have high self-efficacy, so I assumed everyone else has it too.
All of these assumptions are, of course, wrong. (My father used to say, “You know what happens when you assume…”) Still, I stand by my staunch belief that people are capable of achieving whatever they want in life, even if they aren’t yet convinced of their potential. That is why I wanted to become a coach.
The coaching process is basically an interview where the coach asks the questions and the client provides the answers. I enjoy listening for cues of significance and probing for deeper meaning and ideas. Clients seem to respond well to this, reinforcing what Tony Stoltzfus and other coaching legends have long embraced: We already have the tools we need to be the best person we can possibly be, to fulfill the unique purpose God intends for us. As the Accountability Evangelist, my personal mantra is to “be part of the solution”. As a coach, I need to be part of your solution. My job is to help you open your toolbox, select the tool you want to use, and use it in the way you want to use it. When you do that, your chances of success and personal fulfillment are very high – and I will be eager to celebrate your success with you!