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Coach in Training: ABC’s of Coaching

By: Kim Green

This has been my favorite week so far! Tuesday, Lynn played Joe the Mechanic and all of us were his questioning coaches. It wasn’t easy. What I saw in the exercise is that none of us were really listening to Joe. We all brought so much of ourselves into our questioning. We were enthusiastic but not listening. I learned so much from this exercise about who I have to be for clients. It’s just not about me.

Joe wants to be a chiropractor despite his limitations including lack of education. We, his novice coaches brought our own cultural, emotional, and geographical cues to question him…to help him. We couldn’t help it, we led him, gave him advice, convinced him. We did everything but listen to him and what he wants for himself.

Speaking for myself, I forgot that he already knows what he wants; my job is to get him there. Joe wants to be a chiropractor!

The exercise helped a lot, with Lynn stopping us, shushing us, helping us to see what we were doing, bombarding Joe with questions that were not helping him. Ready for more.

I also learned my ABCS this week and I love them. As a coach, if I can just remember to stay in Alignment with my clients, Believe in them and their competency, creativity and wholeness…and my favorite, stay Curious about them in ways that I have never been curious before; I will be on my way to solid Coaching Alliances. I have to remember to question without an agenda, advice or opinion. I will learn to use Socratic questioning so that they can deliver the answers that are within and…without me.

The more I read the more I understand. What is most challenging about this new terrain is that I am finding it difficult to grasp the neutrality required for coaching. It’s hard to care and be detached at the same time. That is the balancing act that I must master. My problem is that I am sort of an opinion machine. I’d like to blame it on being a New Yorker, but I haven’t lived in the Big Apple for over 20 years. So what’s my excuse, really?

Over my lifetime, my opinions have become a comfortable destination for me. They make me feel smarter and wiser than I may actually be. In reflection, my opinions do not serve the person that they are intended for. They only serve me. As a coach, I will be wise to keep my riotous opinions to myself.

The reading is helping, too, allowing me to delve deeper into the process of being a leader and understanding how adults learn and process information. It was intriguing to learn of the different kinds of adult personalities. I see myself as what the book refers to as “The Independent Self or Expert Technician.” As one who dropped out of corporate America within 7 years of entering, the title suits me, fine. I definitely do things my own way and I always have, even within the confines of Corporate America, where my talent was always touted but my manageability disparaged.

The new goal is grow into the Post-Conventional adult stage, which only 1 percent of adults ever achieve, which is hard to believe. As coaches, it seems that we all must reach that place where our opinions and egos must recede. We all must reach the place where we can admit that we are neither whole nor complete. We must be able to embrace the beautiful truth that we are each, many selves. When we reach that height of consciousness, we will be able to relate to more clients and move them toward their greatness with ease.

The only obstacle I see in reaching this adult development nirvana is that I a citizen of this troubled earth. I, regrettably have a whole set of my own circumstances that inform who I am and who I am being. Having been raised by my older father informed every bit of how I see the world. Although I am grateful for his inherited wisdom, I know the time has come to abandon most of my (his) presumptions and assumptions in order to free myself to be the best coach I can be.

It is true that every coach can’t work with everyone, but I know I can’t work with anyone until I work on myself. This training makes me practice being my best self.

At this point we are all almost ready to start coaching real people. Lynn ended the class reminding us to keep track of our hours. With that reminder, it means that we must do what we came here to do. I have to coach that list of friends and family who have opened the door to their selves for me. They have agreed to be vulnerable with me.

I’ll need to give them a contract and ask for their commitment as well as make my own commitment to them and their dreams. I have to do all of that without my wanting what’s best for them, without giving my advice? What a paradigm shift this will be.

P.S. Had a great peer group session. We had an awesome time getting to know each other and practicing our questioning skills on each other. What a difference a week makes!

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.