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Coach in Training: Forwarding the Action

By: Kim Green

I will act as if I am feeling well and as if I have been fully engaged in this week’s classes. Picture me on last Tuesday and Thursday sprawled out on the floor, taking the class against a pile of pillows and an extra one holding the phone up so I can use speaker phone. I was there, which was my big win for this week. I am coming down with the flu! But work has no time for sick days, so I carry on, flu and all.

There were several things that I took away from this week. The topics that resonated most with me was a discussion of Contracting with clients. This discussion comes with Forwarding the Action, which is a technique to wrap up the session. This is a way to get our clients to state what they are going to do and the contract is the agreement of what they will do and how will they keep their coach informed. The idea is to get them to agree to communicate without them feeling the burn of accountability. We learned that adults learn differently. They don’t like to feel that they are being watched and judged based on outcomes or lack of them. Interestingly, we were even discouraged from using the “g” word. G is for Goal, that is. I didn’t really understand this conversation that went on for a long time.

The truth is that it’s hard to keep up with all of the responsibilities that adults have. Planning a life change, while living your old life, sometimes causes things to slip through the cracks.

In my mind, a coach is there to support at all costs, which may mean implementing a regular communication method that keeps my client accountable. We are not supposed to do that – but I don’t think I can help the urge to manage expectations, theirs and my own. If we leave it all up the client and they don’t reach where they want to be because of my “live and let live approach,” I question my purpose. And I’m sure that is not coaching. But I struggle. As the class talked about it, I slowly emerged from my flu-ish haze and asked the question, shouldn’t we have established this mode of communication at first, when we first were creating our alliance with them? I was told no, again. The teacher further pushed that our clients have to stay responsible to themselves. I’m not sure about that yet, but I was too ill to pursue it. In my head the question is rolling around, “What are we there for?” Are we simply listeners and questioners? Creating awareness, by repeating what they say? Huh.

Another take away from this week was the discussion of stretching our clients. We stretch them by further creating awareness, by brainstorming and using distinction questions. Questions like would you rather be childish or childlike? Is this something that you need or want? Are you selfish or self-centered? These distinctions can go a long way in moving a discussion forward.

There was also a conversation about bypassing limitations. That struck me because I hear my own limitations rolling off my tongue too easily. I would do it but I am too old, too sick, too poor, too tired. But the question for our clients is: What if you weren’t too old, too sick, too poor or too tired, what would be possible then?

There’s the push.

So, when I started today, I was too sick to do it. But what if that wasn’t the case? What would happen if I acted as if I was well? What if I was healthy and able? I would be unstoppable.

I would write the darned thing.

And, I just did.

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.