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Coach in Training: Paradigm Switches

By: Kim Green

All kinds of unintentional realizations are washing over me. Suddenly, I am a student, just like my 14-year old son, who is everything but a student. In order to encourage him to work harder (at least pick up a pencil), I boast about what a diligent student I was when I was his age. These bouts of braggadocio don’t work. He just stares at me as if to say, “you are you and I am me.” Which is true.

Well, the great student that I thought I was is a thing of the past. Or maybe, I am still a good student underneath the layers of life because I still feel so guilty about being overwhelmed and essentially unprepared for class. My son, on the other hand, feels nothing as he walks into school every single day with not one piece of prepared homework.

As a working adult with a busy writing studio, other people’s manuscripts all over my desk, my own abandoned novel tucked in a corner and a huge Professional Life Coach book, student manual and a ton of handouts taking up my air, I feel like I am underwater. Perhaps, what my son must feel.

The class is going well but I find myself less interested in listening to the teacher going over the book in detail, walking us through handouts and doing exercises with us. I am more interested in looking inward, conjuring up my inner coach. This week I have become obsessed with how to listen, which is the topic for the week. After Lynn walks us through all of the material, she always asks, “What did we will take away from the lesson?” On Tuesday my answer was, how much I want to learn to listen better…

In the Thursday class, we talked about the differences between being a leader, a manager, a teacher, a consultant or a coach. We explored this with a simple exercise that offered us different scenarios and we were to determine which scenario was an example of coaching, consulting, mentoring etc.… It seemed easy enough because everyone knew the answers. Lynn was impressed with us. Except, I didn’t participate. I just learned from listening. I hadn’t done the exercise yet. Still getting through the handouts!

What did strike me is that with this new coaching paradigm, I realize that my “coaching” approach with my friends and family has not been correct. With my new knowledge that our clients are the experts of their own lives, I have erroneously thought that since they were sharing their dilemmas with me, I felt compelled to act as if I knew better about their lives than they do. I hate to admit but I feel that way about my son, too. Which is why, I offered to coach him, (trying hard to acquire some desperately needed coaching hours for the program.)

He flat out said, “No.” He said, “Mom, you coach me every time you open your mouth.”

He’s probably right. Besides, I’m not ready for a client like him. A man-child who already knows what he is going to be and do, without me, school, teachers and those useless educational websites that want him to practice what he already knows. When I look at my headstrong son, I see that it is his heart that will be his guide. I need to listen to that.

It is my hope that Lynn and the other coaches that I’ll meet along this journey will allow me to let my heart guide me; leaving me to my own devices to find the coach within. It’s not that I don’t care. It’s not that I won’t read what I need to read, but I know that my mind is impatient, hungry to listen to all the pain in the world and try to bring it back to center.

I will get back to my reading, which is easy compared to what it takes to listen to things that I have never heard before, which happens to be our assignment this week.

On a brighter note, I met with my peer group for our first phone call. The two of them are wonderful people. They are both totally committed to the coaching journey. I actually felt comfortable enough with them to confess my initial overwhelm with the workload. They were great. They listened to me with care and intention. They even gave suggestions. The only thing they did that was not perfect coach form was to ask if I wanted their suggestions…which is what Lynn touched upon in the discussion. They weren’t trying to be coaches, they were just being friends, which is just what I needed at the moment.

As always, Lynn asked, “What did you take away from today?” Besides the differences between coaching vs. mentoring, etc.…Besides the fact that as coaches we need to discuss not debate, besides that fact that we need to know the difference between sharing and debriefing, or the 3 steps of a coaching conversation (which was helpful!) (1) What do you want from this time together? 2) Time to clarify and reflect 3) Say what is so.

The thing that resonated with me most is when Lynn said: The etymology of the word “education” is to bring forth that which is within.

Kim Green is a writer and a student at The Institute for Life Coach Training. In this blog series, she has documented her experience as she goes through the Foundational training. To read about Kim's journey, click here.